3

votes

Gardening Hacks for the paleo beginner?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 21, 2011 at 10:56 PM

So what are your best hacks for Paleo Gardening? How do you keep critters and pests out of your future bounty? I live in the Stockton area of the central valley in California.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 23, 2011
at 03:38 PM

@Loon...you are officially the ONLY person I have seen that is so vehemently against this type of gardening. The only negative responses I have heard about this book is from very experienced gardeners that actually enjoy more variety/challenge, or that it is a bit more expensive to start this way. But hey I've done it this way for five years with no pest problems and good yields. Have you read the book? "OK for zone 4" doesn't make sense to me. You still need to find out when to plant what, this is just a method of planting.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 23, 2011
at 05:16 AM

Some Italian friends actually did get a deer in my garden a long time ago- using a bow and arrow. Silent and effective.

C5c3a1fb34a486366e45afbb5eaaca05

(453)

on August 22, 2011
at 09:51 PM

It's quite paleo to put the woodchuck in a stew as well.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on August 22, 2011
at 07:29 PM

It certainly would be paleo to eat the deer, but might be tricky due to your local ordinances. I'll bet your neighbors won't tell on you if one happens to accidentally land on your grill.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on August 22, 2011
at 07:24 PM

Well, my N=20-30 says it's POS, but I guess it would be OK in zone 4.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on August 22, 2011
at 07:23 PM

..and I would agree that Stockton is a lovely place if you want to get good advice from Davis. Otherwise...... (I do grow a lovely Stockton red onion every year even though I don't live there.)

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on August 22, 2011
at 07:21 PM

@scrubjay, I thought your point is that they all had a conventional approach.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 11:37 AM

They come with a boatload of preconceptions that may or may not make sense. People like Scrubjay volunteering are in most areas unusual and wonderful to work with. MGs with that kind of background are prized indeed. In general I would say check with your agent, check cautiously with your MGs and get to know which you can work with. Even if your own particular agent is a pesticide freak (these really are a dying breed), they are going to be the best place to get an accurate diagnosis. That is where it all starts - you need to know for sure what the real problem is.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 11:32 AM

more positive towards organic and sustainable. Once you hit the west coast or New England, agents will strongly encourage organic/sustainable. Even in SC we started off explaining how to do sustainable/non-chem and only gave pesticide recs (with caveats) when insisted on. (on the other hand - organic peaches in SC? OMG - I tried to steer my "customers" to organic friendly fruits instead) MGs are another unpredictable matter. Remember that most have only 40-50 hours of training and don't come with a farming background or other prior expert life sciences/ag/horticulture background.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 11:26 AM

Yes, it really does depend a lot on the agent, but I think you are underestimating most agents. In some areas (SC for instance, where I used to work) there is a high demand for the quick pesticide fix (from the gardeners). Agents may in those cases assume that a gardener/farmer there wants conventional advice. Nonetheless, most will try to take them down and IPM solution route, and most will avoid the quick pesticide fix for home gardeners. If you tell an agent that you want to do organic, most will be VERY happy to work with you. This is my experience in SC! In VA & MD it's generally even

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 22, 2011
at 05:59 AM

Well if deer jump over the wire it would be 'paleo' to eat the deer.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 22, 2011
at 05:51 AM

Don't you just hate to waste the beer? LOL

91fe5b7e10068df9f147ee84320e38f7

(614)

on August 22, 2011
at 03:03 AM

LOL, wish I had seen the edit earlier. Stockton! Yes, as Karen said, you'll be able to get quality info from UC Davis' extension site. Earning a 2nd degree in Sust. Ag. there. Enjoy Stockton, man, lovely...!

91fe5b7e10068df9f147ee84320e38f7

(614)

on August 22, 2011
at 02:46 AM

Thanks, Karen, for posting a more thorough answer! (Admittedly...I was so enthused by the topic, but was at the time throwing a grass-fed flat-iron on the grill (major splurge!) and doing dinner. Noob here :-)

91fe5b7e10068df9f147ee84320e38f7

(614)

on August 22, 2011
at 02:28 AM

@ Loon, that was my point; and/ but not all of them. Some of us are trained/ have lived/ grown in microclimates for decades. I'm sure Caveman has the critical thinking skills to discern what is what; I was just pointing out that he may run into some CW when it comes to gardening.

91fe5b7e10068df9f147ee84320e38f7

(614)

on August 22, 2011
at 02:26 AM

@Loon, Disagree. The whole point of the book is to figure out how you can maximize your space. Yes, you do need regional books, but this is a great starter book.(I've been a Master Gardener for 20 + years and am living in Zone 4 as of late.)

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on August 22, 2011
at 02:16 AM

Karen and othrs, MMV on the extension and master gardener people. I know in my area, they are essential useless. If you live in area with consistent climate and soil features, they are better. In my area, microclimates abound, and these folks are essentially useless unless they live and farm right in the area.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on August 22, 2011
at 01:42 AM

just about the worst book ever! Go with the book that suits your region instead, and plant what you will eat, not how much they tell you to

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 01:15 AM

I envy you your lack of woodchuck aka groundhog damage. Evil things have a decided love of all cabbage family crops and many others in my experience. And they're hard to get rid of and lots of digging to lay L shaped fence.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 01:13 AM

My main point was that there isn't a one size fits all solution to critter control. For wildlife pest problems a great resource is http://icwdm.org/

C5c3a1fb34a486366e45afbb5eaaca05

(453)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:49 AM

I recently had a small garden in NH where woodchucks were rampant. We never had issues. You can also curve the bottom of the wire out and plant it a foot or so deep in the ground if they really become an issue. A watchful eye on the deer could provide a good bit of jerky...

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:48 AM

+1 "Healthy soil is the key to healthy plants." Absolutely. Build your soil with organic matter (compost etc), make sure the pH is in the right range for your crops, make sure there is a good environment for all the beneficial critters from micro-organisams to earthworms to the good insects and a lot of your work will be done.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:43 AM

it covers all the other possibilities from variety selection to planting timing to exclusion (nets, fences, row cover etc) and bases control/management on knowledge of the life cycle of the crop and pest. Just leave our the pesticides and you're looking at organic plus. I've met lots of the dinosaurs, but the attitude really has changed immensely at the county agent level. Most agents now are really, REALLY happy to work with people who don't want to kill, Kill, KILL anything that moves in the garden.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:42 AM

(deleted inappropriate opinionated comment) The best way to get experienced garden advice would be to talk to a consumer horticulture agent. A lot more agents are organic friendly these days - just let them know going in that is what you want. Most at least have very good training in IPM (integrated pest management). IPM can include pesticides, but that is seen as last resort. IMO they aren't appropriate in home gardening (some very low tox exceptions). The beauty of IPM is that.. – Karen 4 mins ago

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:40 AM

it covers all the other possibilities from variety selection to planting timing to exclusion (nets, fences, row cover etc) and bases control/management on knowledge of the life cycle of the crop and pest. Just leave our the pesticides and you're looking at organic plus. I've met lots of the dinosaurs, but the attitude really has changed immensely at the county agent level. Most agents now are really, REALLY happy to work with people who don't want to kill, Kill, KILL anything that moves in the garden.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:35 AM

Yeah, I'd skip the MG's. Many of them believe that they know far, far more than they do. 40 to 50 hours training versus degree(s) plus lots of experience for (most) agents. The best would be to talk to a consumer horticulture agent. A lot more agents are organic friendly these days - just let them know going in that is what you want. Most at least have very good training in IPM (integrated pest management). IPM can include pesticides, but that is seen as last resort. IMO they aren't appropriate in home gardening (some very low tox exceptions). The beauty of IPM is that..

91fe5b7e10068df9f147ee84320e38f7

(614)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:28 AM

+1 Karen. Hopefully, he lives in an area w/ 'good' (for lack of a a better word) extension personnel. Too many of them, in my experience (Master Gardener/ organic farmer for 30 years)are trained in USDA corporate interest-style gardening.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:28 AM

Depends on the pest. Deer will just hop over the chicken wire. Groundhogs will burrow under.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:26 AM

If you tell us where you are and what problems, I may be able to point you towards more specific resources.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:24 AM

A good resource is this one - http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/GARDEN/veggies.html This is from California and may need adjustment for your locale. The most important thing to start with is correct ID of the problem - ask for help with this from an experienced and knowledgeable gardener or horticulturist.

91fe5b7e10068df9f147ee84320e38f7

(614)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:23 AM

Slugs love beer - beer traps in the strawberry patch (and other areas) work really well. Shallow bowl/ vessel + cheap/ bottom of the bottle- beer = no more slugs. :-)

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:17 AM

There is no one size fit's all answer. Lot's of factors including your location (state, country, urban or rural), the pest/critters if you know them, damage and other symptoms if you don't, what veg are showing damage, etc. If you are in the US, a great gardening resource is your state or county cooperative extension office. Just tell them that you are an organic gardener to get the advice you want. http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

91fe5b7e10068df9f147ee84320e38f7

(614)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:05 AM

Recommend also, absolutely.

467e8b0360bfdeb6493581eaf24e0ad4

(60)

on August 21, 2011
at 11:14 PM

We're relying on my sister, the ultimate gardener-geek, for all garden-related info. No time or interest for reading gardening books and my experience with sisters (especially older ones) is they love to give advice! So it's a win-win situation: she gets to tell me what to do (her favorite pass-time besides gardening) and we get to maybe bypass all the problems that beginning gardeners have. No bossy sister to ask? How about a neighbor or co-worker? I don't actually have any gardening advice to pass on to you as we have not yet planted our garden -- that's the project for next year.

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6 Answers

2
967229edcc94a66580110324524feb49

(688)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:16 AM

I use a natural pesticide when I had a aphid attack called Neem oil. I don't like to do this but it was a pretty extreme infestation.

For broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and other leafy greens I make daily jaunts to check the leaves for green worms and pick them off by hand.

Corn - Drip some mineral oil in the top to keep away worms.

Realize that home grown produce isn't always picture perfect.

I cut around bad parts of radishes and other veggies when they have been dinged by some bug or critter- it's no big deal.

Also grow enough that you can share a little. I let the slugs have their icky way with my strawberries that touch the ground. And I get the ones that hang higher ( sometimes I get lucky and get a ground strawberry). Its better than tearing your hairout over slugs, which out number you hands down.

Lastly also plant some spicy peppers and intermingle them. I've found a couple half bitten peppers chucked accross the yard but the other plants seem okay :)

91fe5b7e10068df9f147ee84320e38f7

(614)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:23 AM

Slugs love beer - beer traps in the strawberry patch (and other areas) work really well. Shallow bowl/ vessel + cheap/ bottom of the bottle- beer = no more slugs. :-)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 22, 2011
at 05:51 AM

Don't you just hate to waste the beer? LOL

2
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 21, 2011
at 11:58 PM

I like square foot gardening for a starter method. Easy to implement, easy to maintain, and your not likely to "overdo" it if your just out of the gate and getting your start as a gardener. Look for the book All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew for easy step by step instructions.

91fe5b7e10068df9f147ee84320e38f7

(614)

on August 22, 2011
at 02:26 AM

@Loon, Disagree. The whole point of the book is to figure out how you can maximize your space. Yes, you do need regional books, but this is a great starter book.(I've been a Master Gardener for 20 + years and am living in Zone 4 as of late.)

91fe5b7e10068df9f147ee84320e38f7

(614)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:05 AM

Recommend also, absolutely.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on August 22, 2011
at 01:42 AM

just about the worst book ever! Go with the book that suits your region instead, and plant what you will eat, not how much they tell you to

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on August 22, 2011
at 07:24 PM

Well, my N=20-30 says it's POS, but I guess it would be OK in zone 4.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 23, 2011
at 03:38 PM

@Loon...you are officially the ONLY person I have seen that is so vehemently against this type of gardening. The only negative responses I have heard about this book is from very experienced gardeners that actually enjoy more variety/challenge, or that it is a bit more expensive to start this way. But hey I've done it this way for five years with no pest problems and good yields. Have you read the book? "OK for zone 4" doesn't make sense to me. You still need to find out when to plant what, this is just a method of planting.

2
91fe5b7e10068df9f147ee84320e38f7

on August 21, 2011
at 11:48 PM

Short answer -- it depends on what crops you're growing and what your potential pests are for specific answers. But -- a couple of basic things:

Healthy soil is the key to healthy plants. Many insect pests only attack plants that are not in good health. (Kind of like our bodies, no?) Suggest looking up optimal soil conditions/ nutrients for the crops you are growing.

So, healthy soil is not only good for the plant (and healthy soil also = nutrient dense= nutrient dense food) but it serves as a preventative. I'm assuming you're referring to organic solutions, so along that line -- also suggest looking up "companion planting." There are many herbs and vegetables, that, grown together, provide optimal growing conditions AND pest control. Enviro-friendly physical barriers are also good for dealing with birds, deer, etc.

But again, it's hard to say more without knowing what you're growing. Growing your own food = awesome!

91fe5b7e10068df9f147ee84320e38f7

(614)

on August 22, 2011
at 02:46 AM

Thanks, Karen, for posting a more thorough answer! (Admittedly...I was so enthused by the topic, but was at the time throwing a grass-fed flat-iron on the grill (major splurge!) and doing dinner. Noob here :-)

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:48 AM

+1 "Healthy soil is the key to healthy plants." Absolutely. Build your soil with organic matter (compost etc), make sure the pH is in the right range for your crops, make sure there is a good environment for all the beneficial critters from micro-organisams to earthworms to the good insects and a lot of your work will be done.

1
8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on August 22, 2011
at 02:07 AM

I grow almost all my own plant food with no sprays or chemicals, not even organic-approved, and the way I keep others away from the bounty is to customize for each location and situation. The first thing is to determine what pests you have and then tailor your approach to that. For example, rabbits are easy to keep out through cheap and low fencing. You'll have to be more clever for squirrels and rats, sometimes even resorting to traps or sturdy wire coverings they can't chew through. Gophers and other burrowing animals are easier, since their activity pattern is easily disrupted by underground containers and they are dumb enough to trap once you get a rhythm going. For ground squirrels, you might have to get a squirrelinator, worth its weight in gold if this animal is a problem in your area. Insect control is usually a bit easier. The easiest thing is to plant a landscape that will attract predators. For example, if you plant flowering umbrels, they will provide a habitat for ladybugs and you will almost never have an unmanageable aphid problem. If you provide perches and water for birds, or leave your tomato cages up, the birds will visit often and eat many bugs. Next, arm yourself by learning about the different life cycles of the insects you do have. Learn how to find eggs, destroy their nesting and over-wintering sites, and don't be squeamish about picking them off with your fingers. Snails, slugs, tomato hornworms, grasshoppers and cabbage moths are usually kept very manageable by this technique. You might have to resort to row covers for certain plants at certain times of the year. Don't horse around with berries, just spring for the nets and put them on at the right time. There are just some plants I don't try to grow anymore, and have found substitutions that aren't attacked so easily. Susceptible plants can also be grown as trap crops, keeping all the pests drawn to one area and then dealt with.
Keep something growing in your garden all the time. A lush and varied garden is always better for pests that one lone variety. Think "if you build it they will come" for your predators, and then you just have to sit back and let them do all the heavy lifting. I would keep dogs out since a good hawk or possum can do wonders for your pest population. If you have larger critters like deer or raccoons, a large dog is handy. The other thing to do is to not be so picky about your food. I have washed off plenty of aphids, cut around the part of a tomato that a rat has sampled, and tried to pick off slugs and snails. Sometimes I don't get them all. Slugs aren't tasty, but they haven't killed me yet. Aphids actually taste OK, kind of like fish sauce.

1
5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 01:25 AM

Given what my pet/companion animal/evil predator/7 pounds of terror has been up to this evening (discovered after searching for that squeaking noise outside my window) I'd suggest the classic control for many small wildlife pests - a good hunting cat. Several more baby bunnies have bit the dust.

0
C5c3a1fb34a486366e45afbb5eaaca05

on August 21, 2011
at 11:48 PM

I'm a crap gardener, but as far as keeping critters out... just get some chicken wire and a few posts to put around the garden. Should be a one morning job at most.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 01:15 AM

I envy you your lack of woodchuck aka groundhog damage. Evil things have a decided love of all cabbage family crops and many others in my experience. And they're hard to get rid of and lots of digging to lay L shaped fence.

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on August 22, 2011
at 07:29 PM

It certainly would be paleo to eat the deer, but might be tricky due to your local ordinances. I'll bet your neighbors won't tell on you if one happens to accidentally land on your grill.

C5c3a1fb34a486366e45afbb5eaaca05

(453)

on August 22, 2011
at 09:51 PM

It's quite paleo to put the woodchuck in a stew as well.

C5c3a1fb34a486366e45afbb5eaaca05

(453)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:49 AM

I recently had a small garden in NH where woodchucks were rampant. We never had issues. You can also curve the bottom of the wire out and plant it a foot or so deep in the ground if they really become an issue. A watchful eye on the deer could provide a good bit of jerky...

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 01:13 AM

My main point was that there isn't a one size fits all solution to critter control. For wildlife pest problems a great resource is http://icwdm.org/

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 22, 2011
at 12:28 AM

Depends on the pest. Deer will just hop over the chicken wire. Groundhogs will burrow under.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 22, 2011
at 05:59 AM

Well if deer jump over the wire it would be 'paleo' to eat the deer.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 23, 2011
at 05:16 AM

Some Italian friends actually did get a deer in my garden a long time ago- using a bow and arrow. Silent and effective.

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