Category: Home And Garden

Grow Bigger, Healthier, Plants and Vegetables

download (10)Grow Bigger, Healthier Crops and Vegetables

The goal of every farmer and every gardener is to grow bigger, healthier, more productive crops and vegetables. Whether the crop is 1000 acres of beans or a backyard with herbs, spices and tomatoes, healthier plants are the desired outcome. The health of all plants starts with the root system.

Nutrient Absorption by Plants

The root system has a number of important functions, but for our purposes the absorption of nutrients is the topic we’ll discuss. Of particular interest is the rhizosphere, The rhizospere is generally defined as the region of soil around the root influenced by root secretions and the microorganisms present.

Beneficial Microorganisms in the Root Zone

It’s these microorganisms in the rhizosphere, or root zone, that can have a large impact on root development and ultimately plant growth.

The plant and the microorganisms form a symbiotic, mutually beneficial, relationship. The plant secretes many compounds into the rhizosphere. These secretions attract microorganisms including mychorrhizae, Trichoderma, and bacteria. These microorganisms, in turn, secrete a number of growth factors and hormones that help the plants grow to their fullest potential. Here’s a few benefits from beneficial microorganisms:

  1. Plant Growth Promotion – production of plant growth hormones including auxins.
  2. Nitrogen Fixation
  3. Enhanced root growth
  4. Increase supply of nutrients including Phosphorus solubilization
  5. Increase the efficiency of traditional fertilizers such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium.

Each of these benefits could be a topic to itself, but for today let’s just note that microorganisms provide the plant with any number of benefits.

One of the keys, then, to growing bigger, healthier plants is to make sure the soils contain adequate amounts of beneficial microorganisms. In fact, hundreds of scientific research studies have shown that the use of beneficial microorganisms helps grow bigger, healthier plants and crops.

Biofertilizers

How can farmers and gardeners take advantage of the power of beneficial microorganisms? They can use biofertilizers. Very simply, Biofertilizers are fertilizers that contain living microorganisms. The use of biofertilizers, sometimes called soil probiotics or soil amendments, will increase the amount of beneficial soil microorganisms in the root zone.

Biofertilizers can be applied to crops in a number of ways. They can be applied as a seed treatment, as a root drench or as a foliar application. The key is to make sure that the biofertilizer gets to the root zone in the most efficient manner.

The use of beneficial microorganisms can have a great benefit for the farmer and gardener. The key to growing bigger, heathier plants is to use biofertilizers.

Custom Biologicals manufactures a number of biofertilizers and beneficial microorganisms for use by farmers and gardeners.

Biota Max is a revolutionary, biofertilizer containing 10 species of beneficial microorganisms. Biota Max is an effervescent tablet containing billions of beneficial bacteria and Trichoderma. Each tablet contains enough beneficial microorganisms to treat 1/4 acre.

 

Trichoderma Species As Biofertilizers

download (9)There are several species of Trichoderma fungi that are used as biofertilizers. In this post, we’ll talk about the most commonly used Trichoderma. We’ll also talk about the benefits of using Trichoderma for farming, agriculture and home gardening.

Trichoderma Fungi

First, some background on Trichoderma fungi. Trichoderma species are the most prevalent type of fungi in soils and they are present worldwide in almost all soil types. They are microscopic and are generally considered avirulent plant symbionts. In other words, they form a symbiotic, or mutually beneficial, relationship with plants.

It’s this symbiotic relationship that biofertilizers try to exploit. The idea is simple, by adding more Trichoderma the plant receives more benefit.

Benefits of Trichoderma

I’ve discussed the benefits to the plant of Trichoderma in another post, so I’ll just summarize the highlights here.

  • Trichoderma generally increase both root and shoot growth.
  • Improves the nutrient status of the plant
  • Production of growth promoting hormones
  • Phosphate solubilization
  • Increased uptake of minerals such as Cu (copper), Fe(Iron), Zn (Zinc), and Na (Sodium).

Trichoderma Species Used as Biofertilizers

Most of the Trichoderma species listed here provide the benefits from above. I’ll talk a bit about the additional benefits of some of the fungi. It’s important to note that Trichoderma applications can be made as seed treatment, as a foliar treatment, or as a drench treatment.

Trichoderma harzianum increases plant tolerance to environmental factors like drought and high soil salinity. T. harzianum increases mineral absorption.

Trichoderma viride, when used as a seed treatment, increases the germination rate in a number of crops.

Trichoderma reesi has the ability to secrete large amounts of cellulolytic enzymes and has a number of uses in biotechnology. In fact, it is used to create stone washed jeans because of this ability.

Trichoderma koningii is known to increase the growth of seedlings and secretes seed germination factors.

Trichoderma polysporum is normally found in cooler climates and conveys all of the benefits associated with the other Trichoderma fungi.

It’s the versatility of Trichoderma that increases its value as a biofertilizer. The fungi are found in all types of soils and seem to survive and grow in almost any soil conditions. Further, Trichoderma have important uses as biofungicides. Although it’s beyond the scope of this article, this biofungicial activity is why Trichoderma were generally studied in the first place.

As you can see there are a number of species of Trichoderma fungi that are used as biofertilizers. These uses are surely to be explored and exploited in the years to come.

Custom Biologicals manufactures a number of Trichoderma based products, including Custom GP. Custom GP is a concentrated liquid biofertilizer containing 4 species of beneficial Trichoderma fungi.

 

Gardens Of The Past

download (8)Gardening In Ancient Egypt

In the hot climate of Egypt, the rich liked to rest under trees for their shade. Gardens were created enclosed by walls with trees in rows. Sometimes they grew alternating trees. They grew sycamores, date palms, fig trees, nut trees, pomegranate trees, and willows. Vineyards were grown to make wine that only the rich drank. The common people drank beer.

A large variety of flowers including roses, poppies, irises, daisies, and cornflowers were grown. Also, they liked to grow fragrant trees and shrubs. Their gardens had rectangular ponds sometimes stocked with fish.

The Egyptians believed the Gods liked gardens. Gardens were usually around the Temples. There were different trees associated with different Gods.

The gardens were beautiful so they were used for pleasure and produce. Gardens were used to produce fruit, vegetables, olive oil, and to produce wine.

Gardening In Ancient Iraq

In the Ancient World, beautiful gardens were created in Iraq. The Assyrians came from Iraq and in the period 900 BC – 612 BC they ruled a great empire in the middle east. The upper-class Assyrians enjoyed gardens. Gardens were irrigated by water canals. They planted trees such as palms and cypresses. Trees were planted in rows by alternating the species like the Egyptians. Ponds were created and they cultivated vines and some flowers.

The Assyrian Empire was destroyed in 612. A huge empire was created there by the city-state of Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar is supposed to have built one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Which is the hanging garden of Babylon. His wife missed her homeland so the King built a stepped terrace garden for here. Man-powered pumps watered it. (Probably a chain pump)

Greek Gardening

The Greeks weren’t very good gardeners. They used trees to provide shade around the Temple and other public places. You rarely saw gardens just for pleasure. When flowers were grown they were put in pots. Gardens were grown for practical reasons. They grew Orchards, Vineyards, and vegetable gardens.

Roman Gardening

Gardening was introduced to Egypt in 30 BC when they were conquered by the Romans. The rich Romans created gardens next to their palaces and villas. They were masters of any of the topiary. The gardens had statues and sculptures. They built homes around a countryard which had a colonnaded porch, a pool, and a fountain. There were beds of flowers in the courtyard.

The gardens are lined with hedges and vines. There were a lot of flowers such as acanthus, cornflower, crocus, cyclamen, hyacinth, iris and ivy, lavender, lilies, myrtle, narcissus, poppy, rosemary, and violet.

When Rome conquered Britain they introduced a number of new plants including roses, leeks, turnips, and plumbs. Once Rome fell gardening declined in western Europe. Churches made some gardens for growing herbs for medicine. Altars were decorated with flowers.

 

The Best Gardening Tips for Spring Preparation

download (7)With such a cold winter, many gardeners are delighted that the spring is finally here. Even better, it is time to plant seeds and cultivate gardens which will bring about the hot green attractiveness of the spring season. However, without early preparation, your gardening might not be successful. Below are some of the very best strategies to organize your gardens for the spring season.

Start looking for seeds and bulbs

If you’d like to plant flowers such as lilies, it is time for you to start ordering seeds and bulbs. Otherwise, you will miss out on the radiant summer display. You could get the seeds online or purchase them from the nearest store in your neighborhood. Make sure the seeds and bulbs are in excellent condition to avoid disappointments late in the season when the planting season has passed.

Cleaning the garden

If there are debris in the garden, it is time for you to throw them out. Don’t ignore the lawn and the pond. Remove any weeds from the garden and put them in a pile to create a compost that could be used when gardening. Dig up the soil in the garden and flowerbeds to make sure it doesn’t harden. If you cannot do this yourself, it is time to find a gardening service.

Cleaning the greenhouse

If you’d like to plant in a greenhouse, it is time to do tidying. If there are any leftover plant debris in the containers, clear them out. Ensure that the seats and floors are cleaned completely to avoid bringing in any pests. Look at the temperature and everything necessary to make sure the greenhouse is in an amazing condition when the spring season starts.

Repairing gates

If you would like to divide the plants in your garden, you need to start fixing the gates. If you are using wooden fences, make sure they’re properly treated to avoid pest attacks. Fix any broken latches and re-paint them accordingly to make your garden appealing when the planting starts.

Clean the gardening tools

Having thrown the gardening equipment in the shed during winter, it’s about time to take them out of storage. Clean, sharpen and inspect them to make sure they are functioning well. Change broken or damaged equipment so that everything is working before you start planting.

Prepare compost/manure

If you’d like your crops to grow completely when the spring season comes, you have to be equipped with a large amount of garden compost and manure. However, you need to avoid using fertilizers or pesticides that can harm your plants. As such, any unwanted weeds or plants picked from the garden need to be placed in a compost area. On the other hand, it is also sensible to collect any animal droppings in your garden and store it for use as a compost.

Last but not least, you should be prepared with plenty of water supply when the seeds are planted. Without water, the plants will die within a short time. Therefore, store big containers of water to ensure there is a sufficient amount of water for the plants. Use these ideas to prepare your garden in time for spring.

 

10 Tips for Planning Your Vegetable Garden

download (6)1. Decide What Vegetables to Plant

My first step in planning my garden is to decide which vegetables to plant.

This may seem obvious, but only plant vegetables you and your family like to eat and only plant the amount that your family can use – or that you can give away, can, or otherwise store for the winter.

Do you know anyone who plants tomatoes just because they’re a popular garden veggie, even though they either don’t like them or can’t eat them? I do and maybe you do, too! Or how about those four zucchini plants that someone I know planted one year – and then they tried to give away the surplus. Oops. (No, it wasn’t me!)

2. Decide Which Varieties to Plant

For each type of vegetable, I try to choose one variety that’s good for fresh eating (either raw or cooked), one that stores well in the root cellar, and one that is especially resistance to the type of insect pests and diseases I have in my garden. Sometimes a single variety will meet more than one of these criteria.

Your criteria are probably different than mine, so it’s a good idea to identify what qualities are important for you and then choose varieties that work for your situation.

3. Make a List of Vegetables to Plant

For each vegetable, I list the following:

  1. The vegetable variety (for example, Red-cored Chantenay Carrots)
  2. How many weeks it should be planted before or after the Last Frost Date in the spring (for example, 4-6 weeks before the Last Frost Date). You will find this information on the seed packet.
  3. Taking the last frost date for my area, I count back (or forward) to the actual day for planting – and write that down, too.
  4. Lastly, I write down the ideal soil temperature for planting that type of vegetable. This information should also be shown on the seed packet.

Listing Seeds to Plant Indoors

I make a separate list for seeds that I’m planting indoors. This list includes both the date for starting the seeds indoors and the date for transplanting them into the garden.

If I’m buying any seedlings (instead of starting the seeds myself), I put those on the list, too, so I won’t forget to go buy them.

4. Design Your Garden

Draw a sketch of your garden and where you plan to plant each veggie. Some people use graph paper for this and draw to scale, so it is easier to tell how much space is being taken by each vegetable. But using a plain piece of paper can work well, too.

Check the seed packets so you’ll know how much space to allow between rows and between plants.

If you prefer not to design your garden with pencil and paper, there are numerous software packages and websites that can help with this process.

5. Rotate Your Crops

When designing the layout of your garden, it’s important to take into account where the various vegetables were planted in previous years.

It’s generally advised to rotate your crops, so plants from the same family of vegetables are not planted in the same place more than once every three years. Some people wait five years, which is harder to do unless you have a fairly large garden or are only planting a few types of vegetables.

The two main reasons for rotating crops are 1) to help avoid insect and soil-borne diseases and 2) because different vegetables take different minerals from the soil. If crops aren’t rotated, insect pests and harmful soil organisms tend to build up in the soil and, also, the soil can become depleted of important minerals.

6. Successive Plantings

When designing your garden, take into account the possibility that you may be able to successively plant more than one vegetable in the same spot during the season.

For example, when you’re done harvesting your lettuce, you could plant a later crop of carrots in that same place.

7. Companion Planting

Some plants do well when planted next to each other and some don’t.

When deciding which plants to grow in your garden and where to put them, consider whether they will be good companions to each other. You may also want to plant some flowers and veggies solely for their role as companions.

For example, I plant marigolds in quite a few spots within the garden because of their tendency to ward off insect pests and soil diseases. They also attract some pests, which then keeps those critters from bothering other plants.

Other examples would be planting basil near tomatoes to help the tomatoes grow better or planting radishes near squash, melons and cucumbers to deter insect pests.

8. Plant Hybrids for Pest & Disease Resistance

I used to plant only vegetable varieties that were open-pollinated, that is, varieties whose seeds would grow “true” to the original plant.

Now I’ve found that it’s helpful to plant some hybrids that are resistant to the insect pests and diseases that tend to show up in my garden. If my garden gets severely affected by a certain type of pest or disease, this gives me a little insurance against my entire crop being wiped out.

For example, if powdery mildew hits my garden really hard, it could have a big effect on the productiveness of my squash, melons, and cucumbers. Having some hybrid varieties that are resistant to powdery mildew could save the day.

9. Consider the Plant’s Need for Sun & Soil Type

Some vegetables do better when grown in full sun and some do better with a bit of shade. You can find this information on the seed packet.

Remember that plants that grow tall will shade other smaller plants behind them, so put those tall ones on the north side of garden, if possible. On the other hand, if you have plants that don’t tolerate direct sun very well (such as lettuce), you can use tall plants to shade them.

So, when planning your garden, plant according to the needs of your veggies in regard to sun or shade. Also, be sure to pick varieties that are suited to your climate and soil conditions.

10. Buy Plant Supports Ahead of Time

For plants that use supports, such as tomatoes and peas, I find it best to put the supports in the ground before planting the seeds or, when transplanting seedlings, before they get very tall. Otherwise, the seeds may be displaced or the roots of the seedlings may be disturbed.

 

Things Plant-Crazy People Have at Home

download (5)It was my first time visiting the boyfriend at his home. I was so nervous that I think will pee or collapse on the floor, whichever will come first. While left along the in their living room, I look around. I wasn’t prepared to be amazed by what I saw. Can you guess what?

They say that curiosity killed the cat. But, I’m not a cat, right? But, I find myself standing and walking around their house.

I found myself standing in front of a magical crystal orb a size of a fish bowl. I peeked inside a saw layers of stone, pebbles, charcoal and soil topped with plastic looking plants. Later that day, I discovered it was a terrarium. I should have known by now that his mother is a plant enthusiast. I wonder where they bought it. I also want something like it on my bedside table. Perhaps one of these days, I can ask him to teach if how to create one.

Still, the boyfriend and the rest of the family is nowhere to be found. I moved deeper into their home and smiled because I saw a shelf full of books. From children’s storybooks to cookbooks to Harry Potter, I wonder why the boyfriend hasn’t told me that he likes Harry Potter. I have been a Potterhead since forever. I opened one of my favorite, the Goblet of Fire when I found dried and pressed flowers inside random pages. There are roses, chrysanthemums, daisies and many of those I couldn’t name. They were beautiful.

Finally, he emerged out of his bedroom. He said he took a shower. Yes, he did. How did I know? His hair is wet and he smelled of fresh flowers– some kind of lavender. Like the judgmental person that I am, it crossed my mind if he is not as straight as he appears to be. I was surprised that he said, “my mom buys our shampoo.” I really tried not to laugh, I was so embarrassed.

Going outside their backyard, this is where I connected all the pieces. His mother is a very big fan of plants and flowers. Their garden affirmed. It is a bed of various plants and flowers that are creatively planted and architectured. Recyclable flower plants like colored boots, crates, and creative clay pots are everywhere. On the center of the garden is a round table with lots of delicious looking foodstuff.

My smile couldn’t get any bigger when he offered me a bouquet of colorful carnations. I think I would keep this one.

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5 Steps Can Help You in Finding the Best Polytunnel for Your Area

download (4)Agriculture and horticulture, both are the business types which need some kind of solution that can protect the crops from odd weather condition. The best solution which can tolerate the harsh weather condition efficiently is the Poly tunnel. You can buy the one for your residential property- if you have a garden in your home. Several other types of businesses also buy these tunnels for varied storage needs.

If you are thinking to spend money on a Polyethylene shade, then consider a few tips that can help you in buying the best product for agricultural or horticultural needs.

What you Need?

Every product is designed to meet with the specific requirements of individuals or businesses. These tunnels are also designed to provide protection from the storm, heat, rain, and winter. If you are planning to buy a tunnel, then first ask yourself a few questions. What are the requirements? Why need the shade? What type of area you want to cover? You should be very clear about your requirements to get the best solution. What if you want to raise seed or keep your garden frost-free in winter? Hence, it is always good to buy a product which can best match with your needs.

Check the Size:

Before you buy, you should make sure about the size of the area which you want to cover and size of the tunnel which will be covering that area. Measure the specific area and the tunnel also to get the best fit. Keep the scalability in mind before making the purchase. If there are chances of expanding the area in the future for growth, then opt for the suitable size of cover which can fulfill your growing requirements in future.

Is it Accessible Enough?

The accessibility should also be one of the main concerns while choosing a shade. How many plants you can grow and how much floor space will you have for the work? Do you need the water supply nearest to the tunnel or electricity for heating? A tunnel should also have the space for one or two persons to move around. Keep all these points in mind for accessibility before buying a product.

Types of Cover:

Covers generally come in several varieties and have several variants according to the material. Each is designed to solve various growing purposes. PVC, netting, Polyethylene are a few types of materials which are used to design these tunnels to provide protection from UV rays and cool wind. On the other side, they are categorized broadly into two types. One has continuous arc and named cross-sectional. Another has straight sides and arcs across the top. You can choose the one which can meet with your functional requirements. Choose the best type of cover which can offer the best result for your agriculture or horticulture needs.

Location of Installation:

Make sure about the evenness of the area where you are going to install the tunnel. The area should be in level; however, a slight slope in the length can be ignored.

These steps can help you in finding the best polytunnel for your area. You should conduct proper research about the manufacturer or supplier and the product quality. Make sure that the types of shade product you are going to buy for your property have adequate ventilation to help plants in growing.

 

Gardening: How to Save Water

download (3)You may think that plants only need water but the truth is that they need much more. There are different ways to look after your garden without using thousands of litres of water per day. Here are some ways that you may find helpful.

Covering your garden in compost not only gives the plants maximum nutrients they need to survive but it also locks the moisture in. If there is moisture in the sand you don’t need to water it every day. Plus, over-watering plants could drown them and kill them.

Any water that does not contain heavy duty cleaning chemicals will be satisfactory for your garden. So you can recycle the water if you don’t want to throw it down the drain. Dishwashing liquid isn’t harmful to your garden and you can use that water to feed your grass every day.

You can also recycle water you use for your cooking. Water used to clean your vegetables is the safest since the most irritating component is the sand from the leaves. This only bothers your taste buds and is not harmful to plants. Water from boiling food such as pasta and vegetables is also harmless. Just make sure that the water is no longer boiling hot when you pour it into your garden.

If you plant flowers closer to each other, less water will be used in one area. Although plants need space to grow roots, small spaces can bring your bill down by quite a bit.

If you have trees in your garden, make sure that you plant your seeds in the shade of the tree. If your garden is cool and doesn’t have constant sunlight drying it up, less water is needed to keep them alive.

Collecting rain water will be useful to water your garden. If it were to rain you will have enough water for another day. Keep a barrel close to any drainage systems and gutters. You will be surprised how much water you collect from the wet weather.

Buy an attachment for your hosepipe that has a larger range and uses water sparingly. The more concentrated the area to which the water goes to, the more water you are using for just one plant. With a wider range attachment less water is being used because of the built in separation system.

Create walkways in your garden or add a patio. You can add patio tiles which will require less grass to be planted and thus use less water.

With prices increasing in every area of society, it’s becoming expensive to own a garden and maintain all the plants. Save water and save money.

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4 Solutions to Farming in High Salinity Soils

downloadSalinity is the measure of the total amount of soluble salt in the soil. As the amount of salt increases, it becomes more difficult for the plant to extract the water out of the soil.

High salinity soils in farms and gardens is becoming a worldwide problem. High concentrations of salt impact crops in a number of ways, from a reduction in yield all of the way to total crop failure.

In fact, the United Nations “estimates that 2,000 hectares of farmland (nearly 8 square miles) of farmland is ruined daily by salt degradation. So far, nearly 20 percent of the world’s farmland has been degraded, an area approximately the size of France.”

The rest of this article will discuss 4 solutions to farming in high salinity soils. While there are other methods used, these are the most common and generally the most successful.

Improving Drainage and Leaching

First, if adequate water sources and good drainage are available, the soils can be washed (leached) to remove the excess salt. Drainage is an absolute must, because the water must move through soil and not just run off the surface.

Select and Plant Salt Tolerant Crops

Plants widely vary in their salt tolerance. One method to control saline soils is to plant crops that have a high salt tolerance. Crops selection varies greatly by climate so check with your local farm extension bureau to determine the appropriate crops in your area.

Use Biofertilizers containing Bacillus subtilis GB03.

Biofertilizers are living microorganisms that are used to help plants grow more efficiently. Biofertilizers take advantage of microbe plant interactions. These interactions are synergistic. In other words, they are beneficial for both the plant and the microorganism.

One beneficial microorganism that is used for high salinity soils is Bacillus subtilis GB03. This particular microorganism is a bacteria that was found in soils that had a high salt concentration. B. subtilis GB03 have been shown to promote growth promotion and reduce some types of plant stress. This bacterium is also helpful for the plant in seed germination. Additionally, it has proved valuable in both drought and salt tolerance.

Applying Chemical Treatments

Applying chemical treatments is another way to treat high salinity soils. However, this method can be time consuming and expensive. It is best to consult with an expert before trying to chemically treat your soils to reduce salinity.

 

How to Use the Drip Irrigation Properly

download (18)In the summer, plants might die of thirst since water is really important to plants. And we should water the plants properly as they need lots of water. In view of that, to grow your plants properly, you should make sure that your plants can get enough water. There is no denying that the garden irrigation could make everything much easier and more convenient for you. However, how to use the garden irrigation properly might also be a difficult task for the beginner. Don’t worry. I have got you covered. In this article, I am going to show you how to use the garden irrigation.

Advantages of Using Drip Irrigation

Compared to the traditional irrigation as using the nozzle or watering cans, the garden irrigation could save water and fertilize the soil by dripping water slowly to the roots of plants or the soil surface. And the drip irrigation could also cool the area down by the water evaporation. And as you get the drip irrigation installed, what you have to do is to turn on the garden irrigation and leave it behind, which could save your time. And most of the drip irrigation could be equipped with a timer, which could turn on the drip irrigation system automatically. What’s more, there are some people said that the drip irrigation could improve the soil constitution. In short, you should give it a shot.

How to Use

It might be easy to install the irrigation system, but to use it properly might be a difficult task. The drip irrigation is a little bit expensive, so you have to think it over. As installing the irrigation system, make sure the dripper is as close as possible to the soil surface. The pipes and the dripper might get clogged easily if the water contains too much dirt. So, the water filter or the filtration would be really important to avoid this kind of problem. And you should figure out how much water your plants need for a day, and make sure you have provided adequate water for your plants. And the water requirements would change differently as the weather change. If your plants need lots of water, you should better expand the irrigation time. As one of those common senses, you couldn’t water your plants at noon, and it will be better to water your plant in the morning or toward evening.