Organic Farming Blog

Harvesting Rainwater At Home

By: organicfarmingblog, 6:44 AM GMT on May 30, 2014

rainwaterpix1 300x175 Harvesting Rainwater At Home

Photo by: http://www.propertymanagementinsider.com/wp-conten t/uploads/2013/08/rainwater-barrel-article.jpg


Rainwater harvesting has a long history that can be traced back in ancient times. In 850 BC, King Mesha of Moab ordered that every family in the city of Qerkhah constructs a cistern of their own. It was during the Roman Empire that rainwater collection flourished. Atriums were designed and built to supply cisterns with water collected from rain.

Water is a basic human need which is essential for maintaining life. Human history has taught us the value of rainwater collection and we need to learn to improve and use them well. It is the most viable way of conserving our water supply as well as saving on our water bills. By recycling rainwater for garden watering, washing clothes and flushing the toilets reduces the demand on our reservoirs considerably. Do you know that during summer, garden consumes about 50% of peak demand?

Constructing your own rainwater harvesting system is not at all that difficult. There are just some basic factors that you need to consider. You need to identify the area where rainwater is to be collected and that would be the roof. If you have a greenhouse, that would also be a good extra source of water. You would then figure out how much water you need and how much your roof can collect. On an average moderate rainfall lasting for about an hour, a 25 by 40 foot roof should give you about 600 gallons of rainwater.

The next thing is to make out how rainwater would be directed your storage bin. You may need to add, change or re-direct your downspout depending on where you plan to set up the storage bins. The gutters must have a wire mesh to keep leaves and other foreign objects from clogging the downspout.

Finally, the storage bin to use. They need to be a sturdy and installed properly under the downspout. If you plan to install used plastic drums, be sure to clean them first to remove any residues that may be harmful for your personal use and toxic to your garden. To have a good water pressure, raise the bins higher. This will help you reach the farthest part of your garden with ease. During heavy rains, the bins would surely overflow and this is why your bin should be placed on top of cinder blocks resting on several layers of gravel to direct the water away from the bin. This will keep the foundation from eroding. For safety reasons, keep your storage bin properly covered to prevent insects, especially mosquitos from getting in.

When everything is set, all you need to do is wait for the rain. Good Luck!

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Having Your Own GREENHOUSE GARDEN

By: organicfarmingblog, 6:42 AM GMT on May 23, 2014

Greenhousepix2 300x225 Having Your Own GREENHOUSE GARDEN

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Most of the time, we find it much easier to get in the car and drive to the supermarket to buy fruits and vegetables. Oh, how we love the convenience of getting them in packages… clean and ready to cook! We fail to realize that this seemingly simple driving has a negative impact on our environment. Looking at it on a much bigger picture, imagine the fuel that is burned up and the pollutions it gives out to the atmosphere to deliver those preservative laden fruits and veggies to supermarkets nationwide. It has never been easier to buy them in supermarkets, but the question is… are they really fresh?

One alternative is having your own greenhouse garden which is not only an ecological choice but as well as being socially responsible. Spending even just a little time inside it has a very great personal impact on us. Coming home from work and spending an hour or so can be so relaxing and therapeutic. It is a sort of tranquilizer without any side effect, but a healthier lifestyle. A great everyday exercise too.

In a greenhouse, you get to do some things you cannot on a regular garden patch. It gives you the capacity to control the growing environment for your plants and select the varieties of crops you want. It prevents pests from damaging your crops by keeping them out. Your plants are also protected from heavy rain and strong wind. You also get to grow your plants organically and start having a chemical free and fresh food on your table. It could also be another source of income as you can sell your produce knowing that they are healthier and safer.

Greenhouse is really like a car left under the sunlight where the heat is trapped inside. In a greenhouse, your plants enjoy the light and warmth it provides, and since it is enclosed, the heat stays inside overnight keeping the plants warm especially during cold weather. To keep the heat from building up, greenhouses are provided with windows or vent fan, which also helps in regulating the humidity and temperature inside simply by turning the fan on or off. As for watering, you may hand water your plants or if your budget permits, install a drip hose for irrigation. What can be more fun than having everything within your reach. Once it is up and running, maintaining a greenhouse is no more strenuous than the traditional gardening method.

Take a different kind of bonding and learning experience with your family. Build your simple greenhouse now.

Have fun gardening!

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Raising Worms For Your Garden

By: organicfarmingblog, 8:30 AM GMT on May 26, 2014

wormpix3 300x155 Raising Worms For Your Garden

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Why do you need to breed worms?  Because they are good for gardening. They offer a lot of benefits to make your garden organically productive.

Earthworm, the most effective natural means for soil improvement, can be your best help in your garden. They go through the top layer of soil and slowly burrows deeply while loosening and aerating the subsoil and thereby helping the plants’ root to develop well. The crops in your garden get to grow much better than just with regular watering and fertilizing.

Growing big and fat worms in a controlled environment are really not difficult at all. One important thing to remember though, is that you are basically taking care of a living creature and they have needs that must be met.

Worm love to stay in the dark, in fact, direct exposure to sunlight can kill them. Your container bin must be fully covered but well ventilated. If you’re using plastic bins, they should be the opaque type.

Worms are aerobic creatures, they need oxygen to survive. Containers made of wood is the most ideal material since it can “breathe”, and when using plastic containers, drilling some holes on top and around the side would do the trick. But, whatever container you use, it’s a good idea to also drill a few tiny holes at the bottom to prevent water from pooling. Adding bulky materials like leaves or shredded paper will encourage oxygenation.

Worms eat a lot and the best food source for them are organic waste materials that are rich in microorganisms which provides the nutrition they need. Keep them well fed and they will stay in the bin. Make sure that the materials inside your container stays moist as worm breathe through their skin. But remember that too much moisture can also be a bad thing which usually happen to those using plastic containers.  Make the worm comfortable by providing them with warmth. For most worm, the ideal temperature is below 30C, past this point will affect their growth and survival.

For garden beds, the best type of worm to breed are “the European Nightcrawler”. They are versatile and do well in garden dirt and in the compost pile. They are hardy and can survive to a temperature close to 80F. This worm is easy to grow and to attain their potential size, raise them in manure and feed them with grain.

Raising earthworm in containers or bins ensures that they are raised in a controlled environment because extreme heat and cold climate can be unsafe to earthworm. You can always move your container to a cooler location when needed. When they are ready, just place them on your garden beds and let them do their magic!

Earthworm will make your garden happy… and if you love fishing, just grab some from your worm bin and off you go with your bait!

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Growing Portobello Mushrooms Indoor

By: organicfarmingblog, 6:41 AM GMT on May 28, 2014

portobellopix1 300x230 Growing Portobello Mushrooms Indoor

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Mushrooms in general are an ideal indoor crop for any time of year and portobella is one of the easiest to grow indoor (and in the garden). This type of mushroom is what we usually see in restaurants. Portobello (Agaricus bisporus) is actually crimini mushrooms that have grown 4 to 6 inches when harvested.

Here is a simple technique to try if you are a newbie to growing mushrooms indoor.

You can buy a handy kit that is ready to use. You simply open the box, mist it a little and put in a cool, dark place. With regular misting for about a week you will see the mushroom start to sprout. Simple and fun, but for a gardener, there is no challenge to that.

Make it a bit exciting by working your way up. Start with the mushroom spawn… that’s how mushroom get started! You can buy Portobello spawns from any garden shop. The next thing to do is build a tray or medium to grow the mushroom. Growing them indoor gives you an advantage as you can control their growing environment.

You will need a tray that’s about 8 inches deep to contain the organic matter (compost), the mulch (peat) and the spawn. The best organic matter to use are herbivore manure, like chicken or cow manure. This is where the spawn will be getting the nutrient they need to grow. Fill the tray with compost around two inches thick. Sprinkle two cups of the spawns onto the compost. Press down the spawns a little to secure them on the compost and then place the tray in a dark room with a temperature of about 65F to 70F. Be sure to keep the tray moist for the whole growing duration until you see white webbings on the compost.

The next thing to do is cover the tray with damp mulch about 2 inches thick and finally a layer of newspaper on top of the mulch. The newspaper must then be misted for about a week or two, maintaining the temperature to 55F. When you see white pin heads forming, you may remove the layer of newspaper and continue misting daily until the mushroom has grown full-size or when they are 4 to 6 inches in diameter. Remember to keep the tray evenly moist all the time. If they dry out, the mushroom spawn dies and you don’t want that to happen… right?

Mushrooms are very perishable, so it’s best that you refrigerate them unwashed right after harvest. They can stay fresh for up to 10 days.

Portobello mushroom adds flavor to soups, salads and stir fries. They can be grilled, stewed, braised, deep fried and sautéed.

Why not try something a little bit exotic and healthy… Have a mushroom burger today!

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“From Two Sticks” To A Million Trees – Fighting Malnutrition Organically!

By: organicfarmingblog, 1:18 PM GMT on May 22, 2014




“From Two Sticks” is a concept of one community development worker and organic farmer to fight malnutrition in Indonesia. His mission… spread the Chaya plant in all of Indonesia and eventually to other third world countries.

Indonesia, the 4th largest country in the world. With a population of over 240 million, around 32 percent are under 18 years of age.  Child malnutrition affects around 36 percent of  children under the age of 5 in Indonesia and because of the lack of necessary micronutrients that they need in their diet, these children suffers one of the many consequences of malnutrition – Stunting.

Child stunting… is a reduced growth rate in child’s development caused by malnutrition in their early childhood and even during their fetal development brought on by their malnourish mother. Children affected by stunting will never be able to regain their lost height and corresponding body weight. This may also lead to their premature death later in life due to undeveloped vital organs. Stunting and its effect cannot be reversed.
One solution that will provide pregnant mothers and children the nourishment they need at no cost at all is to plant CHAYA around their houses.

What is Chaya?  It is a bush that produces leafy vegetable similar to spinach, but the nutrients it contains is three times than other green vegetables.  It is packed with iron, calcium and potassium.  Chaya leaf is also high in protein and crude fiber, including a good amount of other essential minerals needed by the body.

This super leaf has a lot of health benefits to offer.  It can enhance calcium in the bones, improves blood circulation and lower the bad cholesterol.  Because of its very high vitamin C content, it can boost the immune system, prevent common cold, treats scurvy, infections, and kidney disorders.  Chaya can also maintain glucose metabolism to prevent diabetes and improves brain function.

It is important to note that raw Chaya leaves contain hydrogen cyanide, a very toxic chemical. Therefore, it needs to be cooked for at least 20 minutes to get rid of them. Another way is to dry the leaves.

When cooking Chaya, never use aluminum cookware as it causes toxic reaction, avoid smelling the steam too.

Chaya leaves and shoots are available year round, making it ideal to include in the daily diet. It is very easy to plant and can thrive on a varied range of environment. It’s almost maintenance free.

Indeed, Chaya is a practical solution in the fight against malnutrition,… organically and economically!

Andy Bell, the man behind the initial spreading of chaya and Jon Iannacone, Director of the new documentary film “From Two Sticks” have joined forces for this noble cause. A very daunting task, but nevertheless achievable.

To tell their story to the world, they need funding support to complete the film.

Know more by visiting:  http://tinyurl.com/from2sticks; www.fromtwosticks.com

 

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Starting Your Own Herb Garden

By: organicfarmingblog, 6:03 AM GMT on May 21, 2014

Herb Gardenpix2 300x200 Starting Your Own Herb Garden

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Herbs are the most fascinating plant group. Since ancient times, these amazing plants have been used in so many ways… from giving flavor to foods to healing of all sorts of ailments. Why not grow some of them in your garden and get the many benefits it can offer.

Growing herbs is really very easy and require very little care. All you need is a good soil, some compost, a little water and sunshine! The first thing to do is to find the ideal site. Herbs love sunshine, so pick a place where they will get the morning sun and the afternoon shade or at least a full four hours. Next is to prepare the soil. Although herbs are able to thrive in most soil types, but doing some preparation will make the soil easy to use and make the plants more productive. Check the soil for texture and richness to know the improvements needed, and if you need to, use compost instead of chemical fertilizers. Remember that organic is best.

If you intend to use the herb to add flavor and fragrance to your cooking, give them sunlight and a lean soil.

Now, what herb do you wish to plant? You want a plant that will suit your need. Do you want them in your kitchen counter or in a small herb patch in your backyard? Herbs are a varied lot and there are no hard rules in growing them. There are the annual herbs which have a short life span (1-4 months) and are best grown during spring, summer and fall. To keep them available, you need to do re-planting. Examples of annuals are anise, fennel, basil, and arugula. The perennial on the other hand stays green throughout the year and are low in maintenance. They like to bask in full sunlight and regular watering. To encourage new growth, they have to be pruned regularly. Bay, lavender, lemon grass, oregano, peppermint, sage, and rosemary are some of the many perennials around. You may also choose herb types that thrive in two growing seasons. They are known as biennial and there are only two of them, parsley and caraway.

Once everything is set, you need to harvest regularly to keep them full especially if you’re using them, otherwise they will grow tall and seed quickly. You don’t want them looking gangly, right?

So, whether you love to cook or simply like to eat, what could taste better than having something that you planted yourself? Start with your favorite herb, parsley perhaps?

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GROWING POTATOES IN BAGS

By: organicfarmingblog, 7:38 AM GMT on May 16, 2014

Growingpotatopix3 300x200 GROWING POTATOES IN BAGS

Photo by: http://www.gardenista.com/files/img/sub/700_potato -grow-bag.jpg


 

How do you like to plant potato above ground? It’s an easy and perfect way to grow potatoes, especially in a limited space.

Growing potato in a plastic bag can be a fun experience for children and may even get their interest into gardening.  Another good reason to grow potatoes in containers is to avoid a fungus known as “blight”. This fungus causes the leaves and stem to quickly blacken and rot causing the plant to die. Blight usually infects potatoes in their garden bed.

Potatoes are best planted in March for harvesting in summer and autumn. A second cropping can be done in August until September to harvest in time for Christmas.

Lets’ get started… The first thing to do is to prepare the seed potato by placing them in a warm place in order to grow shoots on the tuber. This will result in faster growth and heavier crops. Do this a week before planting them. You will know that they are ready when the sprouts are about half inch long and cut them in chunks making sure that there are two sprouts each. Have them sit for three days in a room temperature.

Cut several holes at the bottom of the bags to serve as drainage holes. A 30 gallon black bag would be ideal.  Fill it up with a good quality compost or potting soil about 1/3 of the way and place the bag in a nice sunny spot in the garden. It would be a great idea to dust the seed potatoes with agricultural sulfur before planting them. Place the seed potato on top of the compost or soil. Be sure that they are at least 2 inches deep with eyes pointed up and water them well.

Add more soil when they are about 8 inches high with few leaves above the dirt. Water them well, but not too much.

You will know that they are ready for harvesting when their leaves turns yellow. No more watering at this stage to let their skin dry. This will take about three weeks.  You may also want to do a gentle digging just below the surface to check on the potato size. If you find them too small, leave them be for another week, otherwise, it’s harvest time!  Set them out to dry and cure their skin. You may store them in a sack in a dark place. Never use polythene bags, potatoes will rot quickly.

Planning for the next BBQ party? What could be a better match than a freshly dug potato!

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RAIN GARDEN: Preventing Flash Flood

By: organicfarmingblog, 8:29 AM GMT on May 09, 2014

raingardenpix3 300x199 RAIN GARDEN: Preventing Flash Flood

Photo by: http://www.monticello.org/sites/default/files/uplo aded-content-images/Lily.2.jpg


The ground does not absorb water overflow from house and building roofs including pavements and roads resulting to stress on the stormwater system, flash flooding and erosion. It also causes a long term loss of stream flow and lowering of groundwater tables. Garden and lawn are not getting the benefits of rain water.

One solution is by creating a rain garden. This garden system imitates water retention the natural way. The idea was conceived in the 1990s by a land developer who was working on a housing subdivision at Prince George’s county, Maryland. The process is to dig a surface depression in order to capture and soak up stormwater overflow from the roof, walkways, driveway. It is then planted with suitable shrubs, flowers, trees and other wetland vegetation which will absorb and saturate water into the ground. This will also protect water quality and add beauty to the community.

Rain Garden also offers other benefits like filtering of pollutants, reducing the need for irrigation, providing homes for wildlife. The plants will attract an assortment of butterflies and birds. It also gives an alternative to traditional gardening and it is very easy to maintain once properly set up.

When creating a rain garden, one should take time to assess the area as it is important to pick the right location. The garden must not be near a water supply or the septic system. It should not be very close to your house so that the water will not leach into the foundation. The garden should be built directly under the sun and not in covered areas or under a large tree. Remember that evaporation also plays an important role in this system. Pooling of water in the rain garden should only last for several hours right after the rainfall so as not to attract mosquitos and turn it into a breeding ground.

Equally important is selecting the right kind of plant. It should be able to tolerate both short period dry and soaking soil. To make the rain garden effective, use plants with large roots. The plant should also be non-invasive. It is best to use plants that already have a developed root system to keep the soil from eroding. The native species are the best choice which is very adaptable to such conditions. For the first year, regular watering may be needed during the dry period as the plants start to develop and establish itself.

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TRENCH COMPOSTING – Best For Your Kitchen Scraps

By: organicfarmingblog, 6:47 AM GMT on May 14, 2014

TrenchCompostingpix1 300x225 TRENCH COMPOSTING – Best For Your Kitchen Scraps

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Do you want an easy way to compost your kitchen and garden wastes? Try trench composting!

It’s really very simple and could be done in any part of your garden. It’s basically dumping your organic wastes in a pit and covering it with soil. Once it is done, you actually don’t need to do anything like turning or checking. In a month’s time you have yourself a rich soil. If done properly, it’s absolutely odor free and completely undetectable. This also addresses the usual issue of figuring out where to put a compost pile as many municipalities and land developers have strict rules about composting at home.

Trench or pit composting is the breaking down of organic wastes through a process called anaerobic decomposition. It does not require any turning as it works without the need for oxygen, but takes a longer time to finish the process. Unlike the aerobic process, there’s no need to monitor the levels of moisture and temperature. You don’t need any other equipment other than a shovel. Large load of organic wastes can be disposed one-time. Talk about ease and comfort!

The best thing about trench composting is that the plants are much better off in coping up with adverse conditions.  Since the plant roots will be getting the nutrition they need from the buried organic waste as they go deeper into the soil, the plants become healthier and develop stronger root system to go even deeper.  It also improves the fertility and quality of the soil of future garden beds. Do your composting a month or two before planting to give time for the organic wastes to break down well.

There are several things that you have to consider when starting one. You need to know the type of compost layout to use and decide what to use between a hole or a simple trench. Next is the location to put it – which should be convenient for you, making sure that it’s not near power lines. Avoid low spots with poor drainage or very wet soil. Remember that digging your compost is going to be difficult and stinky because of the gases emitted by anaerobic critters working on the compost. One practical location is between growing beds to make the nutrients readily available to the plants’ root and thus avoiding the need to dig. You may also want to consider what goes into your compost. Never use feces of animals. Avoid bones, grease, fats and meat to prevent animals from digging up your compost, but if you need to, cover your pit with heavy boards.

Skip the bin. Try pit composting for your kitchen scraps and make your garden happy!

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KITCHEN GARDEN: Why You Need To Have One

By: organicfarmingblog, 6:57 AM GMT on May 12, 2014

Kitchengarden2 300x229 KITCHEN GARDEN: Why You Need To Have One

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Kitchen garden is believed to have evolved different ancient garden styles in Babylon, Egypt, and Persia. Monasteries in the Middle Ages designed an intricate garden of their own since they were secluded from the outside world. They need to grow their own food in order to survive. Louis XIV, near the end of the 17th century constructed a huge kitchen garden in Versailles, which provided the king’s household of seasonal crops anytime.

Kitchen garden is just like a vegetable garden with a little twist. Its design integrates flowers together with the vegetables, making the garden look more appealing the whole year round. You can have it built from the ground or have it in raised beds. You can start small and gradually expand. It does not have to be right outside your kitchen door, although the closer it is, the easier for you. What could be more fun than stepping out, picking the freshest, cooking it and serving it to your family? If you do not have the space to grow your garden, you may use pots or other containers which you can hang or simply arrange them in your kitchen counter.

What do you gain in having your own kitchen garden? A lot!… With prices skyrocketing these days, growing your own food can save money on your groceries. You can help the environment by reducing water and air pollution by growing your food organically. Get to enjoy fresh and a much better tasting food when you want it, when you need it. Do you know how much chemicals are used to preserve the condition of commercially grown crops from the time of transport until someone bought it in the supermarket?

Having your own garden gives you a sense of satisfaction. Being able to care for your plant, see them grow and finally harvesting them is one of the most meaningful and rewarding experience thing you can have. You actually improve your family’s health since you are providing them with the freshest, safest and the most nourishing fruits and vegetables straight from your garden. Think also of how much food you can prevent from turning to waste. You do not need to store so much food in the refrigerator to save on trips to the supermarket. Gardening also gives you a chance to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. It’s also a way to de-stress yourself.

Start getting your hands dirty and grow your own organic food today.

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ORGANIC PESTICIDES: Are They Really Safe?

By: organicfarmingblog, 7:51 AM GMT on May 05, 2014

DV aphids 940x626 300x199 ORGANIC PESTICIDES: Are They Really Safe?

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People work hard tending their garden and when pest starts crawling in, it is usually tempting to get any insecticides available at hand. Getting rid of insects can be the most demanding and infuriating side of gardening. There are a lot of chemical pesticides available which can do the job effectively, but the problem is the hazardous effect it has on people’s health and the environment.

Organic or natural pesticides are the easiest we can find or make from kitchen and bathroom products to get rid of certain insects. Borax for example, is very effective in eliminating nasty pests like cockroaches. Garlic oil when sprayed on ponds will kill mosquito larvae. It can also eliminate borers and other type of pests which damages garden plants. It is best to identify first what kind of pest is causing damage to your garden as some pests are actually helpful and you don’t want to kill them too in the process. Tobacco mixed with soap can damage certain plants.

A lot of people think that pesticides are the only defense against pests, the fact is, it is not entirely true.  A little research is all that is needed as there are a lot of practical options available out there like companion planting which is simply growing plants with natural insect repellent properties with your other crops or using biologicals which are bacteria that attack specific pest like grasshoppers, caterpillars and more. It is safe to beneficial insects, humans and animals.

The practices employed in organic farming tremendously boosted the use of non-chemical pesticides to control pests. Sadly, non-chemical technique do not always provide the needed protection and end up using chemical pesticides.

Right now, it is still not certain which of the two systems is causing more harm to the environment.  One reason is that little or no research has been done to study the effects of organic or natural pesticides, unlike the way chemical pesticides are perceived and also because of the assumption that organic or natural is always safe. With conventional pesticides you will always see a warning like “Use with extreme care”.

You may not agree with this, but if it’s a health issue, the best pesticide to use whether organic or synthetic is NONE.  Why? It’s because both systems kill things so, naturally they pose a risk.  It is totally misleading to think that because they are sold on the market means they are safe.

For organic gardeners, it is best to be informed with current research, as the practice involved is changing constantly.

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Organic Farming Blog. Filled with interesting facts, comparison articles and opinions on everything related to organic farming.

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