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Steve Sees Sciways

Still In My Veggie Garden (Md,), Picking Some Ripe Allelopathy

I am a mere science writer, with tremendous powers.

That's right, I can brag, not for my self alone but for the powers of science writers employed in research agencies. I've been in and out of public and private journalism.

My public side began with the Agriculture Research Service. The first time one of my stories changed an ARS policy I was amazed, then got used to it, never fell in love with it happening because I had no real administrative powers over the running of the agency at all. At the time ARS was cutting research money on allellopathy from the next U.S. Dept. of Ag. budget.  

Allelopathy is when one living thing, like a sunflower or squash vine produces chemicals that stunt the growth of other organisms, like weeds.

My story was on an ARS lab that had extracted herbicidal compounds from sunflowers and Jeruselum artichokes that kill weeds at their base. There were several projects underway on such biological weed control. According to the scientists in my story, the agency kept allelopathy research alive because the story had such interest in industry through media coverage.

That's a brag for sciences writers. We do things like that without trying. I really didn't care if that research stayed in the farm bill or not.

It's Nov. 21 in Maryland, and I'm still picking green, yellow, and Jalapeño peppers and I know why because of that allelopathy story long ago. Massive growth of squash this year--butternut, acorn, spaghetti, and yellow--overtook my pepper plants early in the summer and I thought they were dead. As expected weeds were at a minimum under the bumper crop of squash and cucumbers (oh yea, another allelopathic plant). In Sept. the vine crops died and what did I find? Peppers, weakened severely, trying to reach up to heaven, or at least to give me some peps.

I have a little yellow book on companion planting that explains what to plant with what. These days, google companion plants and vegetable gardening.

Or if you garden with pesticides and artificial fertilizers, ignore this blog. See ya. Steve

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