Growing Michigan Agriculture Conference

The Growing Michigan Agriculture Conference will be held Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at the Kellogg Center on the Michigan State University campus.

Registration is $85 by March 3 and $95 at the door. For more information, contact ANR Event Services at 517-353-3175 or email

Topics covered will include legislative policy, crops, and more.

Midwest Pollinator Protection Grants

The USDA National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced a new grant program for farms and ranches in the Midwest to promote conservation efforts, improve honey bee and pollinator health, and reduce colony losses during winter. Grants totaling almost $3 million are available to producers in MI, MN, ND, SD, and WI.

Grants can be used to support conservation practices that improve nectar and pollen availability for pollinators, including cover cropping and forage management.

Grant applications are due March 21, 2014. See the NCRS web site for details.

NRCS offers a free Farming for Pollinators publication in .pdf format.

Seed Savers Exchange Chicago Event

The Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) is having a member luncheon program at the Morton Arboretum in Chicago, IL on Sunday, March 16th. Speakers are Vicki Nowicki and Diane Ott Whealy.

Registration is a $15 suggested donation, and pre-registration is required.

SSE is a fantastic organization and a great resource for open pollinated, locally adapted varieties.

TRSV and the Honey Bee

A number of viruses affect honey bees and are significant factors in ongoing problems with colony collapse disorder (CCD) and colony losses during winter. Varroa mite (Varroa destructor), which itself can weaken colonies, can also transmit viruses to honey bees, further reducing hive strength. A recently published research study identified a new virus issue in honey bees. Continue reading

Tobacco Hornworm Chemical Warfare

A while back I did a post on the tomato/tobacco hornworm, and just came across some interesting new research on this pest. Continue reading

Resources & Notes for Off-Grid Living

During my time this summer at Two Fish Farms,  the alternative energy system was not fully installed (a windmill and second solar array are now up and running), so all power use had to be very carefully managed. Irrigation was the primary power draw, and ensuring the pressure tank remained pressurized without stressing the batteries was key. Continue reading

Resources updated

The Resources page has been updated with new links. It now includes info on gardening, medicinal and poisonous plats for livestock, and more. Also made a few tweaks here and there.

Hope things go well at the Michigan Permaculture Convergence this weekend. I’m committed to an annual buffalo roundup, but have some friends and family attending.

Michigan Permaculture Convergence

The first annual Michigan Permaculture Convergence is taking place November 1-3, 2013 at Camp Talahi Retreat & Nature Center in Howell, Michigan.
Registration is $50, and can be done online.

Tomato Hornworm Cusine

Tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) is a moth pest of solanaceous crops, including tomato, eggplant, and pepper. It is closely related to tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta).  The easiest way to differentiate the two species as larvae is to check the color of the “horn” at the end of the caterpillar’s body.  M. sexta has red horns, M. quinquemaculata has black. Continue reading

Horizontal Top Bar Hive Beekeeping

Two Fish Farms apiaryIt has been a real treat to observe the apiary at Two Fish Farms, which now includes seven colonies.  The two latest additions are a Langstroth hive and a horizontal top bar hive (HTBH) with an observation window, installed from a nuclear HTBH.  I have spent many hours observing the flowering plants on the property to see what the bees are foraging on in this dry, northwestern Michigan summer. Continue reading