25 October, 2010

Grow Lights Keeping the Grass Green for Green Bay Packers

I have always wondered how turf professionals repair sod at stadiums after football games. It could be a very expensive process to replace sod every week. In fact sod would root in one week before the next battle. Consider as well team practices during game week preclude the thought of replacing sod anytime during the playing season.
Well now high tech comes to cold tech. Lambugh filed often called the tundra is famous for games played in the snow let alone the cold.
Stadium Grow Lights to the rescue! This European firm has used outdoor grow lights at more then 60 soccer fields to date. They are now experimenting with these lights at Lambeau Field.

15 October, 2010

Garden Trends for 2011

I would like to beat the other forecasters to the punch with predictions for 2011. I realize it is only the middle of October but for gardening the year is just about over. To affirm that fact in less than three weeks radio stations start playing Christmas music! I do not like the sound of that either but fact here is an interesting  fact. I am in the radio industry as well as gardening. I am co-host of the number one morning radio show in Ulster County. A little tid bit I found about radio ratings goes completely against what listeners say about hearing holiday music the first week of November. The radio station that starts playing Christmas music first by far wins the ratings for the fourth quarter. So while we say we do not like hearing holiday tunes so early we end up listening any way.
Organic is now passe'. Not going away but evolving into something more meaningful. In addition to more meaningful the evolution of organic into the next phase is also more durable, longer lasting and better for natural resources as well. We are beginning to hear more often the term sustainability. Sustainability is the new relevant term or re branding of organic. It is now not good enough to be organic in the market place. You now must be sustainable. There is quite a difference between the two. In many cases sustainable is not organic but leaves a smaller total footprint from raw ingredient to finished product. For example it is more sustainable for Great Britain to import sheep and sheep products from New Zealand than to raise sheep and produce products from them in England. First thought would cause one to think this can't be true because England and New Zealand are so far away. Well china is far away from most western markets yet look how much we import from them. When the climate is factored in New Zealand is just a far more productive place to raise sheep than England. I am not sure of the exact details but the "total footprint" is smaller even though a toe or two, air freight or shipping from NZ to England, may be larger.
However all is not what it seems with sustainable either. There has yet to be shake out of fact from marketing. A very strong under current amongst the green set is taking aim at certain garden practices relating to "sustainability." For instance lawns are not considered sustainable even though the functions they serve far surpass just a green carpet or status symbol in the neighborhood.  In fact the "Great Campus Lawns" on universities are under attack as well. These vast open areas are gathering places for conversation, places of study, places to pass the time between classes, read a book or enjoy the sunny spring and fall days. Yes they must be mowed, sometimes watered, sometimes fertilized. And yes these practices are questionable under sustainability. But what about the social benefits and sense of community and gathering they provide. The pluses could indeed out weight the minuses.
Growing annuals, and  therefore vegetables, is not considered by some to be sustainable. This claim comes from the amount of energy it takes to grow, ship, feed and water annuals every year. At first again it sounds plausible. But a look beneath the surface reveals the following. While it does take energy to grow, water and transport annuals the entire package and product is 100% recyclable. The soil, plant, remaining fertilizer can easily be composted and very seldom end up in the waste stream. The pot even if it is plastic is recyclable or at least re useable. Plastic flower pots are may times more sustainable then pots made from fiber, rice or other biodegradable products simply because they last longer. Biodegradable pots usually last two seasons. While they breakdown outdoors they must be manufactured more often than a pot lasting 10 years. This means 5 times more energy to ship and deliver them alone. Then one needs to add the energy to make them as well. Sustainability is not going away. Sustainability is to me the biggest trend in gardening for 2011 and the next several years from annuals, lawn care, vegetable and herb gardening. But since it is likely to become a run away train when it hits main stream a little forethought is in line before coupling up to this train.
In terms of real gardening trends for the future vertical gardening is hot. Container gardening, hydroponics, vertical gardening, and indoor gardening are on a collision course. It will be exciting to see what the category morphs into. I foresee a day when Grandma purchases a garden appliance/machine that can be wheeled indoors and out as the seasons change. This appliance will have a large area for storing tools, fertilizers and, growing medium underneath. A large reservoir resembling an aquarium, perhaps even containing fish, will sit below  shallow trays where plants will grow. Water will circulate from the reservoir, via a timed pump, several times a day depending on the growing medium, to the plants and back to the reservoir. Now if fish are in the reservoir they will feed off plant roots. The plants will feed off the fish waste.  There is no need to buy fish food or fertilizer in this set up. In fact on larger scale the fish could be harvested for food along with the spinach or herbs growing up top.
Above the plant tray an LED light system, capable of switching from red to blue color spectrum depending on growth phase, Will be automatically lowered up or down depending on plant height. This light will also be on a timer like the pump. All these things are already on the market place. What has to be done is for some product engineer to put them altogether in a neat well marketed package that the consumer will accept. Grandma will buy this "product" and not even know she is into hydroponics!
Still on the growth track: herbs, vegetable gardening, container gardening, composting, indoor gardening and hydroponics, healthier soil, canning
Slowing down: lawns (smaller but still important), Topsy Turvy, xeriscaping, drip irrigation, tick and mosquito control,
Never took off but needs to: soil fertility tests, mulching, moisture meters, ph tests, proper watering practices
Never really understood why in the first place: gazing balls, bio-dynamic gardening, organic grass seed, square foot gardening, hedge shears

14 October, 2010

Checkout this Art Show When in Kingston

Hudson Valley Seed Library Art Pack Show Opening
Kingston Museum of Contemporary Art, 103 Abeel Street, Kingston, NY 12401
Saturday November 6

Terrariums! Coming Back Again

Stonecrop gardes is giving this workshop on a re-emerging garden trend whic has always been a favorite of mine.
81 Stonecrop La, Cold Spring, NY 10516
Saturday October 16 at 9:00AM - 12:00AM

11 October, 2010

Longer Garden Season??????

In the Adirondacks the garden season has been extended by late frost!  At my home we had forst on October 9th......6 days early:
But don't move North just yet......................

From North Country Public Radio (www.ncpr.org) my favorite radio station
"It's late in the season for North Country gardeners. And late frost has given vegetables and flowers a reprieve in many areas. Cornell Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy tells Martha Foley what perennials are still colorful, and what the top priorities are for the last days of her flower garden"

10 October, 2010

Cannot Get More Local Than This

Interesting story on NPR about restaurants growing their own food in their own gardens at the restaurant

08 October, 2010

Local Canning Blog on Hudson Valley Food Network.......................................

Hey it's still canning season. so why not learn from a local canner to put up local produce for the winter?
Great ideas and great groups to join on Hudson Valley Food Network.
Happy Columbus Day

04 October, 2010

Gardening Goes Vertical

Vertical gardening, gardening on walls or on poles, is a new area of excitement in horticulture, is much more than hanging a tomato in an upside down planter. Part of this trend is a natural outgrowth of roof top gardening or actual green roofs. If one can grow plants on a roof then it sure makes sense to try and grow them on a wall as well. There are a number of great vertical planters coming to market next year. I have chosen two models to bring into the Hudson Valley. They both offer outstanding opportunities to grow vertically in areas where space is at a premium, for privacy or just something new and different.
First is the Living Wall from Bright Green USA www.brightgreenusa.com   this unique planter consists of a single polymer unit available in three sizes: 20x20x2½, 10x20x4, and 8x18x4. The back is lined with a moisture mat that enables the plants in all 8 pockets to get the same amount of water. To provide long lasting water and to end over watering a really cool water box sits atop the planter and slowly drips water onto the moisture mat. The Living Wall planter is ideal for succulents but I like it for herbs. 8 pockets provide room enough to grow an entire herb garden on wall or mounted to a 4x4 post. Imagine living in a second floor town home and wanting fresh herbs. The Living Wall can be mounted easily to the wall right outside the kitchen or on a deck rail. Fresh herbs are right at the door. Even more convenient than going out to the garden. The Living Wall also means less bending over than with containers sitting on the floor or ground. Several Living Walls can be hung next to each other to make an actual living wall, hence the name. They function equally well indoors or out and make a bif statement if not an piece of art.
The biggest success story in container garden systems, Earth Box, introduces it's own vertical planter as well. Their's is so new that there are no photos online yet. The Earth Box vertical garden is a modular stacking unit that can be stacked up to 36 inches tall without needing support. If you want to go higher just mount the plant to a rear support like a fence rail or deck rail. Water is applied through a drip emitter system that waters from the top. Roots are in pockets that jut out in cups to keep water from being placed directly onto the root ball. This unit comes in two colors, white and terra cotta and should sell for around $45.  Very easy to plant and use with many different patterns available as to layout and height of the product. Again due to the compact nature of the unit it is ideal for herbs and small vegetables as well as flowers.
What may seem like hocus pocus at first is a whole slew of "nutritional supplements" for gardens. The packaging is beautiful and their claims are much more muted than supplements aimed at people. Thrive is not a fertilizer but best described as an innoculant like product kind of like a compost tea. However Thrive contains not only bacteria similar to that in compost tea but mychorrizae as well. Many garden products contain mychorrizae these days. Best described as a symbiotic relationship it is thought that mychhhorizae work but colonizing on root zones of plants to give a spider web like structure to the root structure. what the claim is that because the roots now resemble a spider web there is a much larger surface area plants have to take up water and nutrients.
Mychorrizae do colonize on root structures. this has been know for decades. problem always was there was no way to harvest mychorrizae and package it for sale. Seems the mychorizae always dies in the process. Several new ways have been found to make the product marketable. I have always thought liquid was the best way to apply organics. Turns out to be the same with mychorrizae. Dry forms have a limited shelf life and often must be placed in contact with the root mass in order to work properly. Thrive, being in liquid form already does not need to be applied directly to the roots.
Another great home grown food trend is window farming. Google window farming and learn how to make a window garden out of used 2 liter soda bottles and grow food all winter long. Again best used for greens and herbs.
The world of gardening continues to evolve with a lot of really cool products that while at first seem like snake oil or hocus pocus do work after all. This is a great benefit of organic gardening and sustainability going mainstream. The plethora of products may be fewer because the ones that work fit into survival of the fittest and make the cut.