Posts published on October 2013

National Heirloom Seed Festival 2013

Articles, Events, Newsletter

San Diego Hydroponics & Organics is proud to have attended the third annual National Heirloom Exposition, held in Santa Rosa, CA at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds.   Hosted by our favorite seed company, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co, the Expo was a great opportunity to meet new vendors, find new seed companies and learn about heirloom horticulture.  The expo took place Tuesday, September 10th through Thursday, September 12th. The fairground was packed with heirloom produce and tons of like-minded individuals. The Expo included a Produce Hall, a Vendor Hall, two Speaking Halls as well as a beautiful outdoor garden area that displayed many examples of Bio Dynamic gardening. A separate livestock area included activities on Wednesday especially tailored for kids. The food court featured local Farm-to-Market food trucks and stands.

For heirloom seed collectors, the event was like nothing else we’ve ever seen!   We counted at least 25 heirloom seed vendors on site.  Our two new favorite seed companies would be Wild Boar Farms with their beautiful collection of colorful  striped tomatoes, and Kitazawa Seeds because of their expansive collection of heirloom vegetables from Asia.  On the last day of the festival there was an awesome seed trade and barter event held, with no money trading hands, just seeds traded for seeds, teaching attendees the best kind of seed ethics possible.   With the declining total number of uniquely available heirloom fruit and vegetable  seeds, it was refreshing to see a culture that’s embracing the genetic diversity of heirloom seed collecting. Attendees were actively cultivating an atmosphere where seed-saving education, professional networking, and good old-fashioned seed bartering is encouraged.  In the upcoming 2014 season, Baker Creek will introduce a Master Seed Catalog”. This publication will be the largest Heirloom seed catalog ever to be printed and will be a one-stop printed resource to every seed available.

Education was a central theme of the heirloom festival.   One hall was for independent speakers and the other hall featured speakers sponsored by the companies who supported the show.   Diverse educational topics included; “Seed Saving,”  “Compost & Mulch,” “Seaweeds for Food & Health,” “Farming for Chef’s,” “Fermentation for Farming,” “Growing Food in Small Spaces,” “Bio-Dynamic Composting,” and many more.   The second hall was reserved  for talks centered on Biodynamics (which is the combination of growing plants and animals together), it  also featured more intense and technical talks ranging from the many aspects of Biodynamics, from pollinating Bee’s to Wildflowers and Compost.

Biodynamics was the hot term and philosophy of the show, and for good reason.   At the center of a Biodynamic farm is the recycling of materials out of the life of the farm itself rather than importing fertilizers from the outside, organic or not.  Any system on a farm that utilizes the inherent organic materials on-site and creates loops of reusing, re-purposing and recycling is using the principles of Biodynamics.  Here in San Diego two of the most common animals that can join with your home garden are chickens and, thanks to recent legislation, Pygmy goats.   Besides getting fresh eggs that are higher in vitamins and beta carotene than store bought eggs, chickens also provide manure that’s rich in nitrogen.  Many chicken owners simply move their coup across lawns or garden every two weeks to spread the manure in a simple and effective manner.  Pygmy goats provide milk, till dirt labor-free, and just like chickens their manure can be used as fertilizer or compost.   Local rules and regulations for both inside the city of San Diego can be found here for Chickens, and here for Pymgy Goats.   As we know from our experience with aquaponics,  the biodiversity of the system is organized so that the waste product of one part becomes the revitalizing energy for another. This results in an increase in the capacity for self-renewal and ultimately makes the garden or farm more sustainable.

Lastly, before our time was up at the Heirloom Expo, we found several new vendors we’re excited to bring back to the shelves of San Diego Hydroponics & Organics.  This includes a new greenhouse company with products ranging from hobby greenhouses all the way up to full scale high tunnels with automated fans, louvres, and automated blackout materials which are used to create any light cycle a farmer wants for year round harvesting.  Another product we found soon to be on the shelves is HB-101 from Japan.    HB-101 is made from extremely concentrated oils derived from  Japanese Cypress, Pines  and Cedars and can be used as a seed soak, mixed into a regular nutrient recipe as a plant vitalizer, or even as a foliar spray for insect control.  Come into San Diego Hydroponics today for a look at some of the new products and catalogs we’ve found to make next year the best Season yet for your backyard and indoor gardening, whether it’s small scale, hobby or professional!

Product Spotlight: Mad Farmer Be One

Articles, Gardening, Grow Tips, products, Uncategorized

Mad Farmer BeOne

 

Although the benefits of vitamin B1 have been long known and often debated, new research is showing that B1 on its own is not very effective.  Instead, it works together with other nitrogen rich elements, specifically Auxins[i]. Through this synergy B1 becomes a useful tool to help reduce shock during cloning, transplanting, topping, skirting and other stressful situations.  Plants do synthesize B1 internally but light is required for this to occur, therefore B1 is found in the leaf tips where light is readily available, but not in the root zone where light does not penetrate. For stress prevention at the root zone we must use a supplemental form of B1.  Mad Farmer’s Be One is the most comprehensive B1 additive on the market, derived from Ascophyllum Nodosum, Humic Acids, Protein Hydrolysate & Thiamine (Vitamin B1). This complete plant tonic can be used in the garden through all stages of growth from starts, until about week four of the bloom cycle.

 

Mad Farmer’s Be One Contains:

 

ASCOPHYLLUM NODOSUM (Norwegian Sea Kelp) is one of the most widely used plant nutrients in the world and is composed of over 70 vitamins, minerals and enzymes including; Copper, Zinc, Molybdenum, Boron, Manganese and Cobalt. Ascophyllum Nodosum also contains Cytokinins, naturally occurring growth hormones that promote chloroplast development and heavier harvests. As well as stimulating bacterial growth and a strengthened immune system, the Cytokinins work in conjunction with the Auxins to assist in rapid root development and amplified cellular division.  When used in the reservoir it also reduces osmotic shock and aids in micro nutrient uptake.

 

HUMIC ACID is a powerful organic electrolyte that dissolves minerals and trace elements, such as Silica, increasing the bioavailability of nutrients while simultaneously detoxifying soil of heavy metals. When used as a foliar spray, Humic Acids increase oxygen intake, enhance photosynthesis and aid in the development of essential oils.

 

PROTEIN HYDROLYSATE- The most basic component of all living organisms is protein which is made when chains of amino acids bond together. Protein Hydrolysate supplies your plants with these building blocks, allowing Protein synthesis to occur by providing short chain Peptides and L-Aminos in a readily available, water soluble form.  When used as a foliar spray, Protein Hydrolysate stimulates the opening of stomata, resulting in increased photosynthesis. Used as a top feed, it stimulates micro flora development, stimulating biodiversity in your growing medium.

 

As you can see, Mad Farmer’s Be One is not simply a B1 supplement to be used in stressful situations. Its formula is designed to increase your gardens productivity throughout the entire lifecycle of the plant. With the use of some of nature’s most powerful minerals you can help your boost your plants natural defenses, increase the ability to use available light and. uptake nutrients more efficiently. Simultaneously, you will be ridding your grow medium of pollutants and increasing its biodiversity.  San Diego Hydroponics & Organics is San Diego’s EXCLUSIVE source for Mad Farmer products.  So stop by any one of their 5 locations today and take your garden to the next level with Mad Farmer.

 

 



[i] Auxins area class of plant hormones that are vital to plant growth, their development processes and are found in things like sea kelp.

 

The Eggplant Demystified – Health Benefits, Grow Tips & Recipe

Articles, Gardening, Grow Tips, Lifestyle, recipe

     The eggplant (aka aubergine) is perhaps one of the most misunderstood foods of all time. The staff at SD Hydro harvested these four gorgeous eggplants at our Bay Park location a few weeks ago. No one really knew what to do with them so I decided to take them home and turn them into a delicious dish.

Eggplants belong to the nightshade family of vegetables along with tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.  They are extremely high in fiber, magnesium and potassium; making them an excellent choice for a heart healthy diet and for aiding digestion. The skin of the eggplant is especially rich in nasunin, an antioxidant that helps to protect brain cells from becoming damaged.

Eggplants are quite easy to grow; they thrive in conditions similar to those favored by tomatoes. This means they grow top heavy (so a tomato cage may be necessary), need lots of sunlight and a soil that drains water well. In San Diego, eggplants will grow mid spring all the way though until early fall.

Eggplant is a highly versatile cooking ingredient; it can be stuffed, fried, rolled, mashed, baked and who knows what else. The recipe I decided to try is a traditional Georgian dish called Badrijani. Badrijani is usually served as a side dish or appetizer (though from personal experience it is also a tasty late night snack).

Eggplant Rollups

Walnut, Garlic & Pomegranate Eggplant Rolls (Badrijani)

Ingredients:

  • 2 small – medium sized Eggplants
  • Olive oil
  • 1.5 cups Walnuts
  • 1 cup Cilantro
  • 4 Cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbs. Pomegranate seeds
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Serves 4 -6

Directions:

1. Cut the tops and the bottoms off the eggplants and cut lengthwise into 1/2″ slices.

2. Fill a bowl with water and add a generous amount of salt. Place the eggplant slices into the salt water mixture and let sit for 30 minutes. This step will draw out bitter flavor from the vegetable.

3. Meanwhile, combine the walnuts, cilantro, garlic and 1 tbs of water into a food processor. The end result should be a paste-like consistency. Add more water if necessary.When the mixture is the proper consistency, fold in the pomegranate seeds. Set aside.

4. Next, remove eggplant slices from water and pat dry with a paper towel. Add 2-3 tbs of olive oil to a frying pan and turn stove to medium heat.

5. After the oil has heated, place the eggplant slices into the frying pan and fry both sides until golden brown. NOTE – the eggplant will absorb the oil very quickly. You will need to continually add oil throughout the frying process. After each slice in done, set aside on a paper towel to cool.

6. When the eggplants pieces have cooled to room temperature, take one and evenly spread the walnut mix onto one side; roll  into a spiral.Repeat this step with each piece of eggplant.

7. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Can be served cold or at room temperature.