8 Steps to DIY Bokashi Composting

Bokashi: The Composting Samurai

Effective microorganisms (EM) are tiny little living entities that help break down compost and organic matter. They operate in a different way than beneficial bacteria or fungi in how they affect your plants. They turn up the volume on compost and aid in creating a soil that is rich in microbes and nutrients that you can integrate right back into your grow.  

What is Bokashi?

Bokashi is a Japanese word that means “fermented organic matter”. The term refers to both the method used and the inoculant mixture (the kick starter) used to power the fermentation process. The inoculant mixture consists of lacto acid bacteria (Lactobacillus casei), photosynthetic bacteria (Rhodopseudomonas palustris), and yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae).

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Biofilm of antibiotic resistant bacteria, closeup view. Rod-shap

The Quick & Dirty Wrap-Up of Beneficial Microbes

Types of Beneficial Microbes

The idea of working with microbes can be a bit intimidating or confusing for those that have never done it before. Introducing strains and colonies to your soil culture has a number of benefits that can increase your plant yield, overall health, and vigor.

Beneficial microbes often work within the rhizosphere (the area that surrounds your plant’s root system) of your soil. This is where these beneficial buddies hang out, eat, digest and positively influence what grows above the soil.

They form mutually beneficial relationships with your plants. These bacteria and fungi help to digest potential pathogens and then convert them into food or beneficial nutrients for your plants. They have a little more going on for each other than just the mutual back scratch.

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"Fungus, Trichoderma reesi, growing on plant material."

Trichoderma a Biofungicide

Trichoderma (Trike-oh-Derm-ah)

Trichoderma is a beneficial fungus that helps to protect your plants against molds and bacteria. These tough little guys stand up against root rot and grey mold, protecting your plants from being destroyed. They create a barrier that make it impossible for harmful bacteria and pathogens to pass through.

Trichoderma surrounds your plant’s roots releasing compounds that trigger their natural defense systems.

Fungi That Flexes

These guys aren’t messing around. Not only do they strong arm potential pathogens but they also have the ability to kill those that may already be present. Additionally, Trichoderma reduces Pythium, Fusarium and Rhizoctonia. These enzymes attack harmful soil bacteria and fungi. They wrap themselves around the harmful fungi, releasing these enzymes that then dissolve the invaders cell wall. Think of how a snake’s saliva breaks down its prey after it has swallowed it whole. Yeah, kinda like that. The sexy action term for it is “microbe parasitism.”

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Spirillum bacteria

5 Ass Kicking Applications for Azospirillum

Azospirillum, Fixing Nitrogen Like a Boss

Flatulance, while this might be an oversimplification, is essentially the process from which Azospirillum convert nitrogen gas to plant usable, ammonia (NH3). When it comes to nutrition nitrogen is the limiting factor in plant growth, playing a key role in almost every process of a plants life. In effect, azospirillum also affect almost every process of a plant’s life. So yeah, it’s pretty important!

Passing Gas

Nitrogen exists in our air and our soil. Actually, 78% of our atmosphere is made of nitrogen (N2). The way it exists in our atmosphere doesn’t do much for our plants unless it can take on a solid form. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria take in nitrogen the way that we do oxygen.
Then they excrete it as a solid form that plants can use. When nitrogen is taken from gas to solid, it is called
nitrogen fixation.

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5 Things You Need to Know About Beneficial Bacteria

We had the awesome opportunity to sit down with Scotty Real of Real Growers and The Dude Grows Show. Scotty brought his 25 years of expertise to the table, helping us shed light into the dark corners of the soil world.

Before we jump into beneficial bacteria, we should first talk a little bit about the rhizosphere. Why? Because that is where you will find all of the bacterial action we are about to discuss. The rhizosphere is the microbial party zone.

Often called “the last frontier in agricultural science,”  the rhizosphere is the area around a plant’s roots. What makes the rhizosphere more special than other areas in the soil? Roots release special compounds called exudates with which microbes interact, basically functioning as all-you-can-eat salad bars for our microbial friends. Root exudation is a complex process and the many compounds released by roots are not fully studied or understood.  We do know, however, that some of these exudates are “amino acids, organic acids, sugars, phenolics” as well as polysaccharides.

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Powdery Mildew of on a leaf of perennials

Stop It Before It Starts: Powdery Mildew

Every seasoned gardener has had at least one bout with powdery mildew. It is annoyingly pervasive, and no one wants to see those tell-tale spots on their plants. It seems that everywhere we look- trees, landscaping, gardens- there is no escaping it.  So what exactly is it, and how can you keep it from stunting your plants’ growth and destroying your yield?  How can you avoid what seems to be everywhere?

What is powdery mildew?

Powdering mildew is a generic term that refers to a group of related fungi that are plant-specific and share common symptoms.  Because they are plant-specific, the powdery mildew that you have on your ornamentals will not necessarily spread to your vegetable garden.  Despite this, powdery mildew does spread easily from plant to plant and spores can easily travel through the air.  They can even move through screen windows, so your indoor plants are at just as much risk as your outdoor ones.

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arbuscule mychorrizae

Mycorrhizae: Improve Your Yield Part 1

Mycorrhizae- what it is and why you need it

What is mycorrhizae?

Good fungi vs. bad fungi

Not all fungi are bad for plants. In fact, there are a variety of different fungi that are good for plants.  Some are even essential for plant health.  The relationship between these good fungi and plant roots are called mycorrhizal associations, or mycorrhizae.  The awesome effects of mycorrhizae can be seen in vibrant healthy plant growth, robust flowering, and healthy, living soil.

These two organisms (fungi and plant roots) live together in a mutually beneficial symbiosis where the fungi get either nutrients, metabolites, or a combination of both from the host.  Fungal symbiosis occurs all the time in nature, but we don’t always see it.  You can often find mushrooms living around tree bases in forests, but there is a lot more going on underground that we don’t see.  And in fact, the vast majority of symbiotic fungal relationships live their whole lives in the soil where we don’t see the important impacts of these relationships.

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Super Soil

What is Super Soil? Plus A Professional Review

The best part about it is the consistency.  I rarely, if ever, see any nutrient deficiencies, across various plant types.”

What is Super Soil?

Super soil is a term coined by well-known grower and seed producer Subcool to describe a soil recipe he uses to help simplify the process of attaining an ideal harvest no matter your level of growing expertise. It is a highly amended growing medium that eliminates the need to use liquid nutrients.  Subcool, who operates TGA Genetics, has been a contributor to High Times, Skunk, Treating Yourself, Heads, Weed World, and West Coast Magazines.  He has won the Cannabis Cup, is an accomplished author, and has over 30 years of experience as a grower.

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Heirloom-Tomato

Heirloom Seeds vs Hybrid Seeds

What is the difference between Heirloom Seeds vs Hybrid Seeds?

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

What are some advantages to growing heirloom strains?

Flavor

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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Vegging in a Grow Tent

LEC 315: Ceramic Metal Halide Technology

LEC 315

In the world of HID lighting for horticulture, Double Ended (DE) fixtures have been getting all the attention lately, but there is another “new” HID fixture that some growers may have naturally overlooked. Ceramic Discharge Metal halide (CDM) also marketed as Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH) and Light Emitting Ceramic (LEC). All of these are in fact the same technology. Ceramic lamps tend to run at a lower, fixed wattage, and their potential to save energy is often their most touted feature, so they may not be as exciting as that fully adjustable DE fixture that you can crank all the way to 1175watts. To fully appreciate the difference and why they deserve your attention, It’s best to see plants growing under an LEC first hand. Here are some of the reasons why you should take a field trip to your local Way to Grow today to see the difference for yourself.

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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.

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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