Thursday, July 17, 2008

Solutions for the Future

If only we could all be as smart and suave as Bond, James Bond. And look as good as this coming out of the shower, gun ready. And fight the forces of evil with such style. (I could go on here....) I heard a great podcast from PRI Living on Earth about solutions for replacing methyl bromide, a dangerous biocide that kills everything in the soil from good bacteria to dangerous pathogens. Kills it all dead. It is very harmful to the environment and the workers who must deal with it. It was supposed to phased out by 2005 but unfortunately is still widely used by conventional farmers as it is a reliable method of clearing out everything alive in the soil before they plant new crops. Stuart and I went to visit his cousin's place on the eastern shore on VA and witnessed some methyl bromide fumigation. This massive John Deere tractor (must have cost in the 100s of thousands of dollars) and about 40 hispanic workers with bandannas around their faces were preparing to plant 120 acres in tomatoes that day (that's right. O-N-E H-U-N-D-R-E-D A-N-D T-W-E-N-T-Y acres). All mechanized of course. Needless to say it was disgusting and after seeing that up close and personal I vowed to never eat another conventional tomato. Have I stuck to that vow? Okay, maybe not, but the knowledge does help, and the consumption has been dwindled down. Anyway, my point being is that in California, scientists have come up with a replacement for the dirty deeds of methyl bromide---clean it all up with some ground up mustard seed! Yep, that's right, mustard seed. The mustard seed contains glucosinulates, the same compound found in horseradish. When the ground up seed meal hits the moisture in the soil, the glucosinulates break down and like your mouth after some wasabi, burns burns burns. Like the dirty biocide but in a much healthier manner, the seedmeal inhibits the growth of pathogens that take out crops like tomatoes and strawberries. Fascinating, eh? Speaking of crops being wiped out, our squash plants are being hit hard by the nasty squash vine borer. See pics of healthy squash and dead squash. They have taken out about 60% of our winter squash crop to date. We had beautiful spaghetti squash that weighed 4-5 lbs per squash that didn't get ripe enough before the borers took their toll. Little suckers. Or are we the big suckers....Our solution???? We heard of this simple remedy and we'll see if it works---wrap some aluminum foil around the base of the plant. All our squash plants now look as if they have on little bracelets; a nice glinty, fresh for summer look. I'm thinking about bejeweling more of our crops for a late July garden glam festival. I have a feeling Stuart is not going to be in on this with me!! I think I'll invite Bowie (hopefully he'll show up in his Labyrinth get-up and maybe even sing one of the songs from the movie! "Dance melon dance...") Bret and Jermaine from Flight of the Conchords (i just think they would fit in so well around here), Bond of course, and I'll keep brainstorming about other invitees.
It's gonna be great.

4 comments:

Kat said...

Nice chest hair!!
did you get my email?
plus, I need a primer on growing corn. help!

Alice and Stuart said...

Katter-definitely got your email; I've been waiting for a free sunday morning with a nice cup of coffee. we had lots and lots of family in town last weekend....so Sunday morning I have a date with an email to you! And I think Poe and Clover are really going to hit it off. She's a little shy and not quite at dating age of yet, but by this fall.....

marko said...

Do you think applying methyl bromide to my chest would be cheaper than waxing? If the price of petro-based wax keeps going up, I'd at least be willing to give it a try. I'd even be willing to wear a bandana over my face for a few days to avoid the fumes.

Moving Target said...

The sunflowers were a big hit! You guys are AWESOME!