You can call me crazy

Actually, and ironically, this asinine concept of “nature” and “natural” is arguably the source of many of our problems. We’re so accustomed to this lens that it’s difficult to see beyond. But its flawed enough at its core that it makes a good punchbag. And rather than reject or rethinking the concept and its framing, people are apt to see the imprecision and fuzziness of the whole “nature/natural” concept as justification for any number of objectively backwards actions. After all, crude oil is “natural” too. Maybe dump some in the water and see what happens? There’s a big gap between “kill em all and let god sort em out” and “leave nature to its own devices”. As growers, we’ve already taken the first steps toward shaping and participating in “nature”.

In our era, everything is for sale, including ideas.
If our cultural specialty is decanting things down, like making those magic powders we find so useful, look at what it does to our ideas! Just decant those down too into appropriately “purified” form, and you wind up with something like this:

Those “hippies” probably drink this stuff. What idiots!
Yet you can irrigate all you want but nothing makes things grow like a gentle soaking rain. Maybe theres some bigger truth in there that youre not apt to find on a label?

2 Likes

I concur. That doesn’t mean there aren’t deeper levels to the discussion, but Im anti-dogma and for acknowledging the role of and limits of ideology.

I am not sure what your rain comment is about, although I don’t know of anyone who waters plants with bottled water. In some ways you are right about rain water being great for plants, yet rain water can actually be polluted, and unlike a place like Sicily or like the Island of Malta, There can be lots of fungus in the air and even some in the rain. Also how much rain can someone collect. I can not picture collecting enough rainwater for all our plants, let alone for drinking as well, if that is what you mean too. We use facet water for our plants, even though our well water is horrible, and at times even has brown gas bubbling out of it, although if you let the water sit it will all bubble out, even the brown color. The plants don’t seem to mind it most of the time, although we do get lots of rain at times of the year, were we don’t need to water at all.

I only drink bottled water because our tap water is so bad, and it’s hard water too, and most water filters don’t remove most heavy metals, the ones that do, well it’s cheaper to buy budget bottled water. Sometimes I do buy expensive bottled water. Sometimes I even buy the brand you are holding, I see it as pampering myself some of the time. Although there are brands that I like much more, and I will not buy a brand just because of fancy artwork done by a real artist. I am starting to us 9.5 PH water when making lemon aid, the higher the PH of the water, the less sugar you need to lower the acidity. It’s sort of like adding calcium to soil.

A lot of chemicals are actually made to mimic nature, and in some cases they are safer. Nature is often the greatest inventor, although it’s even better with human intervention. Like there is a plant in Australia, it’s a cure for some type of cancer, I forget which cancer off the top of my head, although the plant does not produce fruit for many years in a row, the seed which contains the cure has very little of the oil in it. The plant is very sensitive to climate change, even normal yearly variations in climate, and it does not grow outside of where it’s commonly found, which is a very very very small part of the world, people are hybridizing different strains of the plant together, to make it less climate sensitive, and to make it more productive, so that they can start the human trials, which follows their test on rodents, that trial on rodents finished a long time ago.

1 Like

See my recent thread on Nature Based Solutions for more like this…

1 Like

I’ll preface by saying that if I’ve mischaracterized your argument, please let me know, I’d hate to be unintentionally strawmanning your point (and I’d be selfishly annoyed at myself if I was steelmanning your point haha).

Regarding the rough climate argument specifically, your broad point is that each place will have different conditions, and that the pros and cons wax and wane with the variations of climate, nowhere can properly be said to be harder or easier to grow in, just different, yes? I guess this is something similar to the law of comparative advantage in economics.

Ok, so if I was fair and that is the log I’ve got to chop, I think I’d like to give three arguments. One is to push your point to the absurd, one about cultivated plants, and one about climates. My overall contention is that there are places where it is objectively harder to grow the average fruit or vegetable.

And this is not meant to say “yeah try that down here bud” and throw dirt in the eye of the hippies out west and up north. Well, to no extent greater than the shade thrown by comments about how intervening less and listening more to nature is so great and how the few cosmetically damaged fruit is worth the benefit of a clean conscience (yeah… it’s the cosmetic damage we’re busting our tails to prevent down here, if only we weren’t so picky I guess, and if only we weren’t so intellectually slavish to instantly resort to chemical warfare whenever we just wanted to taste a real apple straight from the tree) or similar comments to similar effects. :wink:

(To be clear: the above are not how I read other’s comments, I’m fumbling an attempted stab in the dark at being humorous).

So, starting with the reduction to the absurd: if there really is no climate harder or easier to grow in, only differing challenges, I invite you to show me the lovely gardens of the Inuit people, and those of the Berbers and Aborigines. Farcical, I know, but after a certain point it is clear enough that the challenges become overwhelming and you simply can’t garden; the pros can’t handle cons of that magnitude. But if you can’t garden in some climates, and you can in others, then there surely are in-between zones where you can garden, but only just. In other words, there must be climates that are harder to grow in, and some that are easier. That’s the first point, or all I wanted to say about it anyway.

Last year I tried growing ‘Black from Tula’ tomatoes, a fairly large, flavorful, and very dark tomato. It struggled mightily, and to this day I don’t know what a ripe ‘Black from Tula’ tastes like, if you catch my drift. Tula is a city in Russia, where this variety was likely bred. I do not live in Russia, nor do I live in a part of the US where for example trees that grow in Russia, like white birch, fir, and larch, can grow. Indeed, all three of those trees, though I’d love to plant them, get killed down here by borers, rot root, and just the sun itself down here. It stands to reason then that while people who live in Russia and people who live in places with similar climates to Russia can grow ‘Black from Tula’ with ease, I cannot. A while back I expressed interest in trying to grow no-spray peaches and ‘Contender’ was far and away the #1 recommendation. ‘Contender’ would probably fruit for me, but only if I dug up the tree each year and placed it in a refrigerator so that it gets the required chill hours that my winters are incapable of providing. My family and I can grow strawberries, but only day-neutral varieties planted in winter and grown as annuals because anthracnose kills the adult plants in summer, which shouldn’t be surprising since garden strawberries were first bred in northwestern France, and my family hasn’t lived in northwestern France since the mid-1600s. The meandering point is, the bulk of fruit and vegetable breeding work has been done in places with vastly different climates than mine, places like Europe, China, India, and Mexico. In some ways I’m playing monkey in the middle: the South is warmer and more humid than Europe or northern China, but not warm and humid enough to count as truly subtropical or tropical like southern China, India, and Mexico. And I’m down and out on all counts for Mediterranean and alpine tropical climates like the Mediterranean and Peru, the South being colder and hotter, and more humid. There is a narrow band of coastal China and of Japan that does have a similar climate, yes, which is probably why I can pretty easily grow winged beans, sweet potatoes, and shishito peppers. Yay? I do need to emphasize that I’m not trying to complain, I’m trying to explain. Of the thousands of years of selective breeding that’s happened for fruits and vegetables, most of it has been selecting away from being good for my climate.

Over time, yes, this probably will go away. Lots of really interesting breeding work is going on right now in crossing tomatoes with their close relatives from more tropical lowland areas, and the resulting plants do far better in my area as a result. But as of now I’m still dependent on tomatoes bred in places like New Jersey, Italy, or Russia. There are some Chickasaw plums that can be grown no spray here, I should know, I’ve grown them myself. I don’t anymore, because they are small, bland, often sour, and sucker like nobody’s business. Someday, someone will breed some good stone fruits for me to grow. Until then, I’m just gonna have to live without fresh, home-grown nectarines and plouts and the like. But anyway, the point I want to make is, the folks on this forum who talk about just letting nature do her thing are the folks on the benefiting end of a couple hundred years’ of intensive breeding work in places sharing their climate.

So that’s the second point. And one funny thing about it is, in some ways, yes, people have been breeding for increased disease resistance, which translates into breeding for better suitability for my climate. So in that way, they have been breeding for my climate. Which means, yes, my second point is somewhat weakened. But that serves my third point mightily: some climates don’t just have different problems, they have more problems. With the possible exception of spotted lanternfly (they haven’t gotten here yet) every pest and disease that attacks apples in New Hampshire attacks them in North Carolina, but in North Carolina we’ve also got root knot nematodes (and probably plenty of other apple disease that don’t exist in NH, but I’m not an apple guy so I don’t know the details). What’s more, while you might get some fireblight every now and then in NH or in Montana, you are going to get it every year, and get it bad, in NC or Georgia. You don’t treat for fig rust in the South. Not because we don’t have fig rust, but because trying to treat it is a waste of time and money here. Sure, I don’t have issues with powdery mildew during the summer, whereas they do up in the northeast, because here it’s too hot in summer. That’s nice, I just get powdery mildew every season of the year that isn’t summer. The pest pressure isn’t just different, it is higher.

There’s a very, very straightforward reason why the vast majority of the US’s fresh produce is produced in California: a warm Mediterranean climate is the easiest climate to grow in. Europe is the same, most of their fresh produce is grown in southern Spain. It’s not question of choice or preference, farmers growing fresh produce in Alabama and Ohio had to spend more money on growing the same amount of food as farmers growing fresh produce in the central valley, so they lost their jobs or switched to row crops. It’s the law of comparative advantage: fruits and vegetables are easier to grow in California, so it is cheaper to grow them there and you make better profits. Those higher profits make farmland more expensive there, so row crops can be grown cheaper elsewhere. It’s economics, and it’s predicated on fruits and vegetables being easier in some climates, harder in others.

Again, I’m not trying to say anything ugly. I just fancy myself as having grown up in such a place and time that can provide a certain amount of perspective on this particular question. Sort of like how buying only fair trade coffee is a lot easier for an affluent Brooklynite than a blue color nobody in rural Kansas, living in a way that lets one feel good about being natural involves a lot more sacrifices from people living in some places than others.

Oooh, I’m devilishly tempted to trawl Permies.com for similarly outlandish takes, but I probably shouldn’t.

Also, I’m still waiting for another recommendation for a no-spray peach, seeing as I can’t count on Contender.

“Gardening is pain, anyone who says otherwise is selling something.” That’s the quote, right?

I do appreciate your point about dogma. We agree here. While for moral questions on the individual level we can realistically talk about right and wrong, every choice we make on practical matters and in the technical arts like farming and gardening is purely a question of pragmatism and subjective values–which is why I’m not planting tomatoes this year, the amount of joy I’d get from my subjective valuation of a garden fresh tomato them is outweighed by the joy I’d get doing other things with the time I’d spend growing them, other things like actually taking care of the wife’s honey do list this time instead of wasting all my free time in the darn garden :smiley:

8 Likes

Iowa White aka Navajo etc etc may be a ‘contender’ for no spray. I dont plan on spraying mine… Miekel and Erika and others that grow it dont spray theirs either… and if its the same strain as Reagans then they dont spray either. But its a white peach that most probably wont be interested in… should get that red flesh if grown without water like some other white peaches.

Im a year or so of knowing myself so im only going on by what i read.
YMMV.

2 Likes

Even in the same yard (small or big), there could be more than one climate, different things going on in the soil, like a spot with a heavy grub infestation, a spot that does not drain as well, a spot with something toxic in it, a spot with way more dense soil. A spot a few degrees colder, a spot with northerly winds, a spot that a lot of rain water drains too verses the top of a hill, and so on. Even a location free of most problems could become a problem hotspot in a few years, pests catch on to something you are growing, or the climate changes. When I moved here there wasn’t a winter or fall like weather jumping to a summer like weather, there used to be more of a spring like weather. There is a lot more heat out there, much of it is going in to major bodies of water, water can absorb a surprising amount of heat, and I think that no one has a good idea of how much water there really is in major bodies of water.

1 Like

Appreciate the rec man. Any idea what its chill hours are? That’s what the issue with contender is for me.

I’ve never sprayed my peaches. I have 4 stone fruit trees all with several varieties with red haven as the exception because it has produced so well.


It’s second year in ground tiny little tree put out 37 peaches after a ton of thinning, I still let it overproduce and fully expect to have a very weak production this year. However it’s performance is pretty nice. I don’t spray anything and maybe it’s due to coastal winds, location, luck? I’ve not had any significant pests on any fruit other than pillbugs eating every strawberry ever produced in my little food forest. Just defeats part of the purpose I’m growing fruit, to not eat all the chemicals large scale farms have to apply. If I lose all my stone fruit to a pest one year I’ll likely begin to apply some surround, but until that happens I’ll continue to spray nothing

3 Likes

Have you seen millennial gardener on YouTube? Lives in Wilmington NC and tried shade cloth on some of his tomatoes, figs, and cucumbers this last summer (just during the hotest months). It was like he found Jesus. Showed them staying healthy throughout the season, with the ones right next to them either less covered or not covered at all, all succumbing to disease as usual.

He’s not an all natural/organic only gardener, so this wasn’t one method in a history of all-natural apologetics or anything. Just something he tried and found worked really well. I suspect he’ll have a lot more videos on it this year as he’s an engineer and loves experimenting.

3 Likes

Dude that’s epic, and some nice looking fruit for sure.

I imagine living on a sandy island several miles off the mainland helps with pest pressure. For the sake of argument I was using very absolute terms, but really there are always exceptions. Suburbia is probably the most common: people grow all sorts of stuff in the suburbs with ease because being surrounded by miles of manicured lawns effectively quarantines them.

But regardless, those are some awesome peaches, color me impressed and jealous.

Oh yeah, I like his stuff. Probably one of the better gardening YouTubers. While not quite the same, I have planted tomatoes in part shade before, which helps with some stuff definitely, though a shade cloth would be much easier to manage the light levels with as part shade depends on time of day.

1 Like

My tomatoes and squash however are not as lucky as my peaches and I need to really assess if they are worth growing (squash due to vine borers) and find more disease resistant varieties with the tomatoes. Gonna try Everglades tomatoes I think and let them sprawl a bit and may not even bother with any slicer tomatoes as I’m just fighting hornworms and fungus all summer

1 Like

I haven’t grown squash in years, it’s just not worth it to me. Stink bugs and borers are the main issue, but blossom end rot and whatever malady that causes the fruits to be malformed and often fused together also take their toll. And, to be honest, I just don’t like squash that much haha. Winter squash is alright, but I’d rather have sweet potato over winter squash. Do you grow sweet potatoes? Should be incredibly happy with your soil. Eastern NC in general is just awesome for sweet potatoes.

Tomatoes are super hit and miss for me, and really variety dependent. If I just grow cherries and smaller hybrid slicers, and keep up with them, I usually get plenty of tomatoes unless the weather is really bad. But big beefsteak tomatoes, most heirlooms, and most any of the more famously good tasting ones are usually big disappointments and not at all worth the labor. But tomatoes are definitely one of the ones that could probably be dialed in; with just the right technique, the right choices of varieties, and the right timing, I could probably have fresh tomatoes 9 months of the year. I just don’t have time these days to do all the experimenting to get it all worked out. Probably when I’m older I’ll do that.

I have historically not grown sweet potatoes but only because I rarely eat them but this year I plan to grow them haha the wife has been enjoying them lately. My friend grows them and they flourish

1 Like

I often use them as ground cover. I just space whatever is above them a bit more to give them enough light. They aren’t nearly as climby as a lot of other vines like melons, and since they’re harvested at the very end of the growing season, the timing works out quite well, again, unlike cucumbers or melons.

1 Like

I am running an PLC experiments on a few peach varieties. My controls are a Frost, Oregon Curl Free and Salish Summer peach. I’ll post results late spring.

4 Likes

Sorry for not being active on this thread, It seems sometimes I follow my green brethren’s timescale- In other words I’m in no rush and I know things tend to happen in their own good time. Life is busy and each day seems to have its own plans.

Anyway I wanted to share this podcast with everyone, and I hope you enjoy it.

Benefits of Trichoderma with Dr. Gary Harman

I understand and respect old ways, but I also try to stay open to new and better ways.

There is financial incentives to have expensive cures and treatments over simple cheap ones.
It makes me wonder why lime sulfur is now scarce. Korean natural farming is inexpensive and solves many problems, but there is no marketing behind it.

Here is another beautiful podcast that speaks to learning from the wisdom of nature. Truly inspiring.
Blessings to all the plant people and nature lovers especially but to everyone doing their best every day!:green_heart::pray:t3::muscle:t4:

Biomimicry, an Operating Manual for Earthlings

**Warning tree hugger rant. Proceed with caution-

We live in a consumerist society, so there is a strong motive to sell which leads to a lot being sold that is not any better and often worse, or lies & complete scams. So a bit of skepticism is warranted, but progress is important also. The pests and diseases will continue to evolve and so must we. The old agricultural ways are changing and they indeed need to change for our health and the health of our planet. Spraying our food crops with pesticides that can permanently damage the developing brains of children, causing reduced IQ, loss of working memory, and attention deficit disorders has been the norm for decades*. I am for science but I do not trust chemical companies to be open and honest.

Perhaps we can have a section in the forum for a more holistic orcharding approach??

The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way is a great book on the subject.

*https://earthjustice.org/feature/chlorpyrifos-what-you-need-to-know#:~:text=For%20half%20a%20century%2C%20staple,memory%2C%20and%20attention%20deficit%20disorders.

2 Likes

I have the luxury of not starving if my (mostly) organic methods fail me. But I exercise that luxury of gardening for fun and food, avoiding exposure to possibly toxic chemicals, and avoiding upkeep and maintenance and hard work of power tools beyond my pickup truck. Wish it were cheaper for everyone to buy organic but I also don’t wish for farm labor to cost way less than fertilizers and chemicals- that leads to hungry laborers.

5 Likes

Thanks for jumping back into the thread, the input is appreciated, I assure you. I do want to provide some pushback–ideas and conversations do best when subjected to a bit of stress, just like plants.

Many of the worst agriculture and industry driven environmental disasters of the modern world happened in non-consumerist countries. The polluting and drying up of the Aral sea, the Four Pests Campaign, mass pollution in places like Norilsk and Xingtai, the Chernobyl accident, all in communist countries. The deadliest chemical accident occurred in India during their socialist period. The main sources of ocean trash, something like 90% of it, are China, the Philippines, and Indonesia, not exactly a list of the world’s most consumerist countries.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like consumerism, and there have also been plenty of terrible environmental disasters caused by businesses. But there’s a very strong tendency among Greens to see most evil in the world as the fault of some business or company or monied interest. I guess Capitalisms is the catch-all term even though it’s hopelessly vague. Well, turns out, blaming everything on some nebulous idea ends up obscuring all the details of what’s actually going on in the world.

If it actually costed less to produce the same amount and quality of food, I can guarantee you farmers would be using it. That’s the whole point of competition, it forces market participants to be as efficient as reasonably possible.

I think the whole forum is open for this. The only condition is folks have to be ok with other folks providing feedback and pushback. Setting up a section of the forum where only one side on the conversation is allowed seems counterproductive, it’d be like if we had a section devoted only to using chemicals and pesticides–no organic solutions allowed! Conventional farmers and agrobusinesses have plenty to learn from the Greens, and if and when they can adapt stuff from hippies all’s the better. And vise-a-versa, there’s a lot of real world wisdom and hard-won scientific knowledge that the Greens and hippie-types willfully ignore.

5 Likes