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Of Mites and Men: The Impact of Spider Mites on Gardening

Modern gardeners face an assortment of challenges on a daily basis, from climate control to nutrient regulation to pest issues. But for indoor gardeners especially, combating pest issues can be a headache from sunrise to sunset. Of all these pests, the spider mite may be the most feared. Spider mites are small (less that 1 millimeter) in size, and vary in color. They lay small, translucent eggs and many species are known to spin silk webbing to protect the colony from predators, thus the name “spider”.

One of the most difficult parts of dealing with spider mites is their short reproductive cycle. Spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions. Under proper conditions, the two spotted mite spider mite can hatch in 3 days, and become sexually mature in as little as 5 days. A single female can lay up to as many as 20 eggs in a day, and live for as long as 2 to 4 weeks, laying hundreds of eggs in her short life cycle. From this stems our main issue: Pesticide Resistance.

When pests have a rapid reproductive cycle, and pesticides are not applied on a rotating schedule, their tolerance can build at extremely high rates. Pesticide resistance is a population-based phenomenon in which the group genetic composition shifts and individuals with genes that confer resistance to a pesticide begin to dominate the population, reducing the pesticide’s effectiveness.

Spider Mites have sharp, slender mouthparts used for piercing the plants epidermis. Look for small yellow or bronze spots along your plants leaves. Spider Mites prefer to conduct their business on the undersides of leaves but soon expand their territory as the mite colony grows. Within days or hours plants can become completely inundated by mites and covered in webs that provide transportation to different areas of the host plant.

Care can be taken to rotate crops, use pest-resistant varieties, plant pest-free transplants, conserve and release natural enemies, etc. Pest-specific tactics are available for particular situations; for instance, removal of all ripe strawberries from a field will eliminate reproductive sites for sap beetles.

How to Trim Your Weed

Wet trim

wet trimming is an effective way to process heavy quantities of material in a short amount of time. When your plants are ripe and ready, start harvesting whole branches and plucking off non-resinous fan leaves. Cut your branches into manageable increments and start manicure your buds. Your goal is to remove all leaves and stems then transfer you’re the bud to a drying rack. This method is nice if you’re working against the clock, but tends to give your weed the “commercial look”.

Dry trim

Dry trimming takes a little more effort but in the long run the results are visually noticeable. Begin by stringing up drying lines. Then it’s up to you whether or not to hang up the whole plant or split it into sections. Suspending the plant and allowing ample time to dry; creates a sort of curing cocoon that nests resin glands and flavor. Once you have the stems on your plant breaking with a snap, then starts the manicuring. Break down your plant into manageable sections. Trimming at this point should be relative to the person, but the same goal of eliminating all stems and leaves needs to be applied.   

Improving Nutrient Efficiency in your Hydroponic System

For centuries, growers have been looking for ways to improve the quality of their crops. In hydroponic systems specifically, it is critical that we manage nutrient efficiency in all ways possible. There are many ways to improve the use of nutrients in your system, and by implying these practices in your garden, you can reduce nutrient costs and increase quality!

Microbial Innoculation

Using a microbial innoculant in your hydroponic system is an extremely effective way to increase nutrient uptake in your grow. Mycorrhizal fungi forms a symbiotic relationship with the roots of your plants; the naturally produced sugars from the plant are absorbed by mycorrhizae and in return, water and nutrients are delivered to the plant with minimal energy exerted. Fungal hyphae can reach cracks in the soil that are so small that not even plant roots can reach, therefore increasing the surface are of your “root system” and increasing nutrient uptake, water retention, and increasing drough tolerance. Popular mycorrhizae products include Orca, Mykos, and Photosynthesis Plus.

Humic Substances

While there is still plenty of controversy surrounding humic substances in the scientific community, the agricultural community is “all in”. Humic acid is especially beneficial for unlocking nutrients that are otherwise unavailable to the plant. For example, if a phosphorus molecule is bonded to an aluminum one, the humic acid separates them, making the phosphorus available to the plant. It is also a fantastic chelator of micronutrients, increasing their bio-availability. Humic acid also acts as a carbon food source for microbes, stimulating their growth and overall activity. Popular Humic Acid products include FulPower, Diamond Nectar, and Nourish-L.

Environmental Control

Having a well controlled environment can be the difference between a bountiful harvest and wanting to give up gardening. Extreme environmental conditions have been proven to have adverse effects on plants. When talking specifically about nutrient efficiency, heat stress should be the number one concern. Maintaining a temperature range that is recommended for your type of plant will greatly reduce stress, increasing your plants ability to uptake nutrients.

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