Composting as a Radical Act

Image from OK Jim's Eggroll Emporium.
To provide your gardens with life-giving nitrogen, forget about buying chemical fertilizers. There are endless composting options that will allow you to give your plants all the nourishment they need—without the nasty effects of chemical runoff choking the life out of estuaries, streams, and rivers.

Fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. Image from ABC News.
Yesterday's explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas is akin to devastation wrought by pipes bursting during oil extraction or the disastrous side effects of fracking. In our manic attempts to artificially grow super-crops, live in unnecessary luxury, and pay more heed to money than common sense, we're causing untold damage to the Earth's ecosystems—and, inevitably, to ourselves. Anytime we pack hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate into a factory to make chemical fertilizer, we're putting lives at risk. Anytime we run pipelines to transfer oil, we're risking the health and well-being of animals, crops, and people.

But let's get off the soapbox and spend a few minutes exploring ways to take matters into our own hands.

Growing your own food removes your need for Big Agriculture. By creating your own beds of greens, veggies, and even fruit trees, you're taking yourself out of the monster machine that large-scale agriculture's become. So if you're making that move, why not ensure that in your small microcosm, the run-off from your backyard isn't going to contribute to any pollution or sickening runoff?

It's easy. We promise.

First, let's consider the two biggest culprits of unhealthy backyard gardening: pesticides and fertilizers. 

PESTICIDES: The EPA estimates that approximately 74 million pounds of pesticide active ingredients (7 percent of total conventional pesticide use in the United States) are used in homes and gardens each year. Pesticides are either applied by commercial pest control and landscape maintenance companies or by homeowners themselves. Studies have shown that pesticides can be extremely unsafe, particularly when they run off into waterways, which can cause short- and long-term damage to people and the environment. Pesticides can also inadvertently kill living things that they are not intended to. As a whole, pesticides do provide some benefits, but they are also known to harm the environment and the plants and animals that it contains. When a pesticide leaches through the soil where it is applied, it can end up in the water table. In waterways, millions of fish are killed by pesticides each year, and other aquatic life also suffers the consequences of pesticide-contaminated water. Pesticides are also known to add to air pollution as a result of pesticide drift, and some even play a role in harming the ozone layer and contributing to global warming. Additionally, pesticides have a resistance to breaking down over time, meaning that their effects can continue over a long period of time.

FERTILIZERS: (From Jerry Greenfield) Chemical fertilizers promote quick growth in plants, which can prevent them from developing a good root growth, strong stems, or nutritious fruits and vegetables. Plants will sprout quickly, but what you'll end up with will not be worth much. Chemical fertilizer is usually high in nitrogen salts, and if the nitrogen is absorbed by soil too quickly, it will end up dehydrating the plant, causing it to dry up and die. Chemicals in man-made fertilizers will harm and eventually kill the natural microbes found in your soil. These include beneficial insects, fungus, and bacteria naturally found in your soil. These "creatures" are all naturally occurring and necessary for healthy soil and plant growth. Obviously applying chemicals to your plants and soil will affect these organisms. Chemicals in synthetic fertilizers will eventually, and unavoidably, end up leaking into our environment's water supply. It will be consumed by wildlife and can have short- and long-term effects on them—just like it would if we were to ingest these chemicals. Finally, let's think about the fact that we are going to eat these plants. If we are saturating the soil they grow in with chemicals, and then feeding the plants and treating them with chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fungicides), how can we possibly think these fruits and vegetables are healthy for us to eat? What is the point of growing our own food if we're just going to poison it before eating it?

Composting as a Radical Act
Consider growing your own food your civic duty, and composting as your radical act. Done properly, you'll be creating your own closed-loop system that flies in the face of Big Ag. All you'll need to start a basic compost set-up are a small container in your kitchen to catch your food scraps, and a larger bin outside to store them. (Note: If you're in a city and/or don't have a yard, vermicompost is the way to go. You'll just need a large tupperware container under your sink to hold the worms. Done right, we promise that your guests—and pests like bugs/rats/mice—will never know the worms and food scraps are there! Click here for more information.)

First, let's go over the basics of compost. Here's a briefing on the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, gleaned from "Composting 101":


  All organic matter is made up of substantial amounts of carbon (C) combined with lesser amounts of nitrogen (N). The balance of these two elements in an organism is called the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio (C:N ratio). For best performance, the compost pile, or more to the point the composting microorganisms, require the correct proportion of carbon for energy and nitrogen for protein production. Scientists (yes, there are compost scientists) have determined that the fastest way to produce fertile, sweet-smelling compost is to maintain a C:N ratio somewhere around 25 to 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen, or 25-30:1. If the C:N ratio is too high (excess carbon), decomposition slows down. If the C:N ratio is too low (excess nitrogen) you will end up with a stinky pile.

Below are the average C:N ratios for some common organic materials found in the compost bin. For our purposes, the materials containing high amounts of carbon are considered "browns," and materials containing high amounts of nitrogen are considered "greens."

Estimated Carbon-to-Nitrogen Ratios
Browns = High Carbon C:N
Ashes, wood 25:1
Cardboard, shredded 350:1
Corn stalks 75:1
Fruit waste 35:1
Leaves 60:1
Newspaper, shredded 175:1
Peanut shells 35:1
Pine needles 80:1
Sawdust 325:1
Straw 75:1
Wood chips 400:1
Greens = High Nitrogen C:N
Alfalfa 12:1
Clover 23:1
Coffee grounds 20:1
Food waste 20:1
Garden waste 30:1
Grass clippings 20:1
Hay 25:1
Manures 15:1
Seaweed 19:1
Vegetable scraps 25:1
Weeds 30:1

Note: Many ingredients used for composting do not have the ideal ratio of 25-30:1. As a result, most must be mixed to create "the perfect compost recipe." High C:N ratios may be lowered by adding grass clippings or manures. Low C:N ratios may be raised by adding paper, dry leaves or wood chips. 
Your Very Own Compost Bin
Your compost is going to act as a wonderful fertilizer for your plants. That, used in tandem with crop rotation and natural bug deterrents (and attractants!) will ensure a healthy garden for years to come. 
For in Your Kitchen
The most popular compost bins for inside come in plastic, ceramic, or metal. They generally have a charcoal filter to keep the food scraps aerated without smelling. You can also make your own (click here for instructions!), or use a sturdy snap-lock tupperware container that you empty out every day or so and rinse well. Here are a few images of standard kitchen compost containers:
Plastic bin from Great Green Gadgets.
 
Metal compost bin from Natural Home Merchandise.


Ceramic compost bin from st.houzz.com.
For Your Yard
Backyard compost can come in a heap, a bin, a barrel, a pallet cube, or can simply be put directly onto your garden beds (as we often do in our mulch gardens). Some of the most popular outdoor compost tumblers are plastic, which causes some concern for those concerned about toxins leeching out of the plastic as the compost heats up inside. There are no conclusive tests on the subject thus far—probably in part because compost doesn't get hotter than about 160 degrees—but for those of you who are weary, there are plenty of other options besides those plastic tumblers.
Wooden compost bins are readily available online (click here for some examples), but for significantly less you can make your own (check out these directives from Instructables). And for those of you out in the country, a simple wire-mesh enclosure will do the trick (to turn your compost every few months, just rake out the pile, move your stakes, and shovel out the black earth at the bottom). But you can also use old bureaus, old fencing, or any other design you can dream up. Most important is that you're able to turn the food scraps, and that they receive ample amount of aeration for good decomposition.
Share your compost design ideas with us at info@betterfarm.org.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Doing the Dirty Work of Better Farm

The author, cleaning out one of Better Farm's chicken coops. Photo/Lily Chiu
By Jackson Pittman
Here at Better Farm, we have a lot of things that stink. Stinky compost bins, the stinky dogs, and of course, stinky chickens. In fact, it's not that our chickens reek especially bad, its more that they leave a lot of droppings—and for a chicken, steering clear of its own excrement doesn't rate high on the priority list. Some of you may wonder why we have so many chickens when they produce so much more poop than eggs. Well, the answer is simple—and beautiful.
The chicken poop (as most gardeners would know) is excellent fertilizer! Once it is broken down, chicken manure has 4 times as much nitrogen, 11 times as much phosphorous, and 2.5 times as much potassium than horse manure (2.8 percent nitrogen,2.3 phosphorous, 1.7 potassium). While it's true that we don't want to put the dung directly onto the crops because the nitrogen and bacteria levels are so high it can damage or contaminate the vegetables we grow, we still have plenty of other things we can do with our vast amounts of chicken droppings (really... they poop a lot... it's 33 chickens).

At this time of year, when the garden isn't producing nearly as many vegetables as it does at its peak, there's plenty of open space that we're mulching with hay and cardboard (the cardboard is to keep weeds from popping up, and the hay is to get broken down by the snow and turn to fresh soil). Since we have our chickens pooping on hay, on top of cardboard, it's ridiculously easy to find a nice empty spot that could used some extra insulation and let the fertile chicken manure get broken down with the hay over the winter to make the soil all the richer. This is our current technique, but there are plenty of other uses for the chicken poop we have in such abundance. So this is the short list of chicken manure uses that I (as the farm intern) was surprised and interested by:

  •  Biogas!! Whaaat! It's crazy, right?... The same chicken poop that can easily gross out the inexperienced onlooker can be converted to natural fuel? This innovative process is done by mixing the droppings with a by-product of ethanol production to produce a powerful biogas, but the real magic of it is done simply by the bacteria living in the poop! It's just three simple steps... Stage one: One bacteria type reduces the manure to fatty acids. Stage two: Another bacteria type reduces the fatty acids to acetic acid. Stage three: The third bacteria type turns the acetic acid into bio-methane gas. Incredible, right? Bio-methane gas out of poop through the natural cycle of anaerobic bacteria... life is beautiful.
  • Bio-Oil?!? Let's leave this one to the expert's explanation: "First, the manure needs to be dried so it can be burned... That makes it possible to move to the next step: rapidly heating the mixture in a bubbling, fluidized bed reactor that has no oxygen. It's a process called fast pyrolysis. The process thermochemically breaks the molecular bonds in the mixture. It produces charcoal that can be used to enrich soil. And it produces vapors that are condensed to a thick, dark bio-oil." Wow... all that from chicken poop. I'm practically speechless. Although this process doesn't sound like something we're ready to do at Better Farmyet, it really changes the way you see the manure, and the way we treat dispose of our waste.
  • Chicken Manure TEA?!?!? Not the kind you can drink! During the growing season, the compost pile can get full pretty quickly and when there's tons of chicken poop it can be nice to find a more direct use for it without having to way for it to decompose. Now there are many ways to make fertilizer, but this one in particular is nice because it creates a liquid you can spray your crops with to give them nutrients! To make fertilizer tea, scoop the chicken manure into a burlap bag. Then, throw a rock into the bag to weigh it down and place the whole thing into a 35-gallon garbage can. Fill the garbage can with water and let it sit for about three weeks. Once the three weeks are over, you will have nutrient-rich chicken manure fertilizer tea as the water becomes infused with the nutrients from the chicken manure. You can use this fertilizer tea to water your plants to give them a vitamin boost. 
Well, that about wraps up our summary on the fun side of poop. I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I enjoy it twice a week! Remember, all waste has a purpose! 

All photography by Lily Chiu
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Declaring War on Squash Bugs

Photo credit: livingtherusticlife.blogspot.com
By Amanda Treco
Organic gardening means troubleshooting ways to deal with all the bugs who have access to poison-free plants. Recently, we've discovered a large amount of squash bugs taking up residency on our zucchini plants. Because the plants are mature, this is less of an issue than for immature plants—but left unchecked, this could become a hazard even for the mature zucchinis.

Despite using our organic pesticides, the squash bugs multiply rapidly. We hope that the bugs will not spread to our cucumber plants as well. So far, the best method we have found is to rid the plants of the egg masses that are being hatched on the undersides of the leaves, throwing any bugs we find into a bucket of hot, soapy water, or dousing the leaves themselves with hot, soapy water. This method is more about the removal of the bugs with water and less about the pesticides being used. This influx of squash bugs has proven to be quite the challenge, and we will continue to experiment with new management techniques. 

Easy Organic Pesticide Recipes

By Jaci Collins
Pest control in an organic garden always requires ingenuity and experimentation. The past few weeks, we’ve been testing out a few natural pesticide recipes as an attempt to keep down on insect populations that are invading our plants. A simple recipe (which requires reapplication after rain) is 2 tablespoons of soap (a non-toxic/biodegradable brand is best) per 32 oz of water. Spray this mixture all over the plant and under the leaves. If you are having issues with insects chewing up your plants foliage, simply add 1 tablespoon of hot sauce or cayenne pepper to the above recipe. For more information, click here.

Common Garden Pests


Bugs eating your seedlings' leaves? Worried about cucumber beetles? Here's a quick reference guide on some of the most common garden pests. Be sure to send us gardening tips and questions to info@betterfarm.org:


PESTS
Cabbage White Butterflies
  • Off-white in colour, with one or two grayish-black spots per wing
  • Wing span of two inches across
  • Lay their eggs on plants, usually on the underside of the leaves. The eggs are yellow and oval shaped. Clustered.
  • The larvae, cabbage worms, eat through the plants, such as cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower.
  • Velvety green, inch worm type caterpillars
  • Only attack plants in the “brasica” family: Mustard family: Cabbage, Kale, Cauliflower, Broccoli, etc.
  • Leaves need to be checked regularly for the eggs because a serious infestation can kill the plant
  • Check your plants frequently for worms as well
  • Hand pick and destroy them
  • Take big chunks out of the leaves
  • Not always problematic if the plants have matured. BUT if the plants are young, these critters can kill them.
Recommendations
  • To prevent plants from infestation, protect them with floating row covers.
  • Insert into a nylon stocking


Cucumber Beetles
  • Small, quarter inch in length, yellow and black
  •  Carry Mosaic virus that can spread to plants
  • Attack gourds (pumpkins, squash)
  • Lacy effect on the leaves. The virus eats away at the leaf
Cucumber beetles lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves, and when the larvae hatch, they eat the roots of cucumber, melon, and other plants. The larvae grow to be adults around early July, when they begin to feed on foliage and flowers. There can be up to three generations of these beetles each summer. The beetles winter in piles of leaves and other debris.
Recommendations:
  • Plant radishes or nasturtiums near plants
  • Straw, hay, grass clipping mulch at the base of the plant so that when cucumber beetles fall they can no longer burrow into the ground...
  • Pick them off
  • Clean your garden
  • Cover up your cucumbers
  • Use insecticides (organic: EcoSMART Garden Insect Killer)
  • Cover cucumbers with cheesecloths, cones, or a commercial row cover.

Flea Beetles
Many flea beetles are attractively coloured; dark, shiny and often metallic colors predominate. Adult flea beetles feed externally on plants, eating the surface of the leaves, stems and petals. Under heavy feeding the small round holes caused by an individual flea beetle's feeding may coalesce into larger areas of damage.
  • They leave tiny holes in leaves
  • They don’t have a uniform appearance (black, brown, green, stripes, spots)
  • Main characteristics: They are small and jump
  • They leave clusters of holes
  • Attack the root systems and make the plants susceptible to other pests
  • Young plants are more susceptible to flea beetles.
  • Difficult to get rid of flea beetles

Preventative measures (pre and post):
  • Thick layer of mulch, inhibit the ability of larvae
  • Weed often (removes food sources for the larvae)

Squash Bug
Squash bugs infest squash and pumpkin plants. Adults like to hide down at the base of the plant or underneath the leaves. These bugs go from eggs to nymphs in seven to 10 days, so you should look for eggs about every seven days to catch them from turning into nymphs. The squash bug PRODUCES ONE NEW GENERATION EACH YEAR but of course if each squash bug lays 15 eggs on each leaf they chose to deposit their eggs on, then all those newly hatched nymphs will lay more-but not this year. The nymphs will grow into adults this year but will not lay eggs. They will overwinter and lay their eggs next year.
How to combat:
  • Look regularly for adults, nymphs, and eggs.
  • Take the hose and spray the whole plant and at particularly at the base which is covered in straw. The adults come running up the stems of the leaves to escape the water. Then pick them off with my hand. You can squish them on the ground or put them in a bucket of soapy water where the adults drown, or relocate to some spot far away.
  • Look at EACH LEAF of the plant to see if there are any EGGS ON THE UNDERNEATH SIDE OF THE LEAVES, usually in the “v” where the veins form. If you find them, either tear off the whole leaf (if you have a lot of leaves) or tear out just the section that has the eggs and put them in a bucket of soapy water where they will smother. THE EGGS WILL BE DARK LIKE ROOTBEER WHEN THEY ARE READY TO HATCH, so get them EARLY.
  • Look for GRAY NYMPHS WHICH ARE USUALLY UNDERNEATH THE LEAVES OR ON THE STEMS. If you find a few, squish them or relocate. If you find a lot, take the whole leaf off because they are fast.
  • The key is to be REALLY DILIGENT ABOUT FINDING THEM BEFORE THE EGGS HATCH. After they hatch you can easily be overcome by the nymphs. Most people don’t keep up on the inspections and then the problem magnifies tenfold-so keep up on them. The hunt is on!
  • Cover your plants with row cover to keep them off. This works beautifully but you may have to piece some row covers together to cover some of the larger plants. I use clothes pins to clip them together.
  • Use Neem. It is an organic pesticide (and an added benefit is a fungicide). It must be sprayed very early before the bees come out or at dusk when they aren’t around as it won’t hurt them if it is not a direct hit as they only visit the flowers and it is a contact spray.
  • Plant a crop late in the season if possible. Many areas of the country only have one generation of squash bugs and if you plant later you may miss them.
  • Onion Spray: You can deter squash bugs on pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash and marrows with diluted/strained onion juice. Evidently just grind one or two up, put it in gallon of water and strain the onions out so your sprayer doesn’t clog.
  • Companion Planting: Plant onions bulbs with your squash every year.

Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Why Organic?

The nutritional advantages of going organic.
When you're selecting produce for you and your family to eat, how often do you pick out generic fruits and veggies in order to save a little money?

What’s the difference between the shiny red apple in your right hand, and the identical organic red apple in your left? Is the organic apple healthier? With all the hooplah over organic foods—sales in the United States jumped from $23 billion in 2002 to $40 billion in 2006—and their increased availability, it’s worth knowing what makes them different from your average Granny Smith apple or Sunkist orange before you put them in your shopping cart.


Organic butter at a GreenWise store in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Organic food is criticized for its cost, but it contains no pesticides, and farmers must follow environmental standards to become certified.
SOURCE: AP/Luis M. Alvarez

If you're growing your own produce, expect to pay a little more for organic—but also expect a great return. With a packet of of seeds costing roughly $3.50, consider that your yield will be pounds and pounds of produce that would normally cost you roughly $3.50/pound in the supermarket. Even though the price-per-seed-packet is more than you'd pay for generic, consider the nutritional and environmental advantages of going organic (and keep in mind the money and resources you're saving by starting from seed).

From the Center for American Progress:

What does “organic” mean?
Organic refers to how farmers grow and process food. Organic farming methods differ from conventional farming in several ways:
  • Conventional farming uses chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth, while organic farming employs manure and compost to fertilize the soil.
  • Conventional farming sprays pesticides to get rid of pests, while organic farmers turn to insects and birds, mating disruption, or traps.
  • Conventional farming uses chemical herbicides to manage weeds, while organic farming rotates crops, hand weeds, or mulches.
  • When raising animals, conventional farmers give animals antibiotics, growth hormones, and medications to spur growth and prevent disease. Organic farmers feed their animals organic feed and allow them to roam. They also will make sure the animals have a balanced diet and clean housing.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture certifies organic products according to strict guidelines. Organic farmers must apply for certification, pass a test, and pay a fee. It’s important to note that this means not all organic foods become certified, even though all certified food is organic.

If you pick an item off the shelf and see the “USDA Organic” label, it means that at least 95 percent of the food’s ingredients were organically produced. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it. Products that are 100 percent organic are labeled as such and given a small USDA seal. Some product labels may also state that the product was “made with organic ingredients,” which means the product contains at least 70 percent organic ingredients.

Is organic better?
Shoppers may choose organic foods for a variety of reasons. There are certainly environmental reasons to go organic. According to USDA guidelines, organic farming practices are designed to reduce pollution and conserve water and soil. They do not release synthetic pesticides, which can harm wildlife, and they also seek to preserve biodiversity and local ecosystems.

Many people choose organic foods to avoid any risks associated with the pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals used in conventional farming. Parents may be concerned that exposure to these chemicals might harm the development of their children, and therefore they choose organic. Studies appear to support the fact that organic diets lower children’s exposure to pesticides.

As for organic food being healthy, some studies, including one at UC Davis, have demonstrated higher amounts of nutrients in some varieties of organic foods. Another study from Newcastle University in England showed organic milk contained 67 percent more vitamins and antioxidants, as well as more Omega-3s and Omega-6s (“healthy” fat) than conventional milk. Organic foods do not contain any additives or preservatives, and are not genetically modified. And when you buy organic, you’re also bypassing antibiotics and hormones given to animals in conventional methods, added to the fact that these animals are also treated in a more respectful and humane way under organic standards.

Controversy exists over whether all organic foods carry substantial benefits over their counterparts—organic onions, for example, might not be much different from their conventional cousins when it comes to health benefits—but in all cases, organic means the foods were grown on farms with USDA guidelines. 

Why it costs more
The biggest criticism of organic food is its cost. There are several reasons it’s more expensive. Organic farmers pay more for organic animal feed, and the farming is more labor intensive, since farmers avoid chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Because farmers don’t use herbicides, for instance, they rely more on hand weeding. And since they avoid chemical fertilizers, they use compost and animal manure, which is bulkier and more expensive to ship. This also means their crop yield is usually lower. Conventional farming also uses every acre of farmland to grow crops, while organic farmers rotate their crops to keep soil healthy.

All of these production costs mean organic farming tends to be more expensive than conventional farming, and this is reflected in how much you pay at the grocery store. However, when you take into account the true “cost” of food production from conventional farming, including replacement of eroded soils, cleaning up polluted water, health care for farmers who get sick, and environmental costs of pesticide production and disposal, organic farming might actually be cheaper in the end.

Probably the most “green” way to acquire your weekly provisions is through a local farmer’s market. The food travels a shorter distance, which means less carbon emissions and food that hasn’t been shipped hundreds of miles or processed to keep it preserved during transport. The food comes from small farms where the farmers are usually conscious of their impact on the earth and care about the food they’re producing. By purchasing food from them, you also support the local food economy and know where your food is coming from. According to the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture, food in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles to make it to your refrigerator. Why take an apple off the truck when you’re a step away from plucking it off the tree?
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Intern Files: Week seven


By Joe Pintaudi

At the beginning of this week, there is more productivity in the garden. We are starting to see some zucchini coming in and the peppers are doing pretty well. Our onions appear to be pretty big on the surface and the same can be said about the carrots.

Yesterday I made an organic pesticide and used it on some of the greens. It’s a pretty simple mixture. I used three jalapeno peppers, one clove of garlic, a small amount of dish soap, and about four cups of water.

After putting all of these ingredients in a container, I used a hand-held blender to mix everything really well. After the mix sat for about two hours, I used a strainer to separate the liquid from the solids and placed the liquid into a pump sprayer and added about a gallon of water.

This is a pretty simple and organic way to keep insects from eating your garden before you can. According to the advice I found online, it should be sprayed couple of days and after it rains.  Also remember to use a clean sprayer.  I washed the one I found out three times before I used it just to make sure that no unwanted chemicals got into the mix.

Originally published at Joe's Blog.