The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Abingdon Organics and the Pediobius wasp

View of one field at Abingdon Organics

Anthony FlaccaventoWednesday, Mark and I attended a riveting presentation about biochar at Abingdon Organics, the home and farm of Anthony and Laurel Flaccavento.  The first time I toured Anthony's farm, I was blown away by his experiments, and by the colors and sheer beauty of his crops.  I figured there was no way I could ever achieve such perfection.

Even though he's still head and shoulders above us, I actually felt a little better about my own garden after this visit.  Anthony's tomatoes were keeling over even faster than ours (although he had been eating them since May) and he told us that this was the worst year he'd ever seen for Mexican bean beetles.  I guess misery loves company....

On the other hand, Anthony never throws in the towel, even when faced with total bean defoliation.  He discovered that you can buy a Mexican bean beetle larva parasitized by a Pediobius waspparasitic wasp (Pediobius foveolatus) that will lay its eggs inside the bean beetle larvae and wipe out your least for a season.  The brown larva shown here is a parasitized bean beetle that won't do any more eating on Anthony's beans.  (In the background, you can see a yellowish, unparasitized larva of the same age.)

Unfortunately, Pediobius wasps are tropical imports and won't overwinter in our climate, so you have to keep buying them each year, making the proposition less sustainable than I Loyal blog readerswould like.  Still, if you're dying to grow beans and the Mexican bean beetle is your archnemesis, you should give Tom Dorsey a call at 609-530-4192.  He doesn't appear to have a website, but is Anthony's wasp source.

Stay tuned for more tidbits from our exciting day in the big city (and, hopefully, a lunchtime series on biochar!)  Meanwhile, I have to end with another highlight of our trip --- meeting two loyal blog readers who came over to compliment us on the Walden Effect.  Thanks for your kind words, Rocky (and sister, whose name I didn't quite catch.)

Our homemade chicken waterer turns a dirty chore into a breeze.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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If anyone if having trouble finding Tom Dorsey, he works for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, they rear Pediobius: There are also a number of other insectaries that rear these wasps. Here is an excellent article that describes how the wasp can me best used:
Also, I am a PhD student at Virginia Tech working on Mexican bean beetle; please contact me or my lab with any questions about this pest. And we always appreciate the opportunity to come visit your farm/garden and learn from you! or Happy farming!

Comment by Louis Nottingham Tue Mar 10 10:05:59 2015

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