The Fermented Farm: Beer Traps

People ask me what school of farming I use.  There are a lot of groups to choose from:  organic, no-till, Hawaiian natural farming, Korean natural farming, biodynamic, intensive, permaculture…the list goes on and on.  I use elements of all of those, and I have adapted them to the particular situation I have, and my situation is one of ever changing conditions.  If there is any one thread that continues through all aspects of my farming, it is microbes.  Today, I am going to share one of the ways fermentation is part of my farming practice.  Beer!  Yes simple as it may seem, the humble dregs of beer kegs, and other cast away remains of beer gets used in my farming as beer traps.

A beer trap is my way of capturing the insects, slugs, and snails that would otherwise damage newly planted seeds, and seedlings.  It is a highly effective way of trapping them before you plant your seeds or seedlings, as well as during your growing season. I trap before I plant.  People often think that in the dry upcountry, we don’t have slugs and snails, but we do.  When you add a little moisture to the plot, every single slug or snail will be drawn to that parcel.  By simply taking reclaimed cups, saucers, trays, plastic tubs, and the like, and putting an inch or more of beer in the bottom, you will have a very effective way of removing the pests from your field.  My strategy is to place traps near new plots of seedlings, depending on the time of year, I will catch a wide variety of the bugs that would lessen my productivity.

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Above are two small traps that will be put out today.  With this small amount of beer, you will be surprised what shows up in there.  I can add some water to top off the traps.  Each day the beer trap will have a riper aroma, making it even more tempting as bait.  To increase your success, you can burry the traps so that they are nearly flush with your soil, you can make them larger, deeper, out of different materials, but the basic idea remains the same.  Trap before you plant and you will see results.

 

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