Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Absolute Worst Bug in the Garden

This year was almost met with catastrophe!

As you probably know by now, we raise our animals on primarily produce grown in our own gardens (instead of buying commercial feeds). It's a lot of work, but the cost / benefit factor is amazing. This concept is the basis of how to make small farms profitable!

But, this year, 2017, we almost lost half the garden, the ever important zucchini and pumpkin, to a bug.

Gardens are full of insects, some good and some bad. Bugs  are constant battle gardeners of all sizes fight. But this bug was unlike any other! This bug, one single bug, had the potential of wiping out half our plants in a slow steady death. To make matters worse, this bug is invisible and elusive! Once it rears its head up, it is difficult to track down without very specialized tools.

Not the typical cucumber beetle, not squash bugs, those are mostly controllable with Guinea Fowl and simple soap.  No.. this bug is very very different. Immune to all normal methods of containment and riddance. This bug, is a real challenge!

Over the last 2 months we have been fighting this bug on an almost daily basis. The plants were suffering, and stunted from it's effects. The harvest was dramatically less than expected, and some plants even just died. We feared that unless we can get a handle on this, we would loose the remainder of the harvest and end up having to purchase animal feed from off farm! That would be devastating in our present financial position.  So last week, I decided it was time to get to the bottom of this situation once and for all.

You see, this bug is not the typical insect, not even an insect at all! This... is a computer bug. Those elusive defects built into anything computerized by a programmer's oversight or failing, that allows things to go astray in some way. What does this have to do with a garden? Water... the blood of the earth. without water in the proper amounts, nothing lives. Our entire watering system is "computerized" meaning, run by a digital timer. Most things digital have inside a computer running a program, and therefore, can have bugs. The difference here is that in a device such as a timer, you cant "debug" the program using normal means. It is hard coded into hardware and is what it is, unchangeable, untraceable.

The timer we prefer is made by Galcon:
This timer is battery driven, 6 zone, easily programmable, calendar or cyclic, water windows, overload protection, weatherproof, reliable, and has 2 severe bugs in it's programming! 

Such was this bug.  Until.. I found it!

Here's what happened. The timer we use (LOVE this timer! best ever, aside from it's now 2 bugs) has two separate modes it can operate in... calendar and cyclic. A  calendar mode say "turn on water at 9am on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday for 3 hours".  A cyclic mode says "turn on water for 3 hours every 2 days".  Very different, with pros and cons to each. We tend to use cyclic for sprouting and growing to ensure frequent short but consistent watering, and switch to calendar for maintenance and harvest.  And therein, the switch between the two, is where the bugs is born!

This bug is related to yet another really cool feature of this timer. Water windows! I love water windows! The challenge with sprouting through drip tape on a water timer is the hot southern Oregon summer days. In order to keep the surface soil "moist" to germinate seeds it is necessary to water frequently throughout the sun filled days. But if the water kept going all night, it would flood! So to prevent this, we use cyclic timing with water windows. A water window is quite literally a window of time when and only when the water can turn on. outside the window, watering is restricted. Its a perfect answer!

Well, except for this bug.  What happens is... I set the cyclic timing for frequent short watering during the day, and the water windows to disable water at night. But then as the plants reach maturity, I change the program to calendar. Since calendar is a "deterministic" mode where you say definitively when to turn on and off water, the window is not necessary, and the setting of the window removes itself from the programming screen. That's appropriate, right? you don't need windows so it should not be visible in the programming details.  BUT, the programmer who wrote this, forgot to disable the FUNCTION of the window along with removing it's CONTROL from the screens.  Naturally, we assume if something is not settable, then it is disabled, right? well no, not in this case.

So, when I switched a couple months ago from cyclic to calendar, the water windows dropped off the screen but stayed enforced! any calendar timing I set, would be overridden by the now invisible water window and water would not run! Some zones got full water, some partial, some NONE (or so little it was effectively none). WE tried to manually water, but trying to maintain the right water balance between this unknown semi automatic amount and an added manual amount was impossible, the plants suffered from this "bug".

Once I discovered what was going on (after days of trial and error and deep exploration), the fix was simple. Just switch each zone back to cyclic temporarily, disable the water windows that then showed up on the screen, and switch back to calendar mode.  Easy enough! The bug was eradicated within minutes, once I saw it.  But, damage is done.

fortunately, the garden has sprung back to life within a week of fixing this. The proper water amount has doubled or tripled the plant size in only days. Well, to be honest, we also applied a good amount of good homemade fertilizer (another post) and sea minerals in an emergency treatment. But ultimately, the water is what did the trick.

So, lesson learned, bugs come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. This particular bug, the computer bug, is perhaps the worst of all. But it was conquered and now avoidable!

Monday, August 14, 2017

6 week nutrition course - sprouts presents

We are pleased to announce that Dave Salch of little sprouts farm has been asked by Siskiyou Vital Medicine to present one session during this upcoming course on nutrition. Dave will be presenting the session on "food quality", explaining the differences in food options and how to identify food that damages, sustains, or heals.

The 6 week course by Siskiyou Vital Medicine covers many aspects of nutrition at a deep and personal level, Bringing understanding to your own nutritional needs and your relationship to food itself. Expect to be challenged, motivated and enlightened!

From the Facebook page of the event:


Ron Veitel, BSc and Sonja Halsey, ND of Siskiyou Vital Medicine will be presenting My Nutrition Map, a personal guide to nutrition and wellness. This course is designed to help you transform your nutrition experience, taking you from Ugh to Ahh in six weeks! 

The My Nutrition Map 6-week course is FREE to SVM members and $125 for non-members. Space is limited so call to reserve your now, (541) 210-5687.

We have personally had a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Siskiyou Vital Medicine since they moved into our valley a few years ago. SVM has met a need in healthcare for the rogue valley in a unique way through the introduction of direct primary care plus a holistic and personalized approach to healthcare. We highly recommend SVM to anyone seeking to truly solve health issues at the core, not just cover them with pharmeticucals.

Sign up for the course now, space is limited! You can register on the Facebook page at :
posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Is it real? How to buy real oils

The bottom line here is... Know your farmer. Know how your food is produced, because it's a dangerous world out there.

We previously talked here about the fake honey, with no pollen and no medicinal value. We covered the fake Olive oils that are invisibly cut with other cheaper oils to increase profits. We even talked about eggs, milk, meats, etc. But never have we seen such a difference in a product as this new one... Pumpkin seed oil.

On the left is a local pumpkin seed oil, it is rich and dark green, almost florescent. It tastes like.. well... Pumpkin.

On the right is a "organic non GMO pumpkin seed oil", grown in China, bought from a local health food store. It tastes like.. sesame oil with a hint of pumpkin. It is mostly clear, with a slight green tinge.

Now... Why does this matter? Because studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil is in fact a very effective treatment for prostate issues. But of course it must be real. Does the oil on the right have the same effect as the oil on the left? How can it?

Another thing to consider is those studies... Which product do they use? From where? Is it real? If the product is not true, how can a study be accurate? If a study says that a natural treatment is not effective, did they choose the oil on the right to test? How do you know?

Know your farmer. It matters. Labels are meaningless, even government certifications are meaningless. Remember the shipment of soy beans that left another country as conventional and arrived with certified organic paperwork on it? That was quite an ocean trip!

Know your farmer!

Our goal is to make sure that we offer to you only the things that we have verified ourself and know that it's real. That's our commitment to you.
posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The brunt of the storm

Nature is not as predictable as we might like. Even things like weather will soften bring surprises. Today was a tragic surprise.

Mid afternoon the skies darkened. Thunderstorms were due in the evening, but without warning things went from dark to fury literally within minutes. A stem cell grew out of nowhere and moved almost directly over the farm! We only had maybe 15 minutes warming.

And a storm it was! Two episodes of high winds, drenching rain, and hail moved through. Each way only half an hour long, but they were intense. The weather monitor on farm clocked gusts of up to 50mph. Rain was so thick that we could not see the hills nearby. Miraculously the power stayed on, although the tree by the garage was bent over into the power wires.

There first wave passed with little damage, mostly just loose items thrown around. Nothing major. But the second wave...

As we stood in the kitchen watching the trees blown around and light stuff flying here and there... The greenhouse rolled by! Yes, the entire greenhouse. It had broken of the corner tie downs, jumped the fences, and went rolling across the garden. The path just barely missed the poor bees that were just rebuilding from their loss of comb to the twister a couple weeks ago.

As we watched, I realized that at the rate it was going, and holding mostly together, the entire structure was heading straight for our neighbors home. We had to somehow catch it! Hunter and I "suited up" in foul weather gear and headed into the storm.

While we were getting ready, the greenhouse stopped rolling in the middle of the zucchini patch. Why wasn't clear at first, but when we got out there it was obvious. The water hose had torn of the spigot when the structure lifted of the tie downs, and the house made a long tail speaking in the path. That tail somehow got caught in the third fence and hung tight. It hung in a good spot, next to a tpost near the bottom wrung of wire. That created an anchor that happened the rest of the structure from rolling. The impact was enough to bend the t post to about 45 degrees, but the water hose still held tight.

We decided to leave the hose connected and anchoring the broken structure, and simply broke down the tall lend pieces to make less of a sail. The lightening in close proximity made for quite the experience. The wind was calming by this time so we decided to leave it as is and see what else was damaged.

The new chicken resort suffered tarp damage, but otherwise nothing was serious.

There sad party of this story is that, after sitting unused for a couple years, we had just decided to raise heirloom starts in the greenhouse next year for our use and for sale. But... Alas, that's out now. It does not seem repairable . There might be some sections worth keeping for shelving or something, but it will never be a full greenhouse again.

Nature, the friend that demands respect.

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Plant a garden for... Your pig? That's crazy!

One of the most interesting yet controversial aspects of our farming model is the approach of growing fresh produce to feed the animals that live here. Sure it seems odd for that to be questioned but many people do question the wisdom of growing for Animals instead of for humans. It is definitely different, and warrants an explanation.

It is true that are Gardens are planted and nurtured specifically to grow fresh produce for our animals and only extra Harvest is offered for sale for humans. Why do we do this? Well think about it. If the goal is to raise the healthiest animals to produce the healthiest animal food products for humans, how could we do anything else? Why is there an assumption that animals can be healthy on second grade food when we know that humans require top nutrition from first grade food to remain healthy? Why is there an assumption in the agriculture industry that animal nutrition is secondary to human nutrition? Why is there an assumption that you can create top quality animal products from second quality animal feed?

This Is Why We Do It . it's not so much that we value animals above humans. That misses the point. The foundation is that we value human health and understand that human health depends on the health of the animals and animal food products that humans consume. Think about if you were to grow a chicken to feed your child who suffers from a condition that is helped by top-quality chicken broth, would you not feed that chicken the very best feed that you could find? Of course you would any parent would.

So the question really becomes what is best for animals? What is the source of top-quality nutrition? We answer this by observing the animals in nature. By observing the animals that prosper in a natural environment and duplicating this on the farm, we achieve like results to a healthy animal living the way nature intended.

What this means for us is growing vegetables, produce, insects, some grains that match the balance that animals would have if they were living in the wild successfully. While most animal nutritionist attempt to find the the lowest level of nutrients that keeps the animal"healthy", we look at it from the other end and try to determine how much nutrition we can provide for the animals above and beyond the minimum. It really is the question of do you want to do as little as you can for health or do everything that you can for health?

So yes here at Little Sprouts we grow a lot of produce of various kinds. And yes at Little Sprouts we offer little of this produce for sale to the public. It seems on in today's modern agriculture world to do this. Yet we focus on producing the very best nutrition for our customers in animal products that we possibly can.

There is a reality that we launch this Farm on in that almost anyone can grow good healthy organic vegetables on their own land in their backyard. Yet relatively few people especially in town can actually raise animals of the same high-quality. It is also true that most large farm operations that Supply the grocery stores also cannot raise animals to the same high quality standards. Size of farm and quality of food are directly related the larger the farm the lower the quality.

So next time you come out to visit the farm and see the rows and rows of beautiful watermelons are zucchinis are pumpkins or greens or whatever, think about the source of your bacon that morning. What was that pig fed what was the nutritional principles that went into feeding the pig that produce the bacon that's on your child's plate? When you drop a chicken into a pot to make a healthy meat stock in an attempt to heal a child of digestive issues or even the common cold, what was that chicken fed all of its life what components have gone into the chicken meat that are going to come out in the broth and you're going to feed your child?

This is the questions we Ponder and this is why we do what we do.

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Best watermelon of 2017

What is better on these hot summer days than a cold juicy vine ripened watermelon?
Our melon patch is doing really good this year, in fact it seems the healthiest part of the animal garden! If all goes well, those lucky pigs will be enjoying a steady diet of heirloom vine ripened melons soon!

But we had to try one!

Hunter picked it out himself, and he made a great choice! This melon was the sweetest, the juciest, the best tasting melon ever!

If there are extras, we will offer a few of these for sale soon through the normal home delivery ordering. Keep watching for it!

posted from Bloggeroid

Progress on the bug barn

Smoky skies can have benefit! Our skies are filled with the smoke from a fire up at crater lake. Seems this happens every couple years... A major fire just north of us in mid summer. As usual, the bright summer sun is blocked, dropping the daily high from the expected 110 to barely over 90. So we made use of the more manageable day to start on the bug barn project.

The project? Insulation! The bug barn itself is a shipping container, all metal skin. Great longevity and strength but wow is it hot! When that direct sun hits the outside, the walls get so hot you can't hold a hand against it inside. With an air temp of 11p, that makes the bug barn into an oven, quite literally!

We tried insulation on the inside, but that didn't work out. Didn't help much with the radiant heat, and attracted mice. So we are doing something new... Insulting paint!

Insulating paint is a new technology (apparently developed for NASA) that blocks radiant heat quite effectively. For situations such as this metal building, the paint reflects the radiant heat instead of absorbing it and transferring to the inside. Does nothing for conducted heat, only radiant, but that ok for the bugs. If it can just stop the heat gain from direct sun, the bugs will he happy!

There are several brands, all claiming to be the best, most seem to be scams or at least cheap knockoffs. We chose one that seemed most legit.. insuladd. This is an additive to be put into any exterier paint to create insulting paint.

Fortunately, by God's grace, we were given a free contractor grade ( but older) airless paint sprayer to apply this with! It needed some work, and a new tip, but I got it working enough to build pressure with only a small leakage around the old seals. Woohoo! As a test, I painted the top of the brooder a nice avacado green .

Yes, the pain itself was also donated ! We ended up with about 25 gallons of free exterior paint, various colors. Not sure which color the barn will end up, maybe a rainbow!

So back to today... I spent the afternoon pressure washing the outside to knock off as much of the old crumbly paint as possible. Took a while, but ended up nice! Now I just need one more day of moderate sun o apply the paint itself. (Just wait till you see my fancy homemade paint mixer!)

Stay tuned!

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Spicy sweet roasted pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are super nutritious! They are the basis of several herbal remedies and also a major component of our animal feed. But to be honest... Are they tasty?

Yes! With this recipe they are incredible! A bit like spicy sweet candy. Yum!

Tip: Start with heirloom pumpkins. They do taste different, better than hybrids. There seeds of an hybrid are just not the same somehow.

To make:

Preheat the oven to 400. Cover the bottom of a glass baking dish with organic extra virgin coconut oil. Remove the seeds from a pumpkin but do not wash them. In fact, do not even clean the fiberous center of the pumpkin of the seeds, just scoop them out. Place seeds on a mixing bowl and sprinkle with Redmond real salt and organic chili powder to taste. Toss gently then place in the baking dish in the oil.

Roast at 400 degrees until nicely Brown, almost but not quite burnt.

The fibers from the center of the pumpkin will carmelize into a sweet almost sugary coating, and the coconut oil brings out a nutty sweet flavor. Absolutely the best pumpkin seeds ever!

posted from Bloggeroid