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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:

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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.

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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.

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OOOPS!...Sorry about that. I came across the term wile researching compost and thought that it was something beneficial that microbes contributed through. I guess this thread is getting off topic and so am I. I'll try to guide things back on track with this.

Can you make ACT with amended topsoil? I'm talking about basically dirt with a little organic matter mixed in. I know that it's not ideal, but would you get at least some results, or would it be a waste of time?

Thanks. Now, to shred that manual:wink:.
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OM is just a home for biology in tea production, so brandy new OM won't help much. Topsoil is a loaded term without much meaning really; from your lawn? From the garden? From that brownfield with the death heads on the Keep Out signs? From a bag?

Ain't you got any compost? :?:

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I'm getting a bucket and pump setup tomorrow. :D

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sulfured unsulfured or blackstrap molasses for tea that is the question?

I read that sulfured molasses will kill microbes why is this? Is it the sulfur in it, that is what I'm guessing.

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the sulfur is there to control bacterial and fungal growth I believe. Stick with unsulfured.

Use blackstrap if you can, that's what I'm told.
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Thank you that's what I thought I have been using Blackstrap but my wife brought home sulfured molasses so I will try to take it back. :D

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:lol: I can just hear the conversation at the Gixx household now: "What you got SULFURED molasses? I can't use this stuff! You can't grow bacteria and mold with it!" :lol:

(I know we want more fungal, HG, it just sounded better with "bacteria" first. :wink: )

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If I am understanding this all right. Vegetables prefer a more bacterial soil while trees and shrubs (forest) prefer a more fungal soil, so I THINK you were right in the first place.

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OK, work with me here. Sheesh! :wink:

Anyway, I guess it's my turn to be put on the block. The way I have it, we're growing FOOD for the microbes with the tea. So catch the ACT at the height of fungal proliferation. Use that, as spray or drench and they have a block party/orgy on and around the veggies (muscling out the undesirables in the process), every bacteria in the vicinity will crash the party, then the veggies in turn feast on the leftovers.

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The way I have it we are growing microbes with the food. :wink:

Though I'm sure HG will set us straight if we are off course.

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I'm not saying there aren't bacteria and protozoa in the tea already, mind you, but I thought fungal bloom comes first, then bacteria, then protozoa. I really should take my own advice and re-read this entire thread. I'll bet it's all in here somewhere. :roll:

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apple,

the point of aerating tea is to replicate the aerobic organisms found in a small amount of compost, in more or less the same proportions as can be found in the compost.

I have heard of using more "fungal" foods, like hydrolysed fish, to encourage more fungal tea, but normally we are adding sugar of some type, normally molasses. When I think sugar I think bacteria. But I'm sure there is more to it then that.

But we are not trying to initiate fungal bloom (not sure what that is) in order to get things going. We are trying to grow the whole lot out. That's why we don't want to brew too long - eventually the dominant organisms (protists) take over. Add a protist tea to your garden, and you are doing more harm than good.

The food is already in the soil, or you will be adding it separately. Molasses, mulch, fish emulsions, green manure, etc...
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Wow, I'm still learning things.

Anyway, to clarify my earlier post: here is what my "soil" is.

It started out as a heap of dirt. Now, this dirt was accumulated over the course of a few years, but mostly came from clumps of sod that has the grass die and leave the dirt behind. Over the course of the past year, weeds, food scraps, dead (but not diseased) plants, fallen leaves, and a bunch of rotten tomatoes have been added and the pile has been turned a few times.

The end result? It's still dirt, but it has a darker (richer?) color to it. Although it is not true compost, it does have some amount of organic matter in it. How do you think it will do for making tea?
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AS's turn on the block... :twisted:

We are not brewing food for microbes; we are brewing microbes... mollasses is our bacterial food and kelp is fungal side. Fish helps both.

We are extracting exisitng microbes from our compost, moving them into the tea and adding foods and air to the moisture to create a happy environment they will breed in. The bacteria grow, the protozoas grow, fungal spores relase from the hyphae in the compost, actinobacters start to twine around...

Protozoa are not a bad thing at all really, toil, those guys keep the bacteria from going over the top and crashing the tea, and they are our first level of higher predators to start our poop loop. I am happy to see all the amoebas and flagellates you can stuff in there. Cilliates mean your oxygen is getting low, so a few is good, but a lot is bad, but most of them are fine, even beneficial, unless we are trying for a more fungal tea, in which case lower numbers of bacteria and bacterial predators are best...

But if we are making fungal tea, and starting with a good fungal compost, then we shouldn't see heaps of the other guys anyway. It is a more ammonium based system, and doesn't need all the nitrogen looping we do in bacterially dominated soils... so anything not there at the beginning won't show up in the end...

G5, sounds like things ARE breaking down, so you have microbes there. Try it. Might not be optimal tea, but that's better than no tea at all... :wink: As long as you start with something that smells like fresh soil does, you will be getting good biology. Start out with stinky, don't be suprised if you end there too... :P

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OK poor choice of minimal words. (As if I'm ever trying to be less than verbose elsewhere :roll: )

• I realize all the organisms are already in the compost and the aerating in the water with the molasses, etc. "cultures" or increases their population -- i.e. grows them. (Must admit I didn't catch/remember the molasses=>bacterial, kelp=>fungal, fish=>bacterial+fungal relationship)
• What I was trying to say was that my understanding was the fungi "blooms" -- i.e. explosively grows in numbers -- first, then the bacteria, then the protozoa, in that order.
• What I understood (and here I could be wrong) is that because fungi is the bottom of the food chain, we want to use/apply the tea when fungi is at peak -- i.e. a "fungal" tea -- thereby feeding what I called the "microbes" but what I meant was the entire biological activity in and around the target area (including the plant itself, I guess) THEREFORE the 24 hr brew being optimal, and the overly bacterial/protozoa infested (does that connote too negative a condition?) tea beyond 36 hrs.

...Chop away. 8)

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