Friends, join us at Coastal Bend Health Foods this Saturday, May 5, from 11:00am to noon, for the last meeting of our Spring Gardening Series. We will recap highlights of our gardening program and address any problems you may be having in your garden. Also, we will provide you with the resources, literature, local authorities, and on-line support to enable you to continue to grow vegetables and herbs free of chemicals.
Our Methods Put to the Test this Season
This growing season, we have experienced endless challenges in our gardens. Every caterpillar known to science has attacked our plants. Gophers, cut ants, squirrels, raccoons, deer, grasshoppers, aphids, spider mites, stink bugs, on and on, every type of garden pest in this area, has been active in our crops. We even had a tornado pass over the farm and play havoc with our corn stalks. Worst of all, our spring weather only lasted a few days. The oppressive heat of summer kicked in early this year to begin the slow burn on our gardens.
Methods that Work
Despite the relentless attacks on our gardens, we have hardly lost a plant this season. For every problem we encountered, our program provided a solution–completely without the use of chemicals.
In our gardening talks, we demonstrated the paramount importance of maintaining healthy soil. Healthy soil, well mulched, watered appropriately, and fertilized effectively, is the best possible pesticide. When our gardens were attacked, the natural health of the plants resisted disease and bug damage, and gave us time to control for specific pests. The lacewings and trichogamma wasps we seeded into the garden matured into voracious pest-eating machines. Our native lizards, ladybugs, wasps, dragonflies, birds, frogs, toads, and other beneficial predators have been hard at work cleansing our gardens of pests.
I am convinced, now more than ever, that if we had used a chemical program, our gardens would have failed this spring. First, we could not possibly afford to buy all the chemicals required to fight the problems we faced. Second, I have been far too busy this growing season to apply chemicals, and still get all my work done. And finally, even if the chemicals killed some of the bad bugs, they would also have killed the beneficial predators, diminished the soil health, and simply made matters worse.
We spent less time, less money, and less labor using our methods, than if we had used a chemical program. And best of all, we are now enjoying a stunning harvest of the most healthy and delicious produce in town, completely free of chemicals.
Companion Planting for a Summer Harvest
We are currently harvesting yellow squash, dark green and striped zucchini, ripe red tomatoes, along with our carrots, kohl rabi, and collards. We will soon begin to harvest beans, sweet and hot peppers, and eggplant, and a little later we will pick our sweet corn, winter squash, melons, and okra.
By inter-planting, or companion planting, our tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and okra into shared space with our mature winter vegetables, we have been able to continue to harvest our carrots, collards, kolh rabi, and etc., throughout the summer, until they are sold out, and still provide summer produce.
Our Tres Hermanas (corn, beans, and squash) gardens are extremely prolific this year. The Tres Hermanas gardens continue to increase in productivity with each successive planting. The bean vines growing up the corn stalks stabilized them and held them in place when the tornado passed over. Companion planting is the only reason our corn survived the direct 70 mph or greater winds from the tornado.
Recap of Program
This Saturday, we will provide a general recap and offer detailed resources around each of the following topics:
Focusing on Healthy Soil
Growing Tomatoes in Rockport
Tres Hermanas and Other Companion Vegetables
Easy and Powerful Homemade Fertilizer
Watering the Garden
Chemical-Free Pest Control: Beneficial and Bad Predators
Mulching, Compost, and Native Resources