Thursday, February 09, 2012
Biologicals and Blue Jays
7 AM and I just returned from a morning walk with Karl the Wonder Dog. It's 9° right now but 5° if you factor in the 2 mph breeze. The sky is clear and the sun is rising above Peacham Pond suggesting it will be warmer by noon. February is a busy time for the animals and birds of the adjacent fields and woodlands. Coyotes, which I have been studying lately, mate this time of year and lately they have been frequenting a compost pile I have out back. Red squirrels mate now too and as Karl and I exited the back door this morning, three ran right between us chasing each other in a frenzy that forgot safety. Sometimes love is like that. Barred owls call each other frequently now and for consecutive nights I have been outside listening for them but oddly they have been silent this year.
As I walked by the compost pile last night I thought for a minute about all the questions gardeners bring to us every summer--plant questions about discolored leaves with strange looking spots or colors or curls, or dried edges or falling leaves. Many of these problems are related to the assortment of fungal issues that I feel can be dealt with if you grow your soil before you grow your plants. Building good soil is a long affair and Gail and I are not proud of what we have at the nursery but we are happy with our progress. Our soil there is comprised of four different types with thick clay predominant. Amendments are called for and we work in as much as we can gather up.
Many gardeners are impatient and many garden centers are pleased to sell expensive chemical products guaranteed to erase problems without telling what else they might erase. The world of biological controls is growing and there are some interesting things to research and consider to meet your needs. Yesterday I was reading the Bioworks site and learning what new things they offer. Back in the days when we grew lilium by the thousands we were interested in controlling fungi on our lily bulbs and found a Bioworks product named RootShield. The product is OMRI certified (Organic Materials Review Institute) so it can be used safely for food we eat and still do the trick dealing with problem fungi. I'm not suggesting that we eat lily bulbs although some do, but I am recommending the use of biologicals instead of "kill everything and anything" chemicals. During the remaining winter months, research some of the available biologicals and consider them this year. Your first reaction might be that they are expensive but wouldn't the bees and butterflies you enjoy be a sacrifice too if the only place their names could be found was on a list labeled "EXTINCT"?
Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where a single young blue jay is sitting on the platform outside my office window yelling at me to bring out some seeds. He has the makings of a fine blue jay politician, yelling for change but not looking in the right direction.
Have a nice day!
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
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And always helping you grow your green thumb!