How Do I Control Pests?
I use Tomcat Rodent Repellent Granules to keep squirrels from eating my squash. I spread about 1 lbs around each squash section about twice a summer. The active ingredients are peppermint oil (2%) and cinnamon oil (1%). You can read more about it here.
I use row covers for my basil to protect them from Japanese Beetles and Grasshoppers. Both insects tend to show up around July. The covers work well but they are cumbersome and expensive.
I mix 2 tablespoons of Neem Oil concentrate for every gallon of water and spray my peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucamelons, and other herbs thoroughly. Evening is best. I have to start doing this in June every 1 to 2 weeks as a preventive measure. If there are already insects, it seems to have little effect. You can read more about it here.
How Do I Fertilize?
I apply alfalfa pellets in the spring before planting. About 15 lbs per 100 sq ft. It is chopped alfalfa hay and is often use as horse feed. You can read more about it here.
I use manure on newly converted ground. Horse manure is free and plentiful. I apply it in the fall so it is applied at least 120-days before crops that are in contact with the soil and 90-days before crops that are not in contact with the soil
I have been composting my crop residue, used potting soil, and kitchen scraps. Dairy and meats are not included in the kitchen scraps. The compost is turned at least 5 times and must reach 131 F for 15 days. Then the compost will cure until it reaches ambient temperature.
How Do I Control Weeds?
Black plastic is the best weed control method I have found. However, it is expensive and only works well with certain crops. I use it on warm weather crops like winter squash, basil, and peppers. I use either 6ml or 4ml plastic that I can reuse. Impermeable layers like black plastic can negatively impact beneficial microbes in the soil.
I also use straw as a mulch to keep down weeds. I can find it relatively cheap or even for free. Sometimes, it does have weed seed in it. I use it with my garlic, potatoes, herbs, cherry tomatoes, and cucamelons
I use a rototiller when I start cultivating new ground that was previously grass and weeds. Sometimes I will also cultivate an area after potatoes and garlic have been harvested because that section can be very uneven and have quite a few weeds.
Lots of weeding by hand or with a stirrup-hoe. Thankfully, my mom loves weeding while she listens to her audio books.
How Do I Irrigate?
MORE EFFICIENT IRRIGATION DOES NOT MEAN CONSERVATION. OFTEN, IT IS THE OPPOSITE!
I use a combination of drip irrigation and sprinklers. It depends on the type of crop and also cost (drip is much more expensive). I use drip lines except for my garlic, cumin, buckwheat, and some of the herbs.
Every crop has a specific consumptive use (the amount of water it consumes to grow). Often, we measure that in inches you need to apply every week to meet that consumptive use.
I also use moisture probes to see how much water is in the soil. Ideally, these would be very helpful after a rain event. However, the ones I use are pretty cheap and I haven't found them to be that useful.