• April: One of the Busiest Months For Gardeners - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at
  • April is the time of year to prepare and plant flower and vegetable gardens so they produce throughout summer and early fall. All this activity makes April one of the busiest months for gardeners say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products made from organic material collected from more than 50 Southern California communities.

    Revitalize Garden Soil: Growers know that planting in the same location year after year takes its toll on soil. Consider adding an organic soil blend into the garden specifically for vegetables and flowers. This gives the soil the added nutrients it needs that may have been lost over winter. Once the garden is planted, add a two-to-three-inch layer of mulch around plants. Mulch helps the soil retain moisture and reduces weed growth.

    Plant Warm-Season Vegetables: Whether from seed or sprouts, now is the time to plant just about every type of vegetable. These include old standbys such as tomatoes, eggplant, squash, corn, cucumber, melons, sunflowers and zucchini. It's also a good opportunity to try out less common garden vegetables including Swiss chard, okra and jicama. Southern California coastal area residents still have time to plant cool-season vegetables including lettuce carrots and radishes.

    Include Your Kids: Make your garden a learning opportunity. Most kids enjoy watching vegetables grow and then eating them in a tasty salad or vegetable dish. Ask them what they would like to plant and give them the chance to plant, care and harvest their crop. Gardening provides valuable lessons about responsibility, patience and the rewards that come from hard work.

    Plant Color for Summer: Summer-blooming bedding plants should be planted in April. Annuals that bloom all summer include alyssum, bedding dahlia, gloriosa daisy, marigold, petunia, verbena and zinnia. Summer shade plants include begonia and impatiens. Don't forget perennials such as Peruvian lily, catmint, lavender, coneflower and Jerusalem sage.

    Go Organic: Growing your own vegetables enables you to eat food that is chemical-free. Before putting fertilizers and other additives into your garden soil, make sure you read the labels carefully. Non-organic fertilizers are often filled with chemicals. For a truly natural garden, use only organic planting mix to amend your soil and avoid chemical-based fertilizers.

    Give Your Lawn New Life: Twice a year, spring and fall, is your opportunity to reinvigorate your lawn. If your lawn has bare patches, mow you lawn closely, add grass seed to the bare spots and then a thin layer of lawn top dressing. Water twice a day for two weeks. The new growth will begin in about three weeks. Mow your lawn when the new growth is two inches high.

    For more gardening tips, go to www.agromin.com.

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  • Robert Lerner Joins Agromin to Head Biochar Program - Monday, March 26, 2012 at
  • OXNARD, CALIF.--Robert Lerner, a leading authority on biochar soil technology, has joined Agromin to head the company's biochar business development unit. Biochar is a breakthrough sustainability technology that improves soil fertility while combating climate change. It involves converting green waste into a charcoal-like substance that works as a soil conditioner, enhancing moisture and nutrient retention while reducing reliance on agrochemicals. Biochar can persist for hundreds to thousands of years, sequestering carbon in the soil while removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

    Lerner was most recently the project manager for the Costa Rica Biochar Project, where he led development of biochar production systems and coordinated plant yield studies and reforestation trials. “The biochar concept is based on ancient agricultural practices from Amazonia that have only recently come to light,” explains Lerner, “where manmade soils rich in charcoal and organic debris have remained persistently fertile in the face of constant cultivation. Modern biochar methods harness advanced clean technology to emulate this ancestral agricultural wisdom.”

    Agromin is planning to incorporate biochar in selected Agromin soil products and will soon begin yield studies to evaluate biochar’s potential for local growers. Recent research demonstrates that crop yields improve when biochar is introduced into the soil. Plus, soils treated with biochar require less supplemental fertilizer, minimize leaching of agrochemicals into aquifers, and suppress emissions of greenhouse gases that are common with conventional agriculture. "Biochar is a keystone technology that can play a crucial role in restoring depleted soil carbon, reducing reliance on petrochemicals, improving water and air quality, and reversing greenhouse gases," says Lerner.

    Lerner will be overseeing Agromin's biochar product development and testing programs, and the eventual development of commercial scale biochar production facilities at Agromin sites in Ventura County. "We are excited to have Rob join Agromin," says Bill Camarillo, Agromin CEO. "Biochar has the potential to become a truly groundbreaking technology when it comes to the food we grow and how we care for our planet. Rob is at the forefront of this technology."

    Lerner can be reached at 805-485-9200, rob@agromin.com.

    About Agromin

    Agromin is an Oxnard, Calif. company that manufactures earth-friendly soil products made from organic material collected from more than 50 communities. One of the largest organics management companies in California, it receives over 30,000 tons of organic material each month and then uses a safe, natural and sustainable process to transform the material into premium soil products. It continually seeks non-traditional technologies that create the highest and best use of organics. The results are more vigorous and healthier plants and gardens, and on the conservation side, the opportunity to close the recycling circle, allow more room in landfills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. http://www.agromin.com

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  • Agromin In Development Stages of Biochar Soil Improvement Program - Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at

  • Agromin, the manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products made from organic material collected from more than 50 communities, announced it is in the product and market development stages for a technology that converts organic waste into a durable soil amendment that can boost crop yields and reduce agrochemical inputs, while contributing to the fight against climate change. The process is called "biochar" and involves processing green waste into a charcoal-like substance that improves moisture and nutrient retention while providing habitat for beneficial soil microorganisms. Biochar persists in the soil for up to hundreds of years, sequestering carbon in the soil, thereby reducing greenhouse gases.

    "Agromin is always exploring non-traditional technologies that create the highest and best use of organic materials," says Bill Camarillo, Agromin CEO. "The biochar concept is actually based on ancient agricultural wisdom, but its potential importance for our modern civilization is just now dawning on the scientific community. Recent advances in technology enable us to make biochar in an economical and environmentally responsible manner."

    The biochar concept is based on the "Terra Preta" or dark soils of Amazonia. Only recently rediscovered, these manmade soils are rich in charcoal and other organic matter, and are persistently fertile in the face of constant cultivation. Traditional methods of making charcoal are notoriously smoky, but Agromin will be using specially engineered kilns that process the biomass in stages, thereby eliminating the smoke while boosting overall efficiency. The biochar will eventually be combined with compost and other ingredients to be used in Agromin soil products available to growers and consumers.

    "Currently, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases escape from soil into the atmosphere. It's a natural process," says Camarillo. "Biochar stores carbon in the soil long term, effectively 'sequestering' carbon. Biochar also suppresses emissions of other GHGs like nitrous oxide and methane from agricultural fields. As a leader in clean energy and carbon negative products, Agromin can use biochar technology to help further reduce our environmental footprint as we process green materials into sustainable soil amendments. Biochar will not only help farmers improve crop yields while reducing agrochemical inputs, but will minimize the release of greenhouse gases from their fields. This is particularly important as businesses must respond to California legislative initiatives demanding the implementation of carbon offset practices."

    Agromin will be working with growers to test the results of biochar/compost blends and other biochar based products. "If all goes well, we will install biochar production systems at two of our facilities this year," says Camarillo.

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