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Scott Stiller wrote:Very interesting Ryan!



I forgot to mention that hornworms prefer tobacco over tomatoes, and it's the hornworms that injure the tobacco in the wild resulting in the waspocalypse.
 
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We need to remember that tobacco can be very toxic to our helpers as well, particularly the bees. It would be one thing to have simply grown a few plants along with a field of other plants, and a totally different thing to use modern equipment to process and spread tobacco juice to places nature wouldn't. Just because nature makes something, doesn't mean that it's a good idea for humans to use that substance in unnatural ways. (Just ask someone who accidentally ate the wrong mushroom!)
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Jay Angler wrote:We need to remember that tobacco can be very toxic to our helpers as well, particularly the bees. It would be one thing to have simply grown a few plants along with a field of other plants, and a totally different thing to use modern equipment to process and spread tobacco juice to places nature wouldn't. Just because nature makes something, doesn't mean that it's a good idea for humans to use that substance in unnatural ways. (Just ask someone who accidentally ate the wrong mushroom!)



That's true, and I would only use it judiciously. Never on flowering plants during the bloom. I actually have about 1 lb of tobacco leaves for medicinal use. A poultice of it is an oldtimer cure for bee stings. I have used it on boils with some success. Plus the wasp attracting thing is cool.
 
pollinator
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I grew tobacco one year. There were a few friends that still smoked and I wanted to try it without chemicals. I had no idea that all of God’s creatures loved tobacco! That was a weird but informative year. I would tell you how I ended up doing that but it would require a thread all to itself! 🤣
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I use a brix meter in my garden. I have heard the claim that high brix foods taste better. The amount of sugar in a food is only part of the story about how sweet it tastes... For example with watermelons, it seems to me, like the chemicals responsible for the red color taste bitter. Therefore to taste sweet, a red watermelon has to be high sugar. Yellow fleshed watermelons do not taste bitter to me. Therefore, they can be lower sugar, and still taste subjectively sweeter than a red-fleshed watermelon. These days I am selecting only for yellow-fleshed watermelons. I'm moving my tomatoes towards yellow/orange types, for the same reason. The sweetest tasting cucumber I ever ate was extremely low brix. It's skin was yellow, so it lacked whatever bitterness components are associated with green skin.


    The theory about brix is that more nutrient dense crops have more energy, so they can make more sugar. So, the higher the brix compared to the usual for that variety, the more nutritious. this would be why they taste better. Probably, a special higher brix variety of corn is not appreciably more nutrient dense, however. In this case, more sugar is not bad, because it comes with all the minerals the body needs to handle it.
 
Scott Stiller
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I saved all of my seeds from my successful pumpkins last year. They all looked like a hybrid because the few seeds saved from the year before didn’t have the same color. I tried soaking them to see if they were viable. None of them sank. I thought for sure they wouldn’t grow. I buried the needs in compost and large pots hoping one would surprise me and grow. Well, they all grew!
Can someone make sure Joseph L sees this? He really gave me a great education on this sort of thing.
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Scott Stiller
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I follow a gardener from the tropics on my permaculture instagram page. They call pumpkin leaves Ugu. They are eaten and sold at market. Did you guys know that or am I the last to hear of this? I’ve been looking around the Internet but I’d like to hear personal stories from you guys. How do you cook it, specific recipes, is it just pumpkins or do gourds and squash count too? This is very exciting! May need it’s own thread. I’m going to see if I get any responses here first.
 
Jay Angler
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Scott Stiller wrote:

I follow a gardener from the tropics on my permaculture instagram page. They call pumpkin leaves Ugu. They are eaten and sold at market.

Yes, it might be good to post that question in the plant forum. We have to be very aware that common names aren't consistent the world over, and the orange Jack-o-lantern "pumpkin' is the North American name for a specific variety within a large family, of which I recall that some fruit is not edible. It's also important to know what the traditional cooking methods are. I had a friend who tried to eat a taro leaf raw - *really* bad idea, although not deadly. They're perfectly fine cooked as heat destroys the problem chemical.
 
pollinator
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Wendy Robers wrote:For what it is worth, I've had good success with Trombocino squash,butternut squash, and Seminole pumpkin here in the eastern part of Virginia...



I wanted to bring Wendy's comment back up to the top, because I found the exact same thing with the exact same varieties way up North in Rhode Island. Coincidence? I think not!

Before I realized that these three moschata varieties had a high resistance to many pests and diseases, it was nearly impossible for me to raise most of the squash I wanted. Tromboncino (or in my case Trombetta) serves as both a summer squash (when about 2' long) and a somewhat less exciting winter squash (when it's about 6' long). and butternut is familiar to most of us already. As for Seminole, I've only grown that from seeds that were already crossed with butternut, since I'm a little above the typical region for Seminole production. Upshot is, the squash vine borers that used to trouble me are no longer a problem. I don't seem to have as much problem with mildew, either. I am beginning to let some of the above cross with each other, to see whether I can generate even better varieties for my yard. Now all I need is a variety that the squirrels don't like to dig up just after I seed them!

My take-away is that people need to find what works for them and maybe let go of what doesn't work. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to figure out solutions but, if you've exhausted all of the Permaculture options and the only remaining solution is poison, definitely think carefully about whether there might be another plant that would serve a similar purpose. For instance, it takes a lot of work to grow table-quality apples in my region. It is far easier to grow Asian pears. Neither are native, but apples are more familiar. I grow both, but only because my wife wanted me to grow some apples. If I were smart, or single, I'd probably just grow Asian pears.

I hope everyone here is closer to finding solutions to their squash problems. Definitely some good ideas in this thread! Thanks Scott!

Cheers,
Karl

Instagram: @foodforestcardgame
Website: FoodForestCardGame.com
 
Jay Angler
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Karl Treen wrote:

Now all I need is a variety that the squirrels don't like to dig up just after I seed them!

Alternatively, you need a pair of Great Horned Owls with a pair of owlets to feed - the squirrel population which was at a problem level for me, has now crashed. I'm quite sure that it will recover, but in the meantime, I might actually get the odd ripe cherry if they'll start taking out the robins as well!

Karl Treen also wrote:

For instance, it takes a lot of work to grow table-quality apples in my region. It is far easier to grow Asian pears. Neither are native, but apples are more familiar. I grow both, but only because my wife wanted me to grow some apples. If I were smart, or single, I'd probably just grow Asian pears.

Maybe, but is it also possible that if the apples weren't there as a pest trap, the pests would discover that pear was "good enough"? Maybe here the alternative is to teach people that if you find a little bug in your apple, at least it's an organic bug, rather than pesticide residue?

That said, over-all I agree. Yes it is nice to experiment with sun traps/special management techniques that allow a borderline plant to grow on your land, but at some point we also have to learn to eat what we can grow or forage as our ancestors did. People need to return to saving their own seed so that it adapts to their local growing conditions and local pests.
 
Karl Treen
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Jay Angler wrote: Alternatively, you need a pair of Great Horned Owls with a pair of owlets to feed



I do need owls! Send 'em my way! ;)
 
Scott Stiller
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I agree that my last post would have been better in the plant section. However, I got my answer. A fluted pumpkin’s leaves are what is used in Nigerian cooking. Apparently very good for you. It’s on my list to try here in zone 7 next year. I believe it is worth the risk. I’ve grown gourds before that a Jamaican friend marvels at. He said they were eaten all over the island when he was still there. I certainly appreciate all the feedback here on this thread. I’m also thrilled to have been able to post a follow up victory lap as I grew successful pumpkins for the first time last season. The seeds from last season are growing like they’re on steroids but nothing of the sort has happened. I haven’t even used compost tea. They’re strong and beautiful all on their own!
 
Jay Angler
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@Scott - getting answers is what it's all about. I will have to look up what a "fluted pumpkin" looks like as technically I'm in Zone 7 also. Similarly, the issue with zones is that it's never that simple! Zone's too often focus on the "average" temp and being near the Pacific Ocean, we cool off a lot at night compared to some "Zone 7" weather elsewhere. This is why I like the permaculture approach which stresses the need to observe and see how Mother Nature is actually behaving - not what the book suggests she might be doing during an "average" of the last 50 years!
 
Jay Angler
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Cool - so "Fluted pumpkin" is : Telfairia occidentalis and Wikipedia says, "Telfairia occidentalis is a tropical vine grown in West Africa as a leaf vegetable and for its edible seeds. Common names for the plant include fluted gourd, fluted pumpkin, ugu, and ikong-ubong. T. occidentalis is a member of the family Cucurbitaceae and is indigenous to southern Nigeria."


The pumpkins I would normally grow here in Canada are Cucurbita pepo, so they are botanically related, but not so close as most of the "squashes" I'm familiar with. That also means that it's possible they would interbreed, so if you want to save seeds, you might have to get a little fancy about it since squashes tend to be a little promiscuous. That's not always a bad thing and I know some people who do so intentionally to create land race plants appropriate to one's ecosystem.

Please post results!
 
Scott Stiller
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I’ve been looking for fluted pumpkin seeds online. Most places are out but they’re all really pricey! I don’t have space at the moment anyway. May give them a shot next year because that would be a nice homestead side hustle.
The post from Wendy Robers was a nice find! I did plant butternut this year and it’s doing really terrific. Appreciate the repost.
The great horned owl comment reminds me of something my father in law did when he was younger. He found two baby owls in the woods and raised them in a large chicken coop he built. After some months someone told the officials about what he’d done so he let them go. They still remained as a pair on and around the property. He was young and paranoid that folks would find out so most people had no idea what he’d done. For years after he’d take friends on horseback or ATV rides through the forest. When spotted he’d point out the owls to his friends, stand on the ATV and hold a snack out for them. They’d swoop in to snack and then sit there. Once word got out he was seen as some sort of bird whisperer! This all sounded like BS to me but my wife backed up every word.
 
Scott Stiller
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My last post on this thread was May 30th. I’ll repost the pic from that day. The second pic is today.
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There's lots of good stuff already in this post, but I thought I'd throw in a few of my observations.  I have been gardening in the same small spot for about 15 years now and I have learned that I need to rotate crops not only in space but in time, as well. I don't have that much room to move things around, and I have found that I can grow the same things (squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans) in the same place for a certain number of seasons before pest pressure begins to build.  For instance, I grew squash for a couple of years with no issues, then 3 years ago I had an infestation of squash bugs (some of the pictures in this thread brought back bad memories!) so I shut down the squash. No squash until this year and I haven't seen a squash bug yet, despite going overboard on the squash plants. I had hornworms for the first time in a few years last summer, so I don't have any tomatoes this year. We'll see what happens next year.  After growing beans and cucumbers in the same spots for a couple of years, I noticed some kind of worm that was getting in the fruits.  I swapped their locations and haven't had a real issue yet this year.

Brassicas are a problem for me, though.  Some sort of brassica is necessary for a cool weather garden in NC, but the cabbage worms always find them.  Time again is an ally, planting at the right time in the fall and the brassicas will begin to grow but then it will get too cold for the worms and I don't have to squish them or spray the bT. I did notice this spring, though, that a mixed planting of some collards with various herbs, mustard and radish had no worms.  I plan to investigate/replicate in the future.

I have the constraint/luxury of only growing a few things so I have to find ways to make it an advantage.  I am almost tired of zucchini this year and I find myself thinking of fresh tomatoes and homemade salsa already!

 
Scott Stiller
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Good stuff Mark. Crop rotation for me is nearly impossible the way I’ve planted for the past couple of years. I should probably pay it more attention though. There are a few gardens here but mostly just patches. I’m not the best at planning. If I have a couple plants ready for transplant at once they get the best spots available and the next day is the same. I’ve gone full in on perennial herbs this year. I like the way they look along the woodland edges and around trees. These are spots I would normally put vegetables. In one small space there’s pumpkins, strawberries, watermelon, ground cherries cucumbers, tomatoes and various herbs. Non of it was thought out just planted as the opportunity arose. I also have thriving plants but load of squash bugs. I’m not sure what has happened here over the past few years. Things just grow with little input from myself. I guess that’s the whole point of permaculture. Thanks for keeping the thread alive! This is one I come back to from time to time. I’m still amazed by all the knowledge in this thread.
 
Scott Stiller
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Hey Mark, I’m a NC guy myself. Brassicas are no bueno here for sure. I will never attempt some of them again.
 
Myron Platte
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I have a possible answer to what it was that made your squash so vulnerable. Heat-stress! see what happens if you get 60% shade on your squash and gourds. This youtube video talks about this at about 6:50. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n_ATKIY-fQ Oh, another anecdote I heard is that if you kill the pests yourself, then you send the message that you are the predator, and it resets predator natralization every time you come down hard on the predators' food source. So ignoring the bugs might be a good strategy.
 
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I plant radishes in my squash hills and across the areas where the vines will travel. Never pull them out — let them flower and go to seed, etc. I never have squash bug problems.
 
L Anderson
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L Anderson wrote:I plant radishes in my squash hills and across the areas where the vines will travel. Never pull them out — let them flower and go to seed, etc. I never have squash bug problems.



PS at the end of the season the radish roots will be big. They make good condiment-style pickles. Quick style (grate them up and gives them a vinegar soak and a touch of sweetener) or fermented. Or  .......
 
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