Heirloom-Tomato

Heirloom Seeds vs Hybrid Seeds

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What is the difference between Heirloom Seeds vs Hybrid Seeds, and what are some advantages to growing heirloom strains? Hybrid seeds are created by selecting two strains and cross-pollinating them in order to create a more vigorous plant, often times selecting for higher yield and shelf stability.  Heirlooms are old-time varieties saved year after year and are prized for their superb flavor, superior nutrient density and the ability to save your own seeds.

The number one reason to grow heirlooms is the exceptional flavor.  Many modern breeding programs have sacrificed taste and nutrition in order to gain shelf stability.  Modern hybrids are often times bred to be picked green and gas-ripened because that is what is needed for commercial growing and shipping.  Heirlooms, on the other hand have been saved for decades and even centuries because they are the best performers for home and market gardens.  The ability to ship and distribute them was never a concern.  This allowed flavor to and nutrition to take a front seat.  What farmer could survive in a world of direct-to-market produce if their tomatoes didn’t taste as good as their neighbors?

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LEC 315 Light Emitting Ceramic Fixture

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What’s that new light I have been hearing about? Not LED, not plasma, not induction, oh yea it’s LEC.  LEC stands for light emitting ceramic grow light technology. When I first started looking into Sun System’s LEC 315 light emitting ceramic fixtures I was admittedly skeptical.  As I started to do more research I changed my tune. The LEC 315 is a relatively new iteration of a classic Metal Halide.  The superiority lies in the ceramic tube which allows the bulb to burn at a higher temperature, creating light that is much closer to light from the sun.  This is important to keep in mind when evaluating the spectrum and light quality of a
.

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Gavita Pro E-Series: Advances in Grow Light Technology

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Gavita Pro E-Series

Double Ended Lighting Technology

Of all the new lighting technologies available, double ended HPS bulbs and specifically the Gavita Pro E-Series Ballasts that drive them have garnered the most attention. Rightfully so, as these new fixtures are delivering the increased light output and efficiency the manufacturers claim. What are the key differences that set these lamps apart? More importantly, are they right for your application and is the extra performance and features worth the premium price?

Tech Overview:

These lamps are an evolutionary improvement over the traditional mogul base HPS bulb and digital or magnetic ballast. Let’s go over the three important differences of these fixtures versus a traditional electronic ballast and single ended bulb.

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Annual-Managers-Meeting

Air Pruning & Nursery Pots

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With so many different types of nursery pots to choose from, you may be left wondering what is the difference or why does it matter? The answer is simple, performance. One of the biggest influences on performance is air pruning.

Air Pruning

Air pruning is the introduction of dry air into the root system. When this happens the apical cells at the root’s tip become dehydrated. The plant responds by growing a pair of secondary roots that branch off of the initial root. Each time the media dries out, the process repeats itself creating literally thousands of offshoot roots. This vigorous root system is much better at mining soil and increasing nutrient uptake. Air pruning also prevents the plants roots from literally strangling each other, a process known as spiraling.

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Read This Fogmaster Jr. 5330 Review If You Spray Much

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Confession: I love an inanimate object, the Fogmaster Jr. 5330.

It’s a compact hand-held sprayer with a 1/4HP 120V motor.

For some time I had considered buying an industrial sprayer/fogger/atomizer but most seemed like overkill, especially when inexpensive pump-style sprayers would suffice. The Fogmaster Jr. 5330 however, appealed immediately due to its manageable size. When I asked a trusted friend about it, his eyes opened extra wide as he looked directly at me and said “they rock”. He was right.

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Get Out(side)!

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Were you tempted to grow outdoors this year? You still can. Summer solstice is 6/21, so there’s still some solar powered “veg” time remaining. Remember to plant varieties that will finish before it gets too cold and gradually transition them from artificial light to intense sunlight. Minimize the need for applying fertilizer via the irrigation water by preparing your soil with ample nutritive amendments. DTE (Down To Earth) offers a complete line of specific soil additives and mixes which are perfect for customizing organic gardens. Many of their products are OMRI listed and already contain beneficial microbes (fungi & bacteria). If you’re looking for a simple way to significantly enhance your soil, Roots Organics combines multiple ingredients into their Uprising products which may either be mixed into soil or added as a top dress. More outdoor growers have also been using hydroton in place of perlite since it provides soil aeration without getting blown or washed away as easily. If planting directly into the ground (versus containers), line your hole with a layer of amendments to help nourish plants towards maturation/ripening. Finally, combine plenty of Colorado sun and water with cooperation from mother nature and your harvest might even last until it’s time to do it again next year. Good luck and bumper crops to all!

What is OMRI?

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When it comes to agriculture, the definition of “Certified Organic” can be contentious. Farmers, lobbyists, activists, PR firms, etc. have different standards and stakes in a growing multi-billion dollar per year industry.The non-profit Organic Materials Review Institute has been helping to formally define “organic” since 1997, years before the industry took off and our government got involved.

If an input (like a fertilizer or pesticide) appears on OMRI’s Products List, then it is approved for use on certifiable organic cash crops. Sounds great if you’re in the business of making organic nutrients or pesticides… but it’s not easy to get on the list. To do so, a product must pass OMRI’s expert reviews which are technical, scientific, and political. There are multiple levels of review by representatives from all facets of the industry. Point being, if a product earns the OMRI stamp of approval, you can be confident in its organic integrity. Gardening with OMRI listed products can help ensure that what you grow is truly as “organic” as it can possibly be. Find out more at omri.org which includes a very cool and useful search function that lets you surf the OMRI Products and Materials Lists. Got a nutrient or chemical and want to know if you can use it on an organic crop? Looking for organic products? Check the OMRI lists.

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Light Optimization with Bulb Adapters

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If you use a 600 watt bulb (or smaller), then there’s a good chance it doesn’t fit your light reflector/hood as well as it could. Since most hoods are designed for 1000 watt lights, smaller bulbs commonly require a “mogul to mogul” adapter to extend the bulb out into the center of the hood. Proper bulb position allows you to take full advantage of your hoods reflectivity by delivering more uniform light and decreasing hot spots. This simple and inexpensive modification can help you get the most from your bulbs and electrical bills. Installation tip: screwing the bulb into the adapter first gives you a nice base to hold onto for cleaning and/or installing the bulb without having to touch it.

Kill Fungus Gnats with Tan Lin from CX Hydroponics

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Ever seen fungus gnat larvae firsthand? These little beauties look like maggots and eat your plant’s roots.

Adult fungus gnats aren’t much better. Slightly smaller than  fruit flies (and minus the red eyes), they look like miniature mosquitoes flying around half drunk due to their erratic flight patterns . If you see them once in a while, then you will continue to see them (until you do something) because they lay hundreds of eggs at a time. Left unchecked, they can quickly multiply into a migraine on top of decreased yield.

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How To: Sustainable Plants For Your Colorado Garden / Landscape

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Pedocal or pedalfer? What? Generally speaking these are the two types of soil in the U.S. with a dividing line down the middle of our country.

The implication for growing native plants in Colorado is that our soil is more rocky and has appreciably less organic matter than what usually comes to mind when you think of potting soil. Since our ground contains a lot of sand and gravel it is a good idea to break it up in order to allow roots to get sufficient oxygen. Pedalfer soil is more like the common conception of what makes dirt desirable for plants, lots of organic matter. Another thing to consider when planting native/adapted plants is the use of rocks as mulch (if you look at the Plant Select gardens you’ll notice a lot of rocks). Different types of mulch can be used strategically depending on the plants, their locations, etc. For more information and plant specific tips consult the Plant Select website and/or one of their retailers.

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