It may be that I had used inadequate strength of chili, garlic or pepper or
clay (same impact on skeleton as diatomaceous earth, less dramatic), or
maybe the weather was too damp for my spray to stick to the targets.
While I understand that tests may have value, if I start from the
proposition that soil deficiency, ergo plant nutrition, are critical, I
wonder how you would really ever get to standardise such a magnificently
diverse factor as soil.
When we've looked at some research scientists' plots on which, for example,
they try things on sheep, we've had to wonder what healthy animal could live
on such rotten over-grazed pasture - which would of course skew results away
from nutrition to problem-killing approaches.
Bear in mind, as you are no doubt reminded by the word 'sheep', that I am
writing from Australia, where soils are old and eroded and generally very
very thin, and a soluble ion like boron is likely to be deficient over a
wide area. Also bear in mind that soil tests are expensive for small
farmers, and that with sufficiently diverse underlying geology and
sufficiently rich soil ecology, including opening rock with very deep
rotting species, soil can improve itself if given a chance, and that really
needs to be given first priority, in my view. A soil test may provide some
critical guide as to some trace deficiency, but we have also had some major
regional disasters here where trace element deficiencies have been
determined and made up, only to find that there were other major factors
contributing to soil collapse, exhaustion, desiccation, devastation after a
short number of seasons.
I guess my original message in this thread was directed at widening the
question. It becomes easy to see such well-known questions as "What will fix
this particular?" or "what is the best way to apply this fix?" and run down
a narrow path which is just a variant on conventional farming but using
notionally acceptable substances, when what we should really be trying to do
is a dance with the soil and vegetation and beasts, with them seeking to
move to an ecological climax and we trying to divert them to a state of
utility and productivity, with modest divergence from their path, minimal
loss of their enthusiastic fundamental health.
The other pest management technique I use is the magic substance LTBTA
["leave the bloody thing alone"] which is the finest way of finding out
whether plants are suited to a local environment. The answer in our own
highly unreliable climate, sitting on unusually good soil for Australia, is
that one year will suit one fruit tree, the next year may suit another, the
long term recommends both. A case: my intervention in the past, for example
adding iron [ferric azoterbacterial sludge from the creek] to citrus, which
everybody assured me they needed, resulted in a potassium deficiency (if my
observation of autumn pests is an appropriate base for such a judgment). A
single dose of wood ash and years of mulching and LTBTA have corrected the
problem, no more aphids.
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