Harvey Juniper

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since Jul 03, 2013
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Recent posts by Harvey Juniper

A preventive measure you can take is to make sure you have a good amount of micro-nutrients in your soil. Copper in particular. Foliar feedings can work as well for this.
I don't think you can compete with the dreaded morning glory without getting your hands dirty and pulling those mothers up, then immediately replace them with a cover crop seed that will have time to grow and overwinter. Continue the same practice next year and by the end of next year's season you should have it under control.
10 years ago
Wow, thank all of you for the great information! I truly appreciate it.

Ken, I suspected that would be the case as far as excessive inputs go. We haven't used a lot of fertilizer yet, I am trying out foliar sprays instead to get the crops through. This is going to be the fourth year that vegetables have grown well, so I think we are okay, but I am sure that more diversity of cover crops, carbon, calcium and micronutrients are needed.

William, no problem with hogs as of yet. Solid fencing. We are going to try castor beans actually instead of soybeans.

Alder, I've been considering biochar for sure. And thanks for the heads up on ECHO that sounds perfect.
10 years ago
Johns, thank you both for your insight!
10 years ago
Hi. I started managing a small farm in Polk County back in the spring and could use some guidance from locals or people in similar climates and conditions. I've checked out some of the posts here, researched, consulted the University of Florida, and have talked to local gardeners/farmers but have more specific questions and I trust permaculture-ish minds for advice as opposed to the more conventionally agricultural. I've grown food in a variety of conditions but nothing quite like this!

Background on the farm: it is a certified organic CSA, growing the usual suspects of vegetables in about twenty acres of sand. Basically beach dunes dotted with oak trees. The land has been grown on for over three years, before that I think it had mostly been oaks, grasses and weeds. During the summers they've grow sunn hemp (crotalaria juncea) as a cover crop, with vegetables being harvested from fall through early summer. Generally things have grown well, but I am worried long term about the cost of inputs versus profits and general exhaustion of the soil. Chicken manure has been the primary soil amendment with added potash so that the NPK is 6-4-10. Don't remember what other amendments were used during the first couple years they worked the land. Trace element sources have been dependent on composted sea kelp (maxicrop) and fish emulsion as a foliar spray. We also spray copper occasionally to avert powdery mildew on cucurbits which I would rather avoid.

Pesticides/fungicides that I know of being used include neem oil, serenade, dipel, spinosad, and a couple other OMRI certified sprays. We tried unleashing thousands of ladybugs to help with a Colorado potato beetle problem, but it wasn't particularly successful. The problems with bugs are much less severe from fall to spring, but the main pest I noticed aside from the beetle were leaf-footed bugs, which I think the locals refer to as stink bugs. Irrigation is on an excellent drip system, and we may purchase a traveling gun as well. Moisture loss after watering is rapid so we have to run our sets for basically 24 hours at a time, which can be tricky to plan out.

All of that being said, I am looking for ways to change this approach toward farming in a less orthodox and more sustainable, cheap and harmonious way.

My main concerns right now are:

1. How can I transform this sand into soil? I don't think I can convince the owners to finance a keyline layout or other such drastic measures, so I am somewhat restricted and realize it will take a long time, but in monetarily reasonable ways what can I use for cover crops besides sunn hemp (I've heard good things about castor beans and a few others), green manure crops, and local sources of soil building material?

2. Any recommendations for varieties of vegetables, flowers, herbs, ground covers, hedges and cover crops that do particularly well here?

3. When do y'all plant tomatoes and how do you plan against the unpredictable late winter frosts? My farm tried remay before I started working and claims it did not protect their tomato plants but I kind of find this difficult to believe. We are looking into a buying a hoop house but I'd like to find some gardening methods as well. Does anyone have luck seeding tomatoes directly in the ground instead of using transplants?

4. Suggestions of pests I should prepare for from the months of September through late May, and if you know of any ways to battle them that aren't reliant on purchasing organic pesticides I would be much obliged. I'm definitely going to be growing hedges, beneficial flower/herb borders, and polycultures throughout the beds to try and limit space for weeds and the temptation of insects. I know a lot of the basics but am looking for locally trusted and successful plant varieties or seed distributors.

5. Is citrus wood okay for hugelkultur beds? I used some to plant veggies in and it did well but I don't know what the long term effects would be and have had trouble finding information.

6. I'm also helping manage a citrus grove-- any advice for plants I should use in a citrus grove to benefit trees? I know of the usual permaculture goodies but looking for more input from locals. Also interested in vegetable varieties that would be well suited for growing between trees, which I have been experimenting with.

7. What is a good mulch or other way to help preserve moisture that works on a farm scale?

8. How to cultivate a vibrant and diverse soil food network in sand???

Truly would appreciate any advice and willing to return the favor if possible. Thanks!

10 years ago