Weed and pest control
At Fox Creek Farm, we control weeds through crop rotations (to break the weed cycle, and reduce the weed seed bank through blind cultivation), the management of soil health, mechanical cultivation and hand weeding.
As hand weeding is very labor intensive, you will find us going through crops that do look clean with our cultivation equipement: it is much easier to weed out small, fragile weeds, than it is to hoe and hand-pull the weeds that got away!
Pest management: We manage insect pests primarily through our growing practices, crop rotations, physical barriers (row cover), and as a last resort, when needed, some organically approved pesticides.
Growing practices: plants are most likely to experience high bug pressures when they are young or stressed. Setting out transplants instead of direct seeding avoids the vulnerable stage of very young plants in the field. We take great care in growing high quality transplants in our greenhouse. Starting with healthy plants reduces the impact of the so-called transplant shock. Growing plants in well-managed, fertile soils also reduce plant stress (and pest impacts).
Crop rotations: over the growing season, bug populations may build up. By moving a group of crops to another part of the farm, last years’ bug population will have a harder time finding their ‘favorite food’.
Physical barriers (row cover): for some of our crops, even a little amount of bug damage would be unsightly (for example, with Arugula, Mesclun, Pac Choi). We cover those crops at time of planting with row cover, which lets through air, water, and light, but does not allow bugs to enter.
Spraying: with the above, we follow integrated pest management practices. When needed, we use some pesticides approved for organic production, specifically pyganic (which is a botanical insecticide derived from chrysanthemums) and Spinosad (Spinosad is a natural substance made by a soil bacterium that can be toxic to insects), to control flea beetles in young brassicas (cabbage family), and Colorado potato beetle in potatoes. We also use clay on our cucurbits to deter squash bugs, and copper to prevent late blight. We don’t have a need to spray for any other pests, as at this point the pest populations are well below agronomic damage thresholds.