Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Did you know plants use only inorganic minerals

I've never heard before that plants use only inorganic minerals. Is there a source from which to quote?

Rita & Group:

There are probably a million sources for this knowledge, and perhaps other members of the Group can do a better job of finding something written simply and succinctly, but here are a few I found at 12 midnight, which I hope are satisfactory to answer your question.

From Wickipedia under Plant Physiology - "Researchers discovered in the 1800s that plants absorb essential mineral nutrients as inorganic ions in water. In natural conditions, soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir but the soil itself is not essential to plant growth. When the mineral nutrients in the soil are dissolved in water, plant roots absorb nutrients readily, soil is no longer required for the plant to thrive. This observation is the basis for hydroponics, the growing of plants in a water solution rather than soil, which has become a standard technique in biological research, teaching lab exercises, crop production and as a hobby."

Another article, http://www.iisc.ernet.in/academy/resonance/July1998/pdf/July1998p45-52.pdf describes in detail how plants work. The first paragraph gives us the basics of what we need to know for this discussion:

"Animals, including man, require food in the form of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, etc., which in turn are provided either directly or indirectly by plants. Then, how do plants obtain their food?

Plants have the unique ability to synthesize their own food
utilizing solar energy and the inorganic elements (minerals) available in theirsurroundings. They obtain their carbon, hydrogen, and oxygenfrom water and from the atmospheric CO2 and O2. The soil is thesource of other inorganic nutrient elements which are normally
available as ions such as NO3
–, H2PO4
–, SO4
– –, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+,
Fe3+, etc."

Jim Kennard

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Growing in the desert using the Mittleider method of sustainable gardening

I live in the southeast corner of Arizona at medium high elev. - about 3500' - desert. I just used the container method of the Mittleider Method of Gardening.

We have lots of bugs, rabbits, javeline, birds and our own dogs.

Before Mittleider I got three tomatoes on one plant. Now we've got tomatoes but we have to keep the dogs away from them because they eat them. So we fenced in the garden of containers and now my herbs are growing. I still have squash growing across the pathway.

Tomatoes here bud early compared to the rest of the U.S. due to our long growing season. I have put in some experiments in the pots and they grew.

We are building raised beds because we have caleche soil. Some Master gardener from this area recommended shading the plants in pre-Monsoon
and Monsoon seasons but she said that I could grow up until frost in the beds with out shading after 90 degrees.

What has been the biggest problem here is the high winds. We are working on a wind block. Our fencing is just chain link. Hope this encourages you. I'd like to hear how your enclosed growing area works after next season. Gloria


If you can limit your shade to 25% or thereabouts, and allow for direct sun in morning and later afternoon, the shade won't hurt your production.

For a wind-break I recommend you visit your fence companies and ask for the plastic slat material that can be slid between the links of the fence. These give virtually total privacy and reduce the wind as well.

Jim Kennard

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12" wide grow boxes versus 18" wide grow boxes which are better and why?

What improvements were discovered when Dr.Mittleider switched from 12"
wide grow boxes to 18" wide grow boxes?

Syd_can & Group:

Dr. Mittleider never did tell me much about his reasons for changing his recommendations in this measurement. He continued to use 12"-wide Grow-Boxes in his own home garden until he moved from Salt Lake City, Utah back to Loma Linda, California at the end of 2002.

But in the garden Jacob and I built in the Assisted Living Center in Loma Linda, in which he and his wife lived for several years, the boxes were 18"-wide, and of course they worked great.

I believe that for crops exclusively grown in only one row per box that 12" is sufficient, but when you have 2 rows in a box the plants need the extra space, and so Jacob decided it was best to standardize on one size that would work for all plants.

The plant rows are about 14-15" apart in the boxes, but when growing in the soil, because of the space taken up by the ridges, the rows of plants are about 12" apart, so go figure.

And in the soil Jacob liked aisles of 3 1/2', but in a Grow-Box situation he often said 3' was adequate. I believe that difference is because of the space the ridges take up in a soil-bed garden.

In either situation proper pruning is the key to success. With good enough and often enough pruning even aisles as narrow as 2 1/2' can work, but I never recommend that, because most people will not prune enough and they'll end up LOSING productivity because their plants and fruit don't get sufficient light.

Jim Kennard

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