Harvest of fruits in the orchard
This is the most grateful task of the work in the garden, but you have to know how to get the point and choose the best time to collect.
The crops in which we obtain fruits, the appropriate moment can be when they are mature, as the tomato when it turns red. However, cucumbers and courgettes must be harvested before they ripen and form the seed.
Most leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach, chard) will allow us to cut leaves as we need without having to pull them out, so if we are consuming according to our demand, the crop will last longer.
Also, with garlic and onions, we will have a harvest of tender if we collect it before and dry if we leave them longer.
Starting from the premise that we want to practice agriculture as ecological as possible, the first thing we have to understand is that in our crops will appear all kinds of insects and other organisms, which will form the “micro-ecosystem” in which will become our urban garden.
This is a good thing. We should not pretend to have an aseptic space. The more varied is the biodiversity associated with our garden, more stable and resistant to pests will be.
However, to ensure success, we can use products of proven effectiveness and recognition:
Also, the study and observation of all this “life” and the relations that are established between the different living beings is one of the most enriching questions for the city farmer.
The primary method of control and fight against pests and diseases that must be carried out by the organic farmer must be “to do things right.
That is to say, to carry out all those practices that are going to make of our small garden a fertile, resistant, stable, biodiverse space, etc.
Some of these practices are rotations, associations, the use of organic matter as the main fertilizer for our crops, adequate irrigation, etc..
Now, although we put into practice all these practices, some of the living beings that are installed in our garden can be harmful and even become a plague or cause disease in our plants.
In these cases, we must identify the causes and act through compelling products and procedures.
We can differentiate two types of problems in our crops:
- Diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
- Damage by pests, animals, especially insects and arachnids.
Diseases in the garden
They are more challenging to diagnose and treat, since, except in some cases, we will not directly observe the cause of the problem and we will have to diagnose it by observing its effects (e.g., “spooning” of tomato leaves produced by the spoon virus).
In these cases, we must act above all in a preventive way, strengthening our plants with good organic fertilizers such as earthworm humus and with ecological fertilizers such as nettle extract that increases the natural defenses of plants.
FERTILIZERS AND NUTRIENTS
We can also use in the case of fungal diseases, which are usually the most common (such as powdery mildew, mildew or bold) more specific treatments both preventively, as, in the early stages of development, some of them are horsetail extract or propolis, both natural products harmless to people.
Additionally, we can treat these problems with fungicides on time.
If we finally have affected plants, we must remove the damaged parts (leaves and stems) or even remove entire plants to prevent the spread of disease to neighboring plants.
Pests in the orchard
They are easier to identify, as we can usually directly observe the agent causing the problem.
In these cases, before acting, we must assess whether the potential pest agent is causing a problem or remains in a low and stable population that does not cause serious problems.
This is important, since sometimes having a low and stable population of a pest insect such as an aphid may even be interesting as it will attract beneficial orchard insects such as ladybugs.
If, on the other hand, we consider that we have a pest that is damaging our crops, we will act in the following way:
- Assess if we are making a mistake in some practice (excess or lack of irrigation, excess of a fertilizer, crop out of season, lack of sunshine.). This is very important, since many times the appearance of a plague indicates weakness of the plant due to poor management (a clear example is the massive appearance of aphids, which is indicative of a high concentration of nitrogen in the sage of the plant, due to an excess of fertilizer primarily if we use liquid fertilizers, which makes it very attractive to these sucking insects).
- Manual elimination of insects. This is a very effective way to control pests in tiny orchards, such as terrace or balcony orchards, and against distinct pests such as defoliating caterpillars.
- Removal of damaged parts (leaves and stems).
- Treatment with eco-friendly products. When we have widespread pests and difficult to remove manually, we can use organic products, such as:
- Potassium soap: contact insecticide that weakens the exoskeleton of insects. It is mainly used to control attacks by sucking insects such as aphids, mealybugs, or whiteflies.
- Neem oil: this is a natural insecticide extracted from the fruit of this tree, which acts against a wide range of pests such as whitefly, leafminer, red spider, thrips, aphids, louse, potato beetle, bedbugs. The combined action of potassium soap and neem makes the treatment even more useful.
- Bacillus thuringiensis: this is a toxin produced by these bacteria, totally harmless to man and useful fauna, which acts in a very particular way with the caterpillars of many pest species such as tuna, Heliothis, plus sides, green doughnut, cabbage butterfly, etc..
In any case, the appearance of plague in our crops, should not discourage us but quite the opposite, stimulate our curiosity to learn and improve in the knowledge of the different living beings in our garden and the management of organic farming techniques.