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Better Earth Products will offer you urban farming growing systems and renewable energy products. We believe that City and urban farming for vegetables and berries, along with renewable energy products help all of us to do our part in improving our world.
City and suburban agriculture takes the form of backyard, roof-top and balcony gardening, community gardening in vacant lots and parks, roadside urban fringe agriculture and livestock grazing in open space. Explore information and tools on urban agriculture, Source Texas A&M
Greenhouse vegetables can be grown using several different types of cultural systems. These include gravel, sand, troughs, containers, bags, etc. In each of these systems, nutrients can be supplied continuously.
Non-Recycled Nutrient Solution
Perhaps the most simplified system for producing greenhouse vegetables is where the floor of the greenhouse is used as the media for growing plants. This ìwhole floorî system usually consists of sand or pine bark approximately 10-12 inches deep, separated from the underlying soil by a plastic barrier. To provide adequate drainage, a drain line should be installed under each pair of rows. Drain lines should be approximately 1 1/4” I.D. for sand and 3” I.D. for bark, with a fall of 2” per 100’ of row.
Irrigation water and nutrients are supplied by a drip system with enough emitters per plant to provide sufficient quantities of solution. Leachates should be monitored frequently for total dissolved solids. When levels exceed 3500 ppm media should be leached with water until leachates are less than 1000 ppm.
Troughs and beds are also used for the production of greenhouse vegetables. These may be filled to a depth of 8:-10” with materials such as: sand, pine bark, rice hulls, cedar chips, perlite, sawdust, etc. Beds and troughs are usually 30 inches wide with a minimum of 24 inches between rows. A drain line (1 1/4” – 3” I.D.) should be placed at the bottom of each structure with a fall of 2” per 100’. Irrigation and nutrient solution are supplied using a drip system as described above.
Many greenhouse vegetables can also be grown in containers using the same type of media discussed for bed and trough culture. Containers should be of sufficient size to provide good aeration and drainage. Three to five gallon containers appear to be best. Irrigation water and nutrient solutions are supplied by a drip irrigation system.
Bag culture is similar to the use of containers with the only exception being that plants are grown in the bag which contains the growing media. In this growing system, plants are handled just as if they were in a container.
Recycled Nutrient Solution
Gravel culture utilizes beds (as previously described) filled with non-calcarious gravel from 1/8” to ½” in diameter. In this system, the nutrient solution is pumped through the beds frequently enough to prevent the plant from going into water stress. The irrigation frequently should not exceed 30 minutes.
The tank which contains the bulk nutrient solution should be of a capacity to supply 3 gallons per plant. Beds are irrigated to about 1” below the surface of the gravel and the tank refilled with the premixed nutrient solution daily or at least once every third day. The nutrient solution should be monitored frequently for total solids and replaced when levels approach 3500 ppm.
The nutrient flow technique can also be effectively used for vegetable production. In this system, nutrients flow either continuously or very frequently through a tube in which the plants are being grown. The volume and quality of the nutrient solution are maintained similarly to that in gravel culture.
Soil Moisture Control
Automatic Drip Irrigation is a valuable tool for accurate soil moisture control in highly specialized greenhouse vegetable production. Total automation of drip irrigation offers a simple, precise method for sensing soil moisture and applying water. Management time savings and the removal of human error in estimating and adjusting available soil moisture levels enable skilled growers to maximize net profits.
Available soil moisture is an important limiting factor in growth and productivity. Greenhouse vegetable growers commonly estimate the availability of soil moisture by plant and soil appearance. Slight wilting of succulent terminal leaves indicates water stress in plants. Growers squeeze handfuls of soil taken from near the surface at several locations in the greenhouse. Soil that does not stay compressed in a tight ball is considered too dry.
Water deficiency can be detrimental to plants before visible wilting occurs. Slowed growth rate, lighter weight fruit and, in tomato, blossom end rot often follow slight water deficiencies. Replacing traditional methods of estimating available soil moisture with a more accurate method is necessary to maintain optimum soil moisture levels.
Conventional irrigation methods usually wet plantsí lower leaves and stems. The entire soil surface is saturated and often stays wet long after irrigation is completed. Such conditions promote infection by gray mold-rot (Botrytis) and leaf mold fungi.
Most greenhouse vegetable plants remove large amounts of water from soil at the 10” to 12” depth. An accurate estimate of available soil moisture at this important depth cannot be made by testing the top few inches of soil. In a greenhouse on a sunny day, transpiration and evaporation can occur so rapidly that excessive water loss can cause plant damage before sufficient water can be applied to correct moisture stress. Water stress, no matter how slight, will cause a significant reduction in harvest weight.
Drip irrigation is a slow water delivery system in which water can be applied, drop by drop, to the soil surface near the base of the plant. A properly designed automatic drip irrigation system can remove much guessing about when to irrigate and how much water to apply. Water is applied whenever the sensor indicates a sub-optimum soil moisture level. Using automatic drip irrigation systems, skilled greenhouse managers can:Apply correct water amounts precisely when required to maintain optimum available soil moisture in the root zone. Reduce management time required for observing plant water needs and manually controlling irrigation systems. Keep leaf surfaces and stems drier because water drips directly on the soil instead of spraying in the air. Prevent water puddling and splashing by applying water no faster than it will percolate into the soil. Reduce incidence of leaf mold, gray mold-rot and other foliage diseases. Reduce evaporation losses and fruit deterioration by keeping more soil surface dry. Increase production if other factors are not limiting.
Divide the total greenhouse area into equal or similar sections or into individual houses. Plan irrigation systems so that each house or section can be irrigated independently. (See Figure 1.) Plan total irrigation systems in conjunction with other greenhouse water needs to prevent exceeding water supplies.
The total amount of water available for all greenhouse uses, often described in gallons per minute, is a useful figure. Using a portable water meter, the well or other supply source usually can be measured. Water delivery rate from small wells often is determined by measuring the time required (in seconds or minutes) to fill a container of known volume (such as a 30-gallon garbage can or a 55-gallon barrel). When greenhouse water requirements exceed the well delivery rate, a storage tank can increase the quantity available during the peak usage.
We believe that Soar Thermal Space (Air) heating is one of the most efficient uses of the suns energy. There are products on our site like the Solar Thermal Forced Air Heaters that offer a pay back in less than 3 years. This is the fastest pay back for initial cost of the product, compared to all other solar products. That is why Better Earth Product’s goal is to offer as many cost effective solar thermal space (air) heating products, because they make the most economical sense and will help our customers save money and reduce their dependency on Oil based energy sources.
Solar heating harnesses the power of the sun to provide solar thermal energy for solar hot water, solar space heating, and solar pool heaters. A solar heating system saves energy, reduces utility costs, and produces clean energy.
Solar Space Heating and Cooling
Just as solar energy can heat the water for a building, it can also heat and cool the air.
A solar space-heating system can consist of a passive system, an active system, or a combination of both. Passive systems are typically less costly and less complex than active systems. However, when retrofitting a building, active systems might be the only option for obtaining solar energy.
Passive Solar Space Heating
Passive solar space heating takes advantage of warmth from the sun through design features, such as large south-facing windows, and materials in the floors or walls that absorb warmth during the day and release that warmth at night when it is needed most. A sun space or greenhouse is a good example of a passive system for solar space heating.
Passive solar design systems usually have one of three designs:
Direct gain (the simplest system) stores and slowly releases heat energy collected from the sun shining directly into the building and warming materials such as tile or concrete. Care must be taken to avoid overheating the space.
Indirect gain (similar to direct gain) uses materials that hold, store, and release heat; the material is located between the sun and living space (typically the wall).
Isolated gain collects solar energy remote from the location of the primary living area. For example, a sunroom attached to a house collects warmer air that flows naturally to the rest of the house.