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Jeff Peter

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since Dec 21, 2021
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Recent posts by Jeff Peter

Have you talked to your neighbors? Maybe they’d like that you garden and compost. Maybe they’d give you their grass clippings and leaves?
Maybe they’ve got a ten year old lad who’d like to earn a few bucks each week turning and moving your compost.
3 days ago
Your pile went anaerobic due to not enough carbons, and lack of oxygen. Lack of oxygen can be mitigated by periodic turning of the pile, but you’ll still need a workable ratio of carbon to nitrogen.

If you don’t want, or can’t wait for fall leaves to mix in, you could try something that’s worked for me many times. Use horse bedding pellets. They are nothing more than sawdust, udually pine, compressed into little pellets. No other ingredients. Tractor Supply sells a forty pound bag for around $5. And it goes a long way.

Take your mulch fork, and turn that pile ~ four to six inch layer, and a couple handfuls of horse bedding pellets. Repeat. Do it just like building a new pile. You should see it starting to heat up in a couple of days.

Never “dispose” of your organic materials! Even if you just leave it sit for an extra season, it has value.
3 days ago
I prefer compost, with all the organic materials since I don’t dig or till much. Just keep adding compost on top, and plant into that. So That means I need a LOT of compost piles working so I have enough. Right now I have five piles working. They get up to 160, 170, even 180 *f, so very few weed seeds get through intact.
FI don’t buy compost.

If I were to mess around making tea, I would use it as compost activator for my piles.

2 months ago

Irene Kightley wrote:I make them from chestnut poles cut on site and as our land is on a slope I terrace, working around the tree roots

I've also made them from tree roots dug up by the pigs and too beautiful to burn. (This bed has a hugelkultur base and is now seven years old and I didn't water it at all last year.)

Paul I've just made more growing space which covers a lawn and after we put the new poles down I pull the stones and wood towards the edges and more and more compost (helped by the chickens) makes it's way by gravity down the slope to the raised bed. I'll mulch just before planting.

The mulch also goes on the paths and the chickens clean them regularly so the lawn will disappear completely between raised beds.

Just beautiful, Irene! Very creative and picturesque as a fancy gardening magazine.
2 months ago
Hey Brody,
I feel your pain. I think your hugel bed can become productive given time. I missed how big it is, but this is what I would do ~

Poke holes down into it. A railroad pinch bar, six feet of heavy iron would be ideal, or a long crowbar, or piece of rebar... just make a bunch of holes. Then pile on a foot or two of soil, even if you have to buy it.
Then soak the heck out of it with the goal being to get a bunch of that soil down into those holes you’ve made so that it seeps in and fills all those air pockets and rodent hidey holes. If you can source it, good living soil rather than the plain old dirt that comes in bags will ignite the decomposition of all that wood down there. A deep flooding should also help drive out the rodents.
Top off with finished compost and plant in that.
2 months ago

Nancy Reading wrote:I try and tolerate wasps as much as I can. My husband gets very nervous about them, as do I. I suspect that is an ingrained reaction to buzzy things and the black and yellow colouring. Apparently they eat many other pests and a few friends: spiders, caterpillars, ants, bees, flies, beetles, crickets, aphids, grasshoppers, cicadas, whiteflies, and sugar cane borers (source). They feed these protein rich foods to their larvae, the adults having more of a taste for sweeter foods like nectar and fruit.

And in late summer, they switch over from meat to sweets, which is why they are such a nuisance at picnics. Crawling into drinks, and stinging people on the lip. Just another reason I only drink water and coffee ;)
2 months ago

Deb Skye wrote:Thanks for the nice photos, Jeff. I'm with you, this is a big year for the cabbage moth caterpillars, esp. on the kale. My tactic has been to check daily and fling them as far as I can. Hopefully they're too far to find their way back.

I also tolerate whatever comes into the yard. It all works together. Except squirrels, no squirrels, lol!

And chipmunks! Chipmunks and tree rats might be cute, but they can be very destructive.

Chipmunks stealing sunflower seeds from the birdfeeders and planting them all over my garden, and tree rats planting walnuts, acorns, and hickory nuts in the garden is one thing ~ I usually move the tree seedlings to where I want trees. But when a tree rat chews through the boards of my shed, or Alvin finds a way in and we can hear them chewing inside the walls...
2 months ago

Jen Swanson wrote:Thanks for sharing the great pics! I love to see beneficial insects in my garden and encourage them by planting lots of flowers that they are attracted to around my vegetable beds. I rarely use even organic pesticides, but I do sometimes use Bt on cabbage worms when the infestations become intolerable. One treatment usually does the trick. Bt is allowed in organic farming as a insecticide because it is a natural, non-pathogenic bacterium that is found naturally in the soil. It targets only the larvae of butterflies and moths, and is not toxic to anything else, including beneficial insects. I've too have tried chasing down the cabbage whites. They are really hard to catch! The Bt works much better :)

I’ll look into BT, thanks for the suggestion.

Neem oil comes from India, and is spendy.

Although I plant in 30” wide beds separated by narrow woodchip paths, and I like neat rows, my garden is not a monoculture. I plant many different vegetables together in the beds.
I discovered that nasturium and marigolds repel japanese beetles that love the beans.And last year, I bought a pound of a special cover crop blend from Renee’s Garden (or was it Grow Organic?)called Good Bug Blend.A two foot swath of that across the other side of the front lawn on the edge of my wild meadow acts as a barrier to the japanese beetles that invade from that direction (I long ago converted my front ditch and fifty feet of front yard into a wild area full of walnuts, oaks crabs, maples, hawthorns, etc, and wild prairie plants and grasses, and black raspberries) I also planted that blend in smaller patches in and around the garden hoping to attract pollinators and predator bugs.

Anyway,those wide beds make it hard to catch the moths. As soon as I get close, they bop to another row, and I have go around the long way.I really need to buy some netting.

Neighbors must think I’m a kook.
2 months ago
In my part of the world, on the Illinois-Wisconsin line, USA, we have those cheerful little white and yellow moths flitting around the garden.
You know, the critters we used to call “butterflys” when we were kids.

Well, they are a real plague in an organic garden. All that cheerful flitting and bopping around is really them looking for the perfect plants on which to lay their eggs. I believe these plants are called Brassicas, which in my case means Rapini Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Collards, and Chard. So, she stops briefly on a plant, then continues her bouncy, erratic flight around the garden. But in that brief stop on a leaf, she squirts out an egg. The egg looks like a very small grain of rice, and is sticky. That egg quickly hatches into a tiny green worm which can get quite big, up to an inch in length in only a day or two. And that little bugger can and will strip a leaf down to it’s skeleton. I have had complete crop losses in Brussel Sprouts, and Cauliflower in recent years because of this, and this year, my Kale is getting absolutely wrecked. I’ve attached a photo of one of these worms eating a leaf on a Brussels Sprout plant.

I refuse to use any herbicides or pesticides, except for neem oil, which is organic, safe, and EXPENSIVE. I only have a few inches left in a smsll spray bottle. So I use it sparingly, specifically as an anti aircraft gun. It’s much easier to “swat” a moth out of the air with that than a butterfly net or flyswatter, because of their jerky, erratic flight.  It drops them to the ground where I can exact my vengeance.

But I am unable to guard my garden all the time, running back and forth with my spray bottle, so my main defense this year consists of slowly and meticulously inspecting the top and bottoms of every leaf on every plant in this category. Both egg sacks, and green worms get squished with a vengeance. But it is an almost daily chore. I can certainly see the value in using netting over these plants, and may invest in some soon. We used it at the market garden at which I was working a couple of years ago.

This evening, while picking my first snow peas of the year, movement caught my eye, and I saw an unexpected ally in my war against those moths. On one of my Kale plants, I saw this wicked looking Yellowjacket ravenously eating one of those devilish green worms!

I will now revise my dislike of yellowjackets and their nasty stingers.

I hope you can see the attatched photos...
2 months ago
Great topic. I recently resurrected my Grandparent’s old Kemp garden shredder, to chop up my leaves. They bought it from a little ad in the back of Organic Gardening magazine back in the ‘60s.
They’d subscribed to that magazine as long as I can remember, and poring through the back issues was a favorite thing for me to do as a kid visiting them.
The machine is no chipper. It will choke on small twigs and weed stems. But it’s a champ on dry leaves. I prefer it to using a mower because they’re not thrown all over.
Someone mentioned having access to their town’s leaf pile. I should look into that, even though I already get a lot from my own trees.
2 months ago