People often ask us what we use to grow plants so successfully in our harsh desert environment. Here we will share some of the other helpful things we’ve discovered and implemented along the way and through our hands-on experience of growing in the Sonoran Desert.
With temperatures over 100 degrees much of the year, it is important to use plenty of shade cloth, a good mulch (we use straw mainly), and drip irrigation that we have on automatic timers that turn on after dark. This ensures we do not scald our crops every time we water, and it also keeps evaporation down to a minimum and the ground moist longer. We also add sand and compost into our soil mixtures, and we have lots of worms to keep the soil aerated and fertilized. If you use livestock manures, be sure to compost manures well to keep from introducing burmuda grass and other weed seeds into your garden.
Effective Microorganisms (EM) and related products
Effective Microorganisms, more commonly known as EM, is a proprietary blend of several types of beneficial bacteria and yeasts, developed by Japanese horticulturist Teruo Higa in Okinawa, Japan. They are used as soil inoculants to enhance growth, health, yield and quality of plants. For more information, visit http://www.teraganix.com/
We buy the concentrate, then make Activated EM-1 which extends the product volume to many times that of the original concentrate. This is done by adding to water an equal part molasses to an equal part EM concentrate, then letting it ferment for several days before use. You can see the formula to make it here: http://www.teraganix.com/Activated-EM-1-s/261.htm
We also make EM5 which is a nontoxic formula used to deter pests. Here is the formula to make it with EM-1 and some other ingredients: http://www.teraganix.com/EM5-Receipe-s/260.htm
We also use EM-1 or Activated EM-1 to make Bokashi in lieu of making traditional compost. This aid in amending the soil is easier, faster, and more efficient than making compost. There are no worries about turning compost piles, or compost piles smelling or attracting flies and wildlife. Also, more energy is retained in the fermented organic matter than if it were composted in the traditional manner. So this fermented organic matter is packed with nutrients and makes a great organic fertilizer. Learn how to make it here: http://www.teraganix.com/EM-Bokashi-Recipe-s/262.htm
Organic Compost Plus from Arbico Organics
We use this as a soil amendment. It revitalizes soil and speeds up decomposition of organic matter. Learn more about it here:
http://www.arbico-organics.com/product/compost-plus-chitins/compost-worm-castings . This compost contains EM so it has billions of beneficial bacteria to make plants healthier, help them grow faster and produce higher yields, and to help them be more resistant to diseases and pests. A little goes a long way!
Since this mail order company is based in Tucson and we can get the Organic Compost Plus by the truckload, we mix it in with our soil whenever we plant something. But if you buy a smaller amount, you can soak some in water overnight and then use it as a compost tea and apply it as a foliar spray. You wouldn’t want to soak it more than a day though or you might kill some of the beneficial bacteria in it.
Here's something you can make yourself for very little cost, and it has a multitude of uses besides enhancing plant health and crop yield. Garbage Enzyme is a complex solution produced by fermentation of fresh kitchen waste (fruits, vegetables), brown sugar or molasses, and water, at a concentration of 1 part sugar, 3 parts kitchen waste, and 10 parts water. It can be used as a natural fertilizer, insecticide, as well as a household cleaner, body care enhancer, etc.
Click on the PDF files below to learn more about it, and you can also Google 'Garbage Enzyme' for more info.
Other Specialty Products
(besides Coco-Coir, AZOMITE, Green Gardens & Structured Water, highlighted separately)
Moringa Tree Of Life