• September's Warm Days, Cool Nights—Perfect Fall Gardening Weather - Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at

  • September can bring occasional hot summer days to southern California but the generally mild days and nights are the ideal growing conditions for a fall garden.

    Start Vegetables From Seeds: Just about as many vegetables can be planted in fall as can be planted in spring. These include beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, chard, kale, lettuces, peas, potatoes and radishes.

    Freshen Up Your Flower Garden: Most summer annuals are beginning to look ragged by now. If your garden has bare spots, fill them in with cool-season flowers. Remove dead plants, loosen the soil and add garden planting mix. Plants that do well in fall are pansies, calendula, chrysanthemums, foxgloves, snapdragons and asters. Once planted, add mulch about an inch away from plant stems. Mulch will protect plants from damage caused by frost later in the year.

    Keep Roses Blooming: Roses can bloom through fall in southern California. Prepare for new growth in September by removing dead flowers and seed pods. Do some light trimming to shape the bush. Expect new blooms in October or early November.

    Prune Hedges and Shrubs: Hedges and shrubs have been growing rapidly all summer. By now, they may have lost their shape. Reshape by cutting back straggly stems and trimming sides and tops. This will encourage new growth before winter. Don’t remove growth in the interior of the shrub. A compacted plant protects itself from frost.

    Add Bulbs For Spring Color Surprises: Add bulbs to your garden and see what pops up in spring. Plant bulbs that do best in warm weather including calla lily, Dutch iris, freesia and nerine. These perennial bulbs will keep coming back year after year with little care. Unlike other types of bulbs that must be dug up and refrigerated, these bulbs can be left in the ground.

    Keep Potted Plants Moist: Outdoor potted plants need more water than plants in the ground. They may need to be watered daily, especially if Santa Ana winds start up in September. These strong winds can dry out a potted plant in a matter of hours. Add fresh mulch to the pot to help hold in moisture.

    Prune Fig Trees Once All Fruit Is Harvested: Fig trees produce an abundant amount of fruit. If you wish to trim these fast-growing trees, wait until all the fruit is harvested (usually by early fall). Figs develop on new limb growth so if you wait too long to prune, figs will not be able to grow.

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

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  • Agricultural Field Demonstrations: Remediating Low Soil Organic Matter with Compost in Pepper and Corn Production - Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at

  • Agromin, in partnership with SA Recycling and Circle Vision, have commissioned a six-month, 36-acre field demonstration in Coachella, California to assess the economic value of compost applied to carbon deficient soils.  

    The soil at the property contains less than one percent of organic matter on a dry weight basis. Pepper and corn crop yields at the Coachella property are low by California standards, producing 1,250 carbons of peppers versus an average of 1,800, with 430 boxes of sweet corn against a market average of 500.  

    Benefits of Organic Matter Between three and six percent organic matter levels in the soil is generally considered ideal and known to maximize yields while reducing water use and fertilizer leaching. Organic amendments improve water holding capacity and soil structure by reducing density and increasing porosity. This improved soil structure enables deep root growth, a reduction in surface water evaporation and wicking of salts and an enhancement of the environment for growth of beneficial microbes responsible for transporting nutrients into plants. Compost brings organic nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to the soil so that the need for synthetic fertilizers is minimized. 

    Introducing Biochar to Meet Environmental Challenges One of the challenges with building up soil organic matter in a place like Coachella, where summer temperatures reach 120 degrees F, is premature compost degradation. Therefore, the trial has included an additional treatment combining compost with biochar, with the expectation that biochar will stabilize the compost. 

    Biochar is the black carbon residue produced from heating wood under an oxygen-deficient environment at high temperatures. Originally known as "Terra Preta" (black soil), biochar was created by indigenous people in the Brazilian Amazon over 2,000 years ago using cooking fires. Soil containing biochar have maintained exceptionally high levels of fertility and soil organic matter across the ages in environments that are otherwise devoid of rich plant growth. The world's most productive agricultural soils found in the U.S. Corn Belt, northeastern China and the Ukraine are rich in biochar created from naturally occurring vegetation fires. 

    Study Expectations With the introduction of compost and biochar into the soil, we expect to see yield improvements in excess of 20 percent and the naturally occurring compost nutrients eliminating the need for fertilizer. Overall, after factoring in the compost costs (purchase, transportation and application) we anticipate an overall profitability increase by well over $1,000 per acre. 

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  • Custom "Class A" Top Soil - Monday, August 7, 2017 at
  • Agromin has developed a custom top soil that meets "Class A" specifications by using a variety of amendments including compost and mining overs (discards).

    A key feature of its development was the creation of a linear program (multivariable computer program) that chooses materials based on their properties and price in a way that achieves Class A specification while minimizing costs.

    The conventional way to supply top soil is to dig it up from one location and apply it to another--a process that is clearly destructive and not sustainable. Additionally, it is unusual for natural top soil to achieve the Class A specification for import purposes.

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