As organic producers, we try to mimic nature in order to grow food with a minimum of external inputs. If we plan to mimic nature, we need to understand as much about the biology of plants and ecological systems as we can. The following introduction may be a review for some, but it will hopefully give new producers an understanding of seed and seedling biology and a framework for analyzing cultural practices for producing healthy seedlings.
Potting mixes should support developing seedlings. Most potting mixes are soilless to avoid soilborne diseases and promote good drainage. A mix of peat moss, vermiculite or perlite, and compost or organic fertilizers can provide a suitable environment with sufficient water-holding capacity, nutrient content, and aeration for plant growth and development. However, because organic nutrients are supplied slowly over time, meeting seedling nutrient needs can be difficult. This fact sheet outlines basic recipes for potting media and research on organic transplant production.
I like to do my initial crop plan in the winter. Planning takes time. It may be a part of farming that many of us avoid. But I find that having a good plan laid out in an easy-to-read map makes it possible to quickly do what needs to be done during the season, know what my contingency plans are, and avoid the major problems with pests, weeds, and fertility that are more common with haphazard plantings.
What is a plant disease? A plant disease is a dynamic process where a living or nonliving entity interferes with the normal functions of a plant over a period of time. Things that happen just once, like lawnmower blight or lightning strikes, are not considered diseases, but rather injuries. Plant diseases result in visible symptoms that can help diagnose the disease or disorder.
Something is wrong with your plant. What is the cause? Don’t assume you know the answer and accidently treat for the wrong problem. Use this step-by-step method to narrow down the possibilities, but don’t forget to ask the experts, if you need to.
In order for a plant to become diseased, three conditions must be present: (1) a pathogen, (2) a favorable environment where the pathogen can thrive, and (3) a susceptible host. All the strategies we use to manage plant diseases work to remove or limit one of these factors, thus breaking the plant disease triangle.
Successful weed management can make or break a new organic farm. These steps will help you get the upper hand on weeds.
Figure out which strategies and what equipment fit with your scale, your finances, and your style with this overview.
Packable tomato yields of #20 plus pounds per plant are readily attainable by growers willing to focus on production details. However, fruit cracks, shoulder checks, radial cracking, and blossom-end rot are all serious defects in tomato fruit which in turn will result in serious losses in the quantity of marketable fruit.