Need for Conventional Gardening Site
Greetings from East Texas:
I received an email inviting me to visit this forum.
I garden 3 acres of vegetables. I garden conventionally, using the full range of chemicals now available to modern agriculture. As a result, I find myself pretty much unwelcome on most garden forums, which tend to be very organic in orientation. When I have questions or problems with chemicals I have nowhere on the web to go for help other than the manufacturers - which always takes weeks to get an answer. If I ask a question about a selective herbicide, for example, all I get is ideological lectures about using chemicals in general.
There is a need for a forum to accomodate conventional gardners and small farmers. But the problem is that such a forum would be useless without enough participation by knowledgeable individuals. And most chemical experts are busy and really don't want to bother with advising home gardeners and small market growers. That's what the extension agent is for. :-)
I'll keep checking your forum.
Right now, I'm going to start using pheromone moth traps to monitor sweet corn for earworms. There are a number of traps and lures on the market. The one I'm considering is a "heliothis" trap from Gempler's at $85 + the pheromone lures that bait it.
Welcome back to the forums. I'm also in the mind of killing pest versus controlling them.
Okay! - Ill put that word out on some of the other forums if you want me too. But there is a downside for you - if you cater to us, the organic folks will avoid your site. If you want to develop that approach, I will help you any way I can. You'll stilll have to contend with the organic zealots, though, who put us Southern Baptists to shame when it comes to proselytizing! LOL It can keep you moderator real busy! LOL
Real nice site - the software is terrifiic- looks better than either Dave's or Garden Web. Good luck!
A little more about me - Our church has a non-profit, donation-based market garden project called "Gardeners for Jesus." We have a total of about ten acres involving four growers at the present time. I am the project director. We are all retired men. We all gardened "backyard" style for our working years, and now are realizing the lifelong dream of a REALLY BIG garden. We spend our kids inheritance on tractors, land, equipment and other toys. It's loads of fun, lots of exercise and maybe does a little good along the way for the Lord. We provide a lot of free veggies for poor and minority families in our impovershed rural county.
I don't understand why you would spend money monitoring for earworm moths. In Northern MS you don't need to monitor, you know they are coming as soon as the silk becomes available for laying their eggs. I monitor for the appearance of silk and begin spraying immediatly.
After thinking it over, I came to the same conclusion seceral days ago. I've been talking to a farmer in Iindiana on another forum and that was his idea. But it dawned on me that he plants hundreds of acres of corn and spraying only three times instead of four means big savings for him.
He got us going with selective herbicides. This will be our first year with chemical weed control. We also have an ag professional in our church who will help and instruct us the first time - and not too long now - we plant corn on 2/15 over here. Also green beans. I was surprised that these hi-tech herbicides don't require an applicators license - over-the-counter - but they don't come in small containers. They're not real toxic ("caution" instead of "warning"). We bought three of them -two pre-emergents and one post emergent - in minumium quantities - $650. Shpi;ld last us several years, though, if we store them correctly. If they solve our weeding problems they will be worth it. Can you imagine crawling along on your knees pulling weeds out of 2000 tomato cages! After a couple hours of that , in 100° and 98% humidity, our volunteer workers didn't last long! :-)
On the whole organic versus chemical vein, I'd like to find an objective look at the various levels of chemicals, as many of us sometimes need to use them and it seems that some should be "better/safer" than others. Are there some that are not awful from a health and ground water perspective, as it seems that most people view them as all bad. Are they or is there a middle ground?
As with all opinions, organic vs chemicals, they are opinions and beliefs. Many years ago we decided to not use chemical pesticides but rather the "safer soap" or other non-toxic option. While not as effective as Sevin, it works fine. Either way, it seemed to us that no matter what, the bugs still got their fair share. The I became a bit more concerned that if we spray the chemicals, the bugs COULD become resistant to the chemicals, much like some of the bacteria we get that become Pennicilion resistant. So that was another reason why we stopped using chemicals.
With that being said, I use Round-Up and Cross-bow as a weed killer, but do not plant edibles in the area for at least a year. So I can not answer if there is a middle-of-the-road approach. I just know that unless I am careful, I coul dinjest some of the stuff I spray. This is a similar arguement I am having on my topic Raised Beds. Treated wood vs untreated..... A lot of different opinions.
Good luck with the balancing act
Like Randy says, there are many opinions regarding chemicals. We go by what Tex A&M Univ and our local extension agent advise. And the rule-of-thumb from them is a "minimalist" approach - that is, use chemicals only when necessary, choose the least toxic product in minimum quantities that will do the job.
I know there are some on the web who question the integrity of agricultural academics, making [mostly] unsubstantiated charges of collusion with the chemical industry. There may be an isolated case of that, but in Academia there's a lot of internal competition and they constantly monitor each other's work. A corrupt scientist doesn't last long before he's exposed. Those folks have doctorates in agronomy and have spent their whole careers in plant science, and I can't think of a more reliable source of information than that. Allison, we trust our doctor withour accusing him/her of sleeping with the drug manufacturers. Most of us trust our pharmacist, attorney, economic adviser, auto mechanic and plumber - so why should we not trust our agricultural professionals in the universites? Like medical doctors, they don't always agree on the safety of a given chemical and, like medical procedures and drugs, we sensibly avoid such a product until all the data is in. Like many prescription drugs, sometimes ag chems are found later to be hazardous - DDT, Acephate, Diazinon. It's scary when that happens, but we just have to be grateful that they discovered the problem, quit using the product, hope for the best and carry-on the business of living. We're not going to live forever in any case. If DDT cost me a couple years, so what! My unschooled father sprayed me with DDT when I was little boy to kill lice and ticks. Those things don't happen anymore with better education. So far, I've made 74 - which beats him by two years already. LOL
Like most things in the modern world, there's an environmental price to pay with virtually every convenience we enjoy. I farm the same land my grandfather did. He didn't have modern fertilizers and chemicals and was lucky to get 20 bushels per acre from hi s corn crop. Today we routinely get 200 bushels per acre with chemical fertilzers and pesticides. In his chemical-free era, poor rural texans were lucky to live to 65. Now our life expectancy is 77. So we couldn't be doing too badly with modern chemistry in agriculture and medicine. We all " want our cake and eat it too." I would love to go back to the beautiful, pristine environment of my childhood here in the Pineywoods. But I'm not willling to give-up my conveniences - like a/c, tractors, electricity, insecticides, indoor plumbing and antibiotics. I doubt if many are - even the most fervent organic advocates.
A lot of this is ideological and philosophical, Allison. But you can't go too far wrong if you do what your extension agent says. Here in Texas, they always offer organic options when realistically applicable. Randy brought-up a good point about organisms developing resistance to chemicals - that's a #1 problem in farming today - especially with herbicides. Lepidoiptera are even starting to break-through GMO corn with the bt gene and many weeds are now immune to Roundup. That's also a serious problem with the use of antibiotics in the treatment of human diseases. So far, science has been able to develop new solutions and likely will for awhile. So what happens then? Watch the series now on the History Channel about a world without people, Allison and Randy. LOL
Last edited by eltejano; 02-11-2010 at 01:14 AM.
Allison, I can tell you what insecticides we use in the order of toxicity
We first choose to use an organic insecticide whenever possible. We use three organic products - Thuricide (bt), Conserve(spinosad) and copper hyrdroxide for fungi and bacterial diseases.
The next step for us is Permethrin. which is very low toxicity with only 1 day DHI for most crops (3 days for a couple). It is synthesized from pyrethrin, a natural insecticide found in the roots of the chysanthemum plant. Since the inerts include petroleum solvents and wetting agents, it is not acceptable for certified organic growers - but it's parent, natural pyrethrin, is. I'm very comfortable with this one- and it works for most of our insects. I think this fits the "middle road" you are seeking, Allison.
We occasionally use bifenthrin (Capture, Brigade in commercial strength (license required for purchase), Bugs-B-Gone in retail strength) which is the replacement for Diazinon. It's an organophosphate, quite toxic indeed with known health risks if misused, but [so far!] doesn't seem to contaminate ground water. We use this to kiill colonies of leafcutter and fire ants and infestations of aphids - and that's about all we use it for. The only time we spray it on the crop is when we have serious aphid problems, and only then under the direct supervision of a licensed applicator in minimal strength. It has long waiting periods - 7-14 DHI for most crops - which we always double. Because of the long DHI as well as the toxicity, we hate to use it, but when these aphids arrive it's the only way to save the crop. Malathion also works for aphids, but it's just as toxic, and we already have the bifen on hand for ants. This one is absorbed through the skin and can be dangerous to the applicator if safety rules aren't followed. It's bad stuff and does not fit your "middle way" approach. It, or similar toxins, are used, however, on everything you buy at the store - an everday fact of modern life. But I think life is too short to drive ourselves crazy over it! It's also available over-the-counter in very weak solution - same stuff though!
None of the herbicides we use carry any known direct health risks - unless you drink it. Long-term environmental damage? Probably, yes.
Finally, we use, but only when absolutely necessary, chlorothalonil fungicide (Bravo Weather Stik) on cucurbits when copper hydroxide fails to control certain fungal diseases that plaque us in the early spring down here. Some years, copper takes care of it. It's not real toxic - sold over the counter, and the label says it can be used up to harvest - O DHI - but we never apply it within at least a week of harvest.
We plant genetically-modified cultivars when available. I know that the organic folks see red at the mere mention of bt corn, but 90% of all corn planted in the us today carries the bt gene and everybody is eating it every day in nearly every food product on the shelf. There are, of course, a number of environmental negatives - ranging from killing butterflies to evovling a race of super worms that will attack New York City. All in all, I believe it's better than the dangerous insecticides we would otherwise be forced to use in order to control the corn earworms. Our younger clientele will not accept a worm in the corn, because all sweet corn is now bt modified and they aren't used to wormy corn. Our older customers remember the harmless worm from childhood and just break-off the end and throw it in the pot. But the young people go berserk when they find a worm!
So that's our carefully-reasoned approach to pest control.
Randy, there's no waiting period following Roundup - just wait a week or two until the weeds are dead. It is not systemic and is not tak en up by the plants. It's also okay to use it around plants at any time - as long has you use a shield and keep it off the foliage. Glyphosate presents no health risks whatsoever. Organic growers don't use it because it kills earthworms and other desireable soil organisms, and is not approved for certification. If you wait a year, you are wasting tine and money - and ruining your soil organically. We prefer our soil to be as sterile as possible. We provide all nutrients, including trace elements, through the irrigation system. But you should never use herbicides at all because, while not harmful to you, they will ruin the organic composition of your soil, You NEED the soil organisms. We don't. Jack
Last edited by eltejano; 02-11-2010 at 04:23 AM.
Reason: Add a note to Randy
I usually only use the Roundup and Crossbow to kill vegetation that is not around food. PERIOD. I do not want to assume that things that KILL vegetation is absolutely safe on things that I am going to put in my fat body. I have enough issues with out taking a chance on adding to them.
I only use safer soap or as you said "organic" insecticides including Bt for leaf curlers and the like. And I think no matter what, the bugs, slugs and snails (oh my) get there fair share anyway. I always plant enuff for me, them and the neighbors.