Producing food can be challenging, and there are many forces that seem to act against the farmer in the pursuit of growing a garden and raising animals.  Pests and diseases rank among the top complaints of gardeners, and an infestation of any kind can be extremely discouraging.  The first line of defense against pests and diseases is healthy soil.  Well-nourished plants have a natural ability to resist pests and disease. Feeding the soil regularly with organic matter keeps disease organisms at bay by producing stronger plants…

Even so, issues will sometimes arise.  When a problem is spotted, it is natural for our first response to be a desire to immediately and thoroughly eradicate the problem. But this response is complicated by three factors.  First, it is not always a simple task to identify the problem. Particularly in the case of diseases, many of them have symptoms that look very similar.  Incorrect diagnosis can lead to the wrong, or counterproductive, treatment.

The second factor is that the cost to treat an infestation often outweighs the benefits.  Pests and diseases do not generally obliterate healthy plants, but move in when plants are already weakened.  Treating a plant that was potentially already under-producing or dying prior to contracting the disease may not be a wise use of resources.  For example, aphids typically move into cold season crops, such as lettuces and kale, as the weather begins to warm up. It is almost the end of the growing season for these crops, and the aphids’ job is to break the plants down so that something else can grow in their place.  Treating for aphids may not extend the life of the plants significantly enough to justify the cost or the effort.

The third factor is that total annihilation can result in secondary issues.  Not only are chemical residues considered to be unhealthy for human consumption, but utterly removing a pest disrupts natural balances in the garden.  In the case of aphids, eradicating them discourages beneficial predatory insects that feed on them, and they may abandon the area.  As a result, other pest species may proliferate, unchecked by the predators that previously resided in the garden.  Thus, more treatments become necessary, increasing both the cost and the effort required to garden.

For these three reasons, I am purposefully slow and calculated in my responses to the signs of garden infestations.  (Read more in Chapter Eight of City Farming: A How-to Guide to Growing Crops and Raising Livestock in Urban Spaces.)


How to Protect A Garden & Seedlings from Birds

Birds love seeds and seedlings. Here’s how to protect a garden that has been freshly planted from becoming a snack bar for birds and other pests. Plant seeds twice as deep as the longest edge of the seed.  If you plant large seeds shallowly, they may float to the surface […]

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Backyard Permaculture at Rodman Farm

Backyard Permacuture with Urban Farmer Heather Rodman The internet is a wonderful tool for connecting with like-minded folks.  I recently asked a question online about Tattler canning lids, and received a wonderful reply from Heather Rodman.  Her response piqued my interest in her farm.  I discovered that Heather is a […]

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Farm Plan at Terra Rosa Fertile Farms

Interview with Susan of Terra Rosa Fertile Farms (TERFF -Cottonwood, AZ) July 10, 2015.  Susan discusses her farm plan, from permaculture design and product selection to business planning and marketing. Sue, you have a wonderful piece of property.  What is currently happening at TERFF and how you are creating your […]

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Fodder Systems: Growing Sprouted Fodder for Livestock

Growing fodder is an economical way to feed animals Fodder is growing in popularity with urban farmers.  Many people who raise urban livestock are motivated to cultivate meat, milk and eggs as naturally as possible.  What the animals eat plays a big role in producing a vigorous flock and healthy […]

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Pests, Diseases & Other Garden Problems

Pests, Diseases and Problems arise in Every Garden Trouble is bound to come up in the garden.  It arises in the form of pests, diseases, weeds, nutrient deficiencies and management issues.  Correctly identifying problems is the first step towards successfully resolving them. Download a list of free tools to solve garden […]

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Plants that Repel Mosquitoes, Flies and Garden Pests

Spring heralds the arrival of warmer temperatures and soft rains. The earth begins to awaken from its winter slumber. Flowers bloom, trees bud, birds sing and baby animals are born. New life abounds. So, too, do the summertime pests that emerge from dormancy to proliferate in our landscapes. Our yards […]

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Pesticide-Free Gardening

Simple steps to growing a great garden without pesticides and other chemicals.  This article by Kelly Roberson at makes it easy! To view and read the article with complete instructions, click here.   Source: Blog

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Milking Dairy Goats: How to Keep Raw Milk Clean and Safe

Fresh, raw goat milk is both delicious and healthy, and milking goats is fun!  But drinking raw milk can be risky if it is not done carefully, using proper hygiene.  At our farm, The Micro Farm Project, my youngest daughter, Emily, and I milk several goats each day. My first […]

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Are Recycled Pallets Safe to Use for Gardening, Furniture & Craft Projects?

There has been a lot of buzz about using pallet wood for home and garden projects lately.  Pallet projects recycle perfectly useful wood to make all kinds of interesting things using free or inexpensive materials.  But concerns about their safety have been raised by environmental and health advocates, and for […]

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Natural Caterpillar Control

Controlling grapeleaf skeletonizers, cabbage loopers, tomato hornworms and other caterpillar pests. If you grow it, they will come…Organic gardening is very rewarding, but sometimes it seems that I have simply planted a buffet for pests. Since I do not use harsh chemicals in my garden a certain amount of pest […]

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