IDEA Donna at the Sustainable Agronomic Education Association

It was back in February that I attended a conference in McAllen, TX dedicated to sustainable agriculture.  It was quite a whirlwind of information and experiences in a small span of two days.  Continue reading

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Compost Bonanza!

The students were wanting to amend the soil in their garden and lo, Natural Soil Solutions in Santa Rosa heard the call and donated a full truckload of their finest compost. Continue reading

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Soil Testing Part Two: Extension Office Results

In a previous post, Soil Testing: A Good Idea,  I used a three dollar test to give a better idea of what was in the soil and how I could work within that framework to better the soil and increase the organic matter in the soil.   As helpful as it was, you get what you pay for.  A three dollar test gave me a color chart and colored dye results.  It was cool to watch, but deriving any detailed results was lacking immensely.  It was if I was asking someone directions and they gave me directions using signs like, “Take the road with the broken tractor and the old truck.”  I have a general direction but I could be misled quite easily. I wanted something like a GPS that would tell me exact directions.  Continue reading

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Farm presentation at the Rotary Club of McAllen

Recently, I got the opportunity to speak at a Rotary Club meeting and showcase the farm.  I didn’t really know much about the Rotary Club so I did some research. Continue reading

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Pak Choy Seedlings Bolted

It is pretty.  The nice yellows against a dark green cut with veins of white.  And yet it means that the Pak Choy (or Bok Choy as most Americans call it) is no longer tasty but has gone to seed and will be bitter. Continue reading

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Washing and Preparing Produce for Market

Produce doesn’t look this good straight from the ground.  Especially if you are growing organically, there will be extra steps to take to ensure quality produce for your consumers. Continue reading

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On the Farm: Building a DIY Greenhouse (For less than you think)

So, I have been thinking about building a greenhouse since I started work on the farm and the Christmas Break gave me the perfect opportunity to build that idea out.  Continue reading

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IDEA at the Weslaco Farmer’s Market

So what is a farmer to do with extra produce sitting in the ground?

Sell it to the staff.

What about if there aren’t any staff because they are on break?

Go to the nearest farmer’s market. Continue reading

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Animal Control: Those Rascally Rabbits

They are cute.  They are cuddly.  They are eating everything in the garden.

I had noticed a plant or two looking chewed by something bigger than the leaf cutter ants or the cabbage worms a few weeks ago.  It wasn’t much at the time, more of an annoyance.

Then the rains came and while I was working I noticed foot prints..lots of footprints.  I started realizing that my annoyance could be turning into a full scale problem quickly.   I started researching rabbit controls like crazy.

I tried a trap that I found behind a storage unit.  It was by a company called, Havahart, which deals in humane pest control.  I bought some rabbit food and set the trap and waited.  The next day, nothing.  The next, nothing.  I looked at the trap and noticed that it was sprung but didn’t close.  And all my rabbit food was gone. Rabbits 1 Me 0

So I bought an owl.

Not a real one but one that I can stick on a pole and seem ominous to those little critters.  The only downside that I see to this, is that I have to make it seem like it is “moving” by taking it from one location to another every few days.  I may need to purchase another one since the farm is quite large and the owl can only stare ominously in one direction.

Step 2 is put down a liquid repellant.

I know it says Deer Off but if you look closely you can see that cute little critter we have been talking about. This is also by Havahart and can be picked up in your local Home Depot or Lowes.  A 32 oz bottle covers about 500 sq. feet so for most home gardens you will be okay.  It is OMRI certified organic (Note: When talking anything organic you need to look deeper than a label (natural, green, organic, etc.)  To be sure in pest control, weed control, etc., it must be OMRI-certified.  In vegetables and foods, USDA-Organic.)

The main ingredients are capsaicin (juice from hot peppers), garlic (vegetable), and putrescent egg solids.  In case your wondering what putrescent means, break it down putre (think putrid) and scent (smell).  You got it.  It smells terrible. Once it dries, however, humans can’t smell it but animals can.

So I have laid down a layer of this stuff over the young plants and according to the label it should be covered up to 3 months.  We will see.

The final thoughts are this.  Before you reach for your pellet gun (thought about it) or some highly poisonous extermination food or liquid, research ways to naturally deter your garden pests.  Once that poison gets in the soil it can stay for a really long time.  And as for using a pellet gun, it is too time consuming to sit and wait, and those rabbits won’t end up on my table so it is  senseless.  So have a heart and try to deter instead of exterminating.

Well back to the farm,

Farmer Tuley

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Environment Club Breaks New Ground…Literally

The Environment Club began moving earth for their raised bed garden project.  They are planning on growing and selling their produce on-campus and at local farmers markets.

The Environment Club leaders have been diligently working on a grant that will help them pay for all of their expenses and get the garden going faster.

On the far side of the garden the students are planning to create a grove of citrus trees and a place for students to sit and enjoy the area.

Next week they will be purchasing the wood and building the raised beds.  More on that later.

Back to the farm,

Farmer Tuley

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