Gardeners and small scale farmers that want to grow organic can have a huge amount of information thrown at them and it all gets decidedly confusing with plenty of mixed information abounding.
Here at Livingseeds Farm we do not ascribe to any specific methodology other than ensuring that we will leave the soil in a far better state than when we received it. We use many aspects of different gardening methodologies like Permaculture, Organic Farming, BioDynamics, No Till and Hi Carbon to mention just a few.
Turning a property around from chemical pesticide laden production to 100% organic is a labour of love and can lead to plenty of frustration and setbacks. Think of conventional soil in terms of a drug addict. Conventional farming requires stronger and stronger and blends of chemical and fertilisers to keep it going. Once you stop feeding the drugs to the soil it goes into the “Cold Turkey” stage with withdrawal symptoms and everything collapses. You can never turn a property around in a single year and expect quality performance.
What you can do however is start to use formulations on you plants that will help to cut out your plants and soils dependence on chemical preparations.
Below is a list of preparations that we and some of our clients use to help with producing the best home grown organic vegetables.
If you have a unique preparation, please send us the infomation so that we can share it with other gardeners.
An easier (and often less smelly) option to making your own home-brew natural pesticides is to purchase organically certified pest control products. We stock a range of the Biogrow Organically Certified pest control products.
1Tbs Himalayan Pink Salt
2 Tbs Bicarb
500 ml Milk
Mix the lot together, the salt takes some effort to dissolve so buy the finest you can get. That all goes into a pressure sprayer mine is a 7lt garden model and the leaves are sprayed on a fine mist once a week for 3 weeks. It's as simple as that and you will see an amazing turn around by the middle of the second week.
The salt is just there for essential trace elements that the plant may need and we add it in whenever we give a foliar spray with Seagro.
Diatomaceous Earth Spray
We use this as an effective pest control measure. Specifically for the Potato ladybird, aphids and red spider mite. Please understand that the action of DE is MECHANICAL in nature and therefore it is indiscriminate and will kill any insect, good and bad. We use the DE only on plants that are not frequented by bees and butterflies and inside our tunnels.
To use, simply mix 1 Tbs DE with 1 lt water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid to act as a wetting agent. Put into a spray bottle and shake every now and then to keep the DE in suspension.
If it rains or you water the plants then you will need to repeat the application. However we find that once you have broken the back of an infestation then it takes quite a while for it to build-up again. However YMMV.
Compost teas are simple to make, can be a tad gross, but are very very effective. I’m going to give an outline and you can add/remove/adapt as you wish.
We use a black plastic dustbin with a tap fitted onto the bottom about 15 cm up from the base. Fill with water, rain water is best, but any water will work. Fill a mesh bag, (Ask your green grocer for a few pumpkin bags) with a selection of any of the following. Compost, vermicompost, nettle leaves, comfrey leaves, cow manure, chicken manure etc.
You can also add in small amounts of things like a handful of calcitic lime, natural seas salt or Himalayan Pink salts.
The idea is to soak the bag containing the ‘mix’ in the water and then every day for a week lift the bag clear of the water. A rope over a branch/support really helps with this. The bag will drain back into the dustbin taking nutrients with it. Return the bag back to the dustbin again and repeat once or twice a day for a full week.
At the end of the week you can start tapping the compost tea off and use it diluted 1-10 with water as a foliar feed or direct into the soil.
There is no specific “IT MUST BE DONE THIS WAY” just use your intuition and have fun.
Kim’s Pest Sauce
This recipe has been submitted by Kim, a Livingseeds customer.
I start by growing Habanero chilli peppers and then hanging them to dry in a net bag. Once they are completely dry, I grind them (including the seeds) in a small electric coffee grinder to form a fine powder. Beware of the dust that comes off when you take the lid off the grinder.
Bring five litres of water to a rapid boil in a large pot. Take about a cup full of cigarette butts and place then into a net bag that is then submersed in the water and attached to the pot handle with a piece of string so that it can be retrieved and discarded after 30 minutes. During this time, the nicotine cooks out of the cigarette filters and is left in the water. Dedicate a net bag for this purpose because it tends to retain the smell of stale cigarettes and can’t really be used for anything else afterwards.
To the nicotine water solution, add five tablespoons of the Habanero powder, three tablespoons of bi-carbonate of soda (baking soda) and two tablespoons of liquid soap (to assist in adherence to the leaves).
This mixture can now be allowed to cool and can be stored as a concentrate that is mixed at a ratio of one part pesticide to five parts water and then sprayed onto the leaves of the plants.
Nicotine is poisonous to humans, and you should clearly mark the storage container as POISON and store in a safe place.
Preferably choose a windless day to spray, and stand upwind and wear a mask and gloves.
This mixture works for aphids, caterpillars and other leaf eating pests.
I normally don’t pick veg that I’ve sprayed for consumption for a week after spraying and then I still wash thoroughly.