Pest and disease free vegetables


Every year during the vege growing season we have people contact us about pest or disease issues with their crops.

If I took all the ideas and potential solutions out of all of my organic gardening books, they would fill pages and possibly even whole books. There is no shortage of ideas out there for getting rid of pests or even disease. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t and we never know why. 

For many years I tried all kinds of techniques like, spraying with copper for tomato and potato blight, spraying diatomaceous earth for  shield bugs ( stink bugs), I tried going out at night and picking off snails and slugs, planting corn further apart to avoid corn rust,  etc etc etc…. And now after 15 years of focusing on soil health those things are long lost in my memory. I haven’t done anything at all to get rid of a pest or disease in my home garden for 15 years, and Koanga almost never as well, over that same period. 

My understanding is that if we were making principle based decisions we should be able to achieve High BRIX food without major pest and disease issues, and our experience here at Koanga shows that to be true… and it doesn’t take 15 years before being able to throw away the sprays .. .

The process of making principled decisions requires some  education …. . The best book I have ever found  to understand  the principles involved and the steps to do this is Nourishment Home Grown. By A.E. Beddoe. This book however is a bit like doing another degree, too  much for many of us, but amazing and life changing for those who really want to get into it.

Koanga has made available to you through our Growing Nutrient Dense Food Workshop, our Growing Nutrient Dense Food Booklet and now our Growing Nutrient Dense Food online workshop, a brief version of the principles and the actions in the form of some theory around the ‘laws of nature’; and then a step by step process to support you to begin the journey towards growing nutrient dense food, which is essentially the same as the journey towards building living soil. 

When we are able to build soil containing lots of air, correct moisture levels, ( good drainage and water application) growing levels of humus, and high and balanced levels of minerals and microbes, the food we grow has a higher vibration than if it was grown in soils lacking some or any of the above. When a plant has a high vibration (BRIX of 12 or more) that plant is mostly made up with complex sugars. Insects and fungi can not digest complex sugars and they are also not attracted to these plants. Insects and fungi are attracted to plants with a lower vibration, signalling that they are made up of simple sugars, like ice cream to insects and fungi! 

For human health we need plants built on complex sugars. 

Our Growing Nutrient Dense Food Workshops here at Koanga and our Booklets and ReGen  On- line Workshops are designed to take you through how to  build  the kind of soil that grows highly functioning plants.

If we had amazing terra preta type soils and we didn’t need to be even concerned about soil quality , our vegetables  would just ask for whatever they needed via the soil microbes and fungi, and grow to their highest potential.

I’m afraid we simply just don’t have these soils, no matter how big our tantrums about that are, so it is usually helpful, when we are committed to building soil over time to make an effort to understand a little better all the time about “how plants grow’ and how we can best support that growth when we have less than ideal soils.

The first stage of  plant growth is germination…. All of the food for the emerging plant at this point comes from the seed. The quality of the seed  determines the quality of the seedling at this point… the best seeds are high BRIX grown heritage seeds who have the ability to fully  communicate with the life in the soil, a requirement for a plant reaching it’s potential, and something that can not happen with F1 hybrids, GE seeds, CMS seeds, gene edited seeds and seeds grown in the  presence of glyphosate..

Stage 2  of a seedlings growth is when the roots go down to stabilise a shoot to go up. The roots require alive microbially active soil  so they can build a bridge using root exudates, to feed the microbes so in turn the microbes can feed the plant. Ensuring you have alive seed raising mix is essential to either make your own or get a certified organic mix ( NO FUNGICIDES IN IT).  Daltons is best. I make mine with half compost half soil and usually also some vermicast… lots of life!. The more nutrients the plant can be fed by the microbes depends on how much root exudates are passed to the microbes, and they in turn are produced by the photosynthesizing leaves  in the presence of sunlight.

On day 1 of being able to see a  green leaf,  you will also be able to see the root exudates coming out of the roots. Up to this point the seed quality and the seed raising mix quality is critical.. I always add  a handful of Nature’s Garden fert if I’m using even organic commercial seed raising mix, simply not enough minerals in it to enable the seedlings to grow to their potential.

Pricking out must happen now before the roots get too big and all intertwined in each other and the damage separating them is too great for them to ever fully recover.

Pricking out must be done before the plant wants to do a huge growth spurt in both roots and tops above ground. For our seedlings to be able to do this growth spurt they need to have been pricked  out into an amazing living seed raising mix containing high levels of minerals and microbes , or your own mix. Able to fully support them with nutrients..

As soon as this first growth spurt has happened the seedling leaves will be touching and it is a critical time to transplant them into the garden. In order for them to continue growing without stopping, the soil must also be full of air, moist, containing high levels of humus/carbon, and high and balanced levels of minerals and microbes. Building this  is often a slow process, and can be done in many ways.  Using ramial wood chip, using compost, using fertilizer and biochar,  etc etec. I recommend getting soil tests done by BioServices , and carefully building your experience and learning. 

The more you can come to understand the patterns of a growing plant , the easier it becomes to make decisions that support the plant to grow to its potential rather than with all the good intentions in the world, doing things that hold it back or actually very often preventing it from reaching its potential.

In the meantime there are foliar sprays for supporting plant growth, foliar sprays for supporting fruit set and health, etc etc. Check out Environmental fertilisers range.

Other things I keep an eye on all the while I’m doing everything else is

  1. Watering, all plants get stressed if they do not have access to the after they need. Make your garden smaller if necessary to be able to supply the water (up to 5-10 litres per sq m per day over Summer)

  2. Focus on building carbon/humus via compost, biochar in compost, leaf mould,  ramial wood chip to maximise water retention,  minerals absorption, microbe homes

  3. Keeping as big a worm farm as possible so there is enough vermicast to use as fertilizer in seed trays and even garden beds at time.. Full of microbes, humates and nutrients creating ideal environment for plant roots

  4. Learn to make really great compost ( see the on- line making Great Compost Workshop), or The Art of Compost Booklet. .Of course we also teach that in our Biointensive and  Growing Nutrient Dense Food Workshops as well. 

  5. Hone your observation skills, all of your vege plants need to be kept growing at all times, if they stop it is because they are stressed in some way.. Figure out,  which way…. 

This is just a beginning really, there is a lot more to learn and experience, but know that Koanga exists to support you all to become regenerative gardeners and there are many ways we can do that.

Kay Baxter, August 2020