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How to Grow Strawberry – Planting and Growing Guide

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First thing we should learn is the selection of suitable site for your strawberry production. The selection of a suitable site is essential for good strawberry production.  For site selection, you must consider the following:

  • Prepare the site

One of the critical steps in strawberry production is the preparation of site. Planning and preparation should start a year before the planting.

  • Soil

A deep, well-drained sandy-loam soil to loamy-silt soil with a good supply of humus (4% organic matter). It is important for the soil to hold moisture in order to have good yields. Heavy clay soils is not good for strawberry plants. Poor soil will result to root rot problems for the plant. A pH 5.5 to 6.5 is the best for strawberry.

Do not over water or flooded the strawberry plants for more than 2 days as the roots will be injured.

  • Irrigation

Being a shallow rooted plant, its roots are in the top 15cm of soil and irrigation is essential for consistent high yields. It has low tolerance to salts, as such a sodium adsorption ratio of less than 30 adn chloride levels below 110-180 mg/L is required. Avoid fields with salt levels above 1.0 mS/cm.

  • Weeds

Like any other plants, weed control is necessary. Poor weed control can result in crop failure.

  • Nematodes

Nematodes will be one of the problems of strawberry plant. Hence, the soil should be tested for nematodes a year before planting.

Don’t Throw Wood Ashes! You Can Use It.

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10 Uses of Wood Ashes

We usually ignore the remnants of the woods we burned which is the ash. But did you know that you can use it in so many ways? Here are some of the uses of wood ashes.

  1. Use wood ash in your chicken coop. 

Wood ash can be used for the dust bath of your chickens. It will help suffocate parasites such as mites, lice, fleas and ticks. It also serves as their food supplements. In the wild, it was observed that they feed on charred branches of trees after a forest fire. It also improve the laying capacity of your chickens because ashes contains nutrients such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Ash works as laxative and detoxifier, flushing toxins out of the body and expel internal worms. It will also help chickens to heal their open wounds as the ash has antibacterial qualities.

2.  Use wood ash to raise soil pH

As mentioned above, it contains many nutrients including potassium, calcium, etc. The potassium content of ash which is around 3-10%, when in contact with water will form as potassium hydroxite which can rapidly raise soil pH. Make sure, however, that the ash did not came from cardboard, plywood, barbeque, painted surfaces or any other pressure-treated wood. Just a word of CAUTION: Use wood ash only if your soil pH is less than 7 on a soil test.

3. Wood ash as fertilizer for your plants

Since wood ashes contain nutrients needed by the plants, it serves as an organic fertilizer. Wood ashes contains around 20% calcium and other nutrients althought in a smaller amount. For instance, its potassium content is around 4%, and less than 2% of phosphorus, magnesium, aluminum and sodium. In an article written by Timothy S. Griffin of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, he said that “the small amound of these nutrients is the reason that ash is considered a “low grade” fertilizer. In terms of commercial fertilizer, average wood ash would be about 0-1-3 (NPK).” Read more about the article here.

“The small amound of these nutrients is the reason that ash is considered a “low grade” fertilizer. In terms of commercial fertilizer, average wood ash would be about 0-1-3 (NPK).” Timothy S. Griffin, Univeresity of Maine Cooperative Extension

4. It kills weeds

Though there is no specific study that claims wood ash can kill weeds but there are some people, based on their experience, who claims that their weeds died after sprinkling wood ashes. In an article in Raise Your Garden, they claimed that their weeds died after sprinkling ashes. But you have to be careful with this because it can also kill your seeds. If you will kill weeds using ash, let your soil rest for about 2 weeks before planting.

5. Serves as to fill mouse holes

Fill mouse holes with wood ash and compact it but you need to refill it once in while. It is one of our problem as farmer and gardener because they are eating our plants. So fill those holes and get rid of these mice.

6. Kill ant mounds

Sprinkle a good amount of ash over the mound of ant to get rid of ants in your garden.

7. Use as a cleaner

Did you know that ash can be used as a cleaning agent? Wood ash can clean and sanitized your clothes, floors, windows, silverwares, plates and even remove rusts. To make it, simply boil 2-3 spoons of ash with water and filter it with cloth or coffee filter. The water can be used to as cleaner.

8. It can deter pests

Sprinkle some amount of ash around your plants but not in the base of the plant, to deter pests. This will keep slugs away.

9. Make a soap out of ash

I haven’t tried this and if you try this and successfully made a soap out of wood ash, please give us a feedback. It is a long process and the soap is a traditional one not like the commercial soaps you are buying from the supermarket. You can see the procedure here in Mother Earth News website.

10. Keeps tomato fresh

Putting your tomatoes in a bucket of ash will keep it fresh and it will last long.

WATCH: Learn Composting in 4 and a Half Minutes

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Making compost is not as difficult or as complicated as we might think. In a Youtube video by WaysAndHow Channel, he presented in just 4 and a half minutes how to make compost in very clear and easy to understand procedure.

According to WaysAndHow, composting may take as much as a year or as few as 14 days! He said, majority of the yard wastes can be composted as well as the following:

  • Vegetable and food scraps
  • Nut shells
  • Egg Shells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Hair clippings
  • Manures, etc.

From the video, we will learn that not all materials can be included in the compost. There are some materials that should not be included in order not to attract pests and produce other problems. The materials that should not be included:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Dairy food and other items that contains animal fat
  • Weeds with mature seeds

In addition, some materials should be composted in a limited items which was also discussed in the video.

According to WaysAndHow, to speed-up the composting process, materials should be shredded or chopped.

Watch the full video below and it will only take 4 and half minutes of your time to learn more about composting:

Ideal Amount of Sunlight for your Vegetables

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In order to survive and thrive, plants need three essential elements, these are water, a medium to grow, and sunlight. Sunlight is essential for photosynthesis and it only takes place during the day. Photosynthesis enables plants to produce food from sunlight. However, too much sunlight can kill our plants. As farmer and gardener, we must understand the needs of our plants. How much sunlight do they need to survive? Some plants require only 3-4 hours and some requires as much as 8 hours of sunlight. Here are the list of vegetables and how much sunlight they need.

Plants that requires a little sunlight (3-4 hours per day)

Leafy vegetables do not require much sunlight. Plants such as arugula, kale, spinach, lettuce, parsley, cabbage and mustards require around 3-4 hours of sunlight a day.

Vegetables that requires medium sunlight (4-6 hours per day)

Roots vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, Radish, and potato require medium sunlight. They require around 4-6 hours of sunlight per day.

Vegetables that requires high  sunlight (6-8 hours per day)

Most of the fruiting vegetables require full sun. Vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, melons, cucumber, beans, squash are some of the vegetables that love sun so much that they require at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.

If you will buy seeds, make sure that the sunlight requirement is written at the back or at least ask your seller in order not to waste your seeds. However, just remember that leafy vegetables require low sunlight (3-4 hours), roots vegetables require medium sunlight (5-6 hours) and fruiting vegetables require high sunlight (6-8 hours). For your information, a full sunlight is 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Partial sun/partial shade is less than 6 hours of sunlight and Shade means no direct sunlight.

For people who are not aware where sun rises, it always rises in the east and sets in the west. The sun is most intense between 10:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon.

While sunlight is essential to most of the plants, there are also vegetables that you can grow without full sunlight.

4 Guides to Soil Management

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Soil is the heart of every farmer’s or gardener’s business, except if you are using hydroponic system in farming. A good soil is the secret to healthy crops and the more you know your soil, the better. Beneath our feet, are the organic matters that feed us. These organic maters are worms, good bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms that work together to help crops thrive. Disturbing our soils or if we are not protecting them, these natural soil builders will have difficulty to become productive. Building rich, diverse, and healthy soil ecosystems is a critical life-giving farming practice. Luckily, caring for soil is one of the most effective time-tested ways farmers can increase crop yields while protecting our natural resources.

Here are four (4) guides that farmer’s must know in managing their soils:

1. Determine your soil. There are three types of soils, these are the following:

clay

Clay is a soil that is composed of mostly clay particles. If you soil sticks to your shoes and garden tools like glue, forms big clods that are not easy to separate, and crusts over and cracks in dry weather, you have clay. Clay holds more water and not suitable to other plants except for Fern, Aster and some other flowering plants. You cannot plant your vegetable crops in a clay soil.

loam

Loam. This is the most ideal plant-growing medium because sand, silt, and clay together provide desirable characteristics. It generally contains more nutrients, moisture, and humus. It also have better drainage and infiltration of water and air.

sand

Sand. It is a granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral practices. In contrast with clay, sands don’t hold any water and plants will not survive without water. Some plants thrive in a sandy soil such as succulents like cacti, sedum, lavender or euphorbia species.

2. Soil Testing

Why do we need to test our soil? We are testing our soil to determine what nutrients are lacking in our soil.

So, how will you test your soil? You can go to the Department of Agriculture in your respective country to seek their assistance in testing your soil. In the Philippines, the Bureau of Soils and Water Management are doing soil analysis. In the Ilocos Region, you may go to DA Region 1 . In India, you can go to the Farmers’ Portal for soil testing.

3. Nutrients Needed on your Soil

What are the nutrients needed on your soil? It depends on the crop you want to grow. Different crops have different needs. So, you need to know the nutrient needs of the crops you intend to grow.

The following soil nutrients should be present in your soil:

  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese and Zinc
  • pH
  • Nitrogen

4. Cover Crops

Cover Crops are planted in the farm to keep nutrients in the soil and improve soil health, and prepare the soil for the next planting rather than depleting it. Usually, they are not harvested because they deliver natural fertilizer to the soil, prevent erosion, and increase biodiversity. Their roots also create pores in the soil for better water infiltration.

TEN (10) RULES FOR STARTING YOUR OWN FARM

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When I analyzed the people visiting my website and following my Facebook page, I found out that majority are young people. I never thought that young people are interested in farming because the media has been telling us that they don’t like the “poor” man’s job, which is the farmer.

For people who are interested in farming, here are some rules for starting your own farm which will serves as a guide for you.

  1. As much as possible, avoid debt. I am not saying that you should never take on debt. You will need it later on once you gain more experience and have created reliable cash flow in your business. For the meantime, start small and use whatever capital you have.
  2. Next thing you need to do is get an “actual” experience in farming. You will not get experience from obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture and by reading books, blogs and tips. If you came from a family of farmers, then that is good start. You might probably have an experience in farming but if you’ve grown in the city and most of the time you are in front of your computers, then apply for apprenticeship or volunteer in a farm to gain actual experience.
  3. Before you sow your very first seed or buy your first chickens or goats, ask yourself where are you going to sell your produce? Are there people willing to buy your products in your area? How are you going to sell them? You must identify your market before starting a farm. This is basic in every business. After identifying your market, create a Plan B as a backup plan, then Plan C and if needed up to Plan Z. Chances are you are going to need them.
  4. Analyze your soil. Are the crops you are going to plant suitable for your land? How about your livestock, are they going to survive on your property? However, modern technology gives us more flexibility but you need more capital.
  5. Talk to people and visit market places in your area and near the vicinity of your property. What do they love to eat? Grow what people want to eat and not what you want to grow. Maybe, you are so passionate to grow arugula and planted them in your one-hectare land but who will buy them? Are you going to eat all of them?
  6. People who are passionate in farming are definitely workaholics at first but just like an office job, you need some day off. Take some rest and set reasonable targets. You need to go to a place, probably under the tree in your farm and visualize your career in farming, set annual goals but make sure that it is reasonable.
  7. You cannot avoid people telling negative words about your new career but don’t worry about what other people think. They might even laugh at your goals but hold on to your dreams and keep working on it. People talking about you is one of the challenges in every person’s career whether farming, information technology, or whatever. Keep going and keep working.
  8. Take some time to laugh and have a sense of humor.  We are all aware that one of the most difficult jobs in the world is farming. It is labor intensive and just like the stock market, you face risks and challenges. But if we take some time to laugh, these hard works, risks and challenges will not give us stress and we will not be burned out.
  9. When we started farming, we all want to be successful and prove to people that you’ve made the right decision. But it is ok to allow yourself the opportunity to fail. Failure is a painful process but in farming, it is important to fail as it can be a useful tool. It will teach us about our personal limits of time and energy. If we will be observant and keep recording of our activities in the farm, you will know why you fail and you will learn from it. It will give us the chance to analyze things for future undertakings and it will make us more intellectually stronger. You cannot say you’re successful if you never fail in your life.
  10. Just like any other profession, farming is a continuous learning process. Keep reading, ask questions if necessary, and share whatever knowledge and experience you gained in farming. There are available information from the internet and if you have no internet connection in your farm, don’t be shy and ask experienced farmers. And, if you have gained knowledge and experience, share it and be an inspiration to others.

If you have done all those 10 guides, you must congratulate yourself for being one of the best farmers in the world.

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