Techniques for Long Term Seed Storage

By Clayton Carter

How hard it would be to have a simple piece of toast without our modern conveniences? From mining and smelting the ore for the pan, to refining the sugar for the yeast. Chopping wood for the fire. Starting the fire without matches! And for all that work, it wouldn’t be worth the effort without flour. It takes generations to pull together and build the infrastructure so we can enjoy something that seems so simple. It could be argued that it is a grain at the heart of our society. Every great idea starts with a seed!

Witches-Herbal-Seed-StorageSeeds may be the most valuable commodity on earth when looking for a return on investment. We have come a way from wild corn and wheat in wicker baskets to feed the tribe. The Svarbald Global Seed Vault in Norway opened in February of 2008 represents the pinnacle of what we know about saving seeds and grains for the future. In this article we go deep to find out from the experts how to keep your seeds healthy year after year.

Tips for storing your seeds:

1. Keep seeds at freezing under 40 degrees. Your home freezer is perfect.
2.  Insulate your container to avoid fluctuations in the temperature. Storing in a garage or storeroom that is cold in winter but blazing hot in summer isn’t ideal.
3.  Both light and air are the enemy so never store seeds in direct sunlight or even in a well lit area. Keep them dark and air tight as best you can.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4.  Store your seeds in a containers that provide a barrier against moisture.  A Mylar bag or mason jar is perfect. Film canisters, Ziplock bags, and Tupperware are fine for shorter-term seasonal storage but it’s best to ensure they are high quality with an air tight seal.
5.  After drying the seeds for storage put them in envelopes or old prescription bottles so they can be labeled easily.  Then just drop them in your.

So what are some of the concerns you should have about long term seed storage? 
The most frequent issue that will arise with stored seeds is mold and mildew. Damp seeds will grow a grey fungus quickly if left untreated. The cause of this issue is often because the seeds were not dried before storing them. If you see moisture inside your container after sealing the seeds up they were probably stored too soon. Lay them out in a shady dry area for 24 to 48 hours and try sealing them back up. You don’t want to dry them out completely!

While seeds ripen on the plant they prepare to fall off and dry out a little during the dormant period. This will slow down their internal processes, and by convert food reserves from sugars to more stable fats and starches. Wait until your fruits are ripe before harvesting your seeds so they will be prepared for drying and dormancy. Some seeds even germinate better after drying versus going in the ground “fresh.”

$_35The process of drying your seeds needs to be done gradually. Dry for two weeks in an air conditioned room at 20% to 40% relative humidity ideally. Using desiccants might be necessary when drying in more than 40% relative humidity. During storage, seeds must be kept at 60-76 Fahrenheit for a slow dry and the greatest longevity.

Even when you do everything correctly storing your seeds for more than two years will lower the viability of a percentage of your seeds; some cannot be saved no matter how hard we try. Seedlings produced from stored seeds may also lack vigor as they reach into ancient energy stores. Focusing on keeping the roots happy and healthy for these plants proves to be the best approach at ensuring their survival. We recommend Kelp Extracts and Rooting Supplements to support your seedlings during this critical period.

Ceres Seed StorageSometimes insects like weevils can make their way into your seed stock, and it might be best to just assume you got bugs even if they can’t be seen. Adding in a little diatomaceous earth will provide protection to your seeds. Keeping the container in a freezer will halt their movement as well and keep any damage done to an absolute minimum.

When it comes time to pop a few of your beans from the freezer it is best to allow the container to reach room temperature before breaking the seal. Opening cold seeds up to your warm atmosphere can cause condensation to build up, and that moisture could be deadly.

You can test your the germination rate to estimate how many seeds are still viable.

1. Dampen a paper towel until it is nearly soaked.
2. Put 10 seeds in the center of the paper towel and carefully fold it over.
3. Put this paper towel and seed into a plastic bag not quite sealed all the way and place your bundle in a warm area.
4. After 2 days check it every 12 hours and see just what percentage of seeds are still sprouting.

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Link4 iPonic Garden Environment Controllers

By Guy Ehydro

To get the most vigorous growth possible from your plants the environment they live in must be healthy. Indoor and greenhouse growers both depend on the ability to manipulate every aspect of the growing environment to improve on what Mother Nature has to offer.

But what are the professionals using to control their Quest Dehumidifiers and Excel Air, Air Conditioners, keeping yields heavy and plants happy?

iponic_614_isometric_1024x1024Futuristic in design and loaded with features – yet still a breeze to install, and easy to operate – the Link4 iPonic Controllers are the most sophisticated solution to efficiently consolidate all environment controls into a single reliable unit. Whether it’s a small greenhouse, an indoor garden, or a larger facility with multiple grow rooms the Link4 iPonic can offer the kind of environment control system you’ve been dreaming about. The versatility of these environment control systems brings value to any sized gardening venture.

“Do away with all those different controllers and stretch your dollar further with the Link4 iPonic Environment Controller.”

Many controllers on the market are made for one job and come with a static design. Dehumidifiers go on one plug, AC units on another, lights on a timer, irrigation on it’s own controller, and so on. The Link4 iPonic allows the master gardener to program all of the functions for each control point together, so the system can learn from the feedback and give you the data you need to really dial in your grow space.

Based on years of gardening experience and using feedback from real growers, a built-in logic provides a starting point with pre-designed proven growth schedules. But you can make it your own program for perfect control. Programming unique to the Link4 Controllers can understand how each component impacts your environment and suggests the ideal settings for your set-up, resulting in a more balanced growing environment.

Stay Connected with Smartphone Monitoring
Whichever controller you choose, you’ll enjoy the confidence of knowing that your grow room will thrive thanks to software-based intelligence, optimal cycle settings, and the ability to monitor and control your system remotely via your smartphone or tablet device. Now, you can adjust any grow room setting whether you’re out to eat or at a concert. If something happens you’ll get an alert email or text. Change the settings as needed, and get back to your life.

People have been talking to plants for decades. But thanks to Link4’s remote monitoring technology, the plants finally have a way to talk back. And that’s great, because growing vegetables hydroponically requires precision settings on a number of environmental variables – but nobody wants to be chained to their grow room as their crops mature.

Most of the times you’ll be there to make the necessary temperature or humidity or irrigation adjustments at various growth stages – or you will have programmed them ahead of time into your hydroponic controller system. But if an issue arises, it always seems to happen when you’re across town or on vacation. With other systems, that means trouble. You have two choices – get back to your grow room quickly before your crops are damaged, or trust someone else to make the proper adjustments. But if you have an iPonic 600 controller, with the optional communications module, you can stay right where you are. Now, an email or text message alert will be sent from your grow room right to your smartphone or tablet. You can turn equipment on or off, adjust levels or make other changes with a few touchscreen clicks, and then go back to enjoying your time off. If your system does not provide comprehensive remote monitoring, maybe it’s time to take a closer look at the benefits of the iPonic 600.

There is very little margin for error when growing vegetables in a greenhouse environment, particularly when it comes to proper irrigation. Our sophisticated control systems make it easier to create the ideal environment, and to adjust temperature and humidity as needed for better results. As you experiment to find the optimal formula, the Link4 system provides charts, graphs, and all the environmental data you need to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Once you’ve found the ideal settings, just hit the ‘Repeat’ button for each new cycle and the system does the rest. While crop yield is important, the appearance of your tomatoes, cucumbers and other brightly colored crops can be just as significant. Visual appeal is the first sign of quality to buyers, and products that pass the eye test will always command a higher price.

iponic-624bFor larger grow room operations, Link4 is proud to introduce the iPonic 624, a new commercial grade hydroponic controller that controls 2 grow rooms from 1 controller, with the same quality and reliability that customers have come to expect from Link4.

Ideal Uses and Environment:
For a grower with a somewhat larger operation we made the iPonic 624. So with just a slightly higher price you are essentially getting 2 controllers. With two sensors and one controller, 2 room operations can be easily managed from 1 central location.

Pros: Control 2 grow rooms with one controller, optimal settings saved, smartphone monitoring and control, easy to use touchscreen. 2 Grow Rooms, 1 Controller, at Half the Cost.

The iPonic 624 controls 2 grow rooms from 1 controller, with the same quality and reliability that customers have come to expect from Link4. Typically, 2 grow rooms would require 2 controllers or 2 sets of timers, plus additional equipment. The iPonic 624 delivers all-in-one control over 2 grow rooms from the touchscreen of one controller. One of the advantages is the automated flipping of 12-hour light cycles in separate rooms, which lowers both amp usage and electricity bills. The iPonic 624 controls CO2, Light, Temperature, Humidity, Recycle Timers, Vent Fans, High Temperature Shut-off, Central air conditioning and heating – plus your own custom devices. It works with your existing equipment, and can accommodate up to 8 120-volt outlets over two rooms. Includes (ADD 8) 120-volt outlets – (ADD 8) fully programmable for combination of devices, Set your controls for both rooms from one panel and you’re done!

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What is organic gardening?

Making a commitment to healthy eating is a great start towards a healthy and long life. Beyond eating more fruits, vegetables, there is the question of food safety, nutrition, and sustainability. How foods are grown can impact both your health and the environment. This brings up a few questions:

What is the difference between organic foods and non organic foods?

Foods certified as organic in Canada must meet certain requirements found in the Canadian Organic Standards Document. These standards are geared around sustainable crop production with minimal impact on the environment.  To summarize these requirements food must be produced in a way which protects the environment, minimizes soil degradation and erosion, decreases pollution, optimize biological productivity and promotes a sound state of health. This means crops must not be genetically modified organisms, or treated with pesticides which way harm the environment or consumer. They must also be grown in a way which recycles materials and resources to the greatest extent possible.

Is “organic” more healthful, or worth the added expense?

While is great to purchase foods which are grown by methods which protect the environment and conserve resources,  it is important to note that certified organic foods are not necessarily more healthful than their non-certified counterparts. The Canadian Organic Standards document specifically states “Neither this standard nor organic products in accordance with this standard represent specific claims about the health, safety and nutrition of such organic products.”  This means that the quality of food grown organically does not necessarily surpass the quality of non-organically certified foods.

Can non-certified organic foods be just as healthful as certified organic products?

Yes! Assuming the food was not treated with pesticides or grown from GMO genetics, it should be just as healthful as food produced according to the organic standards listed above. It is worth noting that organic fertilizers such as manure and guanos are not available to plants as a food source until they are broken down via the soil food web. Once this process has been completed, the organic inputs are chemically identical to the synthetically derived nutrients often used in non organic gardening. In soil based gardens synthetically derived nutrients can affect long-term soil fertility by impacting conditions for biological activity within the soil. However, in a hydroponic application these nutrients are recycled, therefore never making their way into the ground or affecting the quality of ground water.

Can you grow organic food hydroponically?

Yes! Hydroponic gardens can produce non GMO food by using organically derived nutrients with the absence of pesticides while recycling and conserving water and thus having a minimal impact on the environment. Hydroponically produced food can be grown with 1/5 the water and can also many times more productive per square foot of garden space without the risk of leaching nutrients into ground water sources.

This means the home gardener should focus not on labels but on growing quality proven genetics, through sustainable gardening methods while avoiding the use of pesticides.  When growing outdoors in the ground, organically derived nutrients can be used to minimize soil degradation. When hydroponically the home gardener has the flexibility to use either organically or synthetically derived nutrients to produce high quality food in their hydroponic gardens.

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Coco Coir In Hydroponics

I had a brick of coco coir sitting in my garage that I didn’t even realize was there. I think I’ll take advantage of it and use it for my hydroponic system this year.

Coconut Coir’s has a fairly neutral pH of 5.8–6.8 which makes it ideal for gardens and hydroponic system alike. The fiber allows for a great air to water ratio that the plants will enjoy and that some claim is an even better medium to grow in than rockwool.

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This little hydroponic greenhouse provides clean air with greenery on your desktop – Treehugger

With its full-spectrum LED lighting, an automatic hydroponics system, an air filtration system, and a humidity-raising fogger, the EcoQube Air promises to “improve your quality of life.”

The folks behind the EcoQube desktop aquaponics ecosystem at Aqua Design Innovations are back again with another method of bringing a little greenery and life inside the home or office, but this time focusing on plant growth and “light therapy” to enliven your desk, with their EcoQube Air.

The product is essentially a mini-greenhouse, complete with lights and a soil-less hydroponic system, along with a dual-stage air filtration system, that can serve as both a virtually foolproof method of growing houseplants (or herbs) and as a way of boosting air quality indoors. The EcoQube Air is also said to act as a “light therapy” device to help re-sync our circadian rhythm, which may be especially important in a world full of electronic devices that fill our lives with bright lights at all hours of the day.

“We believe the EcoQube Air will help people feel better and improve their home and working environments by bringing nature inside.” – Kevin Liang, co-founder and CEO of ADI

One of the most obvious benefits to the EcoQube Air, other than perhaps helping non-greenthumbed people more easily grow houseplants, is the air filtration system. Indoor air entering the system is filtered through a “HEPA-like” mechanical filter to remove pollen, mold, and dust, and then through an activated carbon filter, which can remove additional harmful toxic elements from the air. It is then directed to the growing plant(s) inside the Air unit, which oxygenates the air before it gets returned to the room. According to ADI, the unit’s dual fans can “circulate 450 cubic feet of purified air every hour,” or enough to fully filter the air in a small room three times per day.

The Air also comes with its own app (of course), which can be used to set up lighting schedules, customize the color schemes, to adjust your own circadian rhythm (by setting specific times to dim the lights or turn them on, and setting the color temperatures and light levels), or just to control the device from across the room.

“You can use the EcoQube Air to influence your own biological clock with the phone app. This helps you wake up feeling refreshed, alleviates insomnia, helps overcome jet lag, improves productivity, and helps prevent seasonal depression.” – ADI

The EcoQube Air measures 8″ square (20.3 cm) and 16″ tall (40.6 cm), is said to require very little maintenance, and to “automatically begin working once it’s plugged in.” Just launched this morning, the Air has already blown past its initial fundraising goal on Kickstarter, with another 59 days still to run. Backers at the $139 USD level can reserve a unit at essentially $60 off of the retail price, with expected delivery of the units to begin in early 2017.

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Wipe Out Pests and Mildew with Green Cleaner

By Clayton Carter

More than 500 species of insects, mites, and spiders have developed some level of pesticide resistance since we began spraying them. In any population there will be a few individuals that possess a mechanism to survive exposure. Over time, the resistant few will produce generations that contain this resilience. Spider mites are notorious for rapidly developing resistance to miticides in almost all fruiting crops worldwide. Ultimately, the once-effective product no longer controls the resistant population, which is why we suggest Green Cleaner.green_cleaner

Green Cleaner is our favorite all-in-one natural insecticide, pesticide, miticide, and fungicide. Unlike many other pesticides, Green Cleaner works in a way that will kill adults and eggs with no way that the pests can build up a tolerance.

The answer to your pest and disease woes is actually very simple and made from common ingredients. Our customers in both indoor and in outdoor gardeners are giving us great reviews and feedback to pass along. It dehydrates powdery mildew with a single application and coats the spores to limit any further infections. Wash powdery mildew right off the plant. While we find that most people are using it to control powdery mildew they are also finding it is helping make the growing environment inhospitable to all kinds of mites and other soft bodied insects like: Thrips, Aphids, Whiteflies, Leafminers, Fungus Gnats, Broad Mites, Russet Mites, and Spider Mites.aphid_colony

Non-poisonous and it can be sprayed wearing sandals, shorts, and a tank top – or no clothes if you prefer (don’t forget the sunscreen)! Not only is there no residue left over from an application of Green Cleaner, it can even help wash off other sprays from past use. You can use Green Cleaner comfortably without worrying about any harmful systemic effects from cuttings all the way to late flowering.

Soybean oil coats insects, immobilizing them and beginning to suffocate them by blocking the network of tiny tubes they use to breathe, called tracheae. Sodium laureth sulfate acts as a surfactant which improves the coverage. The sulfates it contains continue to clog up the tracheae, suffocating them dead. Isopropyl alcohol comes into play, drying out the ones that remain by breaking down the thin waxy protective layer they have. The alcohol also helps prevent build up on the plant. Wrapping it all up is citric acid to alter the surface pH and giving the plant natural anti-fungal properties. Citric acid also prevents oxidation of the essential plant oils so Green Cleaner is safe to use right up until harvest without risk of harming the flavor or smell.

There are many ways that a species can develop resistance.

Metabolic resistance: This is the most common mechanism and often presents the greatest challenge. Insects use their internal enzyme systems to break down insecticides.Altered target-site resistance: The site where the toxin usually binds in the insect becomes modified to reduce the effects.Behavioral resistance: Resistant insects may detect or recognize a danger and avoid the toxin (for instance, they may move to the underside of a sprayed leaf, move deeper in the crop canopy or fly away from the target area).Penetration resistance: Penetration resistance occurs when the insect’s outer cuticle develops barriers which can slow absorption of the chemicals into their bodies. This can protect insects from a wide range of insecticides.

Because Green Cleaner works without penetrating the pest or altering its feeding habits, they cannot develop resistance. Insects would actually have to stop being insects to be safe from Green Cleaner (see: The Fly, it’s great!). No immunity means that you can use it as a stand-alone, or incorporate it into your already effective regimen to prevent resistant bugs from taking hold in your garden.

10 OTIxMDgwMzE4OC5qcGc=Tips on how to use Green Cleaner:
Spray Green Cleaner on plants of every age, from clones through harvest. We find that 1 ounce per gallon used on the entire plant top to bottom 2 days in succession does the trick. If you are spraying Green Cleaner indoors, spray with grow lights OFF & wait until plants are dry before turning lights on.

It will work as a root drench and take out fungus gnats and their larva, but you want to limit it to two applications as Green Cleaner can build up in the soil. GC can take out your beneficials in the soil, so it’s important to replenish your beneficial microbes with compost tea and Mykos. Look for Root Cleaner due out soon for regular drenches.

Green Cleaner suggested use:
2 oz: 1 – 4 gallons
4 oz: 2 – 8 gallons
8 oz: 4 – 16 gallons
32 oz: 16 – 64 gallons
128 oz: 64 – 256 gallons

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