Tag Archives: pest control

Experimentation in Compost Tea

In Steve Solomon’s book “Gardening When it Counts” he shows a very simple recipe for compost tea.  Take a shovel of compost, throw into a bucket and then fill with water.  Stir daily and then apply to the garden after one week.

We’re giving it a go here on our homestead.

Compost tea is a great, natural fertilizer.  Ben Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  That applies in this case because compost tea is a superfood for plants.  Healthy plants grow strong and provide more nutritious food for us humans to eat.  Healthy plants are also better resistant to drought, insects and other problems.

This reminds me of an interesting story my boss at work told me.  The 2011 growing season was a bad one for apricots at the farm where I work.  A lot of preventative work had been done using organically certified fertilizers, fungicides and pest controls.  About the time the crop should have been ready to harvest (the trees were almost bare) my boss looked across the fence.  A neighbor had a few acres of apricots and they had been badly neglected for years.  No pruning, fertilization, or even watering was done.  Those trees were absolutely loaded with fruit!  It was as if mother nature was saying “you can’t outsmart me!”  Needless to say, we made drastic changes for the 2012 growing season.  We’re not doing anything but applying compost tea (a much more technical recipe and process to brew that what I’ve described above, however) through the foliar sprayer.  Guess what?  Now our trees are loaded with fruit!

Here’s to a successful 2012 growing season!

Thanks, Robert.

Fleas in the homestead

Fleas!  Yup we’ve got ’em.  We discovered about a week after moving in that one of the rooms in our house had a flea problem.  And it wasn’t from our dogs, they seem fine and they aren’t allowed in the bedrooms.  I gave them each a good bath though, just to be safe.

So what do you do, especially if you ‘re a hippie like us and refuse to use those highly effective but dangerous aerosol flea bombs?  For the record, a friend who spent some time working at the CDC told us the flea bombs are very dangerous and that young children have died from being exposed to the powder that comes from them.

There are a few ways of dealing with this naturally.

Vacuuming – Courtney read that fleas are activated and hatch when they sense heat and vibrations.  Since we moved in, we’ve kept the thermostat higher than it was while the house was vacant, and simply being in those rooms probably causes enough vibration to bring the fleas out of their eggs.  A vacuum cleaner causes plenty of vibration.  Running that baby today will cause a large hatch over the next few days.  So the idea is to vacuum every day for 21 to 30 days or so and you will capture the entire life cycle of the fleas and then be flea free.

That seemed like a lot of work to us.

Then we learned about borax.  Sprinkling borax around the edges of your room(s) will kill the fleas in any stage of life.  Let it sit for a day and then vacuum it up and you should be rid of them.  We did that and let it sit for four days.

Diatomaceous earth is another chemical free option, but it must be combined with vacuuming and be reapplied after each vacuum session.  The diatomaceous earth is a powder with very sharp edges and cuts the fleas as they move past it and then they die.  It would be the equivalent to us humans of taking a bunch of broken glass and spreading it all over the floor and having to walk barefoot.  I also spread diatomaceous earth everywhere along with the borax.

We’ve done the final vacuuming and moved the furniture back into that room.  Neither Courtney nor I have seen any signs of fleas in the past week, so we count this treatment as a success and give it our highest recommendation.

Thanks, Robert.