Chadwick’s Sweet Pea

This past fall I planted “Chadwick’s Sweet Pea” that I picked up from Seed Dreams who had a booth at last year’s National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa.

They are now my favorite sweet pea variety. I don’t see them listed on the Seed Dream website, nor can I find any information about them other than that I assume they were bred by Alan Chadwick, a student of Rudolf Steiner and John Jeavons’ mentor. 

You can bet I’ll be saving these seeds and growing them again. And I’m also planning on attending this year’s National Heirloom Exposition in September. Hope to see some of you there.

Bleach Alternatives for Disinfecting Pruning Shears

Apples with fire blight: one reason you should disinfect pruning sheers. Photo by Peggy Greb

Neighbor Anne tipped me off to an interesting fact sheet on disinfecting pruning sheers by Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott, a horticulture professor at Washington State University. I’ve been using bleach which, it turns out, is not the best choice.

Bleach is both toxic to humans and to plants as well. It also stains clothes and damages tools. Chalker-Scott’s preferred alternative? Lysol. It won’t corrode your tools and is safer to humans. She also discusses alcohol and Lysterine and a few other choices.

The fact sheet concludes with more important details:

• Be sure to clean tools of dirt, debris, etc. before disinfecting.
• After dipping your pruning tools, be sure to wipe away excess disinfectant to avoid injuring
the next plant.
• A longer soaking may be needed for pruning surfaces that are not smooth.
• Like pruners, increment borers should always be sterilized before and after use.
• Never use disinfectants on pruning wounds; they are phytotoxic and cause more harm than good.

(Why do you need to disinfect pruning tools? Because if you don’t, you can transmit disease such as fire blight and dutch elm disease from one tree to the next. It’s best to clean your tools between each tree or shrub as you work. We do this as a matter of course, whether we think a plant is diseased or not. It’s like practicing safe sex.)

For more horticultral myths, see Chalker-Scott’s myth page.

Update: Citrus Vinegar for Cleaning

In a previous post we talked about soaking citrus peels in white vinegar to make scented vinegar for cleaning. I’ve been doing this for a while now, using a 50/50 water and vinegar blend in my spray bottle, and I like the scent, but I’ve realized that because the vinegar is tinted by the orange peel if it is left to dry on a white surface it will leave yellow marks behind.

This is not a big deal, because when using vinegar spray you are usually spraying and wiping at the same time, and I’ve never seen yellow streaks left behind from using this way. But a few times I’ve sprayed something and then forgot to wipe it down. When the spray dries, a pale yellow residue shows up. It doesn’t stain, you just have to go back and wipe it up. Unfortunately, though, it looks a lot like urine, leading to puzzling questions until you figure out what’s going on!

Picture Sundays: Giant Crops of the Future

From Paleofuture, some 20th century notions about the factory farms of the future, from Arthur Radebaugh’s Sunday comic strip “Closer Than We Think”

COLOSSAL CROPS — In addition to dire threats of destruction, the atomic age has also produced many brighter horizons for mankind’s future. One such happy prospect is the use of radiation to create more uniform and dependable crops that will end famine everywhere in the world.

Gamma ray fields now operating on the east coast point to a day when crops will grow to giant size, vastly enlarging yield per acre. These super-plants will be disease and insect resistant — more tender and tasty — and controllable as to ripening time. Seasonal vegetables like corn will be available fresh nearly everywhere for most of the year instead of only a month or so.

Loopy, but kinda prescient. Not sure it’s gonna work out so well!

Saturday Linkages

Not exactly sure if this is a good idea. Maybe if it collected and diluted urine for use as fertilizer!

Combination Urinal Concept Surprisingly Blends Sink & Toilet | Designs & Ideas on Dornob

Making Shelter Simple: An Interview with Lloyd Kahn:

Horticultural myths: chalker-scott/Horticultural Myths_files/

Where Laundry is Garden Art

Video: Alphabets Heaven beat music and “Private Life of Plants”:

Carpenter builds incredible egg-shaped treehouse hidden from view on Crown land just yards from…

Wood fired ovens in Baja California:

Very cool art piece at my Alma mater UCSD: Fallen Star

If you’re in the mood for a long read, something to chew on from Orion: Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist

Follow the Root Simple twitter feed for more linkages.