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.

Discounted Cash Flow Modelling to Achieve Personal Financial Goals

A discounted cash flow or DCF model is a style of calculation linking streams of future money flows to lump sum amounts. Discounted cash flow models have a range of business-related applications, and are used extensively by economists, accountants, actuaries, engineers, business valuators, finance professionals, and others.

For example, a company may wish to finance a project if (and only if) the Internal Rate of Return exceeds 10% per year. The anticipated development costs for the project may be large for the initial year. On the other hand, significant revenues are anticipated for Year 2 onward. The company directors rely on a DCF model to help determine whether or not the project's Internal Rate of Return exceed their 10% threshold.

Discounted cash flow models also have important applications in everyday life that are often overlooked. For example, consider auto dealers who advertise low finance rates to prospective clients. From a car buyer's perspective, low finance rates are understood to be good, since they mean lower monthly payments. By using a DCF model, a buyer can determine the monetary value on the low finance rate offer.

Everyday use of a Discounted Cash Flow model would include (but would not be restricted to) the following:

  • Mortgage Refinancing: For homeowners with a fixed-rate mortgage, refinancing often debts paying a penalty. A DCF model can be used to calculate whether the interest savings exceeded the penalty cost
  • First-Time Home Ownership: First time home ownership involves many new costs, and can be intimidating to many of us. A DCF model can help by comparing long term home ownership costs against rental costs
  • Lease or Own Vehicle: A DCF model can help car shoppers in their decision whether to buy or lease a vehicle

Examples of these and other everyday applications can be viewed at the author's website.

Through the above (and other) practical applications, Discounted Cash Flow models can assist all of us in achieving our personal financial goals.

5 Deadly Financial Mistakes You Should Avoid Now To Keep Out Of Debt Later!

Every year more families are going to the brink of financial ruin because they never properly considered their financial future. For some, it's just to stressful or emotionally uncomfortable to think about and important financial decisions get put off indefinitely. For many, they do not know and were never taught some basic financial planning tips to keep them out of debt in the future. Here are five financial mistakes you should avoid now to keep your financial future bright:

5 Financial Mistakes To Avoid:

1. Buying on credit: Today's interest rates are fairly low, but this does not mean you should buy excessively on credit! Carrying a large balance on credit cards month to month is a recipe for disaster. Finance charges alone can slowly eat you up. Buying a car on credit ties up even more of your future earnings for debt repayment.

Just a few decades ago buying so much on credit was unheard of. Children were taught early on what a huge mistake this was. We all need to relearn this lesson and eliminate buying on credit to keep ourselves out of debt

2. Making financial decision based on emotion: When you are going through great stress or emotional turmoil you are most vulnerable to making disastrous financial financial decisions. It is when you are feeling some king of pressure that you are most likely to make silly decisions that get you into trouble later. Do not make a big money decision when you are emotionally vulnerable.

3. Not adequately insuring against catastrophic risk: Every year families are financially devastated because they are not protected against disaster. Loss of home and assets to fire and flood are very common events that a surprising number of people do not protect against with insurance. You should also protect against disaster common to your area. Earthquakes and tornadoes for example. Just as important is some kind of life insurance to protect your loved ones in case of death.

4. Falling for the slick salesmen pitch: They say a sucker is born every minute. And you can be sure there is a slick salesmen waiting to take advantage of every one of them! You should never enter into any financial decision based on salesmen pressure tactics or one-time offers. Great deals that can not wait for you to think on it or obtain a second opinion are often financial disasters waiting to happen.

5. Not planning out your financial future: For many people it is so much easier to put off the tough financial planning right now and get to it someday in the future. Well we know how that story goes. Years into the future many families are neck deep in debt with no relief in sight. And it could of all been avoided with some sensible planning. Talk to a financial planner today so you can be debt free tomorrow!

There you have it. Five important financial mistakes to avoid so you can be both debt and worry free in your future. No matter where you are at right now financially, it's not to late to get started. Make an appointment with a financial planner today and get your financial future properly planned out. It's one of the most important things you can do for your family and for yourself.