Read the text version of my interview here: Golden Seeds Issue 13 Tad Hussey
My interview with Tara Caton At the Rodale Institute Hemp Botanist
I’m curious how you found out about me.
Haha, IDK? Well, one I’m always looking for guests! But I did just release for Earth Day April 22, 2019, this interview with Tara Caton from the Rodale institute last week and since then I have been online researching hemp and cannabis and I am just flabbergasted at what has changed because when I started my podcast in 2015, I couldn’t find someone to come on my show and talk about hemp or cannabis for 4/20 day.
The other thing is I have always dreamed of being a sunflower farmer, and originally I thought I would sell sunflowers to florists, but then I thought bird seed would suit me better but this last winter, I thought I would like to grow sunflower sprouts after I was going crazy looking for fresh greens and my step-daughter gave me some and I was so excited, after the romaine recall. My husband planted so much kale and swiss chard etc last year for me, I didn’t have to buy any greens from August to November!
Wow, I can tell you’re a plant enthusiast.
Well, I’m a sunflower and hemp enthusiast!
It’s Thursday, April 17, 2019! Earth Day is coming up on Monday! I have another podcaster on the line. His business is KiS Organics. Welcome Tad Hussey!
I know we’re gonna learn a lot!
Are you in Oregon, Washington? Somewhere by the Pacific Coast?
I am in the North West. About 20 minutes east of Seattle in Redmond, Washington.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Sure so, I’m 41 years old, I grew up with father actually both my parents running a commercial nursery and landscape business here on 7 acres in Redmond. So, I grew up around plants, but wasn’t that into them. I kind of moved away from it but after college I came back with a masters degree in another field and I had trouble finding work in that field I really enjoyed.
So I ended up coming into my parents business which was all about compost tea at that point so I ended up learning all about:
- compost tea
- microbes and
from that we sort of expanded we got the property where they originally had the landscape country.
This was about 2011. This was sort of the time of victory gardens and backyard chickens. Nurseries were sort of failing so we knew we didn’t want to do that.
So we started this thing:
Keep It Simple Farm
It started out as a feed store.
I knew there were no feed stores in Redmond, I wanted a place to have feed cause I was getting into backyard gardens and wanted chickens.
All these people started coming in who wanted:
- horse feed
- dog food
and all these other things. So we expanded that into an edible nursery. We had all these unique
edibles but we found out people in our area didn’t care. So we shaved that down to your classic favorites you find at a lot of other places.
There’s also an educational trial on the property that is focused on teaching about native habitat and salmon spanning. We get a lot of boy scout and girl scout troops through there.
There’s an outdoor preschool on the property that meets 5 days a week a lot of fun.
So the kids are out there running around in the woods learning about the outdoors which is a lot of fun and on top of all this we also have:
free ranging on the property.
We also grow vegetables!
We have a you pick, a large green house an 85 foot greenhouse and also a pumpkin patch. Every year we plant that out and so people can stop by and buy organic produce on their way home from the store or home from work. That’s sort of what KiS Farm is all about, focused on education and community support and helping gardeners and growers learn how to sustainably organically.
We also have KiS organics which is an online garden store provider
offering a variety of soil amendments as well as soils that we have created that we have created specifically for growing high value crops like cannabis and tomatoes. We work with a lot of the legal market here and as far away as Puerto Rico.
Essentially what it is, is this whole idea of living soils this concept that we try to create living ecology in our containers with our media or in raised beds, indoor or outdoor, as a way of allowing the microbes and all the things I’m sure people have talked about on your podcast to really control the growing process so we’re not perpetually throwing out our soil every cycle each year and have to start over every years and learning how to amend that soil to build and grow each year.
In between episodes today, I was listening to your talk with Jeff Lowenfels, who wrote Teaming With Microbes and Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition, etc it was interesting to hear you talk to him. I was supposed to interview him but he wanted me to wait till I had read his books. One of the things I really loved about your site is you seem really natural.
And Jeff’s newest book:
Yeah, I never grew up without organic gardening, it’s something my parents have been doing since I was little. My dad did the chemical thing as a landscaper back in the early 80 late 70s but moved away from it for health reasons after he learned about the dangers from it.
So organics is all I’ve ever grown. It’s funny when you mention cannabis, because when I was growing up I was always really anti-cannabis. It wasn’t until I started this compost tea business, or my parents started and I was in my early 30s. Idk really know anything about cannabis and I would get these phone calls from growers and they would say things like:
“I want to use your compost tea and I have 40 tomato plants under artificial lights, and I started looking into it and realizing this is a huge industry and these people don’t know what they’re doing in regards to compost tea.There’s all these myths around that subject and I started writing on these forums and communicating and really trying to get all this information out there.
I thought I should try this and wanted to try growing it and learning about it and I went into this hydroponic shop and I was blown away!
I’d only been into nurseries and I had never seen this wide selection products!
My first reaction was I can’t wait to try this on vegetables! I can’t wait to try this on tomatoes!
Cannabis is this special plant and we need all these special nutrients and a lot of that is just marketing! As my knowledge grew over the years I realized that all those products if you start reading the ingredients are just the same stuff with a 1000% markup of what you will find in your garden center store or you can make yourself!
From that I realized this market that needed education because it’s been underground for so long that a lot of growers all they could do is they could talk to their buddy who could talk to their buddy, who could talk to the hydro!
There was no access to information like there is now.
That’s why I started my podcast which is called the cannabis cultivation and science to try to bridge that gap between the organic gardeners and the horticulture world.
That’s what I love to hear and that’s what I keep telling my husband, this is a very specialized skill and there is going to be a lot of people interested.
Well, I think anyone can grow cannabis if they are interested. I think it is a specialized plant for medicinal properties. But it really does want to grow, it’s called weed for a reason. If you can grow a good tomato or a good pepper you can grow a good cannabis plant.
There are a few things are different. Most cannabis plants with the exception of auto flowers, are photogenic, as in they need a certain amount of light (lack of light- dark cycle). It’s pretty straight forward. You’ve probably grown 1000 of tomatoes, so you would probably be really successful at it!
Well, my listeners know, that technically I’m not the gardener, I’ve grown some cherry tomato plants. My husband is more the gardener and I’m the organic eater. I do like to grow sunflowers and I did grow lettuce for my guinea pig.
But as I was just saying, yes it might grow like a weed, but if you are growing it for the flower that people are going to want to smoke, you are not going to want seeds in there, there’s that whole part, there’s the light thing like you were saying, and then there are the regulations again, if you want to have enough product to last a year, I mean it depends on your situation.
I guess my point would be I would say it’s the same growing principals for someone growing tomatoes as for growing cannabis as for growing for the soil really learn the plant. There are unique challenges to grow cannabis.
Here in Washington as one of the first states to go legal, we would have a bunch of underground growers who come in and say, I have been growing 30 plants in my basement for 20 years. and grew using this line of nutrients and suddenly they are in this opportunity to be a million dollar grower as a master grower and they didn’t realize it doesn’t scale that way
gardener and a farmer
a lot of people failed and lost a lot of money here in these markets or they are struggling to maintain because the cost of production is way too high so that’s what I am seeing here.
I think that is along the same lines, not even up to 1000 plants. My husband always says you couldn’t really grow it here in Montana, because you wouldn’t et the daylight, you wouldn’t get that 12 hour light period during the season. Like my dream is to grow unlimited amounts and people because they were growing to get the most potent in their basement, I think there should be big varieties and what are they putting in things, they say emergency rooms visits are up because people don’t know how to eat their edibles and keep overdosing.
What I love about your site is growing it in dirt and growing it naturally. People are doing things in those small spaces, who knows whats in their pot.
I think there is this assumption because cannabis is this groovy pat, it’s a bunch of hippies listening to reggae. There’s a lot of people who were doing a lot of bad things back when it was in the black market.
One issue we see is people using things like a bud hardener and there are lot of people using things that are illegal for use with edible crops it raises their weight of various yields, using things not approved for use on edible crops. The effects if it is combusted vs eaten you know through your lungs versus through your stomach.
Personally I wouldn’t let friends just go to a recreational pot shot here in Washington and buy anything, I tell them which growers are producing safe product so your not risking anything by
taking it and I think it’s another consideration a lot of people should grow it on their own.
and go to your website where they can learn how to grow it naturally!
I think fertilizing and soil testing responsibly in a way that is more affordable! I know when I first started out gardening I would go to the store and I would buy the cheapest potting soil I cold find and then go to the fertilizer department and find a bag with a photo of a tomato on it.
in my experience
for me my suggestion is invest in your soil
best soil you can build using the best local inputs you can find and do a soil test and potentially a water test
We are finding a lot of people don’t have a commercial water supply
lot more sense
customize their nutrient program for their garden. How much nitrogen is very different if you are growing lettuce and corn is different for sunflower
The right source the right products to maintain
$25 for the one we recommend
There are ones you can do at home but are not quite as accurate, but here in Washington state there are 4-5 free soil tests they will do for you.
I was going to say, the water testing. We have 2 wells on our property, the first one is a shallow well about 19 feet deep and then a few years ago we started using the deep well that’s 560’ And he’s been using the shallow well always and now the cloner is clogging up and we wonder fi that’s from the new well.
One thing to consider your soil could be over calcium and then it could change your nutrients could be high in bicarbonates. There’s so many variables, getting it to someone who can interpret that information and a lot of
times there’s local extension agents or services.
There’s something that was brought to my attention by his book the Intelligent Gardener
Steve Solomon it’s a concept from 189-
William Albect a concept of crop nutrition
The idea that we can get the minerals and soils balanced to certain levels
healthier for us to eat
Steve talks about in his book he has some very anecdotal stories and they are quite powerful
check it out that and
Everyone who asks me where I should start
organic is great!
he could care less about being organic what he cares about is that his food is nutrient dense. It’s much more important
the minerals are in the soil chemical or organic source
has all these properties
how is it going to get high in iron sulfur nutrient attributed to it if it is not in our soil.
Which is a really good point if they are not in our crop they not going to be in our bodies
may not be enough
balance the soil
can do this organically
getting a soil test
right level of these trace levels of macronutrients.
In Montana, I asked the guy from the extension office is going to come on in May, once I get the results back from the extension then he can help me.
Yes that is going to get you going in the right direction
not the end all of the quality of your soil
tell you if something is going to go wrong
I can look at a soil test and tell if you are going to have a problem or you need to correct
explain say a lower yield
range so don’t freak out if a number is little bit higher or lower then you want.
It’s the microbes in the soil
microbes changing those into a form that’s plant available . It’s interesting that the plants 40-60% of the energy they take in through the leaves through photosynthesis is actually put back out in the roots which is what Jeff means is microbial.
Do you want to talk about the compost tea? Is that something you do?
I have put together about 18 pages
website blog page you will see the link for the compost tea guide.
we put out organic fertilizer whether it’s
none of these are in an ionic form the plant can immediately uptake, they have to be consumed by acia, fungi other microbes in the soil
when that bacteria
flg then what they poop out is then in a form the plant can uptake, so then you are having more beneficial you can have more nutrient cycling!
plant really controls this process, the plant can change it’s exudates and it’s feed on an hourly basis. If it’s food source wants to select fo more phosphorous soluble material
nutrients in the soil
high quality compost any biological source like that at that point what we are doing is we are trying to increase the availability of micronutrients
less space for pathogens
other microbes that are trying to fill those spaces and might not be as good for your plants.
What I want to know is compost tea basically compost sitting in water for a day, or there something special to it?
That’s one of the challenges of compost tea is there are a lot of definitions. If you do what you are talking about and you put some in a wrapper and put it in a bucket and soak it that is a non aerated method. People have been doing it for years, grandma would put manure and it would stinking up the corner of the house
Low to no oxygen conditions like the edge of a swamp is an anaerobic environment and the smells you associate with negative things like vomit or poop.
The danger there is if you were going to using a manure sources you could be building or cultivating salmonella pathogens on your plants. You need to know you need to wash your vegetables
ACT: Aerated Compost Tea
bubbling in most cases, just trying to raise the oxygen level of the water then we put in a microbe source typically compost, then we add food specifically for the microbes. We want to add the right amount of food to be increasing the biomass etc bateria fungi without causing it to go anaerobic and they end up using up all the oxygen something that’s gone wrong you’ll know because it will smell, we want to aerobic conditions because the smell associated with soil that’s the bacteria you are smelling, that’s the good earthy smell what we want with our compost tea.
We have taken it to a level where were are using a microscope and use our brewer with our inputs at the end of your brewing cycle, make your own at home if you use that guide.
Tell us about something that grew well this year.
Last year I had the most success with peppers that I’ve had in a long time in my home garden. That was because I went and got some pvc and put over my 4×8 raised bed. It was really inexpensive to buy a small piece of plastic, make pvc loops and ust poked them on the ground and that was all I needed in this Seattle area to allow my peppers to thrive.
Also, this last year I finally did a good job of pruning my tomatoes so they grew really well.
I saw you grew something so you had a giant sunflower growing.
We grow the mammoth sunflowers each year, the kids love them and stalk alone will grow as big as your fist they get up there the top of our greenhouse is 25 feet and they get up to that.
The heads are larger then your dinner plate. They weigh 5-10 lbs, not a great sunflower from an edible perspective bu the birds love them and they are a great habitat plant to grow they are so cool looking to have this giant plant starting from seed every year. The giant pumpkins are the same, the kids love them but they are not really edible except for our animals.
What about the sunflower bird seed you sell, do you grow those?
How big is your place?
Our place is 7 acres but it is not all usable land for growing plants. We have a 30×80’ greenhouse that we grow most hot plants like:
Japanese Kitazawa Seed Company seeds
If you haven’t tried the asian cucumbers, they’re good for everything!
we don’t have that much land
not growing a lot of stuff that we sell, we bring them in from other sources.
That’s what I want to know how do I become one of your sources for sunflowers. How many acres would I have to grow?
IDK. My experience with sunflowers has been from a purely enjoyable experience not an economic standpoint. The times I have had the most success is when I give them a little more nitrogen, I haven’t had success when I forget to give them extra nitrogen.
Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?
I have 2 thoughts on that
circular red cherry tomatoes
that I recommend
something that we do different
new varieties because there’s no point in growing vegetables if you don’t enjoy eating them.
The second thing that we did is we put blue mats and I did a video of me setting them up in my raised beds.
And that’s in the greenhouse or outside?
we did both in the greenhouse and outside.
how they work what the installation don’t have
they come out of Austria. There’s a north American distributer. There’s a link to my site
a lot of it is everyone’s garden is different
put custom ones works really well and the labor saving is incredible.
You can hook it up to a garden hose. It’s so nice to not have to be out there watering. You end up with some drought stress.
We spend so much time watering water, plus it probably uses less water, it’s probably environmentally. I hate when people say the only time I have to water is at 2 in the afternoon so this is when I am going to water.
Plus the irrigation systems, when you set them up on timers, you’re not really optimizing because plants need different amounts of water at different stages of growth so having the plant regulate it based on how it is using water is great.
Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.
There’s so many! For us we tried to set up an indoor space in a 40 foot container for seeded tomatoes and it’s been a challenge to create an indoor room in a less then optimal space on a budget, for these plants
- maintaining the right temp
- allow for air exchange
- insulating it
Every year there’s always one, there’s always one variety
more alkaline then the acid loving plants
I have to actively know that and adjust my soils or they stall out or don’t want to grow.
My big goal this summer is to grow blueberries. But I’m chomping at the bit to get them in the ground, and raspberries, and next year strawberries becasue I am so sick of the store fruit. I went to a friends and was like you’re growing these htere, I can grow them then!
heres the thing
if you want to be an organic gardener and you don’t have a lot of land
right now on my porch, I have a, it’s a raspberry shortcake
thornless raspberry plant
I have a thornless blackberry on my front porch
Colander apple trees designed to go on small spaces, if you have an area that faces south with good light you don’t have to put full garden space to grow really fun.
Yeah, we tried to grow some blueberries a few years ago and I think we just didn’t put them in the right sun and they didn’t have water.
Getting to the Root of things
Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?
Well I think most people are gonna say weeding
which I don’t mind in small amounts, I thinkwhat I like the least is dealing with burrowing creatures like moles and voles. I haven’t found a solution because they drive me crazy because they dig up the garden and I spend too much time fixing all the holes.
Did you see that juicy fruit thing floating around facebook?
I usually just stomp them down and it doesn’t work.
We got 3 cats, it helps but IDK we’ll see what happens. Another thing that someone mentioned on my show was hurrying a wine bottle like every 2 feet and the wind will blow and scare them or annoy them. I’m not sure it it works or not.
I haven’t have much success myself, I’ve bought all the traps, the solar things that make the critter noise. The guy doing the mole video said that worked for a while and then was uneffective.
What is your favorite activity to do in the garden?
I really like pruning and once they’ve started growing caring for and transplanting small plants.
start with starts
have so many at the farm
easy for me to just put them.
I like starts too, it reminds me of the classroom and cleaning the slate and then they are planted. Seeds take so long plus my husbands always like you have to water.
What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?
I think probably the best advice is less is more
whether that is with your fertilizer
I think as gardeners we end up overdoing it
push the plant to growing more
As someone who works in the cannabis industry I see people who say they have deficiencies and I see it tends to be over fertilization and over watering.
I just feel like it should be grown like a tomato in people’s backyards. I think it needs sunflowers to attract pollinators and beneficial insects instead of this indoor artificial environments.
on the hemp side we’re seeing people intercropping and on a rotational crop on scale
I did an interview with blue fox farms
Chris Jager who is doing that in oregon.
definitely the traditional way is growing indoors which is a high electric load mixed with lots of bottle nutrients getting shipped from china and there’s the cost of getting them here and they are 99% water so we are shipping that around the country and then throwing out that soil.
destroying our groundwater
cannabis facility in Washington
literally dumping out half a tub of nutrient they mixed up right down the drain in the middle of the floor. I asked where it was going, they were on septic
dumping into a drainfield right near a wetlands
really destroying the environment in ways we can not support that industry or grow our own
support growers who are growing sustainably.
I’m so excited, I have their website up, I wanted to reach out to them, I hope they come on my show.
I want to guess it’s about 5 years Chris has been farming.
A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be?
because most of my gardening is 4×8 beds I really like just a hand trowel. It’s not much but for most things I do with my hands, I get the little things i can reach but it can remove a little more soil. IF I am on a larger scale plot of land
you know I have this old coal mining shovel my dad had that was my grandfathers.
A favorite recipe you like to eat from the garden?
a lot of stuff, that’s the deal we worked out.
my mother actually makes really good pickles out of our japanese cucumbers as well as spaghetti sauce from tomatoes. My wife actually makes a lot of zucchini noodle dishes that are good we enjoy! She does a great job. I am very fortunate to have wonderful chef.
I just discovered zucchini noodles last summer and I feel ln love with them.
A favorite internet resource?
I’m gonna give you a couple of places I spend my time depending here you like to grow. I started a forum with Tim Wilson called
higher level gardening conversation
lot of stuff on KIS organic website
a lot of these
heavy hitters and growers with over 2000 lb. pumpkins!
A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?
I always tell them to start with teaming with microbes
If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?
We kind of jumped around quite a bit to find my way opportunities with my parents
pick something and focus
almost too much
we would be more successful if we focused on one or two things. That being said I love being to talk to someone about chickens or soil and then tomatoes. There’s some enjoyment in that too.
I learned the hard way that marketing is important. I kind of blew it off and if I was able to put out the best product I would come out ahead.
Well, as John Lee Dumas says: FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Success. But I also like the book Refuse To Choose by Barbara Sher and I believe it made me as a teacher better to teach a lot of different grades then be 1st grade over and over.
I feel I would be remiss to not point out that anyone who is interested in farming or gardening to read
It changed my life, the idea is around the concept Toyota manufacturing idea, reducing waste around your farm, and the processes your using. It was very impactful on getting our farm cleaned up and being a lot more effective
if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
that would be around plastics and litter recently got to go to Honduras with my wife and I had an amazing experience. The amount of litter washing up on the beaches, plastic ocean book
seeing all he plastic in our lives, something we really struggle with too.
It’s almost like since China stopped collecting plastic, I feel like recycling’s almost made us complacent so maybe it’s gonna help us, I’ve been on a big don’t use plastic. She’s still way better then I am, I just asked her the other day, what do you do when you buy strawberries or mushrooms? I’ve been using cloth grocery bags since I first moved to Montana in 1988. I am sure you have seen the video on Facebook of the the scuba divers swimming around in garbage and plastic.
I went to this soil scientist meeting in San Diego recently. One of the things presented there was
biodegradable row covers, traditionally they use black plastic garbage bag type material to keep weeds down and now they are looking for biodegradable options that are more sustainable.
Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?
I just think you have to go out there and do it! I’ve killed so many plants, I think just experimenting and try something new!
Other then there are studies that say if you spend time hands in the soil helps with depressions and mental illness so there are some medical benefits to it.
Have you ever seen those memes about garden therapy are true and based in science?
I think if you google soil + depression that show that there’s some bacteria in the soil that helps with depression.
It’s just another reason about kids breathing in asthma oh, you want your kids to enjoy pollen.
How do we connect with you?
I have been really fortunately, I’ve got to interview Jef Lowenfels, he’s actually a good friend of myself and my parents. I got to interview
Although it is focused towards the cannabis, but it’s got to do with vegetables most of what we talk about would apply to vegetables too.
You can find all of that Keep it Simple Organics (KiSorganics) On there I have the blog page articles on a varieties of subjects. If you want to read more about mycorrhizal fungi and explain how it works or if you want our compost tea guide the real focus is soil. If you are looking for a soil that would allow you to grow a plant with just water, that was where we started. Was the idea people wanted to grow healthy crops without having to do a lot of work on the nutrient side.
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