This month we offer several products and ideas that may be useful on the farm and elsewhere. If readers have others that we should spread around, please let us know.
At our last CRAFT tour of the year Ben and Cedar at Goldfinch Gardens in Celo introduced us to a couple of tools that may be useful to others. One is the Hoss precision seeder from Hoss Tools They found it very workable and perhaps a less expensive alternative to other brands at $160. This company also offers wheel hoes but the seeder may fit one you already own. Ben adapted their Glasser wheel hoe to accommodate the Hoss.
Flea beetles drive many of us crazy. Goldfinch Gardens uses Proteknet available here combined with an azadirachtin molting disruption spray prior to installing it. It reminds me of mosquito netting and comes in a variety of mesh sizes depending on how big your problem critter is. It is fairly expensive at about a dollar per foot for a two meter width. The maker is in Quebec so ask for a bilingual salesperson when you call.
Bill Hagemann who works on our crew and manages the farm at The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center brought in a Theracane last week for us to try. See it at www.theracane.com. It seems great at reaching pressure points that you cannot quite reach after loading a few too many cases of produce. It looks very promising and possibly an idea for the farmer on your holiday gift list. If you are puzzled, check their site for a video demonstration.
Slime solved a problem of locust thorns penetrating smaller tires such is wheelbarrows and riding mowers. Truck and tractor tires are usually thick enough not to be affected, but tires with less aggressive tread are sometimes flattened by just the tip of longer spines. After removing the valve stem I squirt several ounces of the sealant inside the tire or tube, replace the stem and re-inflate. Slime seals holes up to an eighth inch they say. It even seems to work on older tires that are starting to dry rot and crack. A construction company near us buys it in bulk and puts it in the tires of all their equipment.
I used one of these devices for years to unload our truck at tailgate markets but Victoria Baker introduced me to the proper terminology. It is more accurately described as a “gitter.” When you can’t quite reach that box of apples, you can climb into your covered tailgate bed or just reach for the Gitter. Ours is a old hoe with nothing left of the blade but a hook. It rides around in the channel at the bottom of the camper top. We use it dozens of time each week. It is also great at pulling up sod staples while standing upright. A PVC pipe with an ell on the end works fairly well also.
We have several portable coolers to keep greens cool at market but sometimes we run short. This inexpensive pseudo-ice chest keeps produce cool for several hours until it is sold at the market or delivered to a cooler at a wholesale account. Several brands of closed cell or bubble pack insulation exist, but one type is Reflectix at most building supply stores. We cut it to fit a waxed box. One sheet covers two sides and folds over the top. The other sheet double covers the bottom and lines the other two sides.
Regularly we need to anchor a cold frame, trellis or other wire under tension. Mobile home anchors are designed to withstand forces much greater than we normally face but their designs can be approximated with items that are usually around the farm. Augers cost five to twenty dollars at building supply stores and are called mobile home anchors in some places. They seem likely to be solid for a long term installation but it takes a while to install them and they do not do well with rocks. An alternate is the “cross drive anchor” available through mobile home supply outlets for about $20. We have found that two rebars driven at 90 degrees and wired together near the top produce a quick anchor that rarely fails. In the photo, imagine the pink cord as the soil surface. It is easy to remove with a pipe wrench. It functions somewhat like a pair of scissors. As the wire or line pulls up on the crossed rods, they squeeze together on a large block of soil. 18 inch to two foot rods seem fine for trellises. The commercial anchors for mobile homes are four feet long so you might want to use longer rods if you are anchoring a larger structure.
Feel free to comment or add other gizmos to the list of ideas presented here. Thanks
Ask Tom © 2013 Tom Elmore & Organic Growers School
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Tom Elmore is co-owner and operator of Thatchmore Farm in Leicester NC. He has grown certified organic fruits and vegetables for 25 years and serves on the Boards of the NC Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association and the Organic Growers School.