Merrimack Agriculture

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Merrimack Agriculture

Postby Debra Huffman » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:30 am

The intention of this topic is to exchange info about issues involving Merrimack gardening/farming/agriculture.

Here's the first topic: Voles. Voles are eating the heck out of my potatoes. I've never had problems with them before because we always have several snakes in the garden, but this year our snakes are gone and the voles have moved in. I've tried spraying 'Repels All', sprinkling castor oil granules, and installing a sonic sound thing. No luck. Now we have mouse traps set all over the potato and herb areas, baited with peanut butter and set under flower pots, and we've caught just two voles. Someone suggested sprinkling cayenne down their holes, but I haven't tried that yet. So... anybody have any insight into how to get rid of voles?

Topic #2: Snakes. Where did my snakes go? Why? What can I do to bring them back? My dog is dead, I have no cat, I use no chemicals on the garden, I still cover my manure pile with a tarp, which is where they always seemed to be hanging out in previous years. So what changed? I did rearrange some rock walls around my herb garden where they frequently lived so that disturbed them, but are they that fussy that they'd leave entirely rather than just adjust to the new location of the wall?

Any help with either topic would be greatly appreciated.

(PS: I've read that late blight is being found in Connecticut, so watch your tomatoes. I don't know how to combat it, but I guess I'll learn if it hits my garden.)
Debra Huffman
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Re: Merrimack Agriculture

Postby andysinnh » Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:54 am

Deb - we've had off-and-on issues with voles and moles around our yard, mostly related to the level of grubs in the soil. If I remember to put down preventative regularly they get less, but if I forget the little varmints come back with a vengence! I've tried all the tricks - including the castor oil sprayer routine - with minimal success. I did try the Juicy Fruit trick a few times (where you put juicy fruit in the holes to mimic a grub and hope the gum gets in their systems and ends their grub-grubbing days) - but was never sure if it worked or they just gave up. My only tried-and-true success was to stand there after a decent rainstorm and watch them burrow around and get them individually with a shovel and other similar instruments.

This year, I did try to put down a couple of the vibrating spikes that I picked up at lowes, and for the first week they were litterally going in circles around the spikes having a great time. But after a while - say 3-4 weeks - I've noticed they're now gone. Maybe it's a loss of grub population - or maybe the spikes - but at least for now I'm finding a respite from them...

Andy Schneider
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Re: Merrimack Agriculture

Postby RD » Mon Jun 28, 2010 10:52 am


If you haven't already, you should read Second Nature: A Gardener's Education by Michael Pollan. It's a great book that explore's the gardener's desire to be at one with nature, yet to control it at the same time. It looks like the Merrimack Public Library has a copy, or, if you promise to return it, I'll even lend you my copy. It may not solve your specific problems, but is a delightful read.
"If you think teachers are your enemy, you should probably reassess who you think your friends are." - Chris Larson
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Re: Merrimack Agriculture

Postby Ann Goldman » Mon Jun 28, 2010 4:39 pm

Michael Pollan is quite active on Twitter. I have found that Twitter activists are very likely to answer questions.
There are a lot of gardeners on Twitter.
Ann Goldman
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Re: Merrimack Agriculture

Postby Debra Huffman » Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:04 am

Thanks for the thoughts, Andy, RD, and Ann. I haven't read that book, RD, maybe I'll pick it up.

The mouse traps are slowly working their way through the vole population, so perhaps I'll save some of my potato plants. The critters in the garden are definitely voles, not moles, because they're eating tubers, not grubs. I hope the tunnels in the lawn are moles because that will mean a reduced grub population, and that's worth enduring the tunnels to me. (Actually, calling my yard a "lawn" is stretching the meaning of the word. More accurately it's my "mowed green weeds.")
Debra Huffman
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Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 7:41 am

Re: Merrimack Agriculture

Postby Debra Huffman » Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:22 am

Late blight has now been detected in Maine and Mass as well as Connecticut. There still hasn't been any reported in NH, but anyone who grows tomatoes or potatoes should keep an eye out and call the ag extension if you think you spot it.

Here are some excellent pictures so we know what we're looking for:
Debra Huffman
Posts: 1990
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 7:41 am

Re: Merrimack Agriculture

Postby Debra Huffman » Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:31 am

I have a beautiful full-blooded Buff Orpington rooster who needs a good home. He's about 8 weeks old, and soon he and our other rooster will begin challenging each other, as roosters do. I'd rather give him away before that happens.

(And yes, I know what should be done with extra roosters, but if someone would like him alive rather than stewed that's just so much more pleasant.)
Debra Huffman
Posts: 1990
Joined: Thu Nov 21, 2002 7:41 am

Re: Merrimack Agriculture

Postby Jeannine Stergios » Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:06 pm

Here are some tips I found for getting rid of moles, beetles, slugs and cutworms:

Moles can ruin a beautiful yard, just like that. Try the following formula:

Mix 1 cup of dishwashing liquid, 1 cup of castor oil, and 2 tablespoons of alum (dissolved in water) in your 20 Gallon Hose-End Sprayer, and saturate the problem areas.

For Japanese beetles, give them a taste of this Hot Pepper Spray, and they’re sure to stay away:

Add ½ cup of dried cayenne peppers and ½ cup of jalapeno peppers in a pan with a gallon of water. Bring the mix to a boil, put a lid on it, and let it simmer for half an hour. Let the mix cool, then strain out the solids, pour the liquid into a hand-held sprayer, and spritz your plagued plants from top to bottom.

Cutworms attack new seedlings and young transplants, slicing them off at ground level. Bust these bad guys and thwart other thugs with this forumula:

Mix 1 cup each of antiseptic mouthwash, tobacco tea*, chamomile tea, and urine with ½ cup each of Murphy® Oil Soap and lemon-scented dishwashing liquid in a large bucket. Then pour the solution into your 20 Gallon Hose-End Sprayer, and apply it to your plants to the point of run-off.
(*To make tobacco tea, place three fingers of chewing tobacco in an old nylon stocking and soak in a gallon of hot water until the mixture is dark brown.)

Slugs chew ragged holes in leaves and flowers, leaving a disgusting trail of silvery slime behind. One effective way to clear ‘em out is to trap them with some tempting treats:

In the evening, set citrus rinds, cabbage leaves, or potato chunks among your plants. In the morning, scoop up the traps, slugs and all. Then send ‘em to their doom by dropping them into a bucket of water laced with a cup or so of rubbing alcohol, ammonia, Epsom salts, or vinegar.
Jeannine Stergios
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