Category Archives: Compost Pile

Late Season Bean Planting

After trying to get over the failure of my spring garden, probably due to Dow Agriscience’s poison aminopyralid, I have decided to replant some quick growers for the second half of our growing season here in Texas.  This bed is scheduled to have broccoli, cabbage and greens this fall.  However, since these crops won’t be planted for at least 6 to 8 weeks, I am going to try to get a quick crop of beans.

So far, the beans look OK.  I think that maybe most of the poison aminopyralid may have degraded in this bed.

This half of the bed is planted with yellow wax beans. I intend to pick them for fresh yellow beans and have no intention of saving seeds. This means that this crop should be done in 60 days.  There is basil planted all thru this bed – I planted it after my squash mysteriously started to dye – probably thanks to Dow’s poison aminopyralid that is now loose and ruining compost piles all over the western world.  One okra plant survived – barely holding on for the past few months, but now seems to have taken off – it is in the lower left side, circled in red. In the front right corner is a lone surviving pepper plant.  The peppers seem to be doing better – again I suspect that maybe Dow’s poison aminopyralid may be degrading.  The tomato next to the okra never recovered and really needs to be pulled.

yellow wax beans

This end of the garden – below – was initially planted with left over Seed Savers Painted Pony beans from a 2009 batch. The seeds were refrigerated, but I guess they were just too old – only 2 seeds sprouted. So, a week later I replanted the area with a few Bolita Bush bean seeds that I had left from Baker Creek, dated 2010. They sprouted and now they look like they are actually pole beans! As such, I had to put some tomato cages among them so that they have something to climb onto.  I had intended to only grow bush beans for 2 reasons: to improve the nitrogen in the bed and for something quick – bush beans mature quicker than pole beans. Well, this is a surprise an I hope that they will be done and producing by the time I have to yank them out to plant my broccoli seedlings in. I didn’t have enough seeds to cover this whole half of the bed, so I’ll just leave that bare spot unplanted for now.  I had planed to save some of these Bolita seeds – if the plants can mature quickly enough.

late summer bean crop

I still don’t have my greenhouse moved over to our new property and have had a very difficult time trying to get seeds to sprout.  These are my cabbages and broccoli seedlings.  The chinese cabbage seedlings were rained on and over half of them were lost.  I have reseeded these trays. I need several hundred chinese cabbage seedlings and at least 6 dozen cabbage transplants and at least that many broccoli seedlings.  I plan to grow the broccoli under my winter hooped garden beds and stick the cabbages all over – under the hoops and outside.  It can take the freeze.

broccoli cabbage seedlings

I have trouble knowing when to start the cabbages and broccoli because it is so hot here for so long and quickly gets cool.  It is almost too hot to get the seedlings started and then gets too cool to get them growing good in the garden.  I can’t even start the spinach until the soil cools to 75 degrees and at the same time I plant my lettuce.  I plan to direct seed the carrots, chard, beets and kale pretty soon.  The turnips are the last thing to get planted.  The winters seem to be getting colder and get here sooner.  I’m having trouble timing plantings.

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A Few Peppers From A Lousy Harvest Complements of Dow Agriscience

Thanks to Dow’s wonderful poison called aminopyralid, all of my pepper plants were deformed and stunted and most of them died.  A very few recovered enough to produce a few little peppers.  Here are some of that very few:

a lousy aminopyralid pepper harvest

(That lime isn’t part of the harvest – it’s part of the home made salsa!!)  By this time in the season, I should have 5 gallon pails full of peppers.  Ha, not this year.  Thanks Dow!  By the way, their rep never got back with me.  Gave me a song and dance like dow really cared about how their poisons are destroying innocent folks’ compost piles – they don’t care about anything but their bottom line.  Dow is now in the same file as evil Monsanto.

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Another Look At What I Consider A Failed Squash Season

An analysis of my first summer squash planting.  (I plan to replant by the end of July – we have 2 planting seasons here, although with this global cooling of the past few years, the cold weather gets here sooner in the fall than it used to ).

I am very disappointed with the plants and their production.  Something got the garden this year and I strongly suspect Dow Agriscience and their poison aminopyralid had something to do with it.  The heirloom Rattlesnake Pole Beans also totally failed – all 3 successive plantings.  The peppers failed.  I have a dozen or so heirloom pepper varieties that I have replanted for years.  This year, however, the pepper plants were deformed and never grew properly.  I don’t trust any of the very few peppers that have been produced.  Most of the few fruit shrivels long before the fruit matures.  I am going to have to buy new heirloom pepper seeds and Rattlesnake Pole beans this fall from Southern Exposure, Baker Creek and maybe Seed Savers.

The squash just didn’t do either.  At the very first of the season, most of the plants initially grew wonderfully.  Then they started to die.  The plants just died almost overnight long before producing anything but a few male blossoms.  Often times the leaves quickly yellowed and the plant then dies.  Some plants just flopped over in a day – but careful examination of the plants did NOT show any sign of squash vine borers, so something else killed them.

Some of the butternut squash plantings are developing yellow spots that precede death.

Here are some pictures of the death and destruction.

Here, the base of 6 Waltham Butternut squash plants are dying – starting at the base of the stem and dying along the vine.  About 6 or so feet along the right vine, the leaves are starting to develop those yellow spots.  The vines that have grown to the left and around the base of the raised bed are rooting into the ground so hopefully the fruit set on those vines will mature although the base of the plant is dying.

the base of these waltham butternut squash vines are dying

After seemingly growing well for a while, many of the summer squash are developing light green spots on their leaves.  These plants quickly dye after the leaves finish turning yellow.
light green spots developing on squash leaves

More summer squash baby leaves turning yellow, away from the veins.  This quickly spreads to the entire plant and it dies.  I have kept my evil squash bugs to a minimum so they are not a problem (although I hate them and can’t tolerate even one bug or nymph or eggs on the leaves) and I don’t think they have transmitted any disease to the squash.  It’s got to be something else, but what?  I recently spread organic fertilizer all over the beds – but the plants were already deteriorating before that – and the beans and peppers were already damaged before the fertilizer application.

light green spots on waltham butternut squash leaves

These are hybrid butternut squash (these seeds grew fine last year).  After growing well for a while, they are developing yellow spots.  These yellow spots spread and turn more yellow, then those spots turn brown and a hole appears as the leaf dies.
spots on butternut squash leaves

Many of the baby squash are molding.  They have been pollinated – bees are all over in the early morning, and I like to hand pollinate all blossoms I find each day.  For some reason, the fruit is no longer reaching maturity – lots of baby fruit is dying even before the blossom even opens for pollination.  Early in the season, the fruit was reaching maturity.  Is there a delayed reaction to aminopyralid?  There has been no other herbicide usage on my property.  We are way out and far away from any neighbors and surrounded by 60′ trees, so I don’t think any herbicide drifted in from anywhere.
baby fruit is dying on zucchini and squash plants

Some more yellow leaf spots on Waltham Butternut squash in another area of the garden.  It seems that this if affecting mainly the butternut squash varieties.  This vine is growing on the ground and has rooted along the vine.
yellow spotson butternut squash leaves

More hybrid butternut winter squash.  So many of these plants are developing these spots.  The yellow spots spread, turn whiter, then brown that turns into holes then the leaf dies.  This seems to start at the base of the plant and spreads along the stem quickly.  I have a document from Dow Agroscience that talks about the 3 day rule and it specifically mentions fields that will be planted with cucurbits (squash).  This tells me that that poison does affect cucurbits to some extent.  I have to think that this very odd damage to my squash is somehow related to that poison that has been let loose.   I have never
yellow spots o butternut leaves

This leaf has what I believe to be spider mite damage.  I see tiny blackish spots on the bottom of the leaf and believe that it is spider mites.  Some of these leaves also have a small black hopping bug on their top.  I think it is some sort of plat-sucking bug.
white spots on squash leaves

The leaf on the upper left – below –  has a bit of powdery mildew on it.  The past few weeks, powdery mildew hasn’t spread fast because it has been so hot and dry.  I have been spraying affected leaves with Neem oil and it seems to hold the powdery mildew down.  The leaf in the bottom middle has what looks to be spider mite damage.
problematic squash leaves

I just don’t know what to think.  This bed was planted with about 50 squash plants, half a dozen varieties including both zucchini and yellow summer squash.  The plants all started out very nicely, but then started dying quickly.  When they were growing well, they were starting to produce nice zucchini – the yellow summer squash never really made it.  As you can see, there aren’t many squash plants left and these plants just aren’t producing any fruit.  I just don’t understand.  Last year when my beds were only half full, and full of sandy ‘top soil’ at that, my plants did very well – much better than they have done since I filled the other 6″ of bed with that composted horse manure.
dying squash

I have planted basil seedlings in the open areas.  I’ll let them grow for a while until I pull everything up and plant a second round of summer plants.  If you can make it out,  in several of the top beds in the pic, you can see the scrawny, half alive pepper plants – by this time they should all be full and bushy with lots of peppers – didn’t happen.

Articles that I have read about the poison aminopyralid, a test is mentioned whereby pea or bean plants are planted in samples of suspected soil.  If the seedlings grow fine, all is well, but if the seedlings show problems, then Dow’s poison is still at work.  I think I’ll plant bean seeds around the garden and see how they fare.  Haven’t heard back lately from the Dow rep who contacted me – they are supposed to stop by and look at the destruction and see if they lay claim to any of the damage.

Puzzled and upset . . . . . . . .

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Toxic Compost? Aminopyralid? Thanks Dow AgroScience

I posted a while back that I thought that our wetter than normal spring may have been responsible for my pepper leaves being deformed.  Well, after weeping over my destroyed garden – peppers, tomatoes and beans shot for the season, I have found that a herbicide may be responsible.  After thinking about it, I do believe that the tomato leaves do in fact look like previous herbicide damage to tomatoes that I have seen.

My tomato damage and pepper leaf damage does indeed look like pictures of aminopyralid damage seen all over the internet.

Here is an update on what my tomatoes now look like:

aminopyralid damage to tomatoes?
dow agroscience damage to my tomatoes?
aminopyrlid dow agroscience damage to my tomatoes?

The EPA won’t help me – they are too busy trying to shut down our coal burning power plants and cripple the American economy.

Manure and compost can kill your garden – thanks to Dow chemical company.

They peddle a herbicide called aminopyralid.

Dow Agroscience released this environmental poison in 2005, from what I can tell.  They aggressively market it to horse and cattle owners to control perennial weeds.

Dow strikes again – in 2001, Dow’s clopyralid – still sold as Confront, was found to be the contaminant in compost that killed home garden and nursery plants in Washington, Pennsylvania and New Zealand.

Aminopyralid is the active ingredient in the herbicides Milestone and Forefront and belongs to the same class of chemicals that includes clopyralid.

Dow’s behavior defies environmental corporate responsibility.  They know their product is capable of causing significant environmental harm, yet they continue to not only sell it, but to develop and sell new products that pose equal or greater risks.  The EPA lets it happen again.
My peppers:

The peppers grew perfectly fine in the pots that I sprouted and grew the seedlings in.  They seemed OK for the short while that they were in the garden.  After a rainy spell, I noticed that they suddenly had deformed, small and cupped leaves.  After a few weeks, the leaves dropped off.  At this time, it looks like new leaves may be trying to grow from the spots where the leaves dropped along the main stems.
aminopyralid killing my pepper plants?

These leaves are deformed and long.
did dow agroscience destroy my pepper crop this year?

These leaves are cupped and wrinkled.
is aminopyrlid and it's toxic compost destroy my garden?

More deformed, cupped leaves.  Some of these leaves don’t look totally deformed.
did dow agroscience kill my garden?

My beans were also deformed.  I replanted Heriloom Rattlesnake Pole Beans three times.  This image is the third planting.  I can’t get a good picture, but maybe you can see that the new growing ends of the plants just shrivel up and never grow into new leaves.  After a few leaves, the growing ends are deformed.

did dow aminopyrlid destroy my garden?

From what I have read, lettuce and carrots are also affected by this poison.  This past fall – in some of the areas where the peppers and tomatoes are deformed this spring – I grew carrots and lettuce – they seemed to be OK.  One of the links below mentions Peas as being damaged by this poison – my pea crop was a total failure this past fall. Out of a whole raised bed of peas, only a few germinated and those never grew more than about 3 inches – perhaps Dow’s poison damaged my peas. In a previous post I show the trailer of horse compost that I shoveled into my beds in about October.  It should have affected the lettuce and carrots that I then planted.

Dow chemical seems to be playing games with studying the half life of this poison so I don’t know what to expect this spring.  I shoveled that horse compost into all 7 raised beds and put the rest into my compost pile.  It seems that this poison doesn’t start to degrade until the toxic compost actually gets mixed with soil.

I don’t know what to think.  I will have to call our county extension agent and talk to him and give him this blog URL so that he can see the pictures.  Will keep you updated.

Some links for further information:

Manure Matters 
Tomato Ville forum
Aminopyralid images

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Squash Blossoms on the Compost Pile

An interesting thing here – I pulled out most of my summer squash plants because with my limited space, it is time to plant my winter garden.

I tossed the pulled squash vines on the compost pile and the next day I see these blossoms on pulled plants.  It amazes me how much life is still in pulled plants.

squash blossoms on pulled plants tossed on compost pile

By the end of the day, lots more waste was tossed on the pile and covered these blooms.

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A Sample Pepper Harvest

The peppers were planted late, also, but they are producing fairly.  I learned that I can plant my peppers twice as dense in a raised bed next spring.  I had never planted them is a 5′ x 16′ raised bed before, so I wanted to leave them plenty of room to expand.  Lesson learned:  they don’t need the room that I left them.  I had planted 3 to 4 plants across the 5′ length, only about 10 rows along the 16′ length.  Next spring I plan to start twice as much pepper seeds – that means 144 plants instead of 72 seedlings.
a days pepper pickings

The large red peppers in the center top are Cubanelle peppers, a very nice sweet pepper.  The orange peppers in the top right are Tequila Sunrise, a mildly hot pepper.  The long red peppers under the Tequilas are Jimmy heirlooms, a nice sweet, thin skinned pepper.  Under them are Cayenne hot peppers.  To the left of the small cayenne are a red and a green heirloom jalapeno pepper.  The seeds are only viable from the red, mature jalapeno.  Under and next to them are more cayenne peppers, including 1 green one.  In the bottom left corner is another Tequila Sunrise.  The yellow/green peppers on the lower left side are Sweet Banana peppers – heirlooms.  Above them on the left are red Chili peppers.  I originally got these seeds from a dried chili pepper at Kroger.  Finally, the orange pepper on the upper left corner is a Golden Marconi, a sweet pepper.  My Golden Marconi peppers did not grow as large as normally this year.  I am hoping that the seeds are still genetically good and that the smaller size was due to new, not very fertile soil.  I will plant these seeds next year and if the peppers do not grow to their usual larger size, I may have to purchase new heirloom seeds.

Next year I will not be growing 2 varieties of peppers that I had previously grown for years:  Brown Bell and Pimento peppers.  This year, they were stunted and the peppers that grew to somewhat maturity were afflicted with what appears to be anthracnose.  I tossed these peppers and plants in the burn pile – they will NOT be composted so as to not spread what ever it is that is afflicting the peppers.

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Compost Pile

This is the new compost pile. About 2 months ago, I flipped the big stuff from the old compost pile and added all the weeds I pulled getting the garden ready for spring planting.

Compost pile

I wish I was able to build retaining walls, but haven’t yet been able to get it rolling. I was considering using old wood pallets for the side and rear wall.

I still need to use my 1/2″ square wire mesh framed screen to screen the old compost pile, but before I could get the job done, these volunteer squash popped up. I hoped that they were summer squash, and thus would get some fruit within a month or so, but no, these look like winter squash. I might end up pulling them, tossing them in the new compost pile, so that I can finish using the compost they are growing out of.

volunteer winter squash on the old compost pile

Although it is quite obvious that the compost pile never heated up enough to kill any seeds it contained, the finished compost is still dirt like. This compost pile did it’s thing over the past winter. The new pile will heat up very well this coming summer. Twice a year I flip the compost pile. I flip it between the 2 locations you see – the new pile and where the volunteers are sprouting. After I flip the undecayed material from the old pile to the new, I put a framed mesh wire screen over my wheel barrow and shovel the compost onto it, shaking it to pass the fully composted material into the wheel barrow, and the uncomposted stuff left on the screen is dumped into the new pile.

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