February 15, 1999
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967 verng@sover.net

CONGRATULATIONS to Western Mass Food Bank Farm, winner of the 1998 Vegetable and Berry page evaluation raffle at the Farm show. They will receive a $50 gift certificate from Johnny's Selected Seeds. Thanks to all who sent in evaluations.

PLAN AHEAD TO TEST COMPOST AND POTTING MIX if you are making and/or using an organic potting soil for bedding plant or transplant production. The UVM Agricultural Testing Lab, Hills Building, Burlington VT 05405-0082 offers the following tests: Compost Analysis ($30) includes nutrient content (total N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Zn, Cu and B), C:N ratio, and soluble salt level. Add $2 for pH analysis. Use this test to assess compost before it is used in making a potting soil. The Potting Soil Analysis ($15), also called the saturated media extract test, measures available nutrient levels (nitrate, P, K, Ca and Mg), soluble salts, and pH. Use this test after making or buying potting mixes - before planting lots of flats! Send a quart of material to the lab to assure they have enough to work with. Turn around time ranges from 1 to 3 weeks. In addition to the lab tests, it is advisable to make test plantings of crops (bioassay) as early as possible.

USING PEA VINES AS A VEGETABLE (From Laurie Hodges, Nebraska extension, via the vegetable list-serve). Laotian growers and a specialty growers cut about 6" off the tips by hand. Both snow peas, sugar snaps, and English (green) pea shoots are used. No flowers. Post?harvest handling is like leaf lettuce (humid, cool, rinse lightly only if necessary). Sold by the pound or handful at local markets.

NEW BERRY VARIETIES (from Dave Handley, Umaine extension). Strawberries: Evangeline (Honeoye x Veestar) from Nova Scotia. Early ripening, medium-size fruit on upright stalks, firm, dark red, no red stele resistance. Brunswick (Cavendish x Honeoye) from Nova Scotia, mid-season, similar to Honeoye, some red stele resistance. Mesabe from Nova Scotia, mid-late season, medium-large fruit, red stele resistant. Raspberries: Polana from Poland. Everbearing, ripens about 2 weeks earlier than its parent Heritage, short sturdy canes. Anne from Maryland, everbearing, ripens slightly earlier than Heritage, light yellow fruit with mild flavor, vigorous canes.

A PERSONNEL POLICY that describes the farm operation, terms of employment and expectations of employees was presented by Jane Sorenson of River Berry farm at the recent farm show meeting. This 8-page document covers such issues as schedules, attendance, pay schedule, raises, bonuses, vacation, sick leave, housing and facilities, parking, safety, and discipline. Contact me if you would like a copy.

FROST DAMAGE IN RASPBERRIES (From: Pauliina Palonen, University of Helsinki) According to my experience, browning in the pith behind the bud indicates slight frost damage, which will not hinder growth severely. Buds will probably grow next summer depending on weather conditions in the beginning of the season, cool and wet conditions are favorable for recovery. More severe frost damage is expressed as browning of the vascular tissue at bud base, browning of floral primordia, and finally, browning of leaf primordia. Even buds with dead floral primordia may start growing and developing leaves in spring, but these will wither as soon as drought or heat stress occurs, since bud vascular tissue does not function properly.


Every year, the Northeast Region of the SARE (Sustainable Agriculture research and Education) program awards dozens of grants to farmers to investigate innovative production and marketing practices. Here's a sampling of this year's successful applications. "Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Non-Chemical Methods in the Control of Tarnished Plant Bug in Strawberries", Joseph Klein, Plainfield VT. "Alternative Control Methods for Grape Leafhopper" Richard Figiel, Lodi NY. "Developing Sustainable Production Practices for Currant and Gooseberries" Rodolpho Lopez, Hudson NY. "Promoting Summer Lettuce/Mesclun Growth and Preventing Deer Damage with Shadecloth" Judy Smeltzer, New Milford PA. "Garlic Based Spray on Cabbage Worms" David Lefever, Sabillasville MD. "Determining Production Costs of Vegetables in Diversified Small Scale Organic Systems", Ryan Voiland, Turners Falls MA.

"BioIntensive Insect Management in Sweet Corn" by Ruth Hazzard, Department of Entomology, UMass is a new 4-page fact sheet describing how to monitor and manage European corn borer, corn ear worm and fall armyworm using least-toxic strategies such as floating row covers, B.t. insecticide products, and direct application of vegetable oil to corn silks. Call me for a copy.

"Harvest Techniques at Food Bank Farm" is a 34-minute video that shows techniques for efficient hand-harvesting on diversified farms. It was produced at the Western Mass Food Bank Farm, a CSA with 35 acres in production. Call me to borrow my copy or order your own for $15 from CSA Works, 115 Bay Rd., Hadley MA 01035.


Feb. 22, 25, Organic farming short course, Unity, ME. UMaine Extension and MOFGA.
Mar. 1, 4 $60 for all 4 days or $20/day. Dick Brzozowski (800) 287-1471

Feb. 26 Ecology and the Managed Landscape. Boxborough MA. Kathleen Carroll, UMass Extension (413) 545-0895

Mar. 3 Mid-Atlantic Pumpkin School, Bridgeport NJ. Michele Infante, Rutgers Cooperative Extension $35. (609) 863-0110

Mar. 13-14 NOFA-NY Annual Conference. Dryden NY. (315) 824-2864

April 13 Transferring the Farm. Barre Municipal Auditorium. Deb Heleba, UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture (802) 656-0233