SPIN-Style Pest Management

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon, SK
Because of SPIN’s scale, organic practices are quite feasible, and that includes for insect pest management. The method of choice is hand picking. Even acre size areas can be controlled that way.Bugs are brushed off by hand into a pail. Bugs can also be brushed into walkways and stepped on. The under side of leaves can be examined for eggs, which can be squished by hand.

SPIN is not a plant it and forget it system. It is very hands-on. I’m out constantly working my plots, so I can usually spot problems very quickly and take care of them before they become completely unmanageable. But sometimes you just don’t win. The Colorado beetle made its way to Saskatoon last year and completely infested my potato crop. So I just yanked it early and planted something else.

That’s the benefit with a multi-locational farming operation. Problems are isolated and don’t wipe out your entire production.

Sonic Repellers Can Control Rodents

Courtesy of James K. ,Virtually Green, San Francisco, CA

In 2007 I had a project establishing a small SPIN farm pilot project on about 4,000 sq ft of land in a suburban mobile home park. The plot of land was a ground squirrel city. There were literally burrow entrances every foot or two, and ground squirrels running around in daylight. The crew tilled up the heavy clay soil, added compost and set about establishing beds and initial plantings. Of course the ground squirrels decimated the plantings. We tried traps, various odor-based repellents, fumigation, etc: nothing worked.

Finally I decided to try something squirrely. Heh.

I ordered two different sonic spike gopher and mole repellers on Amazon. It was a long shot but I figured worth a try.

– Vibrasonic Mole Chaser (P7906 model)
– Solar Mole & Gopher Chaser (0400RM1 model)

I loaded the Vibrasonic with batteries and stuck it in the center of the plot. The STI unit was solar powered so no batteries required: I stuck in a couple feet from the Vibrasonic.

A couple days later the crew called me and claimed that the ground squirrels had disappeared. I thought they were joking but they insisted it was true. I drove out to the site and couldn’t find a single burrow entrance open (the crew had been closing them with dirt routinely) and no ground squirrels were up and running around. A week later on my next visit still no squirrels. They never came back.

I think that the two units, operating at different sonic frequencies, together created an intolerable underground audio environment that drove the squirrels away. Since then I used the same products at another site, plagued also by ground squirrels: it worked there too. So no guarantees that it’ll work in all situations. but I figure it’s worth a try. It’s non-toxic and cheap: just remember to change the batteries in the Vibrasonic occasionally.

Keeping Cats Out of Beds

Courtesy of Bingo B. Boise, ID

To deter cats, I put chicken wire down on newly tilled beds. Keeps ’em from digging.Once plants come up so does the wire. But sometimes I just leave it in until the end of that bed. You can get 24″ high rolls of the stuff cheap.