Generally it can be said that certified organic produce is grown without synthetic fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides. However, there are some synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production. Here is a picture of one of our certified organic garlic beds. Can you find any synthetic inputs in the this picture?
Well, there are two. The first one is the sticky trap. It’s allowed as an insecticide. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is setting sticky traps for the Allium Leafminer. It has infested leeks and onions in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania; the 1st confirmed infestation of that pest in the western hemisphere. We are monitoring our field. This is really not good news to hear, and we are during our part to monitor for this new pest. The stinky traps were collected this week (no report back yet), and the PA Dept. of Ag person did mention that the leafminer has also been recently found in Dauphin, Delaware, Chester, and Lehigh counties. So, that’s more bad news. The second synthetic is the shredded paper. It’s allowed as a herbicide or weed barrier. Newpaper or other recycled paper can be used as mulch with the annotation that it must be without glossy or colored inks. The Coudersport Elementary School 6th grade class runs a recycling program during which they shred white school paper at the rate of five to six 30-gallon bags per week. In order to keep this program going, they needed a source to take the shredded paper for free twice per month. We use the shredded paper as mulch for garlic plants. We all can agree there is a definite benefit from reusing paper products, which reduces costs and the need for their disposal in overcrowded landfills. In the above picture, in between the garlic beds are winter rye. This is an example of a non-synthetic or living mulch. The idea is to mow the winter rye cover later in the spring and use the clippings as mulch for the garlic. Then, we will run a furrow down the middle of the mowed winter rye strips and plant the Georgia Candy Roaster squash later in May or ealy June. The cut winter rye will also provide a layer of mulch under the squash, and act as a natural weed barrier. And, finally here is a picture of the students participating in the Coudersport Elementary School 6th grade class recycling program. This is a very worth well program, and we are very happy with the results.