Tag Archives: organic farming

Disease-Resistance Key to Success

When it comes to fruit trees, I have always put disease-resistance as a top priority. Here are two peach trees planted four metres apart.

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The left-hand one is not particularly disease-resistant. I think it was given to us four years ago and I cannot recall the variety. You can see it is suffering from curly leaf, which reduces photosynthesis and overall vigour.

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The right-hand one is a Black Boy peach. We have grown them for eight years and have never had curly leaf. When growing organically, it helps to have cultivars that are less vulnerable to plant diseases.

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Plums, like the one pictured below, seem to be highly disease-resistant.

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We have eight different varieties and have never had any problem with disease.

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Plums are nice, but I do like peaches more. We have about 30 Black Boy peach trees in the ground that produce deep purple fruits.

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We propagate them from the stones and sell them locally to those interested in low-maintenance, beautiful peaches.

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We also grow disease-resistant apples. Apple varieties reported to have higher resistance include: Liberty, Monty’s Surprise, Belle de Boskoop, Peasgood Nonsuch, Priscilla, Akane, Captain Kidd, Lobo, and Reinette du Thorn.

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Avocados are another story entirely. They are known to resent wet feet and suffer from phytophthora root rot. Soil conditions and/or mounding and drainage seem to be the most important factors for preventing stress in avos. Those shown below are stressed from being in pots to two years (a long story), but you can see the new growth forming at the tips. We planted them last autumn in a area with free draining soil, but also added small mounds and drains to be extra safe.

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The avos below come from the same order three years ago but went in the ground straight away.

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Peace, Estwing

Estwing

Zero Tolerance Weeds

I have been farming and/or market gardening for nearly two decades. One of the first lessons I learned (the hard way) was the importance of proactive weed management. Bind weed (convolvulus) made its way onto my land (New Hampshire, USA) in a load of organic matter meant for composting.

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On a tour of another small organic farm in Keene, New Hampshire, I observed first hand how it can take over entire fields of vegetable plants. Scary stuff.

Yesterday while top-feeding some transplanted feijoa trees I recognised the familiar pattern I had come to loath.

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I dug it up as best I could to get as much of the root as possible.

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I don’t believe in putting weeds and diseased plants in plastic rubbish bags and sending them to landfill as is often recommended – I just can’t do it. So I put the convolvulus in the solar dehydrator, which we are not actively using at the moment but will be using in another months time.

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The hot, dry air inside the dehydrator will dry out and completely kill the weed. Then I’ll probably put it on an iron shed roof for the rest of the hot summer. No Mercy for invasive weeds.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keeping weeds off your farm with a Zero Tolerance policy early on will pay off in the long run.

 

Peace Estwing

Late Summer Permaculture Update II

Summer is always a busy time of year – made busier by a drought. Thankfully we have had nine amazing interns on the farm over the last four months.

After a hot and dry summer we’ve gotten a good soaking rain – about 60 mm over three days. Enough to dampen the soil and plant a winter crop of leeks.

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And also to prep a new annual bed and soak the compost piles through.

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Strawberries and yakon are responding to the rain.

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Some pumpkins have been harvested and are curing on the edge of the stone driveway.

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There are more ‘winter squash’ among the second planting of tomatoes.

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The third planting of tomatoes is starting to take off.

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We’ve been drying chilis on the solar dehydrator. These will be the next batch to be harvested.

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The beans are going gangbusters even through this trellis has been knocked over twice by severe winds.

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And finally, to bookend our summer the first lot of ducklings are nearly full-grown…

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…while the last lot of ducklings has just hatched.

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Looking forward to a slower autumn.

 

Peace, Estwing