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WonderSoil, Food Growing Encyclopedia, StrawPots & Super Plums

WonderSoil is by far the best soilless potting mix I have ever used.  It is a dehydrated, compressed medium that quickly expands 10 to 12 times in volume when water is added.  It is made up of a combination of coconut coir, worm castings, kelp, mycorrhizal fungi, water-holding polymers and organic micro-nutrients.  Seedlings germinate quickly and are sustained by the nutrients. It has been reported that plants have been grown through an entire season in this medium without additional fertilizer.  I cannot substantiate this claim for I have only begun using WonderSoil.  I can tell you that my seedlings are doing incredibly well and the medium is very easy to use.  Highly recommended.

“Vegetables, Herbs and Fruit: An Illustrated Encyclopedia” by Matthew Biggs, Jekka McVicar and Bob Flowerdew.  This volume just came across my desk, and I am very impressed by its scope and inclusiveness.  It is a prime reference for food gardeners arranged in an A-Z format for each of the title areas.  There is comprehensive growing, harvesting and preserving information along with delicious recipes and brilliant photography.  The book covers topics as far-ranging as nutritional values, most useful varieties, plant hardiness, propagation and growing guidelines, weed, pest and disease control, container growing, companion planting, and much more. You will find suggestions for further reading, a seed source list, and a yearly maintenance calendar.  After close examination I believe this volume will become a constant source of reliable information.  Highly recommended.  (Firefly Books, 2006)

The StrawPot is an 100% natural, sustainable and biodegradable product.  The pots are made of 75% rice straw, 25% coco fiber and a natural latex binding agent.  The company is offering two pot formulations available in 3.5″ to 2 gallon sizes.  If you are using the pots for vegetable or annual plants requiring a relatively short growing period, the regular StrawPot is sufficient.  For plants with longer growing times, such as perennials, shrubs and mums, the company offers reinforced StrawPots that last as long as two years.  I planted up my first batch of veggie seedlings in the 3.5″ pots.  The task was very simple and the pots have great integrity.  There are many spaces in the pot walls which should add greatly to air pruning of the roots.  Once planted in the ground or in a container the roots should break free of the pot very easily.  Highly Recommended.

Plums – the Super Fruit…Scientists at Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center report that plums have phytonutrients and antioxidants equal to blueberries.  Great news for the gardeners who can’t grow blueberries in their gardening zones and for the rest of us who just enjoy the luscious flavors of a freshly picked plum.  They also found that nectarines and peaches rank very high in these prized nutrients as well.  Read the original Texas A&M article