The produce is starting to come in

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    The mums plugs have arrived.    You say, "So what?"   The arrival of the plugs marks the date when we have to clear out the greenhouses 3 & 4 of annuals and perennials to make room for the mums.  The last plants to linger the greenhouse are the Benary's Giant Zinnias.  These beautiful plants in 4" pots are ready to bloom and this week they are 99¢ each.  These plants , under good conditions, can grow to three feet tall and their blooms can reach 4" in diameter.  They are the backbone of my cutting garden.  Most of the time you can only peek through the backdoor of greenhouse #4 to see anything growing in the fields but this year the zinnias are growing directly behind the door.  If Jay keeps the door open you will be able to mark their progress from week to week.  Right now they are around 8" - 12" tall and I dropped a narrow net over them that will float up as they grow. Things get interesting when the branches grow up through the wide net that is  stretched over the row.  These plants need support when they reach three feet in height especially in a strong breeze.  By the End of July those rows will look like flowering shrubs and the butterflies love them.

     The Colorado potato beetles have arrived to lay their orange eggs on the bottom of the potato leaves.  The bugs are kind of cute,  they are unusually large and resemble a VW bug.  It takes efforts to squish them.  They don't do much damage but when those eggs hatch, watch out.  I bless the day that an employee of the Lily company, while vacationing in the Caribbean,  was curious about why there a was so much perfect greenery growing around the base of an abandoned rum distillery.  The resulting product can save an entire garden from chewing insects.  I guess we can get better living through chemistry.

(1) Spinosad (found in Monterey Garden Insect Spray and Sluggo Plus)  Also in (Captain Jack)

The origins of spinosad came from a pirate’s best friend–a rum distillery. While on vacation in the Caribbean in 1982, a scientist discovered a soil dwelling bacterium called Saccharopolyspora spinosa in the abandoned distillery. In 1988, the bacteria was placed in a fermentation broth, producing a compound that has since been formed into an insecticide with the added plus of being a biological pest control organism.

It’s effects are nasty with a perfect 100% mortality rate. When spinosad is sprayed onto bug riddled plants, the nervous system of the target insect (primarily caterpillars, leaf miners, spider mites, and thrips) unravel due to over stimulation. Death comes one to two days after initial ingestion.

Numerous beneficials (ladybugs, predatory mites, lacewings, etc) are not affected by the bacteria although Braconid wasps, praying mantises, and honey bees are susceptible. It is especially toxic to bees, moderately to fish, and only slightly to birds. Phytotoxicity is not an issue with ornamentals or edibles, but check the inserts of individual sprays for length of days between spraying and harvest.

Spinosad also comes in a granular form like Sluggo Plus. Pouring a barrier circle around your favorite leafy can protect them from the diabolical slow chew of the slug.)

        Here on the farm we have to use a highly monitored commercial version of this chemical. You will be happy to know that the state does make sure we keep good records on all the interventions we use.  The labels of commercial chemicals have an extended list of precautions and materials.  Just going commercial and getting a little bit larger than a home garden and you find yourself part of an industry with rules and regulations you never had to deal with when you were 'just a home gardener.'

The cooler is starting to fill up.  We have the three usual kinds of lettuce, some broccoli (while it lasts), some beets, Swiss chard, kale, and the tomatoes are starting to ripen.  We have green tomatoes. $3.19/lb.  The sugar snap peas didn't like the cold wet spring so we're still waiting for them to flower.

Jay and I want to thank you for your support for our neighborhood farm.  The state has come down with some very heavy restrictions on how farmer's markets will be allowed to open but they only apply to farmer's markets and not to farm stands-yet..  We are waiting to see if the state will add restrictions on produce packaging for farm stands and farmer's markets that do not apply to large supermarkets.  Please  support your local small businesses. 

Thank you and we'll see you soon,

Jay and Phyllis Sprout

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