Category Archives: Sustainability

Gnat Nix for your holiday gift basket

For some folks holiday shopping is a joy. Yet for others it can be an ordeal. What to get? Will it fit? Will they like the color? Will they use it? If you fall into the former (or later, for that matter) category, I’ve got good news if you are looking for something special for a gardener. There are plenty of choices that won’t break the bank, and for this exercise let’s get creative and think outside the box.

Hortidaily Says Growstones are a Dream Substrate

By Boy de Nijs

Growstones in Bato buckets in a commercial greenhouse trial in 2009 with tomatoes.  Growstones in Bato buckets in a commercial greenhouse trial in 2009 with tomatoes.

 

Crushed glass has growing media. It may sound a little crazy, yet controlled research trials done by Wageningen University and The University of Arizona/Controlled Environment Agriculure (CEAC) show that plants thrive very well on foamed glass aggregates manufactured for horticulture applications. This is how Growstone, Inc. was born in 2005. The substrate is already available for the hobby grower, but currently Growstone is looking to widen it's reach and transit into the commercial greenhouse market.

At the time the first trials were done by the University of Arizona, Paula Costa was a graduate student at Agriculture & Biosystems Engineering Department. "I was finishing my research project at the CEAC and very quickly got directly involved in setting the first informal greenhouse trials with Growstones crushed foamed glass in the Fall of 2005," says Paula who is now Growstone's R&D Director.

Urban Farming Is Growing a Green Future


earth-day-urban-farming-new-york-rooftop_51631_600x450

 

Photograph by Anthony Behar, Sipa Press/AP
by Green Gotham

With seven billion mouths to feed, human agriculture exerts a tremendous toll on the planet, from water draws to pollution, and from energy use to habitat loss. But there is also a growing set of solutions, from organic agriculture to integrated pest management.

More people around the world are taking a look at urban farming, which offers to make our food as "local" as possible. By growing what we need near where we live, we decrease the "food miles" associated with long-distance transportation. We also get the freshest produce money can buy, and we are encouraged to eat in season.

America’s Next Agricultural Revolution Will Happen Indoors

America’s Next Agricultural Revolution Will Happen IndoorsWith climate change wrecking havoc on the world’s crops, it’s time to consider other options. Warehouse farms might be the answer to the global food crisis.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released their first report in seven years, and like many sequels, it wasn’t good. Beyond melting ice caps and unprecedented heat waves, the news that most shook readers was that "all aspects of food security are potentially affected by climate change."

Early proof of this impending disaster is playing out in California where farming-related losses in 2013 are estimated to be $5 billion and 2014 is not on track to be any better. Chipotle noted in a recent investor letter that they might cut back on their signature guacamole because of avocado scarcity. In a wry twist, this news caused much more concern for many Americans than the United Nations Nobel Prize winning team’s research tome of impending doom.

Why You Want to Kiss Clay Pebbles Goodbye

Clay pebbles available today

Growers have had a love hate relationship with clay pebbles for years. Now there’s finally a choice. Besides the clear advantage of providing a higher level of aeration than clay pebbles, Growstones have significantly less fines, and release silica over time in a form plant roots can uptake.

Here are some of the advantages of Growstones aggregates over clay pebbles based on actual physical characteristics of both substrates.

1. Higher air-filled porosity

At field capacity (i.e. after irrigation water has drained away), clay pebbles air-filled porosity is about 42%, while Growstones hydroponic media is 48% by volume. This corresponds to at least 12% higher aeration in Growstones than clay pebbles. The importance of high porosity in hydroponic growing cannot be undermined. Ideal substrates have small and large pore spaces. When the substrate is irrigated, water is held in the small pores but quickly drains through the large pores, allowing fresh air to flow through the soil, bringing oxygen to the roots and removing carbon dioxide from the root zone.

The Importance of Buffered Coco and Why We Use It in GS-3 Coco Mix

As I am sure you know, coco peat or coco coir are byproducts of industries that use coconuts. Coconut tree plantations are found in the tropical and subtropical areas of West Africa, Asia, South America and Central America. Garden grade coco coir is created by a series of steps like aging, washing, rinsing, drying, buffering, grinding, and grading. Without proper processing, coco coir will have an excessive salt content, degenerate and compact resulting in problems with Pythium root rot, and lead to nutritional imbalances especially related to calcium and magnesium deficiencies.    

Without going into too much chemistry, we'll explain cation exchange and coco coir. Since coco coir has a negative charge, it can hold certain nutrients and keep them from the plant (nutrient lockup = BAD). Suppose you are growing a fast growth annual flowering plant. You want every bit of calcium to get utilized by your plant. Nutrient lock up will affect plant health and reduce overall yields. 

So, how do we make sure our coco coir doesn't contain a lot of elements that will lock up expensive fertilizers, burn plants with excessive unwanted salts, and reduce plant health and yields?