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12 Nov 2021
Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes

All About Growing Sweet Potatoes ...

Learn how to grow, harvest, cook, and store the sweet potato variety of your choice using this brilliant guide.

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are productive, delicious and super-nutritious. Few staple crops keep as well as these flavorful tubers, which can be stored for months in a cool, dry place. This crop is a staple in climates with hot, muggy summers, but growing sweet potatoes is also possible in cooler climates if you adjust to meet the plants’ requirement for warm temperatures.

Types of Sweet Potatoes to Try ...
Sweet potato varieties differ in skin and flesh color and texture, as well as in leaf shape and vine length. The flavor and nutritional qualities of sweet potatoes vary with flesh color: Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are rich sources of fiber and vitamins A and C. White-fleshed varieties contain less vitamin A, but are a good source of minerals and B vitamins. Purple sweet potatoes contain a little vitamin A, but are loaded with antioxidants.

Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are the most popular. Tried-and-true ‘Beauregard’ is productive and disease-resistant. Some short-vined varieties, such as ‘Georgia Jet,’ make good crops in areas where summers are brief. In warmer areas, grow slower-maturing heirlooms famous for flavor, such as ‘Nancy Hall.’

White-fleshed sweet potatoes are easier to grow and store in warm climates compared with regular “Irish” potatoes. Fun to use in the kitchen, white sweet potatoes are distinctly creamy, making them a favorite for soups and baby food. Varieties of this type also make excellent potato salad.

Purple-fleshed sweet potatoes need a long, warm season to produce a good crop, but the starchy, deep-purple roots of varieties such as ‘Violetta’ and ‘All Purple’ are worth the wait. The dry flesh of purple sweet potatoes makes them perfect for roasting and frying. The anthocyanin pigments that give purple sweet potatoes their color also enhance their nutritional value.

When to Plant Sweet Potatoes ...

To grow sweet potatoes, begin with rooted stem cuttings, called “slips,” which sprout from the ends of stored tubers. If you want to grow your own slips, move parent potatoes to a warm room in early spring. A month before your last frost date, soak the tubers in warm water overnight, and then plant them sideways or diagonally in shallow containers, covering the tuber only halfway with sandy potting soil. After danger of frost has passed, move the sprouting sweet potatoes to a warm spot outdoors and keep them moist. When handled this way, stems (the slips) will emerge from both ends of the sweet potato, with each potato producing six or more. When the stems are more than 4 inches long and the weather is consistently warm, break off the slips from the parent sweet potatoes and plant them.

Planting Sweet Potatoes ...

Sweet potatoes grow best in warm, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH between 5.6 and 6.5. Choose a site with fertile soil in full sun. Where summers are mild, place plastic, either black (heats soil and prevents weeds) or clear (heats more than black but does not control weeds), over the site in spring to warm the soil. Plant slips into small holes cut in the plastic, and leave plastic on the site until harvest time. Sweet potatoes benefit from a generous helping of fully rotted compost dug into the soil before planting, along with a light application of balanced organic fertilizer. Space bush-type varieties 12 inches apart, but allow 18 inches between varieties that grow long, vigorous vines. Space rows at least 3 feet apart; long-vined varieties may need even more space. Situate sweet potato slips diagonally in prepared soil, so that only the top two leaves show at the surface.

Water well and frequently for the first several days and be patient. After about two weeks, the plants should be well-rooted and showing hardy growth. For even more information on growing sweet potatoes, especially in cooler climates.

Harvesting and Storing Sweet Potatoes ...

Begin checking the root size of fast-maturing varieties 90 days after planting. Sweet potatoes can be left in the ground as long as the vines are still growing and nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. One sign sweet potato plants are done growing is when the leaves and vines turn yellow. Starting from the outside of the row, loosen the soil with a digging fork before pulling up the plants by their crowns. Some sweet potato varieties develop a cluster of tubers right under the plants, but others may set roots several feet from the main clump.

Before storing sweet potatoes, you will need to cure them, a process that creates a second skin that is an incredibly effective seal. To cure sweet potatoes, gently arrange them in a single layer in a warm, humid place where temperatures can be held at 80 degrees for seven to 10 days. In warm climates, a well-ventilated outbuilding is ideal. In cooler climates, a bathroom or closet with a space heater makes a good curing place (put a bucket of water in the room to increase humidity). Another option is to place jugs of hot water in a large cooler with your tubers; add new hot water to the jugs daily to keep the space warm and humid.

After curing, choose damage-free sweet potatoes for long-term storage in a dry place where temperatures will stay between 55 and 65 degrees. The flavor and nutritional content of sweet potatoes improves after a couple of months of storage. If conditions are ideal, well-cured sweet potatoes will store for up to 10 months.

Pest and Disease Prevention Tips ...

Slightly acidic soil conditions help suppress sweet potato diseases, and the plants’ lush vine growth naturally smothers many weeds. Rotating sweet potatoes with grains, cowpeas or marigolds helps prevent disease problems, especially from root-knot nematodes, which infect tomatoes, peppers and many root crops. Avoid growing sweet potatoes in areas recently covered with grass, because ground-dwelling grubs and wireworms — often numerous in grass-covered soils — chew holes and grooves into the tubers. Deer love to eat sweet potato leaves, so you may need row covers or other deterrents. Stored sweet potatoes are a favorite of hungry mice, so stash your harvest in a secure location.

Growing Tips ...

Some sweet potato varieties produce morning glory-type flowers in late summer, followed by tiny seeds. Plant breeders work with the seeds, but for gardeners, propagating sweet potatoes by growing them from slips is more practical.

With adequate moisture, shabby-looking slips usually recover quickly.

You can also increase your supply of plants by taking 4-inch-long stem-tip cuttings, clipping off all but the top two leaves, and rooting the cuttings in moist potting soil.

In the Kitchen ...

Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, mashed or used in stir-fries. Cooked, mashed sweet potato can be substituted for pumpkin in any recipe, and few desserts are as nutritious as sweet potato pie. In breads and puddings, use cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or orange to add complexity to sweet potato flavor. In savory dishes, sweet potatoes’ flavor is enhanced by a range of spices, including garlic, ginger and curry, and sweet potato salads can carry big handfuls of chopped parsley or cilantro. Thin slices of sweet potato are great for grilling, or you can make sweet potato chips in a hot oven. Don’t overlook the new leaves on stem tips, which make excellent cooked greens.


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9 Nov 2021
Hemp
Hemp

The Resurgence of Industrial Hemp ...

Meet some of the men and women testing, researching and pioneering the resurgence of industrial hemp.

Get ready for the World's newest billion-dollar industry: Industrial hemp. 
Well, it’s not really new. As prohibition on hemp’s psychoactive cousin unravels, bestselling author Doug Fine explains why one of humanity’s longest-utilized plants is poised to rejuvenate the World's economy. 
Doug Fine embarks upon a humorous yet rigorous journey to meet the men and women pioneering hemp’s reemergence in the twenty-first century. The following excerpt highlights a few of those hemp pioneers.

Industrial Hemp Pioneers ...
Dr. David West, Geneticist,
Actual Twenty-First-Century American Hemp Researcher
From his home the sixty-five-year-old David West said that what is, on the surface, his unusual journey from legendary Big Ag researcher to legendary hemp researcher actually follows what for him was an obvious course. 
After pioneering the use of molecular markers in plant breeding, now part of the standard commercial plant identification tool kit, he “watched the seed industry get taken over by the chemical industry” in the 1990s. 
“One day I saw a helicopter land in a neighboring field to eradicate feral hemp. Now, as a plant breeder, I’m quite aware of what hemp is. I thought, What the hell is going on here?" ...

Hemp's fibers are among the planet's strongest, its seed oil the most nutritious and its potential as an energy source vast and untapped.

In a 1994 paper titled Fiber War, David West declared modern hemp’s agricultural value.
“I don’t want to grow terminator corn for Monsanto”
His notoriety from that piece and subsequent writing on hemp led, in 1999, to him being contacted by Hawaiian representative Cynthia Thielen (R-Oahu), who is still in office and to this day battling for hemp production in the Aloha State. She’s trying to find a replacement for the declining sugarcane industry, help remediate soil, and find an animal feed that can be grown on the islands.
Cynthia basically said, ‘Do you want to come to Oahu to grow hemp?’” David West explained. It was an 'Is this a trick question?' or as David West thought, 'Am I on Candid Camera ? ...
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”
The half-acre project, which got its federal permits to acquire hemp seed at what David West described as “the last second,” ran from 1999 through 2003, and began with a state Hemp Day declared by the governor for the morning of the first planting on December 19, 1999.
“There were cameras, the Kahuna ceremonial blessing, the whole deal, then everyone went home, and it was me on a fenced-in, alarmed patch of dirt, dealing with every problem farmers have always had to deal with.”

One of his first discoveries, he told me with an It’s funnier now snicker, was that “birds love hemp. Took a while to rig a netting system that kept them out. They ate the whole first planting.”
The project was funded by a hair care company interested in a publicity stunt for what David West called a “dash” of hemp oil in its product. David West was fine with that. 
"When I saw like-minded people at energy fairs speak about hemp without any real knowledge—and how could they have knowledge?—I realized that what we really needed was some studies. But I also knew, since I worked for seed companies for years, how much that kind of research costs”

David West groaned like a hungry man when I told him I was just back from a visit to the sixty acres of hemp that Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin was able to cultivate in 2013. “My study was on a very small, academic scale, but we wound up showing that hemp could be viable in Hawaii’s latitude, which is important because growing hemp is all about the photoperiod. It was a Chinese cultivar that worked best. Grew more than ten feet tall. And it was on former Dole plantation land.”

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7 Nov 2021
Corona Beer with Lime
Corona Beer with Lime

How a Mexican Beer and Limes Helped Uplift a Community in SA ...

Corona Beer, which originated in Mexico, is traditionally served with lime. 
But when beer-brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev added the brand to its line-up, it encountered a problem: a shortage of limes in South Africa. 
This presented a novel opportunity to increase local lime production and develop new farmers.

While South Africa is one of the largest citrus producers in the world, lime production lags far behind, with a miniscul total of fewer than 100ha planted to this crop, compared with about 16 000ha planted to lemons. Moreover, South Africa has conducted little research on limes, and only a handful of cultivars are grown locally.

With limes growing in popularity in recent years, thanks to healthy eating trends, South Africa has to import most of its requirements. This comes at a great cost to the consumer, leading to many people substituting limes with lemons, to the detriment of flavour profiles.

This was the challenge that beer company Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) faced when Corona beer became part of its range after the company’s merger with South African Breweries.
Josh Hamman, AB InBev’s Director of Agricultural Development and Sustainability, says Corona Beer, which is originally from Mexico, is normally served with a slice of lime as it greatly enhances the taste.
“We found that South Africans were using lemons instead, which taste completely different. The reason was that limes are very expensive, as there is little commercial production in South Africa”
AB InBev saw this as an ideal opportunity to invest in local lime production and simultaneously fulfil its mandate to develop sectors linked to its business.

Limes in Limpopo ...
“As part of our merger agreement, we had set aside R1 billion to invest in local industries. Limpopo was one of the provinces in which we didn’t have a project, mostly as it isn’t an area where our beer inputs can be grown. So we looked at expanding the criteria beyond our direct inputs to include products connected to our supply chain"
“When the issue surrounding the limes cropped up, we realised this was the perfect opportunity to invest in Limpopo.”
Having the right partners on board is an essential ingredient in the success of such an undertaking. While AB InBev conceived of the lime project more than two years ago, it took time and dedication to find the most suitable partners.
“This isn’t the kind of decision one makes in the boardroom. You need to do your due diligence and go out into the field to see what’s happening on the ground"

“We advertised for partners, and received a call from Piet Smit, CEO of the Komati Fruit Group. He explained that they were already working with the Moletele Community Property Association (CPA) to bring about transformation, skills transfer and upliftment in the local community, and suggested that we consider this partnership for the lime project”
The Moletele CPA owns Richmond farm near Hoedspruit, which is leased to the Komati Fruit Group. According to Hamman, the partnership ticked all the boxes for a successful venture.
“Komati has the technical expertise needed to make such a novel project a success, and a strong partnership with a local community is already in place, meaning it has a very high chance of succeeding”
The partnership was structured so that AB InBev would supply financing, the Komati Fruit Group would provide technical expertise, and the Moletele CPA would become the beneficiary of the rental income for the land.
The 60ha portion of Richmond farm set aside for limes would be leased to Moletele Limes, which consisted of shareholders from the Komati Fruit Group and the Moletele CPA.
The 60ha is being brought into production in three phases of 20ha each. The first was planted under netting in December 2020, and the second is currently nearing completion. The third phase is expected to be completed by 2022.

Cultivars and production ...
With only a handful of lime farms in South Africa, finding the right cultivars and production information was initially a challenge. Once the rootstock was sourced, the Komati Fruit Group’s nursery was used to propagate more trees.
A limited number of limes will be harvested from the first phase next year, and the first real harvest will be that of 2023. The expected yield is about 60t/ha.
“Limes are not a finicky crop and can be treated very much like lemons. We’re happy to see that the trees took very well to the environment in which they were planted and that the first 20ha is flourishing” 

Moletele Limes has signed a memorandum of understanding with AB InBev for the purchase of the limes once they are in production.
“Anything more that we produce, we’ll be able to sell either locally or abroad”
“The export market requires more investment in technology to make it feasible, however. 
Consumers want limes when they’re green, but long transit times result in limes that eventually turn yellow"
“A lot of research is being conducted to find ways to keep the limes green, but we’re not there yet. This means we’ll need to focus on the local market for now, and this is quite small. The offtake agreement with AB InBev is therefore a vital step in the success of this project.”

Meeting demand ...
A challenge that both farmers and AB InBev realised early on was that the greatest demand for limes, during the high beer-consumption summer months, coincided with the end of South Africa’s citrus season. The lime season in this country usually stretches from March to May, but with manipulative techniques, Moletele Limes will try to achieve six production cycles in a year.
This entails stretching nets over the trees to create a controlled environment, and covering the soil on the ridges with canvas to control moisture levels.
“Growth and flowering can be stimulated through manipulating irrigation. We need to eliminate interference from nature and rely solely on irrigation to prompt flowering.
“The trick is to get the trees to keep their flowers, which means the orchards need to be in optimal condition to handle another crop. This makes pest control easier and more thorough.
“Normally, optimal pest control hinges on being able to achieve proper application of control methods at the right time. If the trees are all flowering at the same time, it’s much easier to manage pest control and we can ensure better protection.
“But this is the opposite of what we’ll need to do with the limes. We’ll have six production blocks, all flowering at different times to ensure harvests across the year. It requires extra management and logistics, but fortunately the production blocks are quite small, so it’s manageable.”
A bonus is that the Moletele CPA members will enjoy a more comprehensive learning experience, gaining six opportunities to manage a harvest each year instead of just one.

The farm employs around 13 permanent workers, sourced from the CPA, who work with the Komati Group’s consultants, entomologists and production managers. This creates an optimal learning environment.
As lime production in South Africa is small and little research is available on optimal local production, the project is also serving to expand the knowledge base.
“We want to be able to refine production practices and best cultivation methods, and ultimately create a platform where lime production can grow in South Africa. We really hope this will spark a greater local market for limes and lead to more investments of this kind in the industry”
He adds that one of the main benefits of the project is its longevity.
“Unlike wheat and barley, which have short production cycles, an investment in a citrus orchard can pay off for decades to come. This is an exciting prospect, considering what investments into barley production have done for the industry.

Three years ago, South Africa produced only 60% of its barley requirement. Today, thanks to several successful projects where AB InBev has partnered with farmers, South Africa over-produces by 20%. We’ve been able to convert many emerging farmers to commercial farmers.
“Having the right partners, technical skills and varieties has been crucial. Success with these types of ventures comes slowly. It’s a long-term effort in which you need to stay involved, and if you approach it right, it pays off for everyone"

Article Credits : Lindi Botha & Farmers Weekly

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5 Nov 2021
Intensive Cattle Farming is responsible for Toxic Air Pollution
Intensive Cattle Farming is responsible for Toxic Air Pollution

Ammonia from Farms is Responsible for 39% of Particulate Air Pollution ...

The problem is causing health damage.
Ammonia is released from livestock manure and urine and the overuse of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers.

39% of the tiny particles polluting the air are from ammonia leaking from farms, according to research.
The gas drifts into cities and reacts with other air pollutants to form tiny particulate matter, called PM2.5, which is the deadliest form of air pollution.

Ammonia can be trapped on farms by sealing manure pits or injecting the waste under fields, and by stopping the use of chemical fertilisers.

Other nitrogen compounds, called nitrogen oxides, are emitted by commercial farming, diesel vehicles and damage health in two ways: as irritant gases when first emitted and then by combining with ammonia to form PM2.5. Relatively little has been done to cut ammonia emissions, meaning there are simple policies that would be far more cost-effective in reducing PM2.5 levels than further technological measures to tackle nitrogen oxides from vehicles, the scientists say.

In the past, the burning of fossil fuels by vehicles and industry produced large amounts of PM2.5 but pollution controls have cut levels significantly in developed nations. Ammonia emissions have barely fallen since 1980. This means agriculture is now responsible for a larger share of PM2.5. 
Pollution from wood burning stoves has also risen in prominence.

Cutting nitrogen pollution would also tackle the climate crisis, the pollution of rivers and seas, and soil acidification. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas, causing about 6% of global heating and results mostly from the overuse of chemical fertilisers.

The researchers presented a “#Nitrogen4NetZero” proposal at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow on Wednesday, which aims to ensure cutting nitrogen gases is included in climate targets.

“The way we use nitrogen is extremely inefficient. About 80% of the nitrogen resources produced by humans are lost into the environment” 

The UK government is consulting on banning the use of urea in fertiliser, which emits much more ammonia than ammonium nitrate fertiliser. The Netherlands and Germany already require manure to be injected into fields rather than sprayed on the surface, but there is no such requirement in Africa. 
“Any farmer that can smell their manure is losing that goodness”

Air pollution causes at least 7 million premature deaths a year globally, making it a bigger killer than smoking, car crashes or HIV/Aids. Air pollution may be damaging every organ in the human body, according to a comprehensive global review in 2019.

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4 Nov 2021
Cannabis
Cannabis

The Green Organic Dutchman Completes First International Cannabis Shipment ...

Shipment destined for highly anticipated South African medical cannabis market.
First flower to be distributed legally in the country on a commercial scale.

TGOD is a leading producer of premium certified Organically grown cannabis, is pleased to announce it completed its first international commercial shipment consisting of cannabis flower and other extracts destined for the highly anticipated South African medical cannabis market. 

TGOD's cannabis flower will be the first to be distributed legally in the country on a commercial scale. Its products received the approval of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). 

"This is an important milestone in our strategy to export our certified Organically grown medical cannabis products to international markets. We are confident that our in-country partner will continue to develop this nascent market and that TGOD's portfolio of products will be well received by patients that have previously lacked access to legal, high-quality medical cannabis. We are pleased to be able to complete our first shipment mid-Q3 2021"

About The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd.
The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. is a premium Certified Organically grown cannabis company focused on the health and wellness market. Its Organic cannabis is cultivated in living soil, as nature intended. The Company is committed to cultivating a better tomorrow by producing its products responsibly, with less waste and impact on the environment. Its Canadian facilities have been built to LEED certification standards and its products are sold in recyclable packaging. In Canada, TGOD sells dried flower and oil, and recently launched a series of next–generation cannabis products such as hash, vapes, organic teas and dissolvable powders. Through its European subsidiary, HemPoland, the Company also distributes premium hemp CBD oil and CBD-infused topicals in Europe. By leveraging science and technology, TGOD harnesses the power of nature from seed to sale.

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2 Nov 2021
Ban TOXIC CHEMICALS in Africa
Ban TOXIC CHEMICALS in Africa

France and many other countries around the World, Banned a widely-used TOXIC Herbicide ...

So why is TOXIC Roundup is still widely used in Africa ??? ...


The sale of Roundup Pro 360 was banned in France, after a court found that regulators failed to take safety concerns into account when clearing the herbicide.
Roundup, owned by Bayer, contains the ingredient glyphosate, which causes cancer.

In 2015, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that the classification of glyphosate as a carcinogen was justified.

Hennie Groenewald, executive manager at Biosafety SA, said the debate around the use of glyphosate was complex.
He added that there were many economic considerations that needed to be taken into account when banning its use.
“We did produce food before Roundup, he said.
Glyphosate is carcinogenic ..

According to Angus McIntosh, a free-range pig, cattle and egg farmer near Stellenbosch and anti-glyphosate activist, the world could feed itself without genetically modified crops and herbicides such as Roundup.
He cited a case in the US, one of thousands around the world, in which Bayer was forced to pay punitive damages to a groundskeeper who had used Roundup and allegedly developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result.
BOTTOM LINE ...
DON'T USE TOXIC CHEMICALS ...

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1 Nov 2021
Allelopathy
Allelopathy

Using Allelopathy in a Weed Management Strategy ...

What is Allelopathy ?...
The inhibition of one plant, or other organism, by another, due to the release into the environment of substances acting as germination or growth inhibitors.
How Does Allelopathy Work ? ... 
Plants release chemicals that affect other plants growth from their roots into the ground. The plants trying to grow near the allelopathic plant absorb those chemicals from the soil and are unable to live. ... 
Other plants absorb the gas and are stunted or die.
Allelopathy is a natural process whereby a plant produces one or more biochemicals that influence the germination, growth, survival, and reproduction of other plants.

Cover crop residue leaches allelochemicals, which help control weeds. But to achieve good, prolonged results, you will still need to implement effective weed control.

Using allelopathy in a weed management strategy ...
Weed management should focus on combining different methods to prevent and control weed populations.
“This is not only in the short term but also in the long term” says Dr Suzette Bezuidenhout, Scientific Manager of Cedara’s crop protection unit.
She adds that cultural weed management practices are important. These include production practices that improve crop competitiveness such as cover crops in combination with conservation tillage.
Suzette explains that allelopathic cover crops release allelochemicals into the environment and can be used to enhance weed management.
Researchers are constantly conducting field and tunnel experiments to evaluate the weed control abilities of various cover crops and cultivars.

Trials ...
Recently, researchers evaluated the effects of two cover crops, Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) and stooling rye (Secale cereale), without herbicide use, on the growth of maize and yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) in the field.
The trial involved three control treatments, namely weed residue left on the soil surface and weed control by hoeing.

In a tunnel experiment, oats, stooling rye and three cultivars of ryegrass were used to evaluate their influence on maize and yellow nutsedge growth and development.

The field experiment examined the desiccation times of cover crops before planting and at planting.

Minimum-till maize was planted into the residue and its growth and development were evaluated.

Results ...
In the first field experiment, maize emergence and growth were delayed in the presence of residues of both cover crop species, and especially in annual ryegrass residues.
C. esculentus growth was significantly inhibited in the area between the maize planting rows by the cover crops for the first 14 days after maize emergence. This growth-suppressing effect diminished after 28 days.

In the tunnel experiment, maize and C. esculentus growth were suppressed, especially by the root residues of the cover crops. The annual ryegrass cultivar Midmar was the most suppressive.

Adequate weed control was not achieved by applying only post-emergence herbicides.
Combining annual ryegrass residues sprayed at planting with only post-emergence herbicides applied later in the season resulted in the lowest maize yields.

Weed growth can be reduced by the allelochemicals leached from cover crop residues, but to achieve prolonged, effective weed control.

“More research is needed to establish principles of cover crop weed management in order to define its role in a weed management strategy,” says Suzette “The use of cover crops for weed control should therefore be considered a tool that is supplementary/complementary to standard weed-control practices aimed at managing weed populations in the long-term”

Source: Suzette Bezuidenhout, SR. ‘The use of allelopathy in a weed management strategy’. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs, KZN. Retrieved from kzndard.gov.za/research-reports.

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* Free Assistance with your DIY Tunnel Installations ...
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GreenAgric are the Very Best Value for Money Tunnels in Southern Africa ...

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or via Telegram*, Signal* or WhatsApp ...
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We are also available on Twitter*, MeWe*, Facebook and Messenger ...
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31 Oct 2021
Transfarmation
Transfarmation

How 'Transfarmation' can Help the Climate ...

In their entirety, food systems are responsible for 26% of greenhouse gas emissions.
The bulk comes from agriculture and land use change, such as turning forests into farmland.

Which actions could help to reduce farming's emissions the most ? ...
There are a number of ways that agriculture can lessen its environmental impact. Some of these ways you might be familiar with, like reducing food waste or using water sparingly. 
But others might be a little less obvious to consumers, even though their impacts could be far greater. 
For example, Seaweed Solutions in Portugal are experimenting with seeding kelp forests in the Atlantic Ocean by spraying pebbles with kelp spores and dropping them in the sea. Eventually, these spores will bloom into forests 30m (98ft) high that could provide a source of food, animal feed or medicine and sequester carbon in the process.

Solutions like this sound surprisingly simple, but working out farming's environmental impact can be anything but. Some of the biggest agricultural contributors to climate change are a little less obvious.
One significant source of farming's greenhouse gas emissions comes from land use change, or creating new cropland from natural habitats like forests, peatlands and grassland.

Peat, a thick, dark, gloopy mixture of partially decayed vegetation that accumulates over millennia, is a critical carbon sink. Though they make up only 3% of the world's land, peatlands punch far above their weight when it comes to sequestering carbon. Globally, they store twice as much carbon as all the world's forests, which occupy more than 10 times the area of land.
But when disrupted, this powerful storage system can start spewing carbon dioxide. Agriculture is the main driver for this disruption. If a peat bog is drained of its water, the nutrient-rich soil left behind makes it a perfect environment in which to grow many crops. However, draining the water also enables the stored carbon to be released into the atmosphere. 
Peat, is an Organic material consisting of spongy material formed by the partial decomposition of organic matter, primarily plant material, in wetlands.

It is thought that 90% of peatlands have been disturbed to create agricultural land. Growing populations have raised the demand for more farmland, at the cost of natural peatlands.
Not only is this contributing to more carbon emissions, the dried peatland also becomes inflammable, which has led to hugely lethal fires. 

Peat is a desirable additive to soil. Most peat-based compost is used not by commercial growers, but by amateur gardeners. Peat-based compost has many valuable properties: it's versatile and absorbs moisture well.
Yet despite the climate benefits of peat bogs being kept intact, compost derived from peat bogs, which have traditionally been abundant, remains cheap.

There is an encouraging move away from peat, 
The need for this is clear. Because peat develops at a glacial pace – it can take thousands of years for peat bogs to form, with an average growth of just 1mm (0.04 inches) a year in some parts of the world – restoring bogs is less useful than simply keeping the peat in the ground in the first place. That's where peat bogs will continue with their slow and vital business of decomposing plant matter, while locking away massive amounts of carbon.

One way to reduce the amount of extra nutrients a farmer has to apply to their crops could be to improve the growing efficiency and yield of the plants. Project are currently experimenting with the way plants photosynthesise to maximise their use of sunlight. 
In a field of plants, the upper leaves are far more productive than the lower ones as they receive the most light. But if the genetics of a plant could be altered to make its leaves more transparent, the crop might grow more efficiently.

Agroforestry, or the integration of forests and farming, has been practised in some form for centuries. With climate change driving more extreme weather, the benefits are mounting for both livestock and crops. 
Trees on agricultural plots reduce landslide risk, for instance. As well, "the right design will provide very good shade for livestock and for crops. They will help slow the wind and help slow evapotranspiration rates [the combined rate at which water is lost to the atmosphere from the ground and from plants], improving the crop water efficiency. So they act as a bit of an insurance policy against drought" The benefits extend year-round. 

One type of agroforestry, silvopasture, interlaces trees and shrubs with pasture. Such land, including both the trees and the soil beneath the woody biomass, can sequester five to 10 times more carbon. However, the potential for increasing carbon sequestration depends on the conditions of the site. For instance, it may be less effective in areas that already have large amounts of soil organic carbon. Because trees are such powerful stores of carbon, their presence on degraded agricultural land makes good use of such land.

The mixture also helps diversify the output of a farm. The trees can generate other foods like nuts and mushrooms while the livestock graze between the trees.
"The systems have the potential to increase forage and wood biomass while promoting income diversification and contributing to food security, the restoration of degraded lands and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions" 

It doesn't take as long as you might expect for the trees to start paying for themselves. Within two or three years, there can be visible benefits in terms of reducing soil erosion and providing shelter for livestock.

On a broader level, this approach to agriculture, "Not only has it got the climate benefits, but it's also helping to address the nature crisis", if native tree species are cultivated and plantation-style planting is avoided. "The same trees that are capturing some carbon, and helping the farm to adapt to climate change, are also delivering for nature"

Nurturing trees on farms isn't just about planting trees, which is far from a panacea. Planted trees can hoover up water and intensify drought in dry regions, for instance. Natural forest regeneration – essentially, leaving forested areas alone – can be a cheaper and more effective way to harmonise trees and space for livestock.

"We have to be careful with trees. Yet silvopasture remains an underappreciated form of agriculture that, if approached thoughtfully, can help address a whole wide range of issues and provide a whole wide range of benefits"

Dairy and cattle production releases 37% of global methane emissions, making it one of the biggest agricultural greenhouse gases contributors.

By introducing methanogenic bacteria to farm slurry and dairy waste, one can collect biogas to use as a clean fuel, and the remaining waste can be spread on the fields as an alternative fertiliser. 

While livestock farming can be made more climate-friendly, reducing the amount of animal farming – at least in industrialised countries with intensive animal agriculture operations – will make an enormous difference to greenhouse gas emissions.

Future of Agriculture has recommended reduced consumption and production of animal products, for example. And elsewhere, other farmers are already taking the initiative. Some transition farmers are even betting on cannabis as a more lucrative alternative to poultry.

Even so, demand for plant-based products is exploding. Diversified produce farms can be more profitable than the previous meat and dairy operations. However, these tend to depend on non-produce income, such as farm tours and events. 

Whatever form it takes, the call must be for the focus to be on food for people. "If you do food not feed – the food for the humans on the field, not to fatten up animals – then on a small scale you can feed so many more people" As the population rises along with global temperatures, sustainably producing more food for more people will be a pressing priority.

'Grow Your Own' ...
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30 Oct 2021
Govt failed to protect and provide for Small Micro Farmers & Businesses
Govt failed to protect and provide for Small Micro Farmers & Businesses

How Covid Created a Feast for the Big Guys ...
and a Famine for the Little Guys ...

It left big food producers laughing all the way to the bank, while small farmers, fishers and traders suffered ...
Informal traders were cut off from the permits they needed to work during lockdown, while government aid propped up big food businesses.

Findings from an in-depth study on how Covid-19 lockdowns affected food systems have been revealed ...
They found the government response “protected and insulated commercial farming and corporate-owned businesses” at the expense of the informal sector, which plays a big role in food systems.

Small-scale farmers, fishers and traders have suffered huge business losses under Covid-19, depriving poor consumers of a crucial source of cheap, nutritious food.
This happened “while large, corporate food producers and retailers have reaped the profits”

The study focused on fresh produce in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal and fish in the Western Cape.
According to the report, as much as a quarter of all food and an even greater proportion of fresh produce is bought from informal traders. 
The sector also provides livelihoods or part-livelihoods for 2.5-million small-scale and part-time farmers, 80,000 small-scale fishers and fish processors, and 750,000 street traders. 
“The small-business sector is large and crucial in providing livelihoods to millions of South Africans and needs to be recognised as such" 
Also, by offering food at lower prices, informal traders free up money in consumers’ pockets so their other basic needs can be met.
The research found that “street traders, sourcing food from municipal markets and directly from farmers, sell fresh produce at prices far below supermarket prices and create more livelihoods for low-income people in the process, including in the areas of employment-intensive production and processing, as well as in the transport and retail sectors”. 
Similarly, “artisanal fishers and local fish processors and traders play a key role in coastal communities, creating livelihoods and ensuring a supply of high-protein seafood at the local level”.
This backlash for informal traders in the food system took place against a backdrop of the only sector that grew.

In the first year of Covid-19 the economy contracted by 7%.
Bad Government decisions exasperated the rising inequality among the millions of people who derive their livelihoods from the production, processing, trade and sale of food and food products”

Mobility forever changed by the Covid pandemic ...
A ‘human cloud’ now works from home, supply chains have been reconfigured and lockdowns have affected everyone.

The researchers found that while supermarkets, food processors and commercial farms were largely able to sustain their businesses, small-scale farmers and fishers “lost access to markets as a result of a prohibition on street trade, curfews and a lack of storage and refrigeration — and also because of the collapse of the hospitality and tourism sector to which they had previously provided food”
Added to this was that the sale of cooked food on the streets continued to be prohibited even after restaurants reopened. 

Consumers also suffered, said the researchers. “The rising cost of a household ‘food basket’ of 44 items exceeded the R350 social relief provided by the so-called ‘Covid Grant’
“In other words, depending on household size, much or all of the ‘relief’ went to cover food price increases and thus failed to benefit households struggling with income losses, as jobs and livelihoods fell away under the pandemic” 

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29 Oct 2021
Earthworms
Earthworms

Keep Earthworms to Improve Soil Quality ...

Earthworms play a crucial role in improving soil quality, and every farmer should try to maintain a healthy population of these remarkable creatures.

Did You Know ? ...
An earthworm breathes through its skin, which also gives off a lubricating fluid that makes moving through burrows easier.

Earthworms are long, segmented worms belonging to the phylum Annelida. More than 2 000 species have been identified to date, and 300 of these have been recorded in South Africa.

A mature earthworm has a clitellum (a belt-like swelling) that forms part of its reproduction system.
It contains both male and female reproductive organs, but cannot fertilise itself.
Copulation takes place at night on the soil surface.
The worms press their bodies together and exchange sperm before separating. Later, the clitellum produces a ring of mucus around the worm.
As the worm crawls out of the ring, it fills the ring with eggs and sperm.
The ring then drops off and becomes a cocoon for the developing eggs. Each cocoon produces up to 18 earthworms. The tiny immature worms emerge from the eggs fully formed. They develop sex organs within the first two or three months of life and reach full size in about a year.

Earthworms are classified into three groups according to their behaviour and habitat:
• Epigeic earthworms do not tunnel, but live on the soil surface, where they feed on decomposing plant and animal material.
• Endogeic earthworms make horizontal tunnels in the top 10cm to 30cm of soil. They ingest soil, absorbing nutrients from organic material in the soil.
• Anecic earthworms dig deep into the soil profile during the day, and surface at night to feed and deposit their casts (droppings) on the surface.

How earthworms help the farmer ...
Earthworms tunnel through the upper layers of soil in a constant search for food, and this improves soil structure.
The tunnels aerate the soil and help with water drainage, and the action of tunnelling loosens the soil.

Earthworms also perform the following useful functions:
• They pull organic material down into the soil, which improves soil quality. In addition, nutrients in the organic material they consume are released for the plants to use.
• Earthworm castings give the soil an ideal, crumb-like texture. Studies have found that the casts contain more nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and calcium than is present in the surrounding soil.
• Earthworms help control nematode populations as well as pathogenic fungi in soil, ingesting these together with the organic material. 
On the other hand, the earthworms’ presence stimulates microbial activity. “Good soil microbiology is very important as soil micro-organisms and enzymes regulate nutrient cycling” 

The ideal habitat ...
Earthworm populations are dependent on the physical (temperature, moisture, aeration and texture) and chemical properties (pH) of the soil, as well as food availability.
Earthworms are less abundant in disturbed soils and are typically active only when enough moisture is present. Biological factors such as predators can also play a role in the success of an earthworm population, as a wide variety of animals, including rats, birds, moles, snakes, frogs, snails, toads, ants and beetles, feed on them.
The best habitat for earthworms is untilled soil, as this contains more plant residue, which earthworms feed on. Under tillage, the worms suffer and their benefits are greatly reduced.
In short, to increase the earthworm population, you need to reduce soil disturbance. Here are some other aspects to consider:

Crop rotation ...
Crop rotation with legumes increases earthworm numbers by providing a quality food source.

Soil pH ...
A low pH will lower the worms’ survival rate.

Irrigation ...
Good irrigation and drainage, particularly in sandy and clayey soils, as well as the addition of organic material, help make conditions favourable for earthworms.

All TOXIC Chemicals are harmful to earthworms. 
A farmer following conservation agriculture practices can use earthworm numbers as an indicator of soil quality.

'Grow Your Own' ...
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* Free Assistance with your DIY Tunnel Installations ...
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28 Oct 2021
Drip Irrigation
Drip Irrigation

Cost-Effective Irrigation ...

Over-irrigating costs you money in terms of water and electricity, and may lower your crops’ potential. Under-irrigating is also detrimental. 
Learn to irrigate properly and at the optimal time.

Cost-Effective Irrigation ...
All too often, I come across farmers who do not irrigate practically or economically. Applying too much water ends up wasting money, while watering too little can stress the plants.

Many farmers use a weekly irrigation schedule: that is, watering once a week for a set amount of hours. But they do this without determining how much water the crops actually need.

To begin with, you need to know how much water is delivered per hour through the irrigation system. The next step is to determine how deeply the water penetrates the soil.

The rule of thumb is that 1mm of irrigation wets 1cm of soil. So, for example, 25mm of irrigation will wet the soil 25cm deep. But keep in mind that this is a very rough guide.

The soil moisture content at the time of irrigation will also influence how deep the water will penetrate. Carry a garden trowel and dig into the soil frequently to determine its moisture status.

You can calculate the delivery per hour easily by using the information provided by the irrigation equipment supplier. You can also set empty food cans in various positions around the crops and then measure the depth of water in the cans after irrigation. Comparing the cans will also help you establish whether the soil is being uniformly irrigated.

To get the irrigation right, use a garden spade, preferably a narrow one, and dig into the soil to the depth you need to irrigate. The next day, dig again after irrigating and check how far the water has penetrated.

You can then calculate how long you need to irrigate in order to reach the required depth.

Wasting Water ...
Any irrigation beyond the target depth is a waste of water and electricity. Moreover, irrigation beyond the reach of the root system will carry nutrients, especially nitrogen, to a point where they will be lost to underground water.

Too little irrigation, on the other hand, will prevent the crop from sourcing nutrients beyond where the moisture reached. Obviously, if far too little water is supplied, the plants will become water-stressed as well.

The key is to get away from a rigidly scheduled cycle of irrigation, as water loss from the soil depends on air humidity, wind and temperature, which are variable. The stage of crop development also plays a role in the amount of water lost through transpiration and in the depth of the plants’ root systems.

Learn to read the crop; it will indicate when it’s thirsty. Make a mental note of leaf colour and condition at the edges of the land.

Apply a light irrigation after a bout of rainy weather, as plants become soft under these conditions and will stress earlier. Also, if you wait too long after rain to irrigate, everything will dry at the same time and some crops may become stressed before you reach them.

Article Credits : Bill Kerr & Farmers Weekly

Note from GreenAgric ...
Drip Irrigation is by far the most beneficial and cost effective, as it delivers water to each plant, so less waste of this valuable resource ...

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27 Oct 2021
Carbon Farming
Carbon Farming

The Regenerative Revolution in Food ...

Half of the World's Land is Used to Grow Our Food.

Intensive agriculture deplete soils of nutrients and carbon over time, making them less profitable.

A new generation of 'carbon farmers' are making their land absorb greenhouse gases, rather than emitting them.

Driven by ever-dwindling productivity, the land has been pushed to its limits for decades – more passes with machinery, more fertilisers, more pesticides. These intensive agricultural practices kept farms 'afloat' but beneath the surface, the soil was dying. 
"The land had been farmed very conventionally, so the ground was overworked and had lost its Organic matter"

For the health of the land and its long-term yield potential ... The solution is resting beneath our feet ... Soil Carbon.
Panting a lot of ground cover plants like phacelia and black oats that capture carbon from air and trap it in the ground.

Farmlands cover half of the Earth's habitable land, and the global food system produces 21-37% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. 
When fields are worked with heavy machinery, their soils, which store three times as much CO2 as the atmosphere, leach trapped carbon back into the air.

Carbon farming, on the other hand, seeks to capture emissions, not create them. The challenge has been to make this form of regenerative farming financially viable, paying landowners to rejuvenate degraded soils by turning their fields into vast CO2 sponges.

Achieving this requires a range of regenerative techniques ...
Cover cropping is particularly popular – fields blanketed with grasses, cereals, legumes and other plant life that pull carbon from the air during photosynthesis, then store it in the soil below. 

For its proponents, carbon farming promises a bold new agricultural business model – one that tackles climate change, creates jobs and saves farms that might otherwise be unprofitable.

Having spent decades on the fringes of the agriculture community, carbon farming is starting to catch on. 
The European Commission is promoting the practice as part of its new 'Farm to Fork Strategy' 
Similar moves are underway in the United States, with the recent passage of a carbon-focused 'Growing Climate Solutions' and in the UK, where private projects are springing up at pace.

The Sustainable Futures Carbon Bank is one such enterprise. 
"The enthusiasm around carbon capture has really increased in the last couple of years" 
Keen to kindle this growing interest in green farming, a recently established 'Carbon Bank' has been formed - a scheme that helps farmers harness, and ultimately profit from, CO2 sequestration.  

"We're on the frontline of climate change here ...
soon there will be whole transects of land that simply won't be able to be farmed like they used to.

Carbon farming helps to store carbon in the soil, removing it from the atmosphere and enriching the land.

CARBON COST ...
From carbon markets to flight levies, economic interventions have the potential to drastically reduce the world's carbon emissions. Carbon Cost analyses some of the most powerful economic measures that could reshape the way we live, and our relationship with the planet and nature.

Cattle farming can be an extremely carbon-intensive form of agriculture, responsible for 65% of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock. 
"Hooved animals are vital, because it's that hoof action that stirs up the grasses and seeds sitting dormant on the ground. The cows are key to activating the whole carbon capture process and speeding up photosynthesis"

There's no time to be half-hearted, and reneging on regeneration isn't an option. 
"There isn't any point trapping emissions in the soil if, a few years later, you're going to return to the same old intensive techniques, which will send a deluge of sequestered carbon right back into the atmosphere"
Certain crops, such as legumes, help to sequester greenhouse gases and store them in the soil. 

"There's a lot of momentum behind carbon capture schemes, but there's no global protocol for measuring, reporting, and verifying credits, because of this, there isn't yet a level playing field for farmers, or a set of protocols for them all to follow" 

Carbon farming can help provide an alternative source of income to farmers whose land is degraded, while improving the quality of the soil at the same time.
There's still plenty of value to be had from CO2 capture. 

In the future, beef, lamb and pork produce will be a byproduct of the carbon that is stored in the soil. 

'Grow Your Own' ...
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26 Oct 2021
Tackling Climate Change as Individuals
Tackling Climate Change as Individuals

Climate change: Five things you can do to help fight climate change ...

Tackling climate change will require world leaders to take action on a global level.
But as individuals we also contribute to damaging emissions. Here are some things you can do to reduce your personal impact.

1. Insulate your home ...
From installing a reversible cycle heat pump to turning down the heating, there is a raft of changes around the home that can help the planet.
"Switching from a gas or oil-powered heating system to an electric reverse cycle heat pump makes a considerable difference, both in winter and in summer ...

"On a day-to-day basis, switching off lights and appliances when not in use can help us to save you money while reducing our impact on climate change."

Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy. This involves blocking up unwanted gaps that let cold air in and warm air out, such as around windows, doors or skirting boards.

Switching to a green energy provider or a green tariff can significantly reduce your household's carbon footprint. 

2. Cut out food waste and cut down on red meat ...
Livestock creates 14% of all greenhouse gases, with cattle being by far the largest contributor.
The simplest and most effective way to limit your impact is to reduce meat in your diet, particularly red meat such as beef.
Beef has the highest carbon footprint.

The world wastes between 25% and 30% of its food.
You can save money and reduce waste by making smaller portions and saving leftovers for later.

3. Drive less, fly less ...
Transport is responsible for almost a quarter of carbon dioxide global emissions.
Living car-free might be "the most impactful thing we can do to reduce our transport emissions"
However, ditching the car is not possible for everyone, particularly if you live in an area without good public transport, or work night shifts when it isn't running.
Small steps still have an impact, like walking and cycling to the local shops or sharing car journeys with friends or neighbours.

Electric cars are becoming more widespread, but it is only truly green travel if the electricity used to power the car comes from green energy sources, such as wind or solar. 

Unfortunately for keen travellers, flying is one of the most carbon-intensive things we can do as individuals.
Domestic flights have the largest emissions per person per kilometre.
Train journeys can have less than a fifth of the impact of a domestic flight.
"For those who fly a lot, reducing the number of flights you take will make a considerable difference to your personal footprint" 

4. Think before you buy ...
It takes 3,781 litres of water to make one pair of jeans, taking into account cotton production, manufacture, transport and washing.
Buying second-hand can reduce waste and save you money too.
You can limit your impact by repairing minor faults in clothing rather than replacing, donating rather than throwing away and choosing higher-quality items that you think will last longer.
An increasing number of companies are offering clothes to rent, which helps reduce waste in the fashion industry. 

Choosing the right household appliances can also have a positive effect on your carbon footprint. Make sure you are buying the most energy-efficient products, such as washing machines, when they need replacing.

5 ...
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PS ... Watch this excellent video ...
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=a9yO-K8mwL0

25 Oct 2021
Garden Weeds
Garden Weeds

Control Garden Weeds Organically ...

Use these Organic weed-control methods to control common garden weeds so that your vegetable garden can thrive.

Most of the things we do in a garden also encourage weeds. Bare soil in any form is an invitation for weeds to grow because weeds are nature’s opportunists. Most weed plants grow faster than food crops, so weeds will shade or starve out your plants unless you protect them. In addition to basic Organic weed-control methods, such as hand-weeding, shallow hoeing, and deep mulching, innovative techniques, such as creating “weed moats,” can help control common garden weeds such as Bermuda grass, puncture vine, and other troublesome plants.

Weed Control Basics ...
Weed prevention follows a predictable pattern in the vegetable garden. About 10 days after you plant a crop, the bed or row will need careful hand-weeding, followed by a second weeding session 10 days later. Slow-growing, upright crops, such as carrots and onions, may need a third or fourth weeding to subdue weeds, but they’re the exception. After a month of attentive weeding, most veggies will be large enough to shade out weedy competitors. Plus, you can use mulch to block the growth of weeds between widely spaced plants, such as tomatoes and peppers.

Weeding Tools to Topple Weed Troubles ...
* Scuffle Hoe ...
Use a scuffle hoe to go up and down the rows right after germination and then again one to two weeks later, depending on the crop’s growth.
that hand-weeding is usually needed after the second hoeing, but it’s quick — hoeing between the rows cleanes out most of the weeds.
Scuffle hoes, have blades with two opposing sharp edges that cut when pushed and pulled, and most gardeners with big plots consider them essential equipment. 
Sturdy weeding knife, often called a hori-hori.weeding knives feature long, sharp edges that shave down weeds, and have a pointed end for prying out strong taproots, such as those found under dock weeds or dandelions. Many folks also consider hand-weeding, with follow-up mulching, effective and rewarding work.

A couple of thorough weeding sessions early in the growing season, when weed seedlings are small, can greatly reduce weed issues through summer.
 
Most organic gardeners depend heavily on mulch, grass clippings, old leaves, or straw, to control even the most aggressive weeds.

Surface mulches deprive weed seeds of light and increase their natural predation by providing habitat for crickets, ground beetles, and other seed-eaters. The cool, moist conditions under mulch will also cause many weed seeds to rot, so mulches that give good surface coverage can both prevent and cure seemingly overwhelming weed issues.

'Grow Your Own' ...
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GreenAgric are the Very Best Value for Money Tunnels in Southern Africa ...

GreenAgric Consulting provides 'Best Help and Advice' to both the farming community and home gardeners ...

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