Happy New Year! Our 26th Year!
Your Resolution: BEORGANIC!
Vegetable and Herb Gardens
No Good Garden Comes Without Some Elbow Grease
Organic gardening differs from "conventional" gardening mainly in the areas of fertilization and pest control. The organic gardener prefers to use natural and organic materials and methods, and avoids using practices and synthetic chemicals that may be detrimental to his health or environment.
Since organic fertilizer and soil conditioning materials are slow working in general, they should be mixed into the soil at least three weeks ahead of planting and the soil thoroughly prepared for the seed or transplants.
Clumps of unrotted organic materials not only interfere with the seeding operation, but may result in nutrient deficiency and possible soil-borne diseases problems such as "damping-off" of young seedlings.
Compost is made by alternating layers of organic materials, such as leaves and kitchen table refuse, with manure, topsoil, organic fertilizer, water, and air, in such a manner that it decomposes, combines, and yields a product that can be mixed in with the soil.
The compost pile can be made of any size depending on the amount of material available. I like having two compost piles. A working pile where I devote all my energy to get it finished quicker and the second one for storing debris. I turn this one occasionaly. The top should be peaked into a cone shape to repel excess water. Too much water eliminates air and slows the decay process.
One way suggested in building the pile is to make a layer of leaves, straw, grass clippings, and other organic materials one foot deep, wet down and pack. Spread a layer of manure four to six inches deep over this layer of wet material.You can add materials like humates, greensand, cottonseed or feathermeal as you build up. It is eaiser to use a product like Green Sense All Purpose Fertilizer.
After two or three days the compost will begin to heat and can reach temperatures as high as 160 degrees. Keep it moist, but not too wet, and do not disturb for awhile. If El Nino brings to much rain to your area you might cover your compost pile with plastic. After one to two weeks, turn the pile making sure that you moisten the layers that are dry. If you use a compost thermometer and check the piles temperature you should turn it when you have noticed a decrease in internal temperature.
In about two to three months your compost should be ready deppending on the materials you have added, and how attentive you have been. When the compost is broken down into unidentifiable particles it feel soft to the touch and has a sweet smell, it is ready for use.
Use of Compost in the Garden
Since compost is artificial manure, it should be used much as you would manure.
Broadcast it over the entire garden three weeks or more before planting. Or if you have only a small quantity of compost, it may be mixed into the soil along each planting furrow or at each hill site. As a minimum, apply three inches of compost over the area to be worked.. Larger amounts are even more beneficial, so if you do not have enough ready to use buy some. We recommend Back To Earth Compost. Other additives may be worked in at this time such as Earthworm Castings, Rock Phosphate, Manures, Lava Sand, and Texas Greenseand.
Insect and Disease Control
During periods when infestations of various garden pests are high, control by natural means becomes very difficult. However, the following practices will help to reduce losses without use of chemical pesticides.
- Plant resistant varieties. Plant seed from disease-free plants. Select pest-free transplants.
- For cutworms, place a cardboard of tinfoil collar around plant stems at ground level.
- Spade garden early so vegetation has time to rot before planting.
- Plant as early in the spring as practical.
- Use a mulch; vegetables touching the soil may rot.
- Water in morning so plants are not wet at night.
- Hand-pick insects if possible. Natural pesticides like Pyrethrum kill beneficials too.
- Keep out weeds which harbor insects and disease.
- Clean up crop refuse early and dispose of severely diseased plants before they contaminate others.
- Some insects, like cabbage worms and tomato hornworms, may be killed by spraying with natural preparations such as Bacillus thuringiensis . Many organic gardeners approve of and use sprays and other preparations containing naturally occurring materials. Diatomaceous Earth comes from petrified sea life. Pyrethrin, and rotenone, are examples of natural poisons from plant parts. Release Beneficial Predators such as Green Lace Wing, Ticogramma Wasp, etc.
- Insect traps, baited with phermone lures, work well in some instances. Many of these have sticky adhesives to catch insects.
- Rotate garden areas.
The primary purpose of cultivation is to control weeds. Weeds are easy to control when they are small.
Shallow cultivation and hoeing are advised in order to reduce damage to the root system. A garden mulch, such as pinestraw, leaves, or other material, will help to keep weeds from growing if the mulch is thick enough to exclude light.
Ants in My Pant(s)ry
I was in the back of the store with my watch dog, Alfred, curled up next to me when a men walked into the store. “May I help you?” I asked, as my dog growled menacingly.
“This morning I went into my closet and got a pair of pants off of the hanger. A few minutes after I put them on I started to itch. I live just a couple of blocks away so I thought I would come here on my way out and see if you could help me.”
I wanted to ask him if he knew if a detergent was being used, thinking he might have an allergic reaction, but all of a sudden he started to scratch and moan in pain. Alfred, being the bravest of guard dogs, started to run towards the warehouse door, away from this man, who was now trying to undo his belt.
“Sir,” I said, there is a bathroom over here.” He wasn’t listening to me now. He was trying to take his pants off. Alfred realized that he could take this guy and came charging toward him. When he was a few steps away from him he leaped in the air.
It was a spectacular leap. He was going for the neck of this mad man, I knew for a fact that this guy was going to be killed by my brave dog. Alfred the overweight Dachshund landed at this guy’s feet and was busy tearing up his ankle when I noticed an insect walking across his pants. I looked closer and saw that it was an ant. “Actung!” I comanded my dog. “Halt!” I repeated over and over again. Finally I came to my senses and screamed: “COOKIES.”
Alfred let go of this ant bitten man and came to my side wagging his tail and looking for food.
After this poor soul collected himself and made sure that the ants were no longer in his pants I started to ask him questions.
Is your closet wall next to an exterior wall? Yes. Have you gone outside lately? Have you noticed any mounds in around the house? No.
We decided that it would be better for him to inspect his property and look around the foundation and a/c units or mounds and go to other rooms and look for more insects.
When he came back I gave Alfred a cookie and he did not even look at this guy.
Our bitten, but not defeated customer told me that he found a very large fire ant mound built up next to his brick wall, inside the closet he found ants in his carpet and on some more of his pants. And in his pantry next to the kitchen sink he found more but not as many.
We decided on a plan of attack. First, for in the house he was to vacum the closet and if possible the clothes in the immediate area in. I gave him Boric Acid, Pyrethrum and D.E.. He was to mix equal parts of Boric Acid and D.E. and 1 part Pyretrum and dust the affected areas. Second, for the outside of the house he took a gallon of Green Sense Soil Drench, a combination of Orange Oil, Manure Tea, and Mollases. This product is really good for restoring fertility to the soil, but when used in heavier concentrations, one cup to a gallon of water, it has a nasty affect on ants and other insects. Death! Mix one cup of this product to a gallon of water.
I told the man that since my dog had attacked him I would not charge him for these products, but my dog does not understand English very well and when he started to leave the store Alfred growled and started to attack. This time I remembered the command “Cookie!” And Alfred ran back to me.