Soil Borne Disease Control: Organisms In The Soil That Can Harm Plants

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For many home gardeners, nothing is more frustrating than crop loss due to unknown causes. While vigilant growers can closely monitor insect pressure in the garden which may cause diminished yields, losses due to unseen circumstances can be more difficult to diagnose. Gaining a better understanding of soil borne organisms and pathogens can help growers develop a thorough grasp of soil and garden health.  What are Soil Borne Pathogens? All soil ecosystems contain various soil borne organisms. It is not until these organisms in the soil are able to infect plants via suitable conditions or susceptibility that they begin to cause issues for garden crops. Pathogens are organisms in the soil that cause problems or disease. Diseases caused by soil borne pathogens can impact plants in a variety of ways. While pre-emergent pathogens can cause damping off or failure of seedlings to thrive, other organisms in the soil may cause

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Green Leaves Have Yellow Veins: Reasons For Yellow Veins On Leaves

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If you have a plant with yellow veins on the leaves, you might be wondering why on earth the veins are turning yellow. Plants use the sun to make chlorophyll, the stuff they feed on and responsible for the green color of their foliage. Paling or yellowing of the leaf is a sign of mild chlorosis; but if you see that your normally green leaves have yellow veins, there might be a larger problem. About Yellow Veins on Leaves When a plant’s foliage creates insufficient chlorophyll, the leaves become pale or begin to yellow. When the leaves remain green and only the veins are turning yellow, the term is called veinal chlorosis. Interveinal chlorosis is different than veinal chlorosis. In interveinal chlorosis, the area surrounding the leaf veins becomes yellow in color while in veinal chlorosis, the veins themselves yellow. Along with this major difference, the causes of chlorosis differ.

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Why More Standards Are Needed in Horticulture LED Lighting

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White LED lamps over greenhouse grown basilNew research at Rutgers University looks to close the gaps in information on LED lighting in horticulture crops.

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Corpse Flower Facts – How To Grow A Corpse Flower Houseplant

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What is a corpse flower? Amorphophallus titanum, more commonly known as corpse flower, is one of the most bizarre plants that you can grow indoors. It is certainly not a plant for beginners, but definitely is one of the biggest oddities of the plant world. Corpse Flower Facts A little bit of background will help determine the care of these unusual plants. Corpse flower is an aroid that is native to the jungles of Sumatra. It will take about 8-10 years before it actually blooms. But what a show when it does! The inflorescence can grow up to 10 feet (3 m.) tall.  Although the inflorescence is very large, the flowers are much smaller and found deep inside the base of the spadix. The spadix actually heats up close to 100 F. (38 C.). The heat will help carry the odor of rotting meat that is produced by the plant.

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Red Veined Prayer Plants: Tips On Caring For A Red Prayer Plant

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Indoor tropical plants add an exotic and lush feel to the home. Red-veined prayer plants (Maranta leuconeura “Erythroneura”) also have another neat attribute, moving leaves! Caring for a red prayer plant requires very specific atmospheric and cultural conditions for optimal health. The Maranta red prayer plant is a fussy little specimen that will not shrink from letting you know it’s every need. Keep reading for red prayer plant care and tips on solving problems. About Red-Veined Prayer Plants A tropical plant native to Brazil, red prayer plant is a popular and attractive houseplant. Its scientific name is Marantha and the variety is ‘Erythroneura,’ which means red veins in Latin. The red veins are in a herringbone pattern, giving rise to another of the plant’s names, – herringbone plant. In warm climates, it forms a ground cover while in cooler regions it is best used as a hanging indoor plant. The

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Vermeer enters distribution agreement with MultiOne

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PELLA,
Iowa
– Vermeer Corporation has entered into
a distribution agreement with MultiOne, a manufacturer of compact
articulated loaders. Through the agreement, MultiOne will supply
Vermeer-branded loader models to be sold, serviced and supported exclusively
through Vermeer dealers across North America and the Caribbean.

“Across our landscape, tree care, rental and general construction
markets, we are seeing a growing demand for highly maneuverable material
handling equipment capable of productive speeds and low turf disturbance, while
helping solve labor challenges on the jobsite,” said Doug Hundt, president of
Vermeer Industrial Solutions. “By combining MultiOne’s proven loader line with
the reach, service and support of the Vermeer dealer network, we can quickly
expand our already robust line-up of compact equipment to meet this demand.”

While the two companies envision building on their partnership, this agreement will feature all MultiOne compact articulated loader models ranging from 933 lbs (423 kg) – 1590 lbs (721 kg) operating capacity. These models feature a telescopic boom for greater reach and utility. The Vermeer models will be manufactured at MultiOne’s facility in Vicenza, Italy and made available with select attachments, a full line of parts and service at Vermeer dealerships in North America and the Caribbean in early summer 2020.

“MultiOne has a
strong, 20-year track record of supplying customers around the world with
compact articulated loaders that are known for high quality, versatility and
efficiency,” said Stefano Zanini, MultiOne technical director. “We are excited
to partner with Vermeer and its dealers to help equip their customers with the
high-performing tools they need to more efficiently get work done.”

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Trends That Are Driving Horticulture into 2020 Through One Man’s Eyes

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ShopTalk---18-feature-imageAllan Armitage says patio gardening, an embrace of natives, and protection of pollinators are just some of the big horticulture trends shaping 2020.

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There’s a New National Hemp Growers Association in Town

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Heliospectra Ambary Gardens Commercial Hemp set-upThe U.S. Hemp Growers Association, the only national grower-directed hemp trade association, was officially formed in late December in Indianapolis.

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NALP names list of landscaping trends for 2020

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FAIRFAX, Va. –The National Association of Landscape Professionals has announced its official list of the top lawn and landscape trends for 2020.

Crafted using the expertise of professionals across the country, NALP annually predicts design and maintenance trends that will inspire Americans to create healthy and beautiful green spaces. 

NALP develops its annual trends report based on member surveys and the expertise of landscape professionals from around the country. Along with industry insight, NALP trends are influenced by popular lifestyle shifts and designs, and reflect Americans’ growing passion for healthy, well-designed green spaces. 

“Foundational landscape elements remain on homeowners’ wish lists, but modern updates and technology are now a top priority. With a wave of design and technical innovations, our members report that ornate hardscaping, contemporary features, lush gardens and smart irrigation are all trending and will influence landscape designs across the country in 2020,” said NALP CEO Britt Wood. “This year’s trends showcase how homeowners of all generations desire a striking, custom and well-maintained outdoor space that benefits their community and the environment.”

In 2020, NALP predicts five trends will define outdoor spaces:

  • Ornate, Geometric Hardscaping – Professionals are noting an uptick in requests for intricate hardscaping patterns including waves, chevron, lattice and basket weave to sweep the country. From walkways and patios to retaining walls and fire features, homeowners are looking to integrate popular home décor patterns into their hardscape designs.
  • Contemporary and Transitional Landscape Design – Younger generations are seeking sleek, contemporary and simple landscape designs. Whether opting for an elegant outdoor kitchen, contemporary sculpture, or modern fire or water feature, professionals are seeing a shift towards simplistic designs. Multi-season functionality is essential as more homeowners are selecting elements that can survive a range of temperatures, such as native plants, heat lamps and protective structures.
  • Bountiful Shades of Blue – Landscape professionals anticipate rich tones of blue to make a striking impact in 2020. With PPG naming Chinese Porcelain, a cobalt and moody blue, and Sherwin-Williams declaring Naval, a strong and calming dark blue, as their respective colors of the year, experts predict these tones will influence the design of outdoor spaces this year. To add touches of the hue, homeowners could consider a blue sculpture or water feature. To incorporate shades of blue into gardens, look to plants such as blue fortune, delphinium, hydrangea, globe thistle or grape hyacinth.
  • Your Style, Your Garden Design – Gardens serve as a relaxing escape for many across the country. From creating edible gardens for farm-to-table dining to planting gardens that produce favorite fruits, vegetables or herbs, homeowners are more aware of the options that exist for installing gardens that meet their personal needs. For smaller spaces, consider container gardens, vertical gardens and interiorscaping to create an outdoor garden oasis.
  • One-click, Remote Irrigation – Technology continues to be a staple of the lawn and landscape industry. In 2020, homeowner demand will contribute to a rise in high-tech irrigation systems that deliver just the right amount of water to a lawn or landscape, conserving water and saving money in the long run. Today’s irrigation systems are controllable from anywhere with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and smartphone apps to help maximize efficiency.

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The 3 principles of fairness

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I was ironically sitting in a class on Organizational Behavior one Friday last fall when my phone buzzed with a text. It was my business partner.
 
“We’ve got a problem.”
 
“What’s going on?” I wrote back.
 
“We have a revolt on our hands.”
 
I excused myself from class to give him a call. As it turns out, approximately ⅓ of our company had just walked into the office and demanded a pretty significant raise. Over the years we had made efforts to create a healthy, productive work environment for everyone, yet something wasn’t working. These employees were being paid a fair, competitive wage. They had ample opportunity to improve their lot by reaching milestones and accomplishing goals, each with a raise tied to it. So, what went wrong? Why did they feel like they needed to take such a drastic step?
 
In a nutshell, they felt as though they were being treated unfairly. And we could have prevented that. Since then, we have developed 3 key “Principles of Fairness.”
 
1)    Communicate the Process
2)    Measure and Quantify
3)    Weed out the Underperformers
 
Communicate the Process. Do your employees know what everyone else is earning? Many of you might be tempted to say “no.” And you may be right, but probably not. Human beings are nosy creatures and we like to share personal information. Your employees are talking, and they are probably talking about salary. Before you try to crack down on such chatter, know that it’s illegal in most circumstances to prohibit employees from sharing salary information with other employees, and it has been since the National Labor Relations Act was passed 84 years ago in 1935.
 
Did you just recently hire someone who is getting paid more than someone else in your company? Why? You may have a good reason. Perhaps the new person has extensive experience, or specialized training. There isn’t a company in the world that starts every single employee at the same salary, and people understand this. 
 
But they also need to understand why someone else is getting paid more than them. Just put yourself in their shoes. You’re getting paid $14/hour and you’ve been there for 2 years. The boss just hired a new person at $14.50/hour and that person seems to be doing the same work as you. How would you feel?
 
If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably be annoyed. And you’ll probably tell other people in the company just how annoyed you are. You may even get a bunch of other people to be similarly annoyed. But instead, imagine you knew that this person had a relevant degree plus 10 years of experience at a similar company and was temporarily helping your team before moving into a more senior position. Now you might be fine knowing that they’re being paid more. Because now it seems fair.
 
Measure and Quantify. When you give an employee review, how much concrete, quantifiable data do you use? Consider these common exchanges.
 
“You’re taking too long to get jobs done.”
“Yeah, but I’m trying to do a great job so the customers will be happy.”
 
“Your energy is really low lately.”
“Yeah, but I’m tired from all the hours you have me working.”
 
I’ve probably heard “yeah, but” 1,000 times over the years. Certainly, you can argue back against these excuses, but do you think they’ll agree with your criticisms? We all have an incredible capacity for self-delusion. We think that we’re contributing more than we are and that most criticism is unwarranted. When the criticism is largely an opinion, it can be disregarded. And when your employees are judged based on your opinion, they’ll just feel like the victim of an unfair system.
 
But imagine this instead.
 
“Your production level is 8% lower than average and your customer satisfaction scores are 5% below average.”
“Yeah, but…”
 
But what? There’s not much to debate when you’ve measured and quantified. People can argue against opinions, but they can’t argue against facts. So take some time to think through every metric on which you judge employee performance. Can you measure it? If you can, then do it. Keep track and provide that information to the employees during their reviews.
 
But there’s another benefit to this principle. By measuring and quantifying, you can find those people who have been flying under the radar. We have several employees who quietly outwork everyone, but we might not have noticed if we weren’t measuring output. We take great care of them. Similarly, we’ve had a few self-proclaimed superstars who did initially seem impressive. But the numbers told a different story. They’re working for someone else now, which leads into the next principle.
 
Weed Out the Underperformers. Let’s say you have a perfectly fair system in place, and everyone understands and agrees. Can you expect to have any further fairness related problems?
 
Oh yeah. You’d better believe it.
 
The fairest system in the world becomes unfair very quickly when underperformers don’t really earn their salary. The rest of the crew sees it and asks a very simple question. “Why is that person getting paid the same as me?” All of a sudden, things are unfair again.
 
This aspect of managing fairness requires active, constant attention on your part. You’re paying everyone a fair wage for their position. But are they earning it? If someone is an underachiever, you need to get them out. Sure, do your best to light a fire under them and let them know they need to step up their game. 
 
If they improve, great. If not, it’s time to part ways. Keeping them around is simply unfair to everyone else. I know this sounds simple, but it’s hard to fire people in the middle of a busy season when work needs to get done. You’ll be tempted to keep all hands on deck. Don’t. The tradeoff in employee morale isn’t worth the extra warm body in the truck.
 
So What Happened?
 
It took some investigating to figure out what had triggered our mini revolt. We soon learned that it was a combination of us falling short on all three principles. We didn’t properly communicate the process of pay determination, so many workers were confused as to why they were earning what they earned. We didn’t use more concrete measurements with our reviews and discussions, so people felt picked on when we gave them subjective feedback. 
 
They just disagreed and became disgruntled instead of accepting it and improving. Finally, we had several slackers in our midst who we kept too long because we had so much work to get done. Bad mistake. We would have been better off turning down new business instead of holding onto bad apples.
 
If you want to achieve true organizational success, you need to create and foster a fair work environment. But that’s only half the equation. It also has to be perceived as being fair by those involved. That will take some thought, planning, and strong communication on your part.
 

Visit bit.ly/llteedbrown to hear Brown present during our Lawn Care Virtual Conference. 

The author is CEO/Co-Founder of Teed & Brown, Inc.
 

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