Organic Gardening: Protozoa & Nematodes
Soil, or at least healthy soil, is teeming with life. Soil life lives in a symbiotic and mutualistic way, offering their services to help the whole system work. Bacteria and fungi build the soil structure and help make nutrients in the soil available to plants, and also store valuable nutrients in their bodies. Protozoa, nematodes and other larger members of the soil food web consume these microbes, and in doing so release the nutrients to the plants. This process allows natural systems to maintain themselves with the help of the soil food web.
Protozoa are single-celled animals that feed primarily on bacteria, but also eat other protozoa, soluble organic matter, and sometimes fungi. They are several times larger than bacteria, ranging from 1/5000 to 1/50 of an inch in diameter. Both protozoa and nematodes are aquatic and live and move in soil water films and water-filled pores of soil aggregates.
Protozoa are found in greatest abundance near the surface of the soil, particularly in the upper 15 cm (six inches). There they play an important role in mineralizing nutrients, making them available for use by plants and other soil organisms. Protozoa (and nematodes) have a lower concentration of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) in their cells than the bacteria they eat. Bacteria eaten by protozoa contain too much N for the amount of C protozoa need. They release the excess N in the form of ammonium (NH4+). This usually occurs near the root system of a plant.
Nematodes or roundworms are non-segmented worms with tapered ends and are typically 1/20 of an inch (1 mm) in length. They have a head, and a tail with a well developed central nervous and fertility system with a complete digestive system, so they are considered the most primitive animal. They are small enough to fit in most soil pores and soil aggregates.
There are several species of nematodes that are responsible for plant diseases and can be very harmful (known as detrimental nematodes), but far less is known about the majority of the nematode community that plays beneficial roles in soil. Many beneficial nematodes serve as biological pest control agents in managed systems and others regulate the natural ecosystem and soil nutrient cycling. Some feed on the plants and algae, others are grazers that feed on bacteria and fungi, and some feed on other nematodes. A variety of nematodes function at several trophic levels of the soil food web. Nematodes are most abundant in the surface soil horizon.
Like protozoa, nematodes are important in mineralizing, or releasing, nutrients in plant-available forms. When nematodes eat bacteria or fungi, ammonium (NH4+) is released because bacteria and fungi contain much more N than the nematodes require. At low nematode densities, feeding by nematodes stimulates the growth rate of bacteria populations. Small or low root consumption by nematodes may stimulate plant root growth like air pruning, increasing root biomass.
Product Spotlight: AZOS Red Liquid
AZOS Red Liquid is a naturally occurring nitrogen-fixing bacteria that helps benefit plant growth, converting atmospheric nitrogen into a useable form that is readily available to the plants. AZOS Red Liquid is a pure, living bacterial inoculant; experience an improvement in plant establishment and accelerated plant growth. AZOS Red Liquid is great for containers, raised beds, and row crops. AZOS Red Liquid is ideal for cloning and plant propagation, transplanting, and general watering throughout veg and grow.
AZOS Red Liquid is a living product with millions of colonies of Azospirillum brasilense at 1 x 10^8 CFU per ml. AZOS Red liquid can be used in conjunction with other fertilizers and biostimulants and is designed to be compatible with all waterborne applications and fertigation systems. AZOS Red Liquid is best for middle to large-scale growers looking to increase the efficiency of their clones and nursery plants as well as boosting vegetative growth.
Of all the nutrients transported to plants through the soil, nitrogen is required in the greatest amount. It drives chlorophyll production in the foliage, keeping plants green and propelling photosynthesis. It is a fundamental building block of amino acids and other essential compounds that ensure crop health and productivity. Nitrogen is a major component of every protein molecule, and yet soils are often deficient in this element. Although the atmosphere is comprised of around 80% nitrogen, it is in a form (N2, or atmospheric nitrogen) that is not readily available to plants. AZOS Red Liquid is able to facilitate this conversion.
With the increased accessibility of nitrogen in the soil, AZOS Red Liquid can catalyze a natural growth hormone within plants that help promote more root and vegetative growth. AZOS Red Liquid is great for rooting out cuttings and transplants.
Cultured and packaged to order, AZOS Red Liquid is one of the freshest and biologically active microbial products on the market. AZOS Red Liquid packaging includes a spigot that allows growers to extract the right amount of liquid needed for an application. This spigot technology maintains the viability of the bacteria as it does not allow outside contaminants to enter and spoil the inoculant.
To ensure the best results, we recommend you purchase enough product for a single crop cycle. Best when stored in a refrigerator.
AZOS Red Liquid is highly versatile and easy to use with all types waterborne applications. At an application rate of 5 ml per gallon, apply throughout vegetative growth stages for vigorous plant growth. AZOS Red Liquid can also be used to catalyze root growth for cloning and plant propagation at a rate of 20 ml per gallon for rockwool cube and plug soaking, and 5 ml per gallon in propagation and cloning machines.
AZOS Red Liquid is the key to successful transplants and gardens. Experience the true power of a pure, fresh and living bacterial inoculant.
Product Spotlight: Root Pouch Fabric Pots
What is a Root Pouch?
Root Pouch is a fabric planting container made from recycled plastic water bottles. They have several different fabric densities, colors, and patterns depending on what the need and decor is. They are safe to use in growing edibles as well as decorative plants. Perfect for drip systems, overheads and hydroponic flood trays, as well as the use for the home grower.
Why fabric pots?
Root Pouch fabric is a mixture of PETE (recycled plastic water bottles) and natural fibers that creates a mesh like surface. Once roots reach the fabric it signals the plant to send out new roots, instead of circling and strangling the plant like other containers. Thus creating super dense, fibrous healthy root systems for plants. Root Pouch containers achieve a superior root system over the traditional plastic pot. These natural fibers mixed into the netting of the fabric will retain moisture much more evenly around the pot.
Why Root Pouch over other fabric pots?
Root Pouch is the only fabric pot on the market made from recycled plastic water bottles and mixed with natural fibers, such as jute and cotton. It has always been a frustrating feat to want to purchase and use earth friendly items, but when they are usually far more expensive then their less earth friendly counterpart it is sometimes difficult to do. Root Pouch decided to keep their prices low and affordable. Growing in Root Pouch not only takes the water bottles out of the landfill, but it also diminishes the use of the traditional black plastic pots (that also end up in the landfills), lessening the carbon footprint.
Root Pouches are not only earth friendly and affordable but they also create an ideal environment for the plant to grow in. Their handles and stitching are industrial strength and make planting and growing in them that much easier.
Does the recycled material leech contaminants into my plants?
No. Root Pouch uses recycled plastic water bottles (known as PETE) in the making of their fabric. PETE is a plastic resin made from water bottles that have the recycled symbol surrounding the number 1, which is FDA-approved as safe to drink and eat out of. PETE is used along with natural fibers because of its strength, thermal-stability and its resistance to UV rays.
Xtreme Gardening harnesses the power of microbial evolution, isolating the most critical members of the soil food web that have repeatedly proven to improve plant performance. Gardeners can experience an increase in crop quality and crop yields, while also improving nutrient and water management.
The MAMMOTH® mission is to provide solutions for a range of challenges that cultivators face. They have polled thousands of growers and have identified:
Pests like spider mites and thrips pose the potential to cause huge losses for cultivators if they are not addressed before they become a problem.
Their pest prevention solution, MAMMOTH® Biocontrol Preventative Insecticide (MB-PI), utilizes compounds found in thyme oil found to be highly effective in pest prevention and control. MB-PI is made entirely from plant-derived ingredients which means it leaves zero toxic residue, and is safe for testing.
Growing succulents is seriously easy. Like almost too easy. When I was first reading up on how to grow succulents I almost thought I wasn’t reading the right articles. How could it be THAT easy? But once I started I learned pretty quickly that growing succulents from existing plants really is THAT EASY! Succulents are extremely hardy plants and they can grow roots in pretty extreme environments.
There are three popular ways to propagate succulents – 1. from leaves; 2. from cuttings; and 3. from pups. I will go over each of these techniques in detail in this blog post. Hopefully this will provide the knowledge you will need to get your hands dirty, give it a go and see what happens!
1. Growing Succulents from Leaves
You can easily grow new succulent babies from leaves taken from the “mother” plant. Look for healthy, plump leaves near the base of the flower. Gently twist off the leaf from the base. It should snap off clean and the end should be in a “U” shape.
Once you have removed the leaf from the mother plant it is time to move them to a propagation tray, or as I like to call it, your baby making factory. This tray/factory can be something as simple as a paper plate with some dirt on top to a fancy tray filled with cactus soil. The tray does not need to be deep, in fact, a shallow tray is best because you won’t need much soil. Once you find a proper vessel you can turn your attention to what kind of growing medium to use.
Succulents can tolerate most types of soil, but they prefer a light mixture with a lot of drainage. You can use an all purpose potting soil, a specially blended cactus soil or even sand. Just avoid a growing medium that will retain too much moisture (like a clay based soil) or a soil that is nutrient rich.
OK, so now you know what type of prop tray and soil you need. Find a shaded area either outside or inside near a window to place your succulent baby making factory. In general, succulents prefer filtered sunlight. Direct sunlight is way to harsh on the plants and can actually burn them. You don’t want to burn your babies!
Now, all you have to do that your tray is all set up is set your leaves on top of the soil….and leave them there for a while. I like to keep a spray bottle handy and give them a super light misting once a day. After about two weeks you will start to see little pink nubs grow out of the end of some of the leaves. This means your new baby is starting to form – congratulations!
Once your babies make it to this stage, keep an eye on them and keep up with the light misting daily. Soon, you will start to see roots and leaves forming from the pink buds. Like this…
The new babies will stay attached to the “mother” leaf until it has used up all the moisture – at which point the original leaf will dry up and fall off.
Now it is probably best if you plant the newly formed plant in its own small container since the new baby will need to get its nourishment from the soil. I like to use 2″-3″ pots at this stage in order to conserve soil (as opposed to planting a little baby in a big container).
Keep the babies in a spot with plenty of filtered sunlight and only water the containers once the soil has completely dried out. In a few months you should should have happy, healthy baby plants that will be ready to be transplanted into bigger containers or arrangements or wreaths OH my!
2. Growing Succulents from Cuttings
So this method of growing succulents is SUPER easy. Here are the steps: 1. Locate a succulent. 2. Cut off a stem. 3. Stick the stem in dirt. Done. And it really is pretty much that easy. But here are a few pointers to help you out!
- It is best practice to let the fresh cuttings sit in a shaded area for a couple days and allow the ends to callous over.
- You only need about a inch of stem for the cutting to take root. Leaving too much of a stem on a cutting can lead to rot.
- It is best to take a cutting from a newer growth.
3. Growing Succulents from Pups
Succulent Pups refer to when new “pup” plants sprout from the main succulent plant. This can happen in a variety of ways. Sometimes a pups start to grow from places where leaves have been removed or fallen off. Other times pups will shoot out from the base of the mother plant.
Just make sure that the pups are not too small small before you remove them from the mother plant. Carefully remove a pup and plant in soil. Roots will start to form after a couple weeks.
Hydroponics 101: Rockwool
Rockwool has long been one of the most popular hydroponic growing mediums. The vast majority of Rockwool used in the world is used for insulation purposes (much like fiberglass). However, adjusting the mineral content can substantially change the properties of Rockwool. In the early 1960s it was found that following several modifications to the manufacturing process Rockwool would support and, under the right handling practices, promote plant growth. This produced horticultural rockwool, which is what is sold as a hydroponic substrate.
Grodan, the leading distributer of Rockwool, produces Rockwool by melting basaltic rock and limestone to temperatures as high as 3000°F (1600°C), at which point they become lava. They are then put into a spinning chamber and are spun together into fibers, much like cotton candy. Immediately following spinning, a binder is added to the fibers and they are compressed and cured into large slabs. By adjusting the amount of pressure, the density of the media is adjusted. The large slabs can be cut into smaller slabs and propagation blocks for easy handling. The spun fibers are also formed into a granulated product, which can be handled in a manner similar to bales of peat.
Rockwool is an inorganic substrate; therefore it maintains its structure over a long period of time. In general, Rockwool holds more water per unit volume than the other inorganic substrates and therefore has a greater buffering capacity. Rockwool is inert, so it has no built in nutrition and does not add or take anything away from plants. It can be used in either recirculating or drain to waste systems, and with either synthetic or organic nutrients.
Advantages of Rockwool:
- Retains Water – Since rockwool will easily give up water to the roots, even when it is almost dry, growers can allow more of the pore space in rockwool for air, while still maintaining a satisfactory supply of nutrient solution to the roots.
- Holds Air – Rockwool holds at least 18 % air at all times (unless it is sitting directly in water), which supplies the root zone with plenty of oxygen.
- Clean & Convenient – Rockwool holds together very well so it can’t spill. Rockwool also comes wrapped in plastic, which makes it easy to handle and keeps evaporation to a minimum.
- Comes In A Variety Of Sizes And Shapes – From 1″ cubes designed for use in propagation, to 3″x12″x36″ slabs capable of holding the root systems of huge plants, rockwool comes in dozens of shapes and sizes making it a versatile growing medium. Rockwool also comes “Loose” so you can fill pots or containers of any size.
Rockwool Conditioning Tips*
When rockwool is new it contains some residual lime from production. This has led to a mistaken belief that rockwool is alkaline and that one has to continuously adjust pH. In fact, once the lime is flushed out, rockwool is pH neutral.
Immediately before use, flush the rockwool with a pH 5.5 solution. This is done to flush out the dissolved lime. The lime will make the pH value rise to 6.0. From this point onwards rockwool does not change the pH in any way. Most rockwool cubes will have presoak instructions on the packaging.
How to pH condition:
- Saturate rockwool in no lower than pH 5.5 water for about half an hour to an hour, depending on the amount of rockwool you are conditioning. Higher quantities of rockwool will require longer flushing times to saturate evenly.
- Remove and let drain to waste.
- Flush through the rockwool with a normal nutrient solution at pH 5.5-6.0, just prior to planting.
There are also products such as Europonic Rockwool Conditioner that make the presoak process much easier by adjusting and stabilizing rockwool for maximum nutrient uptake. A unique blend of pH controls and minerals, use it for conditioning your rockwool before starting seed, clones or transplants. Use three ounces of Europonic Rockwool Conditioning Solution per gallon of water and mix thoroughly. Saturate dry rockwool with this mixture and let soak overnight.
It is important that you do not condition your rockwool with a solution at a pH lower than 5.5. If you do this, you can damage the actual fibers of the rockwool. If you use a pH 4.0 solution, you will find that your pH jumps all the way to 7.0. The lower the pH you use, the higher it jumps. If the fibers are damaged it can be difficult to re-establish a stable pH level, so never go below pH 5 with rockwool. To soak cubes, put them in a bucket filled with water. To soak slabs, cut a hole in the plastic bag they come in and fill it with water until totally saturated. After 24 hours, cut drainage slits in the bottom.
If handling rockwool in a dry state and working in confined spaces, always use a protective mask so that you aren’t breathing in the harmful dust. Although it is non-toxic, rockwool can cause skin irritation. Always wear a dust mask and gloves when handling dry rockwool. If skin irritation occurs, rinse the area with water.
House & Garden
Dome Garden Supply
Plant Success (Great White)
*Subject to change
San Diego Hydroponics & Organics is kicking off our annual charity drive event, Season of Giving, on September 10th! We will be collecting clothing, food and toys through December 14th to donate to three outstanding local non-profit organizations – Alpha Project, San Diego Food Bank and Toys for Tots.
Bring in your clothing, food and/or toy donation anytime during our Season of Giving to a SD Hydro location. We will be donating the collected goods in time for families to enjoy them during the holiday season! Please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about the donation process.
For the past three years SD Hydro has been asked to install, staff and manage the FarmScraper installation at the San Diego County Fair, located inside the CA Grown building. The purpose of the FarmScraper exhibit is to showcase the future of farming technology and focusing on environmentally friendly gardening practices. We look forward to this opportunity each year and we are always thinking up ways we can improve our systems and educational materials for the next year!
This year, the showcase of the exhibit was our vertical hydroponic system. The curved system was custom built by SD Hydro staff and is capable of growing 55 plants with a fraction of the amount of water used in traditional gardening practices. The vertical system utilizes a specific subset of hydroponics, called aeroponics, that uses mist to deliver water and nutrients to the plants roots. Aeroponic is the most water efficient out of all other hydroponic growing methods.
Our other hydroponic displays included a “floating” raft and Aeroflo system. All of the varieties of lettuce were donated by the Encinitas based commercial hydroponic farm, Go Green Agriculture.
The FarmScraper once again displayed our “living wall” with around 75 hanging planters donated by Smart Pot. The living wall demonstrates how to use available space to efficiently grow food or plants in a “future” scenario where horizontal land could be scarce, especially in urban settings. We’d like to thank Olive Hill Greenhouses for donating the indoor plants that made our living walls lush and colorful. According to Olive Hill Greenhouses, indoor plants also, “…decrease the amount of indoor air pollution by reducing concentrations of formaldehyde and other volatile organic chemicals. Interiors with plants have 50% to 60% fewer airborne microorganisms and 20% less dust than interiors without plants; moreover plants are able to adjust transpiration rates, thereby stabilizing relative humidity to levels ideal for human health and comfort.”
This year we added a weekly seed planting activity as part of our exhibit. It was a huge hit! Everyone loved planting pumpkins in the biodegradable pots donated by Jiffy! We chose to start pumpkin seeds so they would be ready to harvest in late October.
Another fun addition to our exhibit was the 20 ft. interactive mural wall! Kids and grown-ups alike had a great time “leaving their mark” at the fair. Our mural was so popular we went through 4!
Special thanks to all of our sponsors!
Olive Hill Greenhouses
House & Garden
Planting a succulent wall can be an easy way to add character and color to your outdoor or indoor spaces. There are many types of vertical wall planters to choose depending on your space, budget and design goals. We knew we wanted to make a vertical planter for our “Drought Tolerant Plants” for our FarmScraper display at the San Diego County Fair. We chose to work with fabric wall planters because they are cost effective and matched the “unfinished” look of our FarmScraper. These fabric planters are ideal for outdoor spaces, covering large areas, and those working on a budget. After you select your wall planter, you will need to buy your plants.
We purchased our succulents from a local wholesale nursery that is open to the public. Plants from this type of nursery will cost far less than those at a larger chain store and will most likely be available in a wider variety. We selected two different sizes of plants as we were using two different wall hangers with different pocket sizes. Next you will want to select your soil.
Selecting a soil for succulents can be tricky. A high quality potting soil mix will usually be a good choice. For this planter, we chose to use Aurrora Innovation’s soilless medium because we knew it would hold moisture for the duration of the fair. Drought tolerant plants will do well in soilless mediums, such as coco mixed with perlite or sand, as long as they are watered and fed periodically. For this particular type of planter, we learned that you need to start with planting the bottom pockets first and then work your way up. After all of the pockets were planted, we gave each one a thorough watering using a Hudson sprayer, knowing that we wouldn’t have to water them again until the soil or grow medium is completely dried out.
Happy new year! We’re happy to say that our 2017 Season of Giving Charity Drive was a great success! Thank you to everyone who donated clothing, food and toys.
We were able to donate an entire pallet of gently used clothing to Alpha Project, a local organization that serves over 4,000 San Diegans each day. From the Alpha Project website, “Services offered include affordable housing, residential substance abuse treatment, supportive housing for people with special needs, basic and emergency services for the homeless, transportation assistance, mental health counseling, employment training, preparation and placement, education, outreach and prevention, and community services.” We’re very excited to keep working with Alpha Project on future endeavors and community projects!
In November we focused on collecting food to donate to the San Diego Food Bank. The food bank serves over a quarter million individuals EVERY month and accommodates about 24,000 volunteers every year. We were able to donate 214 pounds of food this year and we hope to go above and beyond that number next year.
Finally, in December, we collected donations for Toys for Tots, an organization run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve designed to bring new toys to less fortunate children. You, our customers, really showed the love for this drive! Every store was able to bring a sizable donation of new, unwrapped toys to local fire departments just in time for Christmas!
“What’s Up With Malibu Compost”
Interview with Randy Ritchie, Co-Founder of Malibu Compost
A: Back in 2009 when Colum and I first met.
Q: What made you guys start your company?
A: Well… I had been a sustainable landscape designer in LA and Colum had grown up making compost in a biodynamic farming community. We were like long-lost brothers when we met. There was a need to heal the earth. Heal the soil. We felt it needed to start with people’s own yards and gardens. There was no alternative to chemicals or synthetics besides “faux organic” waste management and conventional AG composts and soils on the market. We started Malibu Compost to give people a choice to get true organic and biodynamic compost.
Q: How did Bu your Spokescow become part of Malibu Compost?
A: When we wrote our mission statement we altered the traditional triple bottom line for business from people, planet and profit to people, planet and animals. We rescued Bu because we wanted to show people that you can make a profit and do the right thing. We’ve helped rescue many cows since Bu, but she changed our whole company, she changed all of us… the truth is she rescued us.
Q: What is your biodynamic compost?
A: Bu’s Blend Biodynamic Compost is thermophilic compost that we make on our organic farms. The temps get to 140 degrees, then we turn the windrows so that the temps never get to 160 degrees which kill the beneficial microbes. It takes six months to make Bu’s Blend and another month to cure.
We inoculate the compost with the biodynamic preparations (chamomile, dandelion, oak bark, stinging nettle, yarrow) at just the right moment, and spray it with the BD Preparation #507 valerian. Bu’s Blend is diverse with bacteria and fungi. Organic dairy cow manure is bacterially rich. As the compost cools down from the composting process, microscopic fungi go up into the windrows and start eating the bacteria. The nitrogen and nutrient cycling begins then and it’s time to bag it for you guys. There is nothing else like Bu’s Blend in the marketplace.
Q: What’s Next for Malibu Compost?
A: We’re adding new farms in Oregon and Pennsylvania, and have an offering out for people to buy stock in our company. To buy stock in BU or check out the stock offering go to: https://wefunder.com/malibu.compost
Q: How do you feel about the journey so far?
A: Humbled. Grateful. Blessed.
Come see SD Hydro’s award winning “Farm-Scraper” hydroponic installation at the 2017 San Diego County Fair located at the Del Mar Fairgrounds June 2nd – July 4th. In 2016 the San Diego County fair had record attendance accommodating about 1.6 million visitors during the fair and the organizers estimate that an average of more than 20,000 people walk through the “Farm Scraper” exhibit hall every day.
This will be SD Hydro’s second year constructing the a “Farm-Scraper” in the award winning ‘California Grown’ exhibit. Last year the installation was met with much enthusiasm from fair-goers and received an award from the International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions.
The California Grown exhibit features educational farming displays showing the past, present and future of agriculture in California. SD Hydro’s display, the “Farm-Scraper”, represents the future of farming in a world with ever increasing urban populations that will require innovative gardening techniques.
This year, to demonstrate alternative gardening techniques, we are showcasing several hydroponic systems including a vertical hydroponic garden, a deep water culture system, drip bucket system, a floating raft table and an Aeroflow system.
For more information about the San Diego County Fair Fair visit: https://sdfair.com/
Tired of mixing nutrients? Hate keeping up with pH? Let Bluelab® do it for you!
Do you spend your days running from garden to reservoirs perpetually checking pH and nutrient levels and then manually balancing and re-measuring over and over? There are a million other things you’d rather be doing in your day, right? …. and who monitors these levels when you’re not there? Growers who have many years of experience will tell you, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ … it’s a matter of ‘when’ will pH issues happen.
The innovative team at Bluelab® have released the Bluelab® Pro Controller Connect and Bluelab® PeriPodsTM to take care of your investment 24/7. This unique controller can dose nutrients into your reservoir constantly to parameters set by you. Simply set your required EC, pH and dosing values on your controller, place the probes in your reservoir or sample pot and as your plants feed, pH and nutrients are automatically adjusted to the desired range.
Sounds like a time saver, right?
The Bluelab® Pro Controller Connect is easy to customize to your growing needs. With an easy-to-navigate menu for you to set up and a simple calibration process makes pH calibration easy. No calibration is ever needed on the EC probe! Just keep it clean and you’ll be spot on all the time.
An optional external alarm and lockout box provides a convenient connection point for an external alarm. It can also be used to stop the controller dosing when feeding out in a drip system or even flooding in a flood and drain system.
Bluelab® PeriPodsTM are sold separately giving you the option to customize with a pump size that fits your individual set up. You can choose between the M3 which will dose up to 120 ml (4 oz.) per minute per pump or, the L3 which can dose up to a whopping 1200 ml per minute (40 oz.) per pump – that’ll keep up with the biggest reservoir! The three-pump configuration (one for pH and two for nutrients) are easy-to-use peristaltic pumps that can be calibrated to ensure equal dosing.
If that wasn’t enough, it also comes with our Bluelab® Connect stick that enables your Bluelab® Pro Controller (and all your other Bluelab® Connect devices) to wirelessly send real time readings to your computer. See the status of all your Bluelab® Connect devices and make changes to your controller’s settings, directly from the computer. Also, when connected to the internet, you’ll be able to check your devices live status on your smart phone – anywhere in the world!
Fortunately, Bluelab® Connect is designed for gardeners. Track your progress, repeat your successes and improve your results.
Automated, constant control of reservoir pH and nutrient levels is here now. Ask for Bluelab® Pro Controller Connect and Bluelab® PeriPodsTM
This product spotlight was provided by our friends at Bluelab®.
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).
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.
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!