Last Friday we brought you the first installment of Burton Dale's response to a few emailed questions regarding organic farming. Here's part II, where Burton explains how you can do it yourself.
"How can the average working person get in on the action? Most working people do not own land of an acre or more. So until they can, I would gainsay they can have a garden that will help sustain them as costs rise and jobs disappear. I am living on an acre of land, but my age would kill me should I try to bring it into cultivation for profit. Did I tell you that I farmed in Lake City for six years before I made a profit? I could not get one dime more for my organic produce and eggs than the poisoned offerings in the market. My profit during this time was I knew I was producing food that brought life, not death to those who ate it. And we had plenty to eat.
A working person can grow enough greens to keep health easily enough on the 30th floor balcony with a five gallon bucket and a ten dollar plastic mudbox from Home Depot or Lowes.
Buy a cheap plastic water pump like those found everywhere for
inddor/outdoor circulating fountains and drill a one inch hole at one
end of the mud box. Place a piece of plastic window screen inside the
mud box and fill the box with any good potting soil. Put the pump
inside the bucket, run a plastic tube from the pump to the mudbox
opposite from the side with a hole. Place the mud box on a table or
support so the hydroponic solution can drain by gravity back into your
five gallon bucket.
Hunt around a garden supply that has soft rock phosphate, if you decide
to use any fertilizer, find one that does not contain potassium
chloride or muriate of potash. It will make stuff grow for a while,
but will poison your dirt. For lime avoid anything that says dolomite
or magnesium carbonate, it just compacts your soil and sends nitrogen
away. Any fertilizer should be potassium sulphate, and you can use
Epsom salts a teaspoon to the bucket to supply magnesium. We live in
South Florida so go to the beach with a garbage bag and fill it with
dried seaweed (Sargassum). When you get home, cut some of it up, about
three handfuls more or less, and mix it into your potting soil to
supply micronutrients. For lime you can go into any Latino grocery and
ask for cal the white powder used to make masa from corn. Sounds like
a lot of fuss which it is until you have most of the stuff. Experiment. The plants will tell you what you need to do. It's kind
of like a new baby. They don't come with a manual, but that doesn't
stop people from having them.
What to do? Take a half cup of your fertilizer. Not totally organic? You gradually go from this to wole organic in time. Why? Organic is
life moving at a much slower pace than we expect. put a teaspoon of
epsom salt in the bucket. You can even add some fish emulsion, but be
forewarned your neighbors may abort your project if you do this. Now
add one teaspoon of your urine and NO MORE to the bucket to provide the
auxins to spark root growth. Organic? This is organic. Also add a half
cup of your soft rock phosphate powder. You can also add a half cup of
plaster of Paris now or later in the season. Stir everything well and
don't fret when it doesn't all dissovle. Empty the bucket ever three
weeks, and make a new batch. Every day check the level of solution and
top off with tap water or rainwater if you have it.
Fill the bucket with water, manually let the pump run for a day or so
to make sure it all works and go bury some seeds. I do not suggest
plants because the plants are all grown with poisons you are tryin to
avoid. Buy some peat pots or make your own out of an old Miami New
Times. Roll a half sheet on a juice glass, smush the paper overhanging
the bottom of the glass to make a paper cup. Fill with damp, not soggy
potting soil, fill a tray with you homemade potting cups, plant three
seeds in each cup and cover with on sheet of an old Miami New Times. Spray to keep damp when you get up in the morning and when you go to
bed at night. Keep the tray dark, moist, and humid until the seeds
sprout and pull the paper off. Pinch off the two weakest plants plant
the survivor in your mudbox. A jobe fertilizer spike 3 inches from the
each plant will get it moving.
Empty the bucket ever three weeks, and make a new batch. Every day
check the level of solution and top off with tap water or rainwater if
you have it. This is a repeat because it is important to your success.
That's pretty much it folks. Enjoy your garden and plant what you like
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.