Category Archives: Problems

Plant plots or die!

This year, I swear, I'll get all the space I have access to planted. Every year I reclaim a couple more plots from the weeds that rule them, but every year I have to reconcile myself to the fact that I can't tackle them all. Well, no more. It may take until August, and the plants I put in the ground may never produce, but by God, those plots are going to get prepped and planted.

With this goal driving me, I've been putting in four to eight hours a day in the garden(s), desperately trying to make up for an incredibly wet, cold spring, my inability to do anything significant last fall (shoulder injury), and standard issue procrastination and neglect. To my horror, it's now July 4th, and I'm still planting and, even worse, preparing to plant.

Just about everything that needs to be directly seeded is in the ground and growing. But my tomatoes and squash are still waiting for a home, and if they don't get one soon, I'll be in trouble.

The plan (ha, ha!) has been to get four new plots under production this spring: one next door, two across the alley, and the fourth along the alley outside yet another neighbor's property. (Yes, I am now encroaching on THREE neighbors' land.) Fortunately, a couple of these plots have been at least partially cleared of weeds in past years.

I'll try to report of what I tackle(d) in each case, and how it's going (or went).

Aphid Alert II: Indoor tomatoes

(Scroll to the bottom for today's story in honor of Black History Month. It's not a happy one, but it matters. I've removed the video clip at the end of that section as it downloaded too slowly for some computers.)

WARNING: This post contains graphic photographs of pests on leaves.

White fly '08

Our December report on the aphids infesting the Manic Gardener’s indoor tomatoes has continued to fascinate viewers everywhere,  so we recently sent a crew for a follow-up story. The unfortunate events surrounding this interview have been vastly exaggerated, leading to the promulgation of false information across the web. (The Manic did not lift up our camera-man bodily and throw him out of the house, though she may have tried.)

We are happy to inform you that our EFG (Exposing False Gardeners) personnel sustained only minor injuries. The camera, we regret to report, was destroyed and all visual footage lost save these few photographs. (Final results from the lab indicate that it was the bricks, not the orange juice, that did the damage.) Fortunately, the audio survived, so we are able to offer you the transcript below. We hope that this clears up all misunderstandings.

EFG has no plans to return to the home of the Manic Gardener in the foreseeable future.

At last report, the woman known as the "Manic Gardener" was holding off a SWAT team with a combination of unripe tomatoes and pure invective. As one team member was heard to say, "The mouth on that woman!"

Here is part of that fateful interview: 

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Pesticide “Inert” Ingredients–Not so much.

Through the stream Second in a series.

The Curious Case of the Missing Information

Here’s one of the oddest, and to my mind most outrageous things I learned while working on the organic lawn article. It’s one of those things I’d heard rumored, and once I started working, it was something that turned up again and again in various documents I consulted: the claim that “inert” ingredients on a pesticide label weren’t necessarily inert.

Pick up any pesticide, and somewhere the label will say “Active ingredients” (and then the name of a chemical, and a percentage, often under 10%) and then “Inert ingredients” and a percentage. These inert ingredients are not named, but no worries; if it can’t react with other chemicals, it can’t harm us. It’s chemically inactive. That’s what inert means, right?


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Tangled in the Web: Pesticide Research


The fjord

First in a series.

I’ve been working on a single, simple (ha) post for the past three days. This hunt makes me feel a bit like Theseus in the maze, playing out a thread behind him so he’d be able to find his way back—except it seems sometimes that the thread has broken, and I’ll be lost in cyberspace forever, adrift like the unfortunate astronaut in 2001, A Space Odyssey, when the wayward computer Hal snapped his umbilical cord leading back to the mother ship. (A bit of a mixed analogy there. Sorry.)

The topic of the moment is “inert” ingredients in pesticides—you know, the ones that aren’t active. When I try to trace the citations in a paper by Caroline Cox and Michael Surgan (“Unidentified Inert Ingredients in Pesticides: Implications for Human and Environmental Health” –with a name like that it had better be true, because it sure ain’t beautiful.) I find that those sections in the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations are either “reserved” (which apparently means unavailable, censored, you know, the old need-to-know-basis thing) or simply missing—absent, gone, etc.

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Bindweed #3: Beating Back the Bindweed Jungle

I’ve gotten a couple of interesting responses to my earlier posts, Bindweed #1 and Bindweed #2 (thrilling titles, eh? Makes me feel like the Cat in the Hat introducing Thing 1 and Thing 2) which I’ll take up in more detail in a separate installment. Alan of Roberts Roost has suggested that bindweed is evidence of calcium deficiency. Has anyone else heard this?

Any other experiences, advice, or rumors (we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, here) about bindweed?

Okay, on to the business of the day, which is this:

How to grow vegetables on a bindweed-infested patch with no blood, minimal sweat, and very few tears.

This post was inspired by one of the photos sent me by Laura, whose query about bindweed started this whole series. Even though it’s in the first of my posts on the topic, I’m going to save everyone a click and reproduce it here:


That was taken a couple of months ago (I got the photos on July 25), and Laura says that everything in the foreground of the photo in front of the beets is bindweed, to which I say, That’s a lot of bindweed.

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