Onion Maggot Flies vs. Sticky Traps: Round 2

Mary decided the second round of sticky traps had collected enough Onion Maggot Flies (and other detritus) to warrant replacement, so this season will have three sets of cards.

The two sides of each card after about a month in the garden:

  • VCCG Onion Card A - 2022-07-17
  • VCCG Onion Card B - 2022-07-17
  • VCCG Onion Card C - 2022-07-17
  • VCCG Onion Card D - 2022-07-17
  • VCCG Onion Card E - 2022-07-17
  • VCCG Onion Card F - 2022-07-17

There are many flies that look (to me) like Onion Maggot Flies, in contrast with the first round of cards which had far fewer flies after about six weeks in the bed.

Some could be Cabbage Maggot Flies, but my fly ID hand is weak.

One of the frames screwed to a fence post suffered a non-fatal mishap, so I made and deployed a seventh trap. We’re pretty sure the garden has enough flies to go around.

Please Close The Gate Signage: Painted

It seems two months of sunlight will fade laser charred MDF down to its original state:

Please Close The Gate - unpainted faded
Please Close The Gate – unpainted faded

That’s through a thick layer of indoor urethane sealant slathered over MDF without any surface prep. Obviously, not removing the char had no effect on the outcome. On the upside, the urethane did a great job of protecting the MDF from rainfall.

So. Back to the shop.

Lacking wider masking tape, two strips of tape laid along a cut-to-suit slab of fresh MDF will serve as a paint mask:

Please Close The Gate - masked engraving
Please Close The Gate – masked engraving

Belatedly I Learned: cut the tape close to the edge, then fold it under so the autofocus pen can’t possibly snag it en passant.

Shoot the entire surface with a couple of black enamel rattlecan coats:

Please Close The Gate - masked paint
Please Close The Gate – masked paint

Yes, the engraved areas look reddish, most likely due to another complete lack of surface prep. Perhaps brushing / vacuuming / washing would remove some of the char, but let’s see how it behaves with no further attention.

Peel the tape, weed the letters / antlers, slather on a coat of urethane, and it looks downright bold:

Please Close The Gate - sealed
Please Close The Gate – sealed

Of course, if those two tape strips don’t exactly abut, the paint produces a nasty line:

Please Close The Gate - mask gap
Please Close The Gate – mask gap

Should you overlap the strips a wee bit to ensure cleanliness, the engraved surface will then have a noticeable (in person, anyhow) discontinuity due to the laser losing energy in two tape layers, which wouldn’t matter in this application. We defined the few paint lines as Good Enough™ for the purpose; a strip of absurdly wide masking tape is now on hand in anticipation of future need.

Burnishing the tape might have prevented paint bleed around the engraved areas:

Please Close The Gate - paint creep
Please Close The Gate – paint creep

But, given that I was painting raw / unfinished MDF with an unsmooth surface, burnishing probably wouldn’t produce a significantly better outcome.

By popular request, the new signs sit a few grids lower on the gates:

Please Close The Gate - fresh painted
Please Close The Gate – fresh painted

Perhaps these will outlast the garden season …

DripWorks Valve Fracture

Early in the irrigation season, Mary turned on a DripWorks Micro-Flow Valve, only to have the knob + stem pop out and release a stream of water in the wrong place. Mary jammed it back in place until I could chop out the offending valve and install a known-clear replacement.

The knob broke off the stem when I tried to pry it out of the valve body:

Failed Dripworks valve - parts
Failed Dripworks valve – parts

The lip around the inside of the cap snaps over the top of the body, which is why I wrecked the stem, but the chip broke off the cap while Mary was turning it just before the stem popped out. Her fingers are barely strong enough to turn the valve, which means something had gone wrong before she started turning.

A look straight into the valve body:

Failed Dripworks valve - top view
Failed Dripworks valve – top view

The stem has swarf left over from drilling out the mold flash last year:

Failed Dripworks valve - stem
Failed Dripworks valve – stem

All in all, the Dripworks drip irrigation system works well, but their overall attention to QC leaves something to be desired.

Onion Maggot Flies vs. Sticky Traps: Round 1

We deployed six sticky traps in the onion patch immediately after planting in late April and replaced the cards in mid-June. The first set of cards collected a considerable number of what resemble, to my untrained eye, onion maggot flies and the onion plants remain healthy:

  • VCCG Onion Card A
  • VCCG Onion Card B
  • VCCG Onion Card C
  • VCCG Onion Card D
  • VCCG Onion Card E
  • VCCG Onion Card F

Each image shows both sides of a single card.

The cards sit a foot above the shredded leaf mulch and I managed to drop at least one of the cards while extracting it from the cage, but they all have plenty of onion maggot flies in addition to the random debris.

The cards inside their cages have not accumulated larger insects like honeybees / moths / butterflies, although the tiniest specks are definitely mini-critters along the beetle / gnat / aphid / mosquito axis.

Unlike last year, the second set of cards will remain in place until harvest to maintain continuous pressure on the fly population.

If you’re really interested, the dozen original camera images have more detail.

Pine Pollen Season

When the driveway runs yellow in the rain, it’s pine pollen season:

Pine Pollen Season - Driveway Flow
Pine Pollen Season – Driveway Flow

Our robot vacuum snuffles up quite a collection of dust:

Pine Pollen Season - vac filter B
Pine Pollen Season – vac filter B

Peeling a layer of the usual fuzz off the filter reveals the pollen:

Pine Pollen Season - vac filter A
Pine Pollen Season – vac filter A

This, too, shall pass and my eyes will rejoice.

Laser-cut Pole Bean Ties

This is the season for erecting the structures upon which the pole beans will climb:

Garden Bean Poles - overview
Garden Bean Poles – overview

They’re made from a dozen small trees and branches of larger trees harvested around the yard. They last for a few years, just long enough for the next crop to reach useful lengths.

We lash them together with fabric strips:

Garden Bean Poles - joint detail
Garden Bean Poles – joint detail

My knot hand is weak, but seems sufficient to the task.

Mary formerly tore the strips from old jeans / pants / whatever, which required considerable effort, produced ragged edges, and filled the air with fabric dust. This year, I proposed an alternative:

Garden Bean Poles - laser cutting ties
Garden Bean Poles – laser cutting ties

The weird thing in the middle is a reflection of an overhead can light in the laser cabinet’s polycarb lid.

From starting the LightBurn layout to presenting the strips for final inspection required the better part of ten minutes. I scissors-cut along the main seams to get single fabric layers, with everything above the crotch seam wadded off the platform to the left.

As with my shop raglets, the layout depends on LightBurn’s overhead camera view to align the cuts with the fabric on the platform:

Bean Pole Ties - LightBurn layout
Bean Pole Ties – LightBurn layout

It’d be easier to see with lighter fabric, but that’s what came to hand in the scrap box and the beans won’t care. We do not anticipate complaints about the odor of charred fabric when they reach the top of the poles, either.

The strips must align with the fabric’s grain to put the warp threads along their length, which makes the main side seam parallel to the X-axis. Even I can handle that layout!

Yes, the strips have rounded corners and, no, it doesn’t matter.

OMTech 60 W Laser: Plant Markers

While calibrating the laser’s scan offset, I also tried various fonts:

Offset cal - text - overview
Offset cal – text – overview

Putting two lines of the most-readable font inside an outline reverse-engineered from a few handwritten samples let me cut out a bunch of plant markers from white-on-black Trolase acrylic:

Plant Markers - cutting
Plant Markers – cutting

Which look downright dignified in real life:

Plant markers - African Violet
Plant markers – African Violet

Admittedly, sweet potato slips don’t require such extensive documentation:

Plant Markers - sweet potatoes
Plant Markers – sweet potatoes

Cutting the sheet flat on the honeycomb platform worked well, modulo Sadler’s warning about cutting acrylic, and a few smudges on the back of the markers will go unnoticed.

This was actually an excuse to use LightBurn’s Variable Text feature, so the tags contain formatting codes:

Plant Markers - Variable Text template
Plant Markers – Variable Text template

The codes give the position and format for text fields in a CSV file containing one line for each tag:

Austrocylindropuntia subulata,Eve’s Pin Cactus
Euphorbia,abyssiniaca
possibly G. Carinata,var. Verucosa
African Violet,Maui
Sansevieria trifasciata,Mother in law’s tongue
Plectranthus,'Mona Lavender'

The rules governing quoted strings and suchlike remain to be explored, but single quotes in the CSV file pass through unchanged.

Putting a tab at the point of the marker will prevent it from falling free when cut out, should you want to try raising the sheet above the platform to reduce the amount of crud accumulating on the back side.