Sunday, February 20, 2011

Growing Methods on The Farm

 Healthy soils are of vital importance to The CSA of Cedarmore Farm.  Farming all starts with the soil. If you have healthy soil, you will tend to have healthy plants as well.  Healthy plants can fight off insects and disease much better that unhealthy ones.  Also healthy have a higher concentration of brix (sugar content).  Most insects don't like a plant that has a high content of brix.  So that means that the healthier your soil is the healthier you plants will go along way for insect and disease control.  When Cedarmore Farm was established three and a half years ago, the soil was in very poor condition.  The soils were basically dead soils...nothing much grew in the ground except weeds.  But Andy is seeing a significant change since they have been applying their grwoing methods for these three and a half years.

By being able to use what their soils produce, and it will ultimately have an effect on our health. That's why good farming methods begin by carefully observing and addressing the needs of the soils.
A good healthy soil will go a long way on insect and disease control on the crops. But sometimes they find that insects and disease pressures gets to the point where we have to use other methods as well.

One of the methods they like  to use is Row Cover.  Row Cover is a white fabric that lets the sunshine and rain through, but keeps the insects off of the crops. They simply cover the crops with this Row Cover, but whenever they start to bloom they have to uncover them so the bees can get in and pollinate. We also use the following products (which are approved by the National Organic Program). Garlic, Neem Oil, Cedar Oil, Surround, Pyganic, Oxidate, Copper Sprays, and a product called
Mycotrol O.     Surround is made from Kaolin Clay. It forms a white coating around the plants when they spray it on. The white coating helps deter insects away from these plants. Garlic and Cedar oils deter insects away from the plants because they don't like the smell  of Garlic and or Cedar. Neem oil is made from a Neem tree that grows in Africa. It is quite affective on aphids, white flies and the like.
Mycotrol O is actually a beneficial fungi that eats the eggs of numerous insects before they hatch.  All the above mentioned sprays will not harm the beneficial insects that we have around. Pyganic is
fairly affective on a wide variety of insects, but the downside is that it will also kill some beneficial insects as well. For this reason they do not use it as freely as the other sprays.

Tehy think of these organis sprays as band-aids for their crops.  In other words if something is going wrong with a crop its is an indication that there is something going wrond somewhere else.  Perhaps the soil isn't balanced quite as well as it should be.  They uses these organic sprays until they can figure out the core problem, so they can then correct it.  Thet is always their goal.

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