Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Wonders of Milk

I have been very busy living instead of writing about it, but I feel guilty never getting a post up. So here goes- no pictures.

I have been following nutrient dense practices in the garden, but I ran out of my complete feed and I haven't taken the time to make more. So, for my weekly foliar spray, I've been using a dilution of raw milk. I have seen this spray repeatedly knock back cucumber beetles and I have been having tremendous success against potato beetles.

Maybe you remember how I have spent many months of the summer killing potato beetles and stinking of that unique squashed potato beetle smell. Last summer, I watched the cucumber beetles and squash bugs take my winter squash to the ground. This year, I am seeing these same garden pests, but they are not taking over the way they have in the past.

The idea with nutrient dense techniques is that healthy plants are not digestible to invertebrates. If they are quite healthy, even fungi, like blight, will have trouble taking them down. I am trying to give my plants a boost instead of spraying poison. I did spray poison once last year, spinosad, and it was remarkable. My potato beds were filled with dead potato bugs and larvae. However, it was also distressing; I mean, what was I feeding myself that could do that to those bugs.

The milk is not killing the bugs; it just seems to make my plants less appealing. It's just milk; I feel no qualms sending the kids out to spray it. I have no worries when I spray it on tomatoes that I should be very careful about washing the fruit before I eat it. When I've sprayed the radishes, I can still just grab one and eat it.

Check into the ideas behind nutrient dense techniques. They are logical and harmless and maybe a way to feed ourselves in a way that respects the plant and soil more.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Chauffeur Years

That's what a childless friend called our current era of parenting. This past couple of weeks we have been very busy shuffling children from one place to another, cramming in an hour or two of gardening and animal management when we could. This past weekend, everyone had recitals, and now we're officially into summer.

The cows are doing well. The calves are nursing twice a day, and Violet is on pasture for the most part. A couple of times, we've left the calves with Violet overnight so that we didn't have to milk in the morning. This is a luxury of unweaned calves, but it does make Violet grumpy the next morning when we do milk.

All three of them look better, though Violet's patties have been very loose. I've tried giving her only hay at night, but she just doesn't really eat until she gets back on pasture. And boy- our pasture looks like another world relative to what it looked like even last year. The grass is boot high in places, and even the weeds look healthy.