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wildcrafter
03-22-2008, 07:41 PM
I think a thread about growing hops organically might be a good thing- a sharing of knowledge. Hopefully this would include alot of info where you've been there, done that.

I'll start with birds, grasshoppers and hops.

Flycatchers and other birds really like the trellis and wood posts for perching and hunting. They REALLY like grasshoppers and the grasshoppers can decimate your hops before you get back from a weekend away. Hummingbirds also love the wires (little feet;) ) and will hunt smaller soft bodied insects and hummingbirds REALLY love aphids. Both flycatchers and hummingbirds are relentless, vigorous, efficient insect hunters and to have them living in your hopyard or nearby is a MAJOR advantage. Nesting birds are even more intense hunters.

I'm lucky to live near a river, migratory flyway, and more that promotes great diversity. I made a nice organic hopyard and all the insect hunting birds moved in. What a blessing.

Now a few years back at the old hopyard, the grasshoppers came and decimated the hops and the aphids were beyond the control of the hummingbirds and failure came hard. The hopyard had no flying room for any of these birds and the planting was far too dense. It was crashing by design.

The upshot is to plan to include a diverse group of birds in an organic hopyard- it makes the difference. We also plant more than hops in the hopyard for the sake of diversity and more. It keeps it all interesting.

The diatomaceous earth you'll use won't hurt the birds either, in fact, it may just kill some lice and mites and help keep the birds healthy.

Agroecology 101-Birds

mic_mac
03-23-2008, 09:48 AM
I've no personal experience on this, but I've got a couple of pennies to add (I'm British, so I wouldn't know what to do with my 2cents . . . anyway . . .)

In books/articles & web, I've read that some UK organic hopgrowers (of which there are maybe 1 or 2!) & other non-organic, but more eco UK hopgrowers have been using/encouraging other 'biological controls'/'natural predators' to help combat the problems of damson-hop aphid, red spider mite, etc.

Linked to this, some UK growers have also switched to growing 'dwarf' varieties (the term is being PC'd out infavour of 'hedgerow' - which does have a pleasant ring to it) because the 'hedge' is more accessible & visible, I think problems are easier to spot & deal with sooner. Also, according to Edward Thompson (farming hops & soft fruit at Pixley Court, Herefordshire) -

"We also chose new hops in the 1990s, introducing the new dwarf hop, First Gold. This eight foot high hop grows to under half the height of traditional hops and provides a hedge along which natural predators can travel in pursuit of their lunchtime pests."
http://www.farmingfutures.co.uk/documents/E_Thompson_CS15_WEB.pdf

Somewhere in my piles of interesting stuff, I've got an article about establishing hedgerow hops by a UK grower with the beautiful name of Mr Pudge (up their with Messrs Goldings & Fuggles to me). I'll try & hunt it out if you're interested?

AFAIK, the main UK organic grower Peter Hall (for a decade or more, the only UK organic grower, I think) has now decided to give up growing organic hops (& hops in total I think?). A couple of others UK growers have however started to grow organically.

Cheers,
Mike
(worked at Brakspear & Meantime, brewing Brakspear's Naturale, Vintage Roots & Live Organic + St.Peters Organic Ale, Freedom Organic, etc)

jason.koehler
03-23-2008, 05:00 PM
I've read that ants harvest aphids much like cattle, can anyone confirm this?

There are tons of ant hills in the area of my hop site, so I'm hoping this is the case...

AlexisScarlett
03-24-2008, 05:06 AM
I've read that ants harvest aphids much like cattle, can anyone confirm this?

There are tons of ant hills in the area of my hop site, so I'm hoping this is the case...

Ants have aphid "ranches" where they care and protect the aphids so the ants can eat the honeydew the aphids secrete. Time to move some ants! Plus who wants to nail an ant hill while harvesting hops?

I say chickens-- they will scratch up any homes for insects and the till the soil and will voraciously eat ants and grasshoppers and will fertilize the plants. They will take a few peeks at the hops leaves but then they leave them alone. Not so tasty.

wildcrafter
03-24-2008, 08:11 AM
Mic-mac. It's sad to hear that anybody is giving up on hop farming, let alone organic hop farming.

Including birds in an organic hop farm saves $ and labor as they work for food.

Another helpful idea is to not monocrop just hops. Plant other diverse things like food and other flowers to bring in a maximum of diversity of insects- like all of the predator insects. Besides, you may just find that one of the things that you planted ended up being the sacrificial part of the garden. Hopefully it won't be the hops with other options available.

wildcrafter
03-25-2008, 07:25 AM
[QUOTE=AlexisScarlett]Ants have aphid "ranches" where they care and protect the aphids so the ants can eat the honeydew the aphids secrete. Time to move some ants! Plus who wants to nail an ant hill while harvesting hops?

Some ants are aphid farmers, some ants are fungus farmers. It matters which you have as you don't want the aphid farmers for the hops but you may want the fungus farming ants.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-03/s-snm032408.php

There are many plants that the ants love and protect. Hop tree(Rutacea ptelea trifoliata) with large ant mounds nearby are healthier and more robust than hop trees without ants. The ants climb all over this tree as the tree has glands on the leaves that secrete ant attractants like food and more. Perhaps the ant farmed fungi are beneficial mycorrhiza for hop tree.

Everything is connected.:D

mic_mac
03-25-2008, 08:30 AM
AFAIK, the organic grower I mentioned (who's given up on organic hops) farmed non-organically in the fields surrounding his small acreage of organic hops - which could be said to be not really in the spirit of the organic ethos.

Even so, I heard that due to the plethora of problems related to growing hops in the UK (downy mildew, red spider mite, damson/hop aphid, poor weather, etc, etc) in about 1 in 4 years, he would get no organic hops at all!

AlexisScarlett
03-26-2008, 07:17 AM
Some ants are aphid farmers, some ants are fungus farmers. It matters which you have as you don't want the aphid farmers for the hops but you may want the fungus farming ants.

What do this fungus farmers look like? Head shot on the article only and I don't often get that close and personal with ants. Very interesting though-- Wildcrafter you have the best info

Suggestion for companion planting in hopyard in the alleys-- comfrey. Comfrey is a little factory for nutrients and deep roots. Grows and self seeds well. Attracts bees. Creates rich mulch. Comfrey tea treats mildrew. Most importantly the leaves soothe the welts the hop bines inflict. Press a comfrey leaf on the welt and the irritation decreases. Still look like you've be whipped though.

wildcrafter
03-26-2008, 08:16 AM
Hi AlexisScarlett- as for identifiying the ants, either get a book to key them out or just watch them. The harvester ants will be carrying vegetation to their nest, they bite hard, and have little vegetation near the nest.

I haven't planted comfrey, ever. Is it invasive or perennial-like?

This year will be a coplanting year with alot of cilantro. ( Corriander seed and hops- a belgian white wedding). Cilantro attracts predator insects like wasps.

Here's a couple of picts of the hopyard.
Sacrificial coplantings, nesting birds in hops, a huge coned dwarf variety we're working on, and a plant showing the health of organic NM hops.

2171

2172

2173

2174

It's going to be a great year, so here we grow!

BeerBoy
03-26-2008, 11:03 AM
I guess this isn't just aimed at organic hops but the whole "organic" perception. I'm wondering about the divergence of "certified organic" vs. grown in an organic/holistic manner. Now, I'm not a fan of chemistry that could possibly contribute a third eye to any potential offspring of mine, but we all know chemicals/chemistry is vital to, well, everything. It boils down to the trade-off of how/what one is trying to control/accomplish with any particular chemical.
I guess it's the perception that anything labeled "organic" is superior - is it? Is there any chemical residue in non-organic hops? What/how much?
I guess the question is: is it worth becoming certified organic and maintaining the required guidelines, or is growing "green" and holistic, knowing the fine line of dosing the least nasty (but effective) chemicals a workable plan? There is no free lunch - what's the trade-off?

AlexisScarlett
03-26-2008, 11:19 AM
Wildcrafter-- Oh what a beautiful hopyard! Thank you for the dose of enthusiam for planting posts today
Comfrey is a perenial and regenerates every conceivable way-- roots seeds and leaves all root. I pefer to call it effective instead of invasive. Helps bring plants to fruition and seeding faster too I hear

Beerboy-- it all depends on marketing.
Our irrigation water brings everyone upsteams residue--Lucky that is just Gunnison for us.
I know the giant corporation "organic" salad mix is not being grown under conditions that I would consider holistic or organic and by people that are not being treated well.
But I know the salad/herb/flower mix from the Austin Sisters down the road is raised without any organic label but it being raised without any chemicals that make me nervous by a family that is working their land for generations in responsible and healthy fashion.
Fussy folks often don't by their salad because it is not "ORGANIC" but those folks miss absolutely delicous greens. Oh well they aren't from around here anyways

The pleasure of good food and good land is worth it! that is the trade off for the consumer.

The trade off for producer is hard work (god, i hate that phrase! ) and more importantly smart work and vigilance.

Hey but look at the chicks in the hopyard!

nohandslance
03-26-2008, 02:34 PM
Wow! those are some beautiful pictures. Keep up the great posts. That is the color green I like to see.

jason.koehler
03-26-2008, 05:51 PM
My rhizomes are finally on their way tomorrow or so, so seeing this post and the nice pictures is a breath of fresh air in this dirty city...I'm hoping my project takes off so I can spend more time out of the city!

On the bright side, it's cherry blossom season now, tons of trees and beautiful flowers everywhere. I'll try to snap a picture at lunch.

wildcrafter
03-26-2008, 06:38 PM
Beerboy- in response to "is organic worth it?".

Yes.

I don't know the other side of the coin as I couldn't afford it, wasn't taught it, didn't see it as a reality, and decided to cheat the learning curve by simulating nature.

As far as hops go, I watched one plant of native NM hops put out 2.5# of dried cones during the major year of drought( actually an extended period that killed 65% of our pinon trees) - all with absolutely no human input. I assume no human input is at least organic. Now when you apply the juice and premium conditions, wowza!!! I find the maximum energy cycling through the system (garden) with the maximum diversity of life makes for some ripping plants of focus. If you grow the beast, you must feed it.

The absolute proof for organic being the best flavor possible is tomatoes. You can't fool the elders and "poor folks" won't give a dime for bad tomatoes. Our Certified Organic Heirloom tomatoes are some of the best you'll ever eat. It's management, fertilization, worms, schedule, pocket gophers, traps, lady bugs, bumblebees, basil, etc. , and a whole host of garden choices that add up to the best tomatoes anyone locally grows.

Real organic tomatoes are FAR superior to any other. Taste one youself. Pick a good grower. Make your own decision.

We grow some of the best tomatoes and apply the same options for the hops. In some regards, organic is extremely easy and cost effective once you understand the system. It's agroecology from a natural viewpoint.

My issues now have to do with scaling up. A very new world and never easy or inexpensive.

Do you realize that right now chemical fert. for alfalfa farmers is at over $1000/ton? NM alfalfa farmers are thinking organic for the $ savings. Chemical fert. is made from oil- check the prices.

BeerBoy
03-26-2008, 07:48 PM
You'll get no argument from me. I was just trying to open a can of "helpful" worms into people's perception of all things "organic." It was a poke at the Prius-driven', Whole Foods shoppin' feel-gooders who autopilot when they buy something labeled organic = "I'm better because I'm buying organic" - the disconnect is the problem.
Mr. Wildcrafter (taking a leap at the Mr., as those hands in the pic are XYs...) - are you/your operation "certified organic?" I get the impression you're much more holistic (which is the standpoint I'm coming from) but you gave the c.o. tomato example (which is a great one, in that like a Kölsch beer, there's no where to hide anything, yet it's bursting with flavor if brewed well).
There's no messing with Mother. Man has mucked much and the backlash is just beginning. Monster/Mega is facing some tough times (see oil...) - can the simple, Old Skool ways come back and thrive?
I'm betting they are.

wildcrafter
03-27-2008, 07:48 AM
You'll get no argument from me. I was just trying to open a can of "helpful" worms into people's perception of all things "organic." It was a poke at the Prius-driven', Whole Foods shoppin' feel-gooders who autopilot when they buy something labeled organic = "I'm better because I'm buying organic" - the disconnect is the problem.
Mr. Wildcrafter (taking a leap at the Mr., as those hands in the pic are XYs...) - are you/your operation "certified organic?" I get the impression you're much more holistic (which is the standpoint I'm coming from) but you gave the c.o. tomato example (which is a great one, in that like a Kölsch beer, there's no where to hide anything, yet it's bursting with flavor if brewed well).
There's no messing with Mother. Man has mucked much and the backlash is just beginning. Monster/Mega is facing some tough times (see oil...) - can the simple, Old Skool ways come back and thrive?
I'm betting they are.

I understand what you mean Beerboy. On one hand, some "organic" products aren't really organic. I'm not "certified organic" if I don't pay the fees for the certificate, although I may still use the same growing methods. There are a few topics here I'm avoiding for the sake of being positive. And yes, I'm certified organic for all vegetables/tomatoes and even started all of our hop varieties from seed with organic certification for everything( we haven't missed a year).

I have other friends that grow "certified organic" tomatoes- hydroponically in a fairly sterile environment. If you taste his and ours, you'll buy ours even though we both have the same variety.

As Beerboy points out, are the Old Skool ways to come back and thrive? I think so and in spades. The price break is now here. Now where are all of the old codgers that never learned chemical farming? My great grandpa has been dead quite a few years and that was the last generation of non-chemical farmers. So here we all are, trying to reinvent an agricultural wheel that used to roll.

I was told last week by a large alfalfa farmer in ABQ that with chemical fertilizer at $1000/ton, manure from the dairy farms is at a premium price and no longer free to haul. Here we grow!

This whole agricultural thing is about energy flow starting with free photons. One needs the maximum "players" (plants, insects, microbes, etc..) in the system for maximum energy flow as everything alive eats something dead or alive. "One man's waste is another man's fodder".

Wu Li. Energy flow.

Honestly, watch the movie "My Father's Garden" and make up your own mind, then taste a real organic tomato compared to a conventional tomato.:)

Gael
03-28-2008, 12:50 PM
As a certified organic farmer and brewer... Obviously, I think certification is worth it. But ONLY because I cannot personally vouch for my beers to my customers once it leaves my brewery. Certification is a substitution for face-to-face verification of organic methods. It allows the people who drink my beer in bars miles away to be sure that I am doing what I say I am. The ones who buy my lambs all come to the farm - they don't care if I'm certified, only that the animals are raised according to the standards (which are a very useful guide to methodology) and slaughtered humanely.

But as for the marketing part: we don't grow organically or use organic ingredients because of residues alone, but because it is better for the ecosystem. Organic production does not guarantee that there will be no contaminants - our world has been already made toxic. All we can do is ensure that we're not adding to the burden, and to create healthier ecosystems on our own farms.

As for growing hops organically: several people have already proven it's possible. The major reason large monocropping non-organic farmers have a hard time with it was already alluded to: trying to grow organically side-by-side with "conventional" (actually, we should use a different word for this, my partner prefers "Chemical") hops. That just provides a free lunch for pests.

Biodiversity is the key, as it is throughout organic agriculture. Limit nitrogen in your soil to reduce aphids, and grow lots of buffer-zone plants which attract beneficial insects like syrphid wasps, ladybird beetles and lacewings. Flowers and herbs, shrubbery and some open ground all contribute to a healthy insect and bird population. And remember, the healthier the plants, the more depredation by insects and disease they can withstand.

Oh yeah, chickens are great for grasshoppers too, and pretty funny to watch as they hunt them. Plus, you can eat them later, and their manure, directly applied, is great for the hops. And they scratch up all kinds of soil-borne predators and eat them too.

nohandslance
03-28-2008, 02:37 PM
Keep this thread going!
I am really enjoying this reading/education. It's nice to have some very dedicated individuals describe the methods and philosophy of their craft, and share them with us.
Thank you
Lance@ rebel malting

SRB
04-07-2008, 05:23 PM
On chickens.....
Does anyone have a good rule of thumb for number of chickens for a given area of desired hop yard maintainence?
In regards to our garden;
Our caretaker (mother in law and farm owner) desires Rhode Island Reds and Buff Orpingtons. What chicken variety is best suited for the life on a bug infested hop garden? We are building a coop that is 16' length x 8' (width). The primary hop garden is 60' by 30'.
cock a doodle doo
thx
matt g

wildcrafter
04-07-2008, 07:31 PM
On chickens.....
Does anyone have a good rule of thumb for number of chickens for a given area of desired hop yard maintainence?
In regards to our garden;
Our caretaker (mother in law and farm owner) desires Rhode Island Reds and Buff Orpingtons. What chicken variety is best suited for the life on a bug infested hop garden? We are building a coop that is 16' length x 8' length. The primary hop garden is 60' by 30'.
cock a doodle doo
thx
matt g
Matt, I don't know about the chicken choices. When I had chickens, the Tophats and Bantams were the bug freaks- maybe they all can be.

My neighbor has Organic Turkeys because all plant based organic farming attempts failed with the hoards of grasshoppers. Now the turkeys eat the grasshopper hoards and organic turkeys are the crop- not the organic plants.

Turkeys are bug hunting freaks like a pack of wolves. They hang in the corner of the 1 acre pen intil the right time. When grasshopper hunting is just so in the AM, they sweep the edges of the enclosure, lining up around the edges and then pushing to the middle from 3+ sides and devour ever hopper that they round up in the middle. They munch futher all day and then repeat the big "roundup" in the morning. Repeat.

He also has to move the "enclosure" to the next acre often as the turkeys also eat all of the ground vegetation. And then, no hoppers.

Part of the answer to your question is rotation and rest.

SRB
04-07-2008, 09:16 PM
......
Turkeys are bug hunting freaks like a pack of wolves. They hang in the corner of the 1 acre pen intil the right time. When grasshopper hunting is just so in the AM, they sweep the edges of the enclosure, lining up around the edges and then pushing to the middle from 3+ sides and devour ever hopper that they round up in the middle. They munch futher all day and then repeat the big "roundup" in the morning. Repeat.
:D :D :D
the wolf like, combat task force turkey vision is clear in my mind and has me rollin!


He also has to move the "enclosure" to the next acre often as the turkeys also eat all of the ground vegetation. And then, no hoppers.
Part of the answer to your question is rotation and rest.

thx wildcrafter great info...what kind of roost or coop do turkey's dig on?
....Beeeeeeautiful garden by the way. ;)

AlexisScarlett
04-08-2008, 05:18 AM
Guineas too are like special forces for debugging. Little fast and voracious

Mostly you need a run to contain the birds and protect them from predators. An electric moveable fence is good! Then a coop for them to nest in at night to protect them from the nocturnal predators. Sometimes turkeys have to be trained to go in the coop at night because they will nest in tall grass or straw outside the coop. Harder to protect all night long

Never worked out how many to eradicate bugs just the number of birds you feel you could care for or butcher or how many eggs you want to deal with is the number of chickens you want.

wildcrafter
04-08-2008, 07:00 AM
:D :D :D
the wolf like, combat task force turkey vision is clear in my mind and has me rollin!



thx wildcrafter great info...what kind of roost or coop do turkey's dig on?
....Beeeeeeautiful garden by the way. ;)
Thanks Lance! The turkey coops that the neighbor uses are just simple hoop houses made of PVC and a bottom frame of wood(with wheels attached) and this whole thing is covered with heavy reflective tarp. These are open ended. Unfortunately, these structures fly in big winds even if the turkeys can't. But cheap! The birds are in predator-proof fenced pens with these small coops.

AlexisScarlet is right on about guineas. Major bug hunters. Pretty noisy birds that can fly. I had some that would roost in the trees in storms and freeze their feet to the branches. Not real bright. The females that nest on the ground are coyote fodder without a fenced area.

One thing about chickens or any birds on the farm. The sounds of happy birds brings in other birds. Maybe the sounds of happy birds eating bugs tells other birds that the feast is on- come and get it. Quail used to hang with the chickens as they hunted bugs.

AlexisScarlett
04-28-2008, 11:55 AM
So while we wait for water... Been talking about seeding the alley between hops and the vine guy really like growing mustard because of anti-viral effect and attracting beneficials and well mustard seeds. Yum mustard!

Anyone with any ideas of benefit of mustard coplanting?

Wildcrafter-- Is that fennel growing on the fringe of your hopyard?

Beersmith
04-28-2008, 01:00 PM
Matt,

A 60x30 run is not really that big, even a dozen chickens will keep that area fairly bug free - at the ground level. I currently have 8 different varities, and have had maybe another 6 or so over the years. In general, smaller, more alert chickens make better bug catchers. The heavy breeds eat bugs too, they are just not as fast/watchful. Most bantams I've had are great foragers, along with Hamburgs, Buttercups, Brown Leghorns. Up in our Northern climes, you should also think about Winter hardiness. Bigger body size and a rose comb are important for getting through Winter and avoiding frostbite. If I had to pick one breed of chicken to maximize bug foraging and cold hardy, it might be a Rose Comb Brown Leghorn. Hope that helps....

wildcrafter
04-28-2008, 06:59 PM
So while we wait for water... Been talking about seeding the alley between hops and the vine guy really like growing mustard because of anti-viral effect and attracting beneficials and well mustard seeds. Yum mustard!

Anyone with any ideas of benefit of mustard coplanting?

Wildcrafter-- Is that fennel growing on the fringe of your hopyard?

I don't know what we'll do this year in between the hop rows. Right now it's rye. The goal is to plant clover for a low cover and nitrogen fixing and less mowing. So for now it is mowing and weedwhacking the alfalfa and rye in between the rows.

AlexisScarlett- It's not fennel, it's a big row of flowers and cosmos for predator insect attraction and broccoli in front for eating. I don't know what we'll do this year. It's a really late spring here with some viscious night cold after 80F days.
We may actually do a 100' X 18' block of organic Cilantro that will become organic Coriander when we quit cutting. Options with the same goals.

Mustard??? Could you ever be rid of it if you quit caring? I eat more cilantro than mustard. I worry the same with the Cilantro. Cilantro might just be a "weed" that we want.

Beerboy- I agree with the smaller breed idea of chickens. Our bantams ate way more bugs with excitement than any of the other breeds. I think the Tophats were busy watching the feathers covering their eyes and the Silkies were busy shaking the stuff off of their feet and both missed many bugs. The bantams laid way more eggs (yet small) and ate the most bugs. Coachins worried about who was to harrass them next. Bantams don't care, they eat-- bugs.

wildcrafter
05-05-2008, 07:18 PM
I have another question/topic of organic hop farming.

pH.

How much does pH of the soil or water really matter for hops?

I know that other plants of ours will just hang on if the pH is not correct. In one instance, the soils are 6.3 pH and the water is 8.3 pH and the plants just barely hang on and actually looked burned with fertilization. Then, we just add vinegar to the water and all looks good again. The pH was the problem.

Could the wrong pH of the soil or water cause hops to "just hang back" as well?

In natural settings, hops thrive in the high pH soil and water- but would they jump and run with the right pH?

So far, the native hops are loving the almost 3000' drop in elevation here at the farm. Could I pump the hops harder with better pH management or stick with nature's pH?

Any thoughts about pH and hops?

wildcrafter
06-24-2008, 12:31 PM
I just made an interesting observation that leads to a question.

I grow hops in large tree pots with big holes in the bottoms. I breed and have many different hops that I do not want to get loose in the hopyard, thus the buckets for easy removal.

Weeds, grasses and other plants grow in the buckets and out of the buckets. As the hops grow and twine, they only will twine onto a plant that is NOT in the bucket, regardless of plant type or height. This held true today for over 500 buckets of hops.

Why?:confused:

mic_mac
06-24-2008, 04:07 PM
I haven't a Scooby Doo(*) but for some reason I love it!
Mike.
(*)that's novo-Cockney-rhyming-slang for "I haven't a clue")

BeerBoy
06-24-2008, 08:32 PM
Hops are smart - they're trying (and nearly!...) escaping. The prison that is the bucket is merely a short weed away! Why hang onto a sinking ship when one can lash onto a growth spurt that screams freedom? Other than that, only Ma knows...

wildcrafter
06-27-2008, 06:25 AM
Hops are smart - they're trying (and nearly!...) escaping. The prison that is the bucket is merely a short weed away! Why hang onto a sinking ship when one can lash onto a growth spurt that screams freedom? Other than that, only Ma knows...

You're right about the hops wanting out of the buckets. They've made it, and now what? Buried a foot deep, the hops have escaped out of the buckets with rhizomes. I have issues to deal with next year.

What I noticed was the hops only climbing onto plants that are growing outside of the buckets and not climbing on plants in the buckets. I wonder if it's just an odd circumstance or if something in the chemistry of hop roots is "soaking" into the other plants in the buckets and this is causing the hops to not climb on these "soaked" plants.

Here come the laterals and flowers!!! Woo Hoo!! Prison or no prison, the hops are starting to really get it on.

Noxious weeds from heaven? More viscious than the rest?

wildcrafter
06-28-2008, 10:27 AM
So I'm seeing folks researching hops chemistry and more. Here's one about "Plants That Cry" in regards to hops and how hops communicate with other plants.

http://www.yakima-herald.com/stories/4711

When I mentioned that the hops don't want to grow on plants in the bucket, I do imagine that this is the result of some hop root chemistry leaking into the other plants in the buckets. Perhaps the hops can "smell" themselves and don't want to grow on themselves and steal their own light- simple.

Here's some picts of the toads that help keep the hops safe and bug free here at the farm. These Southern Woodhouse toads are excellent bug hunters. The big ones will eat mice ( I've seen the bones in their stools). They hunt all night long while the birds sleep.:cool:

SRB
06-28-2008, 11:27 AM
.................
Here's some picts of the toads that help keep the hops safe and bug free here at the farm. These Southern Woodhouse toads are excellent bug hunters. The big ones will eat mice ( I've seen the bones in their stools). They hunt all night long while the birds sleep.:cool:

Did you bring the toads in?

wildcrafter
06-28-2008, 12:31 PM
Did you bring the toads in?
They come in the house when I leave the door open and leave little dog sized surprises.

Native toads that like a nice cool wet spot and shade to sleep the day away.

The toads have always moved into our organic fields/greenhouses and so have the NM whiptail lizards. The lizards are freaks that even a fast dog can hardly catch. The lizards are daytime bug hunters.

Gael
07-24-2008, 10:38 AM
Wildcrafter, I'm jealous. We don't have anything like the reptile/amphibian population up here. I love the toads coming into the house! Although I think our cats might object. Even Princess doesn't want to kiss a toad...

We handle most of our insect issues with similar techniques, though. Keep lots of hedgerows around the yards, particularly with plants which bug-eating birds are fond of. Tall stuff like trees as well as shorter shrubs so there's lots of cover for nests. We also encourage insects by keeping some longer weeds along the edges of the yards, and clear spaces for the beetles to enjoy. The odd open flat rock will harbour amazing numbers of black beetles, which eat insect eggs like mad.

The major aphid predators around here are lacewings, hoverflies and aphids, all of which are useful at different points in the season. Lacewings are the biggest predator, however, with their larvae out-eating everything else. Their eggs are on little thread-like posts, even, so the larvae which hatch first don't crawl along and eat their siblings - apparently they can climb down the thread from their own egg, but can't climb up their siblings' threads. All of these like to have lots of different plants to hang out on - dill and cilantro, any umbelliferae, are great.

Here's to diversity!

Rebecca