Thursday, April 18, 2013


"How To" Organic Gardening: PEST MANAGEMENT, HELPFUL RESOURCES: PEST MANAGEMENT, HELPFUL RESOURCES WEBSITE: DIY ORGANIC GARDEN Here are some resources you might find helpful: Gaining Grou...



Here are some resources you might find helpful:

(Canadian Organic Growers, 2005)
Covers the essential topics of organic farming, from soil building and planting to weed and pest management, certification, and marketing strategies.   Also includes a one-year membership with the Canadian Organic Growers network.

By Eliot Coleman
(Chelsea Green Publishing, 1989)
The new generation market gardener's bible.   Although some details have been improved upon by others, this sets the standard for meticulous, well-planned small-scale organic vegetable production

By Karl Schwenke
(Storey Publishing, 1991)
A good introduction to the pitfalls and potential of making a living from the land. 
Cover crops and crop rotations

(Northeast Organic Network, 2002)
The NEON project gathered 12 experienced organic vegetable farmers, put them in a room and produced this stunning chart outlining real-life, practical 4- and 5-year crop rotation sequences with multiple variations. A real head-scratcher, in the best possible way.   (free download, . PDF format)This is a good one to look at.

Organic Weed Management
By Steve Gilman
(NOFA Organic Principles and Practices Series, 2000)
Short and sweet. A useful summary targeted at diversified vegetable growers in the Northeast. 

(NCAT/ATTRA, 2003)
A bulletin discussing the basics of weed ecology, cropping system design to minimize weed pressure and alternative weed management methods such as flameweeding and weeder geese.

Edited by Jill Jesiolowski Cebenko and Deborah Martin
(Rodale Press, 2001)
A handy all-in-one pest and beneficial species identification book, with excellent full-color drawings, life-cycle notes and prevention and control recommendations.

Includes many valuable short publications on specific disease management issues, including "Organic Control of White Mold on Soybeans," "Notes on Compost Teas," "Use of Baking Soda as a Fungicide," "Downy Mildew Control in Cucurbits," and "Organic Alternatives for Late Blight Control on Potatoes." A longer, more general ATTRA publication is their resource on Biointensive Integrated Pest Management. 

A comprehensive guide to biocontrol and IPM, offering individual pages on over 100 natural enemies of insect, disease and weed pests. (free online resource)

By Miguel A. Altieri and Clara I. Nicholls with Marlene A. Fritz
(Sustainable Agriculture Network, 2005)
Contains a number of strategies for controlling pest insect populations through the management of beneficial predator populations, and stresses increasing above- and below-ground diversity, enhancing plants' natural defenses, and managing soil as means to this end



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pest Management Part 2

Pest Management part 2, TSP part 11
Well balanced/managed soils and healthy crops can stand up to some pest pressure.
In part one we spoke of having flowering plants to attract beneficial insects.  We also need to plant the grounds of the land with perennial type of flowers the will start flowering as soon as possible in the region we live in and will continue all year or until first frost.

Make a chart of the flowering, trees, shrubs and flowers you have in the immediate area of your garden.  You will need name of flowering plant, when it starts to flower and when the flowers cease.  Once the chart is done you can see the holes you need to fill in to complete the flowering cycle of your garden/farm.  People living on 5 acres or more will use the flowering vegetation directly connected to their property.  Those of use that live in Urban or City areas will consider the flowering vegetation within one to two block radius of our garden.  If you have neighbors putting in gardens then consider moving your parameter closer to your garden as your neighbor may get more benefit from the flowering shrubs in their back yard than you will.  In Urban/City area it is a guessing game.  Do the best you can to put the beneficial plants in your own yard, maybe even your neighbor wouldn’t mind if you cultivate an area of their yard if you promise to keep weeded etc.

Find innovative ways to solve the situations. Washington growers Eric and Deanna Strandberg transitioned their 400 acres of apple and pear orchards to organic in part because they noticed that the conventional way of dealing with pests by spraying often just created more pest problems, requiring more spraying. Organic pest management, in contrast, seeks to protect beneficial organisms for the services they can provide.

In their first transition year, Eric asked neighboring householders with fruit trees if he could put crumpled up newspapers in the crotches of their trees to catch earwigs, which feed on the eggs of the pear psylla, the worst pear pest worldwide.”  The earwigs ue the newspaper during the day for a home and come out at night to eat the psylla..Case study by Rodale Institute.    
 Organic farmers have long maintained that synthetic fertilizers and pesticides make pest problems worse. Recent research has begun to support those observations. Plant susceptibility to insect feeding has been linked to high plant nitrogen levels, which in turn are related to the high soluble fertilizer inputs typical of non-organic agriculture. Free amino acids, again associated with high N applications, have also been reported to increase pest attacks. Compost-fed plants have lower soluble nitrogen levels and are thus less attractive to pests.” Rodale Institute.

“Systemic acquired resistance: Do plants have immune systems? Some scientists think the answer is yes. The term "systemic acquired resistance" refers to physiological changes that occur in plants in response to initial insect feeding or disease infection. These changes can help the plants stop the infection or slow insect reproduction rates. There's even evidence that crop plants under insect attack emit volatile scent signals to protect themselves or to communicate with insect enemies of the attackers.
Plant immune responses may also increase crops' nutritional value.    Researchers in California have found that unsprayed organic fruits produce higher levels of antioxidantsprized by health-conscious consumersin response to insect and pathogen attacks.” Rodale Institute

Biodiversity has proven to be the best pest protection.  Creating environments for beneficals to live, selecting crops appropriate to your area and staying away from synthetic pesticides seems to work better all the way around.

When choosing insectary plants, consider these criteria:

        Select plants for their attractiveness to beneficial insects
        Choose plants with an early and long bloom period
        Select plants with low potential to host crop viruses or attract pest species
        Choose plants with low potential to become weeds
        Consider low seed cost and easy establishment

Many members of the Umbelliferae (coriander, dill, Queen Anne's lace), Compositae (goldenrod, yarrow, sunflower), Brassicaceae (sweet alyssum, wild mustard) and Leguminosae (sweet clover, alfalfa) plant families offer good floral resources for beneficial insects.

Among California vegetable growers, a popular insectary plant mixture is sweet alyssum, coriander, buckwheat and a cereal grain. (The cereal acts as a windbreak and as a host for alternate prey of the beneficials.) “ Rodale institute

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"How To" Organic Gardening: PEST MANAGEMENT, PART ONE

"How To" Organic Gardening: PEST MANAGEMENT, PART ONE: Pest Management part 1, TSP part 10   WEB SITE: DIY ORGANIC GARDEN Pest management in Organic Systems requires a leap of faith. ...


Pest Management part 1, TSP part 10

Pest management in Organic Systems requires a leap of faith.  Again, it is not surprising that soil health and conservation management are the main ingredients to managing pests.  Not all bugs and organisms are problems with crops and the more a person enhances their environment the more beneficial bugs and organisms move in to help the gardener/farmer with pest control.  Even chemical herbicides will not totally eliminate the destruction of enemies to your money crop.

Consider nature without the intervention of man.  The prairie grasses, grains and fruit tress fared well in the world before man started manipulating the environment for his own needs.  Organic methods simply advocate a return to nature; mimicking a natural environment for the benefit of your crop and in turn creates an environment that helps greenhouse gases, nutrition, pest management and the pocket book.  It is a Win Win.

One of the easiest ways to start off the process is to add winter cover crops to your garden.  These crops nourish your garden/fields, and can create over winter habitat for beneficial insects and animals.

As with weed management, identifying the pest is the first step.  Once you have identified the pest (destructive bug), identify it’s enemy (beneficial insect) and what the habitat is of the beneficial insect.  Add the beneficial habitat and watch for the results.

Many parts of the nation have aphid problems.  If you do, then identify the predator that eats them.  One such predator is the lady bug beetle.  You can buy a source of lady bugs or encourage them to stay year after year by creating habitat for them to stay in.  Ladybugs like woody areas, sticks, tall stands of grass or maybe that winter rye you just planted for a cover crop.  The tall ornamental grasses, instead of cutting them back for the winter leave them alone to create a safe haven for your over wintering bugs.

Lacewing are similar to lady bugs in what they devour and over winter in similar ways. Lacewings like Asters, cosmos, sunflowers, flowering dill and cilantro.  Lacewings also dine on aphids and other small larva.  Insects like ladybug and lacewings enjoy a snack of pollen related flowers that are small, flowers with small to no petal area with large pollen areas like the sunflower.

Wasps are another great garden guest.  The parasitic wasp will lay their eggs in larva and insects.  The eggs hatch and eat the larva from the inside out.  If you can keep a mud available to the mud dauber wasp they catch insects to feed to their young. Other wasp types like the small flowers.

Colorado State University, extension, beneficialinsects and other arthrodos.

Smaller flowers such as the alysum attract smaller insects such as syrphid flies to pollinate crops and are planted in rows around lettuces to help control aphids see cover crop alyssumIn the picture are 3 rows of flowers to every 20 rows of lettuce.  Syrphid flies plant one or two eggs per plant, so they inoculate a large field of lettuce with aphid eating helpers.

Greater diversity of a complex landscape, higher percent of woody or herbaceious plants support a greater number of spiders…says carol O’meara of Colorado State University

Wheat fields in Germany with mulch created a habitat for spiders which reduced the cereal aphid population by 25%.

Spider are a great advantage to your crops and you can also change pest behavior, called spider caused abandonment, which causes cucumber beetles, Japanese beetles, moth and butterfly larva, leaf hoppers, plant hoppers to abandon that plant if they detect spiders.  Spiders kill more insects than then consume.

You will have more pests in un managed weedy areas but managed hedge rows and native perennials will inhabit more beneficial insects. Native annual and native perennial are more than likely to host beneficial insects where un managed weeds may be invasive weeds that attract pests.

See it in action on Pinterest.  Here I am creating a pictorial of plants and their benefits and how farmers are incorporating these plants into their crops or creating hedge rows to harbor the beneficials

There are tools available to predict flowering periods of native insectary plants in Missouri

Do a search on (State) native insectary plants for your state.

Pest management will continue in Part Two.

Monday, April 15, 2013

"How To" Organic Gardening: WEED CONTROL, PART 2, TSP PART 9

"How To" Organic Gardening: WEED CONTROL, PART 2, TSP PART 9: WEED MANAGEMENT, TSP PART 9, WEED CONTROL PART 2 WEBSITE: DIY ORGANIC GARDEN Pre-emergent cultivation/ blind cultivation. ...



Pre-emergent cultivation/ blind cultivation.

The point of blind cultivation is to stir the top half inch of soil, adding air and causing the millions of tiny germinating weed seeds to dry out and die. The larger crop seeds are below the level of the cultivation and remain undamaged. Weed seedlings are at their most vulnerable at this stage. Effective blind cultivation will give you the biggest possible crop/weed size differential.” Rodale Institute

Other methods, such as timing can reduce weeds such as “Ohio organic grain farmer Dean McIlvaine waits until May or even early June to put in his corn crop. At this time the soils are warmer and plants grow more quickly, out-competing weeds. A delayed planting also gives McIlvaine time to make an extra trip with a disk or field cultivator to kill more germinating weeds.”

 Vegetative and synthetic mulches

Mulches can be very effective at controlling weeds. Mulch changes the environment around the soil surface, making it difficult for weed seeds to germinate and grow. Vegetative mulches, such as rye straw, can also suppress weeds by allelopathy. Research shows that rye mulch can reduce weed seed germination by 75 to 95% while leaving large-seeded crops such as corn, peas, cucumbers or beans unaffected.   

Natural or non-synthetic mulches such as straw or leaves can have the additional benefit of boosting soil organic matter over time, and even adding fertility. Be careful whenever you import mulch (or compost) materials such as leaves, loose straw or grass clippings that you avoid potential contaminants or debris. Avoid glossy inks from newspaper inserts and magazine waste.

"Living mulches" are cover crops of clover, grasses or other species used to suppress weeds in orchards and some other types of cropping systems. These can be mowed regularly or seasonally to maintain the stand.”  Taken from Rodale Institute Organic Transition

“Livestock: Intensive rotational grazing is widely recognized for its effectiveness in limiting perennial weeds in pasture. But in some specialized systems, farmers have developed additional ways to use livestock for weed management. Chickens confined to small pens and rotated through fields have been shown to be effective at eradicating yellow nutsedge. Geese preferentially eat grasses, and so can be used to weed strawberry fields without damaging the crop. Some tree-crop farmers use sheep to graze the alleys between rows of trees or coffee bushes.” Organic transition, Rodale Institute

Research at the Rodale Institute, moreover, “has shown that organic crops actually have a greater ability to tolerate weeds than non-organically managed crops do. In almost 30 years of side-by-side trials, our organic plots have consistently yielded as well as our non-organic plots, even though the organic plots usually have heavier weed pressure. It may be that the organic crops suffer less competition from weeds because soil quality is better, making nutrient and water resources more plentiful.”

NonGMO base synthetic material is acceptable in Organic production but Organic farmers must prove that the two methods of
  1. Cultural(crop rotation, sanitation, seed variety) Mechanical or physical (exclusion, beneficial insect habitat, lurs, traps, repellants, mulches, flame)
  2. Natural biological, botanical or mineral inputs
did not work and it must be documented to prove they were ineffective.

It all goes back to soil health and conservation planning.  Know your weeds and which crops, cover crops and rotation cycles are needed to control the problems.

A good video put out by ATTRA not only addresses crop rotation but weed control in doing it. Youtube video  Organic Crop Rotation: Conservation Benefits

Additional standards (material/information) for crop rotation section IV eFOTG Conservation Practices,
·        Alley Cropping (311),
·         Conservation Crop Rotation,
·        Cover crop Standard (340)

Friday, April 12, 2013

"How To" Organic Gardening: WEED CONTROL, TSP Part 8

"How To" Organic Gardening: WEED CONTROL, TSP Part 8: WEED MANAGEMENT, PART 1, TSP PART 8 WEBSITE: DIY ORGANIC GARDEN Weed and pest management if always of major concern to all gardener...


Weed and pest management if always of major concern to all gardeners/farmers/ranchers.  Organic Gardeners and prohibited from using synthetic mean of destroying pests and weed so other methods are developed to reduce or control weeds and pests.

.The code governing weed and pest control is 205.206.  To review; these regulations are in the Code of federal regulations, Title 7: Agriculture, PART205—NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM, SubpartC—Organic Production and Handling Requirements

§ 205.206   Crop pest, weed, and disease management practice standard.

(a) The producer must use management practices to prevent crop pests, weeds, and diseases including but not limited to:
(1) Crop rotation and soil and crop nutrient management practices, as provided for in §§ 205.203 and 205.205;
(2) Sanitation measures to remove disease vectors, weed seeds, and habitat for pest organisms; and
(3) Cultural practices that enhance crop health, including selection of plant species and varieties with regard to suitability to site-specific conditions and resistance to prevalent pests, weeds, and diseases.
(b) Pest problems may be controlled through mechanical or physical methods including but not limited to:
(1) Augmentation or introduction of predators or parasites of the pest species;
(2) Development of habitat for natural enemies of pests;
(3) Nonsynthetic controls such as lures, traps, and repellents.
(c) Weed problems may be controlled through:
(1) Mulching with fully biodegradable materials;
(2) Mowing;
(3) Livestock grazing;
(4) Hand weeding and mechanical cultivation;
(5) Flame, heat, or electrical means; or
(6) Plastic or other synthetic mulches: Provided, That, they are removed from the field at the end of the growing or harvest season.
(d) Disease problems may be controlled through:
(1) Management practices which suppress the spread of disease organisms; or
(2) Application of nonsynthetic biological, botanical, or mineral inputs.
(e) When the practices provided for in paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section are insufficient to prevent or control crop pests, weeds, and diseases, a biological or botanical substance or a substance included on the National List of synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production may be applied to prevent, suppress, or control pests, weeds, or diseases: Provided, That, the conditions for using the substance are documented in the organic system plan.
(f) The producer must not use lumber treated with arsenate or other prohibited materials for new installations or replacement purposes in contact with soil or livestock.

Listed in the eFOTG, section IV, Conservation Practices


A part of that code is: Additional Criteria to Manage Plant Pests (Weeds, Insects, Diseases).  Design the crop sequence to break pest life cycles and/or to allow for the use of a variety of control methods. Remove susceptible crops and alternate host crops from the rotation for the period of time needed to break the life cycle of the targeted pest.

Resistant varieties, listed in appropriate university publications or other approved sources, shall be selected where there is a history of a pest problem

This simply mean that planting the same “family” of crops in the same place year after year will promote additional pests and weeds.  By creating a “new environment” through crop rotation weeds can be suppressed and controlled.

“Reducing the weed seed bank in your soil is important. Some weeds can produce as many as 100,000 seeds per plant, with the seed remaining viable for 40 years or more.
From: Weed Management for Organic Crops (.pdf file) (University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 2000).

It was found that the common field mouse can consume over 40% of the weed seeds produced in a field and by provide a habitat for these natural creatures you have an natural predator working 24/7 on reducing your weed problem.

Iowa State University researchers have found that weed predation by field mice can reduce weed seed populations by 40% in just one night. Maintaining unmown, biodiverse borders around your fields provides habitat for the mice and provides you with some free weed-control service.

The first thing is to identify your weeds.  An essential part of reducing your weeds come from identification, how they grow, what they need to grow, how they propagate.  Identify your weeds and you identify ways to reduce or eliminate them

Weedsof the Northeast, by Richard Uva, Joseph Neal and Joseph DiTomaso (Cornell University Press, 1997).

Weeds of the West, by Tom Whitson (Western Society of Weed Science, 2000).

Common Weed Seedlings of the North Central States (North Central Regional Extension Publication No. 607)
Two inexpensive weed manuals relevant nationwide are Common Weeds of the United States, originally published by the USDA in 1970
 All About Weeds, by Edwin Rollin Spencer (both available from Dover Press). See the box at right for some good regional guides.

Most state extension offices give away short weed-identification guides or bulletins. Those that focus on weed seedling identification are particularly useful. You can also access weed identification tools online:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"How To" Organic Gardening: COVER CROP-NOP/TSP PART 7

"How To" Organic Gardening: COVER CROP-NOP/TSP PART 7:   TSP COVER CROPS AS MULCH, P art 7 TSP WEB SITE: DIY ORGANIC GARDEN NOP: 205.205 AND 205.203  We have investigated rotating ...


NOP: 205.205 AND 205.203 

We have investigated rotating crops and their value now we will look at cover crops and their value.

Planting crops that you kill either by “winter kill” or deliberate kill can add great value to weed control, moisture control and nutrient value.

Cover crops that are planted with the intent to leave on the ground give a Gardner all three advantage of rotating crops.  Winter kill cover crops can be rotated under in the Spring or left in the field with the intended cash crop planted without tilling.  This is a new method in farming primarily developed by the Rodale institute and they call it organic NO-till. 

A cover crop is planted in the fall or early spring with the intention of killing the crop and leaving it on the ground for its mulch advantages. 
“No-till farming techniques have gained great popularity over the past two decades as growers seek new ways to protect and conserve their soil and save time and money. No-till production allows farmers to save all three because it reduces or eliminates the need to till fields for planting or weed cultivation.  One of the key elements of our organic no-till research is a front-mounted cover-crop roller that knocks down a weed-suppressing mat that can be planted through all in one quick pass.” Say Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute

An example of cover cropping is when winter wheat or rye is planted after harvest in the fall, left to grow with the winter climate "killing" the crop hopefully before in seeds.  In the spring, the farmers plants their money crop without tilling the ground.  Thus leaving the root system of the winter kill in place which starts the degrading process and in turn all to microbial activity.

Another example is to plant a crop in the fall or early spring with the intentions of "killing" that crop just before planting the cash crop.  This method lays down a layer of mulch (crimping or rolling) which protects the ground from the hot sun, gaining  added moisture.  The killed crops starts the decaying process which generate additional microbial growth and nutrients as well as "shading out" or suppressing weeds.  The cash crop is planted into the ground with the "kill" crop still in place.  The best way to understand this is to look at some examples of cover cropping. 

This is a picture of the Roller at work at the Rodale Institute and they also have plans for creating your own. 
Sometimes a planter is on the back of the tractors so that rolling and planting are done in one sweep saving bio fuel and time.

The University of Oregon has a pdf guide of “Cover crops for Home Gardeners” 

Cereal Rye coming up in October in harvested corn field.  Courtesy of the NRCS, cover crops

Cover crop of cereal rye that was killed a few months earlier with soybean planted.  This inhibits the growth of weeds, keeps in the moisture and provide nutrients.  Farmers have report high yields in drought years using this method when neighboring farmers were loosing crops to the drought. Courtesy of the NRCS, cover crops

See more pictorials of Cover Cropping at DIY Organic Garden and Pinterest NOP Cover Crop

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"How To" Organic Gardening: CROP ROTATION example PART 6

"How To" Organic Gardening: CROP ROTATION example PART 6: Crop Rotation Example1 part six TSP WEBSITE: DIY ORGANIC GARDEN .NPK -Even if all of these are present in adequate amounts plants ...


Crop Rotation Example1 part six TSP
.NPK -Even if all of these are present in adequate amounts plants sill need other nutrients to develop into healthy plants and produce healthy vegetable/fruits.

Lets take tomatoes for an example:

Tomatoes need: NPK, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron zinc, boron and copper
Ca = calcium
K= Potasium

PH for most garden needs to be between 5.5 and 7; somewhat acidic but not too much; 7 is neutral below 7 is considered acidic.  Above 7 denote alkaline and the higher the more alkaline.  Soil PH determines the chemical processes that take place and specifically affect the ability of pail to absorb nutrients.  The more balanced or neutral your soil PH is the better your plants can take up the nutrients they need.
Adding the micronutrients or trace nutrients needed are a little more difficult than NPK which are considered the macronutrients.  Apparently no studies have been done on which plants add most of these trace nutrients.  Low PH is usually an indication that the trace nutrients are in low quantities.  PH of tomatoes needs to be between 6.0 and 7.0.

For this year if you have not done cover cropping or crop rotation the following is some aids for adding the trace nutrients.  In the future you will save time, money and labor to start a regiment of rotating your crops or adding cover crops.

For calcium add dolomite or gypsum or limestone to raise the PH levels.  Egg shells and Milk can also be added around the plants.

For magnesium add one tablespoon on Epson salts per gallon of water and use as a foliar spray before the tomatoes flower.  I spray my tomatoes about once every two weeks if I see they need it during the growing season making sure I spray at dusk so foliage is dry before the sun comes out the next day. 

For Iron add lime or blood meal

Tomatoes need a minimum of seven other nutrients and minerals, in smaller amounts, to grow robust and healthy. Since all plants obtain their nutrients from the soil they are planted in, the preparation is essential to providing tomatoes with proper amounts. These "micronutrients" consist of calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, zinc, boron, and copper. Most of these are needed in very small amounts. Both overfeeding and starving your plants of these secondary compounds will result in highly undesirable effects.

Rotating crops for Tomatoes example:  the numbers for deletion nutrient comes for the Crop calculator I shared with you in Blog 5 or you an refer to a chart I made of the vegetable I have in my garden using that chart on my web site under NOP .. Charts    Vegetable depletion  









winter wheat
winter 2012




late 2013



winter 2014


W, TS, B

B=harbors beneficial insects

SS=Open sub soil

W=weed suppress

TS= mellow top soil

NR=takes up and hold soilable soil

A rotation schedule needs to be made for each vegetable you plant.  At the very least do not plant the same vegetable in the same spot year after year.  Even with a small garden rotate out you vegetable and try a winter kill crop for adding more nutrient.  This charting take a little time but once done very easy to continue.