IPM- Intergraded Pest Management

Breezy Gardens is an Intergraded Pest Management (IPM) Farm. What this means is that we use the least amount of chemicals possible in growing our vegetables, we use disease control techniques, approach insect damage in a unique way, and we use very environmentally friendly practices. These wonderful farming methods have been good to our family. We have been privileged to see a rich diversity of wildlife thrive in and around our fields. Years of environmentally friendly IPM farming have allowed us to bring wonderfully healthy food to our own community and we are very proud to have been striving for excellence in the environmentally friendly farming practice for over thirty years now.

IPM is essentially just a different method of farming in that it brings the best of advances in science skills in farming to allow us to use the least amount of chemicals possible on the land. Some of the things we do to prevent the overuse of chemicals are simple and obvious. We avoid growing the same plants in the same place year after year or planting soil enriching cover crops. However, these simple practices must be followed up with frequent and extensive, detailed soil analysis’s to each field or area of our one hundred plus acre farm. These tests are analyzed at the soil and tissue lab located at the University of Massachusetts and are able to tell us very accurately what micro and macro nutrients are in our fields. All of this information allows us to make decisions such as when and how much fertilizer and lime to add to our soil and have naturally improved the soil on our farm to such a degree that chemical fertilizer is rarely necessary. The high organic content of our soil also absorbs the nitrates quickly which prevents run off into the rivers that flow through the farm and further protect our natural resources.

IPM approach is also used for plant disease problems. The tomato plant for example protects itself from most insects. It is however, susceptible to several forms of plant fungal diseases. Traditional farming would spray tomato plants with fungicides frequently. Our farm has a different approach. We grow a type of tomato called a determent variety. This type of tomato vine produces all of its fruit inside of a three-week span. We plant multiple batches of tomatoes to harvest over the summer. As the plants are old enough for the possibility of disease we move into the next patch thus elevating the necessity to use sprays.

Insect damage often needs individually unique approaches. We do not like to use insecticides but we don’t appreciate an ear of corn in which an earworm has dined first. We have a threshold of acceptance for insect damage before we take action. The acceptance is assessed by our field inspector that periodically walks through all of our fields. The action taken based on his recommendations might be something as simple as hanging large balloons with evil eyes in to corn fields to keep the birds away or the use of pheromone traps. Traps to lure Japanese beetles out of the blueberries are also very effective.

Honeybees are so important to our healthy diverse environment but have frequently been adversely impacted
by traditional farming.  In fact, honeybees have been used to indicate environmental health. The beekeeper that takes care of the hives at Breezy Gardens declaresthat our bees are the healthiest thriving community of any of the locations he goes to. The honey collected from these hives has won frequent awards in many competitions over the years. Great care is taken to use as many organic insect control methods as possible and timing is very important.

Weed control on our farm is a frequent and ongoing challenge. The problem is the soil is so rich and healthy that all plants we prefer, and all of those that we don’t, thrive. We do a large amount of cultivation both by a machine and hand hoeing. Black plastic mulch is used on many of the crops. This both controls weeds and warms the soil giving a bonus of early crop production to non-herbicide weed control.