I start my seedlings in the house under lights with appropriate heating. I learned from John how to do this. Who is John?
My John is the perennial John.
You know already the John of whom I speak....'John is out standing in his field'! It is that John who helped me.
John does not use anything that might jeopardize the Organic Certification that he has on his farm. And sometimes it seems extreme to me the efforts he takes to preserve that Organic Farming Certification.
It is not just that Certificate he is preserving. He is preserving the soil and all the things therein. That is what he does and he does it on purpose.
The flea beetle was creating havoc on his crops. The crops affected? Kale and others that I can't remember right now. Many growers would just spray a pesticide on that field. Problem solved? Nope.
Reason: Because the flea beetle would come back and all the predators that eat the Flea Beetle and all the other predator insects in that sprayed area would be dead.
Instead, John, used a flaming torch to kill that attacking insect. He would walk the beds (100 feet plus long) and use this flame torch to eradicate the insect that was eating his produce. He was not happy having to doing it but he would not do it any other way. Profitability was not on his mind.
What was on his mind was this: "I will not use pesticides, period!".
That is my John, my mentor and friend.
I noticed a tent caterpillar nest on my neighbour's fruit tree. It was immense with the caterpillars safe inside. The leaves of the tree surrounded by the tent had been devastated. I also noticed a wasp in the area. It was obvious that the wasp was not there just to do some sightseeing. It had dinner in mind.
There was more than one there and they were skirting the tent. I decided to help them out and did so by poking several holes in the tent.
The caterpillars, obviously disturbed, were scurrying. The wasps also recognized the energy in the tent and they took advantage of the situation.
I watched the process for a time and noticed that the wasps would come from different directions and then leave in different directions. These wasps were not all from the same colony is what I thought. Wow, different colonies sharing dinner. Team work!
It was only days before where I had seen a different scenario. I was picking up the mail at the local post office and as I was getting in my car I heard a scream. A young boy was running on the grass beside the post office. It was apparent that he was in pain. He had been stung by wasps and he was very upset as anyone would be.
His mother found some ice and it was applied to the most obvious sting area. This is what happened and why:
The young lad was looking at some flowers and close by was a wasp nest, not visible because it was in the ground. The boy did not know that the nest was there and the wasps didn't know he didn't know. The wasps defended their nest.
Who was at fault the wasps or the boy? Neither!
This is an unfortunate occurrence. When I left, the young lad seemed fine as he was giving directions to his mother about 'stuff' that was no business of mine.
This led me to other 'stuff'. MANURE! Except the cows didn't get to eat this 'leafy' before it became my fertilizer.
Every time I found a leaf on my beets or Swiss Chard that displayed the brownness I would break the whole leaf off and stick it in the bucket of water. After a time it began to smell...just like fresh manure. I found this out because I would bury the new leaves under the old to make sure they wouldn't come back to haunt me or my vegetables. Reason? I still was not sure "how long they could hold their breath". The smell on my hand gave me the clue about how to create my own manure to use in the garden.
Bingo! I could make my own manure by putting green leaves in a bucket of water.
I use it like a tea by taking a cup of the 'tea', green leaf tea, add it to a watering can and then I water the vegetables.
I have had great results although if I had a cow, I would feed it to her. It is nice to have someone else do the work - especially someone more experienced! :)