25 November, 2009

Seeds From seedlibrary.org Arriving for Holidays

I just finished corresponding with Ken Greene of seedlibrary.org . We will be offering for sale seeds from the library's "Art Pack" series. These seeds are all heirloom varieties with a catchy art themed package. For instance there is a variety of tomato named "New Yorker". The artist designed a label for the pack depicting a road map of the metropolitan NY area.
The seeds will be in Adams Pougheepsiek store in Early December.
In January when Ken finishes the offering of local seeds for 2010 we will have seeds for the Hudson Valley that were grown in the Hudson Valley. The seed library works like a regular library. You borrow seeds from the library. Then you plant the seeds in your garden. After harvesting the "crop" save the seeds from your harvest and return them to the library!
The goal is to establish seed varieties that are accustomed to the growing conditions of the Hudson Valley.
How cool is that?
Pretty cool in my camp since spring is less than 4 months away!
There's some local dirt for you!
Greg Draiss

Happy Thanksgiving to My Favorite Gardeners

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day:
Good Grief: Is there anything more endearing to Thanksgiving than turkey, football, apple pie and CHARLIE BROWN?  Yes, friends, family and thankfulness.
But, as gardeners, you already know these things as the ground in our gardens gives back more than we can possibly put in.
Here's a toast:   TO COMPOST!
Greg Draiss for
The Real Dirt

22 November, 2009

Don't Stop Gardening Just Because the Sun Went Down at 4

Unusual but fun Pineapple Sage
Lemon Verbena cuttings
Highly aromatic Lavender cuttings
Trays of herbs growing under high a output T5
fluorescent lighting system
As a gardener I just love to play in the dirt. In late November that dirt is pretty cold and ornery to mess with. No worry though. I spent Saturday evening installing a new light system on the other side of my basement grow room. While I have large pots of herbs and chiles growing in a hydroponics system the cuttings you see in the photos above are growing under a T5 fluorescent HO lighting system.
The T5  system I installed is a Sunblaze 44. I will have room for about 250 cuttings/seedlings when I get done with the three level table made out of 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe.

18 November, 2009

Gardening Practices of Pilgrims at Thanksgiving Time

Just in time for Thanksgiving: a new publication documenting gardening techniques used at the time of the Pilgrims and Native Americans. Of course there were no chemical pesticides or fertilizers at the time so the book is somewhat slanted to the benefits of organic gardening. Either way it is a good read on gardening during pre-colonial America. The story is from Trans World News:
"What a lot of people don't know," says Heid, "is the food the Pilgrims grew probably tasted better than the food we eat today and was also better for them."  Fish and all marine life are suited to giving soil the nutrients that make it produce the best food.  In addition to providing soil with vital nutrients like calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur, marine life is the best source of trace elements.  Trace elements are near microscopic amounts of different elements that are necessary for the human body to survive and that poor soil often lacks.  "Food can only be as good as the soil you grow it in," Heid explains.
 Many of the soil problems that the Pilgrims had to overcome are problems today because of over farming and soil depletion. Scientific studies show how the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables has diminished dramatically over the past 40 years.  Other studies show organic fruits and vegetables are nutritionally superior to those produced using traditional farming methods.  The answer, is the same now as it was in Squanto's day: using marine-based fertilization. 
 The second half of Heid's book explains how to grow an organic garden using Native American planting techniques and marine-based fertilizer to enrich and improve the soil.  A variety of companion planting possibilities are suggested along with layouts for three traditional Native American gardens.  It culminates with a selection of English and Native American recipes making use of garden produce based on what was eaten at the first Thanksgiving. 
 Heid hopes to revitalize interest in the forgotten gardening methods that gave birth to the very first Thanksgiving. "I really want to show all Americans why Squanto's Secrets worked for our Pilgrim Fathers and how his life-giving secrets are even more valuable today.
Solutions From Science is a small Illinois company helping backyard gardeners grow healthier and better tasting fruits and vegetables with alternative, marine based fertilizers.
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16 November, 2009

LED Table Top Garden Makes Debut

The Aerogarden came on the scene in a hurry and almost left as quickly. Very few new products have come from Aerogro lately and for a relatively new company that can spell trouble. One of the drawbacks of the Aerogarden in my opinion is that once the novelty wears off there is little to do. Especially since unless you eat very lightly or live alone it is hard to grow enough to feed more than one. The product is better used as a cloning device with the seed starting kit.
The Aerogarden has introduced, as a result of excellent marketing,an esoteric method of gardening to the masses: hydroponics. In essence the Aerogarden is a "mainstream" hydroponics unit.
This story from The Farmington Daily Times in New Mexico comes the story below about the new table top growing appliance:
LED grow light for indoor gardening  PAGOSA SPRINGS Just more than a year ago, Leo Hayes started germinating an idea that had been floating around his head since his days as an automotive technologist an LED grow-light system.

"When I was a technologist for an international company, I had to read a lot about laser technology and LEDs (light-emitting diodes)," Hayes recalled. "I read a lot about what NASA was doing to be able to provide fresh food to their astronauts."

Thirteen months ago Hayes gave the concept his full focus, working with a partner in Taiwan to finalize product design and basic financials for Sonnylight, LLC, which is aims to release the LED Kitchen Garden, a countertop unit, and the LED Grow Garden, a hanging unit, by the end of November.

As director of product engineering at Mitsubishi Motors, Hayes gained a solid technical background and made close contacts in the international industrial-design world, which proved useful as he was fine-tuning the Sonnylight product.

"Plant action is very specific in how much chlorophyll or keratins they produce and how they react to light," Hayes explained.

By working with a master gardener and reading a lot of research from university agriculture departments on the effect of light, Hayes formulated what he called "pulse-point modulation."

"We manage how much power we put into each one of these (colors)," he said.

Sonnylight advantages

Every Sonnylight product has a CPU in it, with "Grow Logic" software. "This helps drive the germination process, because it's more concentrated light," Hayes said. "In the right conditions, you can get up to three times the growth rate, but a lot of that depends on the person what nutrients you give it, what's the soil base, temperature. We provide the light."

Standard grow-light systems with compact fluorescents can use up to 40 watts, according to Hayes. "We're using 15 watts, and we use specific light wavelengths; LEDs have exact wavelengths based on the chemical composition of the diode. In our case we're using two blues, two reds, and for lettuce, cabbage and kale large-leaf plants we add a bit of green."

Plants do their best growth in four narrow light spectrums and only use about 8 percent of the white light, Hayes said. Sonnylight colors correspond with plants' three growth stages: germination, growth and budding.

"If you don't have sufficient blue light, the plant won't germinate properly, so we modulate the amount of light from each different colored diode," he said. "Then, once it starts to vegetate or grow, it switches over to the grow phase; it's all computer controlled."

The grower sets the lights according to five phases: daytime, sunrise and sunset, and 15-minute powering-up and dimming-down periods. "Plants are interesting because they have to have time to shut down and start up in the photosynthesis process," Hayes said. "People grow all the time without that, but this gives options for a more natural process with the plants."

Consumers stay involved in the process by monitoring the amount of nutrients in the water and the amount of water. "The whole product is self-contained you just turn it on, set it and take care of plants. Fifteen years is the lifetime of the lights the life of the product. This is not intended to be a service item."

Staying true to its tag line "Modern Technology Organic Sensibility," all packaging is biodegradable and the hood will be wrapped in a natural cotton shopping bag. Optional accessories for the product will include a heat pad, an off-grid cable for hooking up a Sonnylight to a car battery, two different soil types, and heirloom seeds that reproduce the same kind, so growers can save seeds.

"Consumers can save seeds, or replant them right away; time is not an issue here, as long as you keep them warm," said Hayes.

"If we can help people have a bit more personal control in their lives and control what they eat there're all these scares in the media about food that is what we want."

The business process

Getting Sonnylight products, which have design, technology and global patents pending, to market was a learning process for Hayes. "I can do the technical side, but the whole business structure is a little out of my comfort zone," he admitted. With help from the Next Level Leading Edge class, Hayes started building the business plan in the fall of 2008.

"The class really helped a lot it kept me disciplined," he said. "I found that (designing) the product was easy compared to everything else."

The discipline paid off as Hayes' business plan won first-place in the class. "The good thing that came out of this was that I started surrounding myself by people with business experience," said Hayes, who gave a presentation to the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center's Business Advisory Group and received counseling from Bart Mitchell, former director of the Archuleta County Economic Development Association, Fort Lewis College marketing professor Simon Walls and SBDC director Joe Keck.

"Launching a product is kind of anti-climactic you work so hard on each step," Hayes said. "It is kind of fun to think about (the response), but the focus has to be on the steps. It's going to go where it's going to go; all I can do is facilitate it."

Although reticent about it, Hayes has reason to be optimistic: Sonnylight's first magazine advertisement garnered more than 600 inquiries.

For more information: www.sonnylightled.com


Hudson River Lanscape Photo Sells at Athens Cultural Center Members Show

This post is not about gardening per se' but it is about landscapes. In fact if it were not for this landscape in the photo American history would most certainly be different. A photo I took of a golden early sprig sunset was on exhibit this weekend at a Members how of the Athens Cultural Center in Athens, just north of Catskill. I am happy to say the photo sold to a lady who is a weekend resident of the village. More important she has a deep love of the area and the river. What I find interesting is that how many folks from the NYC area have more of an interest in the river than we do. Interesting but disappointing at the same time.
We have this great asset on our doorstep but it almost does not exist except when we cross the bridge and curse the toll collectors for the latest fare increase.
To see the photo, and others of the Hudson this summer, click on my face book page below

Lighthouse Navigation
kayak/canoe sales and rentals
athens on the Hudson, NY