I've often mentioned biointensive gardening. Here are a few links to
explain this method. Simply search for "biointensive gardening" for
all the info you could want.
I'm working towards this, and even though I am not there yet, I am
seeing some impressive results. Very few critters munching on plants,
fewer weeds and grass, increased yields and closer plant spacing.
Water requirements are greatly lessened.
Less garden maintenance.
Looks like the way to go.
"I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep
contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could
If you like your garden, the first thing is to toss away all your
synthetic fertilizers. They will not help your soil. Manure, green
manure, fish emulsion, seaweed emulsions, cover crops, mulching,
appropriate watering and that's pretty much all you need. A soil
analysis is good but like the fish guy said, "Take care of the tank and
everything else will take care of its' self".
Coloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
First a thanks to Charlie for mentioning the Nearing folks. Love
people with large Ideas.
And now for our favorite sloth, indolent and pleasure kind of guy. I
almost fell this is autobiographical. :))
Bill Other Other Bill which I kind of like as it is close to Never
S Jersey USA Zone 5 Shade
http://www.ocutech.com/ High tech Vison aid
I should probably just keep my big trap shut, but then I wouldn't be me,
would I? It is terrifying to hear of the insects and varmints that swoop
down on the diligent gardener but except for the voracious gastropods
that now seem under control, gardening here in Northern California has
become a matter of putting one foot after the other. I still don't have
enough Sun, my peas didn't produce much but for the most part, if I
stick a plant in the soil and water it, it grows. I'm back to being a
dilettante and not an industrial strength gardener. While others are
soldiers fighting the battling in the fields of veggie terrorists, I
feel like a campus kiddie cop. Counting my blessings.
Coloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
While I admire the back to the land movement and some of what the
Nearings espoused, I found this book
(Amazon.com product link shortened) to
be very interesting. Sometimes perceived values aren't quite what
they seem to be.
Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
Of course. I've read excerpts elswhere, sometime about them. Often
those that we admire, or push to the fore, fail to meet our expections,
TMEN used Scott and Helen as their "poster children" for years, not
that I fault them for that. They did espouse ideals that were worthy
and influenced many, yours truly included.
Charlie, wondering if Sheldon is pretending to ignore this post too
Many aspects of this sound like my system. I am not so keen on double
digging as a routine pastime because it isn't necessary (and may be
harmful) once the bed is prepared. The restriction on weeds is a
result of mulching, nothing magical about that. Likewise reduced
water use is brought about by mulching but by other methods too.
Getting your soil to hold water is part of it and using a watering
system that applies the water to the bed but not the path is another.
And despite what Billy says the judicious use of some
"synthetic" (whatever that means) fertiliser as part of an integrated
plan will not bring about the end of civilisation as we know it. :-)
The bit that I cannot get anywhere with by this sort of approach is
the pest control. Yes you improve the chances of your plants fighting
off pests and diseases if they are strong and healthy. Also I think
it is fine to tolerate some damage for the sake of reducing your use
of poisons but there are some insects that thrive where I am that just
devastate their target plant.
(1) Monolepta australis. This is a flying leaf beetle that attacks
trees and shrubs. They arrive in a swarm, reproduce quickly and can
literally strip a row of roses or angophora trees (20ft high) in a
couple of days.
(2) Twenty eight spot ladybeetle. Descends on my eggplant and
reproduces faster than I can pick them off, wrecking the leaves.
(3) Cabbage butterfly grubs. Wrecks many of my brassicas given a
I have tried companion planting and interplanting but neither do any
good. Dipel (BT) does the grubs quite safely but it's expensive and
washes off easily. Other than that pyrethrum does all of them.
Desite being acceptable for organic certification here it is still a
poison but it's that or have no cabbages.
An oddity here is that if the pyrethrum comes from a daisy the
certifying authorities say it's OK but if it comes from a vat it's
not. If you spray it on your bees they will check the label before
dying or flying on happily as the case may be. Isn't religion
The result is that I think the touted advantages of companion planting
are rather overstated and I am not going for organic certification. I
think I will call my system "bioeclectic", I wonder if I can copyright
the name and make a squillion dollars.
On Wed, 27 Jun 2007 21:10:56 -0700, " firstname.lastname@example.org"
The double digging sucks, quite honestly. I did only a bit of it and
then elected to simply loosen as far as possible with a potato fork. I
keep working in compost and mulches and am going to palnt some sover
crops in select areas next year. I'm having a friend of my son build
me a broadfork this winter to ease the loosening. My thinking is that
it may take a bit longer, but loosening the soil and proper amendment
will win over. Planting crops that root deeply and bring up nutrients
from below and loosen the hardpan.
Perhaps, but my problem is based upon principle as well. Yeah, I know,
this can get one into trouble. :-) And cause more work!
Agreed, but if one wishes to remain religious and/or principled about
this, what do you do? It is difficult to target only a specific
critter. Bt or pyrethrums or rotenone work fine and are safe for
humans, but they are indiscriminate when it comes to good bug/bad bug.
Sounds like flea beetles that I have had absolutely turn the eggplant
foliage to lace. My solution to this was to not plant eggplant this
year. We love them, but the nutritional value is close to nil, so only
my taste buds are suffering.
Man, they are bad here as well. I pick the caterpillars, and try and
kill the moths by hand, but they are quick.
I haven't used Bt, but am going to try it.
Pyrethrum and rotenone both work well, and I have used them in the
past, but both kill the pollinators and when washed into the soil, at
least rotenone, kills the worms. i'm having pretty good luck this year
with the brussels sprouts, but last year I lost the broccoli to the
damn cabbage loopers or whatever the hell they are called.
Amen. Ya' know, you are right with the religion remark. In our zeal
to subscribe to the pure and natural it does take on religious
I haven't seen a great amount of result with companion planting myself,
though I do think that the marigolds I plant throughout the garden are
offering some protection, at least the bug problems are down.
In the meantime, I've taken a stand on this side of the bar and will
keep pluggin' away. We'll see what happens. At any rate, I'm havin'
an 'ell of a time enjoying myself with all this. And enjoying the
discussions and brawls.
Bioeclectic......I like that.
I don't dig at all, other than making a hole big enough to put a plant in.
When I started my veg garden 4 years ago, the area was dead flat and
the soil was compacted , sandy and reddish; heavy rain created large
deep puddles which could stand around for days. There were hardly any
worms in it and hardly any birds visited the garden. (The rest of the
garden, was mown lawn). My method is to add tons of whatever organic
materials are locally available, as a mulch on the soil surface. I don't
dig in mulch either. As soon as I provided this worm food, worms arrived
to drag it down into the soil. The mulches I use are seaweed straight
from the beach, grass clippings (from lawns not treated with weed or
pest killers), and home made compost. The home made compost is made
from, weeds, kitchen vegetable waste, seaweed, grassclippings, sheep
wool (sweepings from shearing shed floor) , comfrey which I grow for the
purpose, and nettles and thistles harvested before they flower from an
adjoining meadow, and sheep muck. The beds have now mounded up into rich
dark loose soil and there are no more storm puddles.
Mulch attracts birds. The birds constantly scratch and turn over the
mulch looking for live food, and helping the mulch to break down. I also
put seed and nut feeders around the garden to draw more birds in. Very
often, I have watched a colony of aphids hatch on shrubs or roses, and
within a day or two that plant is a magnet to small birds picking off
the insects long before any damage is done to the plant. At the moment
the garden is full of cheeping teenage birds, out of the nests but still
being fed by their parents.
Nasturtiums (flowering annual) are another host food for cabbage
caterpillars; I let them grow wherever they turn up. Nasturtiums self
seed from year to year here, or if your winters are too cold for that
just save seed and scatter it in spring).
The butterfly lays all the eggs in a single patch underneath the leaf;
if I spot an egg patch I tear out that section of leaf before they
hatch. I also keep a close eye on the cabbage and nasturtium leaves for
the very tiniest first sign of caterpillar nibbling ; if you notice it
early, the whole colony of newly hatched babies will still be on their
nursery leaf, which can be picked off and destroyed. Much easier and
faster than hunting for caterpillars one by one when they have grown
bigger and more mobile.
Comfrey or nettles soaked in a barrel of water for a few weeks make a
very stinky liquid which can be diluted (1 in 10) and watered on to
crops; it's both a stimulant to growth, and a deterrent to pests.
On Thu, 28 Jun 2007 11:03:47 +0100, Janet Baraclough
We have been having several robins working the mulch regularly.
I always laugh at the teenagers, often as big as their parents, acting
so hungry and helpless. :-)
Perhaps I should add another bird feeder in the garden as an
This sounds like the Ruth Stout method, that otherother Bill turned me
on to the other day. Less work sounds great.
Thanks for the nasturtium tip, didn't know that.
I recently read about the nettle "tea" and was wondering if it was
beneficial. Think I'll try that too.
Thanks for all the tips
from email@example.com contains these words:
The mulches I use are seaweed straight
Wool that's been dyed, spun and woven must be tougher :-) On a
human or animal carcase lying above ground, the hair/wool decomposes
I find that after a year in the compost heap, shearing shed sweepings
(all the dags and loose bits of wool) have composted completely and are
no longer distinguishable.
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