Earthworms

Some of the common creatures you encounter while working in your garden are sparkling, wigging, pinkish-brownish tube-like forms, referred to as earthworms. They are found in the moist part of the soil and in waterlogged areas especially after a big storm. To most people, this harmless creature may seem as a bother but it has a very big impact in the everyday food chain.

Body Structure

An earthworm has a cylindrical-like shaped body which is divided into a series of segments referred to as metamerisms. Apart from the segments around the mouth and anal parts, all the other segments have bristle-like hairs which are used to anchor the different parts of the body as it is moving. An earthworm is born with the exact number of segments it will have throughout its life across all species. They have a fleshy lobe that overhangs the mouth and is used to block the seal the mouth when the worm is at rest. For some species, they use this lobe to drag grass and dead leaves into their burrow. The size of an adult earthworm can range from 10mm and 1mm wide, to 3m long to 25mm wide but it all depends on the species.

The Nervous System

Much the same as the rest of its body, the nervous system is also divided into segments; The central nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system consists of two ganglia located on either side of the mouth. The brain which is important for its movement is located above the pharynx and if at any case it is removed, the worm will keep moving continuously. If at any case the first ganglion is removed, the worm will stop feeding and burrowing as the ganglion is responsible for the above processes.

Movement

Earthworms can either push ahead or backwards depending on the situation. Unlike the normal movements of other creatures, the earthworm deploys a rather unusual method to move forward or burrow into the soil. The worm expands its circular and longitudinal muscles to elongate itself before anchoring its front end into the ground. It contracts the muscles making its body short thus bringing its back-end closer the front end. The worm will repeat this process over and over until it has burrowed a hole big enough to accommodate it or it has reached its destination. Earthworms have no eyes but only rely on their strong senses to touch and light.

The Digestive System

It is divided into many regions with each section serving a specific purpose. The stomach related framework consists of the pharynx, the throat, the crop, the intestines and the gizzard. When feeding, for example, dead leaves or soil enters the worm’s mouth where it is gulped by the pharynx. It passes through the crop and gizzard where excessive calcium is removed. The food then moves into the digestive organs as organ cells in the digestive system discharge liquids to help in the stomach related process. The intestinal divider contains veins where the processed food is absorbed and transported to the other parts of the body.

Earthworm’s Circulatory System

Earthworms’ blood flows only through vessels. The three main vessels used in blood circulation are; the aortic nerves, the dorsal veins and the ventral veins. There are five sets of aortic curves, which have the obligation of directing blood into the dorsal and ventral veins. The dorsal veins are in charge of conveying blood to the front of the worm’s body while the ventral veins are in charge of conveying blood to the back of the earthworms’ body.

Respiratory System.

Earthworms use their skin to breathe. Oxygen and carbon dioxide go through the earthworm’s skin by diffusion. Diffusion only takes place when the worm’s skin is moist and thus the body discharges mucous to keep it soggy. Worms consequently, should be in moist or damp soil. This is one motivation behind why they normally surface during the evening when it is perhaps cooler.

The Reproduction Process

Earthworms contain both male and female organs and are thus grouped as hermaphrodites. Both sex organs can deliver sperm and egg individually in every worm. Despite the fact they are bisexual, earthworms need a mate to reproduce. The worms have several ovaries that deliver eggs.

Although these creatures are very small, they are of great importance to the agricultural sector. Their burrowing habit enhances the aeration and water absorption in the soil. They also bring underneath soil to the top which is advantageous to farmers as it contains more nutrients for their plants. They are used as bait during fishing and considered as a source of food to different people. In countries like India, some species of earthworms are used in making various medicines.

Best city farm plants

With very little space in your home, how can you grow your own produce or even manage a farm? This is actually quite possible! You should not allow limited space to hinder your goal of starting your own farm.

People living in urban areas think that farming can only be done in rural areas and countryside places. However, with a little effort as well as appropriate know-how, you will be able to start a farm even in your own house! This is called urban farming. This is a farm practice that lets you cultivate your own produce even if you live in the city. You can start with potted herbs as well as small vegetable batches. Here is how you can start farming in your small space.

Take time in visiting urban farms around you.

Visiting urban farms around the city will allow you to check out what possible herbs, plants, or vegetables you will be able to grow best in the small space that you have. Doing so will help you in learning some tips that you can possibly apply in your own farm. Plants to think about are amaranthus, yarrow, coriander, musk mallow, cosmos, kale, brassicas, dill, lemon balm, and parsley, Evening primrose, bedstraw, knapweed vervain, burdock, nettle, Hawhound, squash, marigolds and ox-eye daisy to name a few. Introduce worms to your garden, worms provide worm castings which in turn beneficial bacteria and fungi to our soil that plants love.

Limited space? Perhaps you could grow peas, beans, legumes, cucumbers or even tomatoes in a ‘vertical’ style garden.

Gather what you need.

After visiting farms around the city, you can start gathering the tools and materials that you need to start farming in your small space. You can begin by purchasing small pots for herbs that you can grow even in your own kitchen. You can also get wall rails that will help you build your indoor garden around your window. Metal baskets would also be quite helpful if you plan to plant various herbs. Ceramic pots are also good options. There are also what they call “germination kits” that you can purchase for cheap amounts. Of course, do not forget the seeds.

Start attending urban farming workshops.

You will also do well in attending farming workshops so you can be sure that you are making the most out of your small space. Such workshops will help you in terms of where and how you should begin as well as impart with you tips directly from farming professionals. Some workshops also include farm tours to inspire you and give you idea on what you can do with your small farm space.

With a little smart planning, an option to participate in community urban farming will see young and old benefit from a life enhancing activity that yields a luscious harvest that is literally ‘off the wall.’

Whether you’re looking for an eco-friendly alternative to traditional produce, or you’re simply looking to start eating locally-or in your own backyard-urban farming is an easy way to feed a family, without having to stare at increasing prices, or wonder what’s on the produce, that wouldn’t be in your urban farm.

Hydroponic farming

Farming has dropped significantly as the society advances in the modern area. Some farms were abandoned in pursuit for a different career while some is because of the lack of government support for the agricultural enhancement. As this trend posed a greater dilemma today and the years to come, it I fortunate that new technologies have been introduced to address the growing concern. One of these agricultural advancements is hydroponics farming.

Hydroponics farming is the method of growing plants, oftentimes on a large scale, by means of less soil or even soil less agriculture. This means that the plants thrive not on soil but is supported by nutrient solution in an irrigated system to make sure that the plants are being sustained sufficiently.

 

While many households nowadays employ the system right in their own backyard, hydroponics farming are also being used in the first world countries that have created a boost in food production addressing the economic difficulty and making the country sustainable to produce its own supply and export the produce in nearby countries.

A reason why hydroponics farming is being preferred than the traditional way is that, the procedure allows unseasonal produce to be planted and harvested. Thus this makes the produce and the crops available the entire year. Moreover, this offer more flexibility as hydroponics farming requires minimal space for planting, making the rest of the area available for other plants or may be for other uses.

Basically, there are two methods of hydroponic farming. These are the medium culture and the solution culture. The medium culture requires a medium to handle the system. A good example is the sand culture, Rockwool and the gravel culture. On the contrary, the solution culture do not use solid media for the system, but instead the nutrient solution alone.

Farmers and crops producers alike agree that hydroponics farming reduces or saves about 90 percent of water compared to the traditional method of farming. This is very great as this may not complicate the irrigation system that much.

Another would be the increase rate of the growth of the plants. With faster farming, the crops can be harvested earlier making it efficiently and effective to meet the present demand of market. This would also make the farming area available for another round of farming.

Some of the pros are as such. When you compare to vegetables grown in soil, you would need to remove the roots before you sell it off. However, with hydroponic, you can actually sell the plant with the roots still intact in the nutrients. This allows the vegetable to stay fresher for a longer period of time. Apart from that, as the plant is grown in a watery environment, the plant will not be short of water, as both water and nutrients are already provided. Even disposing of the hydroponic water is much simpler than disposing of traditional soil. Furthermore, in countries or areas with little land to grow crops or have soil with little nutrients, growing crops in soil would be difficult as only few crops can be grown at a time, and soil has to be used wisely to prevent nutrients from drying up. Hydroponics is a solution to this as the water it grows would provide enough nutrients, plus it can be stacked on top of each other, using minimal space. One of the biggest advantages of using the hydroponic farming technique is that the plants are environmentally-controlled, so soil-related diseases can be avoided, and use of pesticide can be reduced.

It is a growing issue if the produce made through this technology is safe. Hydroponics farming produce are safe from chemicals and the produce are even fresher and at high quality of yield. This also eliminates the possibilities of soil-borne diseases as this does not require the use of soil.

Backyard Garden Ideas For City Farmers

Any homeowner with a backyard will have several fun ideas to convert it into a recreational place, a patio, pool, and deck area or even grow vegetables and flowers. If you want to know ways to have lovely ‘flowers or veggies for my backyard garden’, you can read tips from experts at online gardening sites of which there are many.

First, let us see how to go about planting a backyard vegetable garden.

  • Plan ahead
  • Test the soil for nutrient content
  • Test it for moisture content
  • Prepare the ground
  • Sprinkle seeds
  • Follow proper gardening tips on growing and maintaining the vegetable garden

The first step in planning any garden is to decide on which backyard garden plants to grow. Divide your vegetables into seasonal crops. Warm season vegetables and cold season vegetables need to be planted at the appropriate times. Warm season veggies like melons, cucumbers, squash and bell peppers need to be planted in spring and harvested in late summer or fall when ready. Cold season veggies include leafy greens like chard and lettuce, roots like potatoes and carrots or the cabbage family like cauliflower and broccoli. These can be planted during two seasons – later summer and harvested in fall or winter or early spring and harvested before the warm weather arrives. This really depends on the growing period of the veggies. Next, test the soil for nutrient content and add the appropriate amount of nutrients like phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium needed for veggies to grow well. Make sure you know the exact proportion of nutrients to mix. Test the backyard soil for moisture content and depending on the soil, you will know how much to water the plants.

Prepare the soil by tilling it, digging a few inches needed to place the seeds and start sprinkling the seeds in these little holes. Making rows of vegetables is easier to maintain and manage the growth. You can mix rows to have one row of say cucumber, another of pepper and so on. Monitor the seeds, watch them germinate and follow all instructions on watering, weeding, fertilizing the plants so that they grow well and give abundant veggies for your family.

If you do not have much time to monitor delicate flowering plants that need a lot of care, why not try growing a wildflower garden. Wildflowers are hardy, grow naturally and what is more, they do produce beautiful flowers and when grown in an informal garden they have their own charm. What is more, a wildflower garden can even attract wildlife like hummingbirds and squirrels.

Another creative idea is a butterfly garden where you must plant flowers that will specifically attract butterflies. Find out plants that attract butterflies and if you can tolerate the caterpillars, you will have a wonderful array of butterflies visiting your garden. The flowers must be planted in plenty of sunlight and with wind protection. Make sure you include a birdbath in the corner of your flower garden and you will not be short of any number of birds visiting and enjoying the nectar from the flowers and then splashing around in the water. You will really have your own mini paradise in your backyard.

Vertical farming

A vertical farm is no doubt a great way to cultivate as many plants as possible in a limited floor space. In fact, vertical farming is generally done along with hydroponics (but not necessarily so) and it is used to grow a variety of organic crops in all seasons. Growing towers are increasingly visible in home gardens and large commercial agricultural operations since people prefer to have organically grown and naturally ripened products that are cultivated locally. However, it has to be admitted that these gardens do have a few drawbacks that can seriously curtail productivity. Thankfully, it is very easy to overcome these drawbacks by planning the garden properly.

The biggest obstacle to the productivity of a vertical farm is the lack of sufficient sunlight. The larger the vertical farm is the greater will be
the problem of sunlight deprivation. Plants located in the center of the growing area or at the lower parts of the towers are unlikely to get enough light to enable proper photosynthesis.

Therefore, the grower needs to:

  • Use full spectrum grow lights to provide sufficient light
  • Stick to crops that are not nutrition intensive; leafy green plants such as lettuce, endive and kale are perfectly suited to this style of cultivation since they can do without intense light when compared to fruit plants that need bright sunlight. Herbs can also be grown very easily using this method of cultivation.
  • If the garden is not too large then it is best to use light growing towers that are easy to move around. The towers can then be moved regularly to ensure that all plants get a fair share of light. This can be used to get a fine crop of tomatoes, strawberries, eggplants, cauliflower and the like.
  • Use the right kind of fertilizer solution to the growing medium in order to ensure that the plants get the necessary nutrition.

The growing popularity of this type of farming has created plenty of opportunities for vertical farming companies to sell their products. Customers need to buy many vertical farming supplies in order to keep the farms in operation. However, the increased yields generally justify these costs.

Vertical farming supplies are not cheap but it is possible to recover ones investment fairly quickly because the productivity of the garden is very high as long as it is managed properly. In any case, the cost of buying organic fruit and vegetables from a store is so high that most home gardeners do not mind the investment. There are many vertical farming companies available these days and one can easily buy the necessary supplies to get started. It is best to look for a company that provides cost effective supplies.

With so many advantages it is not surprising that an increasing number of experts are promoting the concept of vertical farming nowadays. The process has already started, what with several vertical farming companies setting up shop in recent times. Vertical farming supplies are now gradually becoming more visible in markets too. It could herald a new revolution in agriculture in the near future.

City farming

When we think of farming and agriculture, the first thing that would probably pop on our minds is rich vegetation and lush greenery amongst the hills and the mountains. But now, thanks to technology and the new agriculture methods brought about these advancements, farming is now being adapted even by those who are living in the city. Farming is no longer confined in the rurals. It has slowly made its way to the urban landscape.

So you want to make your own mini farm in your backyard? That’s so simple. Your condominium or apartment doesn’t have to stay as a lifeless box of concrete and glass. The good thing also about farming in the city is that you don’t have to give up your urban lifestyle to partake and enjoy farming. To create your own garden, you could start by planting herbs in small pots. Herbs such as oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary are perfect for these small containers. This is recommended for starters by the way. But if you’re the experimental and the garden geek type you could plant seasonal veggies and fruits. Just remember when choosing what to plant, make sure that it won’t take up too much space and maintenance. Keep in mind that you are living in a confined space so it should not eat up a lot of space in your backyard.

LED grow light has become a popular choice in City farming as it is designed to support the sustainable practices of agriculture. When compared to traditional lights, LED lights are held with high regards for their ability to illuminate brightly while consuming very less power. This explains why they are found in huge numbers in greenhouses. In addition, these energy saving LED lights can offer an array of benefits.

Currently, we see vacant lots, roof tops, and balconies being transformed into urban oasis, and productive agents of changing urban agriculture on a smaller scale. Community gardeners provide enough vegetables, fruit, poultry, and even small quantities of livestock and fish to supply locals with organic means of food. How does this change our health and well being? The answer, although highly debated, is that urban gardens produce a great alternative to commercial food production. A typical 10 feet by 10 feet plot of land may supply a four person household of vegetable needs, which cover all the basic vitamin A, B, C, and Iron nutritional needs a year.

Urban farming is slowly becoming popular amongst City dwellers because it doesn’t only beautify but it also conserves the environment as well. So take pleasure in the joys of gardening and start urban farming now.

In terms of health benefits, City gardens provide a limitless amount of nutrition. Gardening is also a great source of exercise and has been connected to reducing risks of obesity, diabetes, and occupational injuries while promoting better digestion and eating habits. Mentally, participating in the local farming movement may help you improve social skills, your self-esteem, and is a great use of your leisure time. There have been many studies done on the benefits of horticulture therapy in reducing stress, muscle tension, blood pressure, and general happiness.

How To Apply Backyard Farming For Self Food Sufficiency

Backyard farming involves growing crops and rearing animals in homesteads, as opposed to buying supplies from other farmers. It produces high yields no matter the size of the yard. Backyard farming offers numerous rewards such as having a year round supply of food, saving money, providing you with fresh and highly nutrient yields as well as adding beauty to your home. However, It is important to choose the type of crops and animals to grow for productive farming. The following are ideas to guide you start your backyard farm.

Vertical gardening

Vertical gardening
You can use your fence or wall to grow fruit bearing plants instead of planting nonproductive climbers. Fruits plants such as grape vines grow well on fences and produce sweet fruits due to the exposure to direct sunlight. Raised planters provide a conducive growing area for strawberries, and you can easily grow other plants beneath them to increase the amount of food. Hanging planters work best for plants such as tomatoes. If you do not have a structured fence, there are vertical planters available in the market that you can use to plant. Vertical gardening helps to attract local pollinators as well as prevent pest outbreaks.

Container gardening

container gardening

Where only a small space for farming is available, container gardening is an excellent method of backyard farming. A wide variety of vegetables and herbs thrive well in containers both outdoors and indoors. It is important to water the plants regularly as containers dry out quickly. Also, provide adequate protection during the winter since the roots of the plants are not insulated and could weaken quickly.

Indoor plants

indoor garden plants
Backyard farming is not confined to growing plants just outdoors. You can also grow indoor plants such as herbs and edible flowers comfortably in your house. Planting indoors, for instance in raised containers help you save outdoor garden space for plants that require large growing areas such as watermelons.

Animal shelters

backyard animal shelter
You can build pens and chicken coop for raising livestock and chicken to increase the variety of your food production. However, care should be taken in choosing what animals to keep as some may develop into full-grown adults and became hard to fit in the backyard. Bee hives are also easy to build and maintain in the backyard. Bees are an important aspect of gardening since they are reliable pollinators.

Backyard farming doesn’t involve expensive tools and methods to produce high yields. Compile a list of the essential tools and supplies to avoid spending on things you do not require. As your backyard crops and animals grow, you will find it easier discovering what is useful and what can help you improve productivity.

Conclusion

Backyard farming can be used as a tool to increase food availability as well as providing healthy foods that are beneficial to both humans and nature. However small the yard is, you can make backyard farming exciting. From planting vegetables in a raised container to raising chicken can assure you an all year round supply of fresh and organic food with no major extra costs.

Farming: The Nature’s Way

The agricultural system that maintains all natural procedures and takes all natural inputs that make farming a sustainable practice is widely referred to as Natural farming system. This system has been prescribed by Fukuoka, and it follows all the laws of nature and respects the rights of livestock and supports their nutrient, habitat and mating needs. The soil that has been destroyed to an extent by industrial farming techniques involving machines, herbicides and chemicals can be healed through the practices prescribed under natural farming.

The Practice of Natural Farming

Wherever the practice of natural farming is followed, it has healed, cleaned and restored to a large extent, the soil, water, and environment. This has helped in the recovery of ecology. Such farming practices have aided in fighting the persisting threat of widespread desertification.

There are five basic principles followed by natural farming practitioners namely no tillage, no chemical fertilizer, no herbicides or pesticides and no pruning or weeding. In India, natural farming practice is frequently referred to as “Rishi Kheti”. It includes Vedic farming principles from ancient times including the use of waste, herbs, and animal for pest control and stimulating plant growth. Growth promoters, under this system, have been produced from natural products and wastes like cow milk and cow urine by our ancient sages. This farming system has been considered nonviolent without any use of pesticides and chemical fertilizer. The organic produce obtained is natural, have high medicinal values, and they possessed high quality.

Natural farming system reduces human labor and as carefully as practical, practices natural production of fibers and foods in agricultural ecosystems with biodiversity. Seeds germinate well on the surface without plowing if farm conditions fulfill the requirements of the seeds placed in the farms.
Weeds are rarely removed as they are expected to co- grow with plants, the farms are open for livestock to run on. Weeds and other ground layer plants are occasionally cut down and left on the surface, so as to restore their nutrients back to the soil along with suppression of weed growth. The practice facilitates sowing of seeds in the same zone.

The ground cover thus prepared enhances nitrogen fixation for summer and winter crops, Mulching of top soil are ensured by straw from the earlier crop. The new seeds for the next crop are sowed among the standing crop and thus each grain crop is sown before the preceding one is harvested. Thicker crop that are highly productive and stronger, although smaller in size are obtained as a consequence.

Fukuoka’s philosophy and practice stressed on small scale processes and challenged the necessity for industrial and mechanized farming techniques that are considered essential for high productivity, higher efficiency and ultimately economies of scale.

Soil is considered a fundamental and natural asset according to natural farming practices Ancient soils is believed to possess physical and chemical qualities that make them capable of producing life abundance and supporting it. In the natural farming system soil tilling is considered to destroy vital physical features of the soil like water suction, soil ability to send the moisture upwards through roots.

Fukuoka has advocated avoiding any alteration in the natural landscape. The creation of farm terraces was not supported by Fukuoka, even though this practice was common at his time in countries like China and Japan. He instead, simply planted trees and shrubs on slopes to prevent soil erosion.

All these practices that are today considered unusual and unrealistic by advocates of industrial farming techniques were once the crucial and effective farming system.

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