First off, I want to publicly apologize for a couple questions in that survey that was sent out. I always go postal on any survey that asks my ethnicity for instance and here our own company did it; aaaughhh! It was agreed that would be scrubbed and then it went out… I’m sorry and that’s all I can do at this point.
Last week continued. (BTW, if you ever miss one of these, they’re all on the web, almost 10 years worth now. You can also sign-up there to get the e-version which usually has some corresponding pictures and some recipes, all free whether you’re a subscriber or not.)
Okay, what I’ve learned about organic farming in the last 15 years built on and contrasted with the previous 44 as a conventional grower. We left off talking about micro-biology and I think traveling down that path—pulling the curtain back on a totally unseen world if you will—has been the most wondrous adventure of all.
I’ve written about this before, but a new organic farmer who comes from a conventional background—especially if he was good at what he did—will always ask one way or another: “What’s the organic replacement for this chemical?”
***Conventionally, we have a poison for every problem and if you don’t know what it is, you can hire a PCA (Pest Control Advisor) to tell you and also write a recommendation similar to a doctor’s prescription that tells you how much & when. The chemical companies similar to the pharmaceutical companies pay for most of the trials and then disseminate that information to the PCA’s similar to how a drug rep visits your doctor who then has a pill for every ill.***
Okay, so starting out in organic farming, I was looking for chemical replacements and indeed there are some. Our biggest challenge in organic stone fruit for instance is lack of the very effective synthetic fungicides we’d gotten used to. No fear, you can use mined sulfur and copper and lime; organically approved agents of microbial death. Unfortunately, our first years were also very wet years and we had our heads handed to us; a very expensive lesson that literally almost cost us the farm; rotten peaches aren’t profitable, and when those pathogens got into the wood, some orchards had to be removed. But remember, we’re going to make organic work, or die trying.
That’s when circumstances and relationships led us from dark to light, death to life, chemistry to biology. We started inoculating our blooms with good microbes and compost tea which was a totally foreign crazy concept except it worked. It worked in good weather and bad. Introducing healthy life actually worked as well in protecting our blooms as the synthetic death compounds but honestly, it took us a few years for the mental click to actually happen; that is until our mental processes started seeking biological rather than chemical solutions to everything.
I’ll take this further next week, but first, I would encourage you to join me in this new, old way of approaching challenges. Some of you are already decades ahead, bravo. Try it this week as stuff comes up. Instead of looking for a way to kill what bugs you, start thinking about what positive, healthy bugs could be introduced into the situation, not to necessarily kill the bad, but just leaving bad displaced with nowhere to grow. You’ll be amazed on many levels.