Seeking organic gardening solutions please!
My family recently purchased 2.5 acres of land, with a small home, a shed, a shop, and an underground storm shelter. We noticed that on the property there were several citrus trees. I know that there are 2 orange trees, 1 lemon tree, and a couple of "unknown" (we assume either grapefruit, lime or more orange or lemon. Anyways, the previous property owner "clumped" several of them together...the lemon cross-bred with the orange...NASTY oranges!! Also, the elderly gentleman we bought the property from used a LOT of pestacides and herbacides...and NOT the "organic" kind! The shed is full of ant killer, flea killer, mole killer, as well as grass/weed/brush killer.
I am HIGHLY against using chemicals in my yard and garden. I've known for YEARS about companion planting marigolds and tomatoes. I know of some sprays that can be made with liquid dish soap, onion, garlic, and hot peppers to keep pests off of plants without harming the plant or risking someone (or something...like a cat) accidently getting poisioned. My family of 4lives on less than $800 a month. We are hoping to KEEP the citrus trees we currently have, add some other trees and bushes such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, and blueberries. We also plan on having a substantial vegetable garden, an herb garden, and after 18 years of marriage...my husband is going to plant me a rose garden :) I would also like to have other flower gardens as well as a bleeding heart tree.
One of my MAJOR current dilemas is ANTS. We have fire ants as well as other sorts of ants and they are KILLING one of the "unknown" fruit trees. Granted, this tree is planted too close to our home and needs to be moved...but it could take us a year to be able to get it into it's new "permanent" home. I don't want to plant tansy simply because it IS invasive and according to many people, toxic. What else can I do about these ants? And there is something eating the leaves of the same tree (I can't find the culprit) and I fear that if I don't do SOMETHING very fast, the tree will not live much longer.
Do you have any other advice about companion planting things? Also, we are hoping to get some chickens and I would love for them to be able to "roam free" from time to time without fear of them eating something that would harm them, or contaminate their eggs. However, I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to let a fowl roam free because I have cats. When I moved here, I had 2 (now a 3rd has "adopted" me) and they are outdoor cats due to the fact that we live in rattlesnake (and other snake) country and cats are GOOD deterants from snakes (and one of them has been known to kill a couple of snakes in the past). I'm so new to this "organic" self sufficiency way of life that I feel like I'm totally lost. We do plan for some of our extra produce to be sold to help supplement our income (nothing like a giant farm...more of a "fruit stand" kind of thing). I know my husband wants to plant a good bit of tomatoes, okra, and peppers because there is a high demand in our area for all of those, but the okra is in EXTREMELY high demand. I also know that it's not fun to pick okra because of it's hairs!! Any help you could offer would be so greatly appreciated.