Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nano Particles Boost Plant Growth

(ISNS) -- Tomato seeds exposed to nanoparticles in the form of carbon nanotubes that are only 1/50,000 the width of a human hair, sprouted sooner and grew faster in what researchers are describing as a step toward the "goals of nanoagriculture."

Scientists from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock mixed nanotubes with tomato seeds and discovered that the nanotubes "significantly affect [the seeds] biological activity, most probably by enhancing the amount of water that penetrates inside the seeds during the germination period."

The scientists found that seeds mixed with nanotubes accumulated 57.6 percent of moisture they were exposed to, while normal seeds picked up only 38.9 percent. The nano-exposed seeds sprouted up to two times faster than normal seeds and weighed twice as much because of the increased water uptake.

The mechanism by which the nanoparticles cause or support increased water uptake isn't clear, the scientists said, but noted that the "positive effect ... of seed germination could have significant economic importance for agriculture, horticulture, and the energy sector, such as for production of biofuels."

The study appears in the October issue of the Journal ACS Nano.

- Inside Science News Service

Friday, June 26, 2009

A little bit of a change to our blog

Initially we set up two blogs, Horizons LTD's Garden Emporium, then when we discovered no one had grabbed the great title Garden Emporium we snagged it, too. Since we had two blogs we figured we'd double post and maximize our exposure and readership...

After thinking about it, we decided that wasn't really the best way to do things.

So... after putting out brilliant minds together, we opted to focus on two different very important areas of importance to gardeners: tools and gardening tips / articles.

This blog will focus on tool usage, tips, what works best in various circumstances and similar topics. Our Garden Emporium blog will stick to the ins and outs of gardening. Sure, there are going to be some cross-overs, but at least we won't be putting the same articles on two different blogs!

We've added feeds from both blogs to our new Twitter account: and being the tech savvy types that we are, we've added a twitter feed to our main website,

Cool, huh? Next we're going to set up a Facebook fan page or two or ten and we're going to put some video demos on YouTube. Not sure if we're going to add a MySpace page... whatcha think? should we do it?

Wonder what the next big "thing" will be on the Internet? Twitter seems to have been the proverbial storm that swept the globe in recent months.

Hey, want to have a bit of fun? You can garden on Facebook! Yep, I have a personal account and I've received untold numbers of requests to water gardens and grow stuff. Seems if you don't keep up your garden will die. Me, I have enough to keep up with in my real garden!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Silly pumpkin joke...

What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?
Pumpkin pi.

We've collected a million of them at Horizons LTD over the years. We figured we may as well share them with our friends... you are still our friends after that joke, aren't you?

Georgia blueberry crop ripe, ready and robust

A late spring freeze followed by heavy rains were a blessing for some Georgia blueberry growers. But they brought more hard work to others, according to University of Georgia experts.

The heavy rains delayed harvest of the southeast Georgia crop, causing some early concerns about highbush berry quality. “We had to work harder to make grade due to the heavy rains this spring, but it’s turning out to be good year for rabbiteye growers,” said UGA Cooperative Extension blueberry agent Danny Stanaland.

“We grow two blueberry crops in Georgia – highbush and rabbiteye,” Stanaland went on to explain. The highbush crop in some areas of southeast Georgia, which is the state’s major commercial production area, “was hit hard by the late freeze and will produce only about 35 to 50 percent of the crop.”

Robust rabbiteye crop

Fortunately, blueberry fans all over Georgia can expect a bumper crop from the rabbiteye variety.

“It will be the largest crop of rabbiteye blueberries we’ve had in several years,” Stanaland said.
That’s especially good news for Georgia’s 300 blueberry growers. The majority of the crop is rabbiteye variety, and about 10 percent of the total crop is highbush variety.

“The highbush variety blooms and fruits early, making it more susceptible to the low temperatures and rain,” Stanaland said. “But, May 20 we finished harvesting highbush. That crop is gone.”

Growers are now harvesting rabbiteye berries in three phases.

“The early rabbiteye berries were wet and had some grading issues because it required more selective picking to get the good berries,” he said. “Now that it’s dry again, it’s much easier to harvest and grade, and fruit quality is very positive. We have the heaviest rabbiteye fruit set we’ve had in years. So, while we were short on highbush berries, we are going to be long on rabbiteye.”

Pick-your-own time

In the northern half of the state, where most blueberry operations are pick-your-own, growers are reporting larger-than-normal berries and an abundant crop, just in time for many markets to open this weekend.

In 2008, Georgia blueberry growers harvested more than 14,000 acres of blueberries with an off-the-farm value of close to $61 million dollars, slightly above the five-year average.

This year, growers expect to harvest between 12,000 and 14,000 acres, but that figure could surge as high as 15,000 to 20,000 acres, according to Stanaland and county Extension agent reports. About 75 percent of those acres are in southeast Georgia.

Prices are holding steady in spite of the abundance of available fruit this year, which usually drives prices down. Growers are getting about $14 per flat — or $1.40 per pound — for fresh berries, only a shade lower than last year’s price.

(Author Faith Peppers is a news editor for the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Georgia farm organizations to share nearly $1 millionto promote, support and enhance “Specialty Crops"

Georgia Department of Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin says that nearly $1 million in federal funds are on the way from Washington for competitive grants that promote the marketing and enhancement of “specialty crops” in the state. The funds, distributed as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, are designated under the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Irvin says $909,576.44 in U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) funds will be awarded on a competitive basis for developmental projects that support and enhance the competitiveness of Georgia Specialty Crops. Awards will be presented for projects that can successfully measure the greatest return on investment of the federal dollars. Grants of $10,000 up to $150,000 will be awarded for up to three years.

The Georgia Specialty Crops eligible for these competitive grants include: fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, Christmas trees, turfgrass (sod) in addition to nursery and greenhouse crops.

Organizations eligible to apply include non-profit organizations, corporations, commodity associations, state and local governments, colleges and universities. Applicants must live, conduct business or have an educational affiliation in Georgia. The application deadline is 5 p.m., Friday, July 17, 2009.

Grants will not be awarded for projects that solely benefit a particular commercial product or provide a profit to a single organization, institution, or individual. Single organizations, institutions, and individuals are encouraged to participate as project partners.

To request an application for this grant program e-mail inquiries to or write Georgia Department of Agriculture, Specialty Crops Block Grant Program, 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SW, Atlanta, GA 30334.