Gardening News and articles

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Gardening Articles for week ending 19th August 2017

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Written by Wally Richards.
SOIL DO'S AND DONT'S PLUS OTHER MATTERS

In recent articles I have written about the importance of building your soils with natural materials to create healthy soil life and that results in turn with healthy crops, roses and gardens.
This is then great for your health, coming from the vegetables and fruit that you grow, along with food for your eyes when you survey your healthy, happy gardens.
There are things that you don't do to destroy your Eden such as pouring chemicals into the soil including the very damaging chlorine that can be in your tap water.
In the past I have also said that herbicides and in particular glyphosate, do a lot of damage to soils in the short and long term.
Recently a study has come to hand to prove this point called 'Soil and Environmental Health after 20 years of Intensive use of glyphosate' by Robert J. Kremer, PhD, of the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources, cites concerns that include:
reduction of nutrient availability for plants and organisms; disruption to organism diversity, especially in the areas around plant roots; reductions of beneficial soil bacteria;
increases in plant root pathogens; disturbed earthworm activity; reduced nitrogen fixing at plant roots; and compromised growth and reproduction in some soil and aquatic organisms. You can read his report here if you wish:
https://medcraveonline.com/APAR/APAR-06-00224.pdf

There are less damaging ways to control unwanted plants (weeds) some of which enriches the soil as opposed to damaging it.
.............................SULPHUR

I learnt some years ago about the importance of sulphur. Sulphur is the third most abundant mineral in the body, about half concentrated in your muscles, skin and bones, and is essential for life.
Sulphur makes up vital amino acids used to create protein for cells and tissues and for hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.
Our food chain 50 plus years ago would have supplied our bodies daily requirement of sulphur; an aspect that has since changed and I am continually surprised about the many benefits most people obtain when they take a sulphur supplement daily of Organic Sulphur (MSM).
People that are fortunate to have ample time and garden space to be able to grow a good percentage of their food chain in a natural, beneficial manner (Without use of chemicals).
They are obtaining through their diet, their bodies daily requirement of sulhpur along with many other minerals, elements and other heath benefits. By putting sulphur into your food gardens (using gypsum regularly) ensures your plants have stored organic sulphur which is called Methylsulfonylmethane, known as MSM.
Sulphur is needed for insulin production, detoxifies at the cellular level and relieves pain, builds flexible cells in the arteries and veins - the opposite of "hardening of the arteries" it is called nature's "beauty mineral" because it keeps your complexion clear and youthful and hair glossy and smooth.
One of my conversations this week was with an elderly lady who told me that she had a foot bath every night which she dissolved about a teaspoon of borax into hot water added a cup of magnesium sulphate (Epsom Salts) and a teaspoon of MSM.
Now according to her after a few weeks of this treatment the person in the mirror is now looking much younger and also her friends are commenting on the same and wanting to know her secret.
The Borax would be giving her body boron, magnesium from the Epsom Salts and sulphur from the MSM (Which she also takes orally). If you try this I would like to know the results.
.................................DRAGON FRUIT

About 3 years ago I spotted an unusual fruit in the green grocers called Dragon Fruit.
It is the large seed pod of the cacti Hylocereus undatus which has an amazing big white flower.
see http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2016-02-05/dragon-fruit-flowering/7137558

The cacti is a climbing type that puts out basal roots from its long stems and climbs up any available object it can latch onto, so it is best grown on a fibrous pole such as a punga log or in a hanging basket.
The flowers which are spectacular only flower at night and being white they attract flying night insects such as moths to move their pollen.
It pays then to hand pollinate the flowers yourself otherwise you will not obtain any Dragon Fruit.
The fruit look a little like a baseball sized pineapple and have hundreds of black seeds inside.
The seeds are easy to germinate but keeping the baby cacti alive I found was a bit of a problem as they are very easy to over water.
Once they get to a reasonable size they will tolerate watering better but still can be killed if not careful.
My oldest specimen is now about 2-3 years old and hopefully large enough to flower this year.
I also found that my Secret Tomato food is great for feeding Cacti during the summer months when they are actively growing so I have made a new Secret Cacti and Palm food which has a little Neem Powder added because both cacti and palms are often plagued by root mealy bugs.
If you are a keen grower of cacti, succulents, bromelia and palms then try it as it will help to produce some amazing growth during the warmer growing months. Do not use during the winter when they are resting.
............SEED TIME

It is time to get germinating seeds for the coming season so you gain a head start.
Best if you have a glasshouse or similar as any seed when it germinates needs over head light to prevent stretching.
A heat pad will help to speed up the germination and the growing medium should be kept moist but not wet. I prefer to do this by misting the medium and the young plants a couple of times a day and only when the plants get to a good size will I water the container.
Germinate inside the home by all means but as soon as there is a 'show' they need to go out into the glasshouse or similar.