Hydroponic Gardening – Managing Pests & Diseases

As with soil-based gardens, hydroponic plants require good pest and disease maintenance controls. Failure to do so creates the same results as with 'ordinary' gardens ie spindly or dead plants. Since the majority of hydroponic plants are fruits and vegetables, that means the plants are not worth eating.

However, managing the hydroponic garden is even trickier, since disease and pests have it much easier in this setting. Plants are continuously kept wet, either immersed in water ('true' hydroponics) or continuously sprayed (aeroponics) or in a permanently wet medium such as perlite or sand. Fortunately, as with soil-based gardens, there is an extensive array of available methods to manage the problem.

Using beneficial life forms is one popular way to control unwanted pests, including certain types of bacteria and fungi. These can help to control spider mites and other invaders by crowding them out, eating them or releasing compounds toxic to the pest. They're known as beneficial organizations because they do all that without damaging the plants themselves.

Different types of pesticides are available, too.

Pesticidal soaps have been in use for centuries and still provide effective and non-toxic ways to keep the pests down. One category called botanicals are compounds released by plants themselves that have been combined into an easy-to-use pest control method. Botanicals break down naturally from exposure to air and water and are brilliant because they leave no harmful chemicals behind.

Neem oil can control over 400 different types of pest that typically invade gardens, including hydroponic ones. A simple spray to the leaves can often eliminate common pests. The bugs absorb the oil, which limits their ability to reproduce, leading to a lower population.

For more serious infestations, many commercial pesticides continue to work well.

White flies, aphids, mites and other pests can be a problem in hydroponic settings, just as in soil-based gardens. Powdery mildew is common. In fact, because of the continuous moisture bugs and pests have a 'friendly' environment. Making it 'unfriendly' is straightforward enough, using fungi and organicides. Sulfur-based compounds can help control white flies, mealy bugs, thrips and more.

Pyrethrum continues to be a safe and effective means of control. Although it sounds man made it is actually derived from flowers. This class of natural compounds released by plants are extracted and used in many commercial insecticides. Dosage is low, so the compound is very safe when used correctly (always read the label). Azatrol is a broad spectrum insecticide that provides another easy control method over most common pests.

Hydroponic gardeners have to exercise additional care when using any disease or pest control method, though. Since no soil is present to hold on to the roots, it's easier to damage a plant when manipulating the leaves and stems. That means that if you pick off mites by hand – an effective method for low-number infestations – it's important to exercise extra care.

Since moisture is present, mildew and other fungi are more common in hydroponic gardens. Keeping leaves dry and just the roots wet will help. Any insecticide sprayed on to your plants or vegetable should be allowed to dry under the grow lights. For aeroponically grown plants, for example, that may require a temporary relocation of the indoor garden.

Really Get Away From It All: The World’s Most Remote Hotels

Sometimes we all need to get away from it all; sometimes the further away the better. When you're usual holiday destination will not suffice (out of boredom or a need to put as much distance between yourself and your everyday life as possible), there are a host of hotels around the world that will meet your needs. Some of them offer extreme luxury amid exotic surroundings, while others offer entirely new experiences in locations you would never have dreamed of visiting. Read about the top five most remote hotels in the world and start planning your next holiday.

Bloomfield Lodge, Cairns, Australia

Bloomfield Lodge is located in Queensland's far north and trips guests to not one but two World Heritage Sites: the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. The lodge is recognized as one of the most exclusive luxury resorts in Australia. Only 34 guests are permitted at a time, so you can sure that your every need will be promptly met.

According to Forbes's list of remote hotels, to reach the lodge one must first charter a plane, then one has to drive through the Outback for a few hours and finally cruise some way down the Bloomfield River. When you ever arrive, however, you will find that all your troubles were worth it.

For starters, the lodge is nestled on the very edge of the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef is just across the bay. There are guided tours of the forest or you can follow some self-guided trails if you prefer. You can also go on guided bird watching tours, enjoy some relaxing fishing or more adrenalin infused tropical fishing out at sea, and laze in the seclusion of Kangaii Beach. Activities based around the lodge include an outdoor Jacuzzi, freshwater pool, spa and well stocked library with paperbacks and a selection of books and journals devoted to the ecology of the rainforest and region's local history. There is also a two-hour guided river cruise that will take you to the local Aboriginal community at Wujal Wujal, while giving you an opportunity to look out for birds and crocodiles.

Kokopelli's Cave, Farmington, New Mexico

If you want remote but do not want to travel to the ends of the earth, Kokopelli's Cave might suit you. The cave, which is not a natural formation and is privately owned, is rather difficult to reach; even the owners recommend that you only try it if you¡¯re physically fit. But if it's seclusion you're after sleeping 70 feet below the earth is ideal.

The cave is located near the Mesa Verde National Monument in New Mexico and if you climb to the top of the cliff you'll be able to see all four states of the Four Corners area. It is only accessible by dirt roads and they are rough. They can be traversed by ordinary cars (up to a point), but 4x4s are recommended. If you're in a conventional car you will have to park it at the upper parking lot and walk the rest of the way, 4x4s will get you quite a bit further. If you're footing it, you'll have to follow a marked trail that leads steadily downward. The way out is even more difficult because it's all uphill.

You'd be well advised to note that no meals are served at the cave, although you can arrange for special occasions to be catered. There is a fridge and some cabinets that provide breakfast things and some fruit, but you'll have to bring everything else. There are all the creature comforts you could want, including a Jacuzzi and waterfall shower, but there are only two local TV channels, so be prepared to entertain yourself.

The Andean Cottage, Peru

Staying at the Andean Cottage has been likened to a spiritual experience. Aside from a butler, who is on call 24 hours and who appears at night to light the two wood-burning chimneys, guests are truly alone. The Andean Cottage is the only one in the area and guests have the lakeside beach all to themselves. You'd better be prepared to embrace rustic living, as there are no cars and no electricity (which means no TV).

What you get is a spacious two-bedroom home with a lake all to yourself. The master bedroom boasts a super king bed size and a large bath which provides open views of the lake.

You get there via speedboat; the trip takes 4.5 hours and the boat leaves daily from the private pier at Casa Andina, Puno. On the way you stop at the Uros Floating Islands as well as the traditional Alsuno community of weavers on Taquile Island, before arriving at Suasi. Alternately, guests with their own vehicles (4x4s strongly recommended) can drive to the dock in Cambria and go the rest of the way in the lodge's Zodiac dinghy.

In terms of things to see and do, you can go on a number of nature walks, canoe on Lake Titicaca, visit the cultural hut, which serves as a museum and library, trek up Itapilluni Hill to admire the sunset and enjoy stargazing such as you will never experience in the city.

Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia

For an authentic Mongolian experience you can do no better than Three Camel Lodge, which offers a taste of a rugged nomadic lifestyle but with luxury Gers (traditional nomadic tents) and five-star dining to fall back on. The Deluxe Gers come with private bathrooms, king size beds and felt slippers and Mongolian bathrobes, as well as locally produced toilets. The more traditional Gers are furnished with wood-burning stoves, felt carpets, hand-painted wooden beds and ceilings that provide an unobstructed view of the stars.

The lodge is located in the heart of the Gobi desert and was built according to environmentally and culturally sustainable methods; electricity is provided by solar and wind power. The lodge offers guests a number of opportunities to explore the vast Gobi desert, including Bactrian camel tours, four-wheel drive excursions, hikes (which provide an intimate glimpse into the ecology of the region including its plant, animal and bird life) and overnight field explorations. It's also possible to remember dinosaur fossils, as a paleontologist from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences takes guests out to dig sites and supervises the expedition.

Getting there is an experience in itself. First you will need to take a two-hour flight from Beijing to Ulaanbaatar (alternatively there is a three-hour flight from Seoul), then you will need to board a prop-plane for a further one-hour flight to Dalanzadgad, followed by an hour-and-a-half drive on a rough dirt road. The chance to meet local nomadic tribes, dine on local produce at the Bulagtai Restaurant and bask in the stars more than makes up for the inconvenience.

Hotel Arctic, Greenland

For possibly the most extreme experience of your life, you can not beat the Hotel Arctic, which is the northernmost 4-star hotel in the world. The hotel is located on the edge of the Ilulissat Ice Fjord, which is a World Heritage Site. It's not all that difficult to reach; almost all major European cities have flights to the airport at Kangerlussuaq, which is in turn a short 45 minute hop to Ilulissat, but it is actually at the end of the world.

The Ice Fjord is the region's primary attraction. It covers 3000 square kilometers and contains one of the largest and most active glaciers in the world. The glacier moves approximately 20m per day, and is described as a park full of sculptures that are constantly changing.

There is also the opportunity to stay in an igloo on the edge of the fjord. The igloos are not made of ice, mores the pity, but that means you are assured of all the modern conveniences.

Crush Ringtone

The Crush Ringtone by David Archuleta has quickly become one of the most popular ringtones in the world. It has peaked at # 1 on several popular mobile charts and is currently # 2 on the US iTunes Top Songs Chart. Based on its popularity, the ringtone might soon become one of the most popular mobile phone ringtones ever released!

Crush is the debut single by David Archuleta, American Idol seventh season runner-up. The track was written by Jess Cates, Dave Hodges, and Emanuel Kiriakou. A digital download of the song became available on August 12, 2008. After just one day of airplay, Crush was able to debut at # 93 on the Billboard Pop 100 and # 57 on Pop 100 Airplay. The song is also currently one of the most tracks at Mainstream CHR radio stations.Following the song's digital release onto the US iTunes store on August 12, 2008, the song rose to the # 1 spot on iTunes in less than 24 hours. Crush debuted on the Canadian iTunes store at # 2 and is expected to debut on the Billboard Hot 100 next week.

The popularity of the song has helped make it such a popular phone ringtone. The track has also topped Canadian and Australian music charts, making the ringtone very popular in those nations as well as in the United States.

There is no doubt that David Archuleta's incredible new hit single will end up being one of the most popular ringtones of 2008. If you're looking for a hot new ringtone for your mobile phone – the Crush Ringtone is an awesome choice!

5 Tips to Avoiding Travel Eczema

Your eczema has been under control for a while. You have attained that sweet spot of equilibrium where your known eczema triggers are understood and avoided, whatever medications you take are working and not causing side effects, your skin is as good as it gets. Only one problem, you will be traveling soon.

Travel eczema, occurs when your body meets up with irritants and allergens you cannot control, as a result of not being on home turf. Whether it’s air, water, food, sun, soaps, detergents or weather, traveling presents some hard to solve problems trying to keep eczema in check.

Sometimes it’s the irritant or allergen you are exposed to that you would usually avoid, that causes the problem. But sometimes, just the change of routine or unfamiliar environments can cause flare-ups. Traveling can be stressful and eczema loves stress.

Here are a few tips to keep eczema at bay:

1) Do a little research into the type of foods you will encounter that are indigenous to the area you will visit. What can you eat, what can’t you eat. Eating the cuisines of other cultures is a major component of travel, and knowing what common additives are used in the preparation of popular dishes is a good way to stay symptom free.

2) Pack enough of your favorite medications, cremes, ointments and solutions. Don’t think you’ll be able to pick some of these up where ever you go. First, some products won’t be available, second , they may be very expensive and third, you don’t want to spend time running a round looking for something to ease your discomfort. If you travel to a tropical climate and you start to experience eczema symptoms like flaking and cracked skin, these minor openings are perfect places for more serious infections to gain a foothold, if you have the right medication this will not present itself as a problem. Better to have a little extra baggage than find yourself without your wonder creme.

3) Try to drink enough water or fluids, this will keep your system less stressed and better able to cope. I try to drink only bottled water that comes as close as possible to the type I drink at home. Meaning, I drink spring water with a specific mineral/chemical make up, so much sulfur, dissolved salts, etc., so when I travel I don’t drink mineral waters which may have higher mineral concentrations or added ingredients. If you drink German beer at home, then drink german beer abroad.

4) Pack and use an anti allergy travel sheet like an Allersac. Bleaches, detergents, soaps, perfumes are just a few of the triggers a travel sheet will help you to avoid when you spend 30% or more, of your time in a strange bed. An anti-allergy travel sheet, one that can be washed repeatedly, will be your best bet. Make sure, which ever travel sheet you use, it has a pillow pocket to protect against direct contact with the hotel pillow. One of the major causes of allergic eczema is dust mite dander. A travel sheet with a small pore size or one that claims protection from dust mites would be wise.

5) Environmental factors like cold, humidity, sunlight and heat can cause flare-ups especially when it’s the change that is the cause. If you travel to a warm climate from mid winter conditions at home, be prepared. Pack clothing that will mitigate reactions, sunblock, hat, gloves etc. The weather might cause your sinus problem to flare, which in turn stresses your body and causes your eczema to activate, or the humidity allows high mold or pollen counts where you travel. There are websites like http://www.aaaai.org/ which publish pollen and mold counts, and many sites for weather forecasts.

Having eczema and learning how it activates and affects you takes years, some people get a handle on it, others don’t, but even if you don’t know what the causes are, some simple precautions, a little research and remaining calm can help you to get the most out of traveling, even with eczema.