Post #G27: A treatise on the squash vine borer, final version

 

Source:  U Wisconsin Vegetable Entomology.

Yet another gardening post.  If you have no interest in growing cucurbits, stop now.

This is a rewrite of an earlier post (G09), mostly to summarize the results of this season.  And to shorten it up and tighten up the writing.  It’s a summary of everything I think I have learned about the squash vine borer (SVB).  All in one place.  Off the top of my head, based on what I’ve read over the past week, and what I’ve observed in my garden.  So I can remember it next year.  Citations as to source only if and as I feel like locating them.

Continue reading Post #G27: A treatise on the squash vine borer, final version

Post #G26: Back in the Town of Vienna, our water/sewer rate versus Fairfax County

This post only really matters if you use a lot of water outdoors during the summer.  Hence, it falls under gardening on this website.

People are often surprised to find out just how much water it takes to water a garden, or that running a lawn sprinkler for an hour typically consumes 1000 gallons.

And so, there’s sometimes some hubbub when the summer-quarter water bills come out, here in the Town of Vienna.  Particularly now, as Vienna is half-way through a planned five-year, 50% increase in the water/sewer rates.  People see an unusually high bill and attribute that to the rate increase.  When that may not be the whole story. Continue reading Post #G26: Back in the Town of Vienna, our water/sewer rate versus Fairfax County

Post #G25: Meanwhile, in the Town of Vienna, the latest water/sewer rates are being felt

This is another of my contractual obligation postings, relating to government of the Town of Vienna.

Recall back in Post #448, where I described the Town’s five-year plan to raise the water and sewer rates by about 50%.  The Town didn’t really go out of its way to advertise that, or to advertise that it planned to raise those rates every year for five years running. Continue reading Post #G25: Meanwhile, in the Town of Vienna, the latest water/sewer rates are being felt

Post #G24: Paw paw neurotoxicity.

Paw paws.  Source:  My yard.  Destination:  Recycle bin.

We have a couple of paw paw trees in our yard.  The are nice-looking trees, with large gloss green leaves.  I have the vague recollection that we put them in for butterfly habitat, as they are critical for the reproduction of the zebra swallowtail.

We rarely get any edible fruit from them, as the fruit always seem to go from rock hard to “the deer got them” in a matter of days.

And, as it turns out, that may have been a lucky break. Continue reading Post #G24: Paw paw neurotoxicity.

Post #G23: An aside on lacto-fermentation and pickles

This is a second of two pickle posts.  The prior post was about the energy cost of canning pickles.  This post is about making pickles via lacto-fermentation.

If you want to try making pickles with the least possible effort, lacto-fermentation is the way to go.  It’s a lot easier than making a traditional vinegar (canned) pickle. Continue reading Post #G23: An aside on lacto-fermentation and pickles

Post #G22: Energy consumption required for home-canned pickles

I ended my just-prior post with some speculation on the energy (in)efficiency of home canning.  In this post, I work up the numbers and confirm that home-canned pickles require quite a bit of energy.  My calculation is that I use 17 fossil fuel calories for every edible pickle calorie preserved. 

As a way of contrast, I calculate that commercially-canned diced tomatoes require just 2 fossil fuel calories for every edible calorie preserved.  (That’s only for the canning, not for the transportation, but despite what you may read, the energy used in transporting canned goods to the store is minimal. I may need to do a separate post on that.)

Much of that difference is due to the energy density of the foods (canned tomatoes have about 5 times as many calories per volume as canned pickles).  Factoring that out, it appears that my home canning is maybe half as energy-efficient as commercial canning.

You may read blog postings and such suggesting that home-canning is a net energy saver, because you save the transportation costs for the food, and so on.  I’m not sure sure about that.  It’s entirely possible that the relative inefficiency of home canning offsets the fossil fuels used in transportation.  But that’s part of a different calculation.

This is the energy used in canning (preserving) pickles.  You can make pickles with no direct energy use, as in lacto-fermentation.  But if you want to put your pickles on a shelf, to eat some time next year, you have to can them.  That’s what we’re talking about.

Details follow. Continue reading Post #G22: Energy consumption required for home-canned pickles

Post #G21: We eat what we can, and what we can’t, we can.

Yesterday’s Washington Post had an article about a shortage of canning jars and other canning-related supplies.

I saw this one coming a month ago, as described in Post #G12.  At that time, I couldn’t find the jars I wanted at my go-to canning supplier, Twins Hardware in Fairfax.  Or anywhere else I normally shop.  I finally got a hot tip on jars in stock at one of our local WalMarts, and bought some wide-mouth pints there. Continue reading Post #G21: We eat what we can, and what we can’t, we can.

Post #G20: Powdery mildew, what I have learned.

Another gardening post.  This one is about eradicating powdery mildew on cucurbits.  See my earlier posts to be clear about the difference between protectants and eradicants for powdery mildew.  Once your plants are already infected, you’re looking for something that will kill an existing infection, i.e., an eradicant.

This is a followup to Post #G19, where I found a spray that appeared work as an eradicant on my pumpkins.  You can find the recipe there.  I’m now spraying that around my garden.  This post is my summary of what I think I’ve learned by this process.

But first, pictures. Continue reading Post #G20: Powdery mildew, what I have learned.

Post #G19: Three-part powdery mildew eradicant spray.

Another gardening post.  This one is about eradicating powdery mildew on cucurbits.  See my earlier posts to be clear about the difference between protectants and eradicants for powdery mildew.  Once your plants are already infected, you’re looking for something that will kill an existing infection, i.e., an eradicant.

I seem to have mixed together a spray that will kill powdery mildew on my cucurbits without killing the plants.  And, to my surprise, a mouthwash-based spray seems pretty effective as well.  Many others failed to kill the mildew.

Caveat:  If you try any of these sprays, test them on a small area first.  Wait a few days and see whether or not they kill your plants before you proceed. Continue reading Post #G19: Three-part powdery mildew eradicant spray.