Onion Tool, GMO Labels, & Bats!
Using a dibble, deception from a GMO front group and $50 billion worth of pest control done by flying mammals.
More on planting onions: A cranky computer kept us from getting in everything we wanted in our previous post on long-day, short-day onions. Starting onions from seed indoors is easy enough. What’s difficult is setting the delicate transplants or sets in the ground (transplants usually just have roots, sets have developed a small onion bulb). Burying sets too deeply means slow growth and small onions. Putting transplants in the ground requires getting the root to hang vertically and not twisted or laying on itself. How to get it right?
Use a dibble. The dibble, or onion tool as it’s sometimes called makes a straight hole as deep as the dibber allows. This allows you to hang the delicate root of the transplant vertically inside the dibble hole. To make sure the root stays straight, lower it to a depth that’s deeper than you want it set, then carefully lift it up as you fill the dibble hole with soil. Onions, depending on their size, should be spaced a good five inches from one another. The dibble is also useful when planting garlic.
Hand-made dibbles can be very attractive and make great gifts for your gardening friends.
Making your own dibble from an old broom stick or even whittling one from a branch is easy. We once saw one made from a cracked baseball bat, the point carved from the narrower knob end of the bat. That allowed its user to stay standing as he dibbled his holes. Planting lot of onions or other root vegetable starts? Make yourself a multi-dibble dibber.
GMO Labeling Ruse: There’s a new group engaged in the GMO labeling fight. It’s the sanguine sounding Coalition For Safe Affordable Food. Safe food? Affordable food? We can all get behind that.
Problem is, the CFSAF is a front group that’s pushing for voluntary labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients. Got that? No food manufacturer has to label their foods as containing GMOs unless they want to.
Obviously, this is being done to counteract the drive for mandatory labeling. We won’t be fooled. Want labeling? Find out more here.
Going batty: Readers of this blog know we love bats. But bats are frightening to the overwhelming majority of folks – could it be all those vampire movies? What would it take to change someone’s thinking on bats?
Understanding their real value helps. In Paul Bogard’s recent book The End of Night; Searching For Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light, a strong case is made for protecting bats, even celebrating them for their role in controlling insect pests and in aiding pollination. He cites a recent study showing that bats are worth at least $3 billion to U.S. agriculture and more like $50 billion when the “downstream” effects of the pesticides used to do what the bats do naturally is figured in. So how do you convince people that bats aren’t the blood-sucking, rabies- transmitting monsters we consider them to be? (Bats, it turns out, are one of the earth’s mammals with the least incidence of rabies.)
You convince people of their value. Bogard tells a story he got from the world’s foremost expert on bats, Merlin Tuttle. Seems Tuttle was given permission by a Tennessee farmer to study bats in a cave on the farmer’s land. “While you’re in there, kill as many as you can,’ the farmer told him. Tuttle found the cave floor buried in the discarded wings of potato beetles, the pest that caused the farmer the most grief (and money, no doubt). He changed his thinking about bats.
Whole cities – notably Austin, Texas – have changed their attitudes on bats. Maybe, just maybe, there’s something of a trend under way.