Friday, June 12, 2009

June 12: Ask the Snarky Farmer!

Fridays, we delve into the garden e-mail bag....Ask the Snarky Farmer!
     Ted writes: "I was out early this morning squashing snails. I understand that the snail eggs may still be able to hatch after stepping on them. I was wondering if small snails are carrying eggs as well?"
    Slugs and snails are hermaphrodites, meaning they all have the potential to lay eggs without the need beforehand for a dinner and a movie to get them in the mood. Only adult snails - about two years old - lay eggs. A slug reaches maturity at about five months of age. But they really get busy when it's egg-laying  time. Snails can lay up to 80 eggs at a time, and they do that six times a year. Slugs lay eggs in batches of three to forty eggs. And yes, those eggs may still hatch, despite having a squashed mama. Your best course of action when you find snails and slugs hiding under boards, leaves and that pile of black plastic garden containers behind the garage: bag 'em and trash 'em. Also, there are now pet-friendly snail control pellets available. Look for the active ingredient, iron phosphate.

     Nancy asks: "I have been listening to your radio program this morning for the first time. It won't be the last, believe me! One man talked about feeding all his squirrels.  I have a lovely garden next to my house with two bird feeders.  I get lots and lots of yellow finch and doves (when I put ground feed on the sidewalk).  Occasionally I see a squirrel eating the black sunflower seeds on the ground.  But every time I see the squirrel, the jays come and scare the squirrel away.  How can I attract more squirrels and discourage the jays?"
     Ohhhh, Nancy: That's like hoping the German army leaves Poland so that the Russian army can move in. If you leave enough food around that the squirrels can easily get to, it will attract more squirrels (and perhaps raccoons, skunks, etc.), despite the presence of scrub jays. Mockingbirds discourage scrub jays...but again, the cure may be worse than the problem.

     Natalie and Jay say: "Hi there Farmer Fred! Listen to your shows on Sunday all the time. My husband and I are big into the fifties thing. We are (slowly) remodeling our house to look like a 50's Atomic home. Along with the look, we are also into making our own Atomic Cocktails. We grow our own mint for Mint Juleps and Mojitos and have a lemon tree and lime tree for various drink recipes and garnishes.
The lime tree is doing quite nicely. It's planted in the ground close to a fence for some freeze protection in the winter. The lemon tree, however, is planted in a whiskey barrel, and although it has quite a few lemons growing on it, the leaves are starting to become yellow. They aren't turning brown, but just look a pale yellow, as if there isn't enough access to nitrogen. We add coffee grounds, citrus food, Ironite (only once!), and we mulch with bark. Any ideas on why it's not greening up?"

     First of all, I will answer your question if you promise to send me your recipe for the atomic cocktail. Thanks in advance. 

OK, why citrus leaves turn yellow in containers:
1. Not enough nitrogen (N gets leached from containers easily due to all the watering they need). Feed containerized citrus regularly (perhaps monthly or every other week with a diluted mix).

2. Poor drainage. Use a moisture meter to determine if it's too wet at the root zone. Or, dig down and feel that soil near the bottom of the barrel. Too wet soil can cause leaves to yellow and drop off. Mulch is a good thing, but it can keep the soil too moist. You may have to decrease your watering.
3. Not enough sun. The more, the better...for citrus.
4. Fumes from the Atomic Cocktails.

Atomic Cocktail

It's the drink that you don't pour
Now when you take one sip you won't need anymore
You're small as a beetle or big as a whale-BOOM-Atomic Cocktail.

Splashes ice all around the place
When you see it coming, grab your suitcase
It'll send you through the sky like airmail-BOOM-Atomic Cocktail.

You push a button, turn a dial
Your work is done for miles and miles
When it hits-it's bound to shake 'cause it feels just like an earthquake.

That's the drink that you don't pour
When you take one sip you won't need anymore
You're small as a beetle or big as a whale-BOOM-Atomic Cocktail.

Atomic Cocktail: Slim Gaillard [1946]
Words and music by Slim Gaillard
Atomic, Inc. [ Hollywood, CA.] A-215-A
Recorded 12/15/45 | Length: 2:39 | 78RPM

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