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  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerFall 1998Tips - Fall 1998   
 Tips - Fall 1998 Minimize


Keeping Birds Away from Grapes
Stretch the Garden Season
What to Do With Waste Wool

 

Keeping Birds Away from Grapes

Either soda bottles or flexible screening can be fashioned into barriers that protect clusters of grapes from ravenous birds, according to an article in HortIdeas (May 1998, originally published in Pomona, Spring 1998). Bill Dailey of Broomall, Penn., reported on cutting 1-liter, clear plastic seltzer bottles at the bottom of the neck, then slitting the bottles lengthwise. He poked holes in the bottom of the bottles so that condensation could escape. These were placed around the grape clusters when they were quite small, with the bottle closing and holding itself onto the cluster and nearest vine by itself.

Dave Sawyer of Millbrook, N.Y., cut fiberglass window screening into 1-foot squares, wrapped it around bunches of grapes and secured it with twist ties to foil the birds. As an additional benefit, he had no insect problems inside the screening.

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Stretch the Garden Season

Seems like we often get a frost or two in September followed by a month or more of warm weather, and if we could just make it past that frost, we’d have a much longer growing season. Margaret Hagen of the Univ. of N.H. Cooperative Extension offered this advice in the N.H. Dept. of Agriculture Weekly Market Bulletin (9/24/97):

If only a small area is involved, cover such tender crops as peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. Use baskets, boxes or lath as frames, then drape the frames with plastic, cloth sheets or newspapers.

If your garden is large, a pile of lawn clippings or old straw kept nearby can be used as frost protection. When the weather forecast warns of impending frost, just shake some of the material over your sensitive crops. There is little or no wind to blow the cover off on frosty nights.

Water is one of the best ways to diminish frost damage. When a light frost is expected, apply a fine, misty spray many times during the evening and again in early morning to keep your plants wet until the temperature has risen above freezing.

During a heavy frost, as soon as the air temperature drops below freezing, the water on the plants begins to form ice – and to give off heat, which can keep plants from freezing. As long as the spray is applied continuously, the plant remains above its freezing point.

In a small backyard garden, an ordinary sprinkler will be satisfactory. Commercial growers use larger irrigation systems. You must leave your sprinkler running until all of the ice has melted from the plants after a heavy frost.

If an unexpected frost occurs and no precautions were taken, plants can be preserved by immediately protecting them from direct sunshine, allowing them to thaw gradually.

Not all vegetables will be hurt by a light frost. Lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and other cool weather crops will withstand temperatures below 32 degrees. In fact, cold weather often improves their flavor. Pumpkins and winter squash can survive a frost but their storage life will be shortened. When a frost is predicted, both pumpkins and squash, if mature, should be picked, then piled and covered.

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What to Do With Waste Wool

What can you do with the part of the fleece that isn't up to yarn standards? How about lining hanging wire pots with it? According to HortIdeas (June 1998), Wooly Bloomers TM liners for hanging flower baskets are lined with sheep wool, which provides support, drainage, insulation, moisture retention and nutrition in an attractive, earth-toned needlefelt. For more information, call 419-687-9665.

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