Lazy Acres Natural Way is a small business using natural farming methods and practices, located on 16 acres of iron-rich land in Bexar County, southwest of San Antonio, Texas.
I am Joe Bissett, and I purchased Lazy Acres Natural Way in 1986. The land supports my modest attempts at farming using natural methods and products. Of the total 16 acres, 9 are cleared for farming, 2 acres support my home and the various outbuildings and 5 acres remain natural, ruled by the entrenched coyotes. Annually I try to increase the number of raised beds that I use for natural farming in a designated area of less than three acres.
I learned early on that the climate and soil, with the addition of sufficient organic matter and water, combine to produce great volumes of pepper fruit on each plant. Until I began my total natural program, control of sucking insects was my most difficult challenge. Other normal challenges still occur, but so far they are easily managed.
I thought long and hard for some way to capitalize on what I have learned. After seeing my first issue of Chili Pepper magazine, the ideas that had been bouncing around in my head finally formed the outline of a business plan. This Web Site is the result of that plan.
You might be interested in how I am working my peppers in 2011 using natural methods. I continue to reclaim a previously unfarmed hay field of about 2 1/2 to 3 acres. The soil contains large amounts of iron oxide and is full of large rocks, sandstone and petrified wood which I am slowly removing. Weed control is 20% vinegar containing two ounces of orange oil, and a drop of dish washing soap per gallon.
I am creating 50' raised beds nominally 42" in width. My basic planting scheme for each bed is two parallel rows of 33 plants nominally 18" apart, for a total of 66 plants per row with 18" separation between plants. I apply a 1/4" to 1/2" layer of aged manure compost, then a thick layer of "living mulch" (wood chip mulch containing compost).
Each new bed then receives an application of molasses and Medina Soil Activator Plus. Each planting space receives the following dry products, mixed into the soil:
- Medina Growin' Green Dry Organic Fertilizer
- Rose Glo Fertilizer
- Gardenville Texas Green Sand
- Gardenville Volcanite
- Medina Micro Nutrients
- Gardenville Worm Castings
As I plant each transplant, I firm the earth in a nominal 6" diameter shallow depression around each plant. Each plant is watered in with 3 successive "shots" from my water wand, filling the depression. I allow sufficient time between each application for the previous water to soak in. I then follow with a generous "shot" of Medina Hasta Gro and Super Thrive, mixed per directions. Each row is soaked with Medina Plus Soil Activator and liquid molasses.
Each plant receives a spray of Liquid Seaweed and Molasses, followed up by a spray of Garlic Pepper Tea to eliminate rabbit and insect problems.
The results are phenomenal. Within a week almost every plant has recovered from the transplant shock and is putting on new deep green leaves at its top. By the end of the second week new leaves are sprouting along the length of the main stem where the old yellowed leaves have mainly fallen off. During the third week the plant virtually doubles in size. At one or two week intervals I alternate a foliar spray of the Liquid Seaweed and Molasses and "Garrett Juice". Garlic Pepper Tea is re-applied after rain or heavy watering. Medina Hasta Gro is re-applied monthly, and the dry fertilizers are re-applied as needed. In general, my plants put on foliage at a rapid rate and are a vibrant, deep green color.
Throughout the growing season I frequently add the following as conditions seem to dictate:
- Texas Tee Dry Organic Fertilizer
- Bat Guano
Insect damage has been virtually non-existent! My rows are visited by Lady Bugs, but they soon clean up everything and move on. Aphids rarely return, probably due to the Garlic Pepper Tea. I sometimes see Praying Mantis on the plants, but they also clean things up quickly and move on due to lack of food. I see very few grass hoppers actually in my peppers, and there are virtually no areas of obvious damage. My families of Road Runners visit the pepper patch twice daily and consume whatever grass hoppers and other insects they manage to find. Most encouraging so far is the lack of rabbit damage to plants sprayed with the Garlic Pepper Tea. Rabbits are proliferating at an alarming rate since my foolish neighbors cleared out the local coyotes on their adjacent tracts
I hope to introduce a large number of native earth worms to each bed when I confirm an available source. I also apply beneficial nematodes for fire ant and other larval control. The nematodes apparently also parasitize the larvae of those infernally annoying fungus gnats, because their numbers have been markedly lower over the years. Following the "No Till" method, I will not disturb established beds in subsequent years, other than to apply a new layer of wood chips to replace that which has decomposed naturally.