Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Garlic Perfumes Poultry Houses
Gourmet Farm Fare
Who Ya Gonna Call?
Seasoning & Flavoring Dry Beans
Cleanliness Better than Cold for Controlling Bacteria
Sanitation Key to Greenhouse Whitefly Control

Garlic Perfumes Poultry Houses

Garlic may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of air fresheners, but Clemson University scientists are finding that it works like a charm in poultry houses … and may even lower the cholesterol in eggs.

“We’re feeding the chickens about 3% of their diet in garlic powder to mask the odor of the waste,” said Glenn Birrenkott, Clemson animal and veterinary science professor. “It makes the poultry house smell like a pizzeria instead of manure.”

As urban populations expand into rural areas, the potential increases for conflict between neighborhood sensibilities and farm necessities. As a result, farmers must find creative solutions to produce the meat and eggs that suburbanites want in their gro- cery stores but not in their back yards. Clemson scientists are conducting studies to address livestock waste management as part of an initiative funded by the South Carolina General Assembly.

Birrenkott found that about three weeks were required for the garlic to reduce the poultry house odor compared with the odor from a control group of laying hens. The researchers have already conducted taste tests and found the people preferred the eggs produced by the garlic-eating hens.

“The tasters said the eggs were milder …,” said Birrenkott. “We think it might reduce the sulfur content of the eggs.”

While chickens adapted to eating garlic right away, hogs were more reluctant to accept the new feed. “Hogs have a very sensitive sense of smell. That’s why they’re used in France to find truffles,” Birrenkott said. After a day or so of boycotting the feed, however, the hogs did cooperate, with similar promising results regarding odor control. The cholesterol content of the eggs and pork is being analyzed.

While garlic effectively controls odors, it is more expensive than basic chicken or hog feed. This means that the eggs and pork may require a premium price to be cost effective for commercial producers. However, if the products prove to contain less cholesterol, they could qualify as specialty items and command higher prices.

Source: Press release from Clemson University.


Gourmet Farm Fare

Pigs, cows and other livestock in the Short Hills, N.J., area are dining fine, thanks to the Hilton Hotel there. The hotel has been recycling table scraps for a year, giving them to local farms – and saving almost $25,000 in disposal costs during the first seven months of the program.

Source: Meetings & Conventions, Oct. 1998


Who Ya Gonna Call?

For help with soil or pest problems, or for information about state regulations regarding agriculture, contact the following:

Insect and Disease Identification:

University of Maine Plant Diagnostic Lab
491 College Ave.
Orono ME 04473
Tel. 581-3880

Soil, Media and Plant Tissue Testing:

Analytical Laboratory
5722 Deering Hall
University of Maine
Orono ME 04469
Tel. 581-2945

Division of Plant Industry
State House Station #28
Augusta ME 04330; Tel. 287-8663


Seasoning & Flavoring Dry Beans

By Alicia Karen Elkins

Do your neighbor’s beans always seem to taste better than yours? Do your family members seem to enjoy Grandma’s cooking more than yours? Then perhaps you should try this old-time way, taught to me by my Granny, to season and flavor your dry beans.

In the modern day and age, crock pots have replaced cast iron, slow-cooking pots. Women who are rushed for time will take any shortcuts available to assist their meal preparation. Thus, methods for slow-cooking dry beans have been modified to accommodate “fast living.” The most common method is to soak the beans overnight in the refrigerator before cooking. Another widely used method is to bring the beans to a boil, remove them from heat, allow them to soak up water for an hour, and then to begin cooking. We are told to withhold the meat and seasonings until the cooking process begins. This goes against all my Granny’s rules for cooking beans.

A dry bean has been dehydrated for storage, meaning the water has been removed from the bean. Before the bean can be utilized, the water must be returned. If the water used is plain tap water, the only flavor that will soak into the bean will be chlorine – or whatever is in your tapwater. Accordingly, if the water has a flavoring or season- ing, that will be soaked up by the bean. Once a bean has been rehydrated, it will no longer soak up much flavor.

Before starting your beans, place the meat to be used and all flavorings and seasoning in a saucepan. Bring these to a slow boil, then turn off the heat. Check your beans and wash them. Then select the cooking vessel and pour the beans into it. Add the hot “soup” and either let it stand for an hour before cooking over medium/low heat, or begin cooking over medium heat. If a crock pot will be used, start the meat and seasonings cooking on high before adding the beans. Cook for an hour on high, before reducing to low.

My Granny’s beans were always good, but often surprising. She constantly experimented with herbs, and we never knew what “oddities” would be floating in the beans. The most unexpected herb I ever found was either bay leaf or sage – both were rather unusual bean seasonings. They were still great beans, and yours can be, too, if you get flavor into the beans as the rehydrate.

Alicia lives in Alabama, where she writes about a variety of topics concerning country living.


Cleanliness Better than Cold for Controlling Bacteria

Devon Zagory, Ph.D., a produce industry consultant, told participants at a workshop of the International Fresh Cut Produce Association recently that they should focus on keeping salad ingredients clean in the first place rather than worry about whether to refrigerate the ingredients or not in order to control the growth of pathogens. He pointed out that the toxic strain of E. coli, the 0157:h7 strain, will grow at temperatures below 41 degrees, and that Lysteria bacteria survive down to 32 degrees F.

He recommended, instead, that growers have their irrigation and wash water tested for bacteria. If E. coli is found, the water should be treated.

Because pathogenic bacteria can come from manure applied to fields, primarily from cattle and other ruminants but also from birds (although the possibility of the latter is much smaller), “you certainly don’t want to invite animals into your growing area.”

Workers are the most common source of contamination of produce. Zagory said to have workers wash their hands thoroughly with hot water and soap after using the bath- room.

Zagory added that the bacteria that spoil produce grow faster than those that sicken people, so tainted produce will usually be thrown out rather than eaten.

Source: “Refrigeration: A Question of Safety, Quality or Both?” in Growing for Market, Dec. 1998.


Sanitation Key to Greenhouse Whitefly Control

Greenhouse whitefly adults and eggs are moderately winter hardy and may survive on weeds and residues in and around the greenhouse. Sanitation is the key to preventing reinfestation. Dispose of any straw, hay or plastic mulch used in the greenhouse; if your compost pile doesn’t heat adequately, the pests probably won’t be killed, so you may want to dispose of stray and hay away from your greenhouse. Remove all crop and weed residues from the greenhouse (ideally before the onset of winter, so that the greenhouse can go through a hard freeze). Mow the turf very short for 20 or 30 feet around the greenhouse. This spring, set up yellow sticky tape or traps and be ready to order Encarsia formosa when you find your first whitefly.

Source: Weekly Market Bulletin, N.H. Dept. of Agriculture, Nov. 18,1998; originally in Vermont Agriview.


MOF&G Cover Spring 1999