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  • Author or Editor: J.A. Biernbaum x
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Eight species of edible flowers were grown in 12.5-cm (1.5-L) square containers during the months of November through May, in a root medium suitable for organic certification or a standard peat and perlite mixture with preplant fertilizer. Plants were fertilized with 200 mL of either a water-soluble fertilizer (19–1.8–19) at 300 ppm N, fish emulsion (5–0.4–0.8), or a certified organic, commercially available soluble fertilizer (6–2.6–5), each at 300 or 600 ppm N applied every 2 weeks. Shoot fresh and dry weights were measured and percent dry weight was calculated. The fresh weights for all species were highest for plants fertilized with the organic fertilizers. For all but one species the organic fertilizer treatments had the same or higher dry weights than the inorganic control. The percent dry weights for all species were the same or higher for the inorganic control treatment. The effect of the organic fertilizer rate on the dry weight was species-dependent. The highest flower production generally occurred with 300 ppm N. Flower size was measured for Viola tricolor and Viola ×. wittrockiana species. For both species flower size was smallest for plants fertilized with the 600 ppm certified organic fertilizer. Root media pH and EC were tested at 6-week intervals throughout the experiment. In general, the pH increased from the first to the second sampling date, but only increased or decreased slightly for later dates, and there was little effect of fertilizer type. Root media EC decreased initially with minimal change later.

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High-tunnel soil, water, and fertility management can be achieved using a wide range of approaches from polyethylene film-mulched, drip-fertigated beds to certified organic management based on maintaining high soil organic matter (SOM) content. Soil management techniques are discussed in relation to the high tunnel structure used and the length of the growing season, site preparation, soil health, SOM, irrigation water quality, and fertility, with a focus on certified organic management.

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Two surveys were conducted to determine the importance of characteristics of containers of edible flower which could be sold to consumers in retail outlets. Self-selected participants at Bloomfest at Cobo Hall in Detroit, Mich., were assigned to one group that rated the importance of attributes such as edible flower color of Viola × wittrockiana `Accord Banner Clear Mixture', color combinations, container size, and price of the container. Participants assigned to a second group rated color, color combinations, and size. Flower color was allocated the most points in the purchasing decision (63% for the first group and 95% for the second group), with a mixture of all three colors (blue, yellow, and orange), proving to be the most desirable. Responses were subjected to Conjoint Analysis (SPSS Inc., Chicago), which resulted in the formation of three groups of customer segmentation. The groups were labeled “Likely Buyer” who had eaten and purchased edible flowers before and rated characteristics of edible flowers favorably; “Unlikely Consumer” who had eaten edible flowers before and had rated characteristics of edible flowers unfavorably; and “Persuadable Garnishers” who had not eaten edible flowers before, but were very likely to purchase edible flowers for a garnish for a meal.

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The rhizon soil solution sampler (RSSS) currently is being used for in situ extraction of the soil solution for nutrient analysis of mineral soils used to produce field-grown crops. In this study, laboratory and greenhouse experiments were conducted to test the effectiveness of the RSSS for in situ solution extraction from soilless container root media and to compare an RSSS extraction method for measuring root-medium pH, electrical conductivity (EC), and NO3-N and K concentrations with that measured with the saturated media extract (SME) method. A near 1:1 correlation was found between the pH, EC, and NO3-N and K concentrations measured in the extracted solution of the RSSS and SME method in media without plants and in media from ten species grown using three water-soluble fertilizer concentrations applied by subirrigation. More testing is needed with the RSSS, perhaps using composite samples form several pots for analysis. The RSSS shows promise for nutrient extraction in container-grown crops because it is fast, nondestructive, simple, economical, and has minimal effect on the nutritional status of the medium in the pot.

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