Organic for Nurseries

Discussion in 'Organic Gardening' started by Kaitain4, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hello,

    I'm slowly starting a Japanese Maple nursery, and want to make it completely organic. I've already got a nice organic potting mix made with kelp and other good things, pluse it has a Myco fungi/bacteria blend. I'm using copper sprays for foliar fungal attacks, which is moderately good. My water comes from a deep well and is loaded with trace elements.

    I'm open to any and all advice on container culture the organic way. Please note that JMs like a slightly acidic soil, do no NOT like high nitrogen fertilizers, and are subject to some nasty (fatal) fungal diseases that can be passed on in manure. They like good drainage but moist soil. No drought tolerance to speak of.

    The biggest missing piece of the puzzle is control for chewing insects. Grasshoppers and Kadydids in particular are drawn like a magnet to young Japanese Maple leaves. A large Kadydid can devastate a potted maple over night. The other nemesis here in the South are Japanese Beetles, who coincidentally have a taste for Japanese Maples. I do have a plan of attack for them - Milky Spore Disease, which I'm applying shortly, and parasitic nematodes. These can provide long-term control but may take a few years to build up effectiveness. Pheremone traps are not an option - they actually attract more beetles than ever!

    So are there some good controls for the grasshopper family of pests? So far my thoughts are some praying mantis egg cases (very hit or miss). Are there other controls? A lot of the "organic" insecticides (rhotenone/pyrethrins) seem to be almost as dangerous as the chemical ones, at least to other insects, fish, etc. They scare me, quite frankly.

    Thanks in advance for any advice!


    K4
     
  2. greengarden bev

    greengarden bev Active Member

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    I use neem oil, when necessary, for insects that chew leaves. Neem works in a couple of ways. First, it's an anti-feedant. It makes plant leaves taste bad to insects, and they will avoid those plants. So, you have some protection, at least until the next rain. Second, if the neem actually touches the insect (your spray hits the insect's body), it acts as an insecticide by disrupting the insect's mating and reproductive patterns. You won't see "instant death" but over time you'll see a reduction in populations.

    Neem is absolutely non toxic to humans, but there is still research to be done on its effect on bees. I only spray neem when the bees aren't active, and only when the problem is acute.

    I've used neem oil as a dormant spray on my peach tree, with good results. Because of it's anti-fungal properties, it reduces leaf-curl problems.

    Because neem has been used for agriculture for thousands of years, the poison pushers can't patent it, so it is not registered with the PMRA as a pesticide. You won't often find it on the shelves at the garden centers except as a "leaf shine" product. I'm starting to ramble again, but it's interesting that government researchers have found that innoculating trees with neem oil protects them against several of the borers that have been devastating Canadian forests in recent years. But, since it is illegal to sell neem for this purpose, some garden centers sell generic neem oil in litre or gallon-sized containers (for orchardists or tree nurseries), with little or no label information. You can also order it from online retailers, in gallon size jugs. Quite economical.

    It's a bit tricky to use neem-- mixing oil with water-- but you can do it using a few drops of plain dish soap or a commercial spreader-sticker product. You can get spreader-sticker (in bulk) through farm suppliers or, for smaller containers, at your local head-shop / grower shop.

    Neem is like olive oil-- it solidifies in cool temperatures. You can warm it by placing the bottle in a pan of warm water. Use lukewarm water in your spray bottle, and shake often as you spray. Rinse the nozzle afterwards or it'll gum up.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Neem oil has been called the "greatest pesticide ever", but it has its problems as well as it benefits. Neem oil is derived from the tropical tree Azadirachta indica. Neem oil works in two ways. It acts as a growth regulator preventing insects from developing properly (they can't molt from one life stage into the next), and second it acts to stop the insect from feeding. Neem oil has nothing to do with mating process of insects. It is effective against aphids, many caterpillars and beetles, and a host of other pests. An application last about one week. However, Neem Oil also has some problems. Allergies to neem oil are reported in some people, as have negative effects on sperm and abortive effects in rats. If the oil is not properly treated during processing an aflatoxin which is an extremely potent natural carcinogen, may be present in the oil. Besides having the human health issues, listed above, neem is also toxic to aquatic organisms, so it should be used with care around bodies of water. Neem has a surprising low EIQ of 12.8. One plus for Neem Oil is that it can also be used as a fungicide. Its claim to fame is its excellent efficacy against powdery mildew. Most people who apply neem will apply it in a very small doses that shouldn't be toxic to people or animals. Personally, I would MUCH RATHER use Ultra Fine brand horticulture oils, rather than Neem oil. It has no order, is safer, and completely non toxic. Much of this information about Neem Oil, and more can be found in the book "The Truth About Organic Gardening" by Jeff Gillman.- Millet (1,406-)
     
  4. bob 2

    bob 2 Active Member

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    I like to use a bit of Canola and K soap in a spray for starters.
    If I don't get what I want in a few days I add a few mls of "magic". ;-)

    Millet, I wonder if the EIQ numbers have anything to do with the viscosty of the oils?
    I can't see anything that adresses the initial strengths (viscosty)
    of synthetics and natural oils?


    Bob
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2009
  5. greengarden bev

    greengarden bev Active Member

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    Millet again is on his bandwagon, trying to undermine organic practices on the organic discussion board. Watch out when he decides that something is bad because it isn't what he would use, or because his favourite chem-head author is not a fan. Every substance on earth is toxic in high concentrations. Be skeptical of Millet's claims. Mine, too, for that matter. Use your own judgment and do some research and consider the big picture. Here is some additional perspective, for starters.

    Almost all horticultural oils, including the "Ultra fine" he suggests, are petroleum byproducts ("Refined Light Paraffinic Petroleum Oil") . Made from non-renewable resources that require a lot of highly industrial processing with the associated pollution and social costs. Neem oil, on the other hand, can be processed at a relatively low cost at small-scale facilities. All the parts of the neem tree are used-- there is virtually no "waste product" and the neem industry in developing countries is allowing thousands of small-scale farmers to use less chemicals, increase yields and profits and support local economies. There is data to support this claim in the IRRI report linked below. So think of the big picture and use your own judgment.

    Toxicity is, of course, relative. Compared to conventional chemical insecticides, horticultural oils are positively benign, a great improvement and a far better choice. Compare the oral toxicity numbers of horticultural oil to other conventional pesticides:
    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IN197#TABLE_1 .

    Let's put some perspective on the concept of toxicity. At the toxicity levels we're talking about, a 150 lb person would have to swallow almost half a litre of oil (400 ml / 1.7 cups ) to receive a lethal dose. Then consider the fact that the initial poster is growing maple trees-- these leaves are never going to be ingested by humans. Even if they were, the amount of neem ingested would be infinitismal.

    The median dose toxicity of neem (5,000 mg/kg) is the same, or better, than that of hort. oils, depending on how one interprets "did not cause any oral toxicity"-- see IRRC report, quoted below. This report also quotes two studies showing no toxicity for sub-acute injection or for eye/dermal contact. On the other hand, for horticultural oil, an ingestion rate of 5,000 mg/kg killed 50% of the test animals.

    Millet's claim that neem is toxic to fish is true, but also misleading: horticultural oil is also highly toxic to fish: http://www.wmmg.com/pdf/msds/UFO_MSDS_R2_WEB.pdf (This is MSDS sheet for the "UltraFine"product that Millet recommends.

    The potential carcinogenic toxicity that Millet mentions is disingenuous-- the Aspergillis flavus fungus (that can produce an aflatoxin) is only present in contaminated neem. It is not caused by "improper treatment" during processing:

    "When extracted from clean and fungus-free seed kernels, neem oil did not cause any oral toxicity in laboratory rats even at 5,000 mg/kg of body weight" (NRC 1992)
    quoted from:
    http://books.google.ca/books?id=1T0QlaY8JcwC&pg=PA41&lpg=PA41&dq=ingesting+neem+danger&source=bl&ots=HvDOKKqAgd&sig=NcgwmhE-PJHMForfxR86hsTac0Q&hl=en&ei=gWq-SbTINIOaMuq6zaQI&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result#PPA21,M1
    The "human health issues" Millet claims are not "issues" at all. The "abortive effects" were caused when lab animals were given one-time intrauterine injections of neem oil. Ditto for the male rat infertility: neem was injected, not given orally. The one study showing "anti androgyn" effects of orally administered neem on lab animals was done with animals fed neem leaf every day for 24 days. It is difficult, as with all toxicity studies, to extrapolate from studies like these and one certainly cannot claim that there are "human health issues" as a consequence.
     
  6. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Beverly said...."because his favourite chem-head author is not a fan".....

    My FEW WORD reply. Beverly, don't assume, when you don't know. The book is VERY PRO organic, by a VERY PRO organic author. Personal Regards, Millet (1.405-)
     
  7. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Originally Published in the New York Post, June 2001

    June 2, 2001 — IF you buy organic food because you think it’s free of the cancer-causing pesticides used on other farms, think again. “Organic†farmers routinely spray their crops with naturally occurring pesticides - and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified pyrethrum, a top organic pesticide, as a “likely human carcinogen.â€

    Feeling paranoid yet? Well, in fact, the EPA made that call in secret, almost two years ago! The revelation about pyrethrum, with other recent findings, calls into question the superiority of organic farming.

    For decades, activists have claimed that organic food is healthier and kinder to the environment than “chemically farmed†food. Organic farmers, for example, didn’t use synthetic pesticides.

    What most people don’t realize - and activists try to hide - is that organic farmers are allowed to use a wide array of natural chemicals as pest killers. Moreover, these natural poisons pose the same theoretical (but remote) dangers as the synthetic pesticides so hated by organic devotees.

    Last year, we learned that rotenone, a natural insecticide squeezed from roots of tropical plants, causes symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in rats. Now we learn of the EPA’s pyrethrum decision.

    The EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee based its 1999 decision on the same high-dose rat tests long used by eco-activists to condemn synthetic pesticides. Because no one knows just how pyrethrum causes tumors, the committee also recommended assuming that even the tiniest dose can be deadly. (The same logic is used to brand hundreds of other chemicals as carcinogens.)

    Charles Benbrook, a long-time organic activist, notes that pyrethrum is applied to crops at low rates and that pyrethrum degrades relatively rapidly, minimizing consumer exposure. He’s right, but all this is true of today’s non-persistent synthetic pesticides as well.

    Pyrethrum and modern synthetic pesticides break down so rapidly that consumers are rarely exposed to any at all. Two-thirds of all fruits and vegetables tested as they leave the farm in the U.S. have no detectable pesticide residues - despite our being able to detect chemicals at parts per trillion levels. (That’s equivalent to 1 second in 31,000 years!)

    Pyrethrum is extracted from a type of chrysanthemum grown mainly in Africa. It is literally a nerve poison that these plants evolved to fight off munching insects. The dried, ground-up flowers were used in the early 19th century to control body lice.

    In fact, many of the widely used synthetic pesticides are based on natural plant-defense chemicals. Synthetic versions of pyrethrum (known as pyrethroids) make it possible to protect a crop with one or two sprays instead of spraying natural pyrethrum five to seven times at higher volumes.

    Organic activists hold to the twisted logic that if a toxic chemical can be squeezed from a plant or mined from the earth, it’s OK - but a safer chemical synthesized in a lab is unacceptable.

    It is possible to farm without pesticides, as demonstrated by a farm family recently highlighted in Organic Gardening magazine. They use a Shop-Vac and a portable generator in a wheelbarrow to daily suck insects off crops. Talk about labor-intensive! And even that won’t fight fungal or bacterial diseases, or insects that eat crops from the inside out. Organic coffee growers in Guatemala spray coffee trees with fermented urine as a primitive fungicide.

    Bruce Ames, noted cancer expert and recent winner of the National Medal of Science, notes that more than half of the natural food chemicals he tests come up carcinogenic - the same proportion as synthetic chemicals. These natural chemicals are collectively present in large amounts in the very fruits and vegetables that are our biggest defense against cancer.

    Medical and health authorities are unanimous in their recommendation of five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day to ward off cancer - no matter how they are grown. Lesson: high-dose rat tests vastly exaggerate risks.

    With global food demand set to more than double in the next 50 years and one-third of the planet’s wildlife habitat already converted to farmland, humanity must responsibly use pesticides to produce more per acre.

    There simply are no compelling reasons to demand chemical-free farming.

    Alex Avery is director of research at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Food Issues in Churchville, Va.
     
  8. greengarden bev

    greengarden bev Active Member

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    OMG, he's quoting ALEX AVERY! Millet, didn't you check his credentials? I know you guys are big on credentials.

    Alex Avery, like his dad Dennis, works for the ultra-right wing Hudson Institute. Among other questionable activities, Alex lobbies to raise the EPA's limits to nitrates in drinking water. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Alex_Avery.

    The Hudson Institue hired nice-guy Scooter Libby, and took under-the-table cash from Monsanto: http://www.mediatransparency.org/story.php?storyID=105

    The Hudson's Institute's young protege Alex Avery commands the moral high ground with articles like "Bring Back DDT, and Save Lives," Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2000

    and astounding propaganda of mind-blowing proportions:
    "Organic farming caused dust bowl," The Spokesman-Review.com, August 18, 2002.

    Here's what LobbyWatch thinks of him:
    http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=14

    Regarding Jeff Gillman being pro-organic... this is not even remotely true. The best that can be said about Mr. Gillman is that he is an organic critic . A thoughtful one, but a critic nonetheless. http://www.inthegardenonline.com/se...chives/290-Jeff-Gillman-on-Organic-Dogma.html .

    Gillman is right-on with his suspicions of big-ag and big-business "getting religion" when it comes to organics. As I've mentioned before, most of the originators of organic certification in the states have stomped off in disgust as the USDA and the Organic Standards Board have relaxed the regulations and permitted loopholes so that industrial farming operations and methods can get in on the act.

    I appreciate the perspective Gillman brings to the discussion. But he consistently undermines the goals and principles of organic growing by casting doubt and suspicion on the methods and so-called "safety concerns". The majority of human health (e-coli) issues in supermarket are caused by factory food, not organic. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_2407.cfm

    IMO, critics like Gillman serve to "gray" the issue, keep it from splitting into pro vs. con, black/white, us/them, either/or dichotomies. This is a good thing when the crowd jumps on the bandwagon and endorses a cause no matter what the social costs or negative side effects. In the case of organic farming, there is mounting public acceptance and support but I don't think its reached the mom-and-apple pie stage yet. Gillman may simply be before his time.

    I wish that critics like Gillman would stop nit-picking on things like compost tea and the imaginary "human health issues" of neem, and instead turn their attention to how the organic farming "industry" is being co-opted by agri-biz. As I've said before, organic agriculture is inevitable and we as a society need to figure out how to help it grow without becoming a grotesque, globalized parody of the system that brought us Monsanto and ADM.
     
  9. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    HOLD THE PHONE! Let's not hi-jack my thread and start a war on organic vs synthetic!! How rude!!! Millet, I think its highly uncouth of you to jump on an old bandwagon at the expense of my thread. Go start your own war on your own thread.

    Now both of you stop the sniping. I'm perfectly aware of the dangers of chemicals - both natural and synthetic. I've worked in the Pharmaceutical industry for years. There are good and bad chemicals found everywhere. Tobacco is a natural plant packed FULL of carcinogens, so don't get off on a tangent that "natural is good". Natural is good only if it IS good! But it can be bad as well. The same goes for synthetic - some is good, some is bad. In general I think the production process and waste products generated by synthetic are not as bio-friendly. The refining of petroleum is a truly toxic and environmentally costly process. I don't want anything with pretroleum derivatives. If I have a choice I try to choose GOOD organic alternatives.

    So if you have some specific ORGANIC products that might be effective on grasshoppers, then please speak up and make your recommendations. I didn't come to an Organic forum to hear about synthetic products. If I want info on those I can visit the Ortho web site. And please have the courtesy not to hi-jack threads to promote your own agendas. Sheesh!!

    K4
     
  10. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Sounds like a man with common sense. - Millet (1,404)
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2009
  11. greengarden bev

    greengarden bev Active Member

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    (Peeking out after an excellent volley from Kaitain...)
    ... like I was saying, neem is good...
     
  12. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    PRODUCTS USED BY ORGANIC NURSERIES

    ORGANIC FERTILIZERS:
    Compost
    Manure
    Bone meal
    Blood Meal
    Seaweed extracts
    Alfalfa meal
    Fish emulsions
    Green manure
    Cover crops
    Inter crops
    These organic fertilizers offer a wide range of nutrients beyond the simple nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium that many of the synthetic fertilizers do, but they tend to offer their nutrients at a low concentration, and the nutrition tends to e available to plants slowly instead of rapidly as with many synthetic fertilizers because of the low solubility of most of these products.

    ORGANIC pH ADJUSTMENT AMENDMENTS:
    Sulfur (to lower pH)
    Lime (to raise pH)

    ORGANIC WEED CONTROL:
    Corn gluten meal
    Flaming weeds
    Garlic oil
    Clove oil
    Vinegar
    Hand weeding
    Mulch
    Pelargonic acid (naturally occurring in many soaps)
    Sodium chloride
    Solarization

    ORGANIC INSECT CONTROL:
    Organic cultural practices
    Bagging
    Maintaining cleanliness
    Naturally resistant plants
    Providing nectaries
    Planting polycultures
    Companion Planting
    Traps & barriers
    Ant traps
    Japanese Beetle Traps
    Pheromones
    Sticky cards & paste
    Beneficial insects
    Lady bugs
    Praying mantis
    Minute pirate bugs
    Big-eyed bugs
    Nematodes
    Parasitic wasps

    ORGANIC INSECTICIDES:
    Bacillus papillae
    Beauvaria bassiana
    Boric acid
    Capsaicin
    Citrus oil
    Diatomaceous earth
    Garlic
    Hellebore
    Kaolin
    Neem
    Nicotine
    Pyrethrum
    Oils
    Quassia
    Rotenone
    Ryania
    Sabadilla
    Spinosad
    Soaps

    DISEASE CONTROL:
    Cleanliness
    Compost tea
    Manure tea
    Polycultures
    Companion planting
    Proper watering
    Proper fertilizing
    Planting disease resistant cultivars.
    Bacillus subtilis
    Bacillus pumilus
    Trichoderma harzianum
    Bordeaux mixture
    copper
    Lime sulfur
    Oxytetracycline
    Sulfur
    Organic matter

    This should be enough to get you started. You can find many of these and more in the book "The Truth About Organic Gardening" by Jeff Gillman. Beverly might actually read the book BEFORE she categorizes it.

    Millet (1,403-)
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2009
  13. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Thanks for the info but your sniping comment to Beverly at the end ruined it all. Go away!
     
  14. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    Hear Hear! I agree with Kaitain4!

    This forum is being abused unnecessarily and aggressively by a few members. Daniel, if you please..... jump in at any time....
    The plant lovers of this world are looking for peaceful answers and their respectful solutions not an antagonizing WAR!
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2009
  15. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Kaitain4 your most welcome, glad to be of assistance. - Millet (1,403-)
     
  16. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Esteemed Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I think Kaitain4 is doing a great job of marshaling things back on topic.

    I'm not particularly pleased with the personal jibes that are beginning to border on hostile -- keep the focus on plants is the general rule of thumb around here. There are plenty of ways to disagree politely, and sometimes we just have to agree to disagree (or be gracious) and concentrate on what was requested of by the original person seeking some knowledge.
     

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