Compost tea recipe

We make compost tea from the worm castings from our vermiculture bins.  We put 10 pounds of worm compost, a half cup of fish emulsion, 1/2 cup seaweed extract, and one cup of molasses in a 55 gallon drum of water from our tilapia tank.  We add aerators and wait 24  hours.  You can then put some of the tea on a slide and check under the microscope to see if it is  teaming with microbial action. Then spray it on the vegetables, fruit trees and bare ground before planting.   Once the tea is made it should be used within a few hours. It is a fungicide, deters some bugs and fertilizes the plants. It increases the microbial action in the soil and is an excellent foliar feed for any plant. Spray in the mornings before the sun hits the plants whenever possible.

Here is a formula for making  compost tea in a five gallon bucket:

Put 4 cups of good fungus rich compost in a cloth paint strainer

add—1  tablespoon liquid seaweed

1  tablespoon hydrolysate fish

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon of a good sea salt for root vegetables

Fill the bucket with rain water or river water and aerate with an aquarium bubbler  for 24 hours.

The best compost is worm compost, but if you have some good compost you can make it better.  Take a pound of compost, add 1/4 pound of rolled oats, 1 tablespoon each of fish emulsion, seaweed extract, humic acid, and molasses.  Moisten the mixture and let it sit for a week, mixing it every other day.

GMO labeling

There is a lot of evidence out there that the recent science experiment on the human population with genetically modified foods is a disaster.  It is wrecking our environment and destroying our health. It is also a threat to our seed supply as GMO seed is now interbreeding with heirloom seed. The companies that develop these frankenfoods financially control the elected officials that are supposed to be OUR representatives.  The one chance we have to dull the impact of these dangerous foods is to demand they be labeled. If we knew that a food was genetically modified most of us would not eat it. Most corn and soy that is not labeled organic is GMO, but the problem is that organic is being contaminated by pollen drift and soon we may have no food that is not infected with genes that the human body does not reject.  This is a good article       GMO labeling

Watercress growing organically over the tilapia tank

I was a bit surprised how well the watercress is growing in our aquaponics system in this heat (up to 108˚).  We run 3200 gallons of water per hour through the gravel lined grow beds to simulate a running stream and filter the fish’s water. Watercress is one of the more amazing vegetables. There are some amazing health benefits of watercress.  We eat it raw on sandwiches, salads, baked potatoes, pasta and–oh, everything.  And since it grows over the tilapia I should try a watercress atop tilapia recipe.  The tilapia are only two inches long right now so I will wait.

fall tomatoes

Some basic info on growing tomatoes in Houston for the fall garden.
Purchase an organically grown tomato from  Laughing Frog Farm.  I grow mostly small tomatoes in the fall because they are easier to ripen during the short days in November. Put about one tablespoon of rock phosphate or bone meal in the bottom of the hole and bury the plants deeper than they were in the pot.  Spread a thin film of cornmeal around the plant and mulch over that to keep the weeds down. Cage the tomatoes with a large cage, about 2’ diameter and 5’ high for most heirlooms, or stake the plant. Try and shade the plant from the ravages of afternoon sun. Do not fertilize until the plants begin to flower. Use only organic fertilizer like fish emulsion, cottonseed meal, Micro Life, Medina, etc.  Once the plant is a few feet tall remove the leaves from the bottom one foot of the plant to reduce the chance of fungus developing. Water regularly and deeply about twice a week and never water the leaves, only the soil.  Squash lots of stinkbugs/leaf-foot bugs.

Is sustainable the same as organic?

At the Laughing Frog Farm I grow my fruits and vegetables following the organic standards set by the USDA in the “7 CFR Part 205 National Organic Program”, with the exception of the record keeping requirements. I am not certified organic and, therefore, cannot advertise my produce as organic. At the Urban Harvest Farmers Market they have decided to use the term “sustainable” for this type of business, but, of course, that term means different things to different people. To clarify what products go into the food I grow and you eat, I have compiled a list of everything I use or might use. Usually we start with organic seed and dress with compost.  Our normal fertilizer is compost tea, molasses, fish meal and seaweed extract. We use the other organically approved  products when necessary. I strongly believe that neither the human body, nor the soil and water that feeds us, should be exposed to synthetic nitrates, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides or genetically modified crops.

Many of these products belong in multiple categories.

About half of these products I have never used but would feel comfortable using if needed.

Fertility :
Compost and compost tea Fish emulsion
Cottonseed meal, alfalfa meal, seaweed extract, rock phosphate, greensand, apple cider vinegar, lava sand, epsom salt,  potassium sulfate, kelp, humic acid, molasses, dolomite lime, cornmeal,  micronutrients,
magnesium sulfate

Orange oil,    corn gluten meal,     baking soda,     potassium bicarbonate

Garlic and pepper emulsions ,      diatomaceous earth
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt),        neem oil
orange oil soap,       beer (snails)

Other stuff:
Mycorrhizal fungi,    sulfur,     copper sulfate ,    sodium hydroxide,    lime,    sharp sand,
hydrogen peroxide,      perlite,      peat moss,      coir

We test our water and our soil regularly. Contact me if you have more questions or wish to schedule a farm visit— 713-542-6615

Fruit tree fertilization schedule

Laughing Frog Farm

Your first job is make sure the tree you are getting is right for your area. There is a difference between a peach you would plant in downtown Houston and one you would plant in Bryan.  Also citrus grown for the Rio Grande Valley will not preform well here and those are the ones you will most likely see in most chain stores. I recommend not buying from the big box stores, or from anyone that cannot tell you what rootstock the tree is on.
You can plant a container grown tree at any time during the year, but deciduous trees will find a more accepting home if planted when dormant (Dec. Jan. Feb.). Plant bare root trees immediately upon purchase. (Consequently don’t purchase them when they are not dormant).
Plant tropicals and citrus after the major chance of freeze is over in the spring.
Water your trees deeply once a week in the dry summer weather–more often if the temperatures are over 90˚.
Spread the fertiliser evenly out two feet past the drip line and not next to the trunk. Do not use synthetic chemicals.  Fruit trees need fungi and synthetic chemicals kill it. Ideally you should get a soil test from Texas Plant and Soil Lab, with organic suggestions.  Micro-life 6-2-4 is a very good organic fertilizer for this area. Cottonseed meal is a less expensive alternative.
Top dress with a thin layer of compost and add three inches of mulch to the drip line but not touching the trunk.  Mulch helps insulate the soil, aids bio-activity, decreases the amount of water you need to add, and controls weeds. It won’t stop bermuda grass, though,  so you might need to lay out five or six layers of wet newspaper first.  Following is a maximum amount you would need for five year old trees.  Use 1/4 dose for second year trees, 1/2  for third year trees and 3/4 for the fourth year. This is for trees planted in the ground. For potted plants use half a cup at the same date for 5 gallon pots, 1 cup for 10 gallon sizes and so on.

I prefer to not fertilise trees until they have been in the ground one year.

One of the easiest ways to remember fertilization dates for deciduous trees is Valentines day, Mothers Day and Fathers day
Fertilization with cottonseed meal or micro life 6-2-4 for a four year old and older tree:

Apples persimmons, pomegranates, figs and stone fruit
Valentines day 16 cups
Mothers and fathers days 8 cups
Blackberries and blueberries
Valentines day 8 cups .
Mothers and fathers days 4 cups
Bunch grapes
Valentines day 10 cups
Mothers and fathers days 4 cups
15 cups March
6 cups April, June .

March  8 cups
May 4 cups

How much you fertilize depends on the natural fertility of your soil and the quality of your compost. In the September and February apply compost and re-mulch.

I spray trees monthly with compost tea.  This suppresses disease and helps with insect problems.

Spray deciduous fruit trees with organic dormant oil in Feb.
Thin stone fruits so fruits are not touching one another.

Garlic pepper spray–insect repellant

To control many pests try a garlic pepper spray. Put two whole garlic bulbs, three habanero peppers, four oz. apple cider vinegar and about two tablespoons of molasses in a blender 2/3 full of hot water. Puree and let it sit overnight. Strain it into a gallon jug and finish filling the jug with water.

You can add four oz of fish hydroslate and 4 oz of liquid seaweed for more fertility.

Use 1/4 cup of this mixture with 1 gallon of water and spray where needed.