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Old February 29, 2016   #61
Gerardo
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Originally Posted by PureHarvest View Post
Look at the release rate on bat guano:

Bat Guano – High N

Bat guano (feces) harvested from caves is powdered. It can be applied directly to the soil or made into a tea and applied as a foliar spray or injected into an irrigation system.

Bat Guano – High N

Typical NPK analysis 10-3-1
Release time 4+ months
Pros Stimulates soil microbes
Cons Cost
Application Till in 5 pounds per 100 square feet or as a tea at 3 teaspoons per gallon of water

Not saying its not good, but consider the time to release.
I hear you, long time before they're fully available. There is however, a discernible boost of whatever was soluble being used up. I figure with the right amount of mycofusion and mycogrow and roots and compost teas in there it'll hasten that release time. I ran out of guanos a while ago and haven't looked back, and don't plan to purchase them again. The risk of histo is real, not some theoretical possibility, so no more. I used them as teas mostly.

The organic inputs I settled on, as in best bang for the buck are Alfalfa Meal and Crab Meal. I really like those two. There's also a soil amendment I use "as-is" for my aerated teas that's vegetable compost, worm castings, minerals and kelp. All you do is add a sugar source and presto. Do it about once a week both drench and foliar and so far so good.

There is a happy medium, you just add your amendments with the breakdown times in mind, some are faster than others. What's great about containers is you can fix whatever is wrong relatively easy. Soil, that's another story entirely.
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Old February 29, 2016   #62
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Agreed Gerardo.
Container gardeners new to organics need to plan a little more than with Miracle Grow lol.
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Old February 29, 2016   #63
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One thing that makes no sense to me, is the worry that the necessary microbes are not available to do their job, in any soil anywhere that hasn't been poisoned. I have googled and read about Trichoderma harzanium natural habitat etc. and it is basically found everywhere, worldwide. It is found in every 'organic' garden compost (meaning no poisons added). Sure in a farmer's field which has been sprayed with this or that chemical, they might be deficient. However, whenever you add a good compost you are adding these beneficial microbes to the soil.

As regards the guanos, they sure are amazing and it's too bad I can't access some local stuff from the seabird island areas for example. Because the price of them here is... strictly in the realm of luxuries, to me. I know a lot of that price is shipping - in fact being so far off the beaten track up north here, it is always obvious that a big chunk of the "imports" price is for the fuel involved in carrying them. So exotic materials really don't make sense for me.

I haven't seen fish meal on the market here, surprisingly enough. Caplin is the traditional fertilizer here - applied fresh when you trench your potatoes, not a whisker of it remains by the time they are dug. These little fish break down really fast. The oilier the fish the longer it takes to break down in the soil. Things like mackerel and salmon, can be a long time in the ground and release nutrients over a span of years here rather than months. And partly that is due to the temperatures being cool here as well, your mileage surely varies depending on the environment where the fish meal is used too, I would think.

In my greenhouse in a normal summer, chopped up kelp in container soil is completely consumed before the season is over. In the garden it's not the case. I grew garlic in a kelp/lasagna bed one year, and the deepest layer of kelp was still intact when I dug that bed in the fall. Soil temperature is a big issue for us. Not so much for you lot.
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Old February 29, 2016   #64
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As far as quasi-organic being impossible, I think that is close minded.
Never did I say "impossible". If I were to put a single word to it, I would choose counterproductive.

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I want you to go tell that to the farmer that i met with that has been no-tilling for 22 years, doing intense cover-cropping, and has raised his organic matter from 4 to 11 percent, all the while using commercial fertilizer and occasional herbicide. As I'm sure you know, that is a small jump mathematically, but a HUGE jump as far as what that means agriculturally.
His yields are way up, inputs are way down, and his drainage and compaction problems are 100% gone. His worm population is unreal.
This is just one farmer in one state.
And every benefit he has seen has been the result of incorporating organic farming principles into his practices. Imagine how much better it could continue to be if he was to go all the way. His increase in organic matter contributes to a higher humate content, high microbial populations, increased CEC, higher nutrient retention, and therefore a need for less conventional input. It's cause and effect and only makes logical sense.

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To say that it is all or nothing smacks of zealotry towards an emotional attachment to an idealistic way of doing something. I understand your perspective, I am not a fan of chemicals.
I disagree. It is the result of education and preference, not emotion or ideology. After many years of hands on practice, many trials, many failures, and hundreds of soil samples. After many years, I now know how to make it work....so I do. If my personal goal is to produce a 100% fully organic product and I need to use a chemical to correct something in the plant, then my soil is not complete nor correct. It is a failure on my part to properly maintain the soil.

I'm not offended by someone who chooses to grow chemically fed plants. IN FACT - I love such people. It only makes it that much easier for me to sell my 100% organic produce when people taste the difference. I actually NEED chem farmers to help establish my full market potential. Some people get offended by such a statement, but that is my reality, and I'm perfectly okay with it.
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However, I want you to think about your daily life. Do you drive a car? Think about all the fluids in that car. Gas, brake fluid, motor oil, gear oil, trans fluid. What did it take to make the battery?
Your home. All the materials in it. Your appliances, what are they made from. Your bedding?
How much plastic is in all of the goods you buy?
The point is, in and of themselves those things are 'bad' for the planet and us. But, we do the best we can to limit our exposure. We do our best to acquire the raw ingredients in a way that is good for all. Can we do better? Yes.
But if I take the blanket approach and say all industry that is no good all the time because we are killing the air, soil, and water by supporting these processes, and that nobody is gonna correctly use them so lets do away with them, I am left living in a cave with no electricity. So then my burning of wood for heat and light will be a problem because I am cutting down trees and putting carbon into the air.
This is the part that always amuses me the most. Just because you are a 100% organic farmer people put you into some box and tell you what you think; treat you as if are some nut job trying to save the world. You are projecting and attributing an ideology that I never claimed or even addressed. It is nothing more than assumption on your part, which is perfectly okay. I encounter such on a regular basis and often find myself explaining the difference between a quack and someone who utilizes empirical data and science.

I grow organically because, in my opinion, it produces a superior tasting product that has a longer shelf life. Not because I'm delusional. It really is that plain and simple.

Do realize, it is not my desire to convert anyone to any practice. I came to this site as a means of documenting my garden for reference purposes. My posts merely reflect how and why I garden the way I do. If people are in pursuit of a fully organic approach, regardless their reasoning for such, then the information I share will be extremely useful and beneficial.

If having a fully organic garden is not your goal, that is perfectly fine with me. Continue doing what you do and make it to the finish line in a way that suits you. No sweat off my back.
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Old February 29, 2016   #65
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I applaud you for going all organic. That long list of inputs for your beds gets pricey fast, and while "the kitchen sink" approach does work, there are other ways to skin a cat and still produce good results. Not quite as perfect or nutritionally dense or as non-polluting as one would like, but still pretty good and more than acceptable.
Thank you.

I would like to clarify something though. It's not so much about a kitchen sink approach as much as it is about diversity of inputs in regards to the impact it has on microbial populations. Certain inputs foster certain bacterial populations. The more diverse the microbial population, the more of a threshold there is for the plant to respond to adversity without negative impacts on our desired performance points.

I don't look at things from the prospective of "N-P-K" provision alone. I prefer to look at it from the concept of what each amendment is going to contribute in the bigger picture. Not everything listed is for plant nutrition, but rather for soil health. Again, I'm more focused on the aspect of feeding the soil not the plant.
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Old February 29, 2016   #66
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Ok.
But go back and read your comments on this and other threads.
You, in my opinion, used tones that came across accusatory towards people not going 100% organic.
We will leave it at that.

I like organics, but I think that there is absolutely a place for melding other practices, and I don't think that it is an indication of stupidity or failure.

Soil is filled with ELEMENTS. Those elements can come from different sources.
When those elements are properly balanced, the plant will thrive and produce good stuff.
It is a simple as that in my opinion. So, I would have to disagree on the taste factor based on this alone.

I truly believe you get rave reviews on your stuff.
But I will also tell you the tomatoes I grew last year from 100% "non-organic" fertilizer got rave reviews from a multitude of samplers, including my dad who has grown, eaten, and sold tomatoes for over 50 years.

I'm gonna check out here, because we will obviously not change eachothers minds, and I'm really not trying to troll you here and I've already littered all over your thread as it is.
Obviously I am ruffled by some of your comments and opinions, so I will say go get em' this year and kick some arse at your market!
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Old February 29, 2016   #67
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I can flip that and say organics is about thinking that you know what the vastly complex soil food web is comprised of with great understanding, and that you know what and how much to add in the organic form to supply what is needed and be able to predict when if/when it will become used/available.

If you are saying that the organic forms are stable and therefore cannot harm the soil, and the soil biota in combination with the roots will dictate the proper use of said material, then I will say that proper timing, rate, and method of application of soluble fertilizer will do the same when soil organic matter is sufficient.

I will also mention that organic nutrients can be over-applied and harm the soil and surrounding systems.
Yes. I am saying a farmer who tests his soil regularly (when first developing my soil mix I tested weekly) will know exactly what is being decomposed in his soil and will know how long it is taking various elements to be converted into the proper ionic forms by soil bacteria.

I am saying a soil high in CEC and humic substances is going to retain more nutrition and have less leaching because science says so. Organic soils have higher a higher CEC, fact. Therefore, over application is not as much a concern because retention is higher. If the substance is in a raw organic form, and not fully composted, it is not going anywhere. If the plant is not telling the soil biota to make use of a material, even when present in the ecosystem, it merely sits unused until called for. If the elements it can provide are not being converted to an ionic form, then the substance isn't leaching anything, which again, does eliminate some concerns of over application.

This is not a blanket statement - it is an overview of how an organic system functions and works. There are exceptions to everything.

When looking at the N-P-K values of a chemical fertilizer you are looking at the total nutritional content it will provide. When looking at the N-P-K of a raw organic material, you are only being shown the % of that element that is soluble. This means, upon adding it to the soil, this % is instantly available for plant uptake. These number do not reflect the long term impact that material will have once decomposed by soil bacteria. This consideration is irrelevant when discussing chemical fertilizers because we all ready know if we put it in the soil the plant has no choice but to absorb it...this is why nutrient burn burns happens and why it is 1000x more likely to fry your plants with chemical fertilizer than it is with a raw organic input.

So, yes, part of maintaining a great organic soil, is being aware of the TOTAL elemental composition in conjunction with instant solubility. This is why you amend your soil months before planting with some items and only a couple of weeks before planting with others.

I disagree that mandatory knowledge of such should be considered as a disadvantage of an organic system. At least I don't have to worry about carrying around all my meters and measuring devices to make sure I'm adding just the right amount of mL of this that or the other, which in and of itself is just as massive a learning curve. I suppose it just depends on where you have devoted your focus.

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Originally Posted by PureHarvest View Post
Look at the release rate on bat guano:

Not saying its not good, but consider the time to release.
These rates are very general and entirely subjective to the health and bio-activity of the ecosystem they are applied to. The soil biota, based on root exudates (chemical binary, if you will, instruction sets of data) will function to serve and meet the demands of the plant.

And yes. The plant itself is 100% responsible for the behavior of the bacteria in the system as it is the root exudates that direct and control their populations. It is a self regulating system that needs nothing from me other than to ensure the various needs of said system are in place and provided. If what the plant needs is present in the soil, it will be utilized as needed, when needed, without any further interaction on my part. Plants have a symbiotic relationship with the soil.

By allowing the plant to be in complete control of it's livelihood, I effectively remove one more aspect from the equation that will alter the phenotypical expression of the plant. I am more apt to select superior specimens because they have not been artificially altered/enhanced by my subjective demands of how I think the plant should perform.

Traditional agriculture says: Oh, this plant isn't performing as I think it should, I think I'll give it more ______. Rather than saying, this plant isn't performing up to my standards, I think I'll simply remove it from rotation and not perpetuate it's genetics.

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We are all basing our nutrient applications on some basic assumptions based on what we can observe and measure.

If we go with the assumption that tomatoes need 100 lbs of Nitrogen per acre, then we can calculate how much Ammonium Nitrate or Fish meal.

Other than that, I'm not sure how deciding what the plant needs versus measuring the nutrient load of a material differs.
The difference is simply in who/what is making the decisions. A human or the plant.


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If your beef is with the source, then I don't see how using alfalfa meal (most alfalfa is conventionally grown, soon to be 100% GMO contaminated) or blood meal (most is from conventional pork) is better than a refined elemental form of nitrogen, such as Ammoniacal N.
Either product uses up resources to process, package, ship, and apply.
The federal government and state legislature decides what I can and cannot use in organic crop production. As I stated in my last post, I do not garden organically based on ideological principals, but merely based on the guidelines. Ethical sourcing issues are something that I don't really concern myself with.

People are going to kill chickens and pigs and cows regardless of whether I buy blood meal or bone meal or not. The simple fact these industries do not exist for the purpose of creating fertilizer, but food, some what nullifies any logic behind such statements. I think it is good we have found additional uses for the waste byproducts of said industries. It's good, common sense economics.

Last edited by TheUrbanFarmer; February 29, 2016 at 05:44 PM.
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Old February 29, 2016   #68
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I hear you, long time before they're fully available. There is however, a discernible boost of whatever was soluble being used up. I figure with the right amount of mycofusion and mycogrow and roots and compost teas in there it'll hasten that release time. I ran out of guanos a while ago and haven't looked back, and don't plan to purchase them again. The risk of histo is real, not some theoretical possibility, so no more. I used them as teas mostly.

The organic inputs I settled on, as in best bang for the buck are Alfalfa Meal and Crab Meal. I really like those two. There's also a soil amendment I use "as-is" for my aerated teas that's vegetable compost, worm castings, minerals and kelp. All you do is add a sugar source and presto. Do it about once a week both drench and foliar and so far so good.

There is a happy medium, you just add your amendments with the breakdown times in mind, some are faster than others. What's great about containers is you can fix whatever is wrong relatively easy. Soil, that's another story entirely.
Now that I've made it this far in responding to people, I've agreed and repeated much of what you have said here.

I love crab/shrimp/crustacean meals because they add chitin to the soil. I love alfalfa because it stimulates bacterial reproduction and it contains triacontanol.

I don't use bat guanos except for making teas when I need to doctor something up. They are generally marketed to specific industries which results in them being over-priced. I would not however, grow without seabird guano. A super sack of it is only about $1,500 and a little goes a long way. Even in field application. There is a richness of flavor that is gained with it's usage that is completely absent otherwise. I honestly consider it a must have.
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Old February 29, 2016   #69
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One thing that makes no sense to me, is the worry that the necessary microbes are not available to do their job, in any soil anywhere that hasn't been poisoned. I have googled and read about Trichoderma harzanium natural habitat etc. and it is basically found everywhere, worldwide. It is found in every 'organic' garden compost (meaning no poisons added). Sure in a farmer's field which has been sprayed with this or that chemical, they might be deficient. However, whenever you add a good compost you are adding these beneficial microbes to the soil.
Trichoderma will feed on ecto/endo root colonizing populations. At the same time, it has great advantages in regards to creating a systemic barrier to various problems.

One of the reasons I include so many bacterial and fungal spores in my mixes is because they start as generally sterile. My compost piles usually get above the temperature thresholds in which many of these organisms can exist, so I like to replenish them.
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Old February 29, 2016   #70
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Ok.
But go back and read your comments on this and other threads.
You, in my opinion, used tones that came across accusatory towards people not going 100% organic.
We will leave it at that.

I like organics, but I think that there is absolutely a place for melding other practices, and I don't think that it is an indication of stupidity or failure.

Soil is filled with ELEMENTS. Those elements can come from different sources.
When those elements are properly balanced, the plant will thrive and produce good stuff.
It is a simple as that in my opinion. So, I would have to disagree on the taste factor based on this alone.

I truly believe you get rave reviews on your stuff.
But I will also tell you the tomatoes I grew last year from 100% "non-organic" fertilizer got rave reviews from a multitude of samplers, including my dad who has grown, eaten, and sold tomatoes for over 50 years.

I'm gonna check out here, because we will obviously not change eachothers minds, and I'm really not trying to troll you here and I've already littered all over your thread as it is.
Obviously I am ruffled by some of your comments and opinions, so I will say go get em' this year and kick some arse at your market!
You are always welcome and your input is appreciated. There is nothing you have said that is off putting in any way. I appreciate your questions as they present an opportunity for me to address methodology and why I employ such practices.

While you are correct, you will not change my opinion, that does not in any way devalue or negate your own. I'm a firm believer that if when someone is questioned they have no logical response, then they are likely full of it.

Perceptions of failure or success is very much dependent on what your individual goals are. The statements in other threads were always made with the precursor "if" to clearly imply that others goals may not reflect my own.

If it is not your prerogative to have a certified organic product then such "if" statements obviously are not applicable to you. I mean no disrespect.

My personal experience has shown me that organically produced goods are favored by local chefs for the depth of flavor nuances they impart to a dish. I have to garden in accordance with what is going to give me the highest possible market potential. As such, I get a better ROI with organic crops. That being my personal scenario, I have never looked back and decided to master the art form, in spite of the learning curve.

Last edited by TheUrbanFarmer; February 29, 2016 at 09:28 PM.
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Old March 7, 2016   #71
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Well, I have all my tomato seeds for 2016 officially planted!!! Except for maybe a few for personal fun that I've yet to start like the Peach Blow Sutton.

I'll have 15 different varieties - 360 seeds have been planted. I started this process last Friday and seeing as the organic gardening is really just a hobby that is getting out of control, I don't always plant everything at the exact same time. I try, but prior responsibilities and making a living can get in the way of that.

Last Friday (2/26) I planted the first 8 varieties, of which most have already sprouted. First number is planted and the second is those that have sprouted to date:

Yellow Gooseberry - 36 - 31
Chocolate Cherry - 36 - 29
Solar Flare - 36 - 29
Break O' Day - 36 - 27
Blue Boar Berries - 18 - 16
Purple Bumblebee - 18 - 15
Brimmer - 18 - 17
Pineapple - 18 - 10

I fully expect to get higher numbers than that given some time; germination rates last year were over 96%. I'll be highly disappointed with the Pineapple if that is all that come up!!

Today (3/6) I finished up planting with:

Rosella Purple - 36
Rosso Sicilian - 18
Oroma - 18
Blue Gold - 18
Golden Queen - 18
White Beauty - 18
Black Beauty - 18

A large majority of these plants will be sold in 4" pots at the local farmers' market in the spring and the rest will be planted in a couple various locations. I'm actually working a small 1/4 acre garden this year in addition to the beds in my backyard. I plan to keep the larger fruits like the Pineapple and Brimmer in the backyard where they can be watched over a bit more closely and I'll have 144 plants on part of the 1/4 acre.

It's going to be an EXCITING year!!!

The 1/4 acre will also have summer squash, beets, carrots and beans:

Straightneck Yellow
Cocozella Di Napoli
Black Beauty Zucchini
Grey Zucchini

Bull's Blood (for greens)
Chioggia Gaurdsmark
Touchstone Gold
Kestrel

Chantenay Red Core
Scarlet Nantes
Cosmic Purple

Calima
Royal Purple Pod

In addition, there will also be 136 peppers planted. Everything ranging from sweet Italian Marconi to Carolina Reapers and everything in between. For the peppers, I mostly focus on countries of origin and types that are used daily for cooking in the traditional dishes of the cultures. I started most of the peppers back in early February and I have a couple hundred all ready above soil and doing rather well.

It's going to be a busy season!!! I don't anticipate much free time this spring/summer/fall, but that is exactly how I like it.

Last edited by TheUrbanFarmer; March 8, 2016 at 01:23 PM.
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