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Cultivate Simple 22: Beyond Organic

March 18th, 2013

Today we’re talking about going beyond organic. Thinking about how the things we do in the garden have consequences beyond what we can see and often beyond what we’re thinking. We’re talking about pest control and how that affects the rest of your garden.


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Killing of Robins from spraying
Patured vs Free Range eggs – video

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A Great Video to Watch about Silent Spring

11 Comments to “Cultivate Simple 22: Beyond Organic”
  1. Diana @ frontyardfoodie on March 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    This is such a great show. I seriously never feel pressured to use any sort of pesticides but my dad is an organic plant supplier (grows for garden stores) and in that industry it’s insane. First thing he did was have his top guy take classes on using predatory bugs on the common bugs that infest greenhouses.

    I love the idea of watching cycles of nature though. One year I had tomato aphids and I killed them by hand…but now I think if that happens again, I won’t.

    I have a random question for you…I know you like to buy local and use farmers but where do you get things like dish soap and baking soda, etc?

    Reply to Diana @ frontyardfoodie's comment

  2. misti on March 19, 2013 at 9:07 am

    BT makes me squeamish. We used it on corn last year but I don’t typically put it on anything else. I’m not afraid of hornworms, they never eat enough tomatoes to make me angry. Now deer on the other hand—they are making me want to take up hunting! hah! Chowed down on a new rose over the weekend.

    I started listening on itunes lately instead of your blog and I had to laugh at a couple of the negative reviews…apparently those folks don’t listen to other podcasts because there are few and far between that don’t either ask for donations or run ads.

    Reply to misti's comment

    • Mr. Chiots on March 19, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      Thanks for your comment on the iTunes reviews. They bother me for some reason.

      Reply to Mr. Chiots's comment

  3. DebbieB on March 19, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Last year (our first gardening season, with the disastrous containers that cooked our plants, may they rest in peace), my husband ordered ladybugs, to attempt non-chemical pest control. He followed the directions that came with them, and released them according to the instructions. The next day they were all gone – I’m assuming birds ate the bulk of them.

    Is doing that a bad idea? (Aside from the fact that they were all gone the next day.) Is importing predators not a good idea?

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

    • Susy on March 19, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      Most likely there wasn’t enough for them all to eat. No doubt they made their way to places around your house, it might increase the population in future years.

      My mom has always had good luck releasing predatory wasps for her orchard.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Megan on March 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    One of my favorite episodes. Coming from a gardening family that loves its pesticides it has been hard to change to a more organic method. Every year I have been making more progress. This year my goal will be just to wait it out and hopefully will achieve more balance. Thanks for all the great info.

    Reply to Megan's comment

  5. Wendy on March 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    Really enjoyed this episode–you guys always give me so many things to think about. I’m curious if you remember the name of the book you mentioned by the doctor who discussed immunity and the purpose of colds, flu, etc. Thanks again for the inspiring content!

    Reply to Wendy's comment

    • Susy on March 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      Yes, here it is:

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Lizzie on March 24, 2013 at 10:14 am

    This was possibly my favorite Cultivate Simple podcast yet! I’m in my second year of gardening, and really still learning and establishing my philosophies about all the “hows” and “whys” of doing what I do. This show was incredibly helpful in solidifying some of my thinking on all of that! I’m not even finished listening to the podcast yet, but I had to pause to get this question in: We do not use any sort of chemicals, organic or otherwise, in our house, yard, or garden, but it seems like everyone else in our neighborhood uses them profusely, including our next door neighbors. Do you know of any methods for preventing at least some of those chemicals from contaminating our property? For example, these neighbors spray Round Up around all of the edges or their lawn (including the property line between our yards) instead of using a weed eater or anything to keep the grass and “weeds” down. Their yard is at a slight incline to ours, so I know those chemicals are seeping into the soil and some are creeping our way. I had read in Gaia’s Garden about some species of plants that can act as buffers between plants that secrete toxins and plants that would be killed by those toxins. Do you know of any plants that may provide the same type of benefit against the man-made toxins that are being used all around us? (Asking my neighbors not to spray would obviously be the simplest solution, but unfortunately that’s not an option – they already think we’re loony for growing our own food in the way that we do, not using chemicals, only having one car instead of two, cloth diapering, etc., and from past similar interactions we’re certain they would take offense to our request.) We are working hard to create and allow natural systems to flourish in our garden, but currently feel like our biggest obstacle to that is all the pollutants coming into our space from the outside.
    I also think a great future podcast topic or blog post would be how to create environments that attract “beneficial” species. I believe you mentioned wren nesting boxes in this episode, and I’ve heard of beneficial insect houses and things like that, but am curious to learn more!

    Reply to Lizzie's comment

  7. Kelly on March 26, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Do you have any ideas or resources on how to specifically go “beyond organic” with fruit trees? In last week’s podcast you mentioned that you didn’t agree with all the methods that were discussed on how to have an organic orchard. Do you recommend any maintenance or interventions with fruit trees or is it best to just let nature runs it’s course as you explained in this episode about your vegetable garden.

    I just planted a handful of fruit trees (peach, nectarine, fig, persimmon) this year and I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to need to do maintenance wise. Even the “organic” store that I bought them from recommends spraying 3 times a year. A local peach orchard (not organic) has told me growing peaches is very difficult and doesn’t recommend people plant peach trees in their yards if the aren’t going to cross every “T” and dot every “I” (not exactly sure what that means, but obviously it’s not just letting the trees fend for themselves). Any ideas or research recommendations?

    Reply to Kelly's comment

    • Susy on March 26, 2013 at 11:36 am

      I’d highly recommend reading up on permaculture and the idea of planting beneficial plants around your orchard to attract the predatory insects. There’s also The Holistic Orchard (link below), I can’t say first hand how great it is since I haven’t read it, but I do hear good things about it from people I know.

      My parents have had decent success growing a small orchard without spraying. My mom has purchased predatory wasps on occasion to help with pest issues. Attracting song birds to your garden will be one of the best ways to help deal with insect loads in your orchard.

      Reply to Susy's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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