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applestar
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While I'm not the one to answer your question scientifically, remember, your "totally" plant based compos is also full of earthworm castings if it's anything like mine. My pile is also picked over, it seems by wild birds -- in this season, I see a bunch of White-throated Sparrows, Song Sparrows, and Juncos picking over them and they fly off in a blast of panicked flutter when I approach. Not like adding a bucket of manure, but every little addition helps, right? :D

I think another way to boost vegetable-based (I want to say vegetarian... :lol: ) compost pile quality is to grow compost/compostable greens with their nutrient levels in mind. I really think this summer, using the drowned weed tea to water the compost pile helped a lot. Which meant letting a lot of weeds grow to near-mature size as long as they were filling in available areas. Deep-tapping adventitious weeds tend to bring up a lot of soil minerals, too. 8)

I *AM* still considering acquiring bunnies or chickens though. :wink:

Also, I'm not a dedicated tea user. I do it when I have time and the energy, and I want to give my plants a boost or foliar spray preventive/curative. It's fun to experiment, and, the way I see it, even one application adds to the overall health and nutrition that the plants are getting. So why not? All you need is a bucket and an air pump (and a piece of burlap and haystring for cover, if you want to do it my way :wink: ).

top_dollar_bread
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rainbowgardener wrote:Anyway, my question is will a totally plant based compost be high enough "quality" to even bother doing the tea with?
i see nothing wrong with plant based compost, if you think about it most manure is plant based, just it been pooped out and decomposed a little. woks as a compost accelerated and inoculant but doesnt mean the compost is superior then one with out.
if your compost is working good on or in your soil, gots that earthy smell then its good and is loaded with many native microbes who are present in your garden.
ACT will just really help multiply there numbers, so you can help build a more diverse, rich soil biology.
gardening with microbes :D

thebahamiangardener
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ok so I'm gonna do my first brew and i've got some fish i clean it out and got about 4 gallons of organic fertilizer is it ok to do my brew in pure aquirium water. (ps. no additives are in the water )

thebahamiangardener
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kk so i bought the pump the line and airstones and i must say I'm freakin excited.

My brew ingrediants

3 cups mushroom compost
1 cup of organicaly amended garden soil ( manure and cofee graounds and compost its from the bed so not much garden soil )

2 cups black cow manure compost.

4 gallons of fish water

1 1/2 cup leaves

milkwood_nick
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Not sure if this has been covered yet, it's a very long thread.

I have a professional (read very expensive) 200 litre compost tea brewer.

I did a three day workshop on the topic recently and the key feature I have been taught are:

1. We are trying to brew aerobic soil organisms to replenish the soil life and create a functional soil ecosystem for our plants. to do this we need to inoculate our tea with the finest quality compost we can get. For my 200l brewer i use 3litres of compost.

2. We need to give the organism some food. In my case fish emulsion 1 cup, Humic acid - 3 cups, good clean water (not out of the town water supply, i only use rain water) and lots and lots of air.

3. Twice as much air needs to go through the tea PER MINUTE as the total volume of the tea. My pump delivers 500 litres of air per minute into the tea.

4. The organisms in the tea multiply very rapidly, after 24 hours even a air blower like this is incapable of supplying enough oxygen to our colony of soil microbes, therefore we need to stop brewing after 24 hours and spray it out very quickly. (within about 10 hours)

5. Dilute the tea at least 1:1 with clean water and avoid any equipment that with damage the organisms. No pressures over 65 psi or nozzles smaller that 1mm.

enjoy :)[/list]

The Helpful Gardener
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Hey Nick,

Your tea recipe sounds good for the most part. I'd like to see some molasses (I think you might call it treacle) in the mix to really boost the bacterial numbers, which will kick your higher level predators (who feed on the bacteria). It's these higher level types that are usually the missing link in a depleted soil; bacteria are almost always present, and any remaining treacle will get used up by them. Fish emulsion is a tricky beast and can overheat the bacterial population, using up available oxygen and crashing the batch (which at 200 litres is a real shame). I feel it's safer to add fish at the time of application rather than to tea, but there are many tea recipes using fish, and it can be done. I just like the increased stability of sugars versus free nitrogen... it will make your tea less likely to go bad near the end of the cycle...

In one of my last conversations with Dr. Ingham, they had been doing assays of tea sprayed at higher pressures and it seems we have been overly cautious with our microbes and fungii; seems they are perfectly safe up to 100 psi. So you can turn up the sprayer a bit, mate... and dilution isn't as necessary as you think, either; decreased amounts of concentrated tea are just as effective (assuming sufficient available soil moisture) as diluted types... so less loads in spraying is a time saving plus.

BG, mushroom compost can be high in salts (VERY damaging to biology) and leaves are a big question mark (What kind? What condition?) I am good with the rest of your recipe...

HG
Scott Reil

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I have read many of these posts, certainly not all of them, that would take weeks!
I have livestock, so I get my manure... natural.
In the goat barn, I have several stalls, so I make one available, and when it reaches a certain point, I simply close it off and give the animals a clean stall with fresh hay and we begin again. They think "mama loves us and gives us a clean bed when ours gets too messy". Mama thinks... dual purpose clean bed for them, and fresh compost for me.

Now, I must interject here, in the winter months, I simply let the compost build higher, and add more bedding, the heat from the decaying bedding and manure does help warm the animals as they sleep. But, during warmer months, I rotate fairly often.
I simply leave the urine and manure saturated bedding for awhile to break down. When it is partially composted, I get out my wheel barrel and start filling buckets with it. You can still identify the hay at this point and the seeds are still alive in the hay. It really smells... strong.
I water these buckets and set them aside. I proceed to clean the stall.
I have learned the hard way... too wet is not good. It will breed pests that we don't need. Should that happen I simply dump the bucket into a wheel barrel, and take it to the henhouse... they clean up quickly for mama.
After a few days, I add lots of water, to a bucket, to the top. Let it set overnight, and then I simply pour the water off, and let it drip a bit... trying to keep solids in the bucket. After I do a couple buckets, I can combine the solids in one bucket.
I take my "potent brew and mix in about 1 cup of powdered milk, 1 cup of Diatomaceous earth (for minerals) and about a tablespoon of Bt. I use it pretty much full strength. Yep pretty strong, pretty smelly still.
I spray it directly on the leaves... Oddly I haven't burned one yet.
But, the smelly manure is about 4-6 months old and not still resembling what it was.
Once, my buckets are pretty much just the dry matter from the barn. I mix in some bone meal, cottonseed meal, more Diatomaceous earth, sometimes a bit of sand. And put these in my wheel barrel again.
Now it is time to set some plants.
I use 1 gallon plastic water jugs (like milk jugs) that I remove the bottoms from. I plant my plant, place a homemade cloche over it.
Then I dig a hole beside my cloche, and I take a second milk jug, and put the lid on it... with holes punched into the lid. And I fill that milk jug, one layer of my dry leavings, and one layer of fresher barn yard stuff, until I am near the top of the container. I bury this so that it drips down near the roots. Every time I water, I fill this little 'plant baby bottle'... instant manure tea delivered to the roots.
I didn't include lids on my manure feeders and the tobacco plants sent roots into my jugs... they kept wilting. I couldn't figure out why... If I watered, no wilt. If it rained and I didn't need to water, wilted... finally I realized the problem... rain was not filling my feeders up...
So, make sure you put lids on the jugs and keep the holes small to keep roots out of your compost tea feeders. The seeds in the bedding sprouted, and soon all my feeders were little grass jugs. I couldn't remove them... the plants had roots in them. But the ones with lids on them, were much appreciated by the goats... who were more than happy to eat the grass out of them, and the geese thought I grew it just for them.
So my lazy version of compost... the water goes on leaves, the solids are put into feeders at the plant roots. I had huge tobacco plants, and they had no bug issues. The bt kept the worms down, the milk fed the foliage and roots and the diatomaceous earth added its minerals.
You might need to weaken the foliar spray, if you are raising plants for fruits, and not for the greenery. But, it worked great on tobacco. I can't say for the cabbage and broccoli, they were so aphid chewed that they were not usable. Nothing was effective on their aphids... but they kept the aphids to themselves and not on the rest of the garden. Worked as a catch plant.
I had no molds, no mildews, very healthy plants... only problem... milk rings on leaves... ha ha.
Milk is very effective as a fungicide and it also gives minerals and nitrogen.
[img]https://i728.photobucket.com/albums/ww281/Ozark_Lady/Tobacco/100_1468.jpg

I won't promise that I got the photo linked right... not so good at this in forums...
Here is link to the album and you can see my "plant bottles".
https://s728.photobucket.com/albums/ww281/Ozark_Lady/Tobacco/
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

The Helpful Gardener
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OL, it is all very ingenious, but I have to add a caution...

Use of "fresh" manures on food crops is asking for E.coli or other fecal coliform bacterial infection, which can, in extreme cases be deadly. A more typical dosing will simply make you wish you had gotten the lethal strain. We do not recommend the use of non-composted manure at THG. Smelly means anaerobic culture (anaerobes give off hydrogen sulfide or ethanol rather than CO2) and that means possible danger. Just a warning...

HG
Scott Reil

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I wonder if folks build an immunity to e-coli?
I have often used rabbit berries, straight on the garden, For about 25 years roughly. With no ill effect to humans. Now when hubby gets carried away and puts too much, too close to plants, he has over fertilized them to the point of toxicity and killed plants with raw manure.

I know, that said, that folks canned without a pressure canner and got away with that for generations... but it is not the safest route.

I wonder why it is... some folks can mess up on safety and never get sick a day, and others can get sick so readily? If not immunity, what would it be? I am not arguing the point... some folks would get really sick from doing this the way I do. Just like I break out from Cedar trees, but poison ivy or oak don't phase me a bit. Just so odd.

Okay, for safety sake, make sure your compost is past the smelly phase. But, the basic idea of using the compost tea, and then using the solids and a bit of additional compost in individual feeders still stands, and you can simply not add the extra feeders for plants that are not heavy feeders if you interplant your garden.

I also do sheet composting directly on the beds with any manure/bedding mix that is left over at the end of the season, I just spread it on the beds, cover all with used bedding, and lots of leaves, and let it set all winter long. By spring, 98% of the compost materials is gone, and all I have remaining is leaves... they just don't break down in one season... so they go in the compost bin. (Yes I have a compost bin for holding leaves)

Occasionally if I have a troublesome bed. I will cover it with clear plastic and let it bake for a week or two in summer, then turn it and repeat. Once weeds will no longer grow there, I enrich the soil and let it set an additional 2 weeks and start planting. Normally that solves any bed issues except for tree roots and rocks!
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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I think you are spot on, OL. Freidrich Nietschze once said, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." and that's true.

It's that objective phrase in the front of the quote that worries me... :wink:

HG
Scott Reil

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Oh no! A thought or a question just hit me... look out!
Okay, a proper compost pile, which I don't do, but if you did do it... You have to turn it, you have to break it up and re-arrange it, right?
Okay, you take dry matter, green matter, and manure, and mix them, wet them down a bit, and wait for them to heat up. Then you re-arrange it to let the matter at the outer edges get to the center to heat up also..
See, I know how you do it, technically... ha ha
But, my question is this: Isn't there a smelly stage... like the matter that is at the edge and not heated yet. And when you turn it... I know in theory the center is working the microbes and safe, but not the edges...
Is E-coli an issue when you are doing this? I mean, can it be picked up on the wind and blown onto this and that?
And since you build resistance... if this gardening is new to you... should new gardeners wear a mask, and change their clothing and wash up after doing this... at least until they begin to build some immunity?
There is a reason for my question...
When my kids were small, we got new neighbors, from the city.
Our kids played together daily. They started developing horrible looking sores, almost looked like shingles, so swollen and angry.
Every single day, they took their kids swimming. And they didn't allow their kids to get really dirty. I did, my kids were dirtbags everynight, even if we went swimming, they were filthy. So it was run through the tub or at least a good scrub up daily. It was terrible how sore those children were getting, every single bite was a major sore.
I asked an Rn about it, she said, oh it is the soap, they are swimming for cleanliness, you are soaping. Well, that could be... but, I think some of it was resistance... my kids were used to the germs of farm and woods.
What do you think?
Am I right, when you first start working with gardens, go slow, limit your exposure... to dirt, manure, and bug bites. In time, you will develop more resistance, but an overdose of bacteria, enzymes, germs in general can make you really sick.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

The Helpful Gardener
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Slow down there OL; like it says on the cover of the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy,
DON'T PANIC.

Compost is an aerobic process. I'm not saying that there aren't SOME E. coli and fecal coliforms there (these are technically facultative anaerobes, which means they can survive oxygen in a suspended state, True anaerobes cannot). But they are dominated by aerobic bacteria and fungii, who are busy breaking things down and making babies. We start to get higher level aerobic predators like protozoa (amoebas, flagellates, cilliates) eating the bacteria and fungii (including our bad guys), and microarthopods and nematodes eating them, and worms eating them, and so on. Everything breathing oxygen and exhaling CO2. S'all good... most every one has immunity to the small levels of E.coli you might run into in these instances... for goodness sakes we all have E.coli in our stomachs already! Nature is always moving towards balance and stability...

Anaerobic digestion (we do not call this composting, as composting denotes aerobic conditions) knocks out huge swaths of the above, no aerobic bacteria, no fungii (all fungii need oxygen and are the first thing to go in lower O2 level conditions), no predators... most of the nutrient is volatized (that ammonia smell is your nitrogen fertility gassing off into the atmosphere; we've killed the bacterias that turn it into nitrogen). Methanes ( a horrible greenhouse gas, twenty times more damaging than CO2) alcohols, hydrogen sulfides; these are the exhalations of anaerobes, so if you smell these things you are going anaerobic, and wasting much of the fertility you could be getting... not to mention culturing the badguys like E. coli that can make you sick...

So if you are doing it right, no worries; if you are doing it anaerobically, you can have issues... best to do it aerobically... :)

Like the Byrds said...

Turn, Turn, Turn... :wink:

You CAN do it passively without turning; check out these [url=https://organic.tfrec.wsu.edu/compost/Compost%20systems/Rynk%2029mid.jpg]passively aerated windrow systems[/url]; the drainage tubes in the bottom of the pile allow the CO2 to seep out (it's heavier than air), which draws fresh air into the pile. Still not as fast as turning, and it looks like they are doing a lot of wood chip in those piles (good porosity), but in a smaller pile, this might work for more dense materials as well....

HG
Scott Reil

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This thread is like the Energizer bunny it keeps going and going.

But that is good, i haven't made any tea lately but can't wait to get back into it this spring.

TDB thanks for the link yet another great one.

garden5
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This is an AMAZING thread. I Just read the whole thing in two days :shock: . Funnily enough, while reading this thread I thougt to myself that this should really be a sticky (I was introduced to it through a link in another thread). About three pages later...I found out it was :o . Now I will be able to find it and reference it no problem.

I have learned so much about compost tea, more than I thought there was to know! I have always wanted to try it, now I have to try it!

As is usual with me, in spite of all that I have learned, I still have more questions. So, here goes:

1. I see that there are a variety of choices for aeration: air stones, soaker tubing, even some type of revolving power-head for a fish-tank (by the way, T$B (I think), how's that working out?). I want to know, can you use too much aeration, or do you want all you can get?

What determines how much aeration you get, the pump or the stones? What is the minimum GPM for a pump for brewing in a 5 gal. bucket?

2. As far as the ingredients are concerned, you all have given me a laundry list of them. Many I have never (or just barely) heard of. Are the following ingredients only organic, or are there inorganic versions to watch out for:
Fish emulsion/hydrosalate (I'm sure I misspelled that.)

Kelp meal

Alfalfa meal (Is this powder or pellets?)

EA/EN inoculant (I have no idea what this is or if it is organic.)
Liquid karma (never hear of this, but T$B says it's good stuff)

I know that there are more ingredients than this, these are just the ones I have organic concerns about.

3. You all say about 1 to 2 cups of compost per 5 gal. bucket. However, take a look at [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXGqJbFZzCourl]this guy[/url]. Edit: The link did not turn out right. You will see several videos. Click the 10 minuet one that's titled "how to brew compost tea." I'm sure his video has found its way onto this forum before, but take note of how much compost he uses in a 5 gal. bucket. It looks like 8 coups or more! What do you all think of this (not being antagonistic, just curious :wink:)?

4. I gather that the lid's purpose is to keep out the sunlight. Should the lid be air-tight? I would think that this would defeat the purpose of aeration and possibly prevent it completely.

5. After the tea is done brewing (no more than 36 hr.), how soon do I have to use it? I'm thinking that it should be used immediately to get the most benefit. However, since it is watered-down, I could make is last a while.

6. Is there an optimal tea-to-water ratio? I have hear everything from 1:1 to 1:4 on this thread. Perhaps this depends on how strong your tea is and how much you want to apply. I assume you never want to apply a straight brew. If I use it on seedling, should I dilute it even more?

7. Finally (at least for this post), how often can I apply my tea? Should I do it before or after watering? Should it take the place of a watering (just for that day)?

I'm really sorry for all these questions, especially if some of them are obvious. I'm just totally pumped up reading all of this :bouncey: . As I said earlier, I've know about CT for awhile, but never enough to make any.

Thanks to everyone who takes a stab at some of my questions, and a special thanks to The Helpful Gardener for giving me the link to this thread!

I'm looking forward to hearing all your opinions.

The Helpful Gardener
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Hey G5,

Glad to have another enthusiastic convert to teaism! (Maybe not the teaism Okakura Kakuzuo had in mind when he coined the term in The Book Of Tea, but we all bring our own definitions to any word :wink: )

Point by point...

1.Too much air isn't the issue, but bubble size can be; a roiling turmoil will not develop the fungal hyphae as nicely IMO. But you cannot get too much oxygen in the mix; we are trying to cultivate aerobic bacteria to the exclusion of anaerobic bacteria. Oxygen is our friend...

2.Can't speak to the liquid karma, but the rest is golden. EA/EN are ectomorphic and endomorphic mycorhizae supplements and are not likely to multiply in a tea, and they're expensive, so those might just be better added to the hole when you plant... Alfalfa should be powdered before brewing, but pellets are the cheap way to buy it...

3.The guy in the video I THINK you are referring to is selling his products. What does it say on the back of the shampoo bottle? Despite the fact that once is usually enough and better for you hair. As my grandfather always said, "Never ask the barber if you need a haircut." We are innoculating here, not making an infusion as with real tea. Just need our cultures, some food, and plenty of water... here's a video my friend [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1_1Jy5GPno]The Organic Mechanic did with Garden Girl[/url] and [url=https://www.safelawns.org/video.cfm]watch one here[/url] my good friend Paul Tukey, organic lawn expert extrordinaire, did for the Safelawns Foundation. Don't overcomplicate; this is easy stuff to do...

4.Correct. Sunlight kills everything. DO NOT seal it up; oxygen gets used and CO2 will build...

5. I like 24 hours for anyone without a microscope and a good idea what is happening. Use immediately. This ain't fine wine: it gets worse with age...

6.Tea to water depends on how far you want to stretch it; don't need to water it at all if you don't want. Like the compost, tea is simply an innoculant. Stronger innoculant means faster results, but there is a law of diminishing returns that says if you stretch it out more you will eventually get better results over a bigger area, just takes more time...

7. There is no such thing as too much tea (until you start to get to the too-much-water range). Have at it...
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:26 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Scott Reil

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Thg, thanks a lot for you answers. You cleared a lot up. I'm especially glad to hear that I can do an application any time I want as long as I don't get the soil water-logged.

Thanks for explaining about the EA/EN. Mycorhizae are the fine roots of plants, are they not? I'm glad you gave me the heads-up on not adding it to the tea, you really saved me some money. Oh, and the 24 hr. rule will hopefully keep me from spoiling some batches; better safe than sorry.

Are you ready for round 2? Here goes.

1. You mentioned that it is the size of the bubbles that I should be concerned about rather than having too many. Could you please elaborate on this? What size bubbles do I want? I believe that you said earlier in this thread that larger bubbles are preferred.

To cut to the chase, what size/capacity air-pump and bubble-creation device do you recommend that I get to make tea in a five gallon bucket?

2. One more additive question (for now): Store-bought manure compost; are there organic varieties, or do most have chemical additives? What about store-bought plain compost? I want to make my own, but at the start of the growing season, I might not much on-hand and will probably have to resort to the store-bought stuff. I want to make sure its safe.

3. I can actually use it straight and it wont hurt my plants!? :D That's good to know. I was afraid that if I did not dilute it enough, I'd be in big trouble (and so would my plants). I can see your point though, about diluting it so its benefits would be spread over a larger area, although at a weaker strength.

4. I want to give some tea to my seedlings this year. Would it be better to go full strength, so they get the most nutrients, or should I dilute it so they do not get overwhelmed. Would the bacteria and microorganisms be too much for young seedlings?

5. Yes, you saw the right video. I agree with you, that man probably wanted you to use up his mixture faster so you will buy some more. I noticed that, except for the compost, moth other ingredients for 5 gal brews are added in 4-5 Tbsp. increments. If I wanted to add many different ingredients(guano, EWC, bone meal, blood meal, etc.), should I decrease the overall amounts of all the ingredients, maybe down to about 1Tbsp each, or should I just add them at the same amounts as all the others.

In other words, should I decrease the amounts of ingredients I add as I add more ingredients, or should just add them at normal amounts. I hope that's not too confusing.

6. Lastly, can you recommend me a few good books on learning about compost tea? If you can't do it on the forum, please PM me. You really know your stuff and I'm sure and reading materials you'd suggest would be excellent.

Thanks a lot for all the help and advice you give me and all the other member of this forum. Oh, and if I start getting too frequent with the questions, just shoot me a PM and let me know; then I'll lay off for a while :wink:.

The Helpful Gardener
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Hey G5,

No mycorhizae are NOT roots; they are symbiotic soil fungii that ACT as small roots, increasing the root mass of a plant by several times it's actual size. Some gather gasses, some water, some nutrients. See why I think soil biology is so important?

1. A nice medium bubble has decent lift (for mixing) and still a nice surface area. The real trick is getting the bottom stuff to the surface; most of the gas exchange in any liquid happens there. Too fine a bubble makes for slow mixing... If you are making 5 gallons, anything that moves your water 3-4 times a minute would be great so think 15 to 20 gpm pump. A six inch airstone should do you; make sure to soak it in hydrogen peroxide with a little white vinegar between uses to keep the build-up and biological contaminants down...

2. Store bought compost is fraught with danger; I always say get to know your supplier and his methods and that makes it really hard. I like and trust few bagged products; Coast of Maine, Moo Doo and the other North Country Organics stuff, and of course my friend Marks Organic Mechanic brand. But look for NOFA, OMRI, and Oregon Tilth accreditations on the bag; that's a good sign folks are getting it right. But keep looking for a better source too...

3. Yep. If you have made good tea, it won't hurt anything. I HAVE seen bad tea burn things, though...

4. Look at a seedling. One tap root with maybe a few hairs on it. Seedlings are screaming for biology; mycorhizae are particularly needed, but the low level fertilization biology provides is also perfect for them. Have at it...

5. Whoa nelly. Some of those ingredients are NOT a great idea for tea at all, let alone first timers. Look at Paul's and Mark's videos again. Compost. Nothing but. THAT'S the active stuff here. Bone would do nothing; it's not that soluble. Blood would add a lot of nitrogen that is likely to push the bacterial side so hard you will crash your tea (deplete the O2). Guano much the same, with the added danger of fecal contaminants. Stop thinking like a chemist, thinking you can add more and more and make better. Start thinking like a biologist and take care of the microbes you get from your only necessary ingredient; compost... maybe some mollasses and some kelp, but even those aren't necessary, just helpful. Keep it simple...

6.You only need one, [url=https://www.amazon.com/compost-tea-brewing-manual/dp/B0006S6JVK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263307850&sr=8-1]The Compost Tea Manual, by Dr. Elaine Ingham[/url]. Woops, turns out the doc has [url=https://www.amazon.com/Compost-Brewing-Recipes-Methods-Research/dp/B002UAQGDI/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263307850&sr=8-3]a new version[/url] out as well; I must have that...
But I do also like [url=https://www.amazon.com/Teaming-Microbes-Gardeners-Guide-Soil/dp/0881927775/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263307850&sr=8-2]Teaming With Microbes by Jeff Lowenfel[/url]; a great overview on why adding microbes is important...

Hope this helps...

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Scott Reil

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This is what is was using last year.

1 big cup compost[ed manure],
5 TBSP kelp meal,
5 TBSP fish emulsion,
5 TBSP molasses

It seemed to do alright always had that earthy smell, if your mix ever smells strong (bad) it might have gone anaerobic and might not be good for your garden. Though I didn't really do it enough to get my own recipe ( this is from TDB). Hopefully it's not too much of anything. But don't get too crazy unless you know what you are doing like THG said you can over-complicate it and make it worse or at least be wasting your time and money.

Any comments on my mix Scott?

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Other than my usual concerns with high nitrogen inputs (fish), nope, it's all good. If it's working, it's working... but I'd watch it with fish, especially when it gets warmer... temperature has a LOT to do with how your tea shakes out...

HG
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Thanks THG, that post was a great help for me.

Thanks for clearing that up about the micorhizae, I knew they had something to do with roots :oops: . I Definitely understand now why soil biology is important. In fact, before I read your posts, all I really though plants needed was the N-P-K. You really tuned me on to bacteria, fungi, protozoa...all of it. Now, I want to learn enough about it so I can keep up with more of your posts (a few of them really loose me :? ).

I want to thank you for your book recommendations. Looking at the "Teaming with Microbes" book with its five star rating and rave reviews, I'm thinking that it will really help me to gain in knowledge on soil biology.

Thanks for setting me straight on how much to give seedlings, now I'm sure that I will have some strong starts this year.

I'm starting to run out of questions, but I still have a few more things that need going over.

I've just started looking at some air-pumps and air stones online and now I'm confused. Should I be looking at fish-tank air-pumps, or pond-type air pumps?

You suggested that I look for a 15 to 20 gallons per minuet pump. The problem is that the pumps I have looked at so far (all fish tank pumps) is that the pumps either list no GPM, or a low GPM, like 1-3 gallons per hour. Most pumps just list the gallon of fish tank they are rated for. So, do you have any suggestions in this area?

Another thing I'm wondering about is what shape the air stone should be. Most I have seen so far are rectangular, but I know that some round ones do exist.

I'm sorry if I sound incapable or if I'm over-complicating the matter. I just want to make sure that I start out with the right equipment that will allow me to brew the best tea.

While we're on the subject of complicating things, what do you think of this [url]https://www.petsolutions.com/Penguin-Powerheads+I47468550+C10313.aspx[/url] . I must confess that this was not my discovery, but was one of the members of this forum's. It sure looks like it would be great in the brewer, but I can't tell if it uses an air pump or if it is built in.

Thanks for your advice on the subject of equipment. This post has gotten long enough, so I think that I will save my other questions for another post.

Thanks for your always enlightening reply.

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Garden5 never stop asking questions never stop learning. You have just scratched the surface, don't feel bad about asking questions. That is why we are all here, we love what we are doing and love helping others. Somone will alwyas have an opinion, answer for you.

Can this thread get too big, I think not! :)

(though it might take a week to read) But still...................

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After the watching the videos posted by THS, I see that a rectangular air stone is fine, but I'm still wondering about the pump.

Can anyone recommend the best one/kind for brewing tea? Would having two of the same air stones be even better than just one? I saw that some pumps have multiple outlets.

Thanks, all, for your advice.

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FWIW -- I have the model 2000 (can't remember the brand). I used to use the model 1000. The numbers denote output in some way -- ah, I think it's cc's/min. 1000 didn't seem to move the water enough, but 2000 with double 10" diameter coils of 1/4" soaker tubing as air "stone" really moves the water -- visually looks equivalent to the video linked above. I posted a photo [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=93926#93926]here[/url] of the model 2000 with the soaker tubing in action.

Hmm... I have the feeling we talked about all this further back in this thread, with some of the really techie folks giving us the details of whys and wherefores....

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G5, I misthunk back there; per hour, not per gallon on the pump. FOr a 5 gallon anyway. Turn your tank, whatever size, three to four times an hour and you are good. Sorry for the confusion :oops:

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I'm back with some interesting findings. First, thanks to THG for clearing up the gpm/gph confusion.

Online, I still couldn't find any conventional pumps online that listed a gph. What I did find is that some pumps listed the cc per minuet, which I assume is cubic centimeters of air per minuet.

Most of these pumps were rated at 1,000-1,500cc per minuet. So, I did a little math.

1,000cc per minuet = 60,000cc per hour

3,785cc = 1 gal.

60,000cc = 15.85 gal. per hour

This sounds exactly like what THG was describing. The pumps that carried this rating were all rated for a 10 gallon aquarium. I suppose that any pump for a 10 gallon fish tank would carry about the same output. I think that if i buy a pump for a 15 to 20 gal. tank, I should be safe. Also, it wold probably be better to go with a slightly larger pump since the airflow is probably reduced by the air-hose and air-stone. Companies typically list unrealistically/unachievable high ratings on some things.

I'd be glad to hear anyone else's o pinon on the subject. What about having two air stones instead of one? Would an even larger capacity pump be even better or would it become detrimental?

Thanks for you opinions.

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Actually the rate of turnover is about the same for tea as for an aquarium, so the rates should be similar...

But back in my aquariuim days, as well as my tea days, I had a saying that I think applies, "There's no such thing as too much oxygen." The water (or tea) will only hold so much, so as long as you are not creating too strong a flow (keeping your air stream diffuse enough) you can't have too much air.

One other thing to remember; as biology builds in the stone (OF COURSE it wants to be where the most oxygen is) the flow will decrease. SO starting a wee bit strong is a good idea. And remember to get a couple of stones; one can sit in H2O2 and then air dry while the other is in use, then just switch out. And clean with H2O2 when you are done, and triple rinse, to be sure the badguys are gone. The ONLY time chlorinated water should be allowed in your brewer...

HG
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Actually the rate of turnover is about the same for tea as for an aquarium, so the rates should be similar...

But back in my aquariuim days, as well as my tea days, I had a saying that I think applies, "There's no such thing as too much oxygen." The water (or tea) will only hold so much, so as long as you are not creating too strong a flow (keeping your air stream diffuse enough) you can't have too much air.

One other thing to remember; as biology builds in the stone (OF COURSE it wants to be where the most oxygen is) the flow will decrease. SO starting a wee bit strong is a good idea. And remember to get a couple of stones; one can sit in H2O2 and then air dry while the other is in use, then just switch out. And clean with H2O2 when you are done, and triple rinse, to be sure the badguys are gone. The ONLY time chlorinated water should be allowed in your brewer...

HG
Thanks for the decontamination advice. Would you recommend that I use to air stones in the brewer at one time? Some pumps have two ports to allow for this. This will probably be even better as it would put double the bubbles into the mix. Would it better to have just one larger one instead? Or, for some reason, would there be no real increase in benefits in going beyond the recommended single 6-inch stone.

Would you recommend against using alcohol to clean the stones (and the bucket, for that matter)?

Oh, and I guess I'm lucky, no chlorination here :).

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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There are a very few bacteria that survive alcohol and some anaerobes can feed on it. It is fine at surface sterilization but may not penetrate biofilm (build-up of organisms on ssurfaces that can get anaerobic near the bottom, which is why cleaning is so important).

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is an unstable molecule that is just itchin' to ditch that extra oxygen. When it does, we have free radical oxygen, which can form ozone, both h*ll on wheels for single celled organisms (none too good for us either; I own an ozone generator we use to do the house every so often (bugs, mold, bacteria, whatever...DEAD :evil: ) The literature warns that if I stepped into a room during operation, I might bleed from every orifice :shock: ) I ventilate well after use before I THINK about entering.

I happened to buy this machine when Dr. Ingham was visiting my workplace, so I asked her about ozone sterilization and she told me "Perfect combo for green sterilization; high toxicity; low residual." And hey, what does H2O2 break down to in the long run? Water and oxygen. No left overs. High toxicity, low residual, and it penetrates biofilm. And no bleeding from orifices :lol:

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The Helpful Gardener wrote:There are a very few bacteria that survive alcohol and some anaerobes can feed on it. It is fine at surface sterilization but may not penetrate biofilm (build-up of organisms on ssurfaces that can get anaerobic near the bottom, which is why cleaning is so important).

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is an unstable molecule that is just itchin' to ditch that extra oxygen. When it does, we have free radical oxygen, which can form ozone, both h*ll on wheels for single celled organisms (none too good for us either; I own an ozone generator we use to do the house every so often (bugs, mold, bacteria, whatever...DEAD :evil: ) The literature warns that if I stepped into a room during operation, I might bleed from every orifice :shock: ) I ventilate well after use before I THINK about entering.

I happened to buy this machine when Dr. Ingham was visiting my workplace, so I asked her about ozone sterilization and she told me "Perfect combo for green sterilization; high toxicity; low residual." And hey, what does H2O2 break down to in the long run? Water and oxygen. No left overs. High toxicity, low residual, and it penetrates biofilm. And no bleeding from orifices :lol:

HG
So, I guess that either one or the other is fine, but I should lean towards the peroxide if I have a lot of built up film.

What about the air stones? Will having two 6 in. stones or one big one give me any real benefit over having just one 6 in. stone, or won't it make much difference?

I'll try to leave the equipment questions alone after this one :oops:.

Thanks for your advice.

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You are just trying to stir as much as you are aerate, so leaving a spot for subduction (for the surface to go back under) is a good idea. Too much motion makes good fungal colonization tougher as well...

I think alcohol is not a great idea, as it breaks back into long chain carbs; read bacterial food. H2O2, with a little vinegar (acetic acid helps pentrate calcium shells on dormant bacteria). makes way more sense.

HG
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:You are just trying to stir as much as you are aerate, so leaving a spot for subduction (for the surface to go back under) is a good idea. Too much motion makes good fungal colonization tougher as well...

I think alcohol is not a great idea, as it breaks back into long chain carbs; read bacterial food. H2O2, with a little vinegar (acetic acid helps pentrate calcium shells on dormant bacteria). makes way more sense.

HG
OK, I got you. That makes perfect sense when I think about it. If I just have one stone off to the side, it will probably make the water move in a sort of a cyclical motion: moving up on the air stone side and down on the empty side. This should achieve the stirring motion you described.

Thanks for clarifying about the alcohol/peroxide issue. I know that vinegar is a great cleaning aid too. I'm thinking that I should clean out and air-dry the bucket and air stone after every brewing or every-other brewing.

What exactly is the purpose of ACT? Is it to add nutrients like N-P-K, or is it to add bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, which, in turn, help the plants to absorb the nutrients that are already in the soil.

That is why I was suggesting the various ingredients earlier. I though that by adding these things, I could get a brew that had more nitrogen, phosphorous, or potassium.

Now, however, I'm thinking that the real purpose of the tea is to add biological life, not N-P-K. Although, I'm sure that there are some nutrients in there.

Thanks for your response.

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I'm thinking that I should clean out and air-dry the bucket and air stone after every brewing or every-other brewing.
Spot on. Dessication is an excellent sterilant, but not complete. This is like brewing beer; cleanliness is the true path to quality versions of either. And drying out between batches assures a fresh start every time... but EVERY time. NO exceptions...
What exactly is the purpose of ACT? Is it to add nutrients like N-P-K, or is it to add bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, which, in turn, help the plants to absorb the nutrients that are already in the soil.


You are correct...
That is why I was suggesting the various ingredients earlier. I though that by adding these things, I could get a brew that had more nitrogen, phosphorous, or potassium.
You were incorrect... :lol: Not really incorrect but missing the point...
Now, however, I'm thinking that the real purpose of the tea is to add biological life, not N-P-K. Although, I'm sure that there are some nutrients in there.
Now you get it... critters eating critters is how tea works. Much the way yeast or lactobacillus (please note we have both fungal and bacterial kingdoms represented here) is how bread gets made, biology is how soil gets made. It is not a sum of parts whipped up in a beaker, it is a living thing, a breathing, reproducing, killing, dying entity, much as we humans are a sum of biological processes...

We have been sold "better living through chemistry" for a long time when that is clearly now not the case; chemicals are more and more implicated in negative health issues. Doesn't better living through biology make more sense? Isn't that how nature does it? I'll take billions of years of proven success over two hundred years of increasingly bad reports and testing ([url=https://www.truthout.org/article/how-poisonous-unregulated-chemicals-end-up-our-blood]when it's done at all[/url]... :roll: )

HG
Last edited by The Helpful Gardener on Sun Jan 17, 2010 1:43 am, edited 3 times in total.
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:
I'm thinking that I should clean out and air-dry the bucket and air stone after every brewing or every-other brewing.
Spot on. Dessication is an excellent sterilant, but not complete. This is like brewing beer; cleanliness is the true path to quality versions of either. And drying out between batches assures a fresh start every time... but EVERY time. NO exceptions...
What exactly is the purpose of ACT? Is it to add nutrients like N-P-K, or is it to add bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, which, in turn, help the plants to absorb the nutrients that are already in the soil.


You are correct...
That is why I was suggesting the various ingredients earlier. I though that by adding these things, I could get a brew that had more nitrogen, phosphorous, or potassium.
You were incorrect... :lol: Not really incorrect but missing ther point...
Now, however, I'm thinking that the real purpose of the tea is to add biological life, not N-P-K. Although, I'm sure that there are some nutrients in there.
Now you get it... critters eating critters is how tea works. Much the way yeast or lactobacillus (please note we have both fungal and bacterial kingdoms represented here) is how bread gets made, biology is how soil getsd made. It is not a sum of parts whipped up in a beaker it is a living thing, breathing, reproducing, killing dying entity, much as we humans are a sum of biological processes...

We have been sold "better living through chemistry" for a long time when that is clearly now not the case; chemicals are more and more implicated in negative health issues. Doesn't better living through biology make more sense? Isn't that how nature does it? I'll take billions of years of proven success over two hundred years of increasingly bad reports and testing ([url=https://www.truthout.org/article/how-poisonous-unregulated-chemicals-end-up-our-blood]when it's done at all[/url]... :roll: )

HG
Thanks for the article you linked to at the end of your informing post, HG; It was great.

I'm glad to hear that I'm getting the hang of the ACT concept. I know know that the goal with ACT is to inject a serious infusion of microorganisms into the soil. Tell me, how many nutrients are in the tea, a lot or very few?

I would think that there would not me much nitrogen, since the bacteria feed on it and probably consume it (please correct me if I'm totally wrong:lol:). I think that the main reason for adding the nitrogen in the first place is to provide food for the bacteria, not to nourish the soil.

The reason I'm asking about the nutrient levels is that if I want to give an amount of a specific nutrient nutrient to a plant, say, phosphorous to the onions, I don't know if the tea is going to have enough of it or not.

If the tea really has low levels of nutrients and mainly helps the plants to make better use of whatever nutrients are there, should I amend the soil with an organic fertilizer (alfalfa pellets, super phosphate, bone/blood meal, etc.) a day or two before applying the tea? This way, there will be an abundance of the specific nutrients I want for the plants to absorb.

Now, I'm sure that many members here have really great soil and don't really need to add anything. However, my soil is new and has hardly any organic matter in it and wasn't fertilized last year, except for liming in spring and some grass clippings around the tomatoes. I'm thinking that its probably low in available nutrients for plants and would need some additives (organic, of course) to give me the most benefit from the tea.

Thanks for your help.

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The tea is not so much a vessel of your N-P-K You said it yourself in a previous post. It's the key to unlock the nutrients in your soil. So if your onions need phosphorus that that should be added by itself the tea will help with the availability of said phosphorus but won't be what you want to use to add it in so many words.

What you put in your tea is food for the vast herd of critters in there most of the N-P-K you put in will be used up creating this micro herd.

The thing about people having the greatest soil that they don't need to add anything is just not so. Everything in your garden is using up the nutrients all the time. The plants the bacteria etc. So you should always add something at least compost to add those nutrients back to the soil (other good things would be green manures etc). That is where the tea comes into play.


Alright THG your turn to expand on this as well as check me.

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Not bad, Gixx, not bad, but you are still missing the same key point that G5 is missing when posting...
I would think that there would not me much nitrogen, since the bacteria feed on it and probably consume it (please correct me if I'm totally wrong:lol:). I think that the main reason for adding the nitrogen in the first place is to provide food for the bacteria, not to nourish the soil.


Here's the thing; the bacteria ARE the fertilizer. The critters ARE the nutrients.

They don't just consume nitrogen; they are how Nature STORES nitrogen. As the only way to then unlock it is to get eaten by something with a higher carbon to nitrogen ratio (pretty easy as at 5:1, NOTHING is lower than a bacteria), the only thing really necessary to fertilize is higher level predators like protozoa, nematodes, and the like, as THEY are the key to releasing nitrogen directly (and other things indirectly). THEY are the key item you are brewing for. Molasses and such feed bacteria; THEY are simply feedstock, the mast foodsource for soil...

What better way to store nitrogen than a living breathing thing that actually has a need to hang around in the root zones of plants? Quite convenient. Polysaccharide glues to stick it in place so it can't wash away (and the glues also help aggregate soil for better porosity and therefore field capacity for water). Some bacteria actually do help with fertilizing; phosphorus solubilizing bacteria ([url=https://www.fnca.mext.go.jp/bf/bfm/pdf/4_4_Phosphate_Solubilizers0403.pdf]PSB's[/url]) make mineral phosphate plant available (not to exclude the fungii all together, we should mention their key role in the phosphorus cycle with their high phospholipid content), nitrosomonas and nitrobacters take the ammonia excretions of our higher level predators from its noxious form to plant available nitrogen, but most importantly they are fodder for our more advanced livestock.

As chemical fertilizers and pesticides kill these higher level predators pretty quickly, chemically treated soils CAN lock bacterially (and collapse and compact, and lose field capacity and all sorts of other bad things). Organic soils CANNOT, unless unbalanced by some other outer force (flood, fire, etc.) . One way simply works better, safer, and more sustainably, IMO, but judge for yourself... :D

HG
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Not bad, Gixx, not bad, but you are still missing the same key point that G5 is missing when posting...
I would think that there would not me much nitrogen, since the bacteria feed on it and probably consume it (please correct me if I'm totally wrong:lol:). I think that the main reason for adding the nitrogen in the first place is to provide food for the bacteria, not to nourish the soil.


Here's the thing; the bacteria ARE the fertilizer. The critters ARE the nutrients.

They don't just consume nitrogen; they are how Nature STORES nitrogen. As the only way to then unlock it is to get eaten by something with a higher carbon to nitrogen ratio (pretty easy as at 5:1, NOTHING is lower than a bacteria), the only thing really necessary to fertilize is higher level predators like protozoa, nematodes, and the like, as THEY are the key to releasing nitrogen directly (and other things indirectly). THEY are the key item you are brewing for. Molasses and such feed bacteria; THEY are simply feedstock, the mast foodsource for soil...

What better way to store nitrogen than a living breathing thing that actually has a need to hang around in the root zones of plants? Quite convenient. Polysaccharide glues to stick it in place so it can't wash away (and the glues also help aggregate soil for better porosity and therefore field capacity for water). Some bacteria actually do help with fertilizing; phosphorus solubilizing bacteria ([url=https://www.fnca.mext.go.jp/bf/bfm/pdf/4_4_Phosphate_Solubilizers0403.pdf]PSB's[/url]) make mineral phosphate plant available (not to exclude the fungii all together, we should mention their key role in the phosphorus cycle with their high phospholipid content), nitrosomonas and nitrobacters take the ammonia excretions of our higher level predators from its noxious form to plant available nitrogen, but most importantly they are fodder for our more advanced livestock.

As chemical fertilizers and pesticides kill these higher level predators pretty quickly, chemically treated soils CAN lock bacterially (and collapse and compact, and lose field capacity and all sorts of other bad things). Organic soils CANNOT, unless unbalanced by some other outer force (flood, fire, etc.) . One way simply works better, safer, and more sustainably, IMO, but judge for yourself... :D

HG
Wow, great information Gix and HG. I understand bacteria's role in the tea and soil much more, now. I also have a better idea of how the chemical fertilizers are bad for the soil (always knew they were, just didn't know exactly how).

Let me see if I'm getting the hang of this. When the bacteria feed on the nitrogen in the tea (or in the earth), they are not eliminating it, just storing it. Although some bacteria make nutrients directly available to plants,but for the most part, they must be eaten by protozoa and nematodes for their stored nitrogen to become usable by the plants. I think this is all correct.

What about the phosphorous and potassium? Do the bacteria store these too, or are they the ones that make it available to the plants?

What role do fungi play in all of this; do they too eat the bacteria or do they store nutrients and wait to be eaten?

Is this the only way that plants can use nutrients; that is, is it only through the presence of biological life in the soil that the nutrients there can be used by plants?

Thanks for giving me a schooling in soil biology and for the PDF (I'm saving it).:D

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Re: phosphorus.

The basic unit of energy for bacteria is adenosine triphopshate. So empirically, we know adding bacteria/archea is adding P. But normally when I think of P, I think of maintaining fungi.

Re: you have to add something of you take away...

Are you sure you have to add it? Who fertilized the great forests? Did biomass only increase relative to what was added by animals traveling in from outside the system? Then how did anything happen before animals? How did biomass above ground increase?

Bedrock. Water. Sun. Air. That's how. Nature is a wondrous thing, and the little miracle workers are almost all too small to see with a human eye.

To me, adding compost is not about NPK, it's about speeding up the process of building humus and aggregates, skipping steps in the order of succession. It's techology we use to alter nature in a cooperative way. Aerated compost tea is merely a more advanced technology for doing a lot of the same stuff with a fraction of the compost.
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I (mostly) agree, toil. But isn't [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adenosine]adenosine[/url] an amine grouping and all about the nitrogen too?

G5, still not quite there; you still want bacteria to eat nitrogen and they are way more about carbs (the sweet tooth in me agrees wholeheartedly)or ammonia . They often congregate around roots, where plants will exude polysaccharide root exudates (Elaine Ingham call this "cake and cookies").

Once the plant attracts bacteria and fungii with cake and cookies, (some to help out directly, like PSB's and nitrogen converters, some just to get munched) the protozoa show up to eat bacteria and start the poop loop RIGHT where the plant needs them, in close association to the roots! It's a lovely system, everyone giving, and getting, and coexisiting (despite a little of the "red fang and claw" stuff).

Forget the NPK; that's for reading the side of a bag of blue goo. Nature has a incredibly resilient and effective system for dealing with this issue of fertilization. Get the soil healthy enough and you can jack the brix (sugar) levels in plants so high, many disease and insects cease to be an issue. Try to do that with a chemical fertilizer...

When trying to make plants thrive, make your soil thrive first. Just that easy.

HG
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That's true about adenosine hg, but every ATP molecule has 3 P atoms. So empirically, we can say every organism has some P. Like I said though, when I think of accessing P I think of mineralizing insoluble P found in inert materia. But if bacteria can survive and multiply, there must be P. And if there is P, you can access it if you try. In fact, it appears that if you don't try, and just add soluble P, you risk breaking the cycle, cutting out your P extractors, and having to keep your plants on P support. When I first stopped using chemical fertilizer, that's literally what I did: pee support.

The larger point is the same as hg's just not as clear and simple: if you have the biomass, and you have the right balance of microorganisms and enough biomass, the NPK is a non-issue.

I can think of two ways to evaluate soil: texture and what weeds grow, and with a microscope. Chemical analysis is a waste of time. I'm hoping to have a scope soon, so I can learn to ID and evetually evaluate.

Short on N? Feed the bacteria. Weeds outcompeting the brassicas? You need more fungi (and all the fungal buddies like nematodes) relative to bacteria to normalize the N cycle. Brassicas ok but tomatoes not happy? More fungi still. Trees not happy? More fungi still.

That's real simplistic, but that's the idea. It's based on "succession". The common thread is nutrient cycling by a complete soil foodweb (can I say that here?).

So when an animal visits your garden, now you can wonder if any new and wonderful microbes it is wearing. Another reason bugs rock.


If this is interesting to you, why not order a copy of teaming with microbes and read it with HG? There is a thread. Should be really cool for everyone.
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Location: TN/GA 7b

Toil wrote: If this is interesting to you, why not order a copy of teaming with microbes and read it with HG? There is a thread. Should be really cool for everyone.
I do want to read it, but I just realized the pun in the title. I had been hearing about this book and had assumed the title was Teeming with Microbes ,meaning there are billions of them (which of course there are), but here I find out it is Teaming with Microbes, meaning we should partner up with them! Interesting!

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