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    Plantin’ by the Signs and other things: Growing your own transplants by the phases and signs – - February 20, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    First, well talk about growing your own plants for the garden and how simple it can be from seeding to transplanting all by the phases of the moon and signs of the zodiac.

    Then, well review a few topics weve been visiting for the last several weeks, all but one of them likely for the last time this year.

    Springs barely a month away and we want to be ready! But before we get too excited, lets remember its still winter, and we need to be patient.

    Starting your transplants

    Every year long about this time I receive lots of questions about seeding to grow your own transplants and should one follow the phases and the signs for this process since, technically, its not planting as in the garden.

    The answer is absolutely yes!

    There are three aspects of the raise your own plants process:

    First is sowing seeds in flats, peat pots or the myriad other latest and greatest methods available.

    The second is transplanting the little seedlings to peat pots, yogurt cups, cottage cheese containers whatever is available if you didnt start them in one of those containers in the first place to nurture until the next step.

    The third is putting the little plant in the ground where it will hopefully grow, thrive and produce whether that ground is a traditional garden, a raised bed, or a barrel on the back deck. (Thats garden size and well review that in a later column).

    The more of these steps you can accomplish in the right moon phase and zodiac sign the better.

    For example, the ever-popular tomato. You can be reasonably assured nurseries and plant suppliers dont have the time or luxury even if they might have the inclination to seed hundreds or thousands of tomato plants in the right moon phase which is light, and sign which is one of the four fertile signs or the so-so signs since its a small window and they are planting just to re-sell. Thus, they might hit the right phase and sign and then they might not.

    Where they cant, you can because weather and labor are not factors since the plants are started indoors long before they can be planted outdoors. And, at most you may be seeding a few dozen plants more than likely even fewer so time (as in labor) isnt a factor as it is for the mass producers.

    As an aside, one of my dreams is to have my own greenhouse and start all plants in the right phases and signs.

    Next is transplanting them to peat pots if they didnt start there. All the same information you just read about seeding applies here: right moon phase for above or below-ground producers in one of the most fertile signs.

    Finally, what happens when the little plant goes to its forever summer home as in planting in the garden.

    If you buy your plants at a nursery or big box store garden center and take them home, this is the only step you can control one of three. But on the other hand, if you do a little research online or elsewhere, assemble the right supplies, and check the phases and signs then you can control all three steps from seeding to planting.

    Ready to do it this year? What do you have to lose?

    Whats left of today and Saturday would be perfect days for planting snow peas with the sign in Gemini (the arms) and the moon in the light phase. I say would be perfect days except, short of a dramatic warm-up and thawing, your garden probably still has a layer of snow on it and likely as not is frozen given the bitter cold days weve had.

    I hate for anyone trying to get peas planted before Washingtons Birthday to miss these days since they dont come around often, but likely as not thats going to be the case this time.

    As Ive been writing for some time now, spreading grass seed during the dark moon in February yields good results at least it has for me. The moon, as weve established, is in the light phase now but it moves back to the dark on 27th, which unfortunately is an Ember Day when you dont want to be planting.

    If you havent completed your seeding and Im sure many havent I would not hesitate to roll the program over into March, at least during the time the dark moon is in force, which will be through March 12.

    According to the phases, there are no bad days during that stretch with the absolute best ones being March 2-3 and 11. The remainder except for Feb. 28 and March 1 (flowering signs) are ruled by the so-so signs that are the second best for planting, in my opinion.

    Its ideal if you can sow on top of this snow because as it melts the little seeds are taken into the ground naturally. That, in fact, is the whole premise and hope for sowing in the dark moon of February: snow melt and the gravitational pull of the dark moon puts the seed right where it needs to be.

    As my friend Dennis Martin pointed out earlier in the week, this works great if your dogs have done a number on your backyard or their pen. Just pitch out some seed on the area, he said, and the dogs can pound it in the ground.

    Sounds like a good idea. Thanks, Dennis.

    If you have gravel to pour on a drive or road on your farm, the perfect stretch continues through Feb. 26 with the moon in the light phase. The same applies for stones on a garden path. The sign doesnt matter here since were not trying to grow anything.

    Read more here:
    Plantin' by the Signs and other things: Growing your own transplants by the phases and signs -

    Manure and cover crops Ohio Ag Net – Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net - February 20, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    By James Hoorman, Hoorman Soil Health Services

    Many livestock farmers who are being compensated by the H2O Ohio program may be looking for guidance on planting cover crops. NRCS Appendix A (Cover Crops) is your best guide for cover crop seeding methods, planting dates, and planting rates. Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation office or local NRCS representative for additional questions.

    What should your cover crop accomplish if you are applying fall manure? First, a live plant that survives the winter and absorbs nitrogen, phosphorus, and reduces soil erosion. Fibrous fine roots systems are better than tap roots which may allow manure nutrients to leach into tile or surface water. The cover crop should be easy to kill, and its a bonus if it can be used for forage (but not allowed under the H2O Ohio program rules).

    Generally, grass cover crops with fibrous fine roots absorb manure nutrients the best. Legumes and clovers make their own nitrogen and readily absorb free nutrients but are generally a little less efficient at absorbing soil manure nutrients. Brassicas like radish, have deep roots and are efficient at absorbing manure nutrients, but winter kill and release nutrients quickly and may cause water quality problems. Kale and rape seed (brassicas) have deep roots, survive the winter.Brassicas should be used at low seeding rates and always in a mixture with winter grass cover crops.

    Summer annuals include oats, radish, and Sorghum Sudan varieties; which effectively absorb manure nutrients. However, these cover crops die with a frost, so they should be minimized in a fall planted cover crop mixture. Winter grass cover crops are cereal rye, annual ryegrass, barley, triticale, and wheat; which can be planted alone or in mixtures. Winter legumes include vetches (hairy, common), clovers (red, sweet, crimson, Balansa), and peas (true winter peas or Canadian pea) which need to be inoculated. Follow H2O Ohio program cover crop mixtures guidelines to qualify for payment.

    Seed quality can be harmed by weed seed (purity) and low germination. NRCS requires adjustment factors (need more seed) if seed purity (too many weeds seeds) or seed germination is less than 86%. See NRCS Appendix A for adjustments. Farmers can use bin run seed or their own seed, but seed testing or seed tags are required for purity and germination to get payment.

    There are several seeding methods to plant cover crops at the proper seeding depth and rate to get fast germination. Drilling cover crops and getting good seed to soil contact is usually the best method, but because the farmer needs to harvest the main crop first, this can be difficult. Broadcast seeding with airplanes, helicopters, high boy applicators, or with a broadcast seeder can be successful if done early with adequate moisture to get fast seed germination. Some farmers incorporate seed with tillage equipment, but depth control may be variable. Broadcast seeding can be done quickly and on large acres, but the seeding rate should be at least 20% higher to account for lower germination rates (H2O Ohio program rules).

    Most fall planted winter cover crops can be planted from August 1st until around mid-September in Ohio with good results. Farmers located close to Lake Erie have a shorter planting window than those located closer to the Ohio River. NRCS allows farmers to compensate for up to two weeks of planting after the ideal planting window by increasing the seeding rate 20% to compensate for reduced germination and to increase plant biomass.

    If you plant more than 2 weeks later than recommended, NRCS does not pay. The longest planting window for grasses is cereal rye (November 1st) followed by wheat, triticale, and spelt (October 22), and barley (October 10).

    Since each cover crop seed has a different size and density, seeding rates are based proportionally on the recommended seeding rate for each specie. For example, if equal parts winter rye, winter triticale and hairy vetch mixture was selected use the 1/3 proportional rate of the full seeding rate for each (17, 19, and 5 lb/ac respectively). Insure the sum of the proportions equal at least 1 (1/3 + 1/3 + 1/3 = 1). If addressing water quality (nutrients in surface and ground water) as part of a conservation plan, at least half of the proportional seeding rate must be non-winter killed cover crop species. Keeping our water clean and safe to drink is an important goal of cover crops, soil health, and the H2O Ohio program.

    See the article here:
    Manure and cover crops Ohio Ag Net - Ohio's Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net

    Pasture-cropping could improve degraded Texas soils| AgriLife Today – AgriLife Today - February 20, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Adopting the ecologically sensitive, low-cost conservation management pasture-cropping practice could help landowners regain the health and resiliency of soils sustaining degradation over the years.

    Pasture cropping, a relatively new and innovative land management system, integrates direct seeding of cool-season annual crops into dormant perennial warm-season grasses. It was pioneered by Colin Seis, an Australian farmer.

    Now the potential for implementation of the practice in the Southern Great Plains is being investigated by a Texas A&M AgriLife-led team of researchers through theU.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, NIFA, grant-funded project Enhancing Soil Ecosystem Health and Resilience Through Pasture Cropping.

    The team consists of Srinivasulu Ale, Ph.D., project lead and Texas A&M University Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering geospatial hydrologist; Richard Teague, Ph.D., Department of Rangeland, Wildlife and Fisheries Management range ecologist; and Paul DeLaune, Ph.D., Department of Soil and Crop Sciences environmental soil scientist, all College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Texas A&M AgriLife Research faculty at Vernon.

    They are joined by Tim Steffens, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service range specialist at West Texas A&M University at Canyon, and Tong Wang, Ph.D., advanced production specialist at South Dakota State University. The team is also consulting with Seis as they build and conduct their research.

    Ale said while some ranchers have already adopted the practice on smaller scales, many are looking for guidance information on the best crops, the best time to plant and terminate/harvest them, and how benefits vary between wet, normal and dry years.

    We expect to be able to answer these questions at the end of our four-year project based on all the data we collect and modeling we conduct, he said.

    Continuous and heavy grazing pressure since the introduction of conventional livestock grazing has resulted in degraded grassland soils, largely due to a combination of a lack of species diversity and diminished soil inputs of organic material from plant roots, Steffens said.

    The pasture-cropping practice has helped rebuild soil organic matter and improve soil structure, infiltration and water holding capacity in Australia, he said.

    The hypothesis is that adding growing roots, root exudates and mycorrhizal fungi in the colder parts of the year provides an additional amount of organic material when the warm-season grasses are not growing, but when decomposition is still occurring, Steffens said. This boost of organic material and the enhanced microbial activity it triggers are what drives better ecological function of the soil.

    The project aims to evaluate these soil health benefits through a combination of field experiments, unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV-based measurements, environmental modeling and economic analyses.

    Through these measurements and simulations, the team will assess the ranch- and watershed-scale improvements in ecosystem services from pasture cropping and analyze the economics compared to conventional practices under different weather and market conditions.

    Soil degradation can result in elevated soil erosion, soil organic carbon loss, nutrient imbalance, soil sealing, acidication, salinization, contamination, waterlogging, compaction and loss of soil biodiversity.

    DeLaune said introducing growing plants during the winter months will not only increase microbial activity, but also provide increased soil cover and protection, supplemental forage for grazing and subsequent cycling of soil nutrients.

    Our goal is to evaluate the overall effect of pasture cropping on soil health and function, he said. In our cropping systems, we have observed trends in improved microbial activity with an extended period of living roots over the year. Additionally, we have observed improved physical properties that increase water infiltration, reduce runoff and improve water quality.

    The pasture-cropping field experiments will be conducted at the West Texas A&M Universitys Nance Ranch near Canyon and at the Dixon Water Foundations Pittman Ranch near Muenster. Modeling efforts will focus on the headwaters of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River watershed in the Texas Panhandle, which includes the Nance Ranch; and the Clear Creek watershed in North Central Texas, which contains the Pittman Ranch.

    The pasture will be grazed short one to two days prior to planting, and then very similar to no-till wheat, the seeds will be drilled directly into the grassland during the fall. The winter wheat will be an added source of green winter grazing that can decrease the cost of supplementary feeding in winter. And, in wetter years, it also might be possible to harvest a grain crop.

    However, in most years, prior to the warm-season grasses starting to green in the spring, the wheat will be grazed off so the grass growth is not hampered.

    Teague said the process will be conducted on one-quarter or less of the pasture each year, and that pasture will not be grazed again until the other summer pastures have all been appropriately grazed in rotation to allow maximum recovery.

    This practice requires excellent adaptive multi-paddock grazing of the native grassland to build soil health/carbon as the base, he said. Doing the pasture cropping more often than every four years would likely negate this or even lower soil carbon in time. Conducting the practice every year would degrade the solid base of the healthy summer growing permanent pasture soil health, even in wetter parts of the world.

    Ale said while Steffens, Teague and DeLaune will conduct the field experiments and data collection, he will be evaluating ecosystem models with their data so he can then run long-term simulations.

    With modeling, he said he can determine what happens if the practice is carried out for 10 or 20 years, build in projected future weather changes, and assess the potential of pasture cropping in mitigating the negative effects of climate variability and change on soil ecosystem services.

    They will be doing these experiments on a ranch scale, but I can model it on a watershed basis measure the holistic benefits if all ranchers in a watershed do it, Ale said.

    After conducting the experiments over four years and analyzing the data to compare the various soil health indicators, Wang will provide an economic analysis of all the practices and improvements.

    Steffens said once the project is complete, they plan to incorporate their findings into the various in-depth grazing and ranch management schools he conducts.


    Read this article:
    Pasture-cropping could improve degraded Texas soils| AgriLife Today - AgriLife Today

    The new wave of plant conservationists in the Balkans – BirdLife International - February 20, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    At 1700 m altitude, on a jagged limestone ridge often used for training by alpinists, a group of young researchers are clinging to tufts of grass and sharp rock as they scramble straight down the steep mountainside of Mount Orjen, which straddles the border of Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina. What brings them here, with no ropes, one misplaced step away from tumbling to peril? In a word: plants. In practical terms, theyre undertaking a transect, recording population, habitat and threat data, and collecting vital seeds. But the underlying reason theyre here: pure passion and enthusiasm for conservation.

    Such is the new wave of plant conservationists in the Mediterranean, and particularly in the Balkans. Stereotypically, the study of plants has been seen as a niche domain of aging, bearded botanists with a focus on scientic research and natural history. Whilst such a botanist could well be found on a steep mountainside, theres a fresh generation of plant experts that use research as one tool of conservation. Driven by local NGOs like EnvPro and E-grupa on Mount Orjen, they will do what it takes to see threatened endemic plants protected.

    With many straight out of University, its not easy to begin a career in conservation. But BirdLife (through its role as Regional Implementation Team for the Mediterranean hotspot of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF)*) has been able to provide small grants to local NGOs, which can allow them to employ and train such eager, talented people. In total, 14 small grants (and one large grant) have supported 15 civil society organisations in four Balkan countries since October 2018.

    Not only is plant conservation new-school, its important. Plants underpin the food chain, endemic plants support endemic insects, and the Mediterranean region biodiversity hotspot is ranked third-richest in the world in terms of its plant diversity. Some remote areas of Balkans are not properly surveyed and Mount Orjen is the only place where some endemic plant species are still found, such as the beautiful Orjen Iris Iris orjenii which hangs on in just a few sites, nestled within patches of long grass.

    It was here that EnvPro and E-grupa revealed additional sites of the iris and conrmed its presence on the Bosnian side. The data gathered also allowed them to assess the species on the IUCN Red List as Endangered, as well as an endemic short-toothed sage Salvia brachyodon as Critically Endangered, and capture important habitat data for other endemics such as Edraianthus serpyllifolius.

    Every seed counts

    Perhaps taking inspiration from the way the roots of the endemic Bosnian munika pine trees grasp bare rock, newly-employed Marija Popovic holds on tight as she peers over an edge looking for any signs of seeding plants. EnvPro are collecting seeds from all target species for a seed bank kept at the University of Primorska, but its especially vital for the iris because the team are working with the Natural History Museum in Rijeka to grow seedlings (ex-situ conservation) which will be planted back in the wild.

    Collaboration is a major theme in this movement, which aims to build a network of plant conservationists in the region, leading to better conservation management overall. Throughout the project, EnvPro (from Montenegro) have been helping build the skills and expertise of the Bosnian-based E-grupa, skills that have already led to a major success: plant data submitted helped form the basis of the case for a new protected area on the Bosnian side of Mount Orjen (declared in September 2020), which will help secure a safe future for the plants surveyed there. The Montenegrin side is already officially protected, but the EnvPro project is also aiming to improve the management of Orjen Nature Park for plants. Theyve also worked with the local mountaineering club to redirect a portion of a hiking trail that was heading through a patch of irises.

    Balloons to protect bells from fire

    This kind of work is also featured in another plant project in Montenegro, where the Loven Bell Edraianthus wettsteinii subsp. lovcenicus, a small perennial plant with tufts of grassy leaves and ne, blue, bell-shaped owers, has its entire range restricted to an area smaller than a football eld. Here, on Mount Loven, just outside the border of Loven National Park, young plant conservationists arent just becoming effective experts, theyre also bringing new and creative ideas.

    Living Green, a local NGO, has found an innovative way to protect the plant from the threat of res: water balloons. Theyve installed biodegradable water bags to ensure the plants get an instantaneous dousing, and water canisters coupled with workshops with the local re brigade, park rangers and local landowners allow for a quick reaction to re in this dry area, eight kilometres from any other water source. There have been no res since, and Living Green continue to work on the other aspects of their project: raising awareness of the importance of the plant and work with the National Park to see its range increase.

    Albania's red iris threatened by mining

    Elsewhere, in Albania, a stunning re-red-and-yellow native tulip species Tulipa albanica is restricted to an extremely small range in a landscape rife with mining activity. The Institute for Environmental Policy (IEP) have been working to discover all of the remaining plants yes, all of them (the population is so small its possible to count them all) with the aim of protecting its habitat, whilst nurturing a new generation of skilled and professional botanists to work on the protection of other endemic plants in the future. Despite the species only being discovered in the last decade, the tulip is now the official emblem of the local town of Kuks testament to IEPs outreach work, and in April 2020 the Municipal Council approved the formal protection of the Albanian Tulip at the local level. Meanwhile the energetic team have been digging their spades into scientifically selected soil to create four new terraces a few kilometres away from the original locality and planted tulip bulbs giving great hope for the future of one of the regions rarest plants.

    From Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia [see below], the new generation of plant conservationists are now equipped with expertise in data collection, fruitful collaborations across borders and with institutions, and great awareness-raising skills. And above all, a passion and love for plants. With all that supporting them on a remote mountainside, who needs ropes?

    Innovations across the border

    The rst ever seed bank of wild ora in North Macedonia was collected by MASA, with 90% from rare and endemic species; whilst ILIRIA (from Albania) used a drone to record focal species growing on steep cliffs. These two grantees are working in the National Parks of Galicica and Prespa in a collaborative project.

    Large grants for rare plants

    MES (BirdLife in North Macedonia) are assessing threatened plants in the Jablanica and Dojran Lake areas and setting up a monitoring system. Theyre also supporting protected area managers and local organisations, and work with biology students on chestnut distribution (including using a drone).

    Ex-situ ponds

    Macedonian Biological Society is also assessing endemic plants with restricted habitats from Galichica including collecting seeds, which theyve planted in newly updated facilities in the Botanical Gardens of Skopje (including a lake for a rare water lily). Meanwhile, theyre training local students and young experts and raising awareness in the local community.

    CEPF is more than just a funding provider

    A dedicated Regional Implementation Team (RIT) (expert officers on the ground) guide funding to the most important areas and to even the smallest of organisations; building civil society capacities, improving conservation outcomes, strengthening networks and sharing best practices.In the Mediterranean Basin Biodiversity Hotspot, the RIT is entrusted to BirdLife International and its Partners: LPO (BirdLife France), DOPPS (BirdLife Slovenia) and BPSSS (BirdLife Serbia).

    Read the original here:
    The new wave of plant conservationists in the Balkans - BirdLife International

    From the Barns: From the ground up AgriNews – Agri News - February 20, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The 2020-2021 winter grazing season was finished up here at River Oak on Friday, Jan. 22. That concluded 66 days of grazing our stockpiled fescue and red clover. We were running 104 head of yearling heifers and a pair of lead cows. Overall the program went very smooth with no heavy snow and moderate temperatures for easy water supplies. That winter graze yielded 76 animal units per acre, an impressive amount considering the dry fall we experienced. We did observe the heifers showing some reluctance to consume the very driest fescue leaves, a scenario we usually dont experience.

    I am happy with the condition of all the paddocks we grazed, even though there were a few days that resulted in a little pugging from either light rain or melting snow. The condition of our new south 20 paddocks remains undetermined since we were attempting to graze the heavy red clover stand to allow the grass seedlings a head start next spring. We hope that was not overdone. We plan to frost seed fescue and no clover there this month.

    Speaking of which, it is frost seeding time. However, I dont think we will be out there with the ATV seeder just yet. We are looking at 10 days of very cold temperatures and as of yet an undetermined amount of snow. I really dont like to place frost seeding in very much snow, since runoff and or pooling can cause losses. A little snow is welcome to help application accuracy. We have several different recipes for different paddocks to try and improve each according to their needs. Most will still receive the common 3 to 4 pounds of red clover per acre.

    For those of you who have been traditional and continuous graziers and are thinking about making the change to rotational grazing, you might want to check out the online zoom series entitled Regenerative Grazing Fundamentals that was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Feb. 11 and continues Feb. 18 and 25. You would need to register at:

    Dont be scared off by the term regenerative grazing. Those of us who have been at it for a while, that is, Adaptive Management Intensive Rotational Grazing, didnt coin that term. That new term is what happens when too many soil scientists and desk jockeys get interested in the practices. Also, it sure is a lot harder to say regenerative than rotational.

    Jane and I felt good to receive our first COVID vaccine at the local Hy-Vee store on Jan. 27. That was a whole week ahead of when the local bureaucracy, the health department, finally announced a method to schedule free market at work. Stay safe and sane and take in a virtual grazing event.

    Original post:
    From the Barns: From the ground up AgriNews - Agri News

    Welcoming the true arrival of spring in the garden – Irish Post - February 20, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    SPRING opened her locked wardrobe this month with the arrival of La Feile Brid.

    Many seem to think that March 1is the official start of spring but Im sticking with the long-established Irish feast day.

    A cocks foot, the measure of daylight gained each passing day (since the winter solstice), is not a generous measure, but by now it has added a glorious thirty-five minutes of illumination to our days.

    In as many days again, it will have grown to an hour and a half, sometimes more, during bright sunlit days.

    For the past eleven months we have not alone been confined indoors by Covid-19 restrictions, but by darkness, and extremely variable weather conditions.

    In fact, since autumn we have been challenged by storms, wind, rain, and of late, periods of frost, snow, and biting cold.

    But lucky those who have a garden to tend, for there they found refuge in venturing out occasionally to admire at close quarters the brave blooms that shine in winter.

    The sun has slowly and imperceptibly risen that little bit earlier each morning, warming the frozen soil and all it contains.

    Soon, the hedgerows will stir into new fresh greenery and life will return beneath their sheltering stony skirts.

    There is something new to applaud these opening days, not least the many varieties of crocus.

    Coinciding with the snowdrops, crocustommasinianusis showing colour but few realise that it is prolific at self-seeding.

    A modest batch can turn into an impressive multiple in a very few years.

    Mature gardens where it had perhaps been planted in minuscule numbers in the past, can seem filled now with the narrow, mauve flowers which fling back their segments at every burst of spring sunshine.

    The most eager of its clan, they really can grow 'like weeds' - but never become a nuisance.

    What you do not see are the seeds which lie hidden at the base of each tube.

    These are generally thought to be distributed by ants.

    However, the real joy of February and later are the camellias, arch deceivers no less, for they look almost too exotic to succeed outdoors as easily as they do.

    Unfortunately, a snowflake, a blade of grass, a blackthorn shoot has more perfume.

    No spring garden is complete without at least one early variety and the best (and earliest) include those sold under the species name Sasanqua.

    Look for stockists on computers or laptops for they are rare enough on garden outlet sales tables.

    This charming variety has graced our garden here for decades and it takes top position for reliability and performance year on year (an illustration of Yuletide has appeared on this page recently).

    It blooms in the weeksleading to Christmaswith a willingness that staggers and continues to the end of February and later.

    Be assured also that they take kindly to pot culture.

    Buy a decent sized, terracotta, or glazed pot for one of these, and fill it with a mixture of lime-free soil from the garden, to which has been added a generous dressing of leaf-mould, commercial potting compost, or pine-needles.

    Plant into this mixture as big a camellia as you can afford, bearing in mind that the older you are, the more you need to invest in something that will not take a decade and more to reach a commanding size.

    Debbie is a later variety for late March/April, a reliable, free-flowering, vigorous variety which I also rate highly, but if red is not in keeping with your gardens colour scheme, opt for Jury's Yellow (very unusual) White Nun or Lavinia Maggi. I have only one word for all OF these: superb.

    See the rest here:
    Welcoming the true arrival of spring in the garden - Irish Post

    Forage yield, quality improve with frost-seeded legumes – Herald-Whig - February 9, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Frost seeding, a method of broadcasting seeds over snow- or frost-covered pastures, improves poor pastures at a low cost.

    Seeds work their way into the soil and germinate as the ground freezes and thaws between winter and spring.

    But University of Missouri Extension state forage specialist Craig Roberts said forage yield and quality improve when legumes are frost-seeded at the right time.

    In most of Missouri, broadcast annual lespedeza, red clover or white clover in mid-February when there is snow or heavy frost, and into late February in the northern counties.

    Seeds need the freeze-and-thaw action for good seed-to-soil contact and to pull the seed to the soils top layer, Robert said. The best contact occurs on exposed soil. Plant residue prevents seeds from reaching soil, but the hoofing action of cattle can work seeds into the soil.

    New plants need time to grow without competition from grass canopies for light and nutrients, so apply little or no nitrogen in spring. Graze or clip frost-seeded pastures in spring and summer to allow light to reach seedlings.

    Legumes extend the grazing season by producing better in late spring and summer when fescue does not grow or grows slowly.

    Adding red clover to common tall fescue fields solves some animal health issues, Robert said.

    More than 90% of Missouri fields contain toxic Kentucky 31 tall fescue, and adding legumes limits fescue toxicosis by diluting pastures.

    Adding red clover also reduces vasoconstriction, the narrowing of blood vessels. In summer, vasoconstriction causes heat to build up in an animals core body. In winter, blood does not flow to extremities, and hooves fall off. Compounds in red clover open blood flow to prevent this.

    Preventing fruit tree disease

    Winter is a great time for orchard owners and fruit tree gardeners to create a plan for the coming growing season.

    Keeping a journal of activities of management and care is essential in caring for fruit trees, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Andrew Holsinger said.

    The most effective way to care for tree fruit diseases is to know when to spray fungicides and herbicides. A tree often is infected long before symptoms are observed, and prevention is key to tree health, especially with fungal diseases.

    Some sprays can only be applied in late winter and early spring to prevent disease before the leaves have emerged, Holsinger said. Diseases often develop because a spray wasnt applied.

    Fruit tree disease prevention starts early by choosing disease-resistant varieties. Only plant top-quality, healthy nursery stock to avoid failure.

    Good tree sanitation also is important in preventing disease.

    Inspect trees for mummies, which are unpicked, withered and infected fruits that carry spores and can cause problems during the next season. Cleaning up fallen leaves and fruits after the harvest is a good practice to reduce the number of fungal spores, especially apple scab, for the next year.

    Pruning is probably the most neglected aspect of disease control, Holsinger said. Pruning allows for more air circulation, light penetration and more adequate spray coverage.

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    Forage yield, quality improve with frost-seeded legumes - Herald-Whig

    OPINION: The Dollars and Cents of America’s Wild Horses – Pagosa Daily Post - February 9, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Only a tiny minority of Americans want to see American wild horses sent to slaughter to make room for more livestock grazing on public lands.

    Obviously, we dont see most Americans giving up their hamburgers and steaks, so the demands for beef, lamb and pork are slowly increasing. But do we need to kill wild horses in slaughter houses?

    And is this even a wise use of these publicly-owned wild horses?

    The Questions of Value AriseAre wild horses more valuable in a pet food can and/or sitting in exile, wasting away in a Bureau of Land Management off-range corral costing American taxpayers nearly $100-million per year? Is there a much higher value proposition thats been overlooked?

    What about the undeniable billion-dollar economics of using wild horses in a wildfire fuel abatement role protecting human lives, assets, forest and timber resources, as well as other tertiary benefits?

    Since the codification of the 1971 Free-Roaming Wild Burro and Horse Protection Act five decades ago, there have been many profound breakthroughs and discoveries in science. For instance, modern paleontology informs us that wild horses have successfully maintained habitats in virtually every biome on the planet ranging from sub-arctic to tropical.

    We also now know that wild horses survived the Ice Age in forests, as we read here in Cosmos magazine.

    Given recently discovered facts, as far as equine genetics (including epigenetics), paleontological ecology (habitats and ranges of wild equids based-on fossil records), and through the cultural archaeology of native Americans and their horses, which arguably pre-date the Columbian Period, would planners today draw the same lines on maps defining areas for wild horses under any new law for their protection?

    I seriously doubt it. Comparing what we know today, to what we knew in the 1960s and in early 1971, its clear we knew very little about wild horses, as well as their history and ecology.

    And even by todays standards, we still have much to learn in many areas. Scant funding is provided for the study of American wild horses in comparison to studies related to livestock.

    In a world where we have more people than ever wanting more resources than ever before, financial considerations must not be discounted.

    Native species wild horse reducing wildfire fuels in rugged wilderness terrain. Photos courtesy William E. Simpson II.

    What is the real value of an American wild horse?

    I would respond, to those with love in their hearts; the sum is beyond quantification.

    To those who render meat? An 800-pound horse is worth about $160.00 (20-cents per pound wholesale).

    To those who have knowledge of recent scientific facts and vision; each wild horse is worth at least $72,000.00.

    Why Each American Wild Horse Is Worth About $72,000Each wild horse deployed into and around remote forest and wilderness areas with depleted deer populations can abate 5.5 tons of wildfire fuels (grass and brush) annually about 30 pounds/day/horse.

    As an evolved North American native species, wild horses are quite at-home in and around forests and areas that are virtually inaccessible, especially wilderness areas.

    For comparison, on average, deer consume about 7 pounds of grass and brush per day, per animal. Many remote wilderness areas are poorly suited to commercial livestock grazing due to the extensive predation of calves and lambs, and logistics cost related to poor accessibility and very difficult terrain.

    These and other factors significantly reduce profitability to livestock producers who use public lands grazing permits. Losing calves and lambs is not an option of livestock production.

    And at least in wilderness areas, depleting all of the Apex Predators is unwise, and is what has led to the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

    Apex predators have evolved with unique skills that allow them to quickly cull and sick or genetically weak animals from the populations of large and small herbivores. Their predation as it turns-out is vital in preventing deer sick with Chronic Wasting Disease from remaining among populations of healthy deer and spreading the disease. Predators quickly cull diseased deer and elk and that helps to prevent the spread of that deadly disease.

    Western forests are depleted of deer due to poor wildlife management. California and Oregon are down over 2 million deer over the past five decades even as Chronic Wasting Disease is spreading, and is now in at least 27 states. These now missing deer had been abating nearly 3 million tons of grass and brush. It will take decades to correct our depleted deer populations.

    A re-wilded American wild horse, which is resistant to Chronic Wasting Disease, will abate about 5.5 tons of prodigious grass and brush annually in and around forests. 5.5 tons of grass and brush equals roughly 5-7 acres of grass and brush (varies with area), which can easily be maintained by wild horses year-round at nominal levels without any human intervention or the added risk of man-caused wildfires, especially during summer.

    The Value Of Wildfire Reduction By American Wild HorsesAccording to Science Magazine:

    By altering the quantity and distribution of fuel supplies, large herbivores can shape the frequency, intensity, and spatial distribution of fires across a landscape. There are even unique interactions among large herbivore populations that can influence fire regimes.

    In order to accomplish the same task of deployed wild horses in the mitigation of prodigious grass and brush levels in areas of remote and difficult wilderness terrain, it would require 2-men about 4-5 weeks of work, using hand tools, according to at least one article.

    It is important to note that motorized equipment and methods are by law prohibited in wilderness areas, as well as impractical due to rugged terrain.

    Each human laborer requires a minimum wage of about $15.00/hour, which equals $120/day/laborer, or $240.00 per day for two men. This ($240.00/day) is multiplied by the minimum of 4-weeks (20-work days), which equals about $4,800.00 in cost, which is comparable to the effect of one American wild horse grazing for one-year.

    There are also human resource issues involved with this method, which add more costs. So, using man-power, we arrive at a per-acre-cost for grass and brush abatement of $685.71 per acre. This is based upon the greatest average efficiency ($4,800.00 divided by 7-acres treated).

    Now, we look at the comparative costs of using wildlife (wild horses) to do the same job:

    An American wild horse abates excess grass and brush fuel from wildfires on the same 7-acres virtually at no cost to taxpayers.

    In wilderness areas, this is critically important since virtually all traditional fuel treatment method used by the USFS and other agencies are prohibited, with good reason.

    According to the USFS, even in areas where their most cost-effective method fuel treatment is allowed, which is prescribed burning; the cost to taxpayers for that is $400.00 per acre and more.

    The western landscape has tens-of-millions of acres that have annually recurring grass and brush wildfire fuels.

    Native species American wild horses seen cleaning wildfire fuels off a forest floor.

    Prescribed Burning A Terrible Prescription For Controlling Wildfire FuelsBased upon the best recent science related to the health and welfare of humans and wildlife, prescribed burning is a terrible prescription for the control of annual grass and brush wildfire fuels.

    Like wildfires, so-called prescribed burns release millions of tons of toxic compounds as a part of the composition of the smoke that is released into the air. And some wildlife, especially reptiles, amphibians and ground birds are overcome and killed by the smoke and heat. Further still, some prescribed burns get out of control and become uncontrolled wildfires, as we have seen in past situations, destroying hundreds of homes.

    An American wild horse will live about 15-20 years in a wilderness environment and has no human resource issues; they dont need management or pay-checks; they dont sue anyone and they dont start fires.

    Each American wild horse deployed into a wilderness wildfire fuels maintenance role will yield about $72,000.00 in work value over its life ($4,800 each year X 15 years).

    The value of a wild horse in a wildfire fuels mitigation roll is a multiple of 450-times the value of the same horse rendered as meat.

    Its clearly obtuse to even consider using wild horses for slaughter given that on top of the $72,000.00, there is added value to that outlined above in regard to the savings to taxpayers in firefighting costs, increased insurance costs, value of natural resources lost, increase health costs from smoke, loss of economic value in communities due to fire damage to properties leading to loss of tax role values, etc.

    Furthermore, having evolved on the North American continent 55 million years ago, wild horses have documented symbiotic mutualisms with both forest and soils ecosystems that invasive species cattle and sheep do not have as ruminants.

    Wild horses are monogastric digestors (single stomach) and pass both humus and viable native plant seeds back onto the soils they graze, which restores fire-damages soils and allows the evolved symbiotic re-seeding of native plants; critical to the survival of native flora and the fauna dependent on the native flora.

    Furthermore, the ecologically-sound wildfire grazing by native species American wild horses sequesters carbon compounds back into soils. Wildfires and prescribed burns volatilize these compounds into our air and atmosphere, further accelerating climate change

    The Good News!We have a ready-made solution via a draft outline for a legislative bill that could save American taxpayers billions of dollars annually! That draft as well as other information can be found at

    William E Simpson II

    William E. Simpson II is a naturalist, author, and conservationist living in the Soda Mountain wilderness area among the wild horses that he studies.

    Continue reading here:
    OPINION: The Dollars and Cents of America's Wild Horses - Pagosa Daily Post

    EXTENSION NOTES Winter grass and culled vegetables for cows – Daytona Beach News-Journal - February 4, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Wendy Mussoline, UF/IFAS Multi-County Agriculture Agent| The Daytona Beach News-Journal

    The winter season is upon us, and that means just about everything except the ryegrass has turned brown. Ryegrass is the beautiful green patch that David Cleggs cows are munching on along the east side of County Road 305, just south of the 304/305 intersection in Bunnell.

    Most beef cows are either pregnant or with calf and their nutritional needs are the highest this time of year. Without proper nutrition, pregnancies fail and lactating mothers cannot keep up with the required milk production to support a healthy calf. Successful cattlemen need to know how to grow forages all year round and so, as Walton Cowart admits, they are first and foremost considered grass farmers.

    Some common cool-season forages grown in our area include ryegrass, oats, cereal rye, pearl millet and clover. Cattlemen that may be interested in reviewing UFs most recent list of recommended varieties should look up the EDIS publication titled 2020 Cool-Season Forage Variety Recommendations for Florida. Dr. Ann Blount is the lead author but contributing UF Forage Specialists from all over the state have provided their two cents. The document provides a description of each forage type, specific varieties recommended, planting dates, seeding rates and lots of practical instruction. If you are not computer savvy, you are welcome to swing by the UF/IFAS Flagler County Extension Office and wed be glad to print you a copy. Cool season forages should be planted around mid-October through mid-November, but its never too early to start planning for next year.

    Another option for hungry cows in the wintertime is culled vegetables. An outstanding opportunity for local cattlemen is to fill their trucks with culled cabbage from the Hollar & Greene packing shed on County Road 305. When they are packing cabbage, the conveyor belt is designed to automatically dump non-marketable cabbage heads and excess outer leaves into a dump truck or trailer. Yesterday I was watching those trailers fill up in just a matter of minutes. The drawback is that cabbage consists mostly (90%) of water and cows often get full before they tap into the real nutritional benefits. With 90% water, that means that 10% is dry matter. Within the dry matter fraction, it contains lots of crude protein (24%) and exceptionally high total digestible nutrients (85%) compared with common forage grasses. While it should not serve as the entire meal, it provides supplemental calories and nutrition.

    Another fantastic resource is the new Comarco Eggplant Processing Plant in Putnam County. They generate approximately 16,000 pounds of culled eggplant, skins and tops every week. The nutritional benefits are higher and more quickly accessible since eggplant consists of only 50% water. The dry matter component of the raw eggplant constituents has 17% crude protein and 70% total digestible nutrients.

    For a list of other culled vegetables and their nutritional benefits for cows, consult the UF EDIS publication titled Utilization of Cull Vegetables as Feedstuffs for Cattle.

    Read this article:
    EXTENSION NOTES Winter grass and culled vegetables for cows - Daytona Beach News-Journal

    Plantin’ by the Signs and other things: Quick takes and February overview – - February 4, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Here are a few quick hits on important dates coming up and then the complete February overview as the gardening season gets closer and closer.

    Groundhog Day is Tuesday. If the hog sees his shadow its six more weeks of winter. If he doesnt, the worse is behind us. Then on Wednesday we celebrate the official Midpoint of Winter.

    Seeding grass during the dark moon yields good results. The dark moon rules thru Feb. 10 and is back Feb. 27-28.

    Plowing in January in February even if the water follows you down the furrow. Get it done before March or youll face problems all summer.

    Snow peas by Washingtons birthday, which is Feb. 22. Give it a try if you have the space and your plot is ready.

    Making changes: We have a six-day stretch in February for making changes, Feb. 5-10. The moon will be in the dark phase and the signs moving out of the body beyond anything that functions Sagittarius/legs, Capricorn/knees, and Aquarius/legs.

    Pouring gravel: If you have gravel to pour on a drive or road on your farm, youll need to wait until the light moon returns on the afternoon of Feb. 11 through the 26th. Dont do it now! The same applies for stones on a garden path.

    Ember Days: I cant believe theyre here again so soon, but February features three Ember Days on Feb. 24, 26-27. No planting anywhere on Ember Days, no matter the sign or moon phase.

    MOON PHASES: February begins and ends with the dark moon in force. The new or light moon comes into force at 2:06 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Feb. 11 and rules until the dark moon returns at 3:17 a.m. on Feb. 27. Between those times, Feb. 12-26, the light moon is in force.

    When the light moon is in force, plant above-ground producers and when the dark moon rules its below-ground producers.

    Check the signs and plant when one of the fertile signs rules in the proper phase of the moon depending on where the veggie will produce. Dont plant when either of the killing signs, Aries or Leo, is in force and dont plant veggies when the flowering signs, Virgo and Libra, rule.

    Dont forget the Ember Days, Feb. 24, 26-27. Feb. 24 is ruled by a killing sign while Feb. 26 and 27 are under a flowering sign. These days arent conducive to planting veggies anyway now theyre just plain off limits!

    Planting in the so-so signs is a viable alternative to the fertile signs. They are Sagittarius, Capricorn, and Aquarius, Feb. 5-11, with the dark moon ruling until just after 2 p.m. on Feb. 11.

    If you can only utilize one aspect of the system for planting, I would suggest going with the moon phases but still avoid the killing signs for any planting and the flowering signs for anything but flowers and the Ember Days this month.

    THE SIGNS: Check to see if the moon is in the light or dark phase (information above) before proceeding with any planting anywhere, or other activities. February begins and ends with the flowering sign Libra (the reins) ruling. Well start by reviewing the flowering signs.

    Flowering days: Libra rules Feb. 1-2 and 28 while Virgo (the bowels) is up for Feb. 26-27. There are five flowering days in February. About the only flowers you can be planting now are pansies since they can stand most weather extremes. But that will begin to change soon as spring approaches, beginning on March 20.

    These are bloom days and flowers planted when they rule should bloom and do so abundantly. Be cautious about planting veggies on flowering days since they tend to spend more time flowering than they do setting fruit. Cautious as in dont do it!

    Fertile days: The signs are accompanied by the phase of the moon in which they occur.

    Scorpio (the secrets), Feb. 3-4, dark moon ruling; Pisces (the feet), Feb. 12-13, light moon; Taurus (the neck), Feb. 16-18, light moon; and Cancer (the breast), Feb. 21-23, light moon.

    There are 10 days this month ruled by the most fertile signs: Scorpio, Pisces, Taurus, and Cancer. All are with the light moon in force except for the two Scorpio days.

    So-so days: Sagittarius (the thighs), Feb. 5-6; Capricorn (the knees), Feb. 7-8; and Aquarius (the legs), Feb. 9-11. There are seven days this month ruled by the so-so signs. The dark moon is in force for all but the latter half of the 11th when the light moon comes to rule. Feb. 5-10 six days will be perfect for making changes. See more about that below.

    Killing days: No planting, transplanting, or dealing with things you want to thrive should occur on these days. Reserve them for anything but planting anywhere be that garden, greenhouse, pot or cold frame. No planting!

    Heres when they rule: Aries (the head) Feb. 14-15 and Leo (the heart), Feb. 24-25. There are just four days in February ruled by the killing signs. And the 24th has the added distinction of being an Ember Day. Thats a day Id just stay in maybe under the house!

    These are great days to finish cleaning up your 2020 garden if you havent yet.

    See original here:
    Plantin' by the Signs and other things: Quick takes and February overview -

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