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fall 2016 ag

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LOCAL Serving the local community for over 56 years Agriculture • Airports • Commercial • Industrial • Medical • Parks • Religious • Residenal • Restaurants • Retail • Schools • Wineries • and everything in between. Ausonio does it all. www.ausonio.com Contractors Li # 682308 Design + Build • Construcon Management • General Construcon • Green Building American Takii—Salinas Sam Linder—Monterey CHOMP—Monterey Asilomar—Pacific Grove Enza Zaden—Salinas Ocean Mist—Castroville Monterey Wine Company—King City Thermo King—Salinas Chartwell School—Seaside (LEED Planum) Nordic Naturals—Watsonville (LEED Gold) Carol Haon Breast Care—Monterey Holaday Seed—Salinas Many environmental problems can be traced to a number of factors. Ac- cording to www.greenbuzz. com, homeowners use 10 times more chemicals per acre than the average farmer. These include the detergents, cleaning products, automotive sub- stances, and other chemi- cals that are oen stored in garages and beneath sinks. Individuals willing to make small changes in regard to the use of such products could make a profound impact on the environment. Concerned consumers should be conscious of which products they pur- chase and use around the home, selecting ones that have minimal environmen- tal impact. Additionally, many natural substances, such as vinegar, baking soda and borax, are much safer to use than many chemically-based house- hold products. Did you know? Healthy Soil for Your Farm or Landscape by Steve McShane Welcome to the wonderful world of soil science! I spent five years in college studying the subject and could not be more pas- sionate about sharing its importance with others. In this short piece, I hope to emphasize its manage- ment while highlighting its preservation and care. Here along the Central Coast we boast a wide diversity of soil types and with some basic understanding, we all can be better farmers, gardeners and stewards of this resource. The most important thing folks should know about soil is that is very alive. In fact, I tell clients that just a teaspoon of soil has more life in it than most people. Just a small handful of soil contains more than a billion micro organisms! Given that soil is a dynamic breathing medium, it is our responsibility to care for it just like we'd care for a valuable family member or pet. Aer all, it is our soil that ultimately feeds us. One of my favorite things I tell backyard gardeners is, "if they feed their soil, their soil will feed their plants." This is where fertilizers and amendments come into play. There is a cycle Moth- er Nature established a long time ago where plants and mammals grow, die and ultimately are returned to the soil thanks to a host of macro and micro organ- isms. The dying material contributes nutrients back to the plants. When we plant a gar- den, crop or landscape, we change the stakes of the game by seeking lush growth, flowers or food. This is where feeding becomes increasingly important. Plants require seventeen essential nutri- ents to thrive. The three most important are nitro- gen, phosphorus and po- tassium (N, P & K). These three nutrients are what must be listed on every fertilizer bag you will see at your local nursery. While it is impressive to see high amounts of each listed on a bag, their availability really depends on many factors; most of which is the type of fertilizer. The two types of fertilizer in the marketplace are organic or conventional. While, plants don't know the difference in the end, both perform differently in the soil. Conventional fertilizer is derived from chemical sources and can oen burn plants in high concentrations. Nutrient availability for plant uptake is immediate. They offer a good solution for a "quick greening" of your land- scape. Organic fertilizers come from organic sources, oen animal or plant based. They are slower to release and can end up feeding for a longer period of time. For the backyard gardener, organic is my recommendation. When choosing a fertilizer, be sure to check the label. Just like when purchas- ing a breakfast cereal or new car, the devil is in the details. Fish based organic fertilizers combined with a diversity of beneficial ad- ditives such as kelp meal, alfalfa meal or bone meal go a long way. Dr. Earth, Nature and Bloom and our local "RTI" label is what I recommend. Given my love for soil sci- ence, I am a huge advocate for adding beneficial soil microorganisms to your garden, landscape or farm. In fact, there is a fungus that is getting all the at- tention of the extreme gar- deners going aer record breaking size and quality of fruits and vegetables. It is called mychorhizae. My- chorhizae attaches itself to roots and forms a symbi- otic relationship with its host. The mycorhizae cap- tures water and nutrients for the plant via small "root extensions" and in return, the plant provides sugar for the fungus to thrive. Some studies have shown roots develop twice or three times the capacity for cap- turing water and nutrients thanks to mychorhizae! Once you've considered fertilizer, its worth adding a regular dose of organic compost to your landscape. The compost is food for the microorganisms. As I shared earlier, "feed your soil and your soil will feed your plants." You can take it a step further by adding a green manure compost like alfalfa or kelp meal to boost your microorgan- ism's performance. As my friend and fellow gardener says, "kelp and alfalfa relate to soil microorgan- isms just like ketchup to French Fries. There is just no better combination." The main idea behind feed- ing and managing your soil is the benefit of healthier plants think of it this way, a better human diet puts us at an advantage to fight off disease and pre-mature aging. The same is true for plants. Healthy plants that have the benefit of well managed soil are more capable to fight off pests and disease. Even better, they produce fantastic tasting, well matured fruits and vegetables. Do you face clay soils? Many along the Central Coast do. The addition of organic matter (and mychorhizae) will actually help decrease the negative effects of clay. As micror- ganisms do their work and the organic matter works its way into the soil profile, air and water is naturally allowed to pass more freely over time. Soil microbiology is most active between around 55 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In our region, that means our soil is busy producing for us near 300 days a year. My hope is that now you're in a better position to do more with one of most important resources, Soil. Find us Online! (grophers continued from page 1) side where the horseshoe shaped depression is found until a tunnel plugged with the fresh dirt is discovered. This tunnel is then opened to the main runway and a small trap is set. A quicker and more effec- tive means is the use of poisoned baits. To poison gophers, you'll need qual- ity bait and an insertion device. The main runway must be located by probing about 12 to 18 inches from the mound on the side of the horseshoe shaped de- pression with the insertion device. When the runway is found, use the insertion device to drop the bait into the gopher runway. For baits to be effective, the bait cannot be fouled or contaminated with earth. The insertion device will help overcome this issue. When using a gopher trap, it is important to find the main tunnel. To find the main tunnel, probe the soil beginning at the horseshoe shaped mound of soil. On the flat side, probe from that flat side of the mound about 12 to 18 inches. When the probe sinks quickly due to the lack of resistance, you have located the main tunnel. It is at this location that you should dig out the earth to expose the tunnel. Set the traps according to the instructions. Cover the hole with leaves, a board or a small towel to darken the trap area. If you have dug out the mound area, do not use a board to cover the hole because this will not allow air to flow properly into the tunnel. The lack of light makes the gopher travel towards the trap. Aer trapping a go- pher, dispose of the gopher into the tunnel and cover hole. This will discourage future use of the area by other gophers. One has got to remember that "outdoor living" and the landscaping involved is a labor of love. We co-exist with the animals and environments around us. Success in those envi- ronments begins with an understanding of the crea- tures we have to manage in the process. Steve McShane is owner and general manager of McShane's Nursery in Sa- linas. He is also a partner in Converted Organics. He can be reached at steve@ mcshanesnursery.com PLEASE RECYCLE THIS NEWSPAPER.

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