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Organic Pest Control Course  RSS feed

 
Stephen Shade
Posts: 7
Location: Arizona
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I'm thinking about creating a course on organic pest control. Would you pay for this? What specific thing would you hope to learn about or learn more about?
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1695
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Hi Stephen,
I'm not sure what you have in mind here. The idea of nonhazardous management of pests starts out to be of interest to me, but in the permaculture model I understand, I seldom think along the lines of identifying a pest, and targeting it for eradication or "control". Further, much of what is now allowed for use by certified organic growers can be highly toxic with broad spectrum killing capabilities.

Plant "pests", aka "weeds", are indicators of particular conditions in the soil, or mineral excesses or deficiencies, presence or absence of given amounts of moisture. That is valuable information, and if I know what the plant is indicating, the knowledge would help me understand how to support the system's transition to my desired conditions.

I am often apt to rethink the situation and figure out how I can capitalize on the abundance of the element that is going a direction different that my chosen direction, and at the same time steer in my desired direction.

So in a sense, that's a very wordy way to not say "pest" or "weed" or "control", but it's also a way to guide my mental process away from the black white thinking of pest not pest, and the control of the identified pest. What good is it to try to remove a pest from a system, rather than considering all the conditions that contribute to the proliferation of that element in the system. If I am able to remove a pest from a system, a void will have been created, and an organism or combination of organisms will occupy the vacated niche, which likely leads to another attempt to remove another element from the system. My attention, energy and resources get devoted to removing elements, instead of adding elements and nurturing systems towards productive homeostasis.

Maybe the course you are proposing is ways to read the presence of indicator species, and ways to steer the progression towards the balance the farmer wants, and ways to tweak the systems one way or another. That I would find interesting.

I'd like to know what plants indicate what mineral presences or absences, compaction, anaerobic conditions, fungi to bacteria ratios.

I'd like to know what strategies would address the conditions indicated by the indicator species.

I'd like to know if there is a time estimate for how long it takes to get through a particularly trying stage.

Example: in the case of yellow star thistle, many people spray it with round up, and many plow it in several times in a growing season. Herbicides create herbicide resistant strains of yellow star thistle. Disturbing the soil creates the conditions that favor the germination of yellow star thistle. So, what if I DON'T till, or apply herbicides. What if I devote my efforts and resources to the development of a tight covering of perennials, so that there is no disturbed soil where the annual yellow star thistle can germinate. How long will this process take, how long has it taken for others in what conditions? Because I really want to know how many years I'll have to listen to the neighbors tell me what to do about the yellow star thistles before at last, I don't have them any more, despite the millions of seeds being delivered to my soil from my neighbors properties.

So, are you proposing a class like that?

Thanks

Thekla

 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Whenever I think of the term "pest control", I imagine images of farmers spraying poisons on the plants/soil.
Even the term IPM used in the organic community seems to be a backwards approach to a problem that was created by the grower himself.

What I would like to see in such a course is guidance towards achieving balance in both the vegetation and soil biota.
A well balanced system should require only minor inputs by the grower.

Emphasis should be on establishing a rich biomass of native wildflowers. The native wildflowers will provide food and habitat for native pollinators and other natives that should keep "pests" populations in check so that no other intervention is needed.

In nature, pests attack the weakest plant in the group: Mother Nature's way of culling. This is beneficial to the health of the system, as the weak plants do not get to put their DNA into next year's gene pool.


 
Stephen Shade
Posts: 7
Location: Arizona
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Thank you for the feedback.

The course would be about balance and using nature to help control pests. The idea would not be to eliminate a pest, but control it's population, so you can get the most out of your garden.

For example: if you plant the right companion plants and flowers you will attract lacewings and ladybugs to your garden, then you won't have a problem with aphids.
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1695
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Yeah, plant parsley and let it flower and the parasitic wasps are all over it, and then they lay their eggs on larval forms of the cutworms and such. Healthy systems need them all, even the "pest" species which provide the food for life stages of "beneficial" species.

I wonder if you could call your course something that would hint that it is about steering your garden in the direction of "auto pilot" or homeostasis

Thekla
 
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