Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How frequest to fertilize

1) According to Dr. Mittleider's instructions you should continue
> your crops weekly until 3 weeks before harvesting. The chart that
you have
> seen is a guide, and is mostly correct, but may vary greatly
according to
> different climates and your growing conditions. Thus when your
crops stay
> longer in the soil, continue with their feeding. This may be
> true for indeterminate tomatoes in greenhouses where one may
> extend the growing season by quite some time.
> 2) The ideal with any crop is to take best care of it, water and
feed it
> regularly and bring it to harvest as soon as possible. This is for
> reasons; the most important one being to avoid diseases. Let's
take your
> Swiss chard. They are very easy to grow and don't cost much. For
> reason it is recommended that you rather circulate the plants more
> regularly. Swiss chard in particular you could harvest about three
> That is, three pickings from each plant. Once the leaves are big
> harvest them but leave a few (at least 3) of the young leaves. Let
> leaves grow till the next picking is ready and harvest again, then
the same
> process till your 3'rd picking after which you will pull out the
old plants.
> Spinach is very prone to get Cercospora leaf spot (under warm and
> conditions mostly in summer to early autumn).
> Keeping old plant material in the ground promotes disease build-up.
> are very susceptible to powdery and downy mildew. Other diseases
that can
> cause damage is mosaic virus diseases that are transmitted my
> insects; fungal and bacterial fruit rots. When plants stay too
long in the
> soil the disease pressure increases and soil-born bugs and diseases
> proliferate.
> Cultural practices may benefit your crops greatly. Remove old
leaves or
> leaves showing lesions promptly and remove leaves that hang on the
> Water plants at the beginning of the day or during the warmth of
the day and
> not at evening as many would have you believe. Diseases thrive in
> conditions and after watering you want to give your plants time to
air and
> dry. Remove sick plants and don't leave your plants in the soil
after they
> are ready for harvesting - it is a feast that no bug can pass by!
> Somewhat off the topic, may I comment on fungicides and
> Sometimes there are a need for using measures to protect our crops
> control diseases and pests - (although with a Mittleider garden
where the
> instructions are carefully followed you may be mostly spared it's
> Being a Plant Pathologist you get to learn all about these
chemicals and how
> they work. Amongst that, you are taught how to use them safely.
Any new
> disease control agent/chemical has to go through very strict tests
> procedures that can take years before it is passed and registered
> commercial and public use. These chemical companies have to follow
> rules with regards to making sure that customers are correctly
advised on
> the usage of the chemical. Included with each product is an
> pamphlet that discusses in detail how the product should be used to
keep us
> guaranteed of being safe from being exposed to its harmful
effects. One
> important thing to know about these products is that they have a
> period (the molecular structure of the chemical breaks down when
it comes
> in contact with conditions such as light, air, water, UV,
temperature, dirt
> etc). The break-down period inherently serves two purposes.
Firstly to
> give an indication of when the product will not be effective as a
measure to
> control disease any more; and secondly to indicate that the active
> ingredients will have been broken down after that period, thus
rendering the
> crop safe for human consumption.
> The problem comes in when the people that administer these
chemicals do not
> follow the instructions on these labels/pamphlets. On the pamphlet
it will
> indicate (usually for the indicated crops) how long one should not
> the food after the last application. If you follow the instructions
of the
> extension agent whom you phone, or of the shop assistant that has
the know
> how of which product to use, and if you follow the instructions on
> leaflet that comes with the product - then your foods will be safe
> consumption and no harm will come to you.
> Do not exceed the amounts given in the mixing instructions when you
mix the
> chemical with clean water, neither put too little in as both will
cause more
> damage than good.
> Remember that knowledge brings power. Thus by studying the
instructions in
> all things you may be better equipped to make wise decisions. This
will save
> you from the harms that sometimes come as a result of being

Seed storage

Here is a simple way of storing seeds:

- Store the seeds in a glass bottle with a lid that fits tightly.

- Put the seeds in small envelopes or paper bags and write the type of seed
and the date on them

- Cut a round piece of cardboard which will fit in the bottle

- Make a few holes in the cardboard

- First put a few pieces of dry charcoal in the bottle; put the cardboard
on top of the charcoal and the bags/envelopes on top of the cardboard

- Close the bottle tightly and store in cupboard in a cool, dry place.

To treat the seeds with fungicide you can use the following method:

- Put 4 cups (abt 1kg or 2#) of seed, such as beans, in a paper bag or
plastic bag.

- Measure off a small quantity of fungicide (about 2 grams)

- Use less fungicide if you use less seeds.

- Pour the fungicide into the bag with seeds and fasten the bag

- Shake it well so all the seeds come in contact with the fungicide.

- Then store the seeds as explained above.

Hot water treatment can also be used to kill diseases on or in the seeds.
It takes effort but for those who cannot get seeds it is wise to know how to
clean your own seeds.

For instance, do the following with tomato, onion and cabbage seeds:

- Warm up a pot of water on a stove and keep it warm (as to not burn your
hand) or keep it between 52-54 degrees C. (125-129 degrees F).

- Put the seeds in a bag of cloth

- Put the bag with seeds in the water

- Stir continuously with a spoon and keep the water temperature constant at
the above temperatures for abt ½ an hour.

- If the water temperature drops too quickly, keep a kettle of boiling
water close by and add some hot water (first remove the bag) and put the bag
back in.

- Once finished, put the seeds onto a clean paper and leave in the shade to

- Treat the seeds with a fungicide as explained above and plant or store it
(as described above).

Alternatively; buy larger packets of good quality heirloom seed that are
properly sealed and save by doing so. Small seed packets are really sold at
a premium if you compare them!

Heirloom seeds can be stored for a long time.