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Old February 14, 2015   #31
moray-eel-bite
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What some people fail to grasp is many cash crops are domesticated plants that would not survive on their own. Farming is not natural in anyway. Nothing like it occurs in nature.
if it were not for synthetic insecticides we would have millions starving. I agree we have to change this, but denying it's true doesn't make it go away. I see little difference between organic or synthetic. For example I will not use neem oil because it decreases predatory mite populations by decreasing egg production and these mites do more to remove other mites for me than any artificial product. I use science to garden, not organics.
Actually, some insects do in fact farm. So it does exist in nature.
http://www.livescience.com/20316-fun...evolution.html
Also, there is a wealth of science that goes into organic gardening, so attempting to delineate the two is nonsense. Very well respected universities are beginning to have more and more research devoted to organic practices, and the most recent conclusion is that yields can in many cases be comparable to conventional systems (with the possible exception of grains or cereals), with the added benefit of not being an unsustainable practice.
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Old February 18, 2015   #32
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Scott, I'm wondering what you're doing with the tomato plant biomass at the end of season?

I know I end up with a huge compost pile every year, to consume the nutrients locked up in those big plants and turn them back into soil. Great producers of biomass, for sure, but problematic to return it directly to the soil without a good hot composting to get rid of any diseased plant residues.

If the plants themselves or an equivalent amount of compost weren't returned to the original bed, it would explain a lower return the second year, IMO, as the sheer mass of the tomato plants represents a large withdrawal of nutrients.... Just a thought.

Congratulations on the beginning of year three! And on the new partners/sponsors or what I should call em - interested parties contributing one or another kind of help.
Yes Bower I compost them. I have a bagging mower that collects it along with the grass clippings. Then I make two types of compost, hot and cool. Hot for the left over biomass and cool for fungally dominate wood chip compost.

Here is the set up near the house. I also have a bigger one at plot 2. I also have a huge pile of wood chips that came from trimming trees. This is not an outside input. Those trees were all from this land I will be growing in. You can see in the pic, the tops of trees cut off. The electric company had to do some trimming, so I asked them to leave me the chips! Also, for those interested, here is what the beds look like in winter.
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File Type: jpg Compost bins.jpg (124.1 KB, 237 views)
File Type: jpg Beds.jpg (95.5 KB, 237 views)
File Type: jpg wood chips.jpg (139.3 KB, 237 views)
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Old February 18, 2015   #33
bower
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Sweet! Wire bins are great - we use them at the farm and they really keep it all together... in my garden, it's just a big square pile with many different layers.

Is your winter free of snow? Nice, very nice place.
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Old February 18, 2015   #34
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Sweet! Wire bins are great - we use them at the farm and they really keep it all together... in my garden, it's just a big square pile with many different layers.

Is your winter free of snow? Nice, very nice place.
There is a tiny bit of snow left in shady areas. Most of it melted yesterday and today. The area you see gets plenty of sun.
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Old February 23, 2015   #35
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Planted my trial peppers yesterday. Will give germination rates when available.
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Old March 4, 2015   #36
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Planted my trial peppers yesterday. Will give germination rates when available.
Peppers are just starting to break the surface. So far it looks as if all the ones sprouting are the Bioensure treated seeds. No controls are up yet. Far too early to get a germination rate prediction though.
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Old March 25, 2015   #37
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Time for an update. Today I will document the starting soil tests for all three plots, so everyone can see the challenges I will be facing this year. Unfortunately this will be an extreme challenge on my new plot.

As you can see, the north plot (1/10th acre) that has been using the system 2 years now is sufficient in all nutrients except nitrogen..rating 13. However, this is simply the free nitrogen. Biological processes will release nitrogen throughout the growing season as needed in a biology based system. SOM is still only 2.6% but it is rising. That plot I am sure will be fine.

The south plot (1 acre) has only been in the project 1 year. Still slightly deficient in P and K and only 5 in nitrogen. That field obviously needs some help. I am bound to get better yields than last year but I will probably need some form of organic amendments. I'll probably go with mostly a wood chip based compost. I haven't fully 100% decided yet. Partially composted wood chip mulch I can get free by the truckloads. Fully composted will cost 10 dollars a trailer load. Might be worth it as nutrients are needed and SOM is only 1.4% .

The new plot I call north east (1/2 acre and expandable in future years) is pretty bad indeed. Easy to see why this farm was abandoned. Soil is very deficient in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Soil is also slightly acidic (6.0). Nitrogen is only 2 and worse, phosphorus is only 2! SOM is 1.7%. This will certainly be a severe challenge. Besides compost and mulches, I may also need to buy some fertilizer as well. I haven't decided which one yet, but leaning towards Texas Tomato food.

The good news is all three plots are LitB soil type. That's a sandy loam clay that responds extremely well to good organic management practises. It may be terrible now and it may be a challenge, but I suspect that even in this horrible state I should be able to pull a profitable crop with minimal inputs....and improve the soil at the same time. We will see.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf SoilRecommendation95601.pdf (73.4 KB, 28 views)
File Type: pdf SoilRecommendation95602.pdf (73.4 KB, 8 views)
File Type: pdf SoilRecommendation96299 (1).pdf (73.4 KB, 11 views)
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"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."
Bill Mollison
co-founder of permaculture

Last edited by Redbaron; March 25, 2015 at 11:23 PM.
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Old March 25, 2015   #38
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Nice to see the test results, Scott . It will be cool to see how they change year by year.

Just a comment about wood chip compost, in my experience wood chips are very slow to break down unless you have a lot of hot manure with them (like chicken manure). Even horse manure doesn't break down wood chip bedding very readily in my garden, just not hot enough.
That wouldn't matter if you weren't nitrogen deficient there, but afaik wood chips will suck up the available nitrogen and make it unavailable to the plants.. until they eventually break down. You could lose the benefit of any additional Nitrogen source, at least for the present season. At least, that's certainly the case in my climate here, with low pH a general condition of the soil. Also, talking about conifer wood chips, which are acidic as well as slow to break down, they will depress the pH even further.

$10 a trailer load is a great deal for fully composted stuff! I would go for it, in a flash...

It may be though that with your soil type and climate and the type of wood chip being composted (deciduous trees I bet) it is a whole other story?

Just to make your day, the native soil at my place was pH 4 (f-o-u-r!) when I started the garden almost 25 years ago... 6.5 sounds good to me!
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Old March 25, 2015   #39
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Hey, RB.

I'm a big fan of partially composted wood chips. What kind of volume are you anticipating using on the 1 acre plot?

Are you looking to put all 3 plots in vegetable production this year?

What varieties and how many pepper plants are you planning on putting in?

Last edited by JJJessee; March 25, 2015 at 07:30 PM. Reason: pepper ?
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Old March 25, 2015   #40
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Hey, RB.

I'm a big fan of partially composted wood chips. What kind of volume are you anticipating using on the 1 acre plot?
Maybe 2 or 3 trailer loads if I can. Still haven't decided though. I am sure it would help. No doubt. But for the purposes of proving a system that regenerates its own soil health with minimal inputs.....kinda cheating. However, it is free recycled resources, so the cheapskate side of me is probably going to win out! Last year I did one 2 foot wide row in partially composted wood chips used as a mulch instead of hay. Just as an experiment. That row was significantly more productive than the other rows. The other option is stick with the large round bales of hay. I found some at 20 dollars a round bale. Last year I found a USDA NRCS vid that claimed there is ~ 35-40 dollars in nutrients found in one bale just pricing it at the going commercial fertilizer rates. So the price is lower than it's nutrient value alone. AND it saves so much labor. Just unroll it.

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Are you looking to put all 3 plots in vegetable production this year?
yes

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What varieties and how many pepper plants are you planning on putting in?
Looking at ~200 bell peppers (california wonder) and at least 100 or more hot peppers of various types, maybe a few sweet types thrown in like banana and marconi.
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"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."
Bill Mollison
co-founder of permaculture

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Old March 25, 2015   #41
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One thing ive noticed about tree trimmings, its quite a bit different than wood chips, lots of twigs bark and leaves with a presumably higher N content than straight wood chips that might be used for pulp.

Ive had piles of tree trimmings from the chipper get extremely hot. So hot in fact I would worry it might burst into flames!

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Old March 25, 2015   #42
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One thing ive noticed about tree trimmings, its quite a bit different than wood chips, lots of twigs bark and leaves with a presumably higher N content than straight wood chips that might be used for pulp.
Yes. This is primarily tree trimmings and leaves. Municipal recycle program. I posted about it last year.
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AKA The Redbaron

"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."
Bill Mollison
co-founder of permaculture

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Old March 26, 2015   #43
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Definitely, all wood chips are not created equal. The chip material of small, non-conifer, green wood branches(ramial) is highly preferred to the chips of heartwood or conifers. Last year I located a convenient pile of 5-6 cu yd along the road that I eventually hauled away one pick up load at a time. I used it mainly as a surface mulch around about 140' row of peppers. It worked quite nicely. But I calculated doing a layer 1" x 18" down a row of 300 peppers (~600') and that calls for about 33 cuyd of material. That's some serious shoveling! But it is good stuff especially if it has broken down a year or two.

So, 300 peppers is a good start, what else ya got goin'? :-D
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Old March 26, 2015   #44
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Definitely, all wood chips are not created equal. The chip material of small, non-conifer, green wood branches(ramial) is highly preferred to the chips of heartwood or conifers. Last year I located a convenient pile of 5-6 cu yd along the road that I eventually hauled away one pick up load at a time. I used it mainly as a surface mulch around about 140' row of peppers. It worked quite nicely. But I calculated doing a layer 1" x 18" down a row of 300 peppers (~600') and that calls for about 33 cuyd of material. That's some serious shoveling! But it is good stuff especially if it has broken down a year or two.

So, 300 peppers is a good start, what else ya got goin'? :-D
Main crop is "field tomatoes" meaning productive determinate strains I don't need to stake. Mostly Rutger's determinate from Page's seeds. I will also be doing a little sweet corn this year. An op Sh2 sweet corn called Zapolita Chico. And as always many herbs, beans and such as companion crops between everything and as many full size indeterminate types as I have stakes and cages. Still scrounging for abandoned old pigwire fencing for cages and t posts for florida weave. Got quite a few already but not sure how many I can scrounge up by plant out time.
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"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."
Bill Mollison
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Old March 27, 2015   #45
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I updated my youtube page with an educational video series on soil health. Here is that new playlist. Some things on the list I have posted before, but I added several new ones. Skip the title page if you don't like country music.
Soil Health

Here is what I believe is the most important one to watch even if you skip all the rest.
Humus - the essential ingredient

PS Starting my tomato seedlings for the bioensure trials today. 200x Rutgers and 100x The Miracle BPF (both determinates) will be used in the trial.
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"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless labour; & of looking at plants & animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system."
Bill Mollison
co-founder of permaculture

Last edited by Redbaron; March 27, 2015 at 06:46 PM.
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