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325. I want this garden to work for me and not me work for it |Patti Armbrister |
5th July 2020 • GREEN Organic Garden Podcast • Jackie Marie Beyer
00:00:00 01:16:45

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All right. Welcome to the GREEN Organic Garden Podcast. It is Friday, June 26, 2020, and Patti Armbrister talked me into doing a video live. So here we are doing video, but she's going to do some screen share and I'm going to turn it over to her so she can tell us all her amazing golden seeds. So welcome to the show. Patti, welcome back to the show Patti.



Well, yes, thank you, Jackie. I just see later that we are going to get to have a conversation to share and listeners posted about coming to visit.



I haven't posted the advice you gave me, but I talked about, well, maybe I recorded it.It was one we met with Robin in Whitefish. Actually I recorded it on the way home. So I haven't done an episode about you coming to visit. So I guess listeners you'll hear that soon, but in the meantime, what are we going to talk about today?



Yeah, they'll be good. Oh, we're going to talk about all kinds of stuff for one thing. It's here in Eastern Montana. It is like the most phenomenal growing season you've ever seen or I've ever seen. And I've been here since 1990 to give you an idea that then every single season has been different, right? But this year, this spring is just unbelievable. The plants can't ask for anything more than what they've received this year.



So they're just looking amazing and producing!


So, yeah, I'm pretty excited that I've been able to eat kale out of my garden for the month!

Previous to that, I was eating out of the passive solar greenhouse as a school.


My goal is to eat kale year round, growing in Montana.


So that's what I want to be doing. So I'm getting closer and closer to it. I would just keep trying to tweak it, figure it out. When do I need to plan it? Where does it need to be in the wintertime and how to get it done? But we're getting really close.


I had a plant at the school garden in the passive solar green house this year and that plant, I was harvesting it in March,


I was wondering if you were eating it? When did you plant it?


The little kids and I planted it in September, right in September.



And so we I planted a seedling and then they transplanted it into these containers, which we tried five different varieties when we did that. And we only had the one variety, make it all the way through and be where that I could harvest it. I do have another variety, which is the red Russian that is, I'm still producing right now, but I wasn't able to harvest it for the three or four months that I was harbored minus this curly kale, that type.



So there's more of a cold Hardy kale. So the ones with the real crinkly leaves not to dinosaur kale, but the real crinkly leaves are in, you know, and they're, they're kind of the curve celled plants. So they, they, they really it's done really well. Now it's produced them seed. So I'll be collecting seeds, hopefully sharing them down the road with the Good Seed Company.



I planted seeds with my students on like March 2nd. Cause it was like right before school, we had to go home and I did send her home with the kids that I took home that I planted a container didn't really grow any faster. That whole time to the ones that I ended up putting in the ground outside. And then those ones took off. They both, like, I just felt like maybe it was too soon or trying to plant them in the container. I don't know what I did wrong. They didn't do very well.


Well, sometimes it's just timing. And sometimes it's the depth of the container.


Like these are in a pot that's probably 20 inches deep. These, these kale were, so it was kinda mimicing and we play another plants in with them.


So in the beginning it was a poly planting, which I promote, right. Diversity all the way around as much diversity as you can put in.


And so they had diversity through the fall, but then when it got really cold, those, those guys got fall out of the system. But yeah, it makes a big difference. I think that the plants really know how many daylight hours is going on out there. And so they, they are triggered by that.


They're doing all kinds of communication that we have just barely, barely starting to learn a little bit about. And so that's what I've been honing in on, especially when it comes to some of the pests in the garden.


Like for example,our favorite friends are slugs, which I've been really working on dramatically the last couple of years to try to figure out how, how do we live with them?


Because they are one of the key decomposers, right? So it doesn't like we want to anialate them. What I want to do is figure out how I can get imbalanced to live with them. And so anything that finishes out it, so life cycle and soil, which they do, I think can be controlled in the soil. So that's where I've been attacking them. Along with our flea beetles.



Our favorite friends are flea beetles, but attacking them with, with beneficial nematodes.


And so my population of slugs this year is like hardly nothing compared to what it was a year ago with just time. And so I know I'm gaining, but I'm going at it in multiple, multiple ways, not just the nematodes, but the nematodes I think, are really helping to keep the population reduced.


So, and those plants, so, you know, we'll have one plant right side by side or another in one plant is viciously getting attacked and it looks fine.


It doesn't look any different than the one next to it. The one next to it is not getting attacked. And so that plant that's getting ate is sending out signals to come eat me.


We've got to figure out, okay, how do we get this plant to be happier or healthier? Which I think a lot of times it's healthier to not send those signals because if it sends those signals. It doesn't matter what I do. I'm not going to be able to stop the attack.


I've been trying to use like, I'll break the lower leaves off of, especially the cabbages they've they just love cabbage.


So break the lower leaves off the cabbages, especially the ones that are touching the ground. They're already getting hammered by either slugs or other pests. The seconds, those plants are not attached to the plant. They're sending signals to usually through chemical signals that they need eight and decompose.


And so decomposers come in, which is the slug is going to be the first responder. And so they're going to go get out of those leaves. So I just take a bucket with a little bit of water in it, take those leaves and dump them into the bucket.


And for some reason in nature, or God did not allow a slug to swim, right? Most, every creature on earth swims, but not a slug, they cannot do that. So it's a quick, easy way to get rid of them. They're dead. There was be a few tries to crawl out of the bucket. I just give them a good little swirl in there they're out of there.


And so that's been working really well versus, you know, handpicking them or whatever, but so yeah, I know.


Awesome! So that's one of the questions I get over and over what do I do about pests and bugs and especially slugs!


Yup. Yup. And so I think planning a lot of diversity really helps. Like I have kale planted kind of in pods right now where there's three and four, maybe five plants together for the cabbages, kale, beets, stuff like that. So that I've got other plants in there amongst them flowering plants. I've noticed that the, none of the slugs like anything to do with the garlic or onions and they seem to stay away from those beds better than the others.



And so I think figuring out some combinations of what to be planting is going to be helpful for gardeners instead of when we plant one straight row of something and, that plant sending a signal for the pest to come in, there's nothing a gardner's going to be able to do outside of using chemicals that act actually is just a bandaid. It didn't fix the problem. It might've stopped a problem for that right then, but it's not gonna solve the issue. You're just asking for it!



So we got to start thinking, okay, how do we do this different? Okay. If I plant, I plant a few kale here, a few cabbages and other locations, the slugs love the radishes. So does a flee beetles.


So I use the radish and the mustards as a trap crop, plant them far away from where you want to put your key cabbages and kale.


I haven't noticed them on a kholarabi, which is funny, cause it kind of same family, but, but anyhow, plant that trap crop way away from them, which you draw those pests to those other plants.



Especially if you water, if you're going to water overhead, you water your trap crop overhead, do not water the rest of the plants overhead.


That's going to really pull the slugs over in that direction. Cause they just love a damp, wet environment even when they can't swim. So that will pull them that way though, in a way from your, your target crop.


But I just really think a lot of gardeners need to get to the three year Mark with their no till and regenerative practices.



Because when you do, it's like the tipping point. When you get to that point, your plants are so healthy and so strong and sending out positive signals and they have a defenses of microbes all around them that you don't have any pests.


And so we got to get to that point.


And so a lot of people maybe like for instance, I had a gardener that was going on the no till they were going pretty good there in a year and a half of no till and something went wrong with their clover, their clover winter killed.



So they had Clover in their walkways. And so they decided to till it, instead of just receded and when they did, they just opened up the box to start over again, because now the flea beetles have come in and just literally wiped out their whole garden!

Even green beans and all because they had the serve, the predator that was going to eat the flea beetles, eggs in the soil!


So when we, till or disturbed that soil we're killing out beneficials, that would have helped us with most of these past that if they live out their life cycle in the soil.



So that would be our slugs or flea beetles, which are our two biggest enemies in Montana that I've discovered for gardeners is those. So if we can not disturb that soil and figure out ways that we can do it, like I've been buying these nematodes, right. I'm creating nematodes in my compost, but I buy these nematodes that are beneficial nematodes online that will eat flea beetle eggs.



Right? So that's, that's what I've been doing. And then I put them out twice a year becaue your flea beetles have 2 seasons, because a lot of people don't understand that either. So they did this year and then they go lay their eggs. They, they reproduced now you have massive numbers of flea beetles come from that first for the places like where he was going to plant the <inaudible> early in the spring and keep those numbers down.



And then, you know, green beans and we get that summer match really will come into the numbers down. Like right now I have goals in mind to just go a little garden, which you couldn't do anything you'd have to really growing in there from last winter. Usually be an idea here. I can show you a picture we end up having to dig up. So I thought that worked awesome this year.


I'll tell you I scored a billboard tarp, and they were taking it down and I said can you give that to me. and Mike did half the minifarm in tarps this year and it was just awesome!


And so you were doing it to suffocate out the plants so that you Solarize?


He did it for like places where he was gonna plant the green beans after frost. Things that can't go in till later, usually those places are full of weeds and just a huge ordeal, everything else growing from March till June, this year it seemed early, but to be able to just pull those tarps off and just maybe turn it with the broadfork a little but to not have anything growing there was so much labor intensive. Usually in the spring he would usually have to clean up.



Yeah. And that works really, really well for both market gardens and small gardens. If a small gardener knows, okay, I'm having grass invade in this garden or whatever, man, get it tarpped in. I'd like to tarp it when that plant, that grass is still growing, right?


So if you tarp it in the fall, but when the plant is still doing photosynthesis, it's still trying to grow up above andgather sunlight. And so you tarp at them, it's going to really knock things back really, really hard.



So, yeah, that's a good idea.

[gallery ids="136937,136938" type="rectangular"]



So IDK Can you see, this is, this is some of the kale, kholaRabi and broccoli. And then of course it's inner inner planted withPhacelia, which is called <bee friend> is its nickname and the bees just love it.


And then in a way background, there is a puny back there, but on the fence is a honey crisp Apple that I'm going to be training to go flat across that fence.


So it won't, won't be taking the sunlight up from these beds, but this bed is a four foot by 16 bed and it's got a whole row of celery on the backside of it.


And it's already produce a lot of food in it.


Doesn't have any Pests, no pests of any kind whatsoever going on in there because of it.


Ît looks super healthy


Yeah, because of the diversity and, and you know, people think in, you know, all of my lifetime of up until the last 10 years! I was always thought in my grandparents, parents, myself, always thought, okay, the plants are competing thatI need to have just broccoli here or just kale here.



But that's just really false. That is so far from true!


And I'm like, Oh my gosh, the plants are helping each other.


And the more diverse of plants you have, the more they help each other. They're not only helping each other with pests, but they're helping each other with nutrients and water!And so they're sharing through the roots and the fungi and organic matter that it's just, amazing!


I was just can't stress enough we need to plant morediversity.


So this is another sorry for the sunlight. I took these right before we got on the computer here, but I have some perennial plants in here. Oh, this is perennial grasses are two different kinds of grasses that are in front of the screen. One is our blue bunch wheat grass, which is our state grass, just awesome grass, but really getting to be hard to find out on the range because we overgrazed it in the next grass to it



The taller one is actually a native grass too. And it's on basin based on ryegrass. And so both grasses are benefiting the bees. The bees spend quite a bit of time in grass, which I don't know exactly why, but I think they do go after the pollen when, when the, when the flowers are blooming, we don't always yes.


Î was just out in the mini farm and it was like a wave of smoke, I walked by this tall grass!


Yup, yup. Yeah. Yup. The grasses are being very happy right now, but they also are a perennial plants.


So they're putting out root exudates which feed the soil microbes. And so the more photosynthesis this plant could do, the more food there is going into the soil to feed soil food web.


And so it just makes an incredible positive circle, you know, and if I had been, if I'd seen this picture when I was young, no I would have thought, Oh, those grasses are taking a up all the energy and all the water, but that's not really, that's not...




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