Social Media – A Magic Wand in Agriculture

clip_image001[1]Social Media is the craziest thing in which people of every age and every group of life are involved and actually addicted to it. Average time people spend on Social Interactive sites like Facebook and Twitter is 5-7 hours. So this time is purely dedicated for interaction with people and discussion of lot of things around.

By: Haroon Hemani (Student at Department of Agriculture & Agribusiness Management, University of Karachi)

Social Media is not just for fun but in fact it works as a magic wand by which you can do wonders. Now people are doing their businesses from social media. Now every business should have a social interactive website so that they get an instant feedback about their businesses and get the public point of view about the product they sell. Social Media is not magical just for business related issues but they are doing magic on educational and research grounds as well. So Social Media is a package where people get what they want and they can discuss their point of views and can share things of their interests as well.

When Social Media waved the Magic Wand over Agriculture, the whole concept of agriculture changed. From student to a professional farmer actually entered into a new phase of agriculture where things get better, effective and easy!

Social Media and Agriculture Students

Social media make agriculture academics simple. Students now find E-books, Handouts, Research Papers and many informative videos on farming and livestock as well. And above all they can interact with different students, teachers and professionals and can discuss their problems, give their thoughts on different issues and in addition you will be noticed by professionals too! You can also talk to people around the world and can learn about diverse agricultural systems working in different countries. Students can find internships and jobs through social media.

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Making Extension work trouble-free

Extension work a very important part of agriculture sciences and management is now not so difficult as compared to previous days. Now you can easily engage with the farmers through social media and can guide and inform about new technologies and how they can work better for farmers. Farmers on other hand can ask about different diseases and management issues and find their solutions easily. Information about the time and quantity of Fertilizer and Pesticide use is now as simple as ABC. Farmers now share their experiences, problems and solutions on Facebook, twitter and even youtube and it benefits new people in this field as well as professional farmers. AgChats is the perfect example of it.

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Farm Record Keeping and Management Software and Apps

Farm Recording is the key of farming and this is become very easy by Mobile apps and Farm recording software like agsquared, farmlogs and FarmPAD. Now you can manage and record each and everything on the go. These magical softwares helps you to organize your farm in seconds, so nothing to worry about because magic is in the air!

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Social Media and Agribusiness

E-agribusiness is a popular term for the people related to agriculture. Agribusiness become digital nowadays. There are many companies who have their product website and they actively use social media for the marketing of  their agricultural products.

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There are websites which brings importers and exporters on one platform so that consumer can find their desired products at good price.

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Companies related to Agriculture technologies and machineries also work passionately on social media.

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People are now selling gardening equipment through social media and they are making good money out of it.

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Awareness Campaigns through Social Media

Awareness campaigns are very common on social media and you find bulk of awareness campaigns under the title of Agriculture.

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Social media is doing magical things around us and actually it is helping the whole Agriculture Sector including farming and livestock. Every branch of agriculture is now connected with social media from seed to harvesting a crop and raising livestock. Social Media in fact created Agriculture a magical world where you just need a magic wand to conquer it!

Dancing Bees Speak in Code

Michael Schirber

Date: 27 May 2005 Time: 06:29 AM ET

Scientists have long marveled over the dance of the bee. A little jitterbug seems to reveal to coworkers the location of a distant meal. But how and whether the dance really works has remained controversial.

A new study confirms the dancing is a form of communication.

Bees outfitted with tracking devices responded to the wiggling of one of their fellow foragers, who had just returned to the hive from some newfound bee vittles.? The dance, which is performed on one of the honeycomb walls, is not an exact language, but it gets the job done.

The central element of the choreography is a shimmy, or waggle, along a straight line. For emphasis, the bee repeats this move several times by circling around in a figure-8 pattern. The angle that the shimmy makes in relation to an imaginary vertical line is the direction to the food source with respect to the sun.

For example, a waggle dance pointing towards 3 o’clock is bee talk for: “Hey, there’s food 90 degrees to the right of the Sun.”

A solar compass

This solar compass in honeybees was originally observed in the 1960s by the Nobel Prize winner Karl von Frisch. Later, it was noticed that the number of waggles in one figure-8 corresponds to the distance to the meal.

These remarkable relations have been supported by other experiments, including one in which a mechanical bee danced for the hive and the real bees responded. But there have remained doubts as to whether the other bees could actually decipher the dancer’s message.

“The dance isn’t a trivial demonstration, but an abstract code,” says J. R. Riley of Rothamsted Research, UK.

One complication is that hives are dark and cramped, so other bees – called “recruits” – do not see the full pattern as human observers do. Furthermore, recruits tend to take longer to find the food than would be expected.

“Flying directly, it should only take them a minute or so, but they often don’t find the feeder for 5 or 10 minutes,” Riley told LiveScience.

And sometimes they never find it. For this reason, some scientists have speculated that the waggle dance merely excites other bees, which then fly out of the hive searching for a scent trail left by the returning bee.

Making a beeline

To solve the controversy, Riley and colleagues strapped radar transponders to 19 dance spectators. The flight paths show that the bees make a beeline to the vicinity of the food source, but then fly around in a looping search pattern. Only two of the radar-tracked recruits actually found the food.

Apparently, the dance gives incomplete instructions, and the bees rely on odors, colors, and other clues to hone in on the final location. Still, the dance gets them pretty close. On average, the recruits came within 18 feet of the food before switching to search mode.

“This was in spite of considerable wind drift which would have pushed them off course if they had not compensated,” Riley said.

To further investigate bee-havior, the team moved some recruits several hundred yards away from the hive and then released them. The displaced bees flew the prescribed direction and distance – where they found nothing because their starting point was off.

This is the most definitive proof that recruited bees read the waggle dance, since the transplanted bees chose the foretold trajectory without any of the possible other cues – odors (bees have a strong sense of smell), landscape, other bees – that might exist along the true hive-to-feeder route.

The work was described earlier this month in the journal Nature.

Source of Article: http://www.livescience.com

BAP to control Wheat Aphid…. A strategy made through PARB’s project

By: Maryam Naseer

Agriculture, industry and commerce are pillars of the economy of every country and provide a strong base for development. If we talk about Pakistan, here, agriculture is the only pillar that can boost the dwindling economy and can play a vital role for its development. Many people are associated with agriculture as the main earning source of income and live hood.

Wheat is important crop of Pakistan in terms of earning major foreign exchange and food for people. Wheat is grown at about 8.41 million hectare in Pakistan, out of which 6.27 million hectare (74%) falls in Punjab province (MINFAL). Its yield as well as production experienced substantial fluctuations during some years due to climatic changes. Among others, natural population of predators and parasitoids fail to manage aphid population to acceptable limits. Since independence, pest management techniques other than pesticide spray, such as development of resistant varieties and dependence on natural enemies of pests were successfully utilized against various pests of wheat on sustainable basis. Up to 90’s there was a good natural equilibrium between aphid population and its natural enemies. However, during recent past, this natural balance seems to be disturbed by extensive and indiscriminate use of non -selective pesticides on various crops. The wheat aphid attack as compiled by DG Pest Warning reveals that initially it was seen only in 10 districts till 2002, which increased up to 35 districts from 2004 to onwards.Wheat aphid is also becoming a potential threat as it started feeding on milky grain stage of crop when it’s not advisable to spray non selective pesticides on a large scale as a sole agent for its management. Therefore, we need scientific research to resolve the issue on permanent basis.

If we look at history, the Cotton Leaf Curl Virus (CLCV) was recorded for the first time during 1967 in Multan. But we did not take it seriously till it started economic damage in 1988 and until now, we are not succeeded to control this virus, resultantly losing billions rupees bales annually.  Similarly cotton mealy bug was recorded in Umar kot (Sindh) during 1980 but we did not try to study its lifecycle, weak links, parasites and predators till 2005 when it caused economic damage to our cotton crop. So far, we have not been able to find its proper control. So we need to adopt proactive approach and must be ready with control strategy before any organism poses serious threat to our agriculture.  In fact, we need to remain ahead of pests rather than following them. We need to learn lesson from our past experience where we ignored proactive research approach against hidden potential threat.

Wheat aphid is such other emerging problem and few progressive farmers already started pesticides spray for its control and spray area is continuously increasing every year (agri. Extension workers). The situation will further deteriorate if some timely, effective and safe management strategy other than sole dependence on pesticide spray will not be developed for aphid control. Furthermore, as mentioned above, wheat is sown on a very large area and as such it is neither feasible nor economical to manage pests on it through spray.  Therefore we need to develop a package of Best Agricultural Practices (BAP) including agronomic and bio control agents to tackle the problem on sustainable basis before it becomes epidemic.We also need to develop the loss of pesticides comparatively safe for bio agent and environment but effective against wheat aphid as a second defense to handle the situation if primary defense fails.

Luckily aphid species attacking Saron( Brassicanapus) are different from that attacking wheat crop, whereas natural enemies of both groups are the same. Furthermore, aphid appears on Brassica much earlier than on wheat crop. This phenomenon may be exploited fully by intercropping Brassica in wheat crop which will help to develop reservoir of natural enemies of wheat aphid before the appearance of aphid attack on wheat crop. Consequently, this reservoir may play an important role in aphid management on wheat crop. The preliminary data on intercropping of Brassica napus in wheat crop by Directorate Entomological Research Institute Ayub Agricultural Research Institute (AARI) Faisalabad, confirmed the aforementioned hypothesis to some extent.

Wheat aphid can damage crop by making the leave yellow, weak and affect the quality and production of crop. Aphid also spread various viral diseases, although not witnessed in Punjab but Peshawar has observed some viral diseases. Among all aphid types, four are prominent in Punjab province, including, Green Bug, Corn Leaf Aphid, Bird Cheery Oat aphid and English grain aphid whereas predators and parasitoids are environment friendly.

Wheat is an important crop and farmers should avoid spray of pesticides. In order to resolve this issue Centre for Applied Biosciences International (CABI) with the financial funding of Punjab Agricultural Research Board (PARB) started to work on a project “Integrated Pest Management of Aphid in wheat crop” since July 2009. The other collaborative institutes in the project were Adaptive Research Farm (Bhun, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Shekhpura and Vehari) and Wheat Research Institute Faisalabad. The project manager is Dr. Rana Muhammad Shafiq .

Development of Best Agricultural Practices (BAP) for management of Aphid attack on wheat has been completed. After analyzing results of studies the following BAP has been finalized for demonstration phase

· Timely sowing of wheat crop up to 20th November

· Apply balanced fertilizers i.e N:P:k @ 69:46:25

· Improved Brassica/canola intercropping in wheat by the following two methods

1. Three lines of Brassica intercropped after every 100ft (4 kanals) distance

2. A compact block of one kanal Brassica intercropped after every 400 ft (2 acres ) distance

If the aphid populations explode due to favorable environmental conditions, the insecticides, found to be safe for natural enemies, such as imidacloprid and pymetrozine can be used to control aphids effectively.

Selection of 10 sites for sowing of wheat to demonstrate BAP has been identified and completed in six districts of Punjab including, Attock, Faisalabad, Chiniot, Gujranwala, Khanewal and Bahawalpur. A total of 13 farmer’sday was arranged against a target of 10 in all districts of Punjab to create awareness among farmers and agriculture extension workers about BAP. Almost 50-60 farmers participate in the event. Besides this, 5000 brochures containing BAP information has been prepared and distributed among participants.

The project is just going to be finished with encouraging results for the safety of wheat crop. Research is only a single way to combat challenges and problems related to agriculture and other sectors. This project was a mutual work of a team of scientists, PARB’s monitoring and the support of Chief Executive PARB Dr. Mubarik Ali. PARB has funded 53 output oriented research projects in crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries sector under the Chairmanship of Minister for Agriculture Punjab Malik Ahmed Ali Aulkah. These all projects will be helpful in boosting our agriculture sector and it is hoped that Punjab government will fund more project from PARB’s platform in future so that the emerging problems can get resolve on urgent basis.

Agriculture is our main sector to make us a developed nation and bring huge foreign exchange for Pakistan. But we have to pay attention to secure this sector by solving the problemsotherwise many cash crops will suffer from low productivity, viral diseases and other potential threats.


Maryam Naseer (Author)

About Author:

Maryam Nasser Currently Work as Research Publication Officer at Punjab Agriculture Research Board (PARB), Contact: 042-37232744 ext. 616, Email: rpo@parb.gop.pk

Fruit Logistica 2013: firms get over euro 2.5 million orders

February 08, 2013 GHULAM ABBAS

Pakistani fruit firms and organisations exhibiting fresh fruits and vegetables in ‘Fruit Logistica 2013’, the most important business and communication arena of the international fresh produce trade being held here in Germany, have received an estimated import orders worth 2.5 million euro during two days of the show.

According to the country’s leading exporters response of the mega event was very encouraging that despite the lack of much innovation, presentation and competitive marketing tools, Pakistani products were being liked and accepted by the visitors, buyers gathered from across the globe.
According to representatives of Pakistani firms including Sheikh International, Durrani Associates, Zulfiqar & Co, FA international, Seven Star International, KP Enterprises, Roshan enterprises, Iftikhar Ahmed & Co, Jahanzeb Muhmand &co, Nazir and Sons and others, they have stuck deals with world renowned companies for export of Kinnow, Mango, Potato, Bair, other vegetables and dry fruits.
Shehzad Sheikh of Sheikh Enterprise claimed that good business deals and commitments have been made with various firms of Scotland, England and Germany. Business relations with a Berlin based firm has been restored after a long time, he said. Representative of Durrani Associates said that around $2 million worth import deal has been made with some eastern European countries for export of processed mango this year.
According to Fawad of Eftikhar Ahmed and Co, successful meetings have been held with leading firms from Ukraine, Russia, Bangladesh, Jordan, United Kingdom and others. A couple of Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) were also being signed with some European firms.
Good responses from French, Thai and Turkish companies have been received in two days of the mega show, said representatives of Imtiaz Enterprise. According to Jahanzaib Khan of Jahanzeb Muhmand and co, his company has received better response this year from Bahrain, Kuwait Dubai and London-based companies.
Talking to Business Recorder, Dean Hayden, representative of a London-based firm ‘International Produce’ working with US-based firm ASDA, said that his company had already imported thousands of tonnes mango from Pakistan last year. ‘We were not meeting the demand of mango especially in the holy month Ramazan as Pakistani and Indians in the United Kingdom liked the fruit,” he said adding that each mango was being sold in separate boxes with good display and presentation.
“With over 60 big stores in Europe, we need around 6000 boxes daily. We are planning to visit Pakistan and inspect facilities there for further imports of the fruit,” he said. Amir Hautemann, head of product management and sales of Total Produce of Netherlands, which imports Kinnow from Pakistan, told Business Recorder that the 12.5 percent duty on imports of the fruit in Europe was the hurdle in increasing the volume of imports despite an increasing demand of the fresh fruit.
According to Waheed Ahmed, Chairman Pakistan Fruit and Vegetables Exporters, Importers and Merchant Association (PFVA) the members of the association participating in the event and other organisations have collectively received estimated export orders worth 2.5 million euros during the first two days of the event. Though the final outcome of the show in Berlin could be examined by the end of the show, the response from buyers was encouraging. He stated that a couple of MoUs have also been signed with some foreign companies. Some new markets were likely to be tapped this year as firms from new countries have shown their interest in Pakistani mangoes, Kinnows and Potatoes.
“More focused work and effort is needed on the part of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC) to improve the presentation and innovation of the country’s stalls and pavilions,” he said.
The lack of competitive presentation, display and marketing observed in the show were the key factors of deficiencies in Pakistani products as countries with limited varieties and quantity of agricultural products were also prominent in the exhibition just because of the display and decoration. Compact duration, focused appeal to the targeted groups and maximum effectiveness were the key features of prominent companies in the international event.
Earlier on Wednesday evening, Abdul Basit, Pakistani Ambassador in Berlin also visited Pakistani pavilion and stalls. Talking to Business Recorder, he said that the participation of large number of Pakistani firms, exhibitors and business delegation in the fruit show was very encouraging.
“Opportunities are here to tap more lucrative international markets as over 100 countries are participating in the mega fair,” he said. He also welcomed the German Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumers Protection; Ms Ilse Aigner at Pakistani Pavilion set up with the help of TDAP.

Source of Article:

Soyabean futures slip

US soyabean futures slid on Wednesday, breaking a three-session rise, and corn fell for a fourth straight day on profit-taking ahead of a government crop report on Friday and as some weather forecasts suggested a wetter trend in Argentina next week.

Wheat rebounded from a 3-1/2 week low after dropping for four consecutive sessions in a bargain-buying bounce and on signs of improving export demand.
Fluctuating South American weather forecasts have steered grain markets this week and stirred debate on whether, or to what degree, the US Department of Agriculture will adjust its world supply/demand balance sheet. Markets are relying on large South American corn and soya crops to replenish tight global supplies following a severe US drought in 2012, but a dry spell in Argentina has trimmed expectations for the No 3 corn and soyabean producer’s output.
“The American model is trending a little wetter next week for Argentina. Some of the forecasters that I follow think the model is overdoing it, but nonetheless it’s something people are trading,” said Jim Gerlach, president of A/C Trading in Fowler, Indiana. World Weather Inc agricultural meteorologist Andy Karst said: “There will be scattered showers but coverage will be poor. There will be increasing stress and yield losses.”
Most of Brazil was in good shape with farmers able to harvest around showers in the north, while dryness has returned to the north-east, Karst said. Dryness also is becoming an issue in southern Brazil and in Paraguay, he said. Brazil’s vegetable oils association, Abiove, and consultants FCStone raised their soya crop forecasts on Tuesday from previous estimates as beneficial weather over the world’s second-largest soyabean producer pushed up yields.
Other private forecasters have trimmed their projections in recent days, citing rains in northern Brazil. An expected strong rebound in US corn and soyabean production following the country’s worst drought in a half century in 2012 also hung over prices. The US Congressional Budget Office projected on Tuesday that US farmers will plant huge amounts of corn and soyabeans this year, producing a record corn crop and, barring weather problems, ending three years of razor-thin supplies.
Crop forecaster Lanworth on Wednesday issued a record outlook for US corn production of 13.8 billion bushels in the 2013/14 crop year, with average yields rising to 155.6 bushels per acre. Chicago Board of Trade March soyabeans slid 10 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $14.85-1/2 a bushel by 12:00 pm CST (1800 GMT). The contract climbed on Monday to the highest point since mid-December, but has struggled to breach the $15-a-bushel mark.
CBOT March corn gave up 5 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $7.24 a bushel. Wheat futures rebounded at midmorning after falling to the lowest level since January 11 and amid strong export prospects for the coming months for US SRW wheat, which was among the least expensive in the world.
Export premiums for soft red winter wheat at the US Gulf Coast have climbed about 10 cents per bushel this week, cash grain traders said. Wheat also drew underlying support from forecasts for a shift back to drier weather in most of the key growing areas of the drought-stricken US Great Plains hard red winter wheat region. CBOT March wheat rose 3-1/4 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $7.60-3/4 a bushel.

Fruit Logistica 2013 kicks off in Berlin: over 15 firms, around 50 exhibitors display products

Over 15 Pakistani firms and around 50 exhibitors participated in the “FRUIT LOGISTICA 2013,” the world’s biggest fair for fruits/vegetables held in Berlin, Germany with the aim of introducing the country’s fruits to buyers/importers from over 120 countries gathered under one roof.

The mega event opened here on Wednesday where over 2,543 exhibitors from 78 countries presented the entire value chain of fresh produce. Some 55,000 trade visitors from 120 countries have come to Berlin. The prominent exhibitors from across the world were presenting not only the entire product and service range that so amply supplies consumers with fresh fruit and vegetables, but also numerous interesting industry innovations that serve as a valuable driving force in the industry, increasing the variety of options for the consumer.

In the three days fair (February 6 to 8, 2013) members of Pakistan Fruit and Vegetables Exporters, Importers and Merchant Association (PFVA), other concerned organisations and Pakistan Horticulture Export Development Company (PHEDC), have set up separate stalls while displaying the country’s fresh fruits, vegetables, mango pulps and other value added products.

On Wednesday, Ilse Aigner, Federal Minister of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection of Germany also visited Pakistani Pavilion. According to her, Berlin has become the center of attention for the international world of fruit and vegetables where 2400 exhibitors from around 80 countries are showcasing their products. The fresh-cut convenience sector has taken part at the trade fair. More liberalization of fresh products trade is needed in the world.

On the first day of the exhibition, selected Pakistani and Asian dignitaries and a large number of visitors of the event were also found visiting the Pakistani pavilion and showed keen interest in the fresh fruit including Kinnow, mango (juice and pulps) etc.

 

Talking to Business Recorder, Waheed Ahmed, Chairman, PFVA said that the association and its members were attending the event with the aim/objective that major markets of the world could be tapped during this fair as buyers, exporters and businessmen from more than 100 countries were visiting the event.

According to him, Fruit Logistica is an important event where almost all the best quality fruit/vegetables are displayed from a large number of countries. Though Pakistani fruits like mango and kinnow have no parallel in EU, and some western markets, issues like lack of supply chain and value addition were needed to be addressed by both the government and concerned authorities.

“Display, presentation and innovation were the most important things along with good quality fruits in order to tap the European and highly valued western markets,” he said adding that Pakistan was lagging behind in the fruit and vegetable industry despite being an agriculture-based country. “We have only two or three selected items in fruit and vegetable sector while dozens of highly valued items are yet to be given due considerations to make them also exportable,” he added.

According to him, Pakistan is actively participating in the Fruit Logistica for the last four years and Islamabad has received an import order worth over 1 million Euros last year and better response is expected this year. With active marketing and efforts the country could easily get at least 25 million Euro worth share in the region in the next five years.

Super markets and big chain stores in the EU markets could be the first and easy step to introduce our fruits like mango, kinnow, dates, potato, onion mango pulps and apple juice concentrates. Talking to Business Recorder, Waqar Khilji, Pakistani Commercial Attaché in Berlin said that the event was very helpful to search for more markets for Pakistani products. However, the disruption in supply, lack of certification with globally approved quality/standards and value addition were the issues that needed to be addressed for better share in the western markets.

Numbers of presentations were also made by different experts on various subjects related to the fresh fruit/vegetable industry on Wednesday. According to a presentation 860 million tonnes of vegetables and 730 million tonnes of fruit were produced world-wide in 2012. Production figures for both fruit and vegetables have steadily increased over the past few years. The EU is the world’s leading import region for fresh fruit. The US and Russia are also key countries when it comes to the export of fresh fruit and vegetables outside of Europe.

Source Of Article:

Natural Pesticide From Kitchen

Garden pests are one of the few things I find frustrating about gardening. Whether it’s the snails taking over your lettuce or the aphids sucking on your roses — it’s definitely annoying — but not a reason to fret and reach for harmful, toxic sprays. They might eliminate the pesky culprits, but they are harmful to you and the environment. Instead, try whipping up one of these simple recipes with ingredients you most likely have on hand.

What You Need

Spray bottles
Biodegradable liquid dish soap
Lemon or orange essential oil
Cooking oil
Baking soda
Garlic
Chili powder
Water

Instructions

Natural Insecticidal Soap Spray

This is by far the spray I reach for most often. It’s easy to make and keep on hand, and should take care of most of those annoying common pests such as aphids, mites, white flies, thrips, and mealy bugs. It kills them by attacking them at the skin, suffocating and therefore eliminating them. I like to add a few drops of orange or lemon essential oil, which is in itself a natural insecticide, especially effective against ants and scale, and it also helps the the spray stick to your plants.

1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid soap
1 quart of water
A couple drops of orange or lemon essential oil

Use a biodegradable, liquid soap (such as Murphy’s oil soap, castile soap or Ivory), to make the mixture. Add water and essential oil to the spray bottle and shake. Spray your plant thoroughly, making sure you cover the underside of the leaves as well.

All-Purpose Garlic Chili Spray

Pepper and garlic are both natural insect repellents and will help to repel Japanese Beetles, borers, leafhoppers and slugs. Garlic also deters larger pest like deer and rabbit.

Natural Insecticidal Soap Spray (from recipe above)
1 tablespoon of chili powder (you could also use fresh or dried hot peppers)
5 cloves of garlic, crushed and cut roughly

Allow garlic and chili powder to steep overnight. Strain and pour into a spray bottle. Add Natural Insecticidal Soap Spray. Should keep for a couple weeks.

Baking Soda Spray

This spray is great for treating plants with fungal diseases. There is nothing quite as frustrating as discovering your plant has an unsightly case of mildew, a type of fungal disease. Suddenly your beautiful green cucumber and squash leaves are replaced by patches of grayish-white blotches.

1 tablespoon of baking soda
1/2 tablespoon of oil
2 quarts of warm water

Add baking soda and oil to a cup of warm water until it dissolves. Mix in the rest of the water. Before attempting to spray and treat your plant, remove the most severely damaged leaves first. Then spray your solution, repeating every few days until it disappears. This mixture is best made and used immediately.

Additional Notes: It’s best to spray your plants in the morning, before the sun is too hot or you run the risk of burning the leaves of your plant. And while these spray are non-toxic and less harmful than commercial pesticides, they will kill beneficial bugs along with the harmful ones. I recommend using these sprays sparingly, only treating the infected plants.

Fresh Lettuce

Among the easiest vegetables to grow, lettuces are ideal for pots, where they can be more easily protected from marauding slugs and snails. The widest selection is available in seed form, and the cut-and-come-again types are ready to pick just a few weeks after sowing. Try a mix of lettuces for different textures and tastes.

Lettuces are not only delicious when picked fresh from the garden, but they also make decorative features in pots. Fill a container, large or small, with some multi-purpose compost and sow your seed thinly on the surface. In small containers, try to sow about three or four seeds of butter, Romaine, and iceberg, which form a heart, or just sprinkle cut-and-come-again varieties more densely; you will not need to thin these out. Sow a few pots each week for a continuous supply of leaves throughout the summer, but remember that seeds will not germinate if the temperature is above 77°F (25°C). When heart-forming varieties reach an inch or so in height, thin them out to appropriate spacings, which will be given on the packet of seeds, or leave them a little closer.

CARING FOR LETTUCES

Keep your lettuces well watered at all times, especially in hot weather when you will have to water daily, and move pots to a slightly shaded spot in the height of the summer. Lack of water or too much heat will cause the plants to “bolt” and produce long flowering stems—the leaves then become bitter. However, do not allow the compost to become waterlogged or the lettuces will rot. Most multi-purpose composts contain enough nutrients to sustain lettuces for a few weeks, but after that, give them a boost with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer formulated for leafy crops. The main pests to look out for are slugs and snails. Inspect plants every few days and pick off any culprits.

5 Secrets To Watering Your Garden

1. Try a Toothpick Watering Test

Just as you test a baking cake for doneness by sticking it with a wooden toothpick, you can do the same to see whether a garden bed needs watering. Stick the toothpick into the soil as far as it will go, then examine it. If it comes out clean, it’s time to water. If any soil clings to the pick, you can forgo watering and test the soil again the next day

2. Bury Milk Jug Tricklers

Tomatoes aren’t the only garden plants that like lots of water. Others with a big thirst include squashes, melons, and rosebushes. How to keep them quenched? Bury plastic milk-jug reservoirs alongside. Start by perforating a jug in several places. Dig a planting hole large enough to accommodate both plant and jug, and bury the jug so its spout is at soil level. After refilling the hole and tamping down the soil, fill the jug with water. Then top it to overflowing at least once a week, and your plant’s roots will stay nice and moist.

3. Offer a Cup of Tea To Your Ferns

Also, when planting a fern, put a used tea bag in the bottom of the planting hole to act as a reservoir while the fern adapts to its new spot; the roots will draw up a bit more nitrogen. Another drink ferns like: a very weak solution of household ammonia and water (1 tablespoon ammonia to 1 litre water), which also feeds them a little nitrogen.

4. Add Borax to Sun-Sensitive Plants

To keep direct sunlight from burning the leaves of ferns, azaleas, yews, hollies, hostas, and herbs such as thyme and chives, add borax to your watering can — 1 tablespoon dissolved in 4 litres of water. Wet the leaves of the plants and soak the soil with the solution a couple of times in the spring (more than two treatments is overdoing it), and your plants will be better able to stand up to the sun’s hot rays in summer.

5. Recycle Unsalted Cooking Water

Boiled foods release nutrients of one kind or another, so why pour their cooking water down the drain? Let the water cool, and then use it to give a garden plant or two a healthful drink. But take note: When you cook any of the following, do not add salt to the water because salt is harmful to plants.

• Eggs: Hardboiled eggs leave calcium in the cooking water, so use the liquid to water calcium-loving solanaceous garden plants: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, chayote squash, tomatillos.

• Spinach: Plants need iron, too — and spinach water gives them not only iron but also a decent dose of potassium.

• Pasta: Starchy water will spur the release of plant nutrients in the soil, meaning starch may be better for plants than for you.

• Potatoes: Ditto.

7 Insects You Actually Want In Your Garden

 

1. Lady Beetles

Benefits Of Having Them In Your Garden: They eat aphids and other softbodied pest eggs, scales and whitefly nymphs.

Bait Them With: Asters, marigolds, cosmos, cilantro, yarrow, dill, cabbages, sweet alyssum, flowering kale.

2. Ground Beetles

Benefits Of Having Them In Your Garden: They will destroy slugs, snails, cutworms, flys and rootmaggot eggs and larvae.

Bait Them With: Sweet or white clover and other ground covers; also use mulch to provide habitat.

3. Hoverfly

Benefits Of Having Them In Your Garden: Maggots eat softbodied pests such as aphids.

Bait Them With: Feverfew, lavender, sweet alyssum, candytuft, dill, fennel, asters

4. Lacewings

Benefits Of Having Them In Your Garden: Their larvae prey on pest eggs, aphids, scales and small caterpillars.

Bait Them With: Most pollen and nectar flowers, dill, daisies, fennel, angelica.

5. Aphid Midges

Benefits Of Having Them In Your Garden: Immature insects feed on many species of aphids.

Bait Them With: Nectar-rich flowers and herbs, including Queen Anne’s lace, dill, mustard

6. Parasitic Wasps

Benefits Of Having Them In Your Garden: They act as parasites by laying eggs in caterpillar and aphid larvae.

Bait Them With: Dill, mint, sage, thyme, lavender, coriander, Queen Anne’s lace, sunflowers.

7. Bumblebees, Honeybees, Mason Bees

Benefits Of Having Them In Your Garden: They pollinate food crops.

Bait Them With: Orchard fruits, mustards, cress, wildflowers, clover, blueberries, hollyhock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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