13 September 2014

Blunt Force Trauma: A New Way to Rid Organic Farm Plots of Weeds

Organic farmers anywhere will tell you that ridding weeds in their crop rows is very difficult. The reason is currently there is no organic spray or granular product that works well. Corn gluten once thought to be the premier weed preventer actually does the opposite in most cases. Corn gluten is rich in nitrogen. It does stop the germination process but only under very dry conditions. As a desiccant corn gluten draws moisture from young seedlings causing them to dry out and wither away.

But what about the nitrogen in corn gluten? Corn gluten's rich store of nitrogen is released when the gluten gets wet. Corn gluten is an outstanding source of slow release nitrogen. In fact few organic sources of nitrogen can claim amounts as high as 10%. But gluten needs to be dry to work as a weed preventer. Wet gluten does not prevent weeds but feeds the crops and the weeds. 

So what to do about killing weeds under organic rules..................? The answer is a blast. Sand blasting. Not with a a blast of sand powerful enough to remove graffiti but a controlled micro blast of an organic gritty substance.

Currently South Dakota State University is developing a farm sized blasting device to rid weeds in agricultural crops. Their four row pneumatic grit blaster. This device uses a fine blast of grit delivered through small pneumatic nozzles. It is under going filed tests in corn this summer. The South Dakota State University test is funded by a grant from  Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) fund..

So what is this grit being used? Well anything that is gritty.....like sand. But remember the primary target here is organic farm crops. So the gritty stuff needs to be organic. However there is more to the grit being organic. It must have an after life. Meaning after being rocketed at weeds the grit must have another use such as adding organic matter to the field. Original tests used ground corn cobs.
ground corn cobs are great as ammunition but offer nothing in terms of after life service to the field.

So what are the specs of this gritty idea? The current particle size being studies are 0.5 milometer bullets applied at the rate of 300 lbs per acre  using 100 pounds per square inch of pressure. Curr
ent tests in Minnesota on lambs quarters shows that two applications when weeds are small provide 80-90% control. The grit works by literraly shredding the weeds to death with blunt force trauma.

With the need for the ammunition to have an after life researchers are conducting tests on items such as ground limestone, gritty organic fertilizers and other items to facilitate both the need for organic weed control and the requirement that the spent munitions have a purpose after rocketing weeds to oblivion. Walnut shells, limestone and other plant material are currently being tested.

There are many questions that need to be answered before full scale weed blasting takes root.
The questions include can it be done cost effectively. The current method costs $100 per acre. Not cheap by any means. This is what makes blasting with fertilizer so appealing Another question is timing. Misdirected blasts can damage young crops in addition to killing targeted weeds.

Sunpipe Hydroponics Online Grow Store.

12 September 2014

Penny Stock Company Speculates on Hydroponics Project in Florida

Choose Rain a penny stock firm believes hydro
is the future in American farming

Choose Rain makes stuff from captured rainwater. They have partnered with Custom Grown Produce to begin large scale hydroponic production according to Small Cap Network. Choose Rain also has an agreement to sell CGPs Flexagrow hydroponic system.

Choose rain feels that capturing rain water run off and hydroponics are the future of farming.

Flexagrow is a self contained system.

According to company information:

"The frame of the system serves as the roof structure eliminating the need for a greenhouse. The Flexagrow system also catches, uses and stores rainwater.
With less than 10% of this captured water used to water the plants, the remain-der is free for other purposes where clean water is needed" .

Neither company appears to have a web page though Flexagrow does have a Facebook page.

Choose Rain trades on the OTC pink sheets OTC PINK: CHOS.

Sunpipe Hydroponics Online Grow Store

10 September 2014

Mark Arlotta One of Scotts Good Guys Finds A New Home at Jonathan Green

Mark Arlotta is a class act this guy really cated for the independents while at Scotts/Miracle Gro. Yes he may have been involved witn bix stores but I am sure his heart was not there. Just to show you what a hnch of scum Scotts Miracle Gro has become Arlotta acheived twelve Outstanding Sales awarda buy that apparantly was not enough for the egotistical leadership. Such individuals have no, place in the lawn and garden biz which still, despite the inroads of the box stores, is a family business.

Here is jonathan Green's annuncement:

Jonathan Green is very excited to announce that Mark Arlotta will be our new National Sales and Marketing Director, effective October 1, 2014.
Mark joins our team following a highly successful career at Scotts Miracle-Gro that spanned eighteen years. At SMG, Mark held many positions; most noteworthy was National Sales Director for Independent and Distributor Business. As Director, Mark helped strategically market programs and products exclusively for garden centers and hardware stores. During his tenure at SMG, Mark was honored with twelve awards for Outstanding Sales Achievement!
During the past two years, Mark has worked for Danner Manufacturing, an industry leader in the Water Gardening category. He has helped Danner design new packaging, reposition existing brands, and created comprehensive programs designed to grow all business sectors, particularly "brick and mortar" independents.
Clearly, Mark's passion for independents is unrivaled! Our business model at Jonathan Green is as follows:
"We sell the finest turf products on the market today exclusively to the independents. Always have. Always will."

Sunpipe Hydroponics Online Grow Store

19 August 2014

Ranters Rant on Useless Garden Gifts

This is one time I agree with the four ladies on The Rant. And I do not agree with them often. This post from Garden Rant on useless/over priced garden gifts

                    Sunpipe Hydroponics Online Grow Store

31 July 2014

Holy Pesto Batman: Downy Mildew Now Attacking Basil!

Though I have not seen the disease on my basil it seems downy mildew has set it's sights on basil as well as Impatiens!

Garden advice you can dig!

Olana to Host Cooking With Summer Herbs Workshop

One of my favorite places in the Hudson Valley is Frederick Church's home Olana located at the foot of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. Church was one of the founders f the Hudson River School of art. The Hudson River School was not a physical school itself but more a collection of some of America's premier late 19th century artists

Olana has beautiful grounds and some pretty nice flower and herb gardens. Culinary uses of Summer Herbs is a two hour worshop  being held at Olana  Sunday August 2nd from 1-3 PM. Julie Cerny of the 
Sylvia Center. The workshop will run the gamut of how to grow herbs as well their common and not so common uses. recipes will be available as well as samples.

The Sylvia Center seeks to inspire children to eat healthy food in order to lead productive lives.
Cost for the class is $10 person in addition to a $5 vehicle fee.

For more info:For more information and to register contact Olana Partnership Education Coordinator Sarah Hasbrook at shasbrook@olana.org or call 518-828-1872, Ext 109.

Garden advice you can dig!

29 July 2014

Organic Gardening Not Cheaper as Author Claims

A July 1st article in Shakopoee Valley News touts that cost savings are one of the benefits of organic gardening, The author AMY ANDRYCHOWICZ, states that organic gardening uses stuff that is free or low costs or provided by "Mother Nature" free.

"Mother Nature provides us with all the resources we need to grow food organically, just as nature intended".

 In fact nature's storehouse of nutrients intended more for forest conditions where only the strong survive and natural selection dictates what survives and what does not.

The article states that using chemicals, pesticides and chemical fertilizers, throws off the natural balance. Well intensive organic vegetable gardening throws off the natural balance since tomatoes growing in close proximity to one another in a dug up bed is not natural.

As for nature providing everything for free this is simply not true. In a natural ecosystem leaves dropping to the forest floor are consumed by insects, animals birds or gets composted by soil microbes. The byproduct of animals eating each other and vegetation is "poop" this poop is then broken down by soil microbes into usable forms of plant nutrients, aka fertilizer. The same fertilizer make up as in a box of your favorite brand of water soluble plant food.

Then there is the necessary proclamation of every organic garden bandwagon member that organic food tastes better. This has yet to be proven as true.
In fact there is evidence that supports the opposite. Plants have amazing self defense mechanisms to fend off disease and those things that may eat them. 

One of the mechanisms used to fend off attackers that may eat a plant makes the plant taste bad to the attacker. So it is quite possible that organic food may taste terrible if subjected to an insect or animal attack during its' tenure in an organic garden.

And have you ever considered the true cost of organic fertilizer? A bag of organic fertilizer will usually have a very low nutrient content, the first three numbers on bag. A  thirty six  pound bag of Espoma Garden-tone (4-6-6)
costs $24.99 You are getting about 5 lbs of altogether of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. A forty pound bag of 10-10-10 which costs $15
has 12 pounds of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. 

There is no doubt that organic fertilizers are more in sync with current weather conditions. There is also proof that organic fertilizers build up the existing storehouse of microbes that are needed to convert natural food (fertilizers) into usable CHEMICAL FERTILIZER that plants can actually use.

Also something to consider is that no matter how much you compost each batch will have a different nutritional analysis. And if you were to actually do a nutrient test on the compost you will find there is NOT ENOUGH nutritional content to SUSTAIN a weed let alone a tomato plant.

Any edible garden crop, except herbs, forced to survive on compost, or free
stuff lying around the yard, alone will succumb to insects and disease.

Garden advice you can dig

15 July 2014

I Can't Plant Flowers? According to Some Bylaws No You Cannot Plant Flowers In Your Yard

Several people have asked me "since when did gardening become political." My answer "when has it NEVER been political.

In one Ottawa neighborhood even NATIVE PLANTS  are outlawed
Hank and Vera Jones wanted a naturalized garden and enlisted the help of The Fletcher Wildlife Garden who identified more than 140 plants already on the area as natives. While most neighbors were curious about their naturalizing project they were "tolerant" until one neighbor thought their property was "unkempt" and called. What happened next?  Ottawa’s bylaw enforcement arrived and we were cited for property neglect.”

Yup, Canada our politically correct socialist neighbors to the north want manicured lawns even though Canada outlawed pesticides applications on residential properties.

Here are some other Politics as Usual in The Garden

In England

Mother Earth News

LA Times

Cedar Valley Iowa

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10 July 2014

What Kind Of Music To Listen To When In The Garden

  Music for gardening guide:

                                                      Grilling veggies from your garden: Country
Harvesting Tea Herbs: Classical
Pulling weeds: Mississippi Delta Blues
Killing bugs and eradicating disease: Heavy Metal
Planting seeds or new transplants: anything from Sesame Street or Barney (NOT.........Twinkle Twinkle Little Star perhaps).
Sitting on the porch in the evening as the sun goes down over the garden: Pat Metheny type of Jazz
The day when you get your first tomato: John Phillip Sousa Marching Band tunes.
Working in your Medicinal Herb Garden: anything with nature sounds, birds singing and the annoying oriental flute aka Zamfir stuff
Sweating your butt off on the kitchen wishing you really did not grow this much stuff that needs to be canned all at once
But needs to do or will spoil: More Delta Blues or Old Negro Spirituals
And of course the one everyone knows or should know...
The kind of music to listen to when growing tomatoes in your Grandmother's basement: BOB MARLEY MONN!
The day your Grandmother turns you in for growing tomatoes in her basement: Blues, Peter Tosh, more Old Negro Spirituals

Garden advice you can dig!

17 June 2014

Stony Kill Apiary Group Asks for Folks to Join Stony Kill Foundation

Danny Girton sent this letter to the apiary group at Stony Kill Environmental Center

I am writing to ask members of the Stony Kill Foundation Apiary Group to help out Stony Kill by becoming members of the foundation.

We have had our Apiary Group at Stony Kill now since November 2012 with monthly meetings in the class room, shop work in the shop and work on the hives and with many excellent speakers who have come in and only last week we were able to host "Bee Wellness" which we plan to teach the course to the rest of the group in the future.

None of this activity and education has had any charge attached nor does being a member of the Stony Kill Fogundation Apiary Group have a fee.  Even for use of the Bee Yard if you want to keep your hives at Stony Kill there is no fee. This is because  the purpose of Stony Kill Environmental Education Center is education.

By going on the foundation website at www.stonykill.org or foundation@stonykill.org and filling out the Foundation membership application and sending your fee you will be supporting a major source of  Bee Education, and other Farming, Environmental Science, American and New York State History  and the beautiful place we all raised our kids with,. Stony Kill Farm.

The economy is not so good but Stony Kill could really use your help.
Please join if you can.

Garden advice you can dig!

27 May 2014

Herbs Made Easy is My Topic at The Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck June 6

Featured Speaker at Country Living Fair

Lifelong gardener and Hudson Valley resident, Greg Draiss runs the Garden Center at Adams Fairacre Farms in Wappingers Falls, New York and is the main contributor to the Adams gardening blog. He is also a staff writer for Garden Culture Magazine, U.K. and U.S. editions. Greg is also a seasoned horticulturist and journalist. His column, “Great Gardening” is read by thousands each month in several Hudson Valley newspapers. His blog “The Real Dirt on Gardening” takes on the hottest issues and trends in gardening and attracts more than 10,000 readers, monthly. He is also a regular guest on several local radio programs, including WKZE’s Garden Show. Greg is an avid proponent of urban farming, community gardens and hydroponics.

Country Living Magazine's Country Living Fair will be at The Dutchess County Fairgrounds June 6-8

Herbs have become one of the most popular areas of gardening and rightly so. Once considered mysterious and hard to grow nothing could be further from the truth. Herb gardening can be done almost anywhere from a full sized formal garden to a small pot on a window sill. If you have an existing herb garden, just beginning with herbs or anywhere in between you can learn something from Herbs Made Easy.

Learn how to successfully start herbs from seed when and how to take cuttings and divisions from an existing herbs.
Herb garden maintenance is a whole lot easier than vegetable gardening. And for the most part herbs are pest free.

Herbs Made Easy will take you through an entire gardening season from sowing seed in late winter, making new plants from old ones in spring, summer and fall as well as harvesting and storing for winter.

Garden advice you can dig!

19 May 2014

EPA Approves New Pesticide That is Toxic to Pollinating Insects

My honeybee consultant Dr. Danny Girton sent me this information an a new pesticide approved recently by the EPA:

"The EPA just approved yet another bee toxic systemic pesticide called cyantraniliprole, and set allowable residue limits on almonds, berries, leafy vegetables and milk. The EPA also approved it as a seed treatment (stay away from those treated seeds!) so it may show up on GMO seeds in the future. Some formulas of this toxic pesticide combine it with neonicotinoids. Cyantraniliprole has been proven to be toxic to bees and also causes liver toxicity and thyroid instability in mammals. The approval of cyantraniliprole raises serious concerns. The EPA, (or should we say Exceptionally-Incompetent Pesticide Agency) has just set itself up for another lawsuit. Be safe. Grown your own. Buy organic."

Information on this systemic control can be found at The Federal Register web site
Garden advice you can dig!

17 May 2014

The Dirt Goes International in Garden Culture Magazine

Very happy to be joining the writing staff of Garden Culture the garden magazine that cuts to the chase about indoor and new gardening trends
"Welcome Greg Draiss to the team of amazing writers at Garden Culture Magazine. His experience and passion for gardening will surely enrich our pages."  

Eric Coulombe

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02 May 2014

Better Birding Seeks To Help Preserve and Expand Bird Habitats Through GoFundMe

Better Birding is a manufacturer of custom nesting boxes for birds, bats and butterflies. Sam Draiss, age 13, is an avid bird watcher and feeder. Sam helps me make nest boxes from locally sourced rough cut lumber. The nest boxes come in maple, cherry, oak and hemlock.

Better Birding has turned to GoFundMe in effort to raise capital to buy more equipment and lumber to build and sell our nesting boxes in more venues. Current growth has made the need for additional equipment and inventory necessary as the upcoming craft fair and festival season gets under way.

Our goal is to raise $2500. These funds will assist in purchasing needed equipment and rough cut lumber to make additional inventory. We welcome any contributions towards our goal and even offer free products in return for certain contribution levels.

Better Birding also donates a portion of every sale to birding organizations that promote the hobby of birding as well preserving and expanding birding habitats. Better Birding also holds several seminars each year teaching adults and children the wonderful world of birds. 

Our education efforts do not stop at birding. Better Birding also teaches many gardening classes that include plants and designs that attract nesting birds and make even urban backyards more bird friendly.

You can see our offerings  on our online bird shop

Garden advice you can dig!

30 April 2014

It Works With Grapes Why Not Tomatoes?

Vineyard managers love when the season is dry because it makes for a higher sugar content in the grape. This is what makes for a "good vintage" year of record in the wine world.
This practice is now moving over into tomatoes. Tomato juice makers think if they can increase the sugar content of tomato juice sales will increase. After all tomato juice is a little acidic and takes a lot of getting used to.

                                                    Science daily has this report and tests have shown large increases in sugar content by reducing the flow of water through the zylem layer in the cambium layer

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