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To confirm: The CEC (cation exchange capacity) is a measurement of how much of a negative charge the soil contains (which is influenced by the make-up of the soil). This negative charge influences how many positively charged nutrient (element) ions the soil can attract, hold, and exchange. Nutrients are usable by plants when they are in their ionic form. Negatively charged soil elements will also repel negative nutrient ions (anions).

I think I'm two for two so far :D.

What happens to the anions and cations after they are repelled by or attracted to the soil. I'm thinking that both the anions and cations can be used by the plants, but that the anions that are repelled by the soil have a chance at being washed out, as opposed to the cations which are held.

Are the ionic nutrients ready to be used by the plants or do they still need to interact with the microbiological life forms? Maybe it is the interaction with the microbes that makes the nutrients ionic, I'm not sure on this one.

Toil, great information, especially about the small batches of compost tea. That will come in handy for when the seedlings start growing.

One thing I wonder about is the statement that an aquarium pump is only good for a gallon or two of tea. I find that hard to believe since that is what most people seem to use for a 5 gal. batch of tea, and the math that HG and I did a few posts (page or two) ago, seems to support this.

What's your opinion on this?
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Ouf, I have nothing to back up my hearsay.

Let me work on it. It's about dissolved oxygen, and the guy's point to me was that I was "doing it wrong". I kinda just believed him. Maybe i should not have spoken, but I wanted to give the context of the conversation.

Be patient, I gotta go sing a concert and tomorrow I travel. I should be warming up right now.

Damn HG! It's like crack!
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garden5 wrote:Good information, everyone!

Thanks HG, for letting me know that it's the subject that's difficult and it's not just me.
Don't feel bad I'm still trying to figure it out some 17 or so pages later.

What really gets me is why I'm not getting emails of updates to this most awesome thread. :x

:edit: I posted this a page or so ago, it seems like you got it. I'm pretty much there. It's hard to keep up though after reading the 3 pages I missed. Still computing it all :)

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Hang ten Gixx, good to see you on the book club forum too. You're doin' fine...

10-4, G5, the training wheels are officially gone. You're getting the hang of this...

To come back to thread, when we add tea to soil, we are adding biology above all other things. This biology becomes the innoculant for a larger colony that becomes a nutrient sink BEYOND the CEC, AND our soil "coagulant" (increasing tilth and field capacity), AND one of the key forces that helps bring nutrients out of the CEC and make it plant available (ionic forms are plant available forms). My position is that THIS is the key focus to soil health going far on beyond ANYTHING you can do with chemicals. THAT'S why we love this thread as we do...

HG
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Hang ten Gixx, good to see you on the book club forum too. You're doin' fine...

10-4, G5, the training wheels are officially gone. You're getting the hang of this...

To come back to thread, when we add tea to soil, we are adding biology above all other things. This biology becomes the innoculant for a larger colony that becomes a nutrient sink BEYOND the CEC, AND our soil "coagulant" (increasing tilth and field capacity), AND one of the key forces that helps bring nutrients out of the CEC and make it plant available (ionic forms are plant available forms). My position is that THIS is the key focus to soil health going far on beyond ANYTHING you can do with chemicals. THAT'S why we love this thread as we do...

HG
Hmm, so the the microbes store up all the cationic nutrients that the soil can't handle and the anionic ones the soil repels. That makes perfect sense. Not only do they store it, they also move it into the plant's root zone since they are attracted there by the polysaccharides (?) (remembered the concept, forgot the term) that the plants exude through the roots. If you think about it, having microbes is like having a 100% organic fertilization system built right into the soil :P.

OK, HG, here is something that intrigues me. A few pages ago, we spoke about the benefits of adding ACT to little seedlings since the microbes not only add some nutrients, they also help in the development of the seedlings roots. However, I recently read that you want to plant seeds in soil-less, or at least sterile, planting medium and not compost because the microorganisms in compost that help large plants grow well are actually detrimental to seedling and can kill them :shock:. Could these be the anaerobic microbes that are killed in the aeration process of the tea that are harmful to seedlings?

What are your insights on this subject?

Toil, it looks like you might be in the right with your statement. At the very least, my math a few pages ago does not pertain to it :oops:. You are speaking about disolved oxygen (something I don't fully understan...yet 8)); my calculations were referring to how many times the pump turns the water in the bucket.
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The microbes don't store as much as they just ARE nutrients that plants can use; they need to be eaten to release said nutrient. But that more N, more P, more traces than we can store in CEC, right? And these won't wash away like free phosphorus... so it not like, it IS like having a fert factory in the soil. Exactly so...

The reason so many places are keen on sterile for seedling mix is the fact that they are about to hit these lil fellers with the chemical nasty, and as we've discussed elswhere, doing that is going to whack good guys before bad guys. Sterility is a false attempt to stack the biological deck or at least get the plant a little start before pathological organisms start. Organically we are not allowing any particular organism dominance, so the seedlings choose who to provide with cake and cookies (we are not so much establishing real roots at this stage as we are developing symbiot mycorhizal colonies that work with the seedlings, and the plant does a pretty good job of that. Or it should, anyway).

If I am developing a forum, I can just invite people I know to the forum, and it becomes a pretty sterile place, limited by what and who I know. If I invite the world, it gets filled fast with a crazy patchwork of personalities and characters, and takes on a life of it's own, but in so doing becomes SO much more than my pick and choose forum ever could. Kind of like this nuttiness :wink: .

Soil is NO different... only if you are ready to work in dead soil by feeding ammonia salt is sterility important. Just tried to explain to wife why sourdough starter is not "rotting" on top of refrigerator. Same thing. Good healthy cultures support health, not endanger it

HG
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I have to add: seeds that get into my wormbins sprout like editeds. They never damp off, they just blanch and die from dark.

Sterile schmerile.
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Nice technical terms, toil... :roll:

:lol:

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Lol. You know the kitty cations and anions and polysaccharides made my head spin. I was too dizzy to sound smart.


I caught myself using the curse "edited" to myself today. As in edited, not a cursed word edited to read edited.
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Thanks for reminding me about the bacteria being the nutrients, I knew that they were and can't believe that I almost regressed back to our former discussion.

I think that I should be alright starting/growing my seeds in my sifted compost, which is mostly dirt, anyway. I don't plan on adding any inorganic fertilizers, but will probably do some compost tea with the extraction-method that Toil mentioned.

Also, I now want to get some worm castings and add them to the soil and make some tea with them. Are most all kinds sold in the store organic, or are there certain things I should look out for when buying WC?

Well, I guess that since we discussed nitrogen, and phosphorous, let's round out the "big three" with potassium. What are your insights on how the microbes relate to the K levels in the soil?
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At the risk of sounding elitist, commercial worm castings are not a great way to go unless you are very near the source and they feed good stuff.

Maybe do it this once, but composting or worm binning is the way to go.

There are a bunch of ideas in the vermiculture threads. Check em out. I got my favorite up there. Easy as pie but you need a sowing machine.
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or are there certain things I should look out for when buying WC?
if you can biological and nutrient analysis is best. or know the source and call and ask how they run things. how they ship and store, things like that.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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Even the really big boys in this game still rely on worms to get the job done. As noted, natural systems tend towards stability and fertility. I don't find any reason to dis the commercial guys at all; I was making VERY nice castings in a commercial unit and harvesting a LOT of casts fast...

That said, I do ok in my veggie garden too; probably took a five gallon bucket for other projects and still tons left. Nature just does... but I was harvesting ten times that weekly without even trying in a 16 by 4 by 4 commercial bottom drop type bin,if we'd of pushed it we could have done five times that easy... and no different than what you get from a homestyle unit, not one bit...

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HG check out the design I use. Worm bin bag. It's a diy flow thru. Makes castings fast. Just like you describe. Only smaller.

It's very easy to manage moisture, as it breathes. The material is polyester felt. Instructables dot com.


[img]https://wiki.vermicomposters.com/wormbin/images/4/4a/Wormbinbag.jpg[/img]
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I wouldn't call you an elitist, Toil, I call you a purist!

I'd love to have my own worm bin, but I don't have an idea about them. I don't even have my tea brewer up and running yet, one thing at a time :shock: :lol:.

You have an interesting setup, Toil, how's it work? On second thought, let's not take this thread any more off topic than it already has been :lol:. After I get this soil biology thing down, I'll post another thread on vermicomposting. I definitely want to learn about that, too.

First, the tea; second, the worms :wink:.
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Yeah, back to tea.

Can anyone tell me how compost tea differs from worm casting tea? Should I mix them? Use them different? I know they are not actually the same thing at all.

HG? Someone?
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No, they are the same thing, pretty much, we just ran one through a pile and one through a worm. The concept remains the same; biological innoculation...

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HG, what are your thoughts on the "direct extraction" method described by Toil?

Also, and I know I asked this before but can't find the post, can ACT be too strong, that is, is there a required minimum dilution rate, or can I use it full strength?

I want to give it to my seedlings as they're growing under the lights, but don't want to over-power them.

Thanks.
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It's more compost intense, as noted, but as all we are trying to do is culture, rather than populate the soil, this is a viable method. Be sure of water and compost quality even more than usual, apply immediately, as even a short sit could be disastrous, and you might even kick in a teaspoon of mollasses per gallon just to boost the innoculation process.

But it would work, no doubts... it would take longer than compost tea (we have multiplied the original inhabitants by facters of ten or twenty, even more there) to get effects, but it would work...

HG
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Could you explain exactly what role the molasses play in the tea? How to they affect/benefit the microbes?
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It's simply a bacterial food, but in their increase, they provide protozoal food, and so on and so forth...

HG
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So, you are saying that bacteria multiply more rapidly when they are feeding? How do the levels of bacteria increase, anyway? Do they breed with one another or do they send out other bacteria from themselves?

Thanks.
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Yes, exactly. Bacteria multiply by cellular division; that increases as their energy inputs increase, and glucose is a great kicker...

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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Yes, exactly. Bacteria multiply by cellular division; that increases as their energy inputs increase, and glucose is a great kicker...

HG
Wow, I got it right. Do the fungi, protozoa, and other microbes multiply in the same manner?
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Fungi not so much; we need to get those spores into the soil to grow. But an increase in bacteria means an automatic increase in protozoa; increase any prey population and the predator population booms to match it. Doesn't matter if we are talking lions and wildebeest or soil biology. More little fish mean more big fish...

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Since we discussed how microbes affect the N and P of the soil, let's round it out by reviewing how they affect the potassium. I'm assuming that they are made up of this compound like they are of N and P.
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Nope. Biology is a lousy sink for K. That's mostly in the rocks, but that weak acid response with the N cycle is enough to get us what we need.

It acts as sort of a regulator in plants for many different functions (know how when we say someone is chemically imbalanced? In plants it's likely K :wink: ) In soils it takes on several different roles, making it more likely to be a long term resource than a washed away memory, and it is usually not an issue.

The folks at University of MinneSOta (think I said that right :wink: ) have [url=https://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/cropsystems/DC6794.html]a good page on K[/url].

I have to say the adding of fertilizer seems silly when the most common forms they are taking about there are salts like potassium chloride, AND as they note, that natural plant action moves it from unavailable to slow to ready. Some stone dust seems a better idea to me; put it in as unavailable K and let the plants get it out when they need it. But what do I know?

HG
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Interesting HG. I think i might stop reading books cause you always have good links to read.

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Don't EVER stop reading books on my account. I am a book lover and read several a week...

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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Don't EVER stop reading books on my account. I am a book lover and read several a week...

HG
Just kidding geesh! :D I was actually reading right now sitting by the PC when my email alerted me to some new email.

Now back to where we were!

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Good information, HG. Now, about the inoculation.

When we are brewing the tea, we are multiplying the amount of microbes that are residing in the compost.

When we apply the tea, we are adding the now-multiplied microbes to the soil. What happens next?

After all of the bacteria are in the soil, do the continue to increase in number; or do they feed on each other, releasing nutrients into the soil, but decreasing in number, thus requiring more applications.

I'd guess that probably a little of both (feeding and multiplying) are going on, but do their numbers tend to increase or decrease once they are out of the tea and are in the soil?

Thanks for shedding some light on this subject.

Th
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Once that stuff is out of the end of the sprayer we are no longer in control. We have merely ADDED to existing populations, and hopefully have added to the diversity, or at least the gene pool of the existing soil organisms. If we get this into the ground with some additional food (sugars like molasses, which is valuable in it's own right), habitat (humus; the particles that cloud our tea) and predators (the biggest increases in a properly brewed tea will be protozoa), we have given the soil ecology a booster shot.

Predation starts weak acid forces etching mineral nutrition from CEC for plants. Increased microbial populations naturally migrate to the plant roots whose polysaccharide exudates attract them. The rhizosphere or root zone becomes a teeming jungle where the everyday tooth and claw of natural predation releases nitrogen and phosphorus in exactly the place that plants want and need it; targeted economical delivery of solubilized nutrition means little run-off and water pollution.

What makes anyone think they can do better than that with a chemical?

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Ahhh! ACT is some beautiful stuff. I have been itching to make some for a while. All this talk isn't helping but keep it up. I will sure stay tuned. :D

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I see, so it can go any number of ways. Some bacteria may thrive, others will be killed off. I bet that there are a lot of variables, like climate, soil conditions, and even human involvement, that contribute to the stat of the soil-ecosystem. The colonies probably will behave slightly differently from one application to another, just from the fact that there are probably different types of bacteria in each brewing.

In the end....it's all good 8).

I know where you are coming from, Gix. I want to start brewing this stuff, too, but I don't even have anything to put it on yet. I'm going to change that today :wink:.

What's your opinion, HG, on having the compost loose or bagged in the brewer. I'm thinking that loose is a little better.
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I have not bagged it yet but many do. I do however stretch a shirt over a bucket and then pour the tea into that which strains out MOST of the particles. Not sure which would be better In my OPINION i would think that free would be better than caged. Most people put it in a bag so they can foliar feed without clogging a sprayer but since I strain mine I figure whats the difference except a little more work.

HG check me on this.

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Depends on your delivery system, G5. Loose is great if you are using a watering can with a rose you can clean out easily, but it just won't work for a sprayer with a misting tip. You certainly get more water exposed that way, but there are down sides for any system. Got to figure out what works for you...

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Th add to HG I use my watering can to apply tea. My rose would clog up and fast. It's easy to remove and clean but that was getting to be a hassle. Maybe I was rushing the pouring or something but it still went better for me at least a little bit filtered.

Don't forget to throw the filterings on the compost for an added boost there as well.

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Are there any other ingredients, other that compost and molasses, that anyone recommends putting in the tea? What is there role.
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I know this is a long thread, but please do take the time to go back to the beginning and read through it. Let's not make it longer by repeating information which has previously been provided.

Thank you.

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Cynthia is right, it's all there...

HG
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