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Chalky, or lime-rich, soils are strongly alkaline. Chalky soils are often shallow soils with low water and nutrient retention. Chalky soils are familiar in dry, drought-prone regions and are not ideal for growing crops.
Clay soils have the smallest particles among the soil types, and are thick when wet and hard and compact when dry. Clay soils are very heavy and difficult to work with, however they have great water and nutrient retention. Little air or light passes through clay soils, so clay soils take more time to warm up. Roots can become stunted in clay soils, so adding organic matter is recommended.
The most ideal soil type, loamy soil has a good balance of all soil textures - sand, clay, and silt. Loam soils are dark and mealy, and can have higher pH and calcium levels. Loam soils have great water and nutrient retention, and also drain well.
Peat soil comes from specific wetland areas called peatlands (also called moors and bogs). Peat soils are formed when plant matter cannot decay faster than new biomass is being produced, causing the soil to have very high organic matter content. Peat soils are often applied to other soil types as a fertilizer/compost because they have high water and nutrient retention (however other more environmental options exist and should be considered).
Usually found in dryer regions, saline soils have high salt content which can cause significant damage to plants. Saline soils will stunt and kill plant growth, and are difficult to germinate in. Saline soils are identified easily, as they usually leave a white coating on the top layer of soil and often cause plants to "burn" (causing plants to turn yellow/orange).
Sandy soils have the largest particles among the soil types, and are dry and crumbly to the touch. Sandy soils have low water retention and lack the ability to hold onto nutrients. Sandy soils are warmer than most soil types. Sandy soils are not ideal for growing crops.
Aphids are a very common plant pest. Aphids are very small pear-shaped insects that come in a variety of colors. They feed in clusters and on new, soft plant growth high in nitrogen. Aphids also secrete a sticky residue/fluid that is sweet, and therefore attracts other insects. Aphid infestations can cause leaves to curl, turn yellow, or be misshapen, ultimately stunting plant growth and production. To control: avoid adding too much nitrogen (fertilizer, compost) to your soil; apply diatomaceous earth, flour, natural soap or alcohol mixtures, horticultural oils, or botanical insecticides. Catnip, garlic, and mint are great companion plants for aphid control.
Blights are a very common plant disease that leads to the yellow/browning, spotting, and/or dying of certain areas of the plant (leaves, fruit, and stems). There are a variety of blights, including late blight of potato which caused the Irish Potato Famine, and fire blight which has had a severe impact on pear and apple trees. Blight is most likely to occur under cooler, moist conditions and can be spread by wind. To control: plant in well-drained soil; prune to remove infected branches and stems; increase air movement (do not overcrowd plants); keep foliage dry; avoid over-head watering; and avoid harvesting when foliage is wet.
Caterpillars are the larvae form of butterflies and moths. They are very common across a variety of habitats and climates and come in an assortment of colors and shapes. While some varieties can be very harmful to plants, others are important pollinators of many plant species (as both caterpillars and moths and butterflies). Caterpillars leave small, round holes on plants as they feed, causing the most damage to leafy plants like kale and lettuce. Examples include cabbageworm, diamondback moth, bollworm, and corn earworm. To control: apply insecticidal soaps or oils (neem oil); inspect and individually pick off caterpillars; cover crops with ag-fabrics (especially leafy greens); and encourage positive predators, like spiders and birds.
Beetles are a very common insect, with varieties found in nearly every habitat. Some beetles are very beneficial, feeding on smaller crop insects like aphids and ants. Other beetles can do serious damage to plants and leave farmers with very little environmental control options. Examples of the latter include the potato beetle, cucumber beetle, flea beetle, and the blister beetle. To control: apply insecticidal soaps; plant perimeter trap crops; transplant (versus direct seed); apply mulches to cover soil and increase soil microbial life; and intercrop with specific plants.
Mildew is very common plant disease, the most common of which is a powdery mildew which leaves a white, dusty coating on plant leaves. Humidity/moisture and warm temperatures can exacerbate mildew, however some forms of mildew can infect plants without the presence of moisture. To control: so carefully prune to remove infected branches and stems and to encourage air flow as mildew can be spread by wind; increase spacing your plants farther apart; bicarbonate sprays have also proven to be helpful.
Root rot, fruit rot, and blossom end rot are the most common forms of rot. Rots can be hard and dry, or wet and rotten, some can form fungal growths. Can be caused by overwatering, lack of oxygen in your soil, nutrient deficiencies (or excesses!), over-head watering, and/or wet foliage. To control: spray compost teas; prune to improve air flow; prevent overcrowding when planting; and keep soil well drained. For trees, using sulfur sprays and pruning to encourage air flow are most effective.
Rusts are fungal diseases that leave rust-colored spots on leaves of plants, usually found on the lower leaves. Rusts can be carried to other plants by wind and water, and as such are very common. Rusts stunt growth and production, but rarely kill plants. To control: prune infected leaves; improve air flow; prevent overcrowding when planting; and avoid over-head watering. Neem oil, copper mixtures, and sulfur powders are other popular choices for control.
The scale bug is a small, round bug that feeds on sap from plants. The scale bug lives on the underside of leaves in warm, dry climates. The scale bug secretes a sticky residue/fluid that is sweet, and therefore attracts other insects. Young scale bugs slowly crawl around, identifying an ideal spot on the plant. As adults, scale bugs attach to the plant and lose their legs. They can survive winters on the plant, reproducing in warmer seasons. To control: prune infested parts of the plant rub scales off infected areas; apply natural soap or alcohol mixtures, horticultural oils, or botanical insecticides. Catnip, garlic, and mint are great companion plants for aphid control.
Wilts are usually caused by fungal diseases that prevent water from reaching parts of the plant, or simply by heat and lack of water. It can cause stunting, discoloration, and death of the plant. To control: water appropriately during hot seasons and keep a water schedule to keep soil moisture consistent.
Typified by large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot summers and cold, possibly severely cold, winters. Precipitation is usually well distributed throughout the year. This climate is not commonly found in the Southern hemisphere, due to few large land masses in the 40 to 50 latitudes. Snowfall occurs in all areas with Hot Summer Continental climate, and snow may be more common than rain in the height of winter in some areas. The warmest month features an average temperature of at least 22°C (72°F), and daily high temperatures in the summer are typically above 30°C (86°F). The coldest month can be far below -3°C (27°F). Forests thrive in this climate, and biomes within this climate include temperate woodlands, temperate grasslands, temperate deciduous, temperate evergreen, and coniferous forests. For more information, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humid_continental_climate.
The Warm Summer Continental climate is mostly similar to the Hot Summer Continental climate, except that the average temperature in the warmest month is below 22°C (72°F). Summer high temperatures are typically between 21-28°C (70-82°F) during the daytime and average temperatures in the coldest month are usually far below -3°C (27°F). The Warm Summer Continental climate covers a much larger area than the Hot Summer. For more information, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humid_continental_climate.
Arid and Semi-arid climates are both characterized by actual precipitation that is less than the amount of water that could be evaporated from the soil and transpired by the vegetation. In other words, it loses more water through evaporation and transpiration than actually falls as precipitation. A Desert or Arid climate is one in which the annual precipitation is less than 50% of this potential water amount. This climate typically experiences between 25-200 millimeters of precipitation per year, and may experience no precipitation at all in some years. The extreme lack of precipitation means that desert climates support very little vegetation and potentially none at all. Desert climates are usually categorized as hot desert climates, in which the coldest month still has an average temperature above 0°C (32°F), and cold desert climates, in which at least one month averages below 0°C (32°F). For more information, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_climate.
Arid and Semi-arid climates are characterized by actual precipitation that is less than the amount of water that could be evaporated from the soil and transpired by the vegetation. In other words, it loses more water through evaporation and transpiration than actually falls as precipitation. Steppe or Semi-arid climates have annual precipitation levels between 50-100% of this potential water amount. Steppe climates are considered intermediate between desert and humid climates, and tend to support short or scrubby vegetation and can be dominated by either grasses or shrubs. Hot Steppe climates tend be found around the fringes of subtropical deserts and tend to have hot summers and mild to warm winters. Cold Steppe climates, in contrast, tend to be in continental interiors away from large bodies of water, with hot summers and cold winters. These areas may even see some snowfall in the winter. For more information, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semi-arid_climate.
The Mediterranean climate is characterized by warm dry summers and mild, wet winters. During summer, regions of Mediterranean climate are dominated by subtropical high pressure cells, with dry sinking air capping a surface marine layer of varying humidity and making rainfall impossible or unlikely except for the occasional thunderstorm, while during winter the polar jet stream and associated periodic storms reach into the lower latitudes of the Mediterranean zones, bringing rain, with snow at higher elevations. As a result, areas with this climate receive almost all of their precipitation during their winter, autumn and spring seasons, and may go anywhere from 4 to 6 months during the summer without having any significant precipitation. For more information see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediterranean_climate.
Also called Maritime Temperate climates, Oceanic climates usually occur in the higher middle latitudes on the western sides of continents. This climate is dominated year-round by the polar front, causing changeable, often overcast weather. Summers are cool due to ocean currents, but winters are also milder than other climates in similar latitudes. Winters are usually cloudy. This climate is also found in high elevations of subtropical and tropical climates. For more information, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oceanic_climate.
The Humid Sub-Tropical climate is characterized by hot, humid summers and mild winters. Climates are classified as humid subtropical when they have average temperatures of 10°C (50°F) for 8 or more months of the year. Temperatures are generally relatively moderate, rather than experiencing periods of extreme heat or cold, and the changes between summer and winter are also moderate. Rainfall often shows a summer peak, such as areas that experience monsoon seasons. Winter rainfall is often associated with large storms, though many subtropical climates have very dry winters characterized by brush fires and water shortages. For more information see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humid_subtropical_climate.
Mainly found in highland areas inside tropical climes, such as in Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. There are distinct but dry winters, and the summers can be very rainy. The summer rainy season is provoked by the tropical air masses from the nearby climate, and the dry winters are caused by subtropical high pressure. This climate may have characteristics attributed to oceanic, humid sub-tropical and/or tundra climates. For more information, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koppen_climate_classification.
Sometimes referred to as Tropical Wet climate, Tropical Monsoon is a relatively rare climate with monthly average temperatures above 18°C (64°F) every month. It has a pronounced dry season, but the driest month will still have more than 60 millimeters of rain. The driest month nearly always occurs after the winter solstice for whichever side of the equator the region falls. The major controlling factor in this climate region is the monsoon circulation. The monsoon is a seasonal change in wind direction due to the difference in the way water and land heat. For more information, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_monsoon_climate.
Tropical Rainforest climates are usually, though not always, along the equator, and therefore may also be referred to as the Equatorial climate. This type of climate has no dry season, and all months of the year have an average precipitation value of at least 60 millimeters. Tropical Rainforest climates have no natural seasons, but are typically hot and wet throughout the year with frequent and heavy rainfall. While each day may be very similar to the next in this climate, it is possible for dramatic changes in temperature. The change in temperature in a single day between day and night, for example, could be larger than the average change in temperature over the entire year. For more information, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_rainforest_climate.
Also called Tropical Wet and Dry climate, Tropical Savanna climates have monthly average temperatures above 18°C (64°F) every month of the year with a very pronounced dry season. There are four types of Tropical Savanna climates: one which has distinct wet and dry seasons of relatively equal duration and most rainfall occurring in the wet season; one which has a long dry season and short wet season; one which has a lengthy wet season and short dry season; and one which has distinct wet and dry seasons of relatively equal length but significant rainfall occurs in the dry as well as the wet season, though not enough to classify it as a Tropical Monsoon climate. For more information, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_savanna_climate.
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