How to Keep the Hot Sun from Harming Your Plants

How to Keep the Hot Sun from Harming Your Plants

Sometimes you need to find a balance between sun and shade, depending on the conditions in your backyard, as well as the crops that you are growing. However, even if you have plants that require full sun, they may be getting too much light, particularly in the summer months when the weather is very hot. This harmful light can bleach out leaves, and disrupt the growing process, even in plants that supposedly thrive in very hot weather. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to prevent this from occurring.

1) Know what to look for.

White leaves that look like all of the color has been bleached out of them is the most obvious sign that your plants are being harmed. By the time that you see this, it may be too late. The sun can harm the inner structures of the leaves in ways that are undetectable to the naked eye. You may end up with stunted growth, fewer vegetables than normal, or even plants that do not grow at all. Unfortunately, there is no true way of knowing that your crops have been harmed until the bleached or discolored leaves pop up. Once they do, be sure to spring into action.

2) Cover your plants with a sunshade or other material.

There are special sunshades that you can purchase to cover your plants, and as long as they are made of organic materials, they will work nicely. You do need to steer clear of plastic and other man-made materials, as they can actually keep the heat in, causing additional damage to your plants. (This is why plastic makes a good winter cover.) If you don’t feel like purchasing a sunshade, you can use burlap or bolts of cotton that can be loosely wrapped around each plant. These will allow air in, while keeping most of the heat out. Just be sure to remove them as soon as the weather cools down.

3) Keep the soil moist.

Water is incredibly important, even more so when the weather is hot. Check your soil daily to make sure that your plants have enough moisture. If it gets too dry, the damage caused by the sun’s heat will get even worse. You also need to be careful about the time of day that you water them. If water ends up on the leaves during the hottest part of the day (usually mid-afternoon) their “sunburns” will get even worse. This is why it is recommended that you water your plants either in the early morning hours, or in the evening once the sun has begun to set.

4) Use mulch.

Place mulch around the base of your plants. This will protect the root systems and keep moisture in. The mulch will also absorb some of the heat from the sun, preventing it from harming the stems and roots. Without this mulch, the soil will get very warm and the roots might begin to “cook,” further harming the plant from the inside out. You don’t want to place too much mulch on the ground however, a layer that is around two inches thick will work nicely.

Hydrogen Peroxide Uses In Garden

How & Why Hydrogen Peroxide is So Useful

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has an extra oxygen atom than Water (H2O), this extra oxygen atom breaks down and the molecule of water releases from this separately. It is this extra oxygen atom that makes the hydrogen peroxide so useful. The Hydrogen peroxide is used in cleaning, bleaching, sterilizing, as a disinfectant etc. but it can also be used in horticulture. In simple words, Hydrogen Peroxide acts as an oxygen supplement for plants (beneficial if used in low strength). It works by releasing oxygen and also aerates the soil.

1. Hydrogen Peroxide Uses Against Root Rot

Overwatering causes the shortage of Oxygen at the root zone. If you overwater the plant, the water fills the air spaces in soil and the plant’s roots suffocate due to the lack of air and they begin to die after 24 hours. To save such a plant from this problem, water it thoroughly with 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed in 1 quart of water. The extra oxygen in the hydrogen peroxide provides the roots their much-needed oxygen to survive. After this, don’t water the plant until top 1 or 2 inches of soil dries out well.

2. Using Hydrogen for Faster Seed Germination

You can use hydrogen peroxide to help seeds germinate more quickly. Hydrogen peroxide softens the coat of seeds and kills any pathogen present on seed coat thus increase the germination rate and help the seed germinate faster. Soak your seeds in a 3% hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes. Rinse the seeds several times with water before planting and plant them as usual.

3. Hydrogen Peroxide for Mold and Mildew

Hydrogen peroxide has an oxidizing property that is fatal for mold and mildew. Mix a liter of water with 10 tablespoons of 3 to 6% hydrogen peroxide depending on the level of infection. Spray this solution on plants daily until the fungus disappears.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide as a Fertilizer

Use hydrogen peroxide to help strengthen the root system of your plants. Hydrogen peroxide has one extra oxygen molecule (than water) that helps plant’s roots to absorb nutrients from soil more effectively, you can use this formula occasionally to boost the growth– Mix about 1 teaspoon of 3% Hydrogen peroxide with 1 gallon of water.

5. To Keep Pests Away

The hydrogen peroxide can be used as a pesticide. Spraying the plant thoroughly with 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed in the equal amount of water kills the pests and their eggs. The hydrogen peroxide also kills the bacteria that develop on fruits and vegetables.

Survival Gardening Indoors

Survival gardening when the SHTF is problematic. Thefts from a backyard garden or small farm will be rampant, and with each theft, you lose food, there’s damage to the garden, and you’ve lost labor and other resources. One alternative is to move your survival gardening indoors.

Of course, indoor gardening cannot be a complete solution. The limited space and the need for light and nutrients makes indoor gardening expensive. And the amount of food you can produce will always be very limited. Even so, it can be a useful adjunct to stored food, outdoor gardening, and bartering for food.

What To Grow

Among the easiest indoor plants to grow are container herbs: thyme, basil, oregano, chives, cilantro, marjoram, mint, rosemary, dill, and parsley. Stevia leaves can be grown and used as a sweetener. Parsley is a
particularly good choice as it can be used in greater amounts than many other herbs. Meals prepared from stored food can be rather monotonous. Herbs and spices help make your meals more palatable.

Micro-greens, as they are called, are simply leafy vegetables, such as lettuces, spinach, radish, mustard, arugula, kale, turnip tops, beet greens, amaranth, and others, which are harvested when young. You can get a crop of micro-greens in only two to four weeks after planting. After cutting the greens down to the stem, you can sometimes get a second or third crop to springs up from the stems.

Micro-greens add flavor, fiber, and some nutrition to stored food. They add variety, color, and taste to otherwise boring meals. Today, you can go into any grocery store and choose from thousands of different foods. When the modern food production and distribution system fails, we will all be eating from a much small set of choices. The variety you can get from your own herbs and greens will make a difference to nutrition and taste.

Can you grow anything more substantial? Yes, you can. Certain varieties of tomato are designed for containers, even for small windowsill sized pots and hanging planters. These can be grown on a patio outdoors, or near a window inside that gets plenty of sun. Now you are not going to produce enough food, in this way, to provide a major amount of protein, fat, or carbohydrates for your diet. But take some stored rice and beans, and add tomatoes, herbs, and greens and then you have a much improved meal.

Peppers can also be grown in containers. The smaller containers can produce enough peppers to flavor many meals. A larger container might produce enough peppers to add to a salad or a stir-fry meal, once in a while. Colorful hot peppers can be grown in abundance. Some smaller sweet bell peppers will add to the bounty.

Where To Grow It

A sunny windowsill is perfect for small pots with different herbs. A bay window facing south is probably best for larger plants, such as greens, tomatoes, and peppers. Hanging pots give a plant more room, so that the stems and leaves can spread out and get more sun. Then, if you are a little more ambitious, you could enclose a porch or patio, to make, in effect, a little greenhouse attached to your home.

Another option is to use artificial lighting. On a small scale, the cost and amount of space and electricity is a modest investment. The most expensive thing is the lighting. LED lights are best, as they produce the most light from the least electricity. But they are pricey. I would suggest a few grow-lights used as an addition to light from a sunny window. Once you go whole hog with indoor growing, using hydroponics and lots of LED lights, the benefit-to-cost ratio falls dramatically.

I’ve heard that some people grow cannabis, surreptitiously, indoors. If the food economy collapses, growing food, even indoors, might need to be done in a similar stealthy manner. But again, costs, space, and resource use would be high. It will always be more economical to store food while it is cheap, than to try to grow it when food becomes scarce.

How to Make Your Own Compost

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How to Make Your Own Compost

Well, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy drying herbs for the winter as well as getting my yard in general ready for winter. But I have time right now, so I figured I would write about How to Make Your Own Compost. Here is the information on that, in outline form (as a teacher and eternal student, I can’t help it).

 

1) Structures:

*There are many different ways to keep your compost, including the following:

A) Wire, Wood, or Cinder block structures:

Wire Structure for Compost

*use one of these products to form a square or circular shape, but leave an opening (ex: 3 sided square with 4th side open for easy access)

*with this structure, you turn compost ingredients with a garden fork to help the decomposition process

*this is a clean-looking way and yet also traditional-ish way to keep compost (compared to the other options)

Cinder Block Structure for Compost

B) Pit or Pile composting:

*dig a hole 2-3 feet deep and unlined. Add compost ingredients until the pit is filled. Cover the compost with soil and allow it to decompose. When ready, unearth the compost and use.

*piles work only if you are diligent about turning your pile and keeping it moist. This is not an attractive option but it is the cheapest.

C) Buy a ready-made compost bin from a garden supply shop

*be careful to buy a proper product (organic, etc.).

*Here are a few ideas for you: (1) Tumbling Composter (2) Gallon-Sized Compost Bucket

 

2) Creating the Compost:

A) Place several small twigs in the bottom of your chosen structure. This provides air pockets at the bottom for proper decomposition.

B) Add a layer of soil, about 8-10 inches deep.

C) Cover the soil with 4-6 inches of manure. Use whatever type of livestock manure is available to you, but make sure it is from a good organic source. Do NOT use dog or cat manure. The more aged the manure, the faster it will compost.

D) Add additional items such as:
*vegetable scraps
*fruit trimmings/scraps
*grains
*egg shells
*tea/tea leaves
*leaves
*garden trimmings
*grass clippings

E) Do NOT add the following items to your compost:
*meat scraps
*excessive dairy products (a little bit is okay)
*trimmings from diseased plants

F) Add a 6 inch layer of soil and a 2-4 inch layer of manure every 24 inches to ensure a healthy compost. It should look like this:



3) Activating the Compost:

*To help speed up the process, you can activate your compost in the following ways:

A) You can buy compost activator products from garden shops (like this one).

B) Make your own activator:

Make a compost tea and add to your compost once every 3 months. Wear gloves while doing this. Also, this recipe makes enough for a 64 cubic foot compost pile.
*6 cups dried or 12 cups fresh nettles (find good quality dried nettles here)
*6 cups dried or 12 cups fresh comfrey leaves (find good quality dried comfrey here)
*2 cups flaked or powdered kelp
*1 cup liquid fish emulsion
Put all ingredients into a 5 gallon bucket and fill the bucket with water. Allow the mixture to sit in a warm place for 4-8 hours. Pour all contents of buck into the compost pile.

4) Working the Compost:

A) Turning the compost:
*Turn your compost once a month in warm and hot weather. In colder months, turning is less crucial. Turn with a shovel or a garden fork. The goal is to flip the pile. As you turn the pile, you may find a small amount of rich, dark brown soil at the bottom. This pile of compost is ready to use but may also be mixed into the pile for later use.

B) Water the compost:
*This is an important part of the compost’s quality. The compost should stay evenly moist, NOT soaking wet or dried out. Simply water with a hose as evenly as possible.

5) Using Your Compost:

*Once the material is ready for use, apply 1-3 inches to the top of your garden soil. Work it into the soil until it is well mixed. It is ideal to add the compost in the spring, but you can really add it at any time. After mixing it into the soil, water the garden thoroughly.

 

Enjoy the healthy plants that this compost will surely help you get! :)

Linked from: http://www.thehomesteadgarden.com/howtomakeyourowncompost/

How to Make Your Own Compost

Build A Solar Dehydrator For All Of Your Garden Bounty

Build a solar dehydrator for all of your garden bounty. This is a great diy project if you want or need to dehydrate a lot of food. It is perfect for folks that follow a raw diet or are mostly vegetarian. When preserving foods you have a few choices and a lot of folks like to can their foods for storage but canning does affect the nutrients because the food is cooked, where dehydrating only removes the moisture content of foods leaving all the nutrients behind. 

Build a solar dehydrator for all of your garden bounty. This is a great diy project if you want or need to dehydrate a lot of food. It is perfect for folks that follow a raw diet or are mostly vegetarian. When preserving foods you have a few choices and a lot of folks like to can their foods for storage but canning does affect the nutrients because the food is cooked, where dehydrating only removes the moisture content of foods leaving all the nutrients behind. Another plus to dehydrating is storage space. Dehydrated foods take up much less space than either canned or frozen. While a lot of people have electric dehydrators, these can take hours to dry foods and they are using energy the entire time. This diy solar dehydrator tower by Peak Prosperity can dehydrate a great amount of foods while it costs nothing to use because it drys with the sun.He built it using some recycled materials to help keep costs down but says the family is mostly vegetarian so they dehydrate a lot of their garden produce. As long as you have a place to build this that can catch enough sun you could dry a lot of your garden produce, saving on energy and storage while retaining all of the nutrients in the foods.

This is a story of one of the steps my family has taken towards increased resiliency, including actions taken to build a more sustainable lifestyle and invest in our food security.  My family lives on mostly a vegetarian diet. We currently grow a large garden and plan to grow most of our food for the full year. Growing a year’s worth of food brings up many questions, but the most critical one is how do we preserve the bounty of our garden?  Of methods that I know of, one can dry, ferment, can, or use cold storage. Canning heats the food and takes away some of the nutrients. Not all foods can be stored in cold storage (but I am working on this, as well). We have an Excalibur dryer but find it takes forever to dry things and the electricity to match.

So I decided to build a solar dehydrator. After researching different design ideas, I went with a design that I could use some recycled materials and materials left over from other projects, plus some new. I also wanted a high-capacity design that could dry a lot of food at once. This design has a heat collector and a tower.

Construction

First, I built the foundation out of 4×4 pressure treated (PT) and some not PT. The wood that did not touch the ground did not need PT. The site was also at a slight slant, so I doubled the wood under the tower. The design has a 4′ square tower and an area for the metal that is used for the heat collector mass. I dug trenches in the dirt, drilled screws into the 4×4’s and filled the trenches with concrete. I set the 4×4’s (with the screws down) in the trenches, then leveled the 4×4’s and bolted the intersections together. Then I covered this with 1/2″ plywood that I painted black.

We have a shop in town that sells recycled construction materials (Habitat for Humanity Restore) that makes finding used materials easier for these types of projects. I was able to find three 5′ long, 6″ diameter, single-wall stove pipes and one 14″ diameter single-wall pipe. The three 6″ pipes fit nicely inside the larger pipe. I painted the pipes black with high temp paint (the same paint that you paint a woodstove with). I was going for as much mass as I could get to dry a lot of food at once.

Next, I built the tower. I used 5/8″ plywood siding, as I have this thing for making structures that not only function, but look nice as well. You could use 1/2″ CDX plywood instead, if you chose. Since the plywood is 4′ x 8′, it took 3 sheets (the door is on one side). The framing, including the rafters was made from 2×4 studs. I was able to get a recycled 3′ wide door with a full dual-pane window. This I framed in on the west side of the tower, so the food would not be in the direct sun, but you could see inside. (It could have also been in the rear.) The roof is slanted to allow for an exit vent in the rear. The exit vent opening should be approx. equal to the inlet opening. I covered this with galvanized welded mesh wire on the outside (for animals) and window screening on the inside (for insects). I covered the roof with 1/2″ plywood and scrap metal roofing.

I went to my local glass shop and they had recycled (like brand new) 3/16″ thick, tempered glass shower doors. I framed in a triangular box to hold the shower doors. This area became the heat collector area. Again I covered the inlet with welded mesh wire on the outside (for animals) and window screening on the inside (for insects). This could be flat, as well, with corrugated metal sheets as the heat mass. I made covers for the inlet and outlet for winter.

Cool air comes in the heat collector area, is heated by the metal, and flows up thru the tower and out the top rear of the tower. It works like a woodstove or greenhouse. Heat rises.

Now for the food trays: I made 10 frames out of 2″ x 2″ wood, painted with mineral oil. They are 3′ square. The mesh covers an area of 2′ x 3′ (the mesh comes in 4′ width, so I cut it in half). This leaves an area of 1′ x 3′ opening. I covered 3/4 of this opening with plywood. The opening is on the outside of the frame, away from the mesh. These are installed in a staggered pattern, with the opening opposite on each. This makes the air flow on both sides of the food and slows it down, as it makes its way up to the exit vent. The food is sliced thin and placed with maybe 1/4 to 1/2″ between the pieces. This makes the hot air stay more on the bottom of the trays and move to the opening. The trays rest on angles mounted the inside walls of the tower.

Material for food trays: I used 1/4″ mesh welded wire, type 316 stainless steel, to hold the food. This type of stainless is best for acid foods. It’s expensive, but there are only two types of mesh that you should use for this: food-grade plastic mesh (which I could only find commercial grade) or type 316 stainless steel. (Window screen is fiberglass and can put fibers in the food; aluminum window screen adds aluminum to the food. So these should not be used.) The stainless mesh needs to be welded, not woven, as food can be caught in the weave. The stainless comes in 4′ wide and sells by the foot. I needed 6 square feet (2′ x 3′) per tray x 10 trays = 60 square feet x $6 per square foot = $360.

Final Thoughts

The overall project came out nicely and the ability to use a lot of leftover and used building materials makes this type of project creatively adaptable regarding the design and size of the final dehydrator. The size of our system gives us the capacity to dry and preserve large quantities of garden produce with limited light exposure (we live in a mountain home) and maximize our harvest yields. Some of the other things we will be exploring with our system are:

  • Creating an adjustable cover to regulate heat levels
  • Adding a wireless thermometer to monitor temps from the house
  • Evaluating temperature ranges and zones of differing heat levels within the tower.

I’m happy with how this project turned out, and I hope you will be inspired by my efforts. Do-it-yourself plans for capturing and utilizing solar energy are a solid step on the journey toward resiliency. I’m looking forward to increasing our year-round preserved food supply with homegrown dehydrated produce and dried fruit, and I look forward to sharing our experiences after we’ve used our solar dehydrator through another growing season.

Hydroponics – Soil-less Gardening.

 

New generation gardening systems abound in your own home. Technology lets you do hydroponic gardening the easy way.

Home Gardening: 10 Plug and Play Hydroponic Systems

New generation gardening systems abound in your own home. Technology lets you do hydroponic gardening the easy way.

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Image: flickr.com/photos/handolio

In case you don’t know yet, plug and play hydroponic systems are now available at your favorite stores. Take your pick and make the right choice. Find out which futuristic hydroponic gardening systems will be useful to your home.

Deep Water Culture (DWC) Hydroponic Bubbler Bucket Kit by PowerGrow ® Systems (4) 5 Gallon – 10″ Buckets

A Hydroponics Vegetable Growing System 

Use technology to grow vegetables at your home garden. The hydroponics vegetable growing system consists of 34 gallon reservoir, a digital watering control system, and three sets of 3 gallon pots. The components contained in this system work closely together to nourish healthy vegetable growth. The hydroponics digital system ensures crops get enough water supply in a timely manner.

A Tower Garden Aeroponics System 

Do hydroponics gardening the majestic way. A tall tower garden aeroponics system is a complete tool set consisting of a growing stand, a pump timer, net pots, mixture of plant food in liquid form and a PH level test system. No need to purchase food for your plants separately when you care for them in a tower garden aeroponics system. Save your money for other expenses, rather than spending your extra funds for your plant’s foods.

The Complete Garden Stick ‘Green’ Version Planter Stick, Jumbo

Smaller Garden Aeroponics System 

Should you decide to go for a more modest plug and play hydroponics system, a smaller garden aeroponics system will be at your service. This mini and budget-friendly aeroponics garden consists solely of an air pump and a PH level test.

Extraordinary Aquaponics Garden 

Let your pet fish care for your plants in their own ways. Grow your fish and a maximum of five plants in an Aquaponics garden. The plants inside your garden get their foods from the fish waste. So, you don’t need to provide food for them in separate occasions.

Water-Based Farm Hydroponics Garden 

This is a sizable planter consisting of clay pebbles. These clay pebbles make use of a 4 gallon packed reservoir and an air pump when they distribute water and nutrients all over the garden. This mini hydroponics garden system is portable, and only measures 12”X12”.

A Hydroponic Garden on Your Windows 

Hang your hydroponic garden on your windows. Alternatively, you may also let your garden ascend towards your window’s top. A window hydroponic garden consists of an automatic pump and a watering supply system. This garden is sure going to catch the attention of onlookers and observers alike once they set their sights on it.

The Aero Hydroponic Garden 

The Aero hydroponic garden is the place where your plants can get water and nutrients in one place. A substantial lighting source also abound within the garden’s premises. The garden’s light source is easy to adjust. Plus, the garden’s functions may be adjusted via a remote panel system as the needs arise.

An Electronic Mini Hydroponic Garden 

Your hydroponic garden now comes in a friendly mini pot. This pot consists of electronics, sensors, batteries, pump and a water supply system. You may choose to upgrade your hydroponics mini pot garden, too. An upgraded mini hydroponics pot consists of plant cartridges or seeds, nutrients and a plant nourishment software.

Plug and Play Desk Hydroponics Garden 

Miracle-Gro AeroGarden 7-Pod Indoor Garden with Gourmet Herb Seed Kit, Black

A plug and play desk hydroponics garden entices you to work better each day at your home office. The garden’s two tanks, four clay pebble-filled plant pots and a system that supplies the majority of nutrient re-circulation, should be your inspiration for professional success.

An Automatic Hydroponics Garden 

An automatic hydroponics garden is your source for top water supply and bottom oxygen supply systems that facilitate rapid plant growths.

These technology-based hydroponic gardening systems should keep you busy all the time in your house, apartment or condo. Keep the premises within your 70 St. Patrick’s condo unit healthy. Do so by trying these plug and play hydroponic systems. See the difference these gardening systems make in your life today.