Learn somethin’ new every day

One fine day, the sheep needed to be fed. Nick, who I amicably refer to as Farmer Boss, took a fellow intern Jurgen and I in the Ranger buggy to feed the wiltipol sheep. Stocked with sheep grub, we zoomed through the olive grove in attempt to beat the hungry flock chasing after us toward the feeder trays. No sooner than I decided to hold on for dear life did a mess of lambs dart out in front of us clumsily kicking and prancing- as aimless as they are adorable! We poured the grain and chaff and stood back and observed the ewes gather and munch lustily. Our attention was drawn to the olive trees. Farmer Boss Nick pointed out the lace wing pest that had wiped our nearly every tree of a particular variety (good thing there are several varieties in the grove!) Another problem with the olive trees is black sooty stuff. These trees are sick, and like any sick organism, these trees need a remedy. A simple remedy in particular would do a lot of good, not just in one way, nor two, not three, but at least four ways. Farmer Boss Nick prescribes simply to raise up some hardenburgia violacea. This will draw some beneficial mycelium in the soil, attract some much needed predatory insects, provide more diverse sheep fodder, fix some wonderful nitrogen in to the soil, and probably more. This exemplifies a key tenet of permaculture: stacking functions. Awesome. It’s good to be here.



Filed under Animals, Gardens

2 responses to “Learn somethin’ new every day

  1. DrBretto

    the back stuff may well be sooty mould, which proliferates on honeydew. In turn, the honeydew is left by aphids, scales and lerps. These are often encouraged by ants.
    So…ant control can be achieved by puting grease (mineral/animal/vegetable) around the trees. The scales and aphids are controlled in conventional horticulture by a spray of white oil. If that is too “chemical” for you, a soap spray or soap+garlic spray will do the trick (but be aware that they are not very friendly in environmental terms – keep well away from waterways). The mould itself is not worth controlling – once the insects are gone, it will disappear too.
    I notice mention of “mycelium” with H. violacea. Perhaps you mean Rhizobium (the symbiotic ntirogen-fixing organism in the little pink nodules on the roots of legumes like Hardenbergias). There are mycelia asociated with mycorrhizae (VA and other types), but those are not especially associated with Hardenbergias, and do not add nitrogen to the soil. They are associated with the uptake of nutrients of low solubility, such as phosphorus and zinc.
    Despite saying so much already, I’ll add a last note – there’s a good chance that the sooty mould is associated with too much nitrogen in the soil, rather than too little. When there’s lots of nitrogen in the soil, it is taken up in luxury amounts and the sap becomes very rich in nitrogen. Insects need lots of nitrogen to grow (they are high in protein, which is about 6% nitrogen). When they find a plant growing in nitrogen-rich soil, they sometimes grow and breed out of control, as they seem to have on your olives.
    Say hi to Claire Bruce Farmer for me!

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