No two ways about it. The market for “Certified Organic” is enormous. The worldwide market has grown from $27 Billion in 2011 to more than $50 Billion today. Unfortunately, there is little to suggest that that term is little more than a well orchestrated organic marketing campaign.
Mythbusting the Organic Marketing Campaign
Now, there’s nothing intrinsically nefarious about the process of organic farming. It is okay, but organic farming practices are presented as the gold standard of healthy of agriculture practices. Unfortunately, there’s not much to support that claim.
A blog post that appeared in Scientific American in 2011 went through and busted so many of the widely held, but errant beliefs the general public holds when it comes to organic food production.
In fact, when studies were conducted in the UK about the efficacy of organic food, the results were pretty underwhelming.
Strong organic proponents also argue that organic food tastes better. In the same poll where 95% of UK organic consumers said they buy organic to avoid pesticides, over two-thirds of respondents said organic produce and meats taste better than non-organic ones. But when researchers had people put their mouths to the test, they found that people couldn’t tell the difference between the two in blind taste tests.
When they pushed further, experts weighed in.
“Any consumers who buy organic food because they believe that it contains more healthful nutrients than conventional food are wasting their money.” – Joseph D. Rosen (Professor Emeritus in Food Toxicology at Rutgers University)
The Organic Marketing Campaign
It isn’t that we detest organic farming or organic food production. All things considered, there’s nothing inherently wrong with organic farming. What we have a problem with is the organic marketing campaign that is feeding consumers falsehoods that make it seem as though organic food is some kind of panacea.
That simply isn’t the case. Organic farming and organic production methods are but one of many responsible, healthy, and sustainable production methods. When it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Marketing is marketing. This is little different than “Where’s the Beef?” or “I’d like to buy the world a coke.”
When we say “we’re better than organic, and that’s on purpose.” This is what we mean.
It seems like everyone has fallen in love with all things “organic.” But why? The organic industry has convinced the average consumer that if a product is stamped with that “USDA Certified Organic” label, it implies that the product is healthy. That the product is somehow free of factory farming practices, chemicals, pesticides, and carcinogens. Is that really the case though?
It’s not that certified organic farming is bad. But its just not as pure as they’d like consumers to believe. We aren’t saying certified organic is a conspiracy theory, but marketers are marketers and in a 50 billion dollar premium based industry, facts are going to be presented in the best light possible.
Here are 4 little secrets the “Certified Organic” industry doesn’t want to get out.
1. Certified Organic Food Production can Include a Ton of Pesticides
Guess what? Even plants that are “certified organic” need pesticides. The impression that organic crops don’t require pesticides is entirely false. Organic production allows for the inclusion of more than 40 different pesticides. The purpose of pesticides is to kill. Doesn’t matter if it is applied in organic or non-organic farming. Obviously, they’re not designed to kill people, there’s really no guarantee they are any safer than their non-organic brethren.
Yep. You read that right. In short, most sizable organic producers also produce non-organic crops. Often of the same foodstuff. This can lead to sloppy record keeping and the unintentional blending or mixing of those organic and non-organic crops. You’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between an organic orange and a non-organic by sight alone. Good thing they have that sticker saying they’re “certified organic.” Right…
What’s more, the official definition of “certified organic” by the USDA seems to acknowledge some of this unintentional blending. After all, only 95% of contents must be organically produced to carry the certified organic label. 95% is pretty good, but even if the realistic blend is only 70% organic, it can be labeled “made with organic ingredients.” And again, you can’t tell just by looking at a piece of fruit or a bag of nuts and definitively tell which are organic and which are conventionally produced.
3. Organic Food Can Contain Non-Organic Ingredients
So, number two doesn’t really matter. Organic food production allows for the inclusion of 43 synthetic substances. In addition, there are 34 non-synthetic, but also non-organic, substances allowed in the production of something labeled “certified organic.”
The organic industry likes to imply that their food is pure, justifying the higher cost, but, that isn’t strictly true. It’s not as though all of these substances are nefarious, but when you’re paying a premium for organic cheese, you probably would like it to be free of wood pulp filler. Check the ingredient list. Take a look and see if there’s cellulose in that cheese. That’s wood pulp.
4. Certified Organic Food is Healthier
If a consumer is paying a 20% premium for certified organic food, ought it not be healthier? One of the central tenants of Native Soil is that it helps restore the soil nutrients. Those nutrients are then transferred to the plant and then to the food. If certified organic practices produced healthier food, we’d be on board. Problem is there is no evidence to show that certified organic is really any better.
“Any consumers who buy organic food because they believe that it contains more healthful nutrients than conventional food are wasting their money.” – Joseph P. Rosen (Professor Emeritus of Food Toxicology at Rutgers University)
So if it isn’t any healthier, why do consumers continue to throw money into the certified organic system with such enthusiasm? Marketing.
At the end of the day, just because something isn’t “certified organic” doesn’t mean that it isn’t an outstanding product. Certified organic is basically a marketing scam. Why buy certified organic fertilizer when all you’re paying for is someone’s enormous marketing budget. Kudos to that industry for getting their message out in such a successful way, but its just a marketing message.
Give Native Soil a whirl. Come find your soil mate.
The next question is almost universally is, why’d you get on board? Simply put the message is simple. Efficacy married with sustainability. That’s a rare combination when environmental benefits line up so squarely with an ability to work in private enterprise… so we jumped.
We thought this waste, going hundreds of miles away to sit in landfills was a shame. We know that certified organic is a scam. We think you will as well. We are on a nutrient revolution. One to replace the nutrients lost after the last century of factory farming. We are proud to be standing amongst those who don’t believe the certified organic hype.
No kidding. We’re trying to save the world with poop. Email us. Message us. Harass us on social media. We’re proud of the fertilizer we made here and we sincerely believe that products like this are going to save the world in the next few decades. Join us. Help us put waste to work and find your soil mate.
This comic by artist Joel Pett has been making the rounds lately, but its message underscores the philosophy behind what we’re doing at Upcycle. While we’re certain the science is in and has been spoken, there are still those out there, in alarmingly powerful positions, that don’t “believe” in climate change. That said, whether they “believe” it or not, climate change is happening. Ask the residents of Houston or any Floridian.
Moving from coal to solar, or wind doesn’t hurt anyone, and is potentially extremely valuable in the world of energy production. Similarly, we produce a tremendous amount of waste. It’s not sustainable. The local water plant here in San Diego processes 175 million gallons of waste water per day. Per day! And, ask any San Diegan about their beach habits the days and weeks following a slight drizzle. The amount of pollution and general garbage that wash out into the Pacific Ocean after any kind of precipitation is as staggering as it is toxic.
And so that leads us to this weeks #ThursdayThoughts. Seriously, what’s the potential downside in treating a problem that actually exists… even if you aren’t sure of the cause?
Just because we don’t know exactly what causes cancer doesn’t mean that we don’t treat people for the symptoms and physical realities of cancer right? So, why wouldn’t we treat the planet’s illness even if we don’t understand exactly where that disease came from?
Keep helping us put waste to work. Growing local food, reducing carbon and making landfills against our religion.
What do you guys think? Sign up to our newsletter to learn more about how we put waste to work. Or join us on Facebook or Twitter to engage in the discussion.
One of the most exciting aspects of being part of a start up is the culture. The culture that says, we can do anything. We are going to beg forgiveness instead of asking for permission. It’s a pioneering attitude and, well, it leads to a lot of mistakes. Perhaps “mistake” isn’t the right work. The connotation is too negative. They are more accidents. Happy accidents.
We’ll keep plowing ahead on our mission to create a friendly future. In the meantime, you can read all about our latest… accident… in the San Diego Business Journal.
Let us know what you think the comments and don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.
Hello Future Friendly Gardeners. Jared, our founder and CEO, was on the Garden America radio show this past Saturday morning discussing a bit of the history and benefits of Native Soil.
You may not know it, but Jared is actually originally from the East Coast. At Upcycle, we don’t hold that against him. Well, not that much anyway.
The genesis for Upcycle and Native Soil came from when Jared went surfing after a storm here in San Diego. Locals know that the run off from the city and from the Tijuana River Valley creates a virtual bacteria laden soup very near the shoreline. In short, locals don’t go surfing after a storm. Jared didn’t know that and saw a deserted break as a great opportunity.
Then he got sick.
That downtime during his illness was all it took to get passionately involved with water cleanliness and wastewater issues in general. Through that experience, the individual waste products that would come together to form the Native Soil all purpose blend were discovered.
If you’d like to learn more about Native Soil, spend 15 minutes hearing about it direct from the horse’s mouth. While you’re listening, head over to our coupon site and grab your discount for Native Soil on Amazon Prime.
At Upcycle, we’ve been ecstatic with the #UrbanGardening movement. The idea that you have be in possession of large swaths of land in order to grow your own food is as antiquated as harvesting by hand. The biggest issue most people run into when trying to do a little urban gardening is that the soil, simply from being in an urban environment with all the pollution that entails, is such poor quality. Run off from storms, commercial flights and dense urban traffic all conspire to reduce the nutrient density in urban soil. The easiest way to get around this pollution issue is using cheap raised garden beds.
By getting the garden beds up and into their own defined space, a soil amendment like Native Soil can do wonders to heal the polluted urban soil. We’ve looked at cheap raised garden beds beforeon this blog, but I wanted to spend some time looking at how to build them for under $20.
Inexpensive Raised Bed Garden
Nothing like a little garden project to make any mother-in-law happy. This cheap raised garden bed contains roughly one cubic yard of space that can be used with potting soil or any soil that’s combined with Native Soil fertilizer.
$2.00 Raised Garden Bed?
Depending on how much you want to upcycle and reuse, a cheap raised garden bed can be had for the paltry sum of $2.00. Now, it may not look as nice as brand new treated lumber, but it will get the job done. If you’re working on a true urban guerilla grow, this may be the approach you want to take.
By using such a cheap garden bed you can live to fight another day if the garden is removed from the poached land.
Cheap Raised Garden Beds – Platic Crates
Here’s a project I absolutely love. This raised garden bed uses recycled plastic crates in lieu of lumber. By using crates, this project all but eliminates the need for tools. Depending on where you find these crates, this may be the cheapest project yet. Including the $2.00 guerilla grow.
Cinder Block Cheap Raised Garden Bed
If you can’t find crates, you can almost certainly find cinder blocks in an urban environment. The best thing about this project, aside from the cost, is that it will last. Cheap wooden raised garden beds have a tendency of being beat into submission by the elements. Not so with cinder blocks. Plenty of these beds are still around for years and years after they were first built.
Don’t get hung up on the materials you use when building your beds. Something can always be repurposed for the right job and the right environment.
Criscuolo moved to San Diego from the East Coast seeking the sun and surf more than a decade ago. He’d surfed in the Atlantic during summers as a kid, and was looking forward to living near the ocean full time.
The first time he surfed after a rainstorm, however, Criscuolo became ill. He was unaware that the water becomes polluted after rain due to runoff from the city. He had to call in sick during his first week at a new job.
“When they told me it was because I surfed after a rainstorm, I was shocked,” Criscuolo said. “That’s not a rule on the East Coast. And how is that acceptable?”
Jared also covers the latest market growth of Native Soil and touches on just a few of the benefits.
Criscuolo turned his backyard into a laboratory, testing different combinations of the biosolids with other sources of local waste products that have high nutrient density. He picked up coffee grounds waste from coffee shops, algae waste from the production of spirulina, and brewer’s waste from the production of beer.
He found a formulation that made his garden thrive, tested it at third party labs, and found that his formula could trump many existing fertilizers on the market.
“There’s seven times more nutrient content than organic and conventional fertilizer at 25 percent less price,” Criscuolo said.
Want to know more about Native Soil and the benefits of urban gardening? Join our email list below.
San Diego may have amazing weather, great tourism, and a laid back vibe, but what it does not have is quality soil. Aside from the river bed in mission valley, the landscape here is primarily decomposed granite or clay. Not exactly the most hospitable, inviting environment to grow healthy vegetable plants. Well, any plants for that matter. What this means is that growing your vegetables in cheap raised garden beds is the most attractive prospect. Not only do cheap raised garden beds allow you to blend a specific amount of soil with a high-quality fertilizer like Native Soil, the basic rectangular beds make optimizing the square footage an easy task. Length multiplied by width.
Whoever said we’d never need geometry after high school?
In most cases building cheap raised garden beds is as easy as a few stakes and a few fence boards, but there are multiple ways to skin a cat. I’ve compiled several different video tutorials here to get you started on your own cheap raised garden beds.
Truly Cheap Raised Garden Beds
The Crafty Gemini is a woman after my own heart. In this tutorial, she shows us how to build square garden beds for under $15. When you keep the cost of your bed down, you can afford to spend more time, energy and money on making sure the growing medium, the soil, is extremely nutrient dense. One of the aspects of Native Soil that we really like is that it is extremely water soluble, meaning the nutrients are available to plants right away. With a $15 garden bed and Native Soil you could see your starts producing almost immediately.
High-Quality Raised Garden Beds
My raised garden beds were test beds; never meant to look this nice. Take the time to build relatively cheap garden beds that will stand up to the harsh weather. These beds are using higher quality lumber which means they should last several seasons at the very least.
Neighbor Friendly Garden Beds
My neighbors take extreme pride in their front yards. So much pride that they are quick to tell me when I’m creating an eye sore in my own front yard. When we’re trying to maximize our square footage available for food, I like to include the front yard. Unfortunately, my neighbors don’t always appreciate the DIY ethic I embody. Every cheap raised garden bed project is not appropriate for every yard. Not even ones with high quality treated lumber. This stone border garden achieves the desired square footage for vegetable growing and is easy on the eyes.
Get Out There and Grow
Once you find the right project for your space, get out there and grow. Send us pictures of your progress. The urban gardening movement is extremely exciting. Get out there and plant something.
Join our Email List to learn more about backyard urban vegetable gardening.
While Upcycle and Company creates sustainably sourced fertilizer from upcycled waste that is dynamite, we know it isn’t the only piece to the puzzle. One of the most popular vegetables to grow in any backyard or patio garden is the humble, yet versatile, tomato. With its lycopene density, not only is it one of the easiest plants to start with, it is also extremely healthy. As a vining plant, it needs more direction than a toddler, so garden infrastructure is an important part of garden planning.
The guys over at Grow It Now Garden Products have some of the easiest to implement garden infrastructure that we have seen. This is obviously a step or two above building your own raised garden bed in an hour. While we support the DIY ethic, we also understand it isn’t for everyone.
If growing is really your ultimate goal outcome, you might consider ordering a prefabricated kit. Watch the video below to learn how to grow a six foot tomato plant using the right technique. Native Soil Fertilizer is essentially the afterburner in this engine. While we are focused primarily on tomatoes here, a more comprehensive infrastructure plan might be the next step.
How to Get Started
Hello this is Russel Smith with Grow it Now Garden Products. I am here with you today in my backyard garden to talk about how to grow a six foot tall tomato plant. In one of my previous episodes I planted this tomato plant. What I did was I buried it deep. I dug a hole about two feet deep. I buried my tomato plant in there so that only about six inches was sticking up out of the ground. And then I put an eleven inch miniature greenhouse over that. Staked it down. And then I put the eighteen inch miniature greenhouse over that.
Add a Little Sun
What those do is they add heat to the plant so it stimulates plant growth. And since I’ve done that video and shared it with the gardening community I have had a lot of questions come back and the questions are what do I do with the plant when it grows out of the eleven inch miniature greenhouse? Do I take both of them off? And the answer to that is no. Only take the eleven inch miniature greenhouse off and then leave the eighteen inch miniature greenhouse over top of it, until it grows out of the eighteen inch miniature greenhouse.
In this case, that was as far as I went. On some of my other tomato plants I actually went to a thirty-six inch miniature greenhouse and added even more growth and plant stimulation to the plant. In that case you are going to have to make sure you come in and shake the plant in order to get the pollination. So with this one, that was the secret sauce.
I dug the hole, buried it deep so that only six inches were sticking out of the ground, put my eleven inch miniature greenhouse over it and then the eighteen inch miniature greenhouse over that. Since that video I have also had the question well what do you do for fertilizer? So here’s my secret to fertilizing. Since I’m getting in the ground early, I’m planting my tomatoes early and I’m trying to push the season with the miniature greenhouses.
I like to prepare my garden in the fall for spring planting. So what I’ll do every fall is I put four to six inches of cow manure overtop of the garden and then I till it in really deep. So that is one of the things that I use to fertilize.
[Editor’s Note] This next section Russel discusses the fertilizer blends he used to achieve this result. Native Soil is an off the shelf fertilizer that meets these criteria. We firmly believe that our sustainably sourced blend is better than “certified organic.” Our future friendly fertilizer blend is as important as any physical garden infrastructure.
The other thing I use to fertilize is I’ll use a dilute solution of fertilizer. Off the shelf fertilizer. So that is a nonorganic way, and then I mix it with other organic fertilizers. So I experiment both ways. If you are a new gardener I would recommend starting out with an off the shelf all-purpose fertilizer and then weaning yourself off of that to a more organic fertilizer. So on this six foot tall tomato plant you can see I have a lot of tomatoes growing. I probably have fifty or so tomatoes on this plant, just going like crazy. And the other thing is that you can see the stems on these up high. Look how thick that stem is.
It is about one inch thick. Down low there is only one stem coming out of the ground and that is feeding off of a massive root base in order to support this whole tomato plant. So tip and trick, burry it deep, put the eleven inch miniature greenhouse overtop of it, eighteen inch overtop of that..
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the Sun is going to set slightly earlier and the heat index is climbing steadily here in San Diego. As of the date of this publishing, California isn’t currently in a drought, but that doesn’t mean that conserving water, especially in our garden landscaping isn’t important. Saving water in all contexts is important. Vegetable gardens require a fair amount of water to ensure that the plants grow up healthy and happy. Here are some of our favorite tips for how to protect and water your vegetable garden for summer heat.
This one is kind of a no-brainer but if you can get the water on the ground earlier, it has more time to absorb and takes longer to evaporate. Not to mention the plants can absorb more water if there is more water available. You want nice big juicy vegetables coming off your plants, so set an early alarm or a water timer and set it for early in the morning, preferably before dawn. If you’re using Native Soil, and I hope you are, you can use less water in general as Native Soil features high water soluble nutrient density. This means less water gives the plants more nutrients than comparable fertilizers.
Canary in the Coal Mine
The big leafy plants are usually the first to show signs of dehydration and other forms of distress from the heat. The broad leaves use a lot of water and more moisture is sucked out of the larger surface area. Keep a close eye on your squashes, your lettuces, and your cucumbers to find the plants that are really feeling the stress. Water your vegetable garden for summer heat the minute you see those big leaves start to wilt. That will help you dial in the proper schedule and time of day to deploy your watering.
Water Your Vegetable Garden for Summer Heat Less Frequently
This point is more about conservation so you’ll have to play around a bit to find the most useful frequency to water your vegetable garden in the heat. In most parts of San Diego, even in the summer, a heat wave doesn’t last too long and the coastal microclimates are still pretty mild. In this case, watering twice a week may be sufficient if you’re watering at the right time of day. On the other hand, if you’re in the inland valley areas of the east county, the summer heat can be both consistent and brutal. Even if you have all of your other tips and tricks employed, you may find yourself needing to water four times during the week.
Use Raised Garden Beds
Using raised garden beds aren’t just for areas with limited space and one of the great balcony garden ideas. They are also easier to saturate with water as the volume is finite. You’re not going to find random grasses, weeds, and trees leeching that precious water from your heat stressed garden. Here’s a pro-tip, combine the use of hay bails with a cheap raised garden bed. Straw is extremely water absorbent. In fact, farmers have to worry about their hay bail stacks getting wet as the chemical reaction is sufficient to heat the hay to the point of combustion. You’re not going to have it packed in that tightly, but we highly recommend growing in straw. Check out our article on building cheap raised garden beds to restructure your garden to be as resistant as possible.
At Upcycle we hope you’re able to find the right way to water your vegetable garden for summer heat. It’s a bit of a tricky learning curve, so err on too much water to start and keep an eye on those big leafy plants. There’s nothing like a backyard barbecue featuring your own home grown produce. Find your soil mate.
One aspect of living and working in San Diego is the ability to grow basically anything year round. We don’t really have “garden seasons” like the pour souls in other parts of the country. Our Mediterranean climate means not having to worry about little worries like frost, snow, tundra… you get the point. Even so, if you want a great garden, you need to be a master garden planner.
Just because you can grow anything at anytime doesn’t automatically mean that you should. Planning a garden is half the battle, so knowing what you want to grow and when can be a somewhat daunting task.
Garden Planner to the Rescue
We came across a great app to help out in that arena. It’s called Garden Time Planner and it will walk you through the process of growing whatever you want and give you a pretty accurate estimate of when what you’re growing will be mature.
It is region specific, so even if you’re not in California and are blessed by a mild climate, you can really dial your garden in. Terrible weather is not an excuse not to grow.
The app is made by the Burpee company, so you know it is going to be made specifically for gardeners. Burpee has had gardeners backs from all the way back in the late 19th century. They’re synonymous with home gardens.
As you can see, the app is easy to use and really provides the specific data to ensure that your grow is going to be a hit. Aren’t smartphones wonderful?
Alternatives to Garden Planner
If smart phones and apps aren’t your style there’s nothing wrong with going analog. A simple day planner will allow you to chart your garden progress and growing timelines. There are several day planners and journals that will help you to track your growing season.
I particularly like the vegetable gardeners handbook. Its light and simple, straight forward and to the point with tons of practical advice.
We’ve been pretty adamant at Upcycle and Company that just about anyone can be a gardener. One of the most common objections we hear from people who would love to grow their own food, but they’re convinced they don’t have space. No outside yard means no growth in their minds. Well, they couldn’t be further from the truth. How about a hay bale garden? We posted a link on Facebook this last week that shows how anything can be grown at home in hay bales.
Gardens can be planted anywhere. Even on concrete balconies or driveways.
The idea behind straw bale gardening is simple. Plants grow in the top of the straw, which begins decomposing as soon as it gets wet. As the straw breaks down, it turns into a rich, compostable planter that’s ideal for growing vegetables.
The advantage of straw bale gardening is that you can set the bales anywhere where it’s sunny, as long as you can keep it watered. poor soil? it doesn’t matter. you can even set the straw bales on a concrete driveway.
the first step – get a bale of straw. you can find them at most garden centers and feed stores for under ten-dollars.
Sounds like a pretty good deal. At Upcycle, we created #NativeSoil to help those without appropriate growing conditions to get out there and do some practical growing.
Prep Your Hay Bale Garden
Prepping the hay bale is a two-week process, so make sure you plan ahead. Step 1, thoroughly wet down the hay bale. From gardeners.com:
The first week
Water the bale thoroughly, until water runs out the bottom of the bale. Sprinkle the surface with a nitrogen source (see box), applying at the recommended rate.
Every other day, add more of the nitrogen source; water thoroughly. Do it a total of three times during the first week.
On the days you don’t apply nitrogen, just water the bales thoroughly.
The second week
For the next three days, apply the nitrogen source daily at half the original rate. Follow up with thorough watering.
After three days of adding nitrogen, water daily.
The last step is to add a well balanced all around fertilizer like #NativeSoil. Since Native Soil is a slow release powdered fertilizer, the nutrients are available immediately and released slowly over the growing season. This allows you to have a one and done fertilizing philosophy. Once the hay bales begin to decay from the inside, they will begin to heat up. In roughly a week, you’re looking for an internal temperature of 75 – 80F.
At that time, the bed is primed and ready to receive your vegetable starts.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that your concrete slab isn’t a great place to grow some tasty vegetables. When you’re growing in small spaces, you have to sometimes think outside the box.
The best part though? No weeds and you don’t even have to get your hands dirty.
Watch KTVB’s coverage of this hay bale garden phenomenon.
As Americans, we have developed a bad habit of not really watching what goes into our bodies as fuel. We tend to eschew this part of our daily routines. So busy that we run out of the house without eating breakfast, subsisting on coffee and donuts until the mid afternoon when we break for a lunch that ends up being pure junk. Because junk is quick. At Upcycle, we prefer to take life a little slower and make sure that we keep an eye on our superfood consumption.
Superfood Consumption Benefits
What’s more is that you can grow so many different superfoods right in your own home. You don’t have to go to the local health food store to get some fancy macrobiotic, genetically engineered frankenfood. No way. You can pull your superfoods for consumption right out of your own plants. And it’s a double whammy. While you’re saving money growing your own superfoods for consumption, the basic act of nurturing a plant from seedling to mature, produce producing, plant is mentally satisfying in its own right. Wait… that’s a triple whammy.
Recent dietary research has uncovered 14 different nutrient-dense foods that time and again promote good overall health. Coined “superfoods,” they tend to have fewer calories, higher levels of vitamins and minerals, and many disease-fighting antioxidants.
What Should I Grow?
Beans (legumes), berries (especially blueberries), broccoli, green tea, nuts (especially walnuts), oranges, pumpkin, salmon. soy, spinach, tomatoes, turkey, whole grains and oats, and yogurt can all help stop and even reverse diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and some forms of cancer. And where one might have an effect on a certain part of the body, it can also affect the health of other body functions and performance, since the whole body is connected. With these 14 foods as the base of a balanced, solid diet, weight loss gimmicks and other fly-by-night programs can become a thing of the past in your life.
Why Should I Be Consuming Superfoods?
Conversely, the ill-effects of an unbalanced diet are several and varied. An unhealthy diet causes low energy levels, mood swings, and exhaustion. Add weight change, body image issues and you’ll know your diet is unbalanced. An unbalanced diet can cause problems with maintenance of body tissues, growth and development, brain and nervous system function, as well as problems with bone and muscle systems.
Symptoms of malnutrition include lack of energy, irritability, a weakened immune system leading to frequent colds or allergies, and mineral depletion that can trigger a variety of health concerns including anemia.
And since the body is connected, realizing that an unhealthy body will result in an unhealthy spirit only makes sense. When we nourish our body with these superfoods and complement them with other nutrient-dense and healthy fresh foods, our spirit will be vitalized and healthy as a direct result.
Don’t wait. Every day you wait is a day you’re living with your poor diet.
Many modern diets based on prepackaged convenience foods are sorely lacking in many vitamins and minerals. That vitamin deficient diet will affect our mental capacities as well. It will cause anxiety, confusion, and the feeling of ‘being in a fog’ all the time. If you’ve ever spent a day at the office where you have the mental prowess of a block of ill-treated wood, you know what brain fog is all about.
As a result it is so easy and rewarding to grow your own superfood from scratch. Native Soil serves as a perfect amendment to any home garden. Urban areas, tend to have nutrient deficient soil. It is as if the soil absorbs the personality of the humans scurrying around it. Just a little bit of Native Soil to restore the soil health is a no-brainer.
Superfoods can be the basis of a sound, healthy, nutritious solution to curing many of these ailments and more. Don’t let another foggy day slip by. Seize the day. Get your hands dirty.
What do we mean when we say “put waste to work?” Making waste work for all of us is at the core of our operating philosophy at Upcycle & Co. Let’s face it, human beings create a lot of waste. Be that food waste, regular garbage, yard waste or, well, waste waste, we create a tremendous amount. Human beings, world-wide, create upwards of 5 billion tons of refuse annually. 5 BILLION! And that all ends up in landfills. That’s just the normal, every day, throw it in the garbage can kind of waste.
While recycling trends have been increasing steadily since the 1980s, (recycle, reduce, reuse and close the loop anyone?) traditional recycling is just one tiny aspect of what reducing humanity’s ecological input is all about.
Going With the Flow
At Upcycle & Co we’ve decided to start with our focus on the waste-waste problem first. We’re working with the portions of human consumption that go discarded and have been ending up in landfills, adding to an already unsustainable problem. Did you know in our home town of San Diego, one waste water facility alone treats approximately 175 million gallons of waste water every single day? That’s one plant for just one portion of the city. And while the water is purified and returned to local waterways, the remaining biosolid matter is discarded as waste. That wasted material is then trucked across the state and dumped into landfills. From both an ecological standpoint and an efficiency standpoint, we have a problem with that.
Imagine a world where we could capture that wasted energy, eliminate the trucking emissions, and do something phenomenally productive with it right here in our own community. Well, that’s exactly what we did.
Finding Your Soilmate
In creating Native Soil, Upcycle & Co has created a patent-pending process to create our natural organic fertilizer that has better than 25% more nutrients than run of the mill organic fertilizer at half the price. That means juicier fruit, larger vegetables, and more nutrient dense food in general
That’s how we are putting waste to work. We keep costs low and consistent for our customers through our local business model. It’s not just good for the environment, it’s good business.
We’ve been toiling (and soiling) behind the scenes to make Native Soil the best bang for your buck, from a nutrient standpoint, and an environmental standpoint. At Upcycle & Co, we don’t believe in wasting waste for wasting’s sake. We put waste to work, in your garden, on our farms and for our community.
We hope you’ll join us in our nutrient revolution. Join our mailing list below, or like us on Facebook to learn more about what we mean when we put waste to work.
Gardening isn’t just fun; it also has many practical benefits. Whether veggies or flowers are your passion, the very act of creating a garden is immensely rewarding. Adding seasonal gardening to the mix will keep give you a reason to keep in your mind in harmony with the seasonal changes. It can even help with conditions like seasonal affect disorder (SAD). The information below provides a little advice and a few pointers when it comes to both your garden, and the act of growing.
Attune to Seasonal Gardening
Your plants will respond better to gradual changes of environment. Not that we have a tremendous amount of seasonal change in San Diego, but there are certainly some nuances to follow. Put the plants outside in the sun for one to two hours in the beginning. Throughout the week, you should leave your plants out for a little longer each day. By the weekend, the plants can make that big move without a problem!
Starting seedlings in pots before planting in your garden is a smart idea. This increases the chance that your plants will survive to adulthood. This method also gives you the freedom of tightening time periods between each planting. After you remove the mature plants from your garden, you can immediately replace them with the seedlings and start the cycle over again.
Start with the Basics
The first thing you can do to avoid pests is to start with healthy soil in your garden. Healthier plants are greater in strength and resistance to illness and insects. For the most vigorous and healthy plants, start with high-quality soil, and stay away from chemicals. These can accumulate salts over time. A product like Native Soil helps to balance out otherwise spent soil. Nutrient rich soil makes seasonal gardening easier in that it improves your chances of successful growth immensely.
Use biennials and annuals to beautify your flower beds. By utilizing quick-growing biennials and annuals, not only will you be brightening up your flower bed, you can also alter its look each season and each year. Use them to fill gaps between shrubs and perennials in the sun. The most popular varieties to use include petunia, zinnia, cosmos, snapdragon, marigold, hollyhock, and sunflower.
Vary Your Seasonal Gardening Plants
Plant vines like ivy to cover fences and dividing walls. Plants that climb are extraordinarily versatile, and can help hide an unsightly wall or fence, usually within one season. They may grow up through some existing shrubs and trees, and can even be worked to grow around an arbor. Some climbers you plant will have to be tied off and supported, but others have no problem attaching themselves to any surface using their tendrils or twining stems Some of these plants include, wisteria, jasmine, climbing roses, clematis, honeysuckle! I love the smell of night blooming jasmine in the summer time with a nice glass of lemon water on the patio.
To achieve the best growing results, plants need sufficient carbon dioxide. A high level of CO2 provides an optimum environment for growth. A greenhouse can concentrate the levels of CO2. When it is exposed to high carbon dioxide levels, a plant has the best growing condition possible.
Stick with it. Make Seasonal Gardening a Lasting Habit
Whether you have been gardening for a few days or a few decades, you must never deviate from the instructions on the labeling of all implements and chemicals. If you miss this easy step, you run the risk of harming yourself due to the chemicals that can irritate your skin. Keep your health intact and follow the directions to the letter.
Gardening is a very interesting and rewarding activity. The fruits of your time and labors fail to stop yielding, regardless of the dividends are vibrant color outside your windows or fresh foods on your kitchen table. By assimilating what you learned about gardening into your routine, you can enjoy gardening and all it has to offer.
“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
Seems simple enough right? Sometimes life can become too complicated, so over complex that it becomes necessary to pare down to the basics. A garden and a good book. We can get on board with that sentiment. Sage wisdom from the ages.
If you’ve heard us say it once, you’ve heard us say it a thousand times. At Upcycle, we believe in producing locally. While we have created Native Soil, in part, to help individuals create their own healthy food in their own homes using locally sourced material, deep down, we know this idea is good for the world. Urban Farming is the idea that we can use unused land, roof tops, front yards, balconies, and generally just about any underutilized space to be creating food for inhabitants that isn’t traveling thousands of miles before it reaches the dinner table.
How Native Soil Helps Urban Farming
And that’s where Native Soil comes in. As we know, urban soil is, by in large, terrible. Traffic, aircraft, municipal runoff, pavement, and overdevelopment, just to name a few, have robbed the urban landscape of the necessary nutrients to produce healthy food. At Upcycle, we use locally sourced waste to revitalize that barren soil and make it nutrient rich, so that urban farming can be a locally sourced reality.
We believe that its just the right way to tackle this problem. And, being the nerds we are, we think that PBS has done a great job outlining the importance of urban farming and the techniques that can really make urban farming a viable option for the 21st century and beyond.
A Population Explosion Requires Urban Farming
All the cities of the world contain over half of the population of this world. And do you know how much land that requires to feed that half of that? Half of South America. Half of South America. That’s how much land, when you add it all up the around the world, that’s how much land is put together to feed the cities. OK, so that means the amount of land needed to grow food for the entire world is about the size of South America. Right. And that’s just for crops. The amount of land used for livestock is actually way more than that, about the size of Africa. And the global population is supposed to hit 9 billion in the next 40 years. And that means we’re just going to have to keep using up more and more land. Yep. And keep in mind that 57% of Earth’s land is uninhabitable. And about 3% is developed urban areas.
So we hit 9 billion. That’s a 25% increase. And if we continue to grow our food in the same way– We’re going to run out of space real fast.
Even in a sprawling metropolis like San Diego, urban farming can help reduce the need for population to source food from so far away. Even when food is sourced, what happens to it?
And roughly one third of the food we do produce is wasted. [BLEEP] What would you say is the future of food? Well, the future of food is recognizing what Malthus knew years ago. We eventually are going to run into a food problem. I think we’re already there. So we’re going to have to use possibly future discovered techniques, but definitely we have to use all of the techniques that have worked wonderful for centuries. This is Ken Dunn, president of the Resource Center and founder of City Farm, where they’re reclaiming vacant lots in Chicago and turning them into farms. In the Amazon they learned thousands of years ago to put food waste back on poor soil, and you’ve got rich soil. That’s what we do here. We seal the vacant lot, which has contamination from this being an industrial city. And we put food waste compost two feet deep.
How Much Food Is Wasted Now?
Ken Dunn and the fine people at City Farm create this compost by picking up discarded food from grocery stores and restaurants and other places around the city.
How much food waste is in here? Well, this bin has two ton now. Its capacity is three ton. Giant pile of packaged bagels and gallons of milk. This is just one small example of the waste that happened, what, yesterday? Yeah. And so I get two of these truckloads every day. I have a bigger truck that can haul 15 tons at a load. We get several truckloads of that every week. So you’re going to compost this and use it to enrich the soil. Yeah. Yeah. This is just a fraction of the food waste that happens every day. Grocery stores and food suppliers will often throw out fruits and vegetables that they don’t think can sell based on appearance or quality, even though they might still be edible.
Or in this case, two tons of bagels and milk that were over-purchased by a convention center, and this weird bag of egg and cheese mix thing.
Let’s Take it Back to the Way We Used to Grow
We’ve lost a lot of preservation techniques that people used to know. You know, everybody used to know instinctively how to can things, how to make cheese, etc. And because we’ve given up access to our food system, we’ve lost a lot of those skills. CRAIG: This is David Durstewitz, sales manager at City Farm. So either that needs to be done, you know, more completely on an industrial level, or the more stable solution is just return to a local food system that’s more interconnected. CRAIG: And our food’s often shipped long distances reducing freshness by days and using more fossil fuels. And bringing the farm into the city eliminates those problems. Agriculture is, of course, one of the oldest professions. But it’s not simple. A lot of farming is subsistence, or even losing it. You put in so much labor, you can barely eke out a living. But if you have very rich soil, that tips it in favor of supporting a family and producing good food.
Poor Soil Makes Poor Food
It takes the same amount of time to plant and harvest a tomato in poor soil as it does in good soil.
In poor soil, you get a one-pound tomato. In great soil, rich with compost, you get a two-pound tomato. And its flavor, and thus its nutrition, is excellent. What about the climate? Isn’t a city too dirty to grow crops in? The climate of a city can be beneficial for growing, and it can also be detrimental. Generally, a city is hotter than the surrounding areas.
And so in a northern city that really helps. In Louisiana that might not help. What makes a city hotter? Pollution. CRAIG: Pollution. Well, yeah. Pollution. And just the amount of energy that’s being expended here and then giving off heat. CRAIG: So you’re saying the heat that comes from waste and pollution is useful for growing food. I am saying that, yeah. CRAIG: Well, that’s cool. I’m not advocating– CRAIG: No, I know. Huh. That’s interesting. But realistically, though, how many vacant lots could there be in a developed city like Chicago? The city has mentioned they have 12,000 vacant acres. And they would like them cleaned up, as we have here, and producing jobs with the local neighborhood. But we need to just keep the priorities that a resource should as much as possible be an asset to the local community.
Growing the Right Food or the Wrong Food?
90% of the farms in the United States produce commodity crops that are then converted into processed foods.
And that’s not how to best utilize our space for growing for human health. We need a production system that has as its goal the health of a local community. So local control of a food system is absolutely something that we’ve lost and that we need to regain as quickly as we can for a lot of different reasons. More than one-third of adults and 17% of children in the United States suffer from obesity, while at the same time, 49 million Americans live in food insecure households, either going hungry or lacking proper nutrition.
So at the same time we’re eating too much food, but not enough good food. Right. And part of the solution might be to grow more nutritious food locally to benefit the surrounding community. The resources in the devastated communities of Chicago, a lot of vacant land, a lot of unemployed people, and then a lot of waste.
Where Products Like Native Soil Come In
What if we ingeniously enriched that vacant land with waste wood products, waste food products, and had a rich farm, employed local people to produce the healthy foods that community needs.
[In our case at Upcycle we are using waste from the booming local beer brewing industry, but the concept applies across the board in urban farming. San Diego’s unique waste happens to be beer, but that’s not the case in every city around the world. Urban farming requires a certain level of unique application to apply the local waste as the solution to its own problem!]
Let’s find ways of exploiting the value in a neighborhood for that neighborhood. So this is our model. So maybe if we stop wasting a third of our food to feed those 9 billion people in 2050.
Yeah. Maybe if we start focusing on maximizing our nutrition rather than maximizing our calories we won’t need land the size of South America and Africa for food.
The world is changing fast. If we’re going to keep up with the pace of the changes around us, we’re also going to have to change the way we produce food. MATT: We’re going to have to employ new farming techniques and return to some of the older ones. CRAIG: Maybe we could build up instead of wide, focus more on quality over quantity, keep things local and fresh, maybe even a little lower on the food chain. MATT: There’s not going to be an easy silver bullet solution for upcoming food problems. Every place is different, with their own unique food challenges.
CRAIG: But there’s plenty of improvements that can be made.
Tailoring the SOILution for Urban Farming
And there’s plenty that we can do to help. Living in Chicago, and obviously being surrounded by so many high-rises, I think it’s important to be connected to nature, because it’s something that’s important to me. Are you going to teach me how to plant things? Yeah, we’re going to teach you a few things today. OK. Let’s do it. What’s more important than growing food? Nothing. Nothing’s more important than growing food.
CRAIG: Food is something that a lot of us take for granted. Most of us have only a vague idea of where it comes from or how it’s produced. But our very well-being depends on a healthy, sustainable, and plentiful food supply. So we shouldn’t let it go to waste, because the future of food is the future of us. And done. I farmed.
See ya. So I’m quite hopeful that we will make progress, and civility will return to the planet. So that’s the end of the Future of Food playlist, but hopefully not the end of the future of food. Am I right? Got to fill that belly. Thanks for watching and for all your great comments and questions. If you guys like the show, and you want to help us continue making the show, consider becoming a supporter of patreon, right up there. And we’re always looking for people to help promote the show. So if that sounds like something you’d like to do, sign up for our digital street team.
And if you’re interested in learning more or helping out Ken Dunn in the Resource Center, you can go to resourcecenterchicago.org.
Great Food and Food Waste Reduction go Hand in Hand
I have some exciting upcoming projects to help combat food waste. You should keep a lookout. OK, last week we asked you guys if you thought vertical farms were the future of agriculture. This is what you had to say. Well, they didn’t actually say anything. They typed. Well, they said it with their fingers. You know when you talk, you know, finger talk, into the computer. No, it’s typing, it’s different. Jack Linton so astutely pointed out that mushroom protein can be grown in an urban environment and not use a lot of resources. And they produce CO2, which can be cycled into plant rooms. And Benjamin Shaw thoroughly explained the process of aquaponics, which is basically incorporating fish into the hydroponic plants growth cycle.
Funny story, we already talked about that when we went to a place called The Plant in Chicago, where they do just that. You should check it out. It’s in our Recycling playlist, linked in the doodly-doo. Tyler Cooper, Stephen Gubkin, and a number of you pointed out that vertical farms require a lot of energy and big upfront costs.
It’s true that electric grow-lights cost money and fossil fuels. But by using energy-efficient LEDs, vertical farms can minimize the amount of energy used. A lot of indoor farms use inefficient grow lights that use a lot of electricity and create a lot of heat that were require power-hungry air conditioning units to keep the plants cool.
LEDs give out very little heat, which means you can have them closer to the plants, you don’t have to pay as much to cool them, and you can have more vertical rows closer together. Also, LEDs can be up to 75% more energy-efficient than conventional fluorescent bulbs. Still comes out to a lot of energy usage compared to sunlight, which is free. But these energy costs could be offset by using renewable energy sources, like the anaerobic digester they have at The Plant, linked in the doodly-doo.
And as the technology improves over time, you’d expect the energy efficiency to increase as well.
Paul Cristo asked if Green Sense Farms was actually profitable. How much do you make, Paul Cristo? Huh? Huh? None of your business. Well, we weren’t able to get specific numbers. So I guess time will tell. But there’s definitely been a trend in new vertical farms investment and construction, which could be an indication that it’s working.
Vertical Farming and the Urban Farming Revolution
The world’s largest vertical farm is currently being built in Newark, New Jersey. When it’s done, it will grow up to 2 million pounds of kale, arugula, and Romaine lettuce per year. Got to get that Jersey green! Thanks again for all your great comments and questions. We’ll see you guys next week for the first part of our Thrill Seeking playlist. Pretty excited. Thrilling. What’s going to happen? Who knows? Well, we do. We know. We’ve already shot it.
With so many people living in such tight quarters, is urban farming the real solution to they myriad of associated problems? Yeah, we think it is. Urban farming uses locally sourced materials to create food locally, thus reducing the double whammy of waste of creation and the waste of transportation. With a little work and a with products like Native Soil, we really do believe that our food can be created locally, even in harsh urban environments through sound urban gardening practices like those outlined in the piece.
A novice gardener needs to remember that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Gather some ideas for planning your garden, whether it will be for home or back yard use. You can determine all the things that you need so that you don’t waste any money on equipment that isn’t needed, or the wrong seeds for your type of environment.
Choosing the Right Plants for the Right Spaces
A great tip for the novice gardener is to plan on covering mistakes. Long plants that run up or around a fence or wall are often useful for masking ugliness. These types of plants can climb anything, which makes them perfect for covering up a wall or fence that needs to be hidden. You may also be interested in training them over an arbor or trellis. You can also grow them among existing landscape trees and plants. There are those that have to be fixed to a support, but others will find a surface to cling to all on their own through twining stems or tendrils. Some climbers that have proven to be reliable are honeysuckle, jasmine, wisteria, clematis, and climbing roses.
Make sure your soil is healthy enough before you start planting anything. A novice gardener should pay a small fee to have your soil analyzed, and you’ll be glad that you did when you understand what nutrients your soil is lacking. There are numerous places to find this service, such as your local Cooperative Extension office. A product like Native Soil can help to balance out poor soil and get the right nutrients into the garden. The cost is well worth it to avoid a potentially ruined crop.
Plant to the Right Season Accordingly
Plant cool-weather edibles in the fall. Don’t thow out your jack-o-lanterns from this week. Try using a pumpkin as a natural plant pot. You can plant fall vegetables such as lettuce in an empty pumpkin shell. After cutting an opening and removing the meat and seeds from inside the pumpkin, use Wilt-Pruf, sprayed throughout the inside and cut edges, and prevent rot from occurring. Once this is done, you are ready to plant!
Give your vegetables at least six hours of direct sunlight. Many veggies require this amount to properly grow at a faster pace. Some flowers have the same requirement for growth.
Plant with the colors of autumn in mind. That doesn’t have to be it though. When it comes to vivid foliage, autumn offers the best opportunity to view it. Maple, beech, and dogwood display colors ranging from dark crimson to light yellow. When selecting shrubs that will be colorful during the fall, consider hydrangea, barberry, or cotoneaster.
Don’t Use too Much Water Novice Gardener
Efficiently water your garden. Soaker hoses save time by watering all of your plants at once, rather than individually with a standard hose or watering can. Keep the soaker’s water pressure at a low level, so that your tender plants will not be harmed. You can take care of other tasks or just relax while your plants are automatically watered for an hour or so.
An English garden mixes plants of various kinds and sizes close together, which helps to give it a more multi-dimensional feel. If you use plants that are all the same size your garden will look flat.
It just requires some effort and a bit of learning on your part, and of course, a whole lot of patience. The work will pay off, once you see how you can make something grow.
A huge variety of wonderful gardening resources exist. You could spend an entire day online looking for the gardening information you need. This article will give you all of the advice you need in order to get started even if you’re a newbie gardener. Continue reading in order to get this advice.
Know thy Soil
Digging in clay soil with a shovel can be very difficult. The clay isn’t easy to work with and will adhere to the shovel, which only makes the problem worse. Coat the shovel with floor or car wax, and buff it with a clean rag to make the job a lot easier. The clay easily slides off the surface while keeping the end from getting rusty.
A garden needs the right type of soil to grow properly. Consider getting a soil analysis and working on enrichment techniques for giving your garden a vibrant and healthy environment. It can avoid ruined vegetables and flowers, so check with places, such as a cooperative extension department to see where you can obtain the analysis. Products like Native Soil help balance out bad soil chemistry and are a great starting tool for newbie gardeners.
CO2 is essential for growth. A major portion of plants grow their best in an environment with a saturated level of CO2. Growing plants in a greenhouse is the best way to contain CO2 for use by your plants. If you have a greenhouse, keep CO2 levels high.
Easy Garden Hacks
Turn the handles of your garden tools into measuring rulers. You can use larger tools, like rakes, as measuring sticks. Place the handles on the floor, then set a measuring tape alongside them. Label the distances on the handle with a marker pen that will not smear or fade away. Now when you go garden the next time, you’ll have a giant ruler at your command.
Don’t Let Your Hard Work Get Eaten
Using pesticides when natural solutions are available is the hallmark of a newbie gardener. Try to plan a variety of perennials that are slug-proof. Slugs and snails are voracious eaters that can destroy a plant literally overnight. These pests are especially attracted to tender sprouts and to delicate, soft leaves. Some perennials are not preferred meals for snails and slugs, especially if their foliage is hairy and tough, or tastes bad. These varieties include achillea, helleborus, heuchera, euphorbia, and campanula.
Use bulbs to ensure continuous flowers throughout the spring and summer. Most people have no trouble successfully growing bulbs, and their flowers will return each and every year. Different bulbs will bloom during different time periods. Therefore, if you select your bulbs correctly, you could have blooms in your garden for all of spring and summer.
Don’t make the newbie gardener mistake of planting too densely. Make sure air can circulate around your plants, and keep leaves moisture-free. Excess moisture creates an appealing environment for disease and parasites. A fungus is one of the most important and debilitating parasites for plants. Fungi can be controlled with fungicide sprays, but it is important to treat your area with the spray, before you see any problems.
Gardening is a popular hobby which many people find rewarding. As you learn more, you will become a better gardener. Always remember to listen to great advice. Start by applying the tips laid out here, and you will have the most beautiful garden you’ve ever seen.
When I first got into gardening I thought it was as simple as put some seeds in some dirt, add some water and wait a few months for a salad. I had no idea that you need to make sure your soil chemistry is top notch to ensure top notch results. Here are some basic tips to get you started on your soil health journey.
Start with the Right Soil for the Right Occassion
Put sod down the right way. You want to prepare the soil before you lay down the sod. Pull all the weeds and loosen the soil so the new roots can take easily. When the soil is clean, pack it tightly and create a flat surface. Moisten the soil thoroughly. You should lay your sod staggered, and have the joints offset. You want the sod to end up as a flat and even surface. If there are any gaps in between the sod pieces, then you can fill these in with some soil. Sod has to be watered daily for two weeks, and then it can be rooted.
Clay is difficult to dig through with a shovel, as it is sticky and compact. Rubbing wax on the shovel prior to digging can kick this challenge to the curb. The clay will no longer stick to the shovel, and this also helps to prevent other problems like rusting.
Pests Play a Huge Part in Soil Chemistry
The first thing you can do to avoid pests is to start with healthy soil in your garden. Healthier plants are greater in strength and resistance to illness and insects. For healthy plants, start with healthy soil that is properly amended and free of chemicals in order to avoid salt accumulation. A product like Native Soil is great for balancing out poor soil.
Make sure to pre-soak seeds, preferably in a dark location. Place a small amount of seeds in a little container, while filling it to the brim with water. The seeds will get the hydration they need to start growing. This gives the seeds a better chance of flourishing.
Where’s the Sun?
Whenever you are planting a veggie garden, it is vital that you place them in a location where sun shines down on them for six or more hours per day. This allows the vegetables to grow quickly and healthily. Some flowers have the same requirement for growth.
Use natural pest control when possible. Onions and marigolds can help to deter slugs. Mulch around the bottom of trees and shrub seedlings with wood ash to reduce unwanted infestation of pests. By utilizing these methods, you will not have to apply chemical pesticides on your vegetation.
Healthy Gardeners Make Healthy Gardens
Protect yourself from sun overexposure while gardening by wearing the proper clothing. Pair sunglasses with wide-brimmed hats and a dab of sunblock. When you protect yourself against the sun’s rays, you are more likely to avoid both skin cancer and sunburn.
The warmth of the day can make vegetables soft, making them more prone to damage as you pick them. See to it that you cut their connection to the vine as opposed to twisting them, because twisting could hurt the plant.
Now you should be ready to get gardening with some basic healthy soil chemistry. You though you had mad skills before? Now you have insane skills! The tips in the article should have set you on the right path to having a great garden and growing like the professionals.
Gardening is an activity you can pursue if you want to have tasty fruits and veggies sprouting to maturity just outside your house. There’s nothing quite like going outside and grabbing some toppings for your salad, or better yet the whole salad. This article can give you practical gardening advice that can help you get more out of your garden.
Be Mindful of the Seasons
Your plants will respond better to gradual changes of environment. When I first started out I just wanted to grow what I wanted whenever I wanted. Big mistake. I burned up quite a few tomato plants in the summer in direct sunlight.
The first day you transfer your plants, you should only allow them to sit in direct sunlight for a few hours. Over the course of a week, slowly increase the amount of time that you leave them outside. After a few more days, your plants will be more resistant and ready to stay outside all the time.
Plant annuals and biennials to make your flower beds brighter. Biennials and annuals that grow quickly can add color to a flower bed, plus they permit you to modify the way the flower bed looks each season and each year. In an area that is sunny, they make good plants to place in the gaps found between shrubs and perennials. Notable collections include sunflower, marigold, hollyhock, rudbeckia, cosmos, and petunia.
Keep your plants dry and aerated daily. Plant moisture is a big attraction to both parasites and plant diseases. One parasite you have to watch out for in particular is fungi. It is possible to get rid of fungi after it appears with anti-fungal sprays, but it’s better to spray at-risk areas before fungi appear.
A Little Visual Flair Never Hurt Anyone
When deciding on which plants to include in your landscaping projects, consider evergreens which produce colorful berries. They will provide a splash of color in the drab and dreary winter months when a lot of other plants have lost their colors. Other plants that boast of winter berries include: Holly, Snowberry and Winterberry.
Consider planting strawberries, especially ones that are everbearing, for your garden if you have small children. Kids delight in the idea of growing things and seeing how things change over time. Explain every step to your child and he or she will hang on to your every word.
Get Creative with Protection for Practical Gardening Advice
Aspirin water has disease-prevention properties that can protect plants. To add the aspirin to the plant, dissolve about one tablet and a half into approximately two gallons of fresh water. Next, coat the plant with the aspirin mixture by spraying it on the leaves. Use this method every three weeks.
Another piece of practical gardening advice is to ensure your soil chemistry is up to snuff by balancing your home soil with products like Native Soil and the like. They restore old soil’s chemistry to make it heartier and give plants more nutritional value to extract.
Keep your garden tools close at hand to make the most of your gardening time. You can make use of a bucket, or wear pants that have plenty of pockets. Have gloves, shears, a trowel and anything else you need handy for quick use.
As mentioned earlier, the art of gardening means that your dining table can have fresh and tasty vegetables and fruits, that you grow in your own garden. Being able to make a meal from homegrown ingredients will leave you with a sense of satisfaction. Follow these tips to garden efficiently and enjoy it.
Join us on Facebook or Twitter to share what you’re doing with your home garden creations!
One good way to have a steady supply of healthful, fresh vegetable is to develop a backyard (or anywhere) garden. It does take some time and effort, though. You also have a wide variety of seeds that you can select from. Enjoying your own healthful produce grown from the seed is extremely rewarding. The following article will provide you with advice that will help you create your dream home garden.
Start with the Soil Basics
Clay soil can be a real pain to work with as it often sticks to the end of the shovel. Coat and buff the digging end of the shovel with automobile wax to make digging easier. This will keep the soil from sticking, and prevent rusting of the tool.
In San Diego, you’re likely going to be dealing with riverbed soil, which is a great start, or decomposed granite, which is an enormous pain. Decomposed granite has awful starting soil chemistry, so boosting that with potting soil, fertilizer like Native Soil, or other soil additives is going to be essential.
Starting a garden with the best soil is a great defense mechanism against pests. The healthier the plants you grow, the more resistant they’ll be to illness, fungus, or bugs. You want to cultivate quality soil with adequate salt levels, which leads to healthy plants.
Choose the Right Plants for the Right Spaces
Use climbers if you want to cover any fences or walls. Climbing plants can cover a wall after one growing season only. They also work to cover up old, and possibly dead, vegetation. There are natural climbers, which use tendrils or stems to wrap around any given surface, while others must be tied with a string or rope. Excellent varieties include honeysuckle, wisteria, jasmine, climbing roses and clematis.
You can alleviate this problem by planting grasses that your cat will naturally gravitate towards. Offensive smells also work to repel cats and other pesky animals from eating your plants. Try putting mothballs, citrus peels, garlic and other pungent items on the topsoil.
Knee pads are absolute miracle accessories if you work in a garden with plenty of low-growing plants. When you spend a lot of time kneeling while gardening, your knees can be very achy by the end of the day A pair of good gardening knee pads can cushion your knees for more comfort.
Do you enjoy your mint leaves, but can’t stand how they dominate your garden? Stunt their growth a little by planting your mint into a garden container or large pot instead. The container can be planted in the ground, and it will still prevent the plant from dominating the garden.
Right Plants, Right Seasons for Healthful Produce at Home
If you are planning on growing peas, start them indoors before putting them outdoors in your garden. If you give them a chance to grow indoors where they are protected, they will germinate better. Give the seeds enough time to get stronger: growing indoors will make it easier for your plants to resist diseases and the pesky bugs. Once they are strong enough, you can transplant them outside.
Don’t count the fall season out. That doesn’t have to be, however. When it comes to brightly colored foliage, fall is an amazing time of year. There are a number of trees that provide exuberant displays of color, such as Dogwood, Beech and Maple. When you choose shrubbery, try hydrangea, barberry, or cotoneaster. Even in the winter you can enjoy healthful produce grown at home. Try some super foods like kale or hearty squash.
Starting an organic garden helps make your diet better, and understanding the different options for your garden can help you be even more successful. Using the information that has been provided is a great way to start an organic garden of your own.
Gardening may seem very involved and confusing, but if you put in a little study and a lot of practice, you will soon know your way around. I know San Diego is rarely considered a true “city,” but there are a lot of urban spaces that are crying out for healthy gardens. Fortunately, you have discovered this article. It should provide you with all the help you need to increase your gardening skills and confidence, so that your efforts will yield a fruitful and beautiful city garden.
The Basics are the Basics
Starting a garden which is pest-free is easy, if you have healthy soil. Healthy soil encourages vigorous plant growth and makes your garden more resistant to common diseases and insects. High-quality soil that is low on chemicals is key. It’s the first thing you should think about when planning on growing your garden. Even if you’re buying soil from a store in lieu of what your land has given you, setting up the chemistry right is paramount.
Try using annuals and biennials to add color to your flower beds, and brighten them up. Using a variety of flowers allows your flower garden to have a different look each season. They can make a handy, gap-filler between shrubs and perennials located in sunny areas. Some examples include sunflowers, marigolds, petunias, hollyhocks, and cosmos.
If you’re growing food in an urban landscape, choose high yield crops that are nearly fool proof. Ever wonder why so many people grow tomatoes? Think of tomatoes like a bike with training wheels. Everyone starts out there. You’ll skin a few knees, but once you get the hang of tomatoes, feel free to graduate to more finicky grows.
How to Deal with the Urban Nuances
There are home solutions available to combat the powdery mildew you may find on your plants. A lot of this comes from traffic, airplanes and just urban living. Combine baking soda with a small dollop of liquid soap and add it to water. Once a week, spray this solution on your plants and your mildew should disappear in no time. No damage will occur to your plants, and the baking soda is mild and efficient.
Before actually putting plants into your garden, check the type and compostion of your soil. Have a soil analysis completed so you can know what you need to add to have soil which will fully support your garden. A lot of Cooperative Extension locations offer this service, and you can prevent ruining a few crops by identifying the specific steps to take.
Can’t Stress Pests Enough
When gardening, be watchful of stink bugs, particularly in the fall. They love to inhabit peppers, beans, tomatoes and all kinds of fruit varieties. If left uncontrolled, they can cause substantial damage in your garden, so make plans for how to protect your plants from these pests. I know we say this a lot here, but it is important. A pest infestation, especially in an urban environment where they are especially out of place can really put a damper on a new city garden enthusiast’s enthusiasm.
Try and maintain daily aerated and dried plants. Moisture not only attracts parasites, but also makes it easier for your plants to contract diseases. Fungi is a common problem in the world of plants. To control fungi, use a fungicide spray on the area before you notice any problems.
Most of All, Have Fun
Try growing your peas indoors for the first couple months. Seeds will always germinate much better when you first plant them indoors initially. They will also be healthier and hardier, allowing them to better resist pests and disease. You could transplant the seedlings outdoors once they are able to survive and thrive. Start small. Start green. Have fun.
Hopefully, you can now see that becoming a great gardener is not as difficult as you first feared. There is all kinds of information available to the avid gardener. With a few basic tips, you can get off to a good start on your gardening adventure. Follow our tips to start happily on your way.
Many people think gardening is hard to accomplish, but that is not true if you know what you are doing. Using some basic advice, most people can be great gardeners. When you have completed this article, you will have learned everything you need to know to show off your green thumb.
Choosing Your Home Garden Plants
Cover fences and walls with climbing plants. Known commonly as climbers, these plants are very versatile, easy to grow, and they will quickly spread out to cover up walls and fences within a single season. You may also be interested in training them over an arbor or trellis. You can also grow them among existing landscape trees and plants. Some climbers will attach themselves to a support using twining stems or tendrils, while other varieties need to be held up by tying them in place. Some climbers that have proven to be reliable are honeysuckle, jasmine, wisteria, clematis, and climbing roses.
Plants need ample amounts of CO2 to reach their maximum growth. The majority of plants grow much better when CO2 levels are at their highest. A greenhouse has the best levels available. CO2 levels are best kept high, in order to provide optimal growing conditions for your plants. Additional soil chemistry is needed to balance out and provide the plants optimal paths for nutrient absorption. Not all basic home garden soil is created equally. San Diego is full of decomposed granite on the mesas which isn’t very nutrient dense. Native Soil is an ideal solution for normalizing poor soil chemistry.
Watch Out for Pests of all Kinds
When gardening, be watchful of stink bugs, particularly in the fall. Stink bugs enjoy gardens, and are especially fond of fruit, tomatoes, beans and peppers. If left unattended, your garden could be ravaged by these bugs, so you need to proactively keep their population under control.
There are several all-natural ways to keep pests out of your garden, including certain plants. Plant marigolds or onions around other vegetables to keep slugs away from them. Wood ash also makes a great insect deterrent; simply use it as mulch around your shrub and tree seedlings. By utilizing these methods, you will not have to apply chemical pesticides on your vegetation.
Be Aware of the Basic Home Garden Calendar
Plant some bulbs in your garden to have flowers and plants that bloom all year round. Bulbs are hearty and will continue to grow every year. Remember that different bulbs will bloom at all different times of the year, so if you are careful to choose the right bulbs, you will see blooms in the early spring, and have flowers all the way to late summer.
Separate irises for the best result. If you divide the overgrown clumps of flowers, you’ll find that your stock grows proportionally. Once the foliage has died off, lift out your bulbous irises. They will literally split in your hand, flowering the next year after replanting. Utilize a knife if you are trying to divide rhizomes. Cut the new pieces from its outside and dispose of the older center. Each piece you decide to plant needs a strong offshoot. The quicker you can replant your cuttings, the better chances they will reappear next season.
As mentioned earlier, it is not difficult to become an expert gardener if you educate yourself. If you apply the tips from this article you’ll be able to be confident in knowing that you’ve got all the information you need to guarantee your garden will grow!
What are you going to put in your garden? Let us know in the comments or our Facebook Page!