Friday, July 31, 2015

Our 2015 Spring Farm Tour video is up!

We have just posted our 2015 Spring Farm Tour on YouTube!! You can view it at:

Enjoy the video!

An update on the blackberries: not only have the wasps found them, but our resident porcupine has found the new growth, as well. We will need one tremendous fence (for moose and porcupines and any other blackberry-loving critter) and lots of row cover (to protect from wasps when they are prolific) to protect them.  I've tasted 3 unripe Silvans and lost probably another 10 to wasps and voles.  Tomorrow we plan to cut all fruiting canes off of the Silvans and bring them in the house to ripen.  And, the first Wild Treasure blackberry turned black today.  If I can keep the wasps away from them, we might have our first ripe Wild Treasure blackberry in 10-14 days.  You might ask why we don't just kill the excess wasps.  Well, we have a theory that the wasps keep the lygus bug population in check.  This is important, because lygus bugs resulted in almost a complete peony crop failure last year in Interior Alaska and from my posts you probably know they have quite an appetite for blackberry plants, as well.  In fact, we saw several adult lygus bugs and two nymphs earlier this summer on Wild Treasure and Marionberry and were worried about extensive damage from them, but nothing really happened and we have not seen any since.  Wasps are known to prey on insect pests (and certainly can become pests themselves), particularly those that suck plant juices, such as aphids.  Until last year, there had not been any damage to peonies from lygus bugs for more than 6 years (when the first peony farms began producing commercially).  However, in May 2013, we had a late winter with snow and cold temperatures extending beyond May 20th.  That year saw a dismal wasp population.  The following spring and summer (2014), the lygus bug population exploded! We are still researching the specifics of the lygus bug life cycle, but overwintering adults (that were nymphs the previous summer and fall) may be very important.  A lack of wasps may have allowed more nymphs to mature into adults that laid eggs in the spring of 2014.  Those eggs produced very hungry nymphs that really hit the blackberries and peonies hard.  Later last summer, with a more average wasp population, fewer nymphs survived and yielded fewer overwintering adults to lay eggs that would have hatched this spring.  For now, that is our theory and we're sticking to it.

We are hoping to get a summer tour video out before September that shows our newly planted terraces and the start of a food forest.  We may have to wait until next year to show the pond we plan to put in - unless it makes it into our planned fall farm tour video.

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