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Sustainable Living through Organic Gardening Rebecca Hunt Sunnyslope Ranch.

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Presentation on theme: "Sustainable Living through Organic Gardening Rebecca Hunt Sunnyslope Ranch."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sustainable Living through Organic Gardening Rebecca Hunt Sunnyslope Ranch

2 What does Sustainable Mean? Satisfy human food and fiber needs. Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends. Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls. Sustain the economic viability of farm operations. Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.

3 Defining Organic Gardening Improve soil health and fertility Decrease erosion Reduce pests and diseases Encourage plant and animal diversity

4 Why Garden Organically? Provide Family with Safe, Wholesome Food in a Least-Toxic Environment Be a Locavore and Increase Nutrients in Foods Helping Pollinators Minimizing Water Contamination

5 Keys to a Successful Organic Garden – The Four P’s Planning Proper Starting Materials Proactive Gardening Pursuit of Knowledge

6 Planning Start small – avoid gardener burnout Make it convenient & inviting Put the garden in full sun Choose a well-drained spot

7 Planning Grow a mix of crops Grow what you will eat Share the work, share the wealth Create a neighborhood CSA program

8 Proper Starting Material Seeds & Seedlings Look for organic seedlings Start with organic seeds Seeds of Change Peaceful Valley High Mowing Seeds

9 Proper Starting Material Know Your Soil pH & Nutrients Levels Organic Matter Green Manure & Cover crops Compost

10 Feeds Microorganisms & Other Soil Life Decreases Harmful Disease Organisms Improves Soil Structure Increases Reserve of Soil Nutrients Buy or Make Your Own

11 Proactive Gardening Fertilizers Pest Management Disease Management Weeds

12 Proactive Gardening: Organic Fertilizers Nutrients are contained in complex molecules that won’t leach away with the first rain/watering Less likely to burn the young roots of seedlings Enhance overall soil health Fish Emulsion & Compost Tea are common organic fertilizers

13 Proactive Gardening: Integrated Pest Management Start with pest-resistant plants Make your garden less inviting to pests Put the right plant in the right place Confuse pests with mixed plantings Rotate crops Don’t over fertilize Clean up debris Invite beneficials

14 Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Identify the pest Is it a pest Is it a disease Is it something else – over watering, too much fertilizer Establish Threshold. If you kill all, your beneficials will leave

15 IPM: Choose a Control Method Physical controls Biological controls Beneficial controls Other controls

16 Physical Controls Barriers – fences, nets, collars Handpicking Vacuuming Hosing Off Repellents Scare Tactics Trapping

17 Biological Controls Bt – Bacillus thuringiensis – infects & kills many insect pests Milky spore – control Japanese beetles & other closely related beetles Spinosad – effective control for caterpillars, beetles, leaf miners, trips, fire ants

18 Beneficial Controls Most common – Lady Beetles, Lacewings, Praying Mantis, Wasps Wait to release until you see enough of their favorite prey Attract them – goldenrod, plants from the parsley & sunflower families Avoid broad spectrum insecticides

19 Other Controls Insects breathe through pores in the cuticle that surrounds their bodies. If you plug up the pores, the insects suffocate and die. Insecticidal soap – can be toxic to seedlings, works on soft bodied pests Horticultural oil Dormant oil – used in late winter/early spring. Suffocates overwintering insects Summer oil – sprayed during growing season

20 Potential Pest Solutions

21 Integrated Pest Management Physical – can you pick it off, hose it off, trap Beneficials – can you release ladybugs or lacewings Biological/Others – spray carefully

22 IPM: Aphids Blast with Water Beneficials: Lady Bugs or Lacewings Spray with insecticidal soap (commercial product or try 1 tablespoon liquid soap per quart of water)

23 IPM: Snails & Slugs Set traps, pick them off Kill with a 50/50 mixture of ammonia & water Shallow pan of beer Copper strips strategically placed

24 IPM: White Flies Encourage beneficials Spray with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil

25 Proactive Gardening: Disease Management Make wise plant selections – look for disease-resistant varieties Keep plants dry Space & prune plants to provide good air circulation Water the soil, not the plant Avoid working with wet plants

26 Proactive Gardening: Disease Management Avoid excess nitrogen fertilizer Keep your yard, tools & shoes clean Practice crop rotation Control insects

27 Disease-Control Products Botanical sprays (citric acid/mint oil) Potassium bicarbonate Fungal fungicides Bacterial fungicides Neem oil Sulfur

28 Mildew Powdery mildew: appears during, warm, humid weather and cool nights, especially when the soil is dry Downy mildew: attacks during cool, wet weather

29 Mildew Remove infected plant debris Avoid getting leaves wet Use potassium bicarbonate, superfine horticultural oil, or neem oil to treat Last resort: copper and sulfur based fungicides

30 Proactive Gardening: Weeds Mulch Cover Crops Flaming Pulling & Cultivating Herbicides

31 Mulch Mulch: 2” to 4” Decomposing mulches: tree bark, shredded leaves/pine needles, straw, shredded newspaper Non-decomposing mulches: gravel, stone, landscape fabrics, mulch mats

32 Cover Crops Alfalfa, clover, grasses, buckwheat Ways to use cover crops New garden preparation Between gardening seasons During gardening season (white clover in orchards or in the aisles between planting beds)

33 Flaming Propane-fueled flamers make quick work of weeds Boils sap inside the weed and bursts its cells Can be dangerous… FIRE Doesn’t discriminate between weeds and plants Always have water available!

34 Pulling & Cultivating Good old-fashioned hand pulling and hoeing Disturb the soil as little as possible to not churn up seeds and create more weeds Get them while they are small with fragile roots Moistened soil helps with ease of pulling

35 Herbicides Pre-emergent: corn gluten meal – not approved to use in food gardens Herbicidal soap Research well before using Should be absolute last resort

36 Pursuit of Knowledge WSDA Organic Program agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/Organic/ OMRI National Organic Program Peaceful Valley Book: Organic Garden for Dummies Organic Gardening for Dummies (at Amazon.com) Organic Gardening for Dummies

37 Thank you For a copy of this presentation visit our website at


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