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I think permaculture insect control has failed me.

 
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@Joseph Do you amend your soil in anyway?
 
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I've seen three of what I've learned from this thread are squash bugs, this season. They were all on the tatume, in the bed next to where we grew corn. In the same bed are Kentucky Wonder beans, echinacea, shasta daisies, sweet potatoes, snake melons, lemon verbena, carrots, peach trees, and amaranth.

I also had seminole pumpkins in a bed across the yard with onions, runner beans, matchstick plants, peppers, pear trees, a pomegranate bush, iris, salvia, pincushion flower, oregano, lavender, day lilies and a few other random flowers that survived last years garden. Didn't help with the squash vine borer, but didn't see one squash bug on that side of the yard.
 
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I might have missed if someone mentioned squash that like to root along the stems might be a way to protect against borers.

 
Casie Becker
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I mentioned it in passing earlier. Despite heavy attacks from the borers, I still have living seminole vines because of the rooted sections. They were able to mature all the fruit they set and I'm going to wait an see if the surviving sections will produce another crop in the fall.

The tatume didn't seem attractive to the borers, so the spring plants are still alive there, also. I'm going to be out of town for the proper time to start fall squash plants, so it's a good year to experiment. It's also two completely different approaches to dealing with the same problem.
 
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I've always heard that you should rotate crops to help control the pests but where I plant the squash is the only place I have where they can stretch out. And if i plant them on the other side of the house I've seen squash bugs there too on my gaillardia, sunflowers and shasta daisies. That surprised me.

Tyler, I've heard that works too but I don't think my yellow straight neck and zucchini will re-root, will they? The pumpkin, butternut and spaghetti will I think. I pulled up two more plants (one yellow, one zucchini) yesterday, each had three borers in it and was nothing but mush at the base. Several squash bugs eggs on each also.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I've had the least success over all with zucchini and other bush type Cucurbita pepo varieties. And no, even when they throw out a long stem, those sorts don't seem to want to grow more roots.   Vining winter squash types can make good zucchini substitutes.  Tatume was especially good for this last year, but I think we also ate some other kinds of immature winter squash as "zucchini."

 
Karen Donnachaidh
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I need to read about tatume, never heard of it. I also need to get out of my rut and venture into trying more varieties.
 
Casie Becker
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I got my tatume seeds from Baker Creek Seeds. Even if you don't shop there, the comments there are a great resource if you're considering a variety. People usually show their location and are usually good about giving both the challenges and success stories they had in their gardens. The good reviews from people in my region is a large part of why I tried tatume in the first place.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Thanks Casie. I'll check them out.
 
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Aaron Festa wrote:@Joseph Do you amend your soil in anyway?



No.

I have found that it is much easier to change the genetics of the crops that I grow than it is to change the soil.

I grow a lot of weeds, and the weeds and crop residues get composted in place. No organic matter leaves my fields unless I am eating it or getting paid for it. Corn stalks are not a waste product. They are the fertility of the garden for next year. My soil is clay/silt, so it holds onto nutrients well.



 
Aaron Festa
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@Joseph.  This might be for a different topic but I wonder what you think about high brix gardening and growing nutrient dense food.  I'm curious because I'm thinking (perhaps incorrectly) that even though a plant survives and produces seed that plant isn't necessarily worth saving if the soil is poor.  Because your essentially creating plants that tolerate poor soils and not increasing health.  all this of course comes from reading their literature of late and I'm curious what others think before heading down this path.  That being said you personally have inspired me to save seeds and I appreciate what you bring to permies
 
Tyler Ludens
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I was reading about the Cache Valley and it looks like it's not likely that Joseph is breeding plants adapted to poor soil.  The Cache Valley is an ancient lake with fertile soil many feet deep (one reference said "hundreds" of feet).  Joseph's practice of mulch composting all debris and weeds is, I think, quite a permaculture way of maintaining this fertile soil.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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"Brix Gardening" is a new term for me, but I've never yet let that stop me from commenting on a topic...

Scientifically, Brix is the amount of dissolved solids in fruit/vegetable juice. Those solids are typically sugar. So a synonym for "Brix Gardening" would be "Sugar Gardening". My holistic view of modern life is that people eat way too much sugar already. It seems to me, like the modern obesity epidemic is directly caused by an excess of carbohydrates in the diet: both sugars and starches.  I don't know if it would be a good thing to attempt to get more sugar into my community's diet.

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.

It is my general observation, that any plant grown on my farm tastes better than what I can obtain from the store. Better tasting food is more likely to be eaten... People are all the time telling me that they stopped buying grocery store tomatoes, cantaloupes, and strawberries. Because they think that taste is horrible compared to tomatoes from my farm. On some level, it's better to eat a vegetable than to not eat it. No matter how poorly grown my okra is, it's often the only okra available at my farmer's market. No matter what the brix of my medicinal herbs are, they are still the only medicinal herbs available at my farmer's market.

My moschata squash have ended up being low brix. What that means in practice is that they are more likely to be used as a vegetable than as a fruit. They are more likely to be used in a low sugar soup than in a high sugar pie. In this case, I think that low-brix is the healthier choice. I select for high carotenes in my crops. Because even though carotenes don't contribute much to brix, they contribute a glorious taste profile. Low brix squash tend to store better than high-brix squash. I'm still eating low-brix squash from last fall. The higher-brix squash have all rotted away by now.

It's easy on my farm to grow sweet corn with a brix of 25. However, the seed is less reliable than corn with a brix around 15. So I grow low-brix corn for the sake of reliability, and also because many people prefer eating corn that is "not sickly sweet". My sweet corn sells quickly at the farmer's market, specifically because it is low-sugar, and because it has a lot of colors that just plain old taste good.

My general philosophy towards growing is "no inputs": No cides. No fertilizers. No mulches. No manure. No purchased seeds. I've chosen a subsistence level growing model, and it works very well for me. Sure, I feel jealous when the mega-farmer brings spinach to market in August. But I'm not paying to air-condition a greenhouse. I'm not poisoning my food.

Low Brix Sweet Corn. High micro-nutrients.


 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Tyler: Yes, my soil is very nice.   And it is clay based, so that it holds on well to nutrients and water. My fields are in the hundreds of feet deep areas. One characteristic of the soil here, is that it is derived mostly from limestone, so pH can be a bit high for some species. No chance of growing blueberries here, except in pots. One of the local farmer's grows blueberries, but he had to install a custom watering system to inject acid into the soil while irrigating.
 
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@Aaron F: "...even though a plant survives and produces seed that plant isn't necessarily worth saving if the soil is poor.  Because your essentially creating plants that tolerate poor soils and not increasing health."

Might be fodder for a different thread, but it's also possible that *all* things become adapted to their location.  The plant may have characteristics making it *look* less nutritious, even from a biochemical standpoint, but there may be something about adaption to that local climate that makes the *consumer* able to use that plant's complement of nutrients.  Obviously this notion could be taken too far....the human condition is pretty adaptable, but not infinitely so.  But I could certainly imagine a situation where one's physiology craves a certain element due to the conditions of their local environment, and some of the plants grown there would provide that element, even if they looked otherwise nutritionally poor.  Just one angle that may or may not  be valid.

@Joseph L: "Sure, I feel jealous when the mega-farmer brings spinach to market in August."

And yet I've noticed something over the past few years....my cravings tend more often to match availability.  I don't crave popcorn in the summer, nor eggs.  I can crave greens in the winter, but tend to want the things I can pull out of the chest freezer or root cellar.  My craving now for eggs is highest when chickens are laying, for popcorn is highest in winter when it is dried and ready. Do others notice cravings that match or do not match the seasons of the produce?

 
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Wow, what I thread! Permies stopped sending emails when I got a comment so I had no idea there was so much more knowledge being passed here.
Joseph, the blooms on my mystery squash look exactly like the blooms you sent pictures of. The only thing is my blooms stay open day and night.
 
Casie Becker
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Not exactly a craving for produce, but we've commented on it my family in the past, all the women in the family crave seafood in late winter/early spring. It always seemed to me that this lined up with when winter stores would be starting to run thin and the sea would be the easiest source for fresh food.
 
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I've found chickens to be very effective at controlling squash bugs on my plants. Prior to this, I would find many of the bugs on each plant, with dozens of their nymphs appearing as the season progressed. Since allowing chickens access to the squash beds, its rare to find any bugs on the squash plants running along the ground, so the only bugs I find are on the parts of the plant that climb above chicken reach. The main climbing curcubit I'm growing now is the cucuzzi edible gourd (I got into  growing them since the summer squash would only manage to produce a few fruit before the bugs and borers killed them off). The gourd attracts some squash bugs, but aren't as attractive to them as squash.  The chickens come running whenever I start picking the bugs off the gourd.  Each year I allow mature fruit to grow on the gourd plants that have the fewest bugs on it. The chickens seem to have a suppressing effect on the borers as well since borer squash kill has been way down since adding the chickens.
 
Scott Stiller
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The one on the left is big apple gourd. On the right is a flat Corsican. Both are simply grown for crafts. I'm a bit disappointed because they really handle the squash bug pressure well.
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Joseph Lofthouse
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Scott Stiller wrote:The one on the left is big apple gourd. On the right is a flat Corsican. Both are simply grown for crafts. I'm a bit disappointed because they really handle the squash bug pressure well.



They are commonly eaten by other peoples in other lands. I really like them as summer squash: picked, sliced, and sauteed as young fruit, while the skins are still soft, and the seeds delicate and immature. Don't let the smell of the plant's leaves turn you off from at least cooking and tasting the squash. If in doubt, I always recommend more bacon and more onions in any squash stir-fry.

 
Scott Stiller
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@Mike That's a great idea you have about the chickens. I plant as many plant species together as I can get and there lies my problem. The chickens have demolished every plant I planted in the spring. It got so bad that I have ceased to let them free range the property. I do have a few small enclosed gardens though. I may be up for putting a few chicks in them once the squash has developed to a point that it may not bother them. I feel like doing that would lead to just a squash patch monoculture. Worth a try though.
@joseph spent a lot of time looking for recipes for my newly identified gourds. I found none lol. Even sites that sell them had them listed as non-edibles. I trust your judgement though. Your results speak for themselves.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Personally I don't think small monoculture patches are a problem, especially if they're necessary to be able to grow something successfully.  A larger polycultural design with little squash monocultures dotted around seems like it would foster diversity just fine.  By moving the patches around every few years, it might help to decrease pests and disease that might build up if the monoculture were preserved over many years.
 
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I have never had success with summer squash.
In the past I got tons of leaves, few if any fruit. No pests.
So I stopped growing them.
This year my daughter wanted pumkins,so we damn well planted pumpkins!
So I planted out our winter sown starts.
One survived and began taking over the bed.
We found one pumpkin!
And the vine started dying.
Research indicated vine borers.
The one pumpkin survived,no other yield,but that was enough for my girl.

😁

So,next year I plan on moving them to the pear orchard.
There will be plenty of room for them to run,and hopefully I will have quail by then.
Abe has related how quail eat insects, but tend to leave plants over a certain size alone.

I don't grow leaf crops in the orchard,due to lead concerns,so I will add more to replace the pumpkin.

Even the pest holes in the greens don't seem to ruin production.

If the pumpkin,watermelon,cumbersome and squash in the orchard fail, I expect some decent and much needed biomass to be produced.
At the end of the season, I plan on running chickens through,hopefully disrupting the pest cycle.
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Mike Turner
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The Cucuzzi is a Lagenaria gourd that has been selected in Italy for a long skinny fruit for use as a "summer squash" and its use there predates the discovery of the New World with its introduction of squash to Europe.  Zucchini squash was selected in Italy to resemble the traditional Cucuzzi "squash" that was grown there prior to its introduction, which is why zucchini is long, cylindrical and green..

The trick with using chickens in your garden is to limit their "grazing" pressure.  My chickens forage over about 4 acres of land (garden, lawn, pastures, woods, livestock pens, bamboo groves) so they only spend a portion of their time in the garden.  I also have to block them off some crops until they get large enough not to be bothered by an occasional scratching, while other crops such as lettuce, carrots are grown in my hoop house where the chickens can't venture.  For me, they are completely compatible with asparagus, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, gourds, wax melons, corn, peppers, onions, leeks, okra, pole/bush/yard long/fava beans, cowpeas, peas, chicory, parsnips, kale, collards, broccoli, mustard. Their scratching activities can cause some damage to the smaller cucurbits (melons, cucumbers) by their moving the vines around. They'll eat the tomatoes they can reach, but if you trellis your plants, most of the fruit is above their reach. Carrots and the smaller leaf crops (lettuce, arugula, spinach, etc. have to be kept off limits to the chickens. Strawberries have to be kept off limits during their fruiting season. If they dig up the occasional recently transplanted collard or onion, that's the price I pay for their insect and critter control. Grasshoppers, crickets, pill bugs, caterpillars, cutworms, and bugs are now hard to find in my garden (unfortunately also spiders, lizards, small snakes and frogs), but they don't bother the toads.

Prior to using the chickens I had just about given up on growing traditional summer squash (at best they would die after producing a couple of fruit) and had gone to growing Cucuzzi as a substitute. It was just as good tasting, but less productive and takes up more space (ideally should be trellised). The only squash that would survive here were moschata and an occasional mixta (the maximas were toast).  Seminole squash does well here and I keep selecting from the most productive plants.  Also the moschata Tromboncini does ok as a summer squash, but I have to keep it well separated from my Seminole to keep it from crossing with it.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Scott: Look for recipes for: Cucuzza, Googootz, Bottle Gourd, Lauki, Opo, Lagenaria, or Calabash. Since the squash is more commonly grown in Asia, curry is likely to be found in many recipes. For me, I use lagenaria squash just like zucchini: Young fruits, sauteed with butter, onions, and/or bacon.

 
 
Scott Stiller
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Will do Joseph, thank you.
Joseph, have you ever started with a hybrid seed that you were able to regrow every year?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I love growing the offspring of hybrid corn, squash, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, and spinach. I love growing the offspring of hybrid peas and beans, even though I have to make or find those in my own garden.

In my ideal world, where I am on top of my game, and really pay attention to the garden, and plan far ahead, I would make my own variety of hybrid sweet corn. I have two blank rows in one of my fields this year, where the mothers for that project were supposed to be planted. The fathers got planted... One of the long-term projects that I am working on is to incorporate self-incompatibility genes into tomatoes, so that every tomato seed I collect on my farm, will be a naturally-occurring hybrid, and I won't have to put any labor into making hybrids.

 
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i think i commented on this recently somewhere. guines will eat every bug they can find  and there very good at finding them . and they will not eat your veggies once they are past being seedlings. you can also stop worrying about ticks .when the garden is done ---roast guinea
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I thought of this thread when I saw a squash plant dying in my garden...


Whatever, it's one squash plant in 1000. And it's only 1 squash plant in 30 of that variety that was imported to my garden for the first time this year. So whatever. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have even looked to see why it's dying... But because I've been participating in this thread, I took a closer look. Hmm. Interesting. The plant has ripened it's fruit, and completed it's life-cycle, so this is an opportune time to die...

Lady Godiva, naked-seeded pumpkin.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Just to demonstrate that I am no stranger to squash bugs... Here is a squash that is growing in one my my fields. But, it is a commercial variety that was planted there by a collaborator. So it is one of those foreign squash that is suffering from a pesticide deficiency. My squash, that I have been saving seeds from for many generations, are not being bothered by the bugs.





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Squash Bug Infestation
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Thank you Joseph, for blazing the trail, sharing your experience/expertise and for keeping it REAL!
 
Mike Turner
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Seminole squash seems to also have some resistance to squash bugs.  Although the chickens clean out all of the squash bugs on the parts of the plant they can reach, they can't do anything about the parts of the vine higher than they can reach.  On the Cucuzzi gourds I can find a few squash bugs on those parts of the plant that have climbed above chicken reach, but I can't find a single bug on the climbing parts of the Seminole squash.  Thanks to the chickens, I've gone from having 100's of nymph and adult squash bugs present in the garden late in the season to having a zero presence of squash bugs on ground level squash.

The chickens also seem to be effective against squash borers as well.  In past years, summer squash would collapse before producing any or just a couple of fruit, but this year with the chickens present I still have May-sown summer squash growing in the garden. In past years I even tried to escape squash borers by growing summer squash hidden away in large tubs in my greenhouse located well away from my outdoor garden, but the borer moths were able to find and kill the squash growing in the greenhouse.
 
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Scott, time isn't a factor in the permaculture scheme.  Some things can be dramatically improved seemingly overnight.  But in regards to bugs and insects, it is the testimony of researchers like Elaine Ingham that the microbes must be active in the soil in substantial enough numbers in order to get the minerals to the plants.  Additionally, it is the testimony of practitioners like John Kempf and Dan Kittredge and others that plants (all) which have adequate mineralization are invisible to insect pests, even if  they are ravaging unhealthy (under mineralized) plants next door.  Leaf analysis might show you which minerals are missing and a foliar spray may be able to alleviate that deficiency.  And John Kempf has shown that for some plants, foliar spraying for a couple years can be enough to get the cycle going and then be self sufficient until the next major disturbance.
 
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I have only had sqaush bugs here in my gardens 3 times in 40 years . I always pull the plant and rake and burn the ares after. bores are more of a problem so. i plant 3 succession crops of summer squash . I did find that a cross of black zuccini and yellow straightneck was very vigourous productive and resistant to bugs . Wood ash around the base of the plant helps Because of the borer , I only grow Seminole and butternut now though I did accidently cross them last year .They have never has the borer get in them .I planted the seminole squash  using the 3 sisters , as well as interplanted on a 75 ft trellis with several other crops . Corn needs to come from someone who saved the seed properly. It needs blocks of 4 rows to pollinate. It is wind pollinated or you can hand pollinate . I do have a hybrid cherry tomato that I have saved seed from for 8 years now- it only improves. Another experiment with a commercial greenhouse hybrid turned into tasteless pointed cherry tomatoes. I experimented with that 3 years as a home school lesson . . Crosses are not always good or tasty but certainly fun to experiment. Some of my seed ,I have saved for over 40 years. I have never used chemicals here . Won't go there . I take what nature provides and always eat well but not all crops do well every year . Lots of my own  biodynamic compost ,cover crops and rotations are what I use. I minimally till , mow and mulch as well as weed .Sharon
 
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This thread is shaking up what I have come to understand about pest control. My understanding has been that the highest form of defense against pests is the polyculture guild, and that planting in monoculture is akin to leaving the drawbridge down and the castle unlocked. But Scott appears to have nice polycultures going on, and has a big insect problem (at least this year). On the other hand, Tyler says:

Tyler Ludens wrote:Personally I don't think small monoculture patches are a problem, especially if they're necessary to be able to grow something successfully.  A larger polycultural design with little squash monocultures dotted around seems like it would foster diversity just fine.  By moving the patches around every few years, it might help to decrease pests and disease that might build up if the monoculture were preserved over many years.



And Joseph posted a picture of what looks like a big 'ol patch of squash, and mentioned 1000 row-feet of it, and seems to get away with that because his germplasm takes care of its own pest problems, thank you very much.

Does anybody else here do small-scale monocultures, and if so, why, and how well do you get away with it without -cides? Is garden-level diversity adequate to check off "polyculture" as a tool against pests?
 
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Clear Packaging tape and DE.......... Well, so far these are the only things that have had any impact.  I used to squash all the eggs, but I think I must have been letting a few viable eggs fall to the ground. because there were always nymphs after a few days.  When I switched to the packaging tape and literally lifted them off with the tape adhesive I knew I got them all and then I sealed the eggs in the tape and threw them away!  Funny though, I always had the thought of incinerating them in the tape.  Not sure if that thought was out of revenge or to just be darn sure they were dead.  After doing this and dusting with DE a couple times a week I hardly had any left!  So, for me the egg removal with tape had an increased effect.  Also, you have to do all your cubrits at the same time no matter how far apart they are.  And, you need to keep the ground clear around the base of the patch as any mulch or grasses give the adults safe haven, oh and if you want to try it look up putting down boards to catch them.  

While this may not seem too permie-like I use a gas powered leaf blower to dust with DE.  I cut a hole in the nozzle tube and have a funnel that I put the DE in and MAN does that get that DE out there and into every hiding place.  Do it in the evening after the bees leave the patch though.
 
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I cruised through this site, and smiled, seeing familiar sources of GREAT info (Thanks Joseph, yet again) John, etc.  I am beginning my permaculture journey in a "serious" (i.e., I finally bought my homestead, have a few acres, etc- not that my uber intense urban permie in a year rube goldbug maximize your gardening space erector set plant utopias weren't "serious" or anything (or to anyone who does it on small scale) and though I have been a little off in space (err, off the internet, outside, FAILING (ha) fighting insects, trying to irrigate, trying to grow things, trying to make compost, blah blah blah) despite the first growing season of mostly "fail fail fail"- I wanted to chime in, that a lot of the opinions expressed on the crosses being better (especially if they are local landrace crosses) I feel to be completely true. This is especially true for me in the high desert of New Mexico. I read every book on "growing things in the high desert"/permaculture in the desert" etc etc and I saw the caveat about "What you thought was gardening disappears when you move to the high desert", but because I was so studious, (er insane) I just thought "Well, I am going to make it work-whatever!" I definitely saw what was being written, and this was shocking to me since I was creating my own soil, amending with everything good under the sun (and spending some $$$) doing it, buying plants/seeds from top notch companies we all know and love (or most of us, but that's another thread) and still, utterly failing, due to insects, high winds, bizarre drought microclimates, equally bizarre wet (mushrooms?! on my land?! wtf (but I thought "hey cool, it's damp there-wonder what I can do there?!") -It was truly mind blowing when I wasn't retiring to my bedroom for a feeling sorry for myself nap- or in tears. (looking at my credit card/checking account for all the great stuff I bought and had such high hopes for)


I haven't seen from the thread, (and I apologize if you're regularly on the site, and I haven't seen your familiar "face" and you're doing Permie stuff all the time, or have been doing it for a long time-or you're kinda "new" like me) but all I can offer to you is this : I live in the area of New Mexico (at least in my state, though "The Three Sisters" has/is done worldwide) that is "known" for prowess, even when everything else died-period) for growing.  This year was brutal. I am the intern/volunteer for Flowering Tree Permaculture (ongoing)- hopefully forever (you might have read about flowering tree in Gaia's Garden, Roxanne is an amazing woman, and so kind to me) and I was out in the fields with Roxanne, learning from her and Rose (her daughter, also on the board of directors of flowering tree) and I'll leave all the Flowering Tree info and updates to the lady in charge (via her Facebook, and website etc) as it's her wonderful 35 year creation- (and she's really busy, but regularly updates the Facebook page, etc) and the news in the fields, and other things (like building Adobe Ceremonial houses!) are hers to share- but of course, because all Permaculturists (for the most part! as we know from this great site!) are generous, after my periods of education/work/intern-I often get little gifts of seeds or other things to try at home. I also find that after spending a long day in a field, or building, it does really help to go home and try to do it again, even on "mini scale"- Anyways, not to divert from the thread-

But, All I know, is that, this year was really rough for the Southwest, and according to Roxanne, it was in comparison to other years in terms of crops, and insects. I wouldn't speak for her, but she has lived in my area of Northern New Mexico her whole life, and had FT for 35 years as her permaculture site. It's great that others here, have insights for fellow permies on their experience, since I was so, so, so so so rarin' to go on my land (even after working 8 hours in 102 degree heat with flowering tree) that I was truly, devastated, (and starting to wonder if I just "sucked" at permaculture) that things were failing-crops, insects, I couldn't get things irrigated evenly- so it was soothing to hear this info from a person who has worked the land season after season. I hate even mentioning "climate change" (because it terrifies me to the point of wanting to put my head in the sand like an ostrich-despite my own personal efforts to offset my contribution to it) but It can't be ignored.

hopefully this tome isn't making anyone's eyes glaze over, but here were my own impressions, including my own miserably failed squash. I have been planning a blog, but isn't everyone who likes permaculture and doing it, "planning a blog", or "meaning to update their already up blog" (wink smile)

A) Insects (especially grasshoppers where I am, which is kind of up on a mesa top mixed with agricultural land within 3000 feet of the rio grande) were out of control. Last year, I was told the area got record rains- I also think New Mexico is getting record rains this year. This is good and bad, but when I was lamenting my failure to grow anything (basically) Roxanne said that high rains in the high desert, can often equal lots of bugs and insects,and though water is life, despite the aquifers getting refreshed- growing things can be really horrible. It seems like the normally, tough as nails weeds (that grow, even in areas where there is no soil, or water) just go gangbusters- I have weeds that are seriously 4 ft tall, and got that way, in a matter of weeks.
the hoppers- and squash bugs, and other insects, breed and love this damp cool shade, and even if you are cutting them down, and spending $100s of dollars on Semaphore- they laugh at you.

B) Since I live in an area that has been farmed (and still is, but many of the farms are 10 acres of less, or (inspiring) the individuals who have this land, farm a small portion out of respect for their history-especially when it concerns Chile, melon, the three sisters, etc) I watch every morning with horror as I sip my coffee on my back porch (remember I am high up on a bluff looking down at the river a few thousand feet below me) my neighbors, out on their little tractors, or walking on foot- SPRAYING SPRAYING SPRAYING SPRAYING.  Yes the acequia is there, and that irrigates the land, we have lots of water where I live (probably the only place in New Mexico, which is why the land is expensive, and never is for sale (I lucked out) but despite all the heartwarming traditional methods and "respect for the land/cultural history"-  IT seems that stops with pesticides. Until I set up a little perch/ chair/ thrifted coffee table on this back porch, I didn't always notice the goings on of my neighbors, (other than the light whir of their small, often 50 yr old tractors milling about in the mornings) and I have to say, this was kind of disturbing to me. Luckily, the topography is on my side in terms of my own land, and I hope there isn't too much spray spread reaching where I am growing things- but I think it would be wise to look into the history of spraying near you, on your property (even if you don't do it yourself and haven't for a few years) as I think, (WAIT WE KNOW) this glyphosate poison- lasts, decimates the natural order of things, and I think that some aspect of things being so "out of whack" on my land- had to do with the rampant use of this product (in certain areas) on the property by the previous owners (yep found the good old roundup and other horrible things left in the shed when they vacated the property-sadly, I think they thought they were being "nice"-at least I was able to know for sure without a soil test)

I don't know where your garden is, but I shot photos of areas in which I was aware roundup was being used (or other pesticides) not to grow things- but mainly due to former residents wanting to have some kind of suburban "lawn" in the high desert, playing "god" what have you, I don't know. - In these areas, there were definitely MORE weeds, MORE insects.  So I guess the point in this "illiad" of a bullet point is : maybe where you are growing has a history that isn't conductive to what you're trying to do. I am learning this slowly, just watching the life/death/ cycles of plants, insects- as days go by. This doesn't help you eat, or have a market garden- but just in a conservation/ecologically conscious way- It is both enlightening and sobering.

C) I completely agree with Joseph on the landraces and his thoughts. I had tons of cool heirlooms from upstate new york (where I relocated from) that I had saved seeds from my favorite organic farms there- very few, even the ones that I protected like a hawk from the insects- seemed to even "like" it around here climate wise. (That's pretty well known of course) The thing that surprised me, is this "landrace" "preference" shown of the plants- seemed to stand true- even if I had containers filled with the most expensive, fabulous, organic soil and soil amendments-and put them directly facing south, and played "god" myself with drips, etc- The jury is out to why that is, since obviously, greenhouses and the like grow all sorts of things in completely non-hospitable (in their natural state) environments- but that is how it went for me, and it was flummoxing, and my checkbook is SAD. (and I have no yummy veggies so -yeah bummed)
However, There was a light for me, in education- as I saw, that the plants that did SURVIVE, (but perhaps, had their leaves all eaten, or didn't get to bloom, etc) were ones that were local landraces- all of em. Even the ones that grew and then were eaten (due to the crazy weather and insect issues this year) showed they would thrive in even drought conditions- and those were ancient Pueblo corns, native berry bushes, and trees that had been nurtured and cultivated for 20 years to survive and thrive in our climate by Gordon Tooley of Tooley's Trees in Truchas, NM (look him up, he's great and so is his wife Margaret- if you like trees, they offer a serious internship through the Quivera Coalition (that is also listed on Attra)  http://quiviracoalition.org/New_Agrarian_Program/Tooley_s_Trees/index.

but even a couple, (and I am looking forward to meeting with Gordon and Margaret, and have him come to the house, and see what "happened" with the ones that aren't thriving-probably tell me what I did wrong, ha- and also discuss why certain varieties, (I saved up and purchased about 400.00 in trees from the Tooleys-) are doing well.

This has to do of course with our own individual microclimates, and our own individual screw ups (ha), or other factors-that I find interesting since I want to do permaculture for the rest of my life.

Accepting that insects ate everything (or whatever) and things failed, is not so hot when you are trying to live off the land, or start a cottage industry/market farm, and I know that such acceptance can be devastating if you want to earn an income to support a family, or help your dream of living off grid work, what have you. Trust me, i could not articulate in type the level of disappointment and frustration when I compared hours of interning/volunteering/visiting local farmers, 14 hour days trying to get zone 1, zone 2 into "shape", saving and budgeting for materials/tools, drips, etc- But in the end, nature is nature, and then there are our- and others (like with the roundup "festival" of spray going on around me) mistakes.

D)  I post, and I smiled when I was Tyler posting on this thread, since the last time we interacted was on my CHICKEN TRIUMPH. But my "permaculture insect control"- that kicked ass (pardon my little swear, but I was BLOWN AWAY) was getting chickens. I now have 20, and I will probably have 50 by years end. Even as small pullets, they took to the grasshoppers and nymphs (and carpenter ants, and grubs) with wild abandon. I barely have to give them any store bought feed, they free range, and have free range shelters (that I built from discarded stuff I found, or dead logs, sticks) and I thought perhaps this was the universe giving me a small "bone"- for all the effort I put in- as the chickens saved many of the plants-hopefully they can rebound and grow something next year-but without them, I would have lost everything.
I cannot remember, (and I apologize if it was a permie member) I read in a forum, about someone creating a "Barrier" for the pests with chicken paddock areas around their vegetation. I tried this, in my own way (I am still figuring this paddock system out) but it worked.( "worked" is of course I didn't lose the 50.00 apple tree, though right now, it is barely out of the ICU) So- if you can somehow have your garden in an area that you could do this "Great Wall of Chicken" barrier- I suggest it.


E) Another strange thing, that I had wanted to share on here, and I guess I will here, since it applies is that I used DE- a lot, but the weird/cool thing I had wanted to share with everyone, is that, it is commonly thought usually that chickens don't like some bugs (like carpenter ants, or other ones that chew) because of their bitterness. I had one squash (that sadly didn't give me anything, but is still alive-) and I put DE all over it, and then spritzed diluted peppermint oil all over it, even directly on the bugs that were on or near the plants- Well this seemed to provide some kind of "candy coating" and the bugs that the chickens weren't interested in AT ALL, all of a sudden became delicious treats and they were fighting over the bugs, (and had no interest in the veg whatsoever) I will definitely use this little method again. I think I had a little bit of orange oil I added as well.


F) I noticed the squash bugs near me, will investigate the old cornmeal trick. (eating it and then their guts exploding or whatever) I have no idea, or the science/etymology background to say that this is true for their digestive tracts as it is, say, ants- but all I know is I have put out little capfuls (the caps on say, pasta sauce that I am reusing) of blue corn meal, in little strategic areas- There are dead squash bugs belly up nearby, and even other pests dead nearby that seem to have sampled this natural trick.
maybe try dusting your squash with it- or leaving out a little dish. It at least saved my squash from totally dying and I have something green in this sea of desert brown.


So the jist of my treatise, is I think Permaculture insect control works very well, but I think, as others have expressed, (and with much more brevity than I, ha ha!) I think it might be helpful to dig deeper into some of the ideas expressed with permaculture, and focus on landraces, squash that grows, or has grown, or has been nurtured and naturally selected by people like Joseph as ones that thrive and survive- for your area. Get some birds, if you can't deal with birds, encourage the ones that are already around you, with little capfuls of water and some wild bird seed (that helped too, and I have a wonderful bird utopia now, so many cute nests and happy animals, and yes LESS BUGS)

I also think it would be good to consider moving (if you can) where you planted your squash, due to the soil comments/roundup comments expressed- and just the differing microclimates one can have in one space of yard- shade from a tree, or a garden patch near your fence that borders a vacant lot (oh the grasshoppers and other bugs LOVE vacant overgrown lots, yes I'm dealing with that too, I think my husband and I might just...... buy the land, it is so annoying)

any who, ten brownie points to anyone who actually read all this, and I hope some of my blather helped you at all.  It has been an interesting and somewhat humiliating first season, but I am undeterred because of the little triumphs.


Joseph, I had meant to contact you (in some way) because as another experiment, I am going to try to grow a "Lofthouse grid garden" with your plants, and mimicking the way you grow in Utah. I am at nearly 6000 elevation and my climate is somewhat different, but I thought it would be a) a good permaculture experiment b) you would be interested to see how it goes here c) I could learn and then start to use my own adaptations and "hacks" and continue the genetic and regional diversity of landraces in areas that aren't always hospitable to growing (like the high desert)

okay, better go check on those wonderful chickens



 
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Jen Gira wrote:Joseph, I had meant to contact you (in some way) because as another experiment, I am going to try to grow a "Lofthouse grid garden" with your plants, and mimicking the way you grow in Utah. I am at nearly 6000 elevation and my climate is somewhat different, but I thought it would be a) a good permaculture experiment b) you would be interested to see how it goes here c) I could learn and then start to use my own adaptations and "hacks" and continue the genetic and regional diversity of landraces in areas that aren't always hospitable to growing (like the high desert)



Interestingly enough, my first really successful mixta squash came from 6000 feet in New Mexico. After 4 failed growing seasons, and one marginal season,  I planted landrace seeds from a New Mexican farmer. They thrived here, and became the foundation of my mixta squash. Thanks Seth! Today mixta squash are very reliable for me.

My main squash field contains about 600 row-feet of squash... Here's what it looked like 10 days ago. I have smaller patches in 3 other fields.
squash-2016-08-11.jpg
[Thumbnail for squash-2016-08-11.jpg]
600 row-feet of squash
 
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Insects do not care how you plant your vegetables much. We do three sisters plantings and this year we have had squash bugs even attack the corn and beans.
We grow very similar to how Kola Lofthouse grows his vegetables, we produce our own seeds from our best plants which will end up as landrace varieties in a few more years.
This year we even had bugs attacking beds with deterent plants all around and mixed in with the squash, beets, greens, beans, pretty much you name it. The extremely mild winter didn't give us the insect kill needed.
So the bugs are in massive amounts, very much like a Red Tide, the conditions were perfect for bugs and so bugs are plentiful this year.

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