Wayne Veasey

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since May 17, 2017
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Recent posts by Wayne Veasey

I think if you tried planting several different varieties of corn or beans, you might would find that your success with the Earthway was a bit of serendipitous luck. In my experiences, the Earthway can't accommodate for the wide range in seed variation among varieties of crops like corn or beans. For example, it might plant Stowell's Evergreen exceptionally well, but it's going to do a terrible job at planting Ambrosia. It might plant Blue Lake beans really well, but does a terrible job with other varieties.

With the Hoss, I can make a plate for each variety I'm planting. So it's not up to chance. And the effectiveness of the Seeder is in my hands because I'm making a plate that works perfectly for that variety.

I'm also not a fan of the vertical seed plates because it means you need a certain amount of seed in the hopper for it to work. The Earthway will never empty the seed hopper completely. So you always need more seed than you'll actually use.

Either way, the best thing to do is to use what works for you. Thanks for the update.
3 years ago

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
Therefore, I grow my own seeds, and swap for seeds with collaborators who share my world view that plants know how to take care of themselves. And that plants that have taken care of themselves for many generations in the same field, really know how to take care of themselves.

That's a great philosophy to have. I'm fond of the idea of selecting for traits in plants that will result in minimal inputs.

I'm curious as to how you select for a trait that's not present -- one that can't be selected for? For example, if every one of my squash plants get powdery mildew every year, how do I select against the powdery mildew susceptibility? And how do you know that the lack of damage (insect or disease) on a crop in a given year isn't a result of a larger ecosystem control and not anything specific with the plant genetics? In other words, how do you differentiate between insect pressures and diseases that are a result of climate versus those that are a result of poor plant genetics?

Do you keep growing a particular strain year after year until a resistant mutation occurs? Or is it simply by chance that you find these more hardy and durable cultivars?

Sorry for all the questions. Just curious about your seed selection process.
3 years ago

Burra Maluca wrote:
It's because this is a permaculture forum where we are looking for better ways - OMRI listed stuff would be the bare minimum standard that we are willing to discuss on this site.

What's the difference between adding insect-attracting plants to a landscape versus adding a concentrated supply of beneficial bacteria in the form of B. thuringiensis for larval insect control or B. amyloliquefaciens for disease control? Different zones are going to have much different insect and diseases pressures. For example, the Pacific Northwest has much less insect and disease pressure than say Georgia or Florida.

It seems the anti-insecticide crowd automatically disapproves them without knowing the source of the active ingredients. Some of us have no choice but to use them.
3 years ago
Many of our gardens are less than 1/10th of an acre (~3,500) sq. ft. and we can grow a ton of food on those small plots. For each 3,500 sq. ft. garden, we can support about 15-20 weekly CSA shares per garden.

Not sure how much land you would need for animals and other homesteading practices, but the vegetable garden portion doesn't take much land at all to be profitable.
3 years ago
I would say that it depends on your season length. For us in zone 8b, we can grow food almost year round. That means we are turning over crops every 2-3 months, which means frequent replanting. It's not worth the effort of having to rake away mulch every time we replant. You can't use a walk-behind seeder in thick mulch, so you have to remove it along the row every time you wanted to seed a crop -- or just plant by hand which is way too slow for us. Also, there's no way for us to hill crops such as potatoes or corn if there's a thick mulch layer on top. Potatoes are considerably more productive if they are hilled by adding soil around the plant as it grows. Also corn has thicker, healthier stalks if it is hilled when plants get about 1-2' tall.

If your growing season is short and you only have one crop per year in a given area, I could see where it could be effective because weeding time and costs could be reduced. We do mulch perennials such as asparagus, blueberries and blackberries and it is very effective because those plants are in the same location every year. But for annual vegetables that move with crop rotations, it's not feasible.

For us it's much easier to use a Wheel Hoe to provide frequent, shallow cultivation for weed control. We can Wheel Hoe our gardens once a week and keep weeds well under control. Using drip irrigation also reduces any weed pressure between rows.
3 years ago
Okra likes warm soil and warm weather. Here in the south, our okra grows from April to November and can get very tall simply because of the season duration. Some people "crop" the bottom stems, but that simply makes the plant taller. It doesn't really make the okra any more productive -- kind of like how suckering tomatoes just makes the plant larger.

Okra seems to be more productive if you starve the plants a little. It will actually begin making more okra if we have a dry spell, which isn't uncommon here in 8b. So we usually put a separate valve on the okra rows in our drip irrigation system and water them much less frequently than the other plants.

Okra also doesn't need much soil fertility to grow. We don't waste time fertilizing it -- just apply some compost at transplanting and that's about it.

Some people have to wear long sleeves, long pants and gloves to cut okra because they have a reaction to touching the plants. However, we know some people who can cut rows and rows of it in flip flops and short sleeves with no reaction at all.

These twine knives (https://hosstools.com/product/handy-twine-knife/) are the best okra harvesting tool we've found. Makes it really easy to cut the okra pod without damaging the rest of the plant. And it makes for much faster harvesting because you wear the knife on your hand instead of carrying it.

If you've never tried the "Jambalaya" variety, definitely give it a try. It's the most prolific variety we've found and it will start producing pods when plants are only 1" tall. The red okra varieties are our second favorite, but the Jambalaya takes the cake as far as productivity.

3 years ago
In some areas of the country, we have no choice but to use organic insecticides such as Neem or B.t. If we don't, our beans and field peas will be so stung and damaged that they are inedible (and definitely not able to sell at market). Here in the deep south, large agricultural operations are responsible for eliminating almost all of our beneficial insects.

So even if we create attractant crops for beneficial insects, the populations of beneficial insects aren't large enough to be of any assistance. One thing we can do is plant trap crops like Hubbard Squash to help with squash bug control, but that alone isn't enough.

Not sure why there is such perceived resistance to using OMRI listed insecticides that are either sourced from plants or contain beneficial bacteria to fight insects that can destroy your crops. I would rather use organic insecticides and actually have a profitable garden than let my crops get perennially decimated and not do anything about it.
3 years ago
With beans and corn, I usually err on the side of making the holes larger and getting a double here and there. I'd much rather have to thin a little than replant skips.

Good luck with your garden this year!
3 years ago
A couple things you can do to make gardening life easier:

1) Use drip irrigation. It conserves water and you have less weeds because you're not watering the middles between rows like you would with overhead watering. Also, it alleviates pressure from plant diseases because it reduces leaf moisture, which is the source of many plant diseases. Bury the drip irrigation before planting and plant on top of the drip tape. This makes it easier to lay and easier to weed around plants.

2) Weed before you see weeds. Weeds are there even if you can't see them. It's best to eliminate them while in the threadlike stage when they're not even visible to the naked eye. A wheel hoe is a great tool for weeding the middles between rows. A scuffle hoe or a push pull hoe (https://hosstools.com/product/push-pull-hoe/) is a great tool to weed between in-row plants.

We use drip on almost every crop in our gardens and we typically go through them with a wheel hoe at least once a week. If it rains, we cultivate as soon as the soil dries enough to allow for it. It doesn't take very long and it's very effective in reducing weed pressure.