In Iowa: Tomato patch notes from a chemical minimalist – The Gazette: Eastern Iowa Breaking News and Headlines

The Gazette: Eastern Iowa Breaking News and Headlines

In Iowa: Tomato patch notes from a chemical minimalist
The Gazette: Eastern Iowa Breaking News and Headlines
Having annually nurtured about 70 tomato plants for the past 32 years, with no crop failures despite floods, droughts, disease and pestilence, I have learned a thing or two about their cultivation, which I herewith offer for consideration as the state ...

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Care for Orchids – Easy and Quick Steps to Orchid Care

Growing orchids and other plants is actually very similar. In order to be healthy, all plants have the same basic care requirements, which are water, sun, food, air and warmth. Orchids are no different in the types of requirements, only in the amounts of each basic need. This is also true for different kinds of orchids – each one needs different amounts of each category.

Giving orchids care begins with providing the right humidity level for the type of orchid you intend to grow. Generally speaking, orchids need between 40% and 70% humidity day after day. While most plants control water evaporation, orchids cannot, and are constantly in a state of losing water. The amount of humidity in the air is the only controlling factor. Know how much humidity your orchid is going to require before purchasing it.

If you are growing orchids, you need to supply continuous atmospheric moisture, whether it be by hosing the garden or inside, by spraying the plants, setting them over trays of water or keeping them in a container such as a glass environment where you can control the humidity levels. Humidity is not a problem in cold weather. You should follow periods of humidity by a time of drying out. This is similar to having morning sun followed by an afternoon shower, and then morning sun once again the next day.

Air is another necessity of orchids. In nature, orchids often grow up trees because they have excellent air circulation. Even though all plants pull carbon dioxide from the air, orchids are extremely efficient about it. Good ventilation is essential to growing healthy orchids indoors. A good source of air circulation is a ceiling fan. Even indoor orchids need fresh clean air inside so open a window whenever possible. If it’s cold outside, arrange it so the air is warmed before it hits the plants. For example, open the window from the top and not the bottom.

Place your orchids where they will get the most sunlight they can without suffering any ill effects, such as sunburn. Orchids need lots of light–around ten hours per day. This light should not be at full intensity at all times so start them out in the sun and then move them to shadier spots or filter the light through curtains until you achieve the desired effect.

Orchids need to be protected from frost and snow. Many orchids grow naturally where temperatures dip well below freezing. In the Andes, for instance, temperatures in the 20s are not terribly uncommon. But you must be very attentive to colder temperatures, and orchids that do experience cooler temperatures must remain dry. Cold and wet are not good conditions for growing orchids. Cooler orchids are those said to need a temperature averaging fifty degrees. Check out temperature charts online or in orchid books for which orchids do best at certain temperatures.

Your orchids need to be fed. You cannot ignore this step of giving orchids care. Some growers still argue about what orchids need to be fed and how much. But, especially if you are a beginner, you will want to do everything possible to have healthy orchids.

Begin by using orchid liquid fertilizer, whether it be synthetic or organic. Most orchids today are planted in osmunda, or dead fern roots, which decomposes. Always check your orchids for yellowish or brownish discolorations which might mean the plants are malnourished. Check out recipes for nutrient fertilizers online.

If you meet these basics of orchid care and culture, you should have no trouble at all being successful at growing orchids. Orchids will respond positively as long as they have the basics of air, light, food, humidity and protection.

Top Reasons for Composting

Some of us may be hesitant in making and using compost. They find the task of making one troublesome and time consuming. Or they might have false perceptions of smelly compost piles and having such a messy process right in their backyards. While others would prefer buying their fertilizers, soil amendments or conditioners, and mulch from their garden stores to avoid all the hassle of reading about compost and actually making one.

Here are my top personal reasons for Composting. I only hope that you move your butt out of that chair and begin your own compost pile before you reach number ten.

The first reason I find Composting highly worthwhile is the fact that the materials used are absolutely free and are readily available. Compare that with the ever rising costs of commercial fertilizers and other gardening products in the market today. All you need is a little extra effort to find the best materials for your compost pile, but otherwise, everything’s for free.

The second one is that compost provides more nutrients and minerals needed by my plants than commercial organic or synthetic fertilizers. The overall effect of compost is also longer than commercially available fertilizers. It’s free and it works better, who wouldn’t want that? Plus, if you organize your ingredients just right, you can provide a whole lot more range of nutrients.

Another good reason would be the benefits of compost to the soil structure. When applied to the soil, compost can help the soil be more resistant to erosion, improve its retention of water, and in some types of soil (like clay) it can reduce the chance the soil becomes compact. This is also important for farmers since compost can make the soil easier to till conserving time and fuel needed to operate the machines.

I trust that what you’ve read so far has been informative. The following section should go a long way toward clearing up any uncertainty that may remain.

With the right Composting technique, the process can kill those troublesome weeds as well as pests and disease-causing organisms present in the materials being composted. High temperature composting is the technique I am talking about. Although, this technique is not the backyard variety but rather a more laboratory or industrial type variety, I still find it a good reason why we should make composts.

There have been studies which indicate that using compost can suppress the growth of diseases in crops. Other studies also show that crops grown over compost rich soils can resist better pest or insect attacks. Likewise, some news and observations in the field also shows that crops grown using compost bear produce that can be stored longer. If that’s not reason enough, I don’t know what else you are looking for.

For the environmentalists and conservationists, compost has something for them as well. Using compost together with the soil can build soil carbon which can eventually reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It may take a lot of compost to have a positive effect on the greenhouse gases but that fact is quite useful as well.

It is also found out that compost works well as an antidote for soils that are toxic with agricultural chemicals. Compost can balance the levels of soil acidity, and helps farmers to go organic after years of using synthetic agricultural products.

These are my top reason for composting. Some of it may not directly benefit my personal needs but having those reasons to cling onto is a good thing to motivate the use of compost.

Hopefully the sections above have contributed to your understanding of . Share your new understanding about with others. They’ll thank you for it.

How To Grow A Big Tomato

 Growing Tomato Plants


History ofTomato Plantes

Yep, it is getting close to spring, and time to start thinking about tha t veggie garden you will want to grow. One of the most popular items grown in gardens is tomatoes! Here I will present a short history on the tomato and how I grow them for more tomatoes per plant and fitter plants.

Tomatoes come from western South America and Central America. The native people used them in their foods. But when Cortez first took the plant back to Europe it was considered poisonous and not eaten but used as decorations. The plant was classified as a member of the nightshade family and because of that they were thought to be poisonous. The leaves of the tomato plant are poisonous but not the fruit.

Eventually, the fruit of the tomato plant was determined to be eatable and the rest is history. The spread of tomatoes around the world can be principally attributed to the Spanish. They took the plant to Europe, the Philippines, and then the eventually the rest of Asia. In fact the largest producer of tomatoes now is China.

Growing Tomato Plants

There is an art to growing tomato plants that are healthy, tasty, and produces a lot of fruit . I have grown tomato plants from seed, when I lived in Alaska, but prefer to buy them from garden centers. Purchase them when they are at least 6 inches or more in height.

I then remove the leaves, except for the last three or four at the top . I then prepare a trench in my garden and lay the tomato plant down in the trench. I cover the plant but leaving the leaves of the tomato plant exposed to the atmosphere. What this does is it allows the plant to develop more roots making your plant healthier, and produces more fruit.

Remember, that as the plant grows to remove the leaf that is next to the stem and an outer leaf. This prevents unnecessary stem growth that does not produce fruit.  Other than that water, fertilize and watch your tomato plants grow





Interesting Front Yard Landscape Alternatives

Do you need outdoor landscaping ideas that tolerant to the dry weather?  Most homeowners enjoy having a lovely lawn in their front yard.  But that requires a lot of maintenance and water of course.  We should all be conscience of our water usage even when it isn’t being enforced.  Here are a few outdoor landscaping ideas that do not require constant watering.

The first thing to do would be to get rid of the thirsty lawn in the front yard.  Instead have a woodsy garden, cozy patio or wild flower meadow.  One landscaping design for the front yard would be to greet your guests with a natural stone walkway.  Transform it into a woodland garden by making a path using slabs of basalt or sandstone.  The path leading to the front door becomes a destination in itself with interesting plantings dotting the stones.

If you live in the Northeast or west try planting hydrangeas that bloom in the summer and to add a little color in the winter plant a red twig dogwood shrub. One showy perennial that does very well is the hellebores.  Belonging to the buttercup family it will have almost 50 blooms on one small shrub that can grow up to 18 inches.

The southwest has been integrating drought resistant outdoor landscaping ideas using hardscapes of concrete, gravel or pavers.  They use a variety of plants in the cactus or succulent family that can be colorful and interesting.  Shade can be created by adding a pergola shading a cozy dining area.

In the west droughts plague the are from time to time.  Low maintenance and outdoor landscape ideas that require very little water should be a top priority.  Rosemary and lavendar are very useful plants for cooking, aroma and color.  They require very little maintenance or water.  Westerners should consider creating a focal point out of Mexican or concrete pavers and add a small water feature.  Setting out two small chairs and a table for a sweet area to enjoy a morning cup of coffee.  

There are several online sites that give suggestions for native plants that would deffinately thrive in your region.  These sites will more than likely offer photos of the plant varieties. To save money buy four inch pots of the desired plants and place them approximately two feet apart.  You will be surprised at how fast they grow into lovely adult plants.

Learn How to Build Compost A Pile

Why build compost piles?

A compost pile will help you refresh your garden as well as allowing you to reduce the rate of garbage that you put into the landfills. By taking just a little bit of time out of your day, you can ensure that you never run out of fertilizer and that you are doing your part to help the environment. Even better, when you start looking into it, you will find that a compost pile is much easier to put together than you might think, even easier than building a other composting supplies!


How To Start Building A Compost Pile

Start by choosing a site for your compost that is near to both your kitchen and your yard. Some exposure to the sun is handy, but make sure that it does not get too much light, as this can dry it out. Some people recommend putting your compost pile in the shade of a tree, with a base of concrete or brick to make sure that that tree is not the only one getting the nutrients. Though it is not necessary, a plastic bin can keep your compost contained and looking neater. You can even create a “corral” for your compost pile using stiff wire mesh. Though the bin can be open on the sides, you will find that a roof is necessary to keep off the rain and to keep the compost from getting flooded.

  • Green compost materials are materials that are rich in nitrogen, and they include things like grass cuttings, raw vegetable peelings, tea bags, manure from horses or cows or young weeds without seeds.


Get familiar with green compost materials and brown compost materials.

  • They will decompose very quickly. Brown compost materials, on the other hand, are rich in carbon and will decompose much more slowly.
  • Some material that are good for brown compost include cardboard, paper, bedding from vegetarian pets, or even sawdust and wood chips.
  • When you go to combine these materials, you are essentially looking for a combination of one part green to two parts brown compost.


Combining Green and Brown Compost Together

  1. To get started, start throwing in one shovel of green compost, top it off with two shovels of brown compost and then mix them.
  2. Repeat until you have a pile that is roughly three feet high, by three feet wide, by three feet long. A composting pile of this size generates enough heat to break down fairly quickly.
  3. Finally, throw on some finished soil compost or some garden soil to help get things going.


Make sure that you water your compost regularly;

It should feel like a damp sponge or a wrung out rag. It should also be turned once a week to keep it loose. Within about two months, you are going to have humus, which is the result from the decomposition, and this is going to be perfect for your garden!

  • Take a moment to think about your garden and the waste that you create that can go into a compost pile. This is a great addition to any green-minded gardener’s garden, so see what it can do for you!

Tips For Better Indoor Gardening

A lot of people dream about indoor gardening. They know it can cut down on their grocery bills and provide them with delicious fresh grown produce for consumption year round. There are an abundance of beautiful indoor garden ideas out there. Below are a few tips to help you have an indoor garden growing in no time.

The key to successful indoor gardening is what you choose to grow. Some herbs and vegetables will not fair well in an indoor setting because they need much more room than just a small container to grow in. Dwarf varieties of plants tend to thrive a lot better with less effort then normal varieties. Tomatoes, peppers and radishes are all good ideas for indoor growing.

The container you choose for growing is also a big determining factor in how well your plants will prosper. Smaller plants will do just fine in smaller containers while those that grow to a substantial size will need for more room. Crowding a plants roots is a quick way to completely kill off the plant or stunt its growth.

Light seems to be another issue for those who are attempting their own indoor gardens. Different plants will require different amounts of light. Do your research first before you decide to attempt to grow a specific plant. A window facing in the direction of the sun rise is generally the best place for all plants with only a few exceptions.

Using potting soil with added fertilizer will prevent you from having to fertilize your plants for about the first two months. It also cuts down the risk of over fertilization.

These helpful tips should get you well on your way to a beautiful and prosperous indoor garden. In just a few short months you will have a wealth of fresh produce to enjoy in your meals.

Organic Fertilizer Benefits for Maintaining Your Plants

Selecting the best organic fertilizer is not undemanding. There are so many to choose from, and most of the industrial ones have a lot of promises. Most gardeners listen to their fellow farming enthusiasts and just go with what’s popular .

Here is a tip from one gardener to another. The best fertilizer for a garden must help maximize the organic environment where your plants are developing. This could mean going for the variant that will match your soil type, climate and crop nutritional requirements.

Let’s suppose you know for sure (through an assortment of tests) that your top soil is acidic or basic, and in some way deficient in some indispensable mineral deposits. You can use natural fertilizers to supply the desired mineral. Several organic fertilizers have formulations that have this precise function.

Next, mind your crop type. Azaleas and rhododendrons in particular can grow well in acidic soil. The nutrients that may contribute to acidity include the iron, manganese, and sulfur. If the soil in your plots is acidic, then it’s best to pick fertilizer mixtures that can supply what the soil naturally lacks.

Seaweed fertilizers can improve root growth. Bat guano, which holds a high quantity of phosphorus, can also improve blooming and fruiting, and contribute to the creation of greener leaves. Bone meal can encourage root elongation in transplants and seedlings, as well as speed up the development of flower buds. Alfalfa meal is one of the fast-release types of fertilizers to utilize if you are growing roses. You may also look into how organic fertilizer like kelp, fish emulsion and gluten meal can benefit your garden.

If your crops are well nourished and the soil is fertile, you may want to boost production by using liquid fertilizers like fish emulsion as foliar spray.

If you are still not sure which is the best fertilizer for your plants, check the amount of trace elements in a commercial formula and compare the mineral absorption rates.

If you’re not sure about the exact quantity of trace elements in an organic fertilizer, check the label and look for the nitrogen content. A good lawn fertilizer will always include a hefty amount of nitrogen (eight to ten percent).

With so many organic commodities and materials on hand, you can choose from many different varieties of fertilizers. Sometimes, finding the  best fertilizer to make use of in your garden may take a while. However, once you have the details on hand (crop type, soil type, farming style etc.), the procedure becomes more effortless.