Burton Dale's Organic Farming 102 - How To Grow Your Own Food

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 to eat."

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