Organic gardening anyone.

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by rancher hicks, Feb 28, 2015.

  1. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Chicken Obsessed

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    I had thought to start a thread just for organic gardeners. Inspired by information found while debating the benefits of using Sevin dust to combat mites in chickens on another thread.

    Also the special issue of Organic Magazine and the history in it.

    Of course we have gardening threads but I'd like one just for organic gardening advice. My mind is made up that organic gardening is best.

    Please do not drop in to debate the issue. I'm not looking for conversion.

    All I needed to read about Sevin is that it kills bees and that settled it for me. There has to be a better way.

    So let me pose the questions. What do you do that is organic ? Are you 50% organic? 100% organic? IMO some is better than nothing. Perhaps you have hints to helping in transitioning to organic?

    Again please don't come here to debate Organic vs. Non organic. This thread is for the solidly converted to Organic backyard gardening.

    I have other questions but I'll wait to see how this goes.

    Thanks,

    Rancher Hicks.
     
  2. UrbanFarmOC

    UrbanFarmOC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey there! We garden organically and as sustainably as possible in suburbia. I have a very large yard, especially compared to the majority of homes in urban/suburban areas of Southern California. My mini "farm" is a long work in progress. Moved to this home 2 years ago and have been working hard to transform the hard clay soil little by little. The chickens are part of that transformation process.

    In the garden, I do everything 100% organic. I have many raised beds, a regular compost bin, 2 large vermicompost bins full of hungry and hard-working red wrigglers that eat
    my junk mail and trash, a mealworm colony and 10 chickens. I'm changing the hard soil in my yard slowly, and section by section, by doing things like adding organic matter, digging a small swale and letting chickens doing the work by feeding them in those areas. I save gray water from showers and doing dishes, and water the yard and compost areas with it. Of course, soaps and cleansers I use are safe, like Dr Bronner's Sal Suds, which has a great safety rating by the Environmental Working Group (http://ewg.org). Hauling the heavy buckets is hard, but I've made it part of my lifestyle and it's worth the effort, IMO. I eventually would like to replumb my laundry to allow gray water to run off into a pond in the yard. Basically my goal is to garden and grow organically and sustainably based on permaculture principals. I try to live that way as much as possible too.

    I refuse to use chemical pesticides, including Sevin. My chickens free-range and pasture all day and get organic non-GMO feed. If we have any leftovers from cooking or eating out, I give those to the chickens too (within reason). I also ferment their feed and give them immunity boosts naturally every once in a while with things like tumeric, ACV, garlic, cayenne, etc. I try more natural remedies first before I resort to medications for them.
     
  3. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Chicken Obsessed

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    Looks as though you've got a good handle on things.

    I've planned rains barrels for off the coop to save rain water. As a rule it gets pretty wet here. I garden in raised beds to they do need the water.

    I've two compost bins out of pallets and plan a third. This way every third year one will be used up.

    Tell me about newspaper in the compost? Is it as safe as some say? I'm not yet using it in there. I do however cover the beds with it and try to use it for mulch around the beds.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2015
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    I do every thing in my power to avoid insecticides and have come to the decision to NOT use any herbicides on my property. I do a lot of trench and sheet composting, have a vermipost bin in the basement, am experimenting with hugelkulture, and will be adding a Back to Eden approach this spring. Chickens were added to the mix more for their benefit to my gardening effort than for the benefit of eggs. Though, my morning now is not complete without a fresh egg for breakfast. Have had good success with DL in previous coop (dirt floor on lower level) working on DL in new coop with less success. (vinyl flooring over wood floor) Chickens have made a huge dent in the insect population in my yard, but, I'll choose to use insecticide in my garden, particularly to deal with potato bugs if I can't keep up with them by hand picking. My thought process is such that, I'll do what ever I can to garden without using insecticides, but when it comes to loosing a crop or using an insecticide to allow me to harvest that crop, I'll use the insecticide. My garden has been kept under a permanent mulch since reading Ruth Stout's gardening books MANY years ago.
     
  5. healtyfeathers

    healtyfeathers Out Of The Brooder

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    All of my gardens are 100% organic. Growing a diversity of plants, flowers, and herbs helps to keep the "bad" bugs in check. Flowers attract bees and predator bugs, especially beneficial wasps. I also am trying to do "no till" gardening in some of my beds. After the vegetable plants finish, I cut them down at the roots, add another layer of mulch, and plant again.

    Right now, I've been using my laying hens to build new garden beds. They are in a chicken tractor. We fill the tractor up with organic matter. Then hens love having all of that stuff to dig through! I throw most of my household waste (vegetable matter) in there too. They till everything into the soil and in about 8 weeks, I have a beautiful garden bed! I even throw in a bucket of sand (our soil is heavy clay) and they till that in for me too. It is the easiest way in the world to build yourself a new garden bed!

    Now I only wish that I could find a source for organic chicken feed. . . . I live in Thailand and the "organic" movement is just starting to take off here. If there is organic feed available, I've never seen it. If I had the room, I'd grow my own.
     
  6. UrbanFarmOC

    UrbanFarmOC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't have rain barrels, but maybe down the line once other things are in place. For dry areas like SoCal, swales and other ground water retention methods (like mulching and some form of hugelkultur) are probably a better overall solution for the garden.

    My vermicompost bins are made of recycled pallets. 80-90% of the wood used for the chicken coop is also made of recycled pallets. We had to buy a few 4x4 posts for the pier blocks, and a few long pieces for the roof. Coop is set back and butts up to the hill part of the yard.

    I believe newspapers and most cardboard are safe for compost and worms. Most newspapers and ads are printed with soy in. I also sometimes shred mail (white paper) for the worms and compost. I stay away from glossy and coated cardboard/ papers. My worms and compost bins also get paper towels and toilet paper (only from #1 and blowing nose, not from #2 at all).
     
  7. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Chicken Obsessed

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    I have seen to use those yellow fly sticky things hung near plants of reduce some type of cootie. Not sure if it was squash bugs or not. I read so much.

    Now I do dust with food grade DE for slugs and such. I wonder if it would help with potato bugs?

    Since I've been letting my chickens loose after harvest things haven't been to bad. They scratch and clean up nicely. How they can see the bugs/slugs I don't know.
     
  8. rancher hicks

    rancher hicks Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm afraid I can't afford organic feed yet, but wish I could.

    My garden is raised beds since the soil is so bad. It's been filled in with huge chunks of cement I just can't dig out.

    [​IMG]

    I cover the runs during the winter and it keeps things dry pretty much. I add bales of hay for the chickens to work and then clean them out every now and then. Everything is broken down pretty much and is added to the compost. Grass clippings and kitchen scraps are dumped for them as well. It all gets mixed up.

    [​IMG]

    I have a bad back so raised beds make it easier for me to work. I only wish I had the money for cedar beds. They'd last longer, although these have lasted perhaps 5 years. The fencing at the back has been replaced so it looks much nicer than in this early picture.

    How do folks deal with rabbits or squirrels?

    [​IMG]
     
  9. UrbanFarmOC

    UrbanFarmOC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow. That's a lot of snow! I DL in the coop as well. Sometimes I move a few shovelfuls of half to fully composted material from my compost bins into the coop and mix it in. Then later, I'll move some of the older and broken down DL into the compost bin to finish breaking down. I don't have rabbit issue, but I have squirrels, rats, possums, skunks and other pesky animals, including sometimes, my own precious chickens. My chickens are the largest destroyers of my gardens. Through many failed attempts at keeping them out, I finally think I've found a better way to keep them out, while still making it fairly easy for them to access the beds. Basically, I have easy-to-remove netting around the perimeter of each bed. I think this should also keep skunks, chickens and rabbits out. I've had a few incidences in which a chicken has gotten into the beds. I think it happens when they try to fly from the hill onto the flat part of the yard, but then accidentally get stuck inside the bed. I haven't felt the need to net over the tops of the beds yet, nor do I really want to, unless it's absolutely necessary. I don't mind if the chickens chew and eat a few things through the net through. As for squirrels, I hate them. I don't mind sharing a few things, but they like to waste and just take one bite of fruit and then abandon it for another one, only to repeat the damage. There's not much I can do about squirrels but to curse at them and chase them away when I see them. I wouldn't worry too much if you can't afford to buy them organic feed. It's a personal decision and it is expensive. If you don't already, you could grow a few extra veggies, herbs and/or weeds in your garden to share with the chickens. They'll love it. Mine love clovers, dandelions, comfrey, arugula, beet greens, kale, lettuces, water spinach (ong choy), other cruciferous greens, and even ground ivy. Peaceful Valley even has this for gardeners with chickens: http://www.groworganic.com/omega-3-chicken-forage-blend-irrigated.html
     
  10. Fluffnpuff

    Fluffnpuff Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do 100% organic on corn, beans, cowpeas, squash, winter squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers. For fertilizer I use nitrogen affixing legume cover crops, chicken manure, occasional wood ash, and legume companion plantings. Been doing that for around 6 years with growing corn in the same spot each year.

    About insect control here's my opinion. Most organic gardening instructions and guides aren't going to say the obvious. You're flat out gonna have to take losses due to insects. There really isn't any way to totally stop that. There are just methods to minimize the losses.

    1. focus on breeds that naturally have insect resistance. Such as going with a c.mixta squash over a c.pepo since c.mixtas have squash vine borer resistance.
    2. If possible utilize your chickens for insect control. In my case I plough the ground in April and let my poultry comb over it to pick out the Japanese beetle grubs.
    3. Consider companion planting and/or trash crops. I highly recommend the 3 sisters method of gardening

    If you type in "organic pest control" into youtube or a search engine you're likely to see Neem oil brought up a lot. Neem oil is extremely expensive and imo is cost prohibitive for large scale farming. If you only have a small garden or a few raised beds, it might be worth your time, but on acreage of any size it will drain your bank account.
     

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