Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Holistic Sprays of Spring & Chicken Nest Boxes

Michael Phillips, apple grower of Lost Nation Orchard in New Hampshire, advocates spraying health tonics on your apple trees to prevent fungal infection in spring, when the trees are most prone.  I missed the timing for the first spray at 1/4 inch green, right when the leaves are just peeking out.  The trees are leafed out now and the blossoms are still buds and haven't opened, so my timing was right for the second spray.

For a 2 gallon sprayer:
  • 5 oz fish emulsion (I used Neptune's Harvest)
  • A few teaspoons kelp powder
  • 1.25 oz pure neem oil with about 1/2 tsp soap as emulsifier (high quality, fair trade, OMRI approved neem sources available here)
  • Some garlic water I made by soaking 2 crushed cloves overnight (this isn't in his recipe but I had it in the fridge and thought it couldn't hurt since garlic is anti-fungal)
Another key ingredient in Phillip's sprays is effective microbes, good microbes that colonize the tree's surface and prevent fungal invasion, but I'm still waiting on that to show up in the mail, so I'll respray once they arrive. SCD Probiotics is a reputable company Phillips recommends to buy effective microbes.  

Arkansas Black planted last spring about to bloom
Fish emulsion and seaweed powder for apple tree spray
Want the cheat sheet to Phillip's methods?  Check out his helpful tips here:  Seasonal Checklist for the Holistic Orchard

Another spring happening is improved nesting boxes for the chickens.  I dropped some cash for a high quality, 4 hole nesting box from Kuhl that hangs on the coop wall.  The bottom of each box pops out if there is ever a broken egg in the box, or for general cleaning, and there are no nooks and crannies for mites to hide.  Plus, it's easy to detach from the coop and give a good cleaning once in awhile, unlike wooden boxes.  The milk crates worked as nesting boxes for a year, but this is a big improvement.  It's lightweight but fairly durable, and the eggs are staying much cleaner for some reason.  I'm not sure why that is, but I won't complain.  Clean eggs and mite-free chickens makes me like these boxes a lot!

Kuhl Metal hanging nest boxes 

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