Tips for Air-Drying Flowers, Breeding Help for Trichogramma Wasps, and More Gardening News

A power hoe is put through its paces, suggestions for drying flowers, a magazine for small farmers is launched, blue orchard bees are found to be efficient pollinators, and a new egg-laying stimulant for parasite-controlling trichogramma wasps is tested.

| September/October 1983

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    Blue orchard bees don't make honey, but they do make excellent pollinators.

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Putting a Power Hoe through its Paces

After MOTHER's Eco-Village director, Leroy Richter, put a Weed Eater power hoe through its paces and couldn't stop talking about the machine, my curiosity was piqued. So I managed to borrow a Model 5000 power hoe from the folks at Beaird-Poulan, and now I'm a convert, too.

You may have seen equipment of this type advertised: Powered by a 1.6 cu. in. engine (similar to that used on a chain saw), it has a pair of five-pointed tines on the end of a three-foot shaft. Well, I have to confess that I had serious doubts about the usefulness of such a machine, but after a month's trial I'm convinced of its utility. The little hoe can actually do about anything a rotary tiller can do (except break up sod and turn under crop residues). I've used the 5000 to weed, prepare seedbeds, start holes for tree planting, and dig trenches for leeks and asparagus roots. Furthermore, wielding the machine is as simple as scooping the tines through the soil toward you, and the result is a well-churned, finely granulated path that's four inches deep and six inches wide. (When preparing the trench for the asparagus roots, I just pushed the loosened soil aside and then made another pass or two.) The manufacturer does suggest that you give hard earth a good soaking the night before you plan to till it, but I haven't yet found that "softening" to be necessary. If I can extend the loan long enough, I plan to use the hoe to incorporate this fall's chopped leaves into the raised beds in my vegetable garden.

There's one other benefit of this particular machine that I haven't mentioned: The engine can be detached from the hoe head and used to power other tools: a string trimmer, an edger, and a small snow thrower. The Model 5000 sells for about $200 with the power hoe head, while the trimmer attachment runs about $55, the edger $80, and the snowblower $90.

Tips for Air-Drying Flowers

Now that autumn is here, it's time to start thinking about preserving summer's colors for winter enjoyment. According to the folks at Bedding Plants, Inc., the easiest way to preserve flowers is by air-drying. Just choose a place that's dark and arid (most attics are fine, but cellars are often too damp). Harvest the flowers before they open fully, and strip the foliage from their stems. Then tie the blooms in bunches, making sure that the flower heads do not touch each other, and hang them upside down. Most blossoms will dry in two or three weeks. Here's a list of annuals that can be preserved by using this technique:

Baby's breath
Bee balm
Bells of Ireland
Butterfly weed
Castor bean pods
Chinese Lantern
Dusty Miller
Globe amaranth
Larkspur (annual)
Lemon verbena
Plume poppy

A Magazine for Small Farmers

I recently got a chance to look over a right handy magazine that the folks at Ford Tractor have produced (and, in late September, will be giving away). It's called Enterprise Farming: The Ford Tractor Guide for Small Farms. In it you'll find invaluable information on financing, taxes, buying land, and choosing which crops to grow, along with stories describing how (despite the common belief that small farms are on their way out) creative and enterprising agriculturists are making good profits from small acreages, working full- or part-time. The magazine will be available, at no cost, at most Ford Tractor dealerships and at many agricultural extension service offices, as well as at many Strout Realty and United Farm Realty locations.

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