Read This Fogmaster Jr. 5330 Review If You Spray Much

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

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

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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.

I know of one other convert, so, for the record, there are at least three Fogmaster Jr. groupies in Colorado.

Jr.’s output is adjustable, from a coarse spray to a mist that is so fine it is practically invisible. Many times I’ve sprayed my hand to double check and make sure that liquid is still coming out, and, every time a layer appears. The output is EXTREMELY EFFICIENT. This saves you water, input costs (foliar sprays, pesticides, etc.), and labor costs (less time mixing, spraying, pumping and pumping and…).  The tank only holds one quart but it LASTS SO LONG THAT IT SEEMS LIKE GALLONS (especially if you’re used to less efficient sprayers). The same trusted friend told me that I’d be surprised at how long a tank would last. He was right again – it’s pretty amazing. Really, next time you come in to the store, ask to do a demo. Chances are you’ll be impressed.

Junior’s small particle size, from 15-40 microns, means that you also get outstanding plant coverage in addition to making a little liquid go a long, long way. And… due to the powerful motor, it literally goes a long way. The 5330 doesn’t produce “fog” like you might imagine. Instead, it rather forcefully emits a fine mist/spray in a focused straight direction for a good distance (4-5’+). It’s like a liquid atomizer/blower. The spray is powerful enough to provide useful extended reach and canopy penetration as well as allowing you to effectively cover lots of ground. Be careful with it around young or fragile plants, the output is that strong. For these reasons, Junior may be oversized for some applications.

Other uses for the 5330 include: disinfecting/sanitizing, mold remediation, dust settling, and humidification.

Tips for using the Fogmaster Jr. 5330: when the tank runs low and you are spraying at an up or down angle, ensure the feed tube is still submerged in the remaining liquid. Or, just fill it up before it runs low. You’ll see what I mean. Also, the replaceable gasket between the tank and the main unit can wear out over time, but Jr. still works without it. It took extensive use/abuse before mine failed and I could’ve perhaps prolonged its life had I known and gone easier on it. That’s my only gripe – it’s minor, it’s fixable, and likely preventable. It would be a bonus if the blower force was adjustable but…

I lllllove my Fogmaster Jr.5330 just the way it is.

More to come in a sequel describing how Junior and GreenCure organic fungicide helped me save an otherwise beautiful crop from powdery mildew disaster.

 

Get Out(side)!

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.
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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.
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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?

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.

OMRI

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.

Here are a few high quality OMRI listed products…

Soil_Bast_wm__41671_zoom Pushing your plants? Colorado based Supreme Growers offer numerous products to ensure that they excel. Soil Blast is a “biological supercharger..formulated for high performance gardens”. If you garden with beneficial microbes, do yourself a favor and look into Supreme. They also offer products for hydroponics.

biobizz Biobizz offers a complete line of nutrients for organic gardens and “is fully dedicated to researching, developing, manufacturing, and marketing organic gardening products that have a positive impact on our society and ultimately the world we live in.”

synergy

Synergy is an excellent biocatylyst…”an organic supplement comprised of fermented seaweed and plant extracts to enhance nutrient uptake and plant vigor”.

sugareeSugaree from Cutting Edge Solutions “provides an organic carbohydrate and electrolyte source to stimulate amino acid production and..it’s specially designed  organic formulation targets increases in fruit set, retention, and sugar production”

 

 

Light Optimization with Bulb Adapters

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.
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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

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

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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.

Tan Lin is a natural, effective, and innovative product that can end your fungus gnat headaches.

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With Tan Lin, CX Hydroponics has developed a unique mode of action to do away with fungus gnats. This biological control ends the gnat’s life cycle by killing larvae faster than they can develop. It is completely safe for plants and has a higher kill rate than other biocontrols like Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis serovar israelensis).

If you have a serious gnat problem, drench your medium with Tan Lin every 3 days until things are under control and then once a week for maintenance. Tan Lin excels as a preventative when used on a weekly basis.

When applying the product it is important to completely saturate the growing media, so if you water using flood & drain it may be necessary to apply Tan Lin from the top to ensure that the upper layer of medium is drenched. Since it is a living control, do not combine Tan Lin with hydrogen peroxide.

How To: Sustainable Plants For Your Colorado Garden / Landscape

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.

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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.

Back to the plants…

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Rudbeckia, Denver Daisy. This tender perennial has great long-lasting flowers (until late summer) and commemorates the 150th anniversary of the founding of Denver.

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Osteospermum, ‘Avalanche’ White Sun Daisy. Another South African native adapted to Colorado, this one is super hearty with “greater disease resistance and heavier summer bloom than the other hardy sun daisies. Giant blossoms close at night to reveal a metallic reverse of ray flowers”.

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Hesperaloe parviflora, Red Yucca. This is a big (3-4′ x 3-4′) graceful yucca. “Tall spikes of brilliant rose-pink, yellow-throated tubular blossoms curve skyward with elegance and are an instant magnet for hummingbirds from early summer to autumn. Red yucca is virtually maintenance-free and perfectly xeric once established”.

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Echium amoenum, Red Feathers. This perennial will “produce spikes of feathery, russet-red flowers in spring, re-blooming again in summer and fall if deadheaded“.

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Crambe maritma, Curly Leaf Sea Kale. “This robust, traditional European perennial potherb forms impressive clumps of gorgeous, wavy, waxy blue foliage all summer long. In spring, clusters of dazzling white flowers grace the garden. Tough and permanent once established, this beautiful perennial offers larger-scale, summer-long interest for dry gardens”.

Vitus x 'St_ Theresa Seedless' 11Vitus x 'St_ Theresa Seedless' 4

Vitis x ‘St. Theresa Seedless’, St. Theresa Seedless Grape. A vigorous woody vine. “This hardy, mostly seedless, purple slip-skin grape with excellent flavor is an early season table grape… Wonderful for arbors”.

There’s are a little look at some sustainable selections for your pedocal plot. There are many, many more for you to explore at plantselect.org.. enjoy!

Thanks again to Plant Select for permission to use their pictures and words!

Chemical Controls for Powdery Mildew

Past posts have looked at cultural and biological controls for powdery mildew. These, along with Greencure, are all typically approved for use in certified organic agriculture.

Now it’s time to talk toxics. So get out your PPE (personal protective equipment), take a deep breath, and prepare to kill…

Synthetic chemical fungi killers come last in this series because, ideally, they are a last resort. While undeniably useful components in an integrated disease management plan, they should not be relied upon as a substitute for good gardening practices.

You may be familiar with foggers or “bug bombs” for pests like spider mites. They also exist for fungal diseases. Fungaflor TR‘s active ingredient is imazalil. TR stands for Total Release, once you trigger the fogger the entire contents of the canister are emptied. One small 2oz. fogger treats up to 1,500 square feet (1,000 for powdery mildew). As with other bombs, thoroughly read and follow all directions on the label. The fog is flammable so make sure there aren’t any open combustion sources like a pilot light. Once the treatment is over, ensure ventilation has completely removed the product from the space prior to reentry.

Fungi bombs work especially well as a preventative when preparing a new garden or to treat a space that previously contained pathogenic spores. Foggers provide excellent coverage over a large area and don’t leave behind residue as can happen when burning sulfur.

While Fungiflor can be used in a garden while plants are in it, be careful: do not trigger a bomb too close to plants or they may be damaged. In their Keys to Success, the maker of the product says to “clear out a three-foot area around the canister to prep for application”. Remember, one small can is intended to treat 1,000-1,500 square feet which is larger than many indoor gardens. If used in too small a space, the increased concentration could also damage plants.

Alright, now for the big gun, Eagle 20EW.This product is effective and, therefore, popular with many. The active ingredient is myclobutanil. Eagle 20EW acts as a systemic with a residual presence in the plant. For this reason, treating a plant once or twice in its vegetative stage is often sufficient to successfully suppress powdery mildew. This is also the reason to avoid treating plants with it during the latter stages of growth.

Eagle 20EW can be used as a preventative treatment when introducing new plants to your garden from outside sources. It can also be an effective knockdown treatment when other options have failed to break the pathogenic cycle. That being said, it should not be overused. Science has proved that overuse of fungicides like Eagle 20EW can result in some fungi becoming resistant to them. For this reason, the product label recommends alternating it with other products after two consecutive uses.

Carefully read the label/instructions prior to using the product. Since you shouldn’t require too many applications for the lifecycle of a plant, make them count by combining Eagle 20EW with a surfactant (like Coco Wet or Humboldt Sticky) to maximize plant coverage and keep it in place. If plant size permits, consider mixing enough solution to dunk the entire plant in order to guarantee complete coverage.

That brings us full circle in our look at ways to grow in harmony with powdery mildew spores. While there are many gardening approaches and products when it comes fungal diseases, we’ve looked at some of the most effective.

Integrated pest/disease management is a prevalent theme in agriculture. It is a very broad topic and one that keeps coming up (perennial in nature if you will) for good reasons. As the use of the word ‘integrated’ suggests, no single action or product will, by itself, guarantee victory in the fight against powdery mildew. Long term success comes from a combination of techniques, products, and, of course, hard work.

When it comes to fighting garden diseases like the phantom menace that is powdery mildew, may the spores not be with you.

Sustainable Gardening Colorado / Plant Select Style

As noted in a previous blog, growers in Colorado are blessed. We can grow plants in our state that others can’t. Our semi-arid climate affords us the opportunity to cultivate numerous beautiful and unique plants which don’t require much water, like this Fire Spinner ice plant…

Delosperma 2 David Winger

If you’ve ever purchased plants from a large chain store (that specializes in hardware) only to have them struggle then die, don’t feel bad. It’s not that you have a black thumb; many of those plants aren’t meant for our area. So where does one turn when looking for plants that are native or adapted to Colorado? Enter Plant Select.

Plant Select is a really cool non-profit collaboration between Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens, growers and nurseries. They work together to research plants for our climate and make them commercially available. This network includes over 70 licensed growers, and almost as many retail outlets, which sell over 1.5 million plants a year including a wide variety of flowers, grasses, trees, and some edible plants. Their collection includes over 100 perennials, and some annuals, which have proven themselves to be suitable for your outdoor garden/landscape. New plants are added every year with some coming from as far away as South Africa, Patagonia, and Asia.

In addition to an impressive array of plants, there is a reoccurring theme of sustainability with Plant Select. Most of their selections come back year after year and all of them have relatively low water requirements. Native plants tend to be pest resistant, aren’t invasive, and many of them attract pollinators. In short, they make sense.

Future posts will highlight specific plants and cover some basics to growing them. For more information, check out their website which includes a map of nearly 90 demonstration gardens throughout Colorado and free garden design tools.

Thanks for letting us use your pictures Plant Select!

Organic GreenCure for Powdery Mildew

Chemical controls for powdery mildew range from harmless substances to hardcore synthetic fungicides. Let’s look at the antifungal arsenal in that order starting with an organic option…

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When it comes to fungicides (organic or not) GreenCure is a product that deserves serious consideration. It consists primarily of potassium bicarbonate which is used in human food, dietary supplements, and antacids.  This active ingredient is similar to baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). While both bicarbonates can be used as a fungicide, studies show that the potassium version is 25-35 times more effective. Not only is it safe for you, it’s also safe for our environment. The USDA, FDA, and EPA all recognize its safety. GreenCure is one of the few fungicides registered for indoor use by the EPA.

Although it’s harmless to humans, GreenCure is very harmful if you’re a spore (it kills them on contact via dehydration). Getting revenge on garden diseases is even sweeter when you don’t have to worry about subjecting yourself, your plants, and our planet to nasty chemicals!

The facts supporting GreenCure are numerous and impressive. One of the best testaments is that it has been successfully used in commercial agriculture for over a decade to both treat AND prevent numerous diseases on a large variety of plants.

GreenCure is the proven result of extensive research. Much of that research went towards finding the best way to coat the plant surface and keep the product in place. Over 350 different substances were tested to find the safest and most effective surfactant (spreader-sticker). The right combination of natural substances means that GreenCure kills spores and also prevents them for up to two weeks. An additional bonus is that there is minimal residue which is one reason why vegetables can be harvested as little as one hour after spraying.

Being able to safely apply GreenCure late in a plant’s lifecycle can be a crop/lifesaver as a last resort. Obviously it would be preferable to avoid spraying anything on a plant just before harvesting it. However, in some cases where PM has established a strong presence and/or is detected late, GreenCure may help salvage a crop that would otherwise be lost or unsafe for consumption. It is important to note that the appearance of some plants may be effected in the flowering/fruiting stage. If this is a potential issue, start with a week concentration, test a small area, and adjust accordingly.

Since chemical controls (organic or synthetic) kill spores, they shouldn’t be combined with the biological controls covered in the previous post.

Next time we’ll look at the usual suspects when it comes to chemical fungicides, products like fungicide “bombs” and synthetic systemics.

Water-Wise Plants and Trees Perfect for Colorado

This spring set yourself up for gardening/landscaping success with plants from the Colorado non-profit organization Plant Select.  All of their plants have undergone extensive research to ensure that they will perform well in our climate and do so without consuming much water. Here are a few…

Acer tataricum 'GarAnn' 12 -DW$_1Acer tataricum 'GarAnn' 3 PGH

Acer tataricum ‘GarAnn, the Hot Wings Tatarian Maple = wow! This tree blooms in spring, followed by brilliant red fruit “like flaming flowers all summer long”, has “showy fall color”, AND is strong enough to withstand storms!

Delosperma 'John Proffitt' 1 -Dan Johnson

Delosperma ‘John Proffitt’, Table Mountain Ice Plant. This fast spreading groundcover comes from South Africa. It has a long bloom period from spring to fall and, like other ice plants, shimmers in the light.

Echinacea tennesseensis _Mike Kintgentennessee-purple-coneflower

Echinacea tennesseensis, Tennessee purple coneflower. You’re likely familiar with the Echinacea/coneflowers of the daisy family. This is a new offering for Plant Select and comes with a great story. It was one of the original plants listed as an endangered species in 1979 and was taken of the list in 2011 (one of only a handful of plants to ever be de-listed). Celebrate their recovery/be part of it by planting some. “They bloom cheerily during summer, always facing east so be sure to site properly”.

Next time we’ll take a closer look at Plant Select, a few more of their plants (including edible ones), and tips on growing them.

Thanks for letting us use content from your website Plant Select!