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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.

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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...

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OOOPS :oops:....Sorry HG and Cynthia.

I thought that this information was elsewhere in this thread, but when I didn't find it, I thought that I was mistaken. I will go back and do a more thorough search.

I mentioned one additive earlier that I though I read on a previous post many pages back in the thread. I was told that this additive (can't remember what it was...bone meal?) was actually detrimental to have in ACT. I figured that I would try to get some "current" information on the subject.

Perhaps I misread something a couple pages ago. I totally see your reasoning for wanting to keep things fresh in the thread and not rehash old discussions.

So, I'll post something that I don't think has been discussed yet. What to do think about adding supplemental nutrition before adding that tea?

Since the bacteria in the tea, aside from "being" the nutrients, also make nutrients in the soil more readily available to plants, why not add some alfalfa meal (N) or some bone meal (P) before you add the tea? This way, you can give the plants a strong shot of a particular nutrient, maybe if they are lacking in one.

Can a plant get "too much" nutrition, or will it only take up no more than is good fro it?

Thanks.
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I am far more worried about the tea getting too much nutrition rather than the plants...

Should your added dosing of nitrogen become available to the bacteria (and I see little to stop that) then they can ramp up to levels that use all available oxygen in the fluid, and CRASH, you just wasted vast ammounts of nitrogen and phophorus as you gas them off to the air... not good. Not to mention you just killed most of the biology, THE REASON FOR THE TEA IN THE FIRST PLACE :!:

G5, you are creeping back to your chemistry set again... hard to put down, is it? :wink: :lol:

Spread your alfalfa on your lawn and spray your tea on it. THAT makes sense. You are trying to turn tea into chemicals again and it still needs to be biology...

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Correct me if I'm wrong garden5, but as I read that last point G5 was talking about adding supplemental nutrition TO THE SOIL prior to adding the compost tea, not adding to the tea. Does that make a difference? It sounds like what you were saying at the end HG re putting the alfalfa on the lawn and then spraying the compost tea. I think both of you were talking about the same thing.

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rainbowgardener wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong garden5, but as I read that last point G5 was talking about adding supplemental nutrition TO THE SOIL prior to adding the compost tea, not adding to the tea. Does that make a difference? It sounds like what you were saying at the end HG re putting the alfalfa on the lawn and then spraying the compost tea. I think both of you were talking about the same thing.
You got it right, RG.

Looking back at my post, it really looks like I was talking about adding the components to my tea, I should have been more clear. I want to add these things to my soil, so that there will be plenty of nutrients for the bacteria to release. Now, I'm sure that if I had well amended soil with plenty of compost, this might not be a real issue, but I don't.

HG, I hear what you are saying about the chemistry kit..it is hard to put it down :lol:. But, really, I do see how extremely beneficial it is to have the microorganisms and not just the nutrients. The microorganisms, make the soil more fertile, hold water better, and even put more organic matter into the soil by helping it to decompose. I really do understand how infinitely better it is to add microbes to the soil than just NPK. However, the microbes themselves are the NPK, so you do end up adding that too.

Now, please don't take this as argumentative when I say this, but when it comes right down to it, isn't it the nutrients that make the plants grow? I mean, hypothetically, if the microbes were not composed of nutrients, and the soil had none (yeah, I know that's impossible :lol:), the plants would not grow.

However, in reality, the microbes are made of nutrients and the soil contains nutrients and by adding theses microbes, we are doing amazing things to the soil...things that no "non-living," nutrient-injecting fertilizer could ever do. The microbes do help in getting nutrients to the plants, but they also help is so many other ways too.

I guess that I'm over-looking all of the really important, non-nutrient benefits of the microbes, and focusing on only the nutrient-oriented ones. I think that I'm getting it now (again :oops:). But, just to satisfy my dumb curiosity, is there a way to maximize the nutrient-oriented benefits of the organisms? Could that way be treating the soil with those nutrients (in organic form, of course), before the application of the tea or would this still be bad?

Thanks a lot for your insights and for listening to my ramblings :oops:.

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Yes G5 there is an optimal way to maximize the biological component of soil.

Leave it alone.

You want to add all this nitrogen, but what will that do to the fungal components? You will certainly be pushing things towards a more bacterial F:B ratio, and that might well create enough imbalance to disturb certain species, cause bacterial locking of nitrogen or even cause bacterial attacks on beneficials (I have watched a nematode being attacked like this under a microscope as food supplies on the slide ran low).

If you are low in nitrogen or humus the alfalfa will help, but now you have focused on a single aspect of nutrition and favored only a single aspect of the biology, We have already established that it is a complex system and not NPKs that plants need, but your human thinking only sees the chemistry. Plants only see biology. Who's wrong? Just add compost; a complete toolbox that allows the plants to choose what it wants... better than jamming nitrogen.

You keep wanting to interfere with the natural process with these plans that you are sure will be beneficial, but you only see the parts you are comfortable with or that make sense to you. This is not a G5 failing, but a human failing. We far too often barge about, thinking we have a better way, without an understanding of the complex systems that we tamper with. And more often than not we get things wrong.

How long were we sure that plowing was a necessity? Turns out not. Turns out it does more damage than good...

How many of us still think we need to eradicate every weed? Turns out not. Turns out many are beneficial to plantings and crops when managed correctly...

How long has everyone been convinced that adding nitrogen to soils makes them more fertile? Seems some of us can STILL not get past that idea :wink: , but it turn out that that too is not the case, that balanced, healthy living soils are just as productive, with minimal input and labor. We need not add anything to a truly healthy soil; it makes what it needs itself.

Tea does nothing but add to the cast of characters, but even that is subject to the whims of the soils and plants. THEY, not you, decide who stays and goes, who lives or dies. You are clinging to an illusion of control that has meaning only for you; not to the plants, not to the soil. Best to simply get your soil healthy and then get out of the way...

And throw away that d**n chemistry set... :lol:

HG
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G5, bacteria can pull N right out of the air. Fungi pull P from rock. Sure it all comes down to nutrients, but you need to remember the special role of the milddleman, and not try to cut him out of the deal. Otherwise, you have trouble matching up the right nutrients at the right moment to the right plants.

There are all kinds of foods that can be applied to stimulate bacterial or fungal life. Overdoing it in your soil is just like overdoing it in your tea. But that's another thread.
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I thought I had this thing down, but it seems like I've lost it. But, when I think about it, I didn't really "loose" it, I just "got" something else; I'll explain.

I finally learned and understood how the bacteria improved the soil, congregated around the plant roots, and how they "were" the phosphorous and nitrogen. I also understood how the microbes made already present nutrients available to the plants and how they literally carried on their own ecosystem (micorenvironment might be a better term) in the soil. I'm positive that there are even more ways than what I am aware of that they help the plants and the soil. I don't think I ever "lost" any of this.

Make no mistake, when I say "understand," I'm merely indicating that I have an, at best, basic concept of some of the things that are going on in the soil thanks to the microbes. I'm undoubtedly sure that I have much more to learn about microbes and their influences on the soil.

I can see now that my error was in thinking, not that the bacteria needed my help, but that I even could help. I was thinking the same way that every maker of toxic chemical fertilizer at some point in time thought. That is, that I could manipulate specific components (resources) of the soil food web and expect that I would do a better job with them than nature itself. Now, this might not sound like an unreasonable idea to some people, until on important fact is faced: in spite of all we know about how plants and nature works, we still do not have a 100% perfect understanding of it. Bearing this in mind, how can we think that we can even match nature, let alone improve upon it? This is the "something else" that I got.

I'm thinking about the "meatloaf and hamburger" story that I think you used when I was having the trouble with the bacteria "being" the nutrients issue. I think I have one for my "nutrient mindset."

Imagine that the bacteria bettering the soil are like builders building a house. Instead of just giving the builders the tools and materials they need and letting them go at; I'm giving them the tools and materials that I think they need, even though I don't know that much about building a house.

I see now, that the only way to "improve" or "help" nature, if you want to use those words, is to simply add more of it. Blossom drop? Add some compost and microbes. All vegetative growth and no fruit? Add some compost and biology. They will all work everything out. I think I'm trading in that confounded chemistry set for a microscope!

What do you think, HG; do I have it?
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Back on track, G5. :D

That's exactly it...

If we knew how to do everyting to make soils and ecosystems work, they wouldn't be turning Biosphere II into a global warming research center. The very concept that science can supplant fuctional ecosystem should have died with that experiment. We tend to undervalue these natural resources, as we think we can replace them ourselves.

That is incorrect. These services supplied by bacteria and fungi are irreplaceable and not still fully understood. Keep poking G5 and you quickly find you are running by the best available science and into unknown lands. We understand little of the soil, few of it's denizens and almost nothing about who works with who. The very soil closest at hand to you now is 90% likely to have an undescribed species in a handful, and new genii cannot be ruled out either. Terra firma IS terra incognito...

I had the privelege and pleasure last Friday of speaking at length with Paul Sachs, the founder of [url=https://www.norganics.com/]North Country Organics[/url]and elder statesman for the organic movement in these United States. He told me the story of this book on humus he would get from Interlibrary loan, a huge thing written in the 1920's that resided out in the Midwest somewhere so he wouldn't get it for a month, and when he did he only had it for a week, losing sleep to read it before it had to go back.

He finally found the book years later when he was established, paying hundreds of dollars for it even back in the 70's; he said it was really the only good book on the topic he knew of. About a decade or so back he found a new book on the topic, also hundreds, and bought it for all the new information he could glean...

He said it was remarkably like reading the same book, there was no new information. We have known about micorrhizal fungi since then, we have know the role of bacteria in nitrogen cycles. Okay we used to think actinomycetes was a fungus, but we now call them actinobacters as we know they are more like bacteria. The leaps forward in soil biology of the last 8 decades have been more the forward progress of a body hitting the floor than anything else... :lol:

Here's the good news. Like my old J-gardening mentor used to tell people when they said they don't believe in Feng Shui, "That's okay, it works anyhow." The biology will get along just fine, ecosystems always heal themselves left alone. It is only us that can get in the way, so until we better learn natures ways, observing and adjusting to existing conditions, the finest thing we can do is leave mostly alone, and make gentle suggestions. THAT'S what tea is...

S
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I can see now that my error was in thinking, not that the bacteria needed my help, but that I even could help.
you can help yourself and others! Humans are capable of making drastic but good changes. Check out tera preta. Maybe you can't micromanage, but you can manage.
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Great! I'm glad to know I'm getting it right :D.

Toil, I get what you are saying. What I meant by my statement was that I can't help the microbes do better than they already are.

Sorry, I gave up clarity for dramatic display in that statement :lol:.
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I never say never. Never is almost always wrong.

There are certain things we can do, and very specific times that those things are appropriate. That said, most people do not have the skills or knowledge to determine what or when those times and places are. Assuming we will mess things up is a fairly safe bet, but one we rarely make money on. Unless you are looking at an SFI bioassay with the skills to determine what it all means, you are just guessing at answers you don't even know the questions to...

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and compost tea is a pretty good guess!
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The beauty of the tea is that you are simply making available a toolbox for G5's builders, a fully stocked van that allows the real architects to do the arches and vaults we have no concept of how to build... and that is okay; we don't need to know. They do... :D

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I have a question for you, Toil, regarding your direct-extraction tea. If I used a modified kitchen mixer to whip it for the five minuets, would this be better that just stirring it, since it incorporates more air, or would it be worse, maybe because it harms the microbes. I'm in the dark on this one, but I'm leaning towards better. What say you?

Thanks.

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I don't think I have any way of answering that question. I would just be guessing. Sorry G5.

I can tell you that the stirring is not for air, it's for stirring and dispersing the microbes. You're going to apply this right away remember? And out there, there's air.
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Umm...slicing and dicing as beneficial to living organisms?

Are we thinking like a chemist or a biologist?

:lol:

Do you really think it will get better if we set to frappe?

:P

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A couple of ice cubes and a little umbrella, your garden will love it. :D

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Are we thinking like a chemist or a biologist?

Laughing
:lol: Too funny, HG. I think I'm thinking like someone who has to stop thinking so much! :D.

Anyway, I was thinking along the lines of a hand mixer, like you mix cake batter with. However, after seeing everyone's opinion, I think I'll just play it safe and use a stick or a big spoon instead.

Thanks.
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The organisms in tea are not the sissies we once thought they were; found a feller online doing slide counts on impeller sprayed biology in tea and he found minimal reduction in counts with this once verboten method we were all sure was so deadly. So I may be overreacting...

But again, you are thinking along that "what's best and easiest for me, the human" line again, and no good comes from that. Start thinking like a microbe, and a gentle washing through the soil until we find our plant partner just seems like a more natural and healthful method, does it not?

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I've heard of a paddle on a drill...

And you do want some vigorous stirring. I've used a wooden spoon, bare hands, and tried putting all the compost in a small container with water, shaking it up, and pouring that into the bigger bucket.

they all seem to do the same thing.
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But again, you are thinking along that "what's best and easiest for me, the human" line again, and no good comes from that.
Ironically, adding microbes to the soil and letting them do their thing is the best and easiest thing to improve the soil and the garden. Plenty of good comes from that :).

I do agree with your statement, though. I've found, too, that the easiest way is usually not the best way; just look at chemical weed killers, for example. However, like you said, HG, never say "never." ACT is one of the few exceptions to this rule.
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Why not just use the bubbles to mix the tea. They not only supply oxygen but are mixing the whole time as well. I also remember reading maybe in this thread something about he size of the bubbles making a difference. Not to big or to too small. Too small of a bubble can cut microbes but just small enough creates a higher surface to air ratio, now bringing physics into the biology. Sound right HG?

I think you are making too complicated. We are just taking bacteria etc and increasing their growth rate to supply the soil thereby increasing the soil food web. Making the nutrients in the soil more available to plants as well as making nutrients themselves through their battle for existence. The bacteria, protozoa, nematodes, fungi all compete for their slice of the microbial pie. Eating, dying and excreting excess nutrients in the process. they know what they are doing let them do their job.

HG sound right? I hope.

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I think I remember reading that the reason you don't want to be rough in compost tea is so as not to destroy fungal hyphae.

In a slurry I'm not sure.
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When you make sourdough bread, you proof your culture, mix in the flour, but don't mix too much. Some little lumps are left here and there but the biology finds them and redistributes them in the next proof. If you mess it around too much you deflate it and your bread ends up flat and doughy instead of nice and fluffed...

You have to trust the biology to do its job. It always does if you let it; it sometimes won't if you fuss about.

Don't fuss about... :wink:

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gixxerific wrote:Why not just use the bubbles to mix the tea. They not only supply oxygen but are mixing the whole time as well. I also remember reading maybe in this thread something about he size of the bubbles making a difference. Not to big or to too small. Too small of a bubble can cut microbes but just small enough creates a higher surface to air ratio, now bringing physics into the biology. Sound right HG?

I think you are making too complicated. We are just taking bacteria etc and increasing their growth rate to supply the soil thereby increasing the soil food web. Making the nutrients in the soil more available to plants as well as making nutrients themselves through their battle for existence. The bacteria, protozoa, nematodes, fungi all compete for their slice of the microbial pie. Eating, dying and excreting excess nutrients in the process. they know what they are doing let them do their job.

HG sound right? I hope.
You got it right, Gix.

It's just that I was referring to what is called "direct extraction tea." This tea is made in a small batch with about three or four times the compost to water ratio than ACT. You mix it for about five minuets and then pour it immediately on the plants.

Thanks for the input.

I agree with HG...Don't fuss about (a habit I must break :lol:).
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You can make direct extraction a lot of ways, really.

Put all you compost mix on a screen door over a bathtub. Recirculate the fluid over the screen ad infinitum until you have rinsed off all the humic content (just sand and bits of wood and such solids left). The liquid is now extract. ANd yes, MUCH higher levels of inputs are necessary

The reason extract can be more useful than tea is you can hold it unfed and dormant with minimal oxygen levels and only occasional stirring until you are ready to use it. Most of our key biology, fungal, protozoan, and bacterial will stay sporulated untill the food and oxygen levels increase.

Then bubble, bubble, no toil and no trouble at all, just our usual foods and air and voila! Tea!

Gixx, your bubble thing gets [url=https://www.springerlink.com/content/n773323171792260/]complicated fast[/url], bubble size, lifting power, surface area. :shock: Destroying hyphae is not so much the issue because once hyphae are broken, they won't grow more anyway. It's spores we are trying to shift in tea. All hyphae tell us is we have a real good chance of finding spores with them...

Lets just shoot for steady, medium sized bubble, and not a roiling boil, and call it even... :wink:

HG
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That's pretty much what I was trying to say, it think. That paper has got MY head rolling now. :shock:

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Good lord man; I didn't actually suggest that you should try to read it! You could hurt yourself! Permanent brain cramps even... :lol:

If it's that complicated, we don't need to know for gardening. Nature takes care of its own... :D

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HG, do you care to go a little bit more in-depth on chelation? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it's the process of taking nutrients and turning them into chemical compounds that make them stay in the soil, but still available to the plants.

How do microbes affect chelation?

By the way; I know it sounds like I'm pulling the chemistry set out of the trash. Don't worry, it's staying in there. :lol:

Thanks.

Garden5
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The Helpful Gardener
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Posts: 7493
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:17 am
Location: Colchester, CT

No, if you are talking chelation the chemistry set may be in the trash, but you pulled the handbook out... :roll:

That's a new thread; this one is long enough and this doesn't really apply.

HG
Scott Reil

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