17 April 2014

Scotts Grassy Weed Preventer Lists Henbit.........Misleading Again Here is Why

One look at Scotts new labeling on what used to be called just Halt's and any gardener will get confused. The product package shows a photo henbit. Henbit is an obnoxious broadleaf weed that grows like crazy in cool weather. It's purple flower is attractive but not in lawns. Often confused with ground ivy, henbit is a perennial broadleaf weed not a grassy annual weed.
Truth is Halts will PREVENT henbit seeds from germinating. But it will not kill existing henbit weeds. So be prepared to talk to Scotts about this when your henbit does not die after using this product. 

However, Bonide Weed Beater Ultra WILL KILL HENBIT

Once again another misleading marketing attempt from Scotts Miracle Gro!

16 April 2014

Drug Cartel Causing High Lime Prices?

Organic limes are now running $138 for a 36 pound box almost double last year's price of $65. So short is the supply due to Mexican drought and drug cartels stealing shipments that no organic limes are available in Florida. Conventional limes are running $100 for a 36 pound box.

In retail stores Shop Rite is charging $1.50 a piece in the Albany Market while in the Hudson Valley limes are running 89 cents each at local independent shops.

Almost 100% of limes sold in the US come from Mexico. Coupled with a severe drought and little supply Mexican drug cartels are seizing any shipments available thus running up the cost even higher.

Garden advice you can dig!

14 April 2014

Could a Virus in Pollen Be the Primary Cause of Colony Collapse Disorder?

A new study shows that a plant pathogen in pollen may be part of the cause of colony collapse disorder that is decimating honey bees around the world. 

Tobacco Ring Spot Virus is a pollen borne plant pathogen that causes damage in soy crops. The US Dept of agriculture then found the virus while doing a random check of honeybees. Mites on bees were seen to be the transit host spreading the disease from bee to bee.

Another virus Israeli Paralytic Virus is also under study as a potential cause.

Garden advice you can dig!

24 March 2014

Fine Gardening Says MIRACLE GRO POTTING MIX Best All Around?

Best All Around? ARE YOU KIDDING!

Fine Gardening has, in its' current issue, an article written by  Jeff Gilman, comparing several popular brands of potting mixes. 

The "former Associate Professor in the Department of Horticultural Science at the University of Minnesota, and am currently an instructor at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina". according to his web site. 

I usually like what Jeff has to say since he used to hold no punches when giving his opinion on matters horticultural.

The article is more advertorial than editorial. No negatives aspects were mentioned in any test except for the beneficial bacteria and mychorrizae found in two of the brands tested. 

However to determine Miracle Gro Potting Mix as "Best Overall" simply because it is the most ordinary seems like a cop out. I am wondering how much influence the editorial board at Fine Gardening had in the final outcome of this article. 

The mixes tested included Miracle Gro Potting Mix,  Osmocote, Happy Frog and Espoma Organic. Of these soils Happy Frog is by far the best in my opinion. I have used all the mixes Gilman tested and by far prefer the Fox Farm Product. While Espoma is OK rampant price increases have left my wallet too light to use their soils any longer.

There are so many better potting mixes available to customers than Miracle Gro.

Garden advice you can dig!

17 March 2014

Agri-Fos Fungicide Controls Downy Mildew

Agri-Fos Controls Impatiens
Downy Mildew
Agris-Fos is a systemic fungicide from Monterey lawn and garden that is labeled to control Downy Mildew which is causing havoc with Impatiens. before a chemical control was announced the only way to fight the disease was to let it run its' course. That would have meant 10-15 years of waiting before Impatiens would rid themselves of this disease. Impatiens Downy Mildew was first noticed in Minnesota in 2011. The causal agent is the fungus Plasmopara obducens. Actually not a true fungus Plasmopara is in a family called water molds. Water molds produce spores called oospores which can lie dormant for a long time. Other oospores in the water mold family can lie dormant for 10 years. Little is known about the longevity of Plasmopara spores though. Agri-Fos is a sytemic fungicide that helps to control a number of water molds currently wreaking havoc on some popular garden plants.  By being readily absorbed through roots and foliage this fungicide is said to be able turn on plants natural defenses.

According to the manufacturer Agri-Fos is a low impacy fungicide posing little threat to the environment or persons coming in contact with it. It is not labelled for edible crops.

Garden advice you can dig!

08 March 2014

Gardeners Just Discovering Molasses.......But Does It Work?

Will molasses aid your garden?
That is a sticky question!
The theory behind molasses in the garden is that it provides fuel for soil microbes. These microbes then multiply and start breaking down organic matter in to usable forms for plant roots. While this seems to make sense at first molasses may not actually add anything to the soil. Then again it won't hurt anything either. so what is the sticky on molasses?

The hydroponic world is full of magical claims and fantasy like labels promising to kick plants into high gear bloom cycles and gigantic yields. Well yeah......as compared to doing nothing. Miracle Gro Potting Mix makes a similar claim. Amazing how using Miracle Gro Potting Mix grows plants twice as large............
Now read the small plant (as opposed to not using fertilizer).I am happy to tell you any fertilizer will grow plants twice as large as compared to not using any fertilizer at all. Another Scotts MG misleading ad campaign. 

But back to molasses. I use it in my hydroponic gardens and do believe it makes crops taste better. As far as making my fertilizers work better no such deal. I DO NOT AND WILL NOT USE ORGANIC FERTILIZERS IN HYDROPONICS. There is simply no need to. Hydroponics is BEYOND ORGANICS in the simple fact the carbon/economic foot print of hydroponics is leaves a much smaller footprint than any other from of growing. PERIOD END OF DISCUSSION.

Once again back to molasses in soil gardening. If you already garden organically then molasses is a fell good additive. Feel goods add to the carbon/economic footprint however. Chances are if you soil is already rich in organic matter and you regularly add UNFINISHED compost to your garden beds molasses will add little if any additional benefits.

Best results with molasses are relegated to compost tea, total waste of time, and to STARTING up a new compost pile. Other than that save the molasses for home brewing a real dark bitter stout

Garden advice you can dig!

28 February 2014

 Adding a beehive to your garden not only gives you honey. Your  garden gets it's own pollination factory to boot

18 February 2014

AGRI-tecture......Combining Growing Needs Into The Building Design Process

MIT CityFARM: is an  indoor vertical farming lab that aims to change the way we gather information in the controlled environment agriculture industry. Current crops include the standard  greens fair of lettuces, kales, etc. In addition corn is also being grown. 

Growing methods include floating raft and aeroponics.

Garden advice you can dig!

07 February 2014

The Proper Way to Use Burlap as Winter Protection

The proper way to use burlap is to screen 
plantings from wind and not wrap them up
Burlap, though its' use in gardens is declining, can still play a big role in protecting plants from the dregs of winter. However how it is used can mean the difference between saving plants and destroying them. The proper way to use burlap is as a windscreen or a fence. Burlap should never touch or be wrapped around trees or shrubs. Stakes should be plunged into the ground at least eight inches deep and a foot away from branches. Burlap is then tied or stapled to the branches to make a fence.

This fence should face toward winter wind, usually northerly or western facings. The idea of a burlap fence is to break the wind. Wind does the damage in winter not snow. Snow should be allowed to fall in and collect between the branch structure. A good depth of snow actually insulates the shrub as well as blocking wind.

Shrubs and trees, especially evergreens, exposed to winter winds dry out much like the way our lips get chapped. Root systems are frozen solid but the dark surface area of leaves and stems can actually warm above freezing in the sun and release moisture into the air. 

When leaf and stem surfaces release moisture to the atmosphere frozen root systems cannot pump more water to the above ground surface to replace what has been lost. The result............wind burn and often death of many branches and sometimes the entire plant

Garden advice you can dig!

06 February 2014

Hick's Nursery Offers Up Info on How to Deal With Snow in the Garden

Hick's Nursery on Long Island just sent out via email to their subscribers tips on how to deal with snowfall on trees and shrubs in your gardens. Click on the
link for info on this great garden center.

As they write snow continues to hamper the east coast. Usually snow is an excellent insulator and should be left to fill in around trees and shrubs.

 The problems happen when the snow is heavy and lays on your shrubs  covered with burlap. The burlap catches the snow and weighs down branches often breaking them. Covering plants with burlap is a terrible idea.

Garden advice you can dig!

03 February 2014

Free Planters For Schools

Vertical gardens are great for kids or anyone else who has trouble bending over. Woolly Pocket was the originator and still standing vertical garden pounding

Garden advice you can dig!

01 February 2014

Milwaukee Schools get Into Herb-an Gardening in the Classroon

AT&T and the NEA announce a $98,000 contribution to assist Milwaukee schools in developing an urban farming program. 

Odell Chalmers, a senior at Bradley Tech High School, would like to see a series of indoor gardens inside abandoned homes in the city that would provide food for the people living nearby. Chalmers is especially interested in a fast growing area of hydroponics called aquaponics.

Aquaponics is a self contained growing environment much like a terrarium. Except in aquaponics there is no soil but a fish tank located underneath a tray that contains plants. Fish waste circulate through the plant bed where the waste is consumed as fertilizer by the plants. The resulting cleaned water then returns to the fish tank where the cycle starts all over again.

There is a double benefit as both the fish and the plants can be eaten.

Garden advice you can dig!

30 January 2014

Eastern New York Commercial Vegetable Growers Schools Scheduled

Come Join Us for the 2014 Eastern NY Commercial

Vegetable Growers’ Schools!

The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program is happy to announce the dates, locations and agenda’s for 3 Winter Vegetable Schools!

2014 Lower Hudson Valley Commercial Vegetable School

Monday, February 24, 2014
The Falcon, 1348 Route 9W, Marlboro, NY 12542
2.75 DEC Recertification credits have been awarded in Categories 1A, 23, and 10.
2014 Northern Commercial Vegetable Growers’ School
February 25, 2014
Community Room, Plattsburgh City Recreation Department
52 US Oval, Plattsburgh, NY 12901
3.75 DEC Recertification credits have been awarded for Categories  1A and 10:  1.50 for Categories 21 and 22 and 3.25 credits for Category 23.

2014 Capital District Commercial Vegetable Growers’ School

February 26, 2014
Best Western Albany Airport Inn, 200 Wolf Road, Albany, NY 12205
4.0 DEC Recertification credits have been awarded in Categories 1A, 23, 10 and 2.0 credits for Category 22.
These 3 programs are slightly different from one another but all cover topics related to vegetable production including diseases, insects and include Cornell Faculty speakers such as pathologist Chris Smart and Entomologist Peter Jentsch to name a few! 
Open then attached file for full programs and registration information or click the link below each location to see the program and register for that site (You can register on-line for all 3 schools!). 
Cost to attend any location is $30 per person for enrolled members of the ENYCHP ($50 for non-enrolled) and includes lunch trade shows (where applicable) and all meeting materials.  Pre-Registration is required and is due by February 20th! 
In addition to the educational portion of the meeting, the Plattsburgh and Capital District locations will include a small trade show.  The Lower Hudson Valley meeting will not have a trade show, but industry folks have been invited to attend and will be available to ask questions.
Charles Bornt
Extension Educator
CCE Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program
Office:  518-272-4210, Ext. 125
Cell:  518-859-6213

Garden advice you can dig!