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Organic Gardening: Protozoa & Nematodes

Articles, Gardening

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

protozoa and organic gardening with soilProtozoa 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

beneficial nematodes and detrimental nematodesNematodes 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

Articles, products

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

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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.

How to Grow Succulents

Articles, Gardening, Grow Tips

 

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

Articles, Gardening

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Remove and let drain to waste.
  3. 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.

“Season of Giving” 2017 Charity Drive

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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!

 

Seasonal Gardening

Articles, Gardening, Lifestyle

The concept of seasonal gardening is an ancient practice that follows the cycles of the Sun and Moon. Awareness of the seasons and what planting tasks are best suited for which time is a tool for gardening success. The Farmer’s Almanac, Biodynamics and the Hawaiian Moon-Planting Calendar are all examples of seasonal gardening that utilize natural light cycles.  A balanced system can be created by understanding how light cycles are effected by the sun, moon, gravity and water as well as the specific ways plants react to them. Ideal planting and harvesting schedules can be developed by tracking the natural reactions and effects of water, light and growth. This schedule varies based on location and is used more as a guideline than a science.

Seasons can be categorized as winter, spring, summer and fall but the season can also be be broken down into cycles. Cycles of light, cycles of growth, cycles of planting and harvesting. Knowing what type of crop correlates with each season and their light cycles is vital for optimum plant growth and successful harvests.

The common belief that summer is warm so plants grow and winter is cold so plants are less fruitful is only partially accurate. While temperature does play a roll, a more relevant factor is sunlight. After the summer solstice on June 21st the Sun sets earlier and rises later, shortening each day throughout winter. Plants store their energy during this time and don’t grow as vigorously. Once the December 21st Winter Solstice passes the light cycle reverts; the days begin to get longer. The increasingly long hours of sunlight correlate with the plant vegetative growth cycle. Light is instrumental in plant growth and in the transition of seasons.

Types of plants can be broken into warm weather and cold weather crops. Crops like corn, cucumbers, melons, peppers, and tomatoes require higher temperature soil and air for vigorous growth and therefore are labeled warm weather crops. Cold weather crops, or crops that require cooler soil and air temperatures include many plants with edible roots and leafs like carrots, onions, beets and potatoes.

After the Summer Solstice warm weather plants begin flowering and producing seeds because there are fewer hours of light each day. The light shift is a signal to plants that they are at a half way point in their life cycle. The sunlight available for photosynthesis has decreased, this shift tells them it’s time to flower and make seed.

In temperate places like San Diego it is never too late to plant but generally best results happen when you plant according to the season. The Sun is the more obvious seasonal gardening guide but the moon is also a large factor to consider. The moon cycle reoccurs monthly and is especially important to consider if you are planting “off-season”. During the full moon there is significantly more light and just as the ocean tides are effected by the moon’s magnetism- all water reacts (even water in the ground and in plant roots). For off-season planting success, be sure to follow the moon cycles and plant during the ideal time of month (a few days before the new moon and the full moon) as to maximize the water and light effects of nature. Properly planted and moistened seed’s can’t help but germinate a few days before the moon is at it’s fullest because of the relationship between the water and moon. Rain is also more common around the full and new moon so by transplanting just before this time, your plants experience less shock..

Timing is always an important factor to keep in mind so that you are prepared and planting with the season. Every move you make should be for the following year which means it’s time to start thinking about what the upcoming season offers. It’s important to fall into the rhythm of nature’s seasons for best gardening results. For instance, from December 21-June 21 is ideal for sowing warm weather seeds and planting your garden beds so the plants can absorb the increasingly long sunlight rays going into summer. While moving through the late summer months and into the early fall is typically a time for harvesting and planting cold crops and perennials such as herbs, flowers, and leafy greens like lettuce and kale. Depending on your location the seasons may vary or seem invisible.

Seasonal growing is a natural balance that is not meant to be conquered but is an intuitive and natural tool.  Think of the process as the movement of the ocean; fighting it is an uphill battle. Fall into the pattern of the Earth’s flow and success will surely follow.

Product Spotlight: Method 7 Glasses

Articles, products

Spending a lot of time in your grow room can cause a number of problems, including eye damage from High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights. This can cause serious consequences over time, including cataracts and permanent loss of vision.

 

ALL HID bulbs emit UV light, though the amount and type vary between bulbs. If you read the warning labels, they’re very clear: do NOT attempt to look directly at the bulb or you can receive UV radiation damage.   Many grow rooms use reflectors, so you don’t need to look directly at the bulb to be exposed.

 

Furthermore, high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights are notorious for distorting the natural color rendition of your plants, making everything look yellow instead.  This makes it more difficult to monitor your plants’ health, determine the color of their leaves, and spot pests, diseases, mildews, and mineral deficiencies.   Method 7 glasses compensate for these color imbalances, allowing you to see the normal colors of the plants as if you were in natural daylight.

 

Method Seven glasses can also prevent the “strobe effect,” a phenomenon that negatively affects indoor gardeners working under HPS lights.   This is caused by the lights slightly dimming and getting brighter as the AC voltage cycles, which can be seen by the lines that appear in photographs and film.   Over extended periods of time this strobe effect can cause headaches and make people feel ill.  However if you place a Method Seven lens in front of the camera then the lines will drastically reduce this effect, causing the lines to simply disappear.

 

Made from high-grade mineral glass, Method 7 rendition lenses add specific elements that are atomically bonded into the crystalline structure.   These elements filter out the wavelength of yellow light, which allows you to see natural looking colors in an HPS lighting environment.  All Method 7 lenses were developed in partnership with Carl Zeiss, whose camera lenses are used by millions of photographers all over the world.

 

It’s important to protect yourself and your vision, and to effectively monitor the health of your plants. Method Seven glasses will transform the way you see your garden, and provide the visual clarity you need to catch problems that are difficult to see under HPS lights.    It’s simply the best choice for your eyes, your plants, and your lifestyle.

FREE Raised Bed Raffle

Articles, Gardening, Newsletter

Healthy plants require nutrient rich, well aerated soil, with plenty of drainage. That is hard to come by in San Diego. A great way to start your garden in an area with difficult soil, like clay or sand, is by investing in a raised bed garden. Raised beds are small plots of soil, 3-4 ft wide, laid on top of existing earth. These beds are popular for backyard gardeners because of their space efficiency and near effortless upkeep. Plants are easy to reach from both sides of the bed and building your garden 1-2ft off the ground you will reduce stress on your back. Deep, loose, fertile soil with plenty of room for root zone development and adequate drainage will make your plants healthy and productive.

A raised bed can be created by constructing any size rectangle from rot resistant materials, laying down hardware cloth, then filling with soil. Inexpensive alternatives to building your raised bed from scratch are the Big Bag Bed by Smart Pot or Frame-It-All prefabricated beds, which only need to be filled with a high quality soil.

For your chance to win a Frame-It-All raised bed garden with soil, seeds, propagation materials and nutrients enter here.

 

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!