Month: June 2010

Save Time in the Garden with a Roto Tiller

The weather tells us it is that time again to start working in the garden and growing your vegetables. You find yourself strenuously busting up the garden soil so you can start planting.How great would it be to not have to get down and dirty but instead use a tool that will make the process much easier?

Garden roto tillers can make cultivating soil much easier. With so many different options available, finding the right garden tiller can be a scary job. But what do you need?

For small, tight gardens an electric garden tiller is a great option because they are lightweight and are easy to move around. A small gas roto tiller could be a good option as well. They are lightweight which makes them much easier to move around compared to heavier ones. The price is not very high and it will make your gardening much more enjoyable and fun. If you have never tilled your soil before then you may want to opt for a more powerful tiller. A good idea is to rent a big rototiller for the initial tilling and then you can use a smaller one thereafter.

There are so many brands of garden tillers. Among the best garden tillers brands are Mantis Tillers, Honda Tillers, Troy Bilt Garden tillers, Craftsman Tillers, Husgvarna garden tillers, and the MTD tillers. Depending on the features available, the price of your garden tiller will vary. It is best to look at several tillers and compare the features of each to see what will work best for you.

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Blair County Blight Information

The tomato blight from last year is back. It has been found in Blair County. Not only does it affect tomatoes but also potatoes and petunias. The disease, once it’s on your plants, wipes them out in about 3 to 4 days.

It starts out looking a greenish-gray to black spot on the top of the leaf. Then it starts affecting the plant’s stem. It will eventually spread to the underside of the leaf. You need to be very careful when you are working with it because it spreads easily through the air or by contact with people or animals.

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New Rules Enthuse Farmers

WASHINGTON – New federal rules that define what makes milk and meat organic have natural food advocates optimistic that the government is committed to ensuring the label means something.

U.S. consumers bought $24 billion worth of organic products in 2008. But for many, the purchases came with uncertainty about what they were getting for their money.

”During the Clinton and the Bush administrations there wasn’t a lot of teeth in the enforcement aspect of it,” said Tom Willey, 61, an organic fruit and vegetable farmer in Madera, Calif. ”Things have kind of been in a morass as far as enforcement for a number of years, but now we’re very hopeful that will change.”

The optimism is based on U.S. Department of Agriculture rules announced Feb. 12 that require livestock to be grazed on pasture for at least four months a year to qualify for an organic meat or dairy label. The animals also must get at least 30 percent of their feed from grazing. Previous rules required only that animals have ”access to pasture.”

Organic advocates also point to a USDA decision last August to audit the National Organic Program because of self-admitted problems with reliability and transparency. The program is made up of 100 organic certifying organizations.

Any mass-marketed product that bills itself as ”100 percent organic” or ”organic” is subject to USDA organic certification and bears the agency’s seal.

Although products that carry the seal are produced on farms and by manufacturers that already are subject to inspections by USDA’s organic certifiers, critics have argued the agency’s definitions are not tailored narrowly enough and that some products are organic in name only.

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Pond Water Tests Available

STATE COLLEGE – Penn State’s Agricultural Analytical Services Laboratory has launched a pond water testing service. Free test kits are available at many cooperative extension offices. A fee is charged for lab testing done on water samples.

Two test packages are available – the basic pond/lake water package for $42 and the basic pond/lake water package plus bacteria for $70, which includes testing for E. coli bacteria.

Both packages include tests for pH level, total dissolved solids, nitrate-nitrogen, alkalinity, aluminum, iron, manganese, phosphorus, sulfate and hardness.

To learn more, go online to, call 863-0841 or e-mail

Getting Ready to Sprout – Blair County

Although the 2009 growing season was marked by severe blight that destroyed several crops, including tomatoes, people are looking forward to planting their gardens this year.

“They’re all hoping it’s not going to happen again,” Don Leidig with Leidig’s Farms in Warriors Mark said. “I think everybody’s excited about planting stuff. They’re stopping and looking. I think the garden’s going to be a big thing again.”

Leidig said he hopes that the fungal blight that developed on tomatoes, potatoes and petunias last year didn’t survive the long, hard winter. The weather’s already more normal than last year’s rainy spring, Leidig added.

That weather is a double-edged sword, said Tom Ford, Blair County extension director and area educator for commercial horticulture.

“It’s always sort of disconcerting when April has been as dry as it’s been,” Ford said, adding that heavy rains like the ones at the end of the month can increase the amount of blight infections in products. “It’s a little too early to tell.”

Read More on the Altoona Mirror

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