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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Adding liquid fertilizer through your hose

I don't normally post about products, but I just love this BRASS siphon mixer. It is the best for adding liquid fertilizer to your garden through your hose sprayer. My setup is using a 50 foot hose so I hooked this gadget to my spigot then attached my hose to this siphon mixer. On the other end of the hose, I added a quick connect and a sprayer. The thin hose, shown above, gets placed into a bucket of liquid fertilizer. Turn on the spigot and fertilize your garden!

The siphon mixer pulls the fertilizer VERY SLOWLY so your fertilizer needs to be very condensed. Included instructions explain how to do this.

Phytotronics 00-0002 Brass Siphon Mixer

Late Blight in Tomatoes and Potatoes

December 18, 2014 conditions are conducive for late blight.

Below is the email sent out to growers from our 5-county Extension Agent Gene McAvoy.

"Early today I received a report of late blight on tomato in the Immokalee area.   At present it is confined to one farm with one hot spot and scattered infections.

Growers would be well advised to scout susceptible crops carefully as the forecast for the coming weekend and into next week calls for foggy conditions and a good a chance of rain early next week which will be conducive to disease development.

Looking back at past occurrences in the Immokalee area, we have seen the disease start up around this time several times over the last 15 years perhaps aided by attenuated spray schedules and reduced vigilance around the Holidays.

Late blight is caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans, which is a pathogen of potato and tomato.  This disease can spread quickly and devastate a tomato or potato field within a few weeks if not properly controlled.

The disease thrives under cool and wet conditions. Temperatures between 50 and 80 F combined with moist conditions such as rain, fog, heavy dews, or relative humidity above 90 percent are conducive for disease development.  Night temperatures in the mid-fifties with daytime temperatures from the mid-fifties to mid-seventies are ideal for this disease.

Since the disease can spread so rapidly, growers should scout their fields thoroughly each day, especially when cool and wet conditions conducive to disease development prevails.

Late blight symptoms on leaves appear as irregularly shaped brown to purplish lesions with indefinite border lesions that can span veins. The lesions may be seen any time of day, on any stage of plant growth and on leaves of any age.  Velvety, white fungal growth may appear on the lower surface of affected leaflets early in the morning before leaves dry and/or in the lower canopy.

On stems, purplish lesions may be found any where on the stem.  Cottony, white growth of fungus on stems with lesions can often be seen early in the morning and/or in the lower canopy.  Stems with lesions are brittle and break easily. Lesions are confined to epidermis and cortex.  Leaf rolling and wilting is often associated with stem lesions and purpling of leaflets may occur in some varieties.

Begin a spray program with fungicides if late blight is in your area or weather conditions are suitable for late blight development. After harvest, kill infected foliage to minimize tuber infection.

[Chemicals listed were for growers and removed from this post.]"

Home gardeners:


"To control late blight, begin with disease-free transplants. Next, space plants far enough apart in the garden so that plants will dry off quickly during the day. If late blight is a yearly problem in your garden, you may have to resort to periodic use of fungicide sprays."

Mr. Gene McAvoy recommends copper fungicide for organic growers and chlorothalonil for those of you that are not organic. 

Copper fungicide (organic) can be found at most big box stores.

Here are some chlorothalonil products available (not organic):
Bonide 880 Fungonil Fungicide, 16-Ounce
Daconil Liquid Ornamental & Vegetable Fungicide 32oz Quart

Saturday, December 13, 2014

How to grow Peaches in SW Florida.

How to grow Peaches in SW Florida.

  • Peaches like a pH of 6.5. Lee County Extension office does FREE pH testing once a week. 
  • Plant in an area that water does not sit. 
  • Purchase a low chill variety (low chill = hours required below 45º). 
  • Know the type of peach you like (juicy versus firm).
  • Protect them from freezes after flowering. 
  • Fertilize with 12-4-8  plus Zinc.
  • Thin fruit so that there is at least 6” between each fruit before the pit hardens. 
  • Pruning is very important: Prune tree to keep at 8’ high. Prune out twigs that have no leaves and dead wood. Prune to allow light on all the leaves in an “Open Vase” style. Prune in summer and thin in winter after bloom. 
  • As home gardeners, our only disease control is using sulfur spray. Do not use copper fungicide. 
  • As home gardeners, our pest control for sucking insects is liquid dish soap and horticultural oil. 
  • For more reading go to http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_nectarine_see_peaches

How to grow Blueberries in SW Florida.

How to grow Blueberries in SW Florida.
  • Grow in a large pot with peat moss, pine bark, and perlite —OR— amend the soil with 8 inches of AGED pine bark. The goal is to get the pH to 4.5 to 5.5. Lee County Extension office does FREE pH testing once a week. 
  • Purchase a low chill variety (low chill = hours required below 45º). 
  • Purchase two varieties that cross pollinate for larger crops.
  • Protect them from freezes after flowering. 
  • One blueberry can require from 1/2 to 2 gallons of water a day. 
  • Birds also love blueberries so remember your netting.  
  • Fertilize with 12-4-8 plus magnesium (Mg).
  • As home gardeners, our only disease control is using copper fungicide. 
  • As home gardeners, our pest control for sucking insects is liquid dish soap and horticultural oil. 
  • For more reading go to http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_blueberry

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

GMO Meeting.

Our speaker, Cory Dombrowski, spoke on GMOs at our last meeting.

We quickly moved from GMO to "Genetic Engineered" after discussing that nature or an object as simple as a paintbrush moving pollen from one plant to another could create a GMO.
There are two types of Genetic Engineering: Transgenic and Cisgenic modification.

Cory discussed in detail how we "cut" and "paste" parts from one object into another object to create a new plant. There are many ways this is accomplished which are outlined below.
Two other points I would like to mention: Seeds can be legally patented and those patents do expire; and testing on Genetic Engineering follows what the USDA requires.

Below is Cory's Outline of our discussion:

I work for Sakata Seed as a trial coordinator; my views do not represent the company I work for.
1995 – bachelor’s degree in agricultural development from Texas A&M
2008 – Plant Breeding Academy at UC Davis
What is a GMO?  Genetically Modified Organism
Definition: Plants, animals or micro-organisms that have changed through genetic engineering
Genetic engineering – techniques that remove heritable material or that introduce heritable material prepared outside the organism either directly into the host or into a cell that is then fused or hybridized with the host.
Usually excludes traditional breeding, in vitro fertilization, induction of polyploidy, mutagenesis and cell fusion techniques
Transgenic – genetic material is from another species
Cisgenic – genetic material is from the same species or closely related species that can naturally breed with the host
What is a gene? – a molecular unit of heredity
What is a trait? – a feature of a living thing
How is it done?
Microinjection – for animal cells
Thermal or electric shock for bacteria
Agrobacterium – transfers its genes into plants to cause “tumors” or galls
Corn, cotton, soybean, sugar beet, alfalfa, golden rice, canola
Tissue culture techniques – totipotency
GMO examples
Microbes – bacteria to produce proteins (insulin, clotting proteins, human growth hormone, enzymes for cheese making)
Plants – Agronomic crops, blue roses, biofuel, BLS resistant tomato
Animals – traits of disease resistance, food production, research, to produce proteins
Examples of GMOs in food production
Insecticidal traits
Bt in corn
Herbicide tolerance
Glyphosate resistant soybeans
Disease resistance
Virus resistance in squash, papaya
Percentage of food crops in GMO as of 2013 world-wide (GMO Compass)
Soy 79%
Maize 32%
Canola 24%
Cotton 70%
Trend is increasing, but less so than in previous years
History of GMOs
1972 – Paul Berg combined virus DNA
1973 – Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen made first GMO, inserting antibiotic resistance genes into E. coli.
1974 – Rudolf Jaensich created first transgenic mouse
1975 – Asilomar Conference – recommended government oversight
1976 – Genetech founded, in 1977 produced somatostatin, a human protein, in E. coli.
1978 – created G.E. insulin
1980 – Diamond vs. Chakrabarty – U.S. Supreme court ruled that genetically altered life could be patented
1982 – humulin, insulin from bacteria, approved by FDA
1987 – first GMO released into the environment, an ice-minus strain of P. syringae, sprayed on strawberries and potatoes in California.  The trials were attacked by activist groups
1986 – first field trials of GMO plants in France and the U.S. – tobacco plants resistant to herbicides
1992 – China introduced first commercial GMO plant, a virus resistant tobacco
1994 – FlavrSavr tomato, modified to ripen without softening
1994 – E.U. approved commercialization of herbicide-resistant tobacco
1995 – Bt potato approved by EPA in the US.
1996 – Monsanto’s first Bt corn approved
2003 – GloFish introduced for sale
2005 – Roundup-ready alfalfa approved
2005 – GE sugar beets
2014 – breaking news: Simplot GMO potato, resistant to bruising and produces less acrylamide – example of cisgenetics
Concerns with GMOs
Gene flow – pollen or seed transfer
Patenting living organisms
Pesticide/Herbicide resistance – “super-weeds” and “super-bugs”
Health and environmental risks
Terminator seeds
Food for thought
Are GMOs a monolithic entity?
Fear-generating, over-generalizing
Toxic, “chemical”
“Feed the World”
Innovations hurting us rather than helping?
Restraints on innovations are prolonging our suffering?
“Scientists say” and the scientific method
Genetic engineering is a tool in improving crop production
Organisms share genes – we share ¼ of our genes with rice.
Transgenics happens in nature