The reuse of potting soil debate rages (Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas)

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http://www.gardeningtipsnideas.com/

The reuse of potting soil debate rages

I really enjoy the debates that gardeners have regarding this issue. For the frugal-minded, it’s a no-brainer. The purist, on the other hand, has no qualms discarding potting soil after a single use. So why the difference? And who is right? – if there is a right and wrong.
Here’s some background reading if you’ve never contemplated the question. In summary the arguments feature like this;

Advocates of recycling claim sphagnum peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite, the main components in soilless potting mixes, are mined or manufactured from non-renewable resources. The relatively high price of commercial potting mix is also cited. So, in view of these reasons, they say used potting soil should be rejuvenated and recycled.Opponents of recycling contend that used potting soil could contain disease pathogens and usually loses its nutrients, porosity and much of its organic content. They also say nematodes may have invaded the container during the past growing season.

Whenever I contemplate this argument I’m amazed that no-one brings the question back to, “Do we reuse our garden soil?” The answer is obvious. Yet, if we considered the debate from this vantage point then we wouldn’t really have any discussion, would we? Continue reading The reuse of potting soil debate rages (Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas)

Repotting plants the easy way (Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas)

Read at : Gardening Tips ‘n’ ideas

Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas <scrobins@westnet.com.au>

Repotting plants the easy way

Repotting plants is certainly not a hard task yet it is one that is often fraught with disaster and an activity where many people lose their favourite plant. The reasons are many but in most cases they can be easily avoided and your plant transplanted with great success. So, let’s start with an example. Here is one of my two cumquat plants that in the past have produced incredible fruit yields. At this time of the year they would normally be well covered in foliage with smallish fruits starting to grow. Alas, the branches are almost bare and any hotspell we receive causes them to wilt immediately. To understand what the cause of the problem is we need to lift the rootball out of the pot. In this case, we can see a distinct band running around the perimeter of the rootball halfway down – marked by the red arrow. The top half is as dry as the Sahara desert in the midday sun while the bottom half is completely water-logged. The cause: there are two reasons really. The first is that the rootball has outgrown this pot and it has become rootbound. The other reason is caused by the pot itself. It is supposed to be one of those self-draining pots that when too much water is added it automatically allows it to drain away. As this plant hasn’t been repotted for more than two years, it has clogged up the drainage holes and acted as its own plug. Continue reading Repotting plants the easy way (Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas)

Herb gardening indoors (Google / Herbs Scam)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

http://herbs-scam.blogspot.com/2008/10/herb-gardening-indoors.html

Herb Gardening Indoors

Here are some tips for herb gardening indoors that will simulate the conditions in an outside garden. For Herb gardening indoors the growing climates need to be pretty much the same as the conditions outside. Get your herb plants from a good garden center nursery who will have plenty of garden advice to help you with your inside garden. You will need some garden equipment like a small digging garden tool, garden gloves, organic fertilizer and some small gardening containers. You probably already have most of these garden supplies in your garden shed. Continue reading Herb gardening indoors (Google / Herbs Scam)

Creating A Productive Organic Garden With Difficult Soils (Google / 1stoporganicgardening)

Read at : Google Alert –  gardening

http://www.1stoporganicgardening.com/blog/2008/10/13/creating-a-productive-organic-garden-with-difficult-soils/

Creating A Productive Organic Garden With Difficult Soils

Here’s a photo of an area of our organic garden that we haven’t used previously. We have terrible soil and have had to bring in soil and build raised beds to have any success with growing our organic veggies. Our soil is non-wetting, sandy soil. In fact it’s just like beach sand, without the shells. The water doesn’t penetrate into the soil. It just pools together and runs off, without going in at all!!!! But there are ways around difficult soils. Raised beds are one way – especially if poor drainage is your issue.

(photo)

As you can see in the photo above, we’ve dug a trench along the fence line where we’re going to plant tomatoes, capsicum and basil. We’re filling the trench with a mix of organic soil and organic compost – both available from a local landscape supply company. This way the plants will get the moisture they need, as well as nutrients from the good soil. Of course we’ll be adding organic fertilizers as our veggies are growing. This is really important for plants growing in sandy soils as many nutrients are leached out of sandy soils when it rains or you irrigate. Continue reading Creating A Productive Organic Garden With Difficult Soils (Google / 1stoporganicgardening)

Keyhole gardening and bag gardening (Google / My Global Garden)

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http://www.myglobalgarden.com/blog/eco-gardening-secrets-from-africa

Eco gardening secrets from Africa

The most impressive stand I visited at Hampton Court was the Back to the Future Garden in the Climate Zone, designed and built soley by a unique charity called Send a Cow. It was one of the busiest with visitors intrigued by a method of growing vegetables in a keyhole garden:

(very nice picture)

As you can see, this is basically heaps of soil based around a compost that continually feeds the garden with the rotting matter as it grows. This a great way to use up kitchen waste and means you can grow lots of vegetables in a small area, all year round. Perfect for city balconies or terraces where space is at a premium and there is often nowhere to have a compost heap. The height is good for elderly people who may find bending down to tend their vegetables more difficult.

For many families in Africa these amazing keyhole gardens are the difference between life and death. Climate change has seriously reduced the levels of soil fertility in many parts of Africa and the situation has been made worse by the loss of almost a whole generation to Aids which means that horticultural know-how is very limited.

About 70% of Africans depend for survival on what they grow on their land and keyhole gardening is just one of the areas that Send A Cow is involved with. Set up in 1988 , this group of farmers in the West Country helps African farmers develop answers to this need to grow their own food. They deliver direct, practical help to poor farmers in Africa, by providing, cows and other livestock, training in livestock rearing and organic farming, plus low-cost veterinary and advice services .

(pictures)

Another novel idea that was demonstrated by Send a Cow was the bag garden – see pictures above right. These tall hessian sacks of soil are sent to families trying to survive famine in Africa . They are deep enough to grow potatoes in, plus you can also cut holes in the sack and plant things up the sides too. They can be watered easily when irrigating fields isn’t possible. The bag garden saves lives in Africa but it will also do well on a tiny British patio or balcony.

(continued)

Check out their excellent web-site at http://www.sendacow.org.uk for more information on their various projects plus some more sustainable gardening suggestions from Africa – making your own natural pesticide and liquid manure.

Garden sustainably from Send a Cow

(continued)

3. Make a keyhole garden

Draw a 3m circle and edge with rocks. Mark a tiny central circle with posts and make a compost “basket” inside with sticks and string. Fill bed with soil sloping down from centre, leaving a tiny path for access. Fill the basket with vegetable waste and enjoy your fertile plot.

Container plants need extra care in summer (Google / Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

http://www.lvrj.com/living/24905729.html

GARDENING: Container plants need extra care in summer

Container plants are much more vulnerable to the devastation of summer heat and sun than those planted in the ground. Therefore, you need to provide special care to help them survive — and more importantly thrive — during the dog days of summer.

Location: Where you place container plants is very important. Provide some protection from afternoon sun for those grown on patios or entryways. Protection may be shade from house walls or overhangs, from privacy walls or fences, or from shade trees. Most plants thrive where shifting shade provides protection for the afternoon hours. Also, think about moving pots to temporary locations during the heat and then move them back in the fall.

Morning sun is best for flowers and vegetables planted in pots. Most general references for these plants call for a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight. However, our sunlight is so intense that bright indirect light usually is sufficient to encourage good flowering and fruiting.

Irrigation: In addition to the appropriate location, the amount of water that container plants need also is critical. This is because air circulates around and the sun shines on container sides, so the inside soil dries out rapidly, especially with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees. You may need to water twice daily if plants are in full sun with temperatures now more than 100 degrees.

It is a must to water small- and medium-sized containers with such a small volume of soil daily, because they can’t hold enough moisture during dry weather. Larger, barrel-sized containers may go a day or two between waterings. You’ll know how often to water by the appearance of your plants; if they wilt between waterings, water more often. Always water enough to thoroughly moisten the soil from top to bottom. Let the water running out the drainage holes be your signal to stop watering. Continue reading Container plants need extra care in summer (Google / Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Improving plant growth with a soil conditioner in the drylands of Tamil Nadu (India)

A Belgian group around the Past-President of one of the Rotary International clubs in Antwerp (Belgium), Dr. Stany PAUWELS, and SCAD (Social Change and Development), an Indian NGO directed by Dr. Cletus BABU in Tamil Nadu (South India) were recently introducing trials on the use of the soil conditioner TerraCottem (TC) for improving plant production in the drylands of Tamil Nadu. The Belgian group offered an important quantity of TerraCottem to SCAD and trials were set up at SCAD headquarters in Cheranmahadevi, at SCAD KVK Agricultural Center and in different villages in the drylands of Tamil Nadu.

SCAD has initiated intensive training programmes to promote the use of Terracottem and to motivate the rural people to set up kitchen gardens. The period of June – July is the prime Agriculture Season of Tamil Nadu. Farmers who received some soil conditioner have started application in their test plots.

As far as the test plots raised at KVK are concerned, the Terracottem-treated fields are showing a lot of favorable results. The Bhendi (okra)-fruits harvested from the treated plots are healthier and more vigourous than those of the control plots.

Since the farmers have started their work with TC recently, they are yet to see the results.

This year, SCAD has fixed 2000 Kitchen Gardens as a target in the Tuticorin District alone. In the first phase local native seeds have been distributed to 1250 gardens, along with the seeds offered by the Belgian groups. The production in these gardens will be closely monitored.

SCAD is also interested in “bottle gardening“, an idea launched in a former posting on this blog (see “My vegetable garden in plastic bottles“, 2008-02-13). SCAD has already given a training on bottle gardening to the Self Help Groups (SHG)-members. They showed a lot of interest on that method, motivating local people to eliminate plastic bottle from their environment.

Nowadays, SCAD KVK-scientists are closely monitoring the effect of TerraCottem (TC) on vegetables and other plant species and on the planned Kitchen Garden programmes. Promotion of TC among the farming community is going on in selected SCAD-sponsored villages. Feedback from the communities will be send later.

Family gardens or kitchen gardens are relatively new to this dryland region. The rural population has no tradition in gardening during the dry season. Together with bottle gardening, this method can improve food patterns and public health in a significant way. It can also alleviate poverty, offering farmers a chance to take their vegetables produced locally to the nearby market, thus competing with vegetables important from distant production centers in other Indian states.

Here are some pictures illustrating the actual situation in June-July 2008 :

2008-06 : Village Vedanatham – Mrs. Mariyammal – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans, etc. (DSCN 1768)

2008-06 : Village Vedanatham – Mrs. Mariyammal – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans, etc. (DSCN 1769)


2008-06 : Village Vedanatham – Mrs. Mariyammal – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans, etc. (DSCN 1770)

2008-06 : Village Vedanatham – Mrs. Mariyammal – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans, etc. (DSCN 1787)

2008-06 – Village M.Velayudhapuram – Mr. Muniyasamy – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans etc. (DSCN 1835)

2008-06 – Village M.Velayudhapuram – Mr. Muniyasamy – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans etc. (DSCN 1838)

2008-06 – Village M.Velayudhapuram – Mr. Muniyasamy – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans etc. (DSCN 1839)

2008-06 – Village M.Velayudhapuram – Mr. Muniyasamy – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans etc. (DSCN 1840)

2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4430) – Mixing the TC with top soil.

2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4439) – Applying TC to Drumstick (Moringa) tree

2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4449) – Mrs. Pushparani applying TC to Brinjal (Egg Plant) raised in a small pot (Container Gardening). Asparagus and Alternanthera in the small containers.

2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4464) – Proud owner of the garden with Zinnia, Marigold plants. In the rear end, some papaya trees.

2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4477) – Little girl sitting in her TC-treated kitchen garden with Amaranthus greens.

2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Women SHG members – Test Plots showing healthy Bhendi (Okra) fruits – (DSCN 7690) – SCAD Anbu Illam cook is harvesting the Bhendi fruits (Abelmoschus esculentus).

2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Women SHG members – Test Plots showing healthy Bhendi (Okra) fruits – (DSCN 7692) – Healthy bhendi plants with long fruits.

2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Women SHG members – Test Plots showing healthy Bhendi (Okra) fruits – (DSCN 7695) – SCAD Anbu Illam cook in the TC-treated Bhendi garden

2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Women SHG members – Test Plots showing healthy Bhendi (Okra) fruits – (DSCN 7696) – Fresh and healthy bhendi fruits harvested from TC-treated bhendi garden.

2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Training for Kitchen gardens by KVK Staff Members – (DSCN 7712)


2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Training for Kitchen gardens by KVK Staff Members – Self Help Group of Women after training. -(DSCN 7713)


Optimizing Your Garden For Water Conservation (Google / Huimalamainakupuna The Hawaiian Blog)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

http://www.huimalamainakupuna.org/house-home/lawn-garden/essential-gardening-help-optimizing-your-garden-for-water-conservation

Essential Gardening Help: Optimizing Your Garden For Water Conservation

Living in Colorado and being a keen gardener has been somewhat stressful in recent years, as this state has been suffering drought conditions. In my home city the authorities are imposing watering restrictions which are not giving enough water to lawns and plants. I’ve had to reorganize my garden to make it more water efficient. Now, because of the techniques I’ve used, I’m the only one in my neighborhood with a garden that isn’t completely brown.So,if you live in an area that is going through a drought or if you just want to save water, I suggest you use some of these techniques too.

For starters, I carefully removed all my plants. The soil I was using didn’t retain water very well, so I had to water about twice as much as necessary in order to get it to actually absorb into the roots. If you have this same problem, you can fix it by loading the soil up with lots of compost. This not only prevents water from escaping, but encourages the plant’s roots to be healthy and able to survive more. Continue reading Optimizing Your Garden For Water Conservation (Google / Huimalamainakupuna The Hawaiian Blog)

The dirt on good soil (Google / Seattlepi)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/nwgardens/368381_lovejoy26.html

Green Gardening: The dirt on good soil
By ANN LOVEJOY
SPECIAL TO THE P-I

A number of readers want help in optimizing new beds. First-year gardens may be outstandingly fruitful when the underlying soil is open in texture and essentially rich. When you are working with stiff clay or loose, sandy soil, initial results usually are less heartening. Much of the maritime Northwest offers only these two situations, with only a few pockets of ideal sandy loam. This year, you can best improve conditions by adding all the organic amendments to your soil that you can muster. Lawn clippings mixed with shredded leaves and twigs is a great place to start. If you want to incorporate food scraps, run any plant-based food waste through a food processor first, adding plenty of water. Bury the resulting slurry 12-18 inches deep and cover it with soil or dig it deeply into your compost heap. Wood byproducts like sawdust and bark chips should be well composted before they reach your garden beds. Both use soil nitrogen to help them break down and in a raw state, they will compete for nutrients with your plants’ roots. Rotted sawdust is especially appreciated by blueberries and rhododendrons as well as corn and beans. Fine ground bark can be mixed half and half with compost and added to beds as mulch pretty much any time. Continue reading The dirt on good soil (Google / Seattlepi)

Container Gardening – Conserving Soil – Using less soil (Google / Seattle Home&Garden Examiner)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

http://www.examiner.com/x-261-Seattle-Home–Garden-Examiner~y2008m6d21-Container-Gardening–Conserving-Soil

Container Gardening – Conserving Soil

POSTED June 21, 10:36 PM

We love the look and convenience of container gardening: from the beautiful flowers to the edible vegetables. The one problem is the large amount of soil and/or compost they can gobble up. From years of trial and error, we have come up with a couple of ways to cut down the soil volume without affecting the plants.

Here are two ideas to try that will allow you to enjoy container gardening while using less soil.1. Empty pop and/or beers cans can be used to reduce the amount of soil needed in container gardening. Take a few of the empty can and place them either upside down or on their sides (to avoid dirt filling up through the opening) on the bottom of your large plant container. Slowly add the dirt (making sure the cans stay upright) and plants,

2. If you have recycled all your cans, you can still conserve soil while container gardening with newspaper, packaging peanuts or fallen items from nature. Take some old newspaper, crumple it up (like a ball) and add it to the bottom of your large planter. You can also use some of those annoying “package peanuts” or any lightweight packaging product or some fallen pinecones or small twigs in the same way. Put the Filler items up to about 1/3 of the pot. Do not pack them solidly, leave some room between the papers or loosely layer the items so there is room for the roots should they get down to that level. Now add the soil and your plants.

(continued)

This works especially well with shallow rooted annuals and plants that will never even come close to reaching the lower part of the larger container.