The international research center CIAT in Cali, Colombia is working (on a small scale) with nuñas. Dr. Jeffery White, CIAT bean physiologist, says the beans do not produce well and are susceptible to most bean diseases, so farmers grow them less and less. “In fact, the crop is probably disappearing.”
Martin Gingerich, Haiti. The note in EDN 39-4 on using Guinea grass, Panicum maximum, as a mulch for onions arrived while Martin was learning about a traditional system using Guinea grass in Haiti. This is in an area near La Valee Jacmel at about 800-1000 meters and 2,000 mm (80 inches) of rainfall. He writes, “Just like the example from Jamaica, the system is used by all farmers in the area and no planting is attempted without it. We could not find anyone who remembers when people started using the system. It is older than those using it today.”
Some of ECHO’s Malaysia exotica papaya trees developed what I presumed to be the disease “bunchy top.” Because this is a viral disease, we did nothing to try to control it. Fruit production almost stopped, and what did ripen was so low in sugar as to be uninteresting. We cut the trees and have replanted.
Yong Lee Ming at the Tenom agriculture experiment station in Malaysia sent us some fresh seed, and some important information. “The problem may not be due to a virus. The symptom you described appears to be similar to what we have in Malaysia, but so far is not a big problem and often easily controlled. The so-called bunchy top symptom is often caused by thrips and/or a fungus.”
HEDGES FOR RESOURCE-POOR LAND USERS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES. When we offered our small Technical Note on living fences in EDN 32-8 I asked whether anyone knew of a wellillustrated and carefully written book on the subject of living fences. Jörg Henninger in Paraguay told us about this book. He wrote, “Its 256 pages give orientation about techniques for establishing and management of hedgerows, uses and functions, social and economic issues and a list of species applicable. It has about 57 tables and 92 figures. I love this book because it is by far the most complete one I know.”
Benlate disaster. Benlate has long been considered the best systemic fungicide available. Somehow a contaminant got into some batches and caused millions of dollars in damages.
What is the aroma that is released when hot peppers are heated in cooking oil?
DON’T CURB CALCIUM WHILE TRYING TO PREVENT KIDNEY STONES. Most kidney stones are made up of crystals of calcium and a naturally occurring substance in some plants called oxylates. Many plants contain such high amounts of oxylates that we must temper our enthusiasm for those plants. Amaranth leaves and carambola fruit are good examples.
GARLIC TO KILL SNAILS? Drs. D. K. Singh and A. Singh at the University of Gorakhpur in India looked at the molluscicidal properties of an extract of common garlic, Allium sativum, against snails. Aquatic snails, Lymnaea acuminata, that serve as intermediate host for parasites which cause fascioliasis of cattle were chosen for the experiment. Ten snails were placed in each glass aquarium. The required amount of garlic cloves was minced in 5 ml water, homogenized for 5 minutes, and centrifuged at 1000 g for 10 minutes and added to the water. The authors believe that if the active ingredient were further purified, it would probably be more toxic than the best synthetic.
SWEET AND BITTER CASSAVA AND CYANIDE CONTENT. Varieties of cassava classified as sweet may have a high cyanogenic potential and those classified as bitter may be low.
EGUSI CAN REDUCE WEEDS IN CORN. In most parts of West Africa, farmers grow egusi, Citrullus lanatus, a spreading herbaceous plant grown widely for its seed, at a wide spacing to maximize fruit size.
PLANT PROTECTION IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM (PPIP) FOR BOTSWANA, TANZANIA, AND ZAMBIA. PPIP is currently striving to increase its contacts with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are working in the above three countries. If you work in this region and are involved in any of the activities listed below, you may be able to obtain financial and/or technical support from PPIP. It is funded by the Swedish International Development Authority. PPIP support can be given to national institutions, NGOs or individuals.
SEED FOR QUEENSLAND LETTUCE. Pat and Connie Lahr gave us a packet of seed for this lettuce after a visit to Australia. I was sufficiently impressed with our initial crop to make it a priority this year to harvest enough seed to offer to our overseas network.
SERVANTS’ MISSIONARY SERVICE. Kristin Kroll writes that the periodic letters she sends to her supporters in the States are handled by this unique organization. Their sole purpose is to publish and mail “prayer” letters of Christian missionaries. To encourage supporters to write notes to you, they place at the bottom of each letter a “Short Note”. This can be returned to them in the envelope provided and they send it air mail with others. Kristin says, “They do a nice job, really quickly, it does not cost much, and a lot of people who never would have written send in the "short notes.”
While a fellow gardener and I were sharing gardening experiences the other day, he mentioned that he had added too much nitrogen and caused blossom end rot. This is a very common problem with tomatoes. I replied that it is calcium deficiency that causes blossom end rot.
Perhaps growing up on a small farm in Ohio made me a cynic, but it seems that any farm product that is at all profitable will be overproduced within a few years. It is happening to spices.
Martin L. Price
Wayne DeYoung in Haiti writes about a pump that he is sure will interest our network. It was used in a water well project by Dan Cook and others in Haiti. Wayne believes that it has phenomenal value for many gardening situations along rivers or ponds or where a hand dug well is available. His letter was written about the time that EDN-37 was in the mail. This issue reviewed How To Build a Rus Pump and other appropriate technology brochures offered by World Vision of Australia. It appears that Wayne is describing this same pump. So here is a timely testimonial.
“Dan is doing a gardening project where water is the main limitation. They dug a 45 foot deep well at 50¢ a foot, only to find that pumps were outrageously priced, especially now with the United Nations embargo. Then he heard that the Reeves in Gonaive had made a pump from PVC pipe. He bought about 50 feet each of 1¼ and ¾ inch pipe for US $50.” Wayne then describes how homemade foot valves were attached to the bottom of each string of pipe and the ¾ inch string fitted inside the larger one. [ED: a “string of pipe” refers to a series of pieces of pipe connected to make a long section.] “By pumping the ¾ inch pipe up and down it pumps water beautifully, at least 5 gallon a minute.”