Tag: Organic Gardening

Organic Hobby Farming Book Review

Organic Hobby Farming

Andy Tomolonis shares gardening knowledge and so much more in his text Organic Hobby Farming: A Practical Guide to Earth-Friendly Farming in Any Space. Even though the sub-title includes the term any space, most of the book is geared toward gardening on a slightly bigger scale than most households. However, the author himself lives in suburbia. Thus, anyone can gain from Organic Hobby Farming.

The first six chapters focus on the organic. Tomolonis starts with evaluating the land. He gives tips an assessing both grounds and property structures. He focuses on small amounts of land. The book includes tips on finding farmland. Furthermore, questions to ask about zoning if you plan to stay within city limits are included. Also, references to websites and agencies both in the United States and in Canada that provide further information are cited.

After extensively discussing elements needed for a good property to farm, the second chapter turns to tools of the trade. Again the information is useful and the tips provide actual value to your pocketbook. In addition to describing various tools, both hand and machine, the author shares how the implements must be cared for in order to comply with organic farming.

Soil Care

Chapter three discusses the science of the soil better than any book I have previously read. The diagrams and photos gave a great understanding of soil composition. The information given by ph table and the points on soil typing are easily understood. Tomolonis incorporates the natural ways to improve soils into the chapter. This informative chapter includes composting, soil sampling and testing.

Calendar of Farm Chores

Organic Hobby Farming gets to the heart of organic gardening in chapters four, five and six. Chapter four contains a calendar of farm chores. Tomolonis shares the fact he is in zone 6 and explains how readers in other zones can adapt the information. Each month goes into detail what needs to take place on the farm (or in your yard) that month. For example, the book highlights floating cover crops during cooler weather and pests and diseases once the temperature warms up.

While chapter 5 extends the discussion on bugs and distinguishes beneficial from bad, the information focuses on individual plants. Not every vegetable known to man has its own spotlight. But the book details those typically grown at home or found at a farmer’s market. Also, the chapter discusses herbs.

Tomolonis gives great information on each highlighted edible. He begins with the basics. The reader learns about the plant family, key points about sowing, growing times and harvest lengths. Then Organic Hobby Farming details soil temperature, ph needs and germination.

The author indicates the ease of growth, shares varieties and my favorite, discusses companions. (For more information on companion planting, click here.) But the information does not stop there. Tomolonis gives tips on growing, pests, diseases, challenges and harvesting. He concludes each synopsis with marketing tips. Organic Hobby Farming is geared toward selling produce.

Chapter six focuses on berries and fruit trees. A caveat about what can be planted gives readers a glimpse on why this chapter is quite a bit thinner than the preceding one. The advice is good and Tomolonis is spot on with the information shared. However, if you want to grow grapes you will need to find another source.

Switching to Animals

The author begins discussing farm animals and their potential income in Chapter 7. Chickens are the topic of this chapter. Tomolonis shares the requirements to label both eggs and meat organic. This is timely information for those living in America. Across this country, many cities are allowing chickens back into the backyard. Organic Hobby Farming is a great resource to read before you build a chicken coop.

Next in the animal section is a chapter on honeybees, rabbits and goats. After chickens, these three animals are most likely to be found on a small homestead or even in suburbia depending on zoning laws. Once again, the author provides outstanding information in the “Easy Does It” sidebars. Other tips and tricks are abundant throughout.

Organic Hobby Farming Marketing Tips

The final two chapters are business related. Tomolonis has one chapter with information on marketing your organic produce. Much like the beginning chapters much of the information shared is specific. Quite a bit of time is spent on Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA). These co-operatives are located across the country.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the book is the last chapter. Tomolonis stresses the importance of developing a business plan for your Organic Hobby Farm. The advice is good. If you plan to sell any of your produce, or even just have honeybees, you need to think about liability issues. I found this chapter as important as those focused on the crops.

If you are serious about gardening, especially organic gardening, I encourage you to buy this book. It is quickly becoming a go-to book in my home library. Andy Tomolonis provides great information applicable for any serious gardener.

Organic Gardening

By definition, Organic Gardening is growing plants without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizer. I try to grow edibles using this method as much as possible. This natural gardening method can take some extra time. Unfortunately, sometimes infestations get so bad, one either needs to use pesticides or replace the plant or tree. Compost and growing plants native to the area can reduce or eliminate the need for commercial fertilizers.

I have battled various pests over the years. My biggest enemy is the peach borer followed closely by the squash bug and grasshopper. I also deal with crickets and this year flea beetles have made an appearance. They are attacking the rutabaga.

The flea beetle is on the war path. I am aiming for natural deterrents. First, I have planted radishes nearby to act as a catch crop. I have done this in the past. The radishes are sacrificed for plants that have more value to me. The rutabaga is growing well and will be harvested soon. Second, I also plan to spray with a homemade solution of liquid soap and olive oil. I will let you know if this works. In the meantime I am carefully checking the undersides of leaves for egg deposits. Research will be done to find a succession planting that will not encourage the flea beetle. Additionally, more nasturtiums, sunflowers and herbs will be planted nearby. All these approaches are organic in nature.

Peach Borer

Last year we had a late freeze which wiped out the peach crop. Therefore, I took advantage of the situation and treated the trees for borers. I admit I used chemicals. But I believe there will be no residual in this year’s crop. So far only a few fruit have signs of trouble. Nature’s sign is even better. For once the wasps have not built a nest in the trees. Wasps are beneficial insects and they feast on peach borers. I am taking their home building elsewhere in the yard as a sign the borer crop has been dealt a severe blow.

In addition to the wasps, tiny green metallic flies are making a home in the vegetable garden. I believe the ones in my garden belong to the Family Dolichopodidae. I am unsure of the genus or species. But the information I have gathered is that they are very beneficial and voracious eaters. Beneficial insects are naturally organic.

Go Organic

Each summer we enjoy organic produce straight from our garden. The vegetables and fruits just taste better when they go from garden to table on the same day. In fact much of the time we eat the food within the hour. Vegetables I used to turn my nose up at take on a fresh flavor from my garden. I encourage everyone to plant and grow an organic crop this summer.

Instead of commercial fertilizer use compost and grow native plants. Encourage beneficial insects. Remove fruit or leaves that look infected. Spend a few minutes each day in your garden focusing on trouble signs.

The following slide show gives you a peek at my garden. The peach trees are thinned of peaches to reduce the stress on the limbs. Some show signs of damage from a brief hail storm. You can see the flea beetles and the damage to the leaves but no sign of eggs of any type underneath. Additionally, there are some close up of the tiny flies. If you think I have misidentified them please let me know in the comments. Happy Gardening!