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Apples, Analog and Cut-Throat Designs for Cutworms

Cursive Letters from Two Harrowsmith Readers

In the magazine industry, it’s a constant battle to find a see saw balance between digital content and print media. It’s about remembering the heritage readers (our nostalgic demographic) and an attempt to embrace the younger, contemporary audience. Naturally, Harrowsmith can be found on all the necessary social media platforms, as every savvy company needs to be. However, we still field actual letters—not just emails and Facebook emoticons, in response to our content or direction.

At age 43, I’m more analog than I should be. I still send postcards to my family and friends from afar, spending ridiculous amounts on postage for mail that doesn’t ever arrive from Bangkok or Entebbe or Zanzibar. I refuse to read anything but a genuine book—that means no e-readers, no Kindles. The only app I will brag about is a panko-crusted tiger shrimp served with sweet chili Thai sauce. It’s probably not so shocking that I don’t even own a cell phone.

Point is, I love all things print. I love postcards, books and real, live, letters. Letters in cursive even! They don’t even teach cursive in elementary school anymore! Imagine. There definitely won’t be an app for that either. I recently received two hand-written letters (“Dear Sir, or Madame” even!) from Quesnel, BC and Winnipeg, Manitoba (“TO HARROWSMITH MAGAZINE”)—with return addresses, but no email contact. I wanted to share these letters because the writers deserve a bigger audience, and though they probably don’t have Instagram accounts, or a Facebook profile for that matter—I’m sure there’s a millennial in their lives who can eventually point them to this post on our website.

And, just to make sure the tin cans between one long string connect, I will send both of them a letter back, because, Ann Landers always insisted! It’s called courtesy, and that has nothing to do with being analog. So, here, for those who are a little more digital, are copies of the letters (that I re-typed from cursive) that I received from Mervin Busch and Ray Batenchuk.

Cutthroat Cutworm Management: Mervin Busch of Quesnel, BC, shares his top-secret solar design

A cutworm tutorial courtesy of my Butterflies and Moths Golden Guide.

Dear Sir or Madame,

I have been experimenting for a couple years now on controlling the cutworm population in my garden. My results are not final yet. I believe I have another two years to go, but my results are very impressive. I know cutworms are a problem for many gardeners and control is difficult but I believe there is hope and I think you can help me share.

My focus is on the adult insect which is the May and June beetles. They are known to be attracted to lights just after dusk on warm May and June nights. I was once told to put a pail with some water in it under a porch light. I figured that was too hit-or-miss so I refined the idea to putting a pail with an inch or two of water in it on the ground beside my garden and on the top rim, I placed a pane of window glass propped up with a board.

Then, behind the glass centered on the pail, I put a solar garden spotlight on a stake. The bugs fly to the light, but hit the glass first and fall into the water in the pail. This year I set two traps out on May 8th and since, each day I count and record the catch on a calendar. As of May 25th, 2018, I have caught 168 adults and their mating season isn’t even over yet. The books say they live three years feeding as larvae in the ground. If that is the case, then I have two years of trapping before I see a significant decline in cutworm damage in the garden. Last year I started trapping after their mating season was already well underway but still, I caught 60 adults. Very encouraging! Perhaps other people can try their hand at trapping and report results and any improvements to this method. The system doesn’t require chemicals either which is a plus. Now, how do I get rid of flea beetles?

Associated with May/June beetles is a European chafer beetle which is very numerous in some areas and destructive to food sources. Might they also be caught in this type of trap? We don’t have them in our area, so I’m not familiar with them. I hope you can spread the word.

Yours Truly,

Mervin Busch

Editor’s note: If anyone has any intel on chafer beetles or has a novel cutworm trapping design to share with Mervin, please email Jules at [email protected]

Mervin, if I had a cutworm trapper badge to send you, I would! Your chemical-free design is pure genius, and the fact that it’s solar makes it super sustainable and green. We need more clever minds like yours, tinkering away with just a few materials and years of careful garden observation.

An Apple a Day: Ray Batenchuk of Winnipeg, Manitoba shares his apple passion project

My name is Ray Batenchuk and I am writing to also Mark Cullen. I enjoy the Harrowsmith and I have bought a few copies and have perused them many times.

With kind permission of the editors of the Prairie Garden (2007 issue), I would like to share with you and make amateurish inception and conclusion of my efforts of developing my apple (tree). Here is your inclusion, An Autobiography of an Apple: the best of both worlds, by Ray and Fran Batenchuk.

Fran and I have tested approximately 30-40 store-bought apples and although we are biased, some say the Spartachuk is better tasting than the popular McIntosh. Also, the Spartachuk browns the most of all apples tastes due to high polyphols. I have kept a journal of almost 400-500 pages from inception, and with it, can answer questions of the Spartachuk and others. I recently earned my Provisional Plant Breeders Licence—all that remains is to get my official Plant Breeders Licence is field examination.

Editor’s note: Ray and Fran, certainly 400-500 pages of journaling and quality control taste-testing of three dozen apple varieties will earn you that prestigious licence! Thank you for sharing your joy and divine love of apples with our readers. If anyone has an apple a day question for Ray or Fran, please send it to [email protected]

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