Monday, September 30, 2013

Preventing Over-Watering And Amending Your Soil

The Southwestern part of the United States is no stranger to droughts over the last few years. It seems every summer we are in the midst of a record-breaking drought that slows agricultural production and dries out our gardens and lawns. With the shifting of seasons finally upon us, we’ve seen quite an influx in rainfall over the past few weeks. While the rain is fantastic for regions in need, it also presents an opportunity for hobbyists and home gardeners to avoid over-watering, amend their soils, and possibly store water for future dry spells and droughts.

If the weather forecast says rain is on the horizon, consider tilling dried out patches in your garden or lawn. Churning the soil will give you a leg up on soil aeration before rainfall.

Keep an eye out for over-watered areas that aren’t draining well after a rainstorm. Flooded plants can have their roots damaged as a result of too much exposure to water. Not only does flooding affect their ability to retain moisture in the future, it also can kill off the microbes and other small organisms in the soil that are helping keep the ecosystem flourishing. Chances are these spots are full of clay-based soil. Adding organic matter from a Bokashi compost kit will help improve the soil’s moisture retention and draining properties so your plants don’t get flooded every time it rains.

Similarly to flooded areas, be on the lookout for areas that seem to drain too fast. You might have sandy soil on your hands. Compost can also aid in making those areas retain water for the proper amount of time so your plants get the nourishment they need.

Purchase one or multiple rain barrels. Installed under a gutter’s downspout, a rain barrel is a great way to harness and store rainwater for future use. A heavy duty, plastic barrel complete with a screen top to filter out debris and a spigot to pour out water in small amounts will allow you to distribute it evenly over your garden when needed. Just make sure you cap off the barrel when it is full so as to avoid overflowing, mosquito infestations, and stagnation!

While the rain around the country is heavily needed and thoroughly appreciated by plants and humans alike, it doesn’t mean we should stop taking care of our crops and gardens. By maintaining proper soil amendment and moisture levels, your lawn or garden can flourish long after the rains have gone.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Improving Soil Moisture Retention

Organic Means of Preserving Soil Moisture

Soil water is the lifeblood of your crops. Properly hydrated soil regulates ground temperatures for reliable flowering and seed germination, helps sensitive plants survive the summer months, provides structure, and encourages the growth of crop-friendly organisms. Without proper care, however, soil can lose its water retention; even generous rainfall is lost, quickly sinking into the water table without efficiently benefiting the plants above. Organic farmers and gardeners have two excellent tools at their disposal for reversing these effects.

  • Organic Matter One of the best ways to improve damaged soil is by introducing healthy soil. Organic food waste makes an excellent soil amendment; treat your growing area with several inches of it in trenches or holes in order to create a moisture-retaining surface that will support young roots and nurture the soil below. Water and nutrient-rich food wastes, if diligently replenished, can protect your soil while gradually imparting its growth-encouraging elements.
  • Soil Life Two forms of soil life play a role in your soil’s water retention: macroorganisms and microorganisms. Macroorganisms, such as worms, are large enough to be seen with the naked eye. Their pathways loosen the soil, trapping more water between particles and soil structures. Beneficial microorganisms, however, are even more foundational. Soil-consuming bacteria reduce the size of individual soil particles, increasing soil retention at the soil’s most fundamental level. Worms eat bacteria and bacteria turn nutrients into food for plants. When you add microorganisms you not only feed plants, you also feed worms.
It is always best to employ multiple, complementary approaches when attempting to improve your soil. Organic topsoil amendments leak nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil below, encouraging the growth of your microbial starter culture. Working in tandem, each solution multiplies the success of the other.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Going Green with Local Farming

The Global Impact of the "Buy Local" Movement

We have all heard of the "buy local" movement but why should we all be buying locally grown produce? Although irresponsible farming methods like improper soil management and irrigation have negative environmental impacts, far more environmental damage comes from the transportation of crops. Buying organic farming goods from within your community simultaneously strengthens both your community and the environment.
  • Locally grown produce helps preserve the local landscape. When buying fruits and veggies from local farmers, money they receive allows them to maintain their land without the need for selling pieces to land developers. In the future, well-maintained land can promote tourism, recreational events that increase community awareness and grow your local economy.
  • Buying produce from local farmers brings a community together. Farmers markets are great places to say hi your neighbors and meet the farmers who grow your fruits and veggies. These markets put a name, face and story to the otherwise monotonous task of grocery shopping. Instead of carting thoughtlessly around a large supermarket, farmers markets give you interaction to ask questions about how they grow their vegetables and if they use any pesticides.
  • Produce is picked at the peak of freshness when buying locally. There is less time from the farm to your table which means that produce is not picked prematurely and artificially ripened in giant warehouses. Farmers are able to grow each fruit and vegetable to the peak of ripeness, enabling you to enjoy them instantly.
  • Buying local produce is an investment in the future. By supporting your local farms today, you can ensure that there will be farms in your community in the future. This is especially important as the uncertainty with the future of fossil grows. One thing you will be able to count on is having a local farmer grow what you eat.
  • Cheese and meats processed in local facilities look and taste better. Local livestock farmers typically have a direct relationship with processors and are able to oversee quality to ensure the best possible flavor.
Are you finally convinced to buy locally grown and processed produce and meat? Well, now what? Now, you check out Go Texan for specific restaurants, recipes and more to enjoy your locally grown food. Support Teraganix and other local agriculture efforts by creating a local economy and community that fosters the efforts of your neighborhood and your neighbors.