North Gate Farm News
Well, it’s been a long while since my last post! The last two months have been a whirlwind of adjustments and adaptation to the new place, wherever it may be that you find yourself now standing.
From that central point within, get rooted into being alive because the world is only becoming more chaotic during this grand cosmic transition.
This is a personal journey for each individual’s experience, none the less “we” are on this planet and have relationships with each other.
Welcome to this tiny space on the internet where I will be sharing with you a window into the world as I perceive it to be. It doesn’t make it the right way for you, but it is Truth that I am speaking with integrity from the heart.
Encouragement to beginner gardener-farmer-homesteaders
If you are just starting out with gardening and have found that things don’t always grow the way you expect them to and maybe you’re thinking that you might not have a “green thumb” … be gentle with yourself! I understand the emotional bond between you and that seed you planted and nurtured into the garden only to be devoured by a swath of hungry insects, or the tomato plants that were doing just fine and now are looking sickly.
These events happen so that you can learn about how to preemptively manage outcomes.
Be encouraged in knowing that you can reap great rewards from gardening as long as you continue to let Nature teach you. The process of learning is seemingly limitless, so take a deep breath, there is no end to knowledge and wisdom. Grab some books, do some research, talk to your neighbors. Realize that there will be moments of total loss and total abundance.
Something to keep in mind is that gardening and farming is represented in the world of media as a fairytale lifestyle. The picture perfect artistically stylized layout is deceptive in that only a specific type of beauty is being portrayed. There are few photos or articles about the tragedy and hardship, which is therefore lacking in representing resilience, diligence, and honest truths when it comes to producing quality food for the table or market. So often I have witnessed the enthusiasm of farming wane as summer kicks in with its first heat wave. Just do a little bit every day and eventually order will emerge as a promising foundation for a lifetime commitment.
Reinforce the intended purpose of overarching aspirations to energize the power of will and meaning.
Just keep planting seeds!
The more you plant and experiment, the more you will learn about your micro-climate, soil structure, cyclic seasonal changes, and what different plants want for optimal growth.
Pests & Disease
When you see a plant that is not thriving, analyze the scene. There are so many different reasons it could be suffering but generally there are clues. Remember, plants are similar to humans in that the more holistically healthy, the stronger the immune system, resilience and vitality.
I had cucumber beetles first thing on all the radishes, turnips and squash. I ended up using a variety of methods but the one that finally worked was pyrethrin spray. The annual aphid infestation appears to be partly caused by my tendency to let the fall kale and broccoli plants go to seed. They colonize the plants and it’s really difficult to manage because I let too many of them stay in the ground. Now that I’m saving the seed, I realize you don’t need many plants to provide enough stock to replant and use for microgreens.
The other major bug issue we had to deal with was flea beetles on the tomatillos.
They make little holes in all the leaves and can cause a lot of damage if not stopped. Again, pyrethrin was a winner. It’s non-toxic to humans, derived from chrysanthemum plants and kills on contact. It’s important to use different types of sprays and soil drenches because they work for an assortment of pests. Of course, my long-term plan is to not need to spray for bugs because the balance in soil microbes has been achieved. I’m still dialing this in and have every intention for our farm to be biologically diverse and fertile.
Temperature Flux into Heat
Summer heat waves are a potential stressful period where extra care should be given to protect plants, animals and people. I use mulch to keep the topsoil from drying out too quickly. Tomatoes especially love deep bedding mulch, I guess it raises the humidity and provides a barrier between soil and foliage. Squash, melons and cucumbers also benefit from laying down some mulch. You can use dried grass clippings, hay or straw. I like to use alfalfa for the extra nitrogen it provides the soil, plus there are very little seed heads unlike most grass hay. If you have access to cardboard (without tape, ink, or shiny coating) this makes a good sublayer before you put the mulch material on top. I have used this technique in the walkways also and it has really helped keep the weeds and grass from taking over.
You could also use shade cloth to cover the more heat sensitive plants. Another method is to plan your garden so that tall plants will provide shade during the peak heat of the day.
To stay cool while working in the garden, I like to wear a wetted shawl over my shoulders or around my neck. Sometimes I will even put it over my sunhat. I always have an iced water cooler with a bit of Redmond Real Salt mixed in. It is extremely important to get enough salt and water, especially if you are exerting and sweating. Of course, always have plenty of water and shade for animals to get out of the heat. You could wet the ground, and this will help with cooling the temperature. Lay low in the shade preferably by water, just like the animals do.
Relax & Be in Nature
There is a distinct intensity to the summer season that can feel exhilarating and yet exhausting. The days are long and farm chores that have been in high gear since early Spring are cruising for a moment before the big harvests start to come in. I’ve been enjoying some Creekside time! A great way to let down into relaxation and lower your core body temperature on a hot summer’s day.
The dragonfly pictured below was the largest one I’ve ever seen. It was resting on this leaf as if it was just getting ready for its first flight. It was kind enough to let us get a really close look at its impressive flight design.
There will always be challenges along with opportunities to learn.
The beauty of gardening is that you can do it at any age and time of your life. If you are overwhelmed, take smaller steps and focus on what is realistic for where you are right now.
Slow and steady micro steps can lead to big gains and abundant rewards.