You can call me crazy

I was reading through TNhunter’s topic about forest soil and I was going to reply but I figured I’d start my own thread and share my thoughts.

I’m sure what I will say most won’t agree with on here but we all do things our own way and this is my way so I’ll share. I don’t care that people will disagree with me.

I try to do things as naturally as possible. I try not to fight nature with guns blazing. The idea of killing amanita fungus with chemicals in my soil is sacrilege to me. Now that is no judgement or condemnation on anyone else but to me that’s what it is.

A few years ago I had a pretty bad infestation of aphids… It kinda hurt me to see them all over my elders, plum, cherry, and roses. I didn’t do anything to stop them though. Ever since then I see aphids every year but they are always kept in check by the ladybugs. I mean when I tell you the following year I had ladybugs I mean they were everywhere and ever since they are permanent residents.

I used to kill the slugs with pellets. I stopped a couple years ago. I see some toads around, and one garder snake from time to time. I’m just waiting for more to come and I know they will because they got plenty os good slugs around here to eat.

Two years ago I sat in my garden watching house sparrows (which are an invasive species) picking Japanese beatles (also invasive) off of my cherry trees and roses. The funny thing about that was that My Wife at the time was in the Connecticut Master Gardener program and someone very smart there told her that “wasn’t possible because they don’t have natural predators here”. Hmm well nature seems to evolve eh who would have known.

We all grew up being told germs are bad. We don’t even know what the chemical makeup of the stuff we spray on our counters is to kill so called germs, nope that’s trade secrets. Well ya know what kind of germs are on our counters and in our air? Want to make sourdough or kimchi, or natto, or kombucha, or beer, wine or vinegar… Yes it’s all there.

Oh and how they are selling probiotics nowadays huh? All the research they are doing with these microbes and finding how good they are for us…
There’s always a few bad actors right? Well kill them all!

How about these new inoculants and sprays the chemical companies are selling to farmers… They are patenting and selling back the same microbes and funguses that were originally in the soil before we were told to till & plow and expose them to ultraviolet rays and kill off all those good microbes so we could be good consumers and buy chemical fertilizers.

I like to grow fruit, flowers, veggies, basically everything. I also like to grow cacti. It always amazes me how a cactus can grow so big out of a crack in a rock… How is that possible without nutrients? Well even in that harsh environment there are microbes that grow inside of the plant’s roots and out into the cracks and they mine those rocks and excrete acids to break down and transport the nutes back to the plant and the plant shares it’s sugar with those microbes in return.

I get a lot of wildlife eating my stuff, but they don’t have American Chestnuts anymore or a lot of other things and they got big metal cars and trucks zig zagging all around them so I can afford to lose a bit to them. I keep planting stuff specifically for them too… I think if all the people who went to the nurseries and big box stores put a little more awareness into what plants are good host plants all the wildlife would have plenty to eat.

I see on here plenty of people say you can’t grow fruit without spraying, that’s just not true. Some years you lose this or that, some years you lose this and that, but if you grow enough stuff there’s always a good harvest.



I am a vegetable farmer. One of the first agricultural texts I read was The One Straw Revolution. At a similar time I read The Market Gardener. I embraced the bio intensive method of growing with much busy-ness to support it. I’ve been able to make a decent livelihood for myself. I’ve embraced wildness, and leaving things alone for times. I’ve observed, and taken in too much information about how others do things. I’ve become confused, and I’ve compromised in certain ways. I manage a nonprofit farm now where there isn’t a way forward at present without spraying organic approved chemicals, without using machines to lightly disturb the soil, to grow crops that are grown in unsustainable ways, to use plastic. But I know in my heart things don’t need to be this way. I know it is possible to grow things in a truly natural way, and I have done so at times.
I’m reminded in your post by this passage in Fukuoka’s book. Every few years I return to this text and always find new insight, breathing fresh air with clarity towards my calling in life, my passion for green living things.

We must allow life to find a way, and to find ourselves within that life. Feed all the folks who wish to eat, and watch as systems move towards equilibrium


I sympathize with your general vibe. But I am not surrendering my Rainbow Pro anytime soon. And definitely the less spray the better. Other then primary elemental compounds, we really do not have any gardening chemicals on hand. Somehow the wife still gets great results that many folks inquire on. Come spring it is plum noisy outside just from the army of pollinators.

We mainly just lack worms except for some covered spots. This soil goes dry so easily here. Though a wealth of ants seems to keep it churned.


Many “chemical” fertilizers are beneficial to soil biology if one pays attention to dosage.

The aphids in our region are attracted to apples and selected Citrus, but ignore Prunus. Ladybugs will not stay in my locale due to prevailing winds off the ocean (7 miles away) that send them farther inland. Consequently I use an appropriate insecticide and dosage to control aphids as needed.

There are multiple types of pellets. The original Sluggo variety (not Sluggo+) will control terrestrial mollusks in our locale and at the same time is beneficial to everything else.

I don’t think you’re crazy. You are making choices which feel good to you within the sphere of your information sources.



You can call me crazy

Im crazier than you are… this is what happened to me when aphids came… and these guys were thankful that i didnt spray.

I choose to do things ‘wrong’…as it makes me happy. I do like the idea of My Crazy Orchards better though.

Seedlings are available…if u are interested. Many folks are finding them now in the wild…they are making a comeback in case you havent heard.


It does take a special person willing to put the time and effort into a fully organic garden and orchard. Someone that is willing to make the best out of whatever nature has at harvest for them.

We all find the right balance over the years growing things we like and under the conditions we have both control of and not. It does help when your homestead is in a place where nature is in balance.


When I get apples; I’m definitely looking into the clay sprays.

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I felt like a hypocrite not using chemicals. My own health is not perfect I have some major genetic flaws like being prone to high blood pressure. The doctor said I would die without these man made chemicals. Turns out he was right as when I stopped taking them my legs swelled so badly I was hospitalized. Man made chemicals are life savors and I take five of them daily. I have never felt so healthy in my whole life. We should offer these amazing skills to plants too. We found out that if we make chemical fertilizers to mimic organic breakdown they actually increase the biological life in the soil even better than organic fertilizers.
We should not sell ourselves short and disallow tools that actually work.
It’s made me look at things a lot differently. If a chemical is hurting the ecology we can alter it. Get it to do what we want. We are part of nature and it’s natural for us to make synthetic chemical. We just have to keep alternating them till they are 100% beneficial. We certainly have the ability to do this.


What’s so great about natural, when there’s better instead?

Ain’t no organic farmer ever grew a natural vegetable. There’s nothing natural about a thousand years of artificial selection. But they do grow better vegetables.

Farmers, real farmers not hobbyists, have started replacing plowing with herbicides. And the result, no till farming, is better in pretty much every way. It ain’t natural, but it’s better.

No natural process blasts holes in mountains, scrapes out the stinking rocks, grinds then up, treats then with all manor of acid brew and industrial magic, dumps it into pretty bags labeled with some symbols like “Organic Bordeaux Mixture” to be spread around cherished plants to kill a broad spectrum of multiple kingdoms of life. Well, nothing save the natural processes of some dumb ape. But there are better ways.


You’re crazy!

Note: I just wanted to take advantage of the offer provided in the title. I appreciate the views expressed in the post.


Not me. I say: “Better living through chemistry.”


Yes! The fact of the matter is we have to participate in the system that we are in even while we try to improve it. Somehow humans think they must control nature while often missing the point that they are nature.

If you grow a garden or an orchard and don’t use any pesticides you are at such a gross disadvantage because over time we have bred our plants to be very weak and the pests to be very strong.
I am not against mindful treatments but nothing about our old agricultural ways are mindful … They are simply brute force. Well all it’s doing is enabling our plants to be weaker and our pests to become stronger.

I keep bees as well, and if nobody treated for mites perhaps bees would go extinct? Most likely not though. People have documented “hygienic” traits where nurse bees will go in and kill the larvae of the mites and the bees in the cells that have them. Will this trait be spread among all living hives? Not if most people are treating for mites.
The point is if we all let nature take it’s course a bit more things would balance out bit better.
If you poison the pests you’re poisoning their predators as well.

I’m always amazed to see how many people spray insecticides all over their yards to kill spiders, ants, bugs of all kinds and the same people have bird feeders and want butterflies. Do people realize that the baby birds don’t eat bird seed- their parents have to feed them bugs!

I try not to be militant about anything. But I do try to do what is right in my heart. As I take the time to watch nature it becomes apparent to me that nature is smarter than a lot of the people trying to tell others what is right or wrong.

An example of this is the invasive species like autumn olive, yes it sure takes over in disturbed land but it also creates habitat and food for a lot of critters and harbors the bacteria that fixes nitrogen for other plants.

I’ve watched abandoned lots in the city get overgrown with autumn olive, multiflora rose and oriental bittersweet so thick you can’t walk through it. And there what many see as a ugly untamed mess is actually a sanctuary of birds, rabbits, snakes, bugs, maybe a fox with her babies, life of all kinds.
I’ve seen it, I’ve watched it and I think who knows better us or nature? When I go into pristine old growth forests I certainly don’t see many invasive plants… I mostly see them in the footsteps of man and his machines.

I enjoy the program “Gardener’s World” the British TV series. It gives me hope because there seems to be this movement on that side of the pond to invite nature into their gardens and take pride in providing a habitat for critters and doing things more sustainably and in balance. Many people will leave a small part of their lawn to grow wild while keeping the overall appearance neat and clean.
I hope to start seeing more of that here in the states, and that’s why I wrote this thread. If not us who?

I understand business wise we are forced to work within the system that’s been handed down… But perhaps if more people plant some host plants and some food and habitat plants there will be more of a balance and in time people won’t have to fight nature so much?


I had heard, “Don’t spray the aphids, ladybugs will show up and kill them!” which, while I know ladybugs eat the things…sounded a bit like hippy bullshit to me. I still picked them off by hand once or twice when they first showed up on my apples/pears. Then a week later…they did! Vicious little things were snapping up the aphids whole. I didn’t have any further aphid problems that year.


Nice. A creative post to make us think. And you even managed (so far) not
to get the prejudiced folk that can’t stand reading the other side of a topic and using the flag button all bothered under the collar. Thinking is good…but at
the end of the day there’ll not be much change of anyone’s opinion…some
think it is crazy, others love it, but you get the prize for getting everyone’s juices going on a cloudy morning.


It took a year for mine to show up so you got lucky! The spraying powdery mildew with milk sounded like an old wives tale too, but it actually works!
‘Nullius in verba’
‘take nobody’s word for it’


Im pretty deep on the “crazy” end myself. The inspirational bedrock for my plantings is the vernacular planting methods Ive observed many places in the world. There are many names for these methods- tropical “home gardens”, milpas, chinampas, among others- but the discourse about them pales in comparison to the degree to which they are used to produce sustenance the world over.

Some have pointed out that these methods may work in the tropics but appear not to work in temperate climates. I say poppycock. We don’t know how they work, because they are long gone, but our native fruits bear the mark of careful and broad scale selection over centuries and perhaps millenia. As is commonly acknowledged, we can only imagine what the pre-Colombian forest was like but far beyond that old romantic idea of the forest primeval, it was almost certainly a shifting mosaic of different successional stages, each of them gamed and shaped for production and utility whilst serving to create and reinforce ecological balance.

Im fascinated with this concept to the point that I love to toy with it in my own landscape. As I said earlier, its almost in some sense my reason for growing things, the Raison d’être of my orchard and forest garden.

That said, I consider myself something of a contrarian among contrarians. Hanging out with an acquaintance the other day, she (a self-described permaculture enthusiast) mentioned that her uncle is a soil scientist and that when she mentioned permaculture to him he had no idea what it was. She was shocked and appalled. My comment to her was essentially, “ah but who amongst your permaculture cadre has taken the time or initiative to learn soil science?”

At the risk of sounding kumbyah, my point is that there is value in all perspectives, and that perhaps taking ones ideology of choice and running with it isnt the best way forward for anyone. Im more than sympathetic to the realities of growing anything for a living, and realize that my own methods are not likely to produce a reasonable living in our market economy, at least not based on its “produce” in the traditional sense. Now some other left field model involving a mixed production of fruits, veggies, herbs, and especially propagules like cuttings, scions, layers, divisions, etc. might make for a pretty decent living given enough time, especially combined with some sort of pseudo-agrotourism.

The concept is cool, and kudos to those pursuing it. For my part, I started to head towards that and wound up at a crossroads where I could either chose that or a more lucrative hustle as a builder, and I took the other rd. This means, at least for the time being that my patch here is a sanctuary and that I don’t need to lean on it for my livelihood. Thats a good thing in my book, because I love growing things and its a rare thing to love your job. I applaud the OP’s restraint in not proselytizing their approach. I think over time, the cream will rise to the top and we’ll begin to hopefully see some of the merits of this approach. Its real value, though can only be found through land use methods that transcend our current scales of time and space as it relates to land tenure. There is much potential, but it requires reenvisioning our place in the landscape, and our markets are ill equipped to produce these outcomes.


^This summarizes the intent of this thread nicely. We do what we think works the best for us given our own circumstances. E.g. Have 5 acres and time, embrace permaculture principles. Trying to be a commercial MJ grower in NYC, the spare bedroom in the apartment gets looks like inside of an alien ship.


Ah!!! We do have powder and pellets for the insipid Fire Ant colonies.

I’m of the same mind. i call my plantings a food forest, not a orchard because i have fruit trees, bushes and groundcovers, herbs, veggies, nuts, nitrogen fixers, medicinal plants and flowers, all planted interspersed in 15ft apart in rows i can mow in between that was once a 3/4 acre lawn. i rarely spray anymore but i also realize i need to spray some things like cherries as brown rot will ruin the entire crop every summer if not sprayed at least a few times in a season. ive been planting more plants and trees selected for disease resistance instead of just taste, just to reduce the spraying needed and work involved. my goal is the same as yours. to have a little self sustaining ecosystem in my yard that needs little or no input. im getting better at it as i continue to educate myself on different practices to getting to that goal. i say im about 80% natural and no spray now. will i ever get 100%? maybe. in the meantime ill use a little help to get at least some crop. unfortunately, most of my problem is with fungal issues due to our wet weather and that is difficult to control without a fungicide occasionally. i try to keep the trees and bushes pruned well to allow good air flow but sometimes that’s not enough. the stuff that i started growing that got infected easily has been removed and replanted with a more resistant plant or tree. its still a work in progress but in the end my goal is whomever gets this property when im gone, hopefully one of my kids or stepkids. they can go out in the yard from early summer to fall and pick something to eat that grows from what i built out there without much input or knowledge from them. i keep a binder with several maps i made of the property and what is planted where. the following pages i write the plants name, use and how to basically care for it and any concerns to look for. i put in a new plant, it goes on the map and the list. also put the date i planted. once im gone, whomever takes over will have something to go by. not much of a true legacy but its mine. ive also planted others properties and trained them on what i know. im planting a 5 acre parcel on my boss’s cattle farm, turning it into a silvopasture system. most of it is rocky open land with very little soil. planting hardy fruiting trees and cold hardy, drought tolerant nitrogen fixers will hopefully over time help convert these pastures to more productive grazing areas with shade for the cattle over time. im really excited for this spring and so is she. her 2 stepsons who are teenagers will be assisting and learning all about this. got to get more young people interested in these things if we want to improve the land around us.


I have young ones and a favorite book here in my household is Dr. Seuss’s “I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew”. Its a great allegory IMO, and a good reminder that El Dorado and Shangri La ARE just over the next hill, and more than likely will be even when you get to the next hill. Your post reminded me of its ending: