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The Future of Food

The Future of Food | ecoLocal | Scoop.it
Mission: Eco Preservation Society is actively engaged in sustainably focused programming for the purpose of wildlife conservation and reforestation.
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Natural Gas: Where it Fits in America's Energy Future

Natural Gas: Where it Fits in America's Energy Future | ecoLocal | Scoop.it
RT @NewsHour: How Natural Gas Fits into the Energy Picture http://t.co/f7vjnT1e...
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Home Is Where The Health Is | Care2 Healthy Living

Home Is Where The Health Is | Care2 Healthy Living | ecoLocal | Scoop.it
Habitat for Humanity is doing their part to address pollution, the environment and preventable childhood illnesses worldwide. Each of us must do our part too.
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Grow More Vegetables with these Seven Gardening Secrets: Organic Gardening

Grow More Vegetables with these Seven Gardening Secrets: Organic Gardening | ecoLocal | Scoop.it
These 7 tips will help you grow more vegetables in less space. Find out how to increase the yield of your garden and grow the most food possible.

 

Imagine harvesting nearly half a ton of tasty, beautiful, organically grown vegetables from a 15-by-20-foot plot, 100 pounds of tomatoes from just 100 square feet (a 4-by-25-foot bed), or 20 pounds of carrots from just 24 square feet.

Yields like these are easier to achieve than you may think. The secret to superproductive gardening is taking the time now to plan strategies that will work for your garden. Here are seven high-yield strategies gleaned from gardeners who have learned to make the most of their garden space.

1. Build up your soil.
Expert gardeners agree that building up the soil is the single most important factor in pumping up yields. A deep, organically rich soil encourages the growth of healthy, extensive roots that are able to reach more nutrients and water. The result: extra-lush, extra-productive growth above ground.

The fastest way to get that deep layer of fertile soil is to make raised beds. Raised beds yield up to four times more than the same amount of space planted in rows. That’s due not only to their loose, fertile soil but also to efficient spacing—by using less space for paths, you have more room to grow plants.

Raised beds save you time, too. One researcher tracked the time it took to plant and maintain a 30-by-30-foot garden planted in beds, and found that he needed to spend just 27 hours in the garden from mid-May to mid-October. Yet he was able to harvest 1,900 pounds of fresh vegetables—that’s a year’s supply of food for three people from about 3 total days of work!

How do raised beds save so much time? Plants grow close enough together to shade out competing weeds, so you spend less time weeding. The close spacing also makes watering and harvesting more efficient.

2. Round out your beds.
The shape of your beds can make a difference, too. Raised beds are more space-efficient if the tops are gently rounded to form an arc, rather than flat. A rounded bed that is 5 feet wide across its base, for instance, will give you a 6-foot-wide arc above it—creating a planting surface that’s a foot wider than that of a flat bed. That foot might not seem like much, but multiply it by the length of your bed and you’ll see that it can make a big difference in total planting area.

In a 20-foot-long bed, for example, rounding the top increases your total planting area from 100 to 120 square feet. That’s a 20 percent gain in planting space in a bed that takes up the same amount of ground space! Lettuce, spinach, and other greens are perfect crops for planting on the edges of a rounded bed.
3. Space smartly.
To get the maximum yields from each bed, pay attention to how you arrange your plants. Avoid planting in square patterns or rows. Instead, stagger the plants by planting in triangles (as shown here). By doing so, you can fit 10 to 14 percent more plants in each bed.

Just be careful not to space your plants too tightly. Some plants won’t reach their full size—or yield—when crowded. For instance, when one researcher increased the spacing between romaine lettuces from 8 to 10 inches, the harvest weight per plant doubled. (Remember that weight yield per square foot is more important than the number of plants per square foot.)

Overly tight spacing can also stress plants, making them more susceptible to diseases and insect attack.

4. Grow up!
No matter how small your garden, you can grow more by going vertical. Grow space-hungry vining crops—such as tomatoes, pole beans, peas, squash, melons, cukes, and so on—straight up, supported by trellises, fences, cages, or stakes.

Growing vegetables vertically also saves time. Harvest and maintenance go faster because you can see exactly where the fruits are. And upward-bound plants are less likely to be hit by fungal diseases thanks to the improved air circulation around the foliage.

Try growing vining crops on trellises along one side of raised beds, using sturdy end posts with nylon mesh netting or string in between to provide a climbing surface. Tie the growing vines to the trellis. But don’t worry about securing heavy fruits—even squash and melons will develop thicker stems for support.

5. Mix it up.
Interplanting compatible crops saves space, too. Consider the classic Native American combination, the “three sisters”—corn, beans, and squash. Sturdy cornstalks support the pole beans, while squash grows freely on the ground below, shading out competing weeds. This combination works because the crops are compatible. Other compatible combinations include tomatoes, basil, and onions; leaf lettuce and peas or brassicas; carrots, onions, and radishes; and beets and celery.

6. Succeed with successions.
Succession planting allows you to grow more than one crop in a given space over the course of a growing season. That way, many gardeners are able to harvest three or even four crops from a single area.

For instance, an early crop of leaf lettuce can be followed with a fast-maturing corn, and the corn followed by more greens or overwintered garlic—all within a single growing season.

To get the most from your succession plantings:

Use transplants. A transplant is already a month or so old when you plant it, and so will mature that much faster than a direct-seeded plant (one grown from seeds sown in the garden).
Choose fast-maturing varieties.
Replenish the soil with a ¼-to-½-inch layer of compost (about 2 cubic feet per 100 square feet) each time you replant. Work it into the top few inches of soil.

7. Stretch your season.
Adding a few weeks to each end of the growing season can buy you enough time to grow yet another succession crop—say a planting of leaf lettuce, kale, or turnips—or to harvest more end-of-the-season tomatoes.

To get those extra weeks of production, you need to keep the air around your plants warm, even when the weather is cold, by using mulches, cloches, row covers, or coldframes.

Or give heat-loving crops (such as melons, peppers, and eggplants) an extra-early start by using two “blankets”—one to warm the air and one to warm the soil in early spring. About 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date, preheat cold soil by covering it with either infrared-transmitting (IRT) mulch or black plastic, which will absorb heat. Then, cover the bed with a slitted, clear plastic tunnel. When the soil temperature reaches 65° to 70°F, set out plants and cover the black plastic mulch with straw to keep it from trapping too much heat. Remove the clear plastic tunnel when the air temperature warms and all danger of frost has passed. Install it again at the end of the season, when temperatures cool.

 


Via Giri Kumar
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My Success Story: Dave Kemp - Plant Powered Living

My Success Story: Dave Kemp - Plant Powered Living | ecoLocal | Scoop.it
Dave Kemp, originally from Iowa, chose to go Plant Powered in 2005 and has transformed his health, compassion, stamina, energy and overall existence.
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Sustainability and the U.S. EPA

Sustainability and the U.S. EPA | ecoLocal | Scoop.it
Sustainability is based on a simple and long-recognized factual premise: Everything that humans require for their survival and well-being depends, directly or indirectly, on the natural environment.
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10 tips for companion planting for natural pest control and organic sustainability - Increase vegetable yields and improve flavor

10 tips for companion planting for natural pest control and organic sustainability - Increase vegetable yields and improve flavor | ecoLocal | Scoop.it

10 tips for companion planting for natural pest control and organic sustainability - Increase vegetable yields and improve flavor...

 

(NaturalNews) Companion planting for pest control and to encourage plants to grow with more vigor has fascinated men for centuries; however, few backyard gardeners know how to use these natural methods for organic sustainability and how to improve your garden. Plants that work together to help one another grow; plants that repel insects for organic pest management; and plants that repel other plants for natural herbicide control are of great value to both small backyard gardeners and commercial growers.

 

Certain protective botanicals don't always act instantaneously, and must be planted several years or seasons in advance to be of utmost cumulative effect. For example, companion planting pest control using marigolds to prevent nematode growth should be done at least one season ahead before expecting to see great results.

 

It's important to remember that both secretions and odors from various plants are valuable traits for organic pest control and companion planting where repelling or attracting certain aspects and effects is attempted.
 

 

Ten easy companion planting tips for to use now

 

Companion planting for chemical free pesticides and organic sustainability is a huge subject that can take years to master; however, there are a few easy things you can do in your own garden right now to make use of this intriguing method of gardening.

1. Protect carrots by planting them with leeks to repel both carrot and onion flies. They won't even lay their eggs and your yield will increase tremendously.

 

2. Growing radishes or kohlrabi? Plant them with lettuce to repel earth flies that hate the smell of lettuce and make them take flight.

 

3. Aphids will injure almost all plants, causing headaches for gardeners everywhere. To repel aphids, plant nasturiums around broccoli and bunches of chives among sunflowers and tomatoes to discourage infestations.

 

4. Ladybugs are natural enemies to aphids and are excellent for use in organic pest management. Order ladybugs in bulk online or buy them from gardening centers. If you're wondering how to improve your garden and reduce the aphid population, this is one of the most effective methods of doing so.

 

5. Asparagus and tomatoes complement one another and improve the vigor of both plants. Place a row of asparagus between two rows of tomato plants.

 

6. Beans and potatoes work in concert for organic pest control. Planting bush beans with potatoes in alternating rows protects the spuds from the Colorado potato beetle and the beans from the Mexican bean beetle.

 

7. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables belonging to the cabbage family do well when companion planted with celery, dill, peppermint, sage and rosemary; as well as potatoes, onions and beets.

 

8. Repel moles around a vegetable garden with a border of castor beans; mice with a border of daffodils; and yarrow makes a wonderful boarder for an herb garden as it encourages the growth of essential oils in the herbs.

 

9. Remember that companion planting for pest control includes keeping those cute little rabbits out of the garden. Onions repel rabbits and can be inter-planted with peas, beans, lettuce and cabbage.

 

10. If your garden attracts raccoons, plant corn and pumpkins together so that the large pumpkin leaves grow around the base of the corn stalks. Cayenne pepper sprinkled on the corn silk will also act as a deterrent.

 

Because some plants are poisonous, it's important to keep unattended young children away from the garden. Natural organic pest control may be a complex subject; however, there are many simple things you can do in to improve your garden for increased vegetable yield and organic sustainability.

 

Sources for this article include:

http://www.ghorganics.com/page2.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Companion_planting

http://www.seedsofchange.com

http://www.no-dig-vegetablegarden.com/companion-planting.html

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/035853_companion_planting_garden_vegetables.html#ixzz1yldyDucQ


Via Giri Kumar
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