Beneficial Nematodes in Action

July 18, 2011 by Rickb

Modern pest control has changed radically in the past decade with the availability of many biological pest control agents that we can use in our Integrated Pest Management - IPM system.

 

Controlling pests takes a leap of faith. When you drench a crop with garlic you can smell it all over the farm but you can’t see the insects being repelled from feeding on the flowers.

 

I like this new video that shows the nematodes in action and how to make them more effective.

 

Watch how beneficial nematodes move and attack insects.

On the Becker Underwood Blog you can see boicontrols in action

 

 

There are nematodes available for your home garden. Contact your local County Agent for more details on biocontrols in the garden. It takes some knowledge just as with any pesticide to get the right control agent for the right pest. For worm larvae that eat your veggies and mosquito larvae in your pond and bromeliad cups you still want to use Bt – Bacillus thuringiensis, a safe bacteria toxin that attacks the gut of the larval stage of the target pest.

 

"The Bugman" shows how to apply Beneficial Nematodes to control fleas, grubs, ants, root weevil, and other soil pests.

Lupines? in Florida? Yes Indeed

March 5, 2011 by Rick

Sky-Blue Lupine c floridafriendlyplants.comSky-Blue Lupine c floridafriendlyplants.comSky-Blue Lupine c floridafriendlyplants.comSky-Blue Lupine c floridafriendlyplants.comSky-Blue Lupine c floridafriendlyplants.comSky-Blue Lupine c floridafriendlyplants.com

I captured this Sky-Blue Lupine, Lupinus diffuses across the street from the gate of Sun City Tree Farm where I was meeting J.C. Tort and picking out some olive trees for our office landscape project.

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Rows of beautiful Olives grown on drip irrigation that pulses according to need determined by probes that sense moisture. Olives are drought tolerant and will thrive here as an ornamental. We plant them to remind us of Italy. Such a beautiful place. Olive trees stay relatively small and will provide shade while staying in balance with the structure. Right Plant Right Place. This variety will not produce fruit but they have others that will even in Florida.

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Sun City Tree Farm has won many awards for their environmental practices and stewardship of the land. They have the largest selection and best quality trees that I know of. If you bought a magnolia recently in Florida there is a good chance it was grown at Sun City Tree Farm.

A Few Links on Florida Lupines:

http://www.wildflorida.com/wildlife/plants/Sky-blue_Lupine.php

http://hawthornhillwildflowers.blogspot.com/2010/01/scrub-lupine-lupinus-aridorum.html

http://www.easywildflowers.com/quality/lup.per.htm

http://myfwc.com/getinvolved/Volunteer_Ridge_Rangers_Lupine.asp

http://goo.gl/YtZub

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The Costa Rica Connection & the Plant Breeding Process

December 13, 2010 by Rick

Costa Rica is famous for Arabica Coffee and the coffee plants are easy to spot in most areas outside the capital city of San Jose. Tourism tops their economic resource base and they are in an economic crisis with the world wide recession, the rise of their currency and decline of international travel. The ornamental plant and seed business is thriving and employs over 10000 people there. We visited 6 farms we do business with through plant brokers. Videos and images here feature Pan American Seed Company and Ball Floraplant which are part of Ball Seed Company based in Chicago. Our tour was hosted by Express Seed Company and this is the group photo.

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Filmed at Linda Vista, Cartago Costa Rica, home of Ball Seed Companies Pan American Seed Company. Mario Guillen explains the plant breeding process and how they develop inbred lines so they can make F1 hybrid seeds that produce identical seedlings with outstanding characteristics. This has been a 20 year process to develop the Devine Impatiens series.

Plant Breeding Process at PanAmerican Seed Company Linda Vista Sa in Costa Rica
Selecting desirable plants for F1 hybrid breeding in New Guinea Impatiens
Pollination, harvesting and evaluating potential F1 Hybrid Devine New Guinea Impatiens
Several years from now there may be a yellow sun tolerant New Guinea Impatiens available from seed.

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Nearby in Cartago is Ball Floraplant where they produce cutting varieties of plants that are not currently possible to reproduce by developing F1 hybrids like the Black Velvet Petunia and Voltage Yellow Osteospermum. These are the Black Velvet stock plants where they harvest cuttings for the world market.

 

 

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Costa Rica Bound

December 3, 2010 by Rick

Last year I visited Guatemala and under a volcano at the Ecke Poinsettia cutting and stock plant farm in Antigua.

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The gray plume above the white clouds is the Pacaya Volcano.

 

At Goldsmith Seed Production facility in Jalapa Guatemala
This is Glodsmiths Trial garden in Gilroy where they test and package their seeds from Guatemala

 

This year I am embarking on a trip with 60 nursery folks from around the US to tour state of the art production facilities where cuttings and seeds are produced for the amazing new plants we grow and market at these Florida Home Depot Garden Centers. I will take pictures and some video to share this amazing country and some of the techniques used by these growers.

History of Costa Rica

Christopher Columbus landed at Costa Rica 1502, on his fourth trip to the Americas. His sailing ships anchored off the coast of Cariari Island, close to what today is known as the Port Limon, on the Caribbean coast. Impressed by the exuberant vegetation and abundance of gold jewelry and adornments worn by native inhabitants, Columbus called this land Costa Rica (Coast of Plenty).

The fact that more than one million tourists visit Costa Rica each year does hot happen by chance. The country, located in Central America, is an isthmus where life seems to have created its roots. Covering only 0.03% of the earths surface, Costa Rica has approximately 6% of the world’s biodiversity; 130 species of fresh water fish, 160 species of amphibians, 208 species of mammals, 220 species of reptiles, 850 species of birds, 1,000 species of butterflies, 1,200 varieties of orchids, 9,000 species of plants and 34,000 species of insects. In addition, Costa Rica is characterized by impressive scenic beauty, a consolidated system of protected areas, social and political stability, high education levels and efficient infrastructure and services. All of this offered in an area of only 51 thousand square kilometers.

Geography
Rugged highlands are found throughout most of the country, they range from approximately 1,000 to 2,000 meters (3,000 to 6,000 feet above sea level). The Cordillera de Guanacaste, Cordillera Central, and Cordillera de Talamanca are the principal mountain ranges extending the length of the country. There are several active volcanoes (Volcán Arenal, Volcán Irazú, Volcán Rincón de la Vieja and Volcán Turrialba) and the country's highest mountain (Cerro Chirripó), which reaches a height of 3,819-m/12,530 ft. The country has a relatively long coastline in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as a number of rivers and streams.

Climate
Costa Rica's year round climate is pleasant with naturally occurring breezes cooling down most of the coastal areas. Temperatures in the highlands and the mountains are warm by day and brisk at night giving an "eternal spring" feeling. The average annual temperatures range from 31.7°C (89°F) on the coast to 16.7°C (62°F) inland. The rainy, or “green”, season lasts from May to December with noticeably wetter days

Customs and Entry Requirements

Citizens holding a valid passport from the US are permitted to stay in Costa Rica for 90 days without a visa.

No customs duties are charged on personal luggage, which includes an array of items for personal and professional use, as long as they do not appear in quantities that suggest commercial intent. Costa Rican law requires that baggage be examined upon entry and that travelers submit customs declarations listing all articles acquired abroad, including fruit, vegetables, meat, meat products, biological products such as vaccinations, serums, etc.

Banking and Money

When exchanging your money, you can either utilize the services at many of the local banks, or use the services of the hotel. Most hotels will exchange your money providing that you are staying at their hotel. ATM’s (Automatic Teller Machines) are available at the airport and also in the city, but they are not as readily available in smaller towns and villages.

At the present time, the current exchange rate is 522.44 colones per 1 U.S. dollar. The colones come in bills with denominations of: 10,000, 5,000 (called toucans), 2,000, 1,000, 500, 100, and 50 colones. The coins come in denominations of 100, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 colones. Recently, the central bank has printed gold coins in all the same denominations mentioned above, however, several of them are smaller than those presently in circulation, and therefore, do not work in any of the public machines, i.e. telephones, etc.

Credit cards are accepted at most major hotels and restaurants and shops that cater to the tourist trade, but are less accepted in smaller villages.

Departing Costa Rica

Check-in lines at San Jose’s international airport can be very long. It is strongly advisable to arrive at the airport 2 ½ hours before your scheduled departure.

In order to leave Costa Rica, you must pay a $17 departure tax. This tax may be paid in US dollars or colones equivalent, no credit cards are accepted. While people will offer to sell you departure tax stamps at the curbside, the airport recommends that you buy directly from the airport and not these vendors. Once inside the terminal building you will see the booths selling departure tax stamps. You first will need to show your flight ticket and passport to prove that you have a flight. The departure stamps come attached to a form, which you should fill out before you reach the ticket counter.

Regarding our farm visits, here are a few things to keep in mind;

· Depending on the season, rain is most likely during your visit, so it is advised to bring lightweight rain jacket. The temperatures are for the most part mild, but humidity can be high during the day. Evenings can be cool, so a lightweight jacket is recommended.

· For the most part we will be walking through the farm, so comfortable walking shoes are recommended.

· While visiting the farms, business casual is recommended; jeans are acceptable. The Latin culture generally frowns upon shorts at the workplace and workers at these locations are not allowed to wear them. We ask that you respect this rule and not wear shorts during your visit.

· Cameras are allowed anywhere on most farms except Seed Processing. If you have any questions on whether you can take a picture just ask your tour guide.

Farm visits

Innovaplant Kientzler

Innovaplant was established in 1994, as a representation of the Kientzler GmbH & Co KG from Germany, Kienztler is a Company that since 1904 has dedicated, mainly, to produce and export ornamental unrooted cuttings around the world.

Actually, Kientzler is leader in research, development and improvement of vegetative propagated ornamental plants.

Its greatest growth was experienced during the last 30 years, in the area of genetic improvement of ornamental plants.

This corporation is formed by four main companies; who function as a separate one, but everyone with their respective tasks and customized functions.

 

The primary crops are:

1. Petunia

2. New Guinea Impatiens

3. Dentranthema

4. Calibrachoa

5. Osteospermum

6. Nemesia

7. Hedera helix

8. Verbena Superbena

9. Solenostemon

10. Euphorbia Hybride

In February 2005, the Else Kientzler Botanical Garden opened to the public, the main objective of it is to preserve Costa Rica's threatened or endangered species and to show tropical species from around the world.The botanical garden offers a collection of about 2000 tropical species, distributed and labeled in 7 acres of trails and gardens where visitors can spread out, learning about plants through guided tours

Fides

Company name: Fidesplants S.A., founded in 1987

Location: 10.02.00.00N 82.11.32.00W elevation 3420ft.

City: Alajuela, Costa Rica, 10 minutes from SJO international airport.

Climate:

Máximum day temperature: 90F Minimum day temperature: 69F

Maximum night temperature: 68F Minimum night temperature: 59F

Total week radiation 7271 J/cm2 (14.5 Mol / ft2)

Natural day length 12 hours, +/- 1 hour

Dry season December-April

Employees:

60 permanent going up to 125 employees in peak season

Infrastructure:

Greenhouses: 7.5 hectares (18.9 acres) on 17 hectares (42 acres) of land

Automatic shade systems, raised benches, cyclic light, cold stores and steam boiler.

Products:

Dahlia/ Nemesia/Impatiens/Osteospermum/Petunia/Calibrachoa/ Kalanchoe and others

Bartels/Floramo

Floramo S.A. was founded in 1994 by Wouter Groot and Nicole Custers.

Both are agricultural engineers and graduated at the Agricultural University Wageningen in The Netherlands. The Floramo Company currently covers

9.000 M2 and a growing number of high quality cuttings of the Bartels Stek range is produced at this production location. Products like Aster, Hypericum, Solidago, Phlox, Veronica and Salvia are year round available.

Bartels Stek Costa Rica was founded in 2002 and since the start managed by Wouter and Nicole. Substantial amounts of the produced cuttings are sent directly from Costa Rica to customers in North and South America. Due to the logistic improvements the cost on freight decreased and is delivering of fresh cuttings year round guaranteed. The numbers of cuttings that are shipped through Bartels Stek Costa Rica are still growing!

Florexpo

Florexpo has been in the horticulture market for over 25 years. The farm is located in the Central Valley of Costa Rica in the province of Cartago and the county of Paraíso, approximately 45 minutes from the International Airport.

The elevation is 4,450 feet above sea level. The day length is very constant year round (11:30 hours to 12:30 hours). Natural short day length and high light levels allow uniform product to be shipped year round. Temperature average goes from 65° F - 75° F. All the water for irrigation comes from two deep wells of 170 meters in depth.

It is a 61 hectares property with 17 hectares of Triple A greenhouses; over 30 miles of elevated benches on cement floors. The main production in this farm is for the unrooted cuttings program. The unrooted cuttings program consists of around 800 varieties and more than 1200 sub-varieties.

Production is under permanent short days, due to the latitude of the farm. This allows for production of long day plants in a non-blooming environment. All vents and doors of the greenhouses are fully screened against insects.

Floors have concrete paths and compacted road base or concrete areas under the benches. This prevents weed growth and puddles of water. Recent additions to greenhouse space with optimum clean production protocols and an eye for economies of scale balanced with unique mother stock needs.

Florexpo was established by Mr. Fernando Altman Borbon, as a 1.5 hectares flower farm, mainly Gysophila and Chrysanthemums, to be exported to the U.S. In a short period of time the business grew significantly.

In 1996, a new business opportunity emerges, unrooted cuttings. Unrooted Cuttings (URC) business emerges from the experience acquired in the rooting station for the fresh flowers business. Today, Florexpo is a large perennial cuttings producer. It has a wide selection of annuals from some prestigious breeders, and it offers an aggressive flexibility to new product channels – grasses, woodies, organic herbs, succulents and a program for groundcover called Costa Rica Cuttings. It has expanded its market from Costa Rica to the United States, Europe and Canada

PanAmerican Seed’s Linda Vista Production Facility

Claude Hope arrived in Costa Rica in 1943 with the purpose of doing research on quinine (a plant used to treat malaria). In spite of the fact that his experiments with quinine did not have major success, they gave him the opportunity to glimpse the great possibilities that the soil and climate of Costa Rica offered for seed production. In 1945 Claude Hope returned to Costa Rica to start seed production. In 1953, in Dulce Nombre de Jesus, in the mountains of Cartago, Linda Vista S.A. was formed.

Today, Linda Vista is actually made up of three farms. All situated at various altitudes below the Irazu volcano on the Atlantic slope of Costa Rica. Farm #1 is the main production facility where Super Elfin impatiens, Wave, Dreams and Carpet petunias are produced. Farm #1 also houses all aspects of seed cleaning, milling, testing and shipping to our West Chicago distribution center. It is located at about 5,000 feet above see level. During peak production Linda Vista can employee 1,500 people.

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A Florida Garden Treasure - Casa Phippsberger

November 20, 2010 by Rick

 

Casa Phippsberger is a private Palm Beach garden and part of the legacy of the Phipps family that once owned much of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach including 25 miles of South Florida ocean front property in the early 1900’s.

Horticulturist Karl Gercens shares many images from around the world on Flickr and these images are a real treat and give us a look inside a tropical paradise garden. Bullis Bromeliads offerings will give you a sense of what you might use to create a bit of Phippsberger in your own landscape.

 

 

Robert Bornstein writes for the Examiner in Miami and has a series on Secret Gardens in Miami that makes you wish you could go on a garden tour with him some day.

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Water Saving is Global and Personal

October 12, 2010 by Rick

Floridians average 159 gallons of water per day for personal use which includes the potable water we spray on our lawns. We use 15 times per day more than people in developing nations. It is a great thing that our children are being taught in school about conservation, recycling and environmental awareness. Reducing the use and waste of water in our communities that are within 20 miles of our coastline is especially important because the aquifer is becoming salty as we over draw the fresh ground water. Reducing the amount of irrigated turf areas in your yard reduces this pressure and reduces your cost of water. Installing or retrofitting drip or micro irrigation on your flowers and shrubs instead of high volume sprinklers is another way to reduce your water usage. The Hillsborough Extension Garden Blog has this post describing Micro Irrigation for Florida Landscapes.

  

We have been using Chapin Drip Tape on our farm for 27 years to directly water our containers with 6-8 0onces of water per irrigation. The Chapin Company has developed and distributes small inexpensive Simple Drip Irrigation kits for small farms that undoubtedly has saved many lives.

 

Water filters, small pumps and sanitation kits are desperately needed in developing nations and UNICEF has many programs which need our help in procuring these basic essential items.

 

Join us and contribute to Facebook - I Wet My Plants and help us develop interest in spreading this word and knowledge of responsible water use, conservation and methods for efficient irrigation.

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Beneficial Organisms and Humates for Your Garden

July 20, 2010 by Rick

 

 

What is TurfPro? As this Link Says:

    TurfPro is the ultimate 100% naturally organic humate soil
    conditioner. It is a powerful nutrient converter and bio-
    stimulant that is very easy to apply. Use it as a root drench
    and also as a foliar spray where the benefits are systemic,
    providing the necessary nutrients and resistance to pests.

Read the whole story on their web site and you will see why it is in all of our soils and how the benefits carry over to your garden from our plants. It has been well worth the cost in fertilizer and water savings for us. Our annuals and perennials produce better root systems and flower faster. The soli mix stays moist longer and rewets easier.

 

 

 

We use the AgriPro Natural – Dry at 18 lbs per cubic yard and get the full microbial charge, good mixing and distribution on dormant microbes and nutrients all at a lower cost than alternative microbial amendments and organic additives.

 

 

We buy it in these 1 ton bulk bags and use a tractor mounted spreader to apply it to the compost before disking it in for blending.

We hope you find our plants survive better and establish quicker in your garden. The microbes in our soil will prevent root rot disease long after you plant and you are enjoying the Florida-friendly flowers they produce in your garden. Remember to never exceed the label rate when using synthetic fertilizers or you will kill the microbes and increase the plants susceptibility to disease. If you want to read how this product works and why it would be good for everything you grow (including your lawn) and the Florida environment you can read this summary – To Improve Your Soil, Think Organic!

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Riverview Flower Farm is Big on Sustainability

July 1, 2010 by Rick

I have just returned from 9 days in New York and have some interesting garden and horticulture facts and photos to share on upcoming posts. The Seeley Conference was our primary destination and the title this year was “Floriculture’s Environmental Footprint: an inconvenient truth or consumer opportunity” Among the speakers were many of the brightest people associated with agriculture as well as non industry experts that shared enlightening facts about environmental policy, economics and marketing.  I was honored to present with three other growers on how we each are “Operationalizing Sustainability” as a topic. Included in my presentation were facts on how we save water, pumping cost and fertilizer by using drip irrigation and capillary mats for irrigation. We reduce the amount of peat moss by using compost that incorporates local yard and tree waste compost in our potting soil. We use friendly soil bacteria instead of chemicals for root disease control. Our primary cold protection is with the use of frost cloth like you can also use at home instead of using warm ground water as a source of heat. I also focused on how we recycle all of our components. If you would like details about our procedures and processes please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page. Below are images from my presentation.

 

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Some of the many Florida Friendly Perennials we grow.

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Check out our Floridafriendlyplants.com for the complete list and database.

 

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Annuals add lots of color to Florida landscapes.

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Drip irrigation saves 10 cents per pot in terms of fertilizer saving and reduced pumping costs. That’s a lot of dimes. 6-8 ounces of water is applied as needed saving 95% of the water lost in overhead systems much of which is lost to evaporation.

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Zone management and spot fertilization save even more money and water and allow for precise applications. Often we inject garlic oil extract to make our plants distasteful to certain insects.

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Frost cloth is used for freeze protection down to 20F instead of using ground water for heat.

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Expert growers are masters of Integrated Pest Management systems (IPM) making for safe plants and a safe working environment by using the lowest toxicity products available.

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A custom software program makes all the systems flow and reduces waste and effort.

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Grower Live is available as a subscription service for other growers seeking web based solutions.

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Efficient monorails and carts take the place of 50 tractors and 200 tracking trailers. Monorails don’t add as much to the carbon footprint and are safe to use resulting in very few accidents like those associated with motorized equipment.

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Efficient use of delivery equipment and matching orders to the rate of sale reduces the fuel, miles and carbon use.

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Scan a QR coded calling card with your smart phone the next time you visit the garden center.

It will direct you to our informative website. Floridafriendlyplants.com

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Interact with us on Facebook.

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We are big users of composted municipal tree waste and yard waste compost.

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We blend in TurfPro with humates and 14 active bacteria that protect the roots from disease and help keep the soil moist and active.

 

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The final product is a affordable organic soil mix that holds these good microbes all the way to your garden for added success. More on this in our F.A.Q. page.

 

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Mulch and Compost – Form and Function

May 21, 2010 by Rick

Organic matter is the secret to growing better garden plants in Florida. It is the most important component to gardening. Organic matter is leaves, wood, fiber and bark from trees, shrubs and grasses and manures and sludge and peat mosses. These break down by a process known as composting. The breakdown occurs naturally or you can concentrate and control it for your benefit. Some plants need lots of compost and mulch to thrive and others just need mulch.

You can grow a garden in the sand like the farmers do but you need chemicals to kill weeds, root pests like nematodes and grubs, plastic to prevent erosion of the sand and fertilizer and a constant supply of water and nutrients. But instead of this… If you have enough organic matter you can grow a better garden with the use of few chemicals and fertilizers and much less little water. A rich soil is full of micro organisms like good bacteria and good fungus that grow symbiotically with plant roots and make available the nutrients from the organic matter. There are also macro organisms like earthworms, good nematodes, pillbugs etc that play a big part of breaking down organic matter and making it readily available for plants to use for nutrients and protection from bad organisms. It is hard to visualize what is going on down there but the results are amazing once you see the difference yourself. Rich soils also hold onto the water whereas sand lets it pour right through.

 

Composting can be more work than you are willing to do for all the places you want to add flowers and vegetables around your home garden. An easy alternative way to garden is to focus your organic growing in a container you bury in the poor sandy Florida soil you have. We call this method Pot-in-Pot Landscaping and here are all the posted details.

Dropping in Pot-in-Pot a

Drip irrigation allows you to focus a small and appropriate amount of water to your plants so you are not wasting the resource or adding to the fertilizer runoff problems in our rivers and bays.

Pot-in-Pot Landscaping with Drip Irrigation and Eucalyptus Mulch = Success

From our Frequently Asked Questions Page

4. Why is the Riverview Flower Farm potting soil superior to other grower mixes and how does that help me garden?

Our organic potting soil is alive with beneficial organisms. It is a rich blend of compost and peat moss that allow your plants to absorb natural nutrients and water much better than light weight mixes with lots of inexpensive fillers. Salt based liquid and slow release fertilizers can be used at the labeled rate or less so you do not harm the beneficial organisms that will multiply and spread into your garden. These beneficial organisms form a symbiotic relationship with the plants root system and grow as the roots grow to protect against disease and nematodes which are microscopic root destroying worms. Adding organic matter (peat moss, compost, leaf mold, cow manure) enhances this symbiotic relationship so your plants can grow better with less salt fertilizer and less water. The labeled fertilizer rates were developed for less fertile light weight mixes. You can and should use less fertilizer when growing in a rich organic potting soil or flower bed. Spend a little more on building the soil and save a lot on the fertilizer while keeping the waste and runoff to a minimum.

 

MULCHES

Mulches are as important as compost rich soil is in having a healthy, thriving garden and flowers. Having stated that, there are many Florida Friendly Plants, Shrubs, and Trees both native and non native that do not need compost rich soil but they benefit from surface mulches. Many plants that thrive in Florida have adapted to grow with the nematodes and other soil organisms that kill vegetables and flowers.

All plants benefit from the mulches breaking down (composting) and supplying nutrients naturally. Mulches cool the soil and prevent weeds, erosion and leaching. They are more important than they look and not just for the esthetics they create.

Modern Cypress Mulches are a blend of various wood types and some cypress wood. Overharvesting of cypress trees in Florida wetlands has caused this shift in the mulch components. We are familiar with the name Cypress Mulch but in reality the amount of cypress is much lower in the bag you buy. This is a good thing because we all need to mulch and save the cypress swamps too. Feeling less guilty? A better way to mulch is to use thick layers of oak leaves which are so plentiful and then cover them with your favorite looking mulch as a top dressing.

Two other mulches are available that you can feel good about using are Maleluca mulch which is harvested from areas of the Everglades being recovered from this invasive tree and farm raised eucalyptus mulch made at a eucalyptus plantation that is continuously harvested in sections that rotate every 6 years for just this purpose. The Florida Native Plant Society has a blog post on mulch the furthers this information.

Change your life and garden for the better by discovering all the virtues of compost and mulch.

Shirley Bovshow posted MULCH 101: THE ART OF SELECTING THE PERFECT GARDEN MULCH! You will also enjoy her Garden World Report Show.

 

 

 

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Greenhouse crop production training course offered online

December 15, 2009 by Rick

Many of us want to continue our education and on-line learning is a great way to do so. I am sure you will find this a value if you are an avid gardener and like the details about growing plants to high quality standards. You might even want to learn more about commercial plant production. My friend, Dr Charlie Hall, has this information for us.

COLLEGE STATION – A self-directed online course is being offered for greenhouse employees nationwide, according to Dr. Charlie Hall, Texas A&M University Ellison Chair in International Floriculture.

The course provides introductory-level information about the greenhouse industry plus learning models on greenhouse crop production from beginning to end, controlling insects and diseases, and shipping and handling procedures, Hall noted.

"One of the unique features of this training is that it is offered in English and Spanish," Hall said. "With the increased number of Hispanic workers in the green industry, this training series provides a valuable service to the industry by providing employees who are new to the industry with an overview of what greenhouse production of floral crops is all about."

Videos are used throughout the course sections, and the instruction is available in both languages with transcripts available for downloading.

The course costs $55 and is available through eXtension, an online collaboration among the Cooperative Extension System which includes the Texas AgriLife Extension Service. People can enroll at any time and receive a “key” to the site which is valid for 90 days.

The course is located at http://campus.extension.org under the gardening and horticulture section. Registration for the course may be completed at http://agrilifevents.tamu.edu under "Online Courses."

"We are excited about our partnership with eXtension because it enables us to provide these materials nationwide, with support from over 70 land-grant institutions," Hall added.

"The eXtension website is a space where university content providers can gather and produce new educational and information resources on wide-ranging topics."

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