Re: VS: [fukuoka_farming] Back to raised beds
- Karri, I have a similar problems with flea beetles where we live. We are
surrounded by chemical farmers and lots of canola, which flea beetles love.
In the 6 years we have lived here, we haven't been able to grow turnips, and
two years ago they started harrassing the rest of the brassicas - by mid
July the plants are skeletons with just stalks and eaten up roots.
Anyway, last year I decided to plant onions around my brassicas.
This year, I planted a row of onions around and in between the
cabbages. Not a single flea beetle problem, and though we always have severe
caterpillar damage, the white moths just hovered and never landed on the
cabbages, so we had lovely cabbages this year.
Turnips are a crop nobody is able to grow here due to the severe flea
beetle damage. We are surrounded by canola fields, which are guaranteed to
be infested with flea beetles. After eating off canola, they migrate
directly to our garden and feast off things like turnips, cabbage, lettuce,
spinach etc. This year I sacrificed more onions to completely surround the
turnip bed. They had gorgeous huge leaves and roots, whereas usually they
are skeletons with small 2 inch roots that are also eaten full of holes.
Around September some leaves started to be eaten, but very little, and we
left them in the ground till a few frosts and were able to harvest several
bushels of turnips. I don't know if this will help you at all, but we sure
are happy with it. I don't know if it was a good year for little bug damage,
or if the onions really were the help, but I plan on trying again next year
and adding cauliflower and broccoli back to our garden - we quit growing
because of bugs.
I don't know if anybody is in a similar zone or area, but I'd love some tips
on companion planting that work well for you.
While I am on the subject, I hope nobody minds me adding some other
tips and observations.
I find many things recommended in books just don't work when we apply
For example, peas and carrots never grow well for us - for that matter, peas
never do well for us unless they are in rows on their own.
Carrots and onions always do well for us. The bugs are repelled by the
onions planted around the carrot bed, and the carrots seem to be sweeter and
Corn with melons, squash, cucumber, or beans never do well, as they seem to
need the sun that the corn protects them from. Maybe if I planted the corn
further apart, the other things will get more sun. But one year I did try
planting it further apart and it didn't pollinate very well. How far apart
can they be planted and ensure good pollination? We have strong summer
winds, so I didn't think that would be a problem.
We grew squash, cucumbers and pumpkins on trellises this year, and though
the pumpkins did well, the cucumbers did not want to climb even with help -
yes, they were vining and not bush. Sure looked pretty in the fall to have
bright orange pumpkins hanging on the fence surrounding the garden!
Our lavender which is supposed to be an annual here, is 4 years old now and
has even survived being transplanted twice due to moves. It is two large
plants now and thrives just covered in straw mulch in the winter. Same with
thyme, marjoram, oregano (2 year old plant which was 5 foot round and 3 feet
high last year!), lemon balm and sage.
For a few years now we have planted potatoes 2-3 inches in the ground and
covered in grass cutting and straw mulch so only 6 inches of greenery ever
showed. This was an experiment due to being tired of weeding, constant
watering, and digging potatoes out of sun baked, rock hard soil. We have
only watered once since we started planting this way, and the weeds are no
longer a problem as they are under thick mulch. Harvest was easy and yield
comparable to normal methods. The ground the potatoes are planted in, is so
light and healthy after a few years, due to us not stepping in the plot till
harvest and the straw breaking down. We lose some to mice, so that has made
us hesitant to plant above the soil, but I will plant half under and half on
top this year.
After planting this way for a couple years, we began to wonder if the mulch
was helping with bug problems, as we used to have severe potato bugs. Also,
the weeds can be bad when using straw/hay mulch - only when you till the
straw in every year though - so, in 2001, my Mom decided to forgo the straw
mulch and plant potatoes the normal way. We had so many bugs we couldn't
keep on top of them, even picking by hand. The yield wasn't so great, and we
had to weed, water and hill constantly. This year we planted in mulch again
and not one bug was found, though every neighbor said it was a bad year for
I have tried square foot gardening or the Jeavons method, but my plants are
always so much bigger, that if they are planted according to their
recommendations, we get low yields due to overcrowding. Anybody else have
this problem? I often wonder how they get their tomatoes to fit one plant
per every square foot, as mine need several feet, even if I stake or cage
them. This last year we finally had to cut some plants and branches out, so
we'll plant according to what they need next year and not according to what
others get away with. It does make me wonder how people do it though. Only
onions and carrots work well when planted according to their spacing
Anyway, must go.
>About pests. If we sow any brassicas direct, it is almost certain that_________________________________________________________________
>plants are eaten by flea beetles (Phyllotrtea spp.) as soon as temperature
>is +20 C for one or two days. They can find even single plants among grass
>or carrots or whatever. I guess it's one of the major pests. So far we have
>managed with them by using thin gauze?? cover on plants.
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- Heather.........I am a bit behind in reading my mail...........but I wanted to tell you that here in NorthCentral Texas, US, where I live the local organic gardening guru has been talking a bit on his radio show that he has noticed that even plant that should not survive our winters are surviving in his yard. This includes things like Bay Laurel, and a lemon tree. He has been on an organic program about 10 years......not really positive about that.
Another thing he has been mentioning is that he has noticed that since his yard has been totally organic now for a while he has few pests........and no fire ants, the scourge of Southern gardening anymore.
My hunch is that with Natural Farming we will all see one day that we have fewer pest problems, and that things will be surviving that should be only annuals in our areas. It is probable that many plant species would perform differently if they had back the atmosphere they were meant to be growing in by the one who created them. I think it isn't just the health of the soil that we will all find is so important......it is also the total environment. That is why Fukuoka's ideas appeal to me so much. I think he is right that by trying to do a better job than Nature did interferred with what made the plants happy to grow and thrive.
You are creating the environment that makes those potatoes tickled pink.....and the pests that prey on them to seek other.........less desirable for potato........areas to feast. I suspect that naturally occuring microscopic insects are most likely happy to be living in your mulched potatoes vicinity that are natural deterrents to the flea beetles. Congratulations on a job well done.
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