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gixxerific
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What about ashes in the Compost?

I know you should be careful not to add too many wood ashes to the actual garden but what about the compost pile. I Burn a lot in the winter and will probably throw them in the compost if there is not a problem with that. I will be adding other stuff as well all winter, coffee grounds, kitchen scraps etc.

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Unless you are adding huge amounts of ash, I think it's fine. You don't want ashes from treated lumber or other carcinogens I'd use everything you can pull from the yard. We've never added the ash to the compost pile but we do a few yard trash burns a year right in the garden area and just plow it in in the spring.

We don't burn what we can compost but we've given up on composting sticky things like holly leaves and chestnut hulls. I don't even like touching those chestnut thingys and it give me pleasure to burn the sticky vicious things.

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gixxerific
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I'm not talking about yard waste ashes. I'm talking about my fireplace ashes all winter long being added. 8)

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Hey gixx... try the Search the Forum thingy, there was a whole thread on this not too long ago.

I do put wood ashes on my compost pile, but it's because we have fires pretty infrequently, so we don't have a lot of ash relative to size of pile. Ash is quite alkaline, if you have very much of it, you will raise the pH of your compost. If you were considering liming your soil anyway, that wouldn't be a bad thing. Otherwise you need to be careful with it.

Coffee grounds tend to be acidic, so if you collect those Starbucks coffee grounds and mix it with your wood ash it would all balance out pretty well.

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Said Search function shows that the recent discussion was at:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=98060

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Thanks Cynthia and Rainbow.

I was in that thread just didn't remember it having anything to do with compost over garden implications. I just added another trash bag or 2 of coffee grounds today though so that helps. I will lime the garden in the spring so I'm going to keep adding the ashes unless it looks to be overwhelming to me. I will also spread them in the yard lightly. Like I said We burn a LOT in the winter so there will be tons of ashes and I don't want to throw them away. I have to find somewhere to put them.

Thanks all

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-Do not add ash with nitrogen fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate (21-0-0-24S), urea (46-0-0) or ammonium nitrate (34-0-0). These fertilizers produce ammonia gas when placed in contact with high pH materials such as wood ash.
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I have just started my composting and a lot of my greens ARE from coffee grounds -- if I cannot get ashes (no fireplace -- but looking into a chimenea :) ) --- what can I do to change the PH of my compost?

I think I know what I will ask for for Christmas a soil ph measure thing!

Silvia

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As part of compostable kitchen scraps, eggshells would help raise pH and add calcium and nitrogen. It also adds phosphorus and sulfur (Hm? I know, studies show egg shells raise pH, but sulfur lowers pH doesn't it.... I wonder....) I also add any seashells.

In terms of outside sources, I still have some of the 50 Lb. bag of ground oystershells (for chicken grit) that I bought from a feed store for something like $10, which I add to a soil mix for pH adjustment and good drainage. And, of course, ground lime or dolomitic lime is the usual garden staple for raising pH. I believe granite dust also raises pH.

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Gix.......If you are slow composting the ashes shouldn't be an issue.
Dad heated with wood/coal for 30 years.......all of the ashes went into the garden, compost or to fill small holes in the yard. There was never an issue with this nor was the PH being too high.
If you want the hot compost...the volume of ashes created from a wood burner can smoother the oxygen needed for hot composting.

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Ash.

We have a somewhat acidic soil here and so I do add our winter wood ash to the garden as well as using it in our compost. We have a large garden [8500 sq. ft.] and so the ash in not very concentrated. Have had no adverse effects after two years of doing this, in fact quite the opposite the garden has produced better each season. I will test this coming season for PH before adding more.
Coffee grounds lose most of the acid in the brewing so there isn`t a lot to be concerned with in the compost pile. Also coffee grounds are great for vermicomposting as the worms love them.
It has been noted that after a forest fire the normal undergrowth takes on a big spurt of growth, so I don`t think judicious use of good clean woodash will do harm.
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Fire and burning do return fertility to woodland soils, but that ecosystem tends towards acidity anyway. It is a fungal system, and fungi exude organic acids as waste

Calcium acts as a buffer to allow higher pH, but how do we get it there? The egshells don't actually raise the pH themselves; as noted they bring sulphur to the game (you know, that egg-salad smell? :shock: )So what does?

Bacterial systems tend to be base (high pH). They even tend to buffer with the calcium coats they put on in dormant situations and develop many members quickly, all exuding alkaline glues to stick themselves in place, and alkaline is the up direction on the pH scale...

What makes a soil more likely to be akaline or acid? Maybe it's not a function of the nutrients at all. MAYBE it's the biology. MAYBE that 's more about carbon to nitrogen, fungal to bacterial ratios, than it is about N,P,K, pH. MAYBE we fool ourselves thinking we know enough about this to do better than Nature can. Maybe...

Maybe we overthink nutrients and pH. Perhaps we should worry more about keeping our soil alive and balanced in such a way that both soil and plant thrive. Compost doesn't EVER need pH balancing if you have a good diverse culture and a good fungal to bacterial ratio. Our planet's oxygen levels have stayed at 28 parts per million ever since that little hiccup in the Carboniferous Era that gave us coal, oil and gas. This planet self regulates to perfection when we let it, and when we work with the systems in place. Ash and charcoal are soil amendments since time began, anhydrous ammonia and ammonia salts, not so much. Keep your biologies right, and the rest is a moot point.

Carbon to nitrogen, fungal to bacteria...

Compost, compost, compost...

HG
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Great reply HG!

I myself have never gotten carried away with pH levels, I never even checked mine. I just kept adding more goodies for the ground whatever that may be. I do usually add lime in the spring cause I would rather be low than high in the acidic levels.

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gixxerific wrote:
I myself have never gotten carried away with pH levels, I never even checked mine. I just kept adding more goodies for the ground whatever that may be. I do usually add lime in the spring cause I would rather be low than high in the acidic levels.

not sure this makes sense ... adding lime raises pH, which does make it lower acid, also known as sweeter or more basic. Most plants (there are exceptions of course) tend to like soils a bit on the acid side of neutral.

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RBG is right, Gixx. Acidity is not really the issue (I'll explain in a minute), so adding lime without a pH check is just silly (done the whole country over by millions, I know, but silly, just the same).

When I get soil tests done that show not just all the nutrients in the soil (Melich III test ) but the nutrients made available by weak acid reactions (by biology in the soil, i.e., organic methods, found by a Melich I test) I usually find PLENTY of calcium in the soil, but not in a plant available form. It get's locked up in the soil, taking up valuable space that could be storing nutrients (known as the Cation Exchange Capacity, or CEC), and most people's answer is to dump on more lime (that won't get stored becuase the CEC is already full). Soyou get a low pH reading, so you add lime, which doesn't stick around or locks up, so you get a low pH, so you add lime, which doesn't stick around or locks up, so you add lime...

Creating a weak acid response is often as easy as getting more fungal activity, therefore more acids into the soil. Sounds completely counterintuitive, cuz it is, but you can often make your acidic soil balance out by creating weak acid responses. Dr. Ingham talks about just such a case, where a Californa farmer had for 30 years, sent in his soil sample and for thirty years, the extension service told him to add TONS of lime per acre. Every year he came up with pH's nearly to four, and every year, the same recommendation. By adding wood based (therefore fungal, therefore acidic) compost, in two years Dr, Ingham had this guy's soil back near seven (neutral).

But she wouldn't have done that without knowing what the current soil chemistrys were, so not testing is also silly. Can't tell the players without a scorecard... Soil testing is the baseline to figure out what is going on in your soil, and I have given you some tips tpo figure out just what is going on (comparing Total Nutrients against Plant Available Nutrients is a good start to figuring things out). Professional help may be required to assess this information, but it could well be the difference between the right thing and the wrong thing, so valuable nonetheless...

HG

HG
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Thanks for the heads up. :)

I'm definitely not new to gardening but that doesn't mean I haven't been doing it all wrong all these years.

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Gixx, you wouldn't believe the things folks do for decades in the name of good gardening. Organic methods are a good example of sound science roundly ignored in favor of "easy" (which isn't really easy, because chemical culture degrades fertility, tilth, and soil biology, which every plant needs). But they ALWAYS have done it that way...

My neighbor showed me the ONE tomato this year, huge, twice the size of any I grew..."with fertilizer" he beams... he has seen my garden and asked how I do it, but he still does his HIS way, so I give him his moment...

I didn't point out I had already harvested bushels by the time his were coming in...that I had a tenth of the plants he did and ten times the tomatos at that moment... that I hadn't polluted our water table and had built soil this year, while he just washed his away... that his tasted like wallpaper paste marinara... or that better gardening beats more nitrogen every time...

I save those kind of rants for you guys... :wink:

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Thinking about this last night. I guess I normally add lime every year because it goes with the manure I add.

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O.K. Gixx, I'll bite. How does lime go with manure?

HG
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:O.K. Gixx, I'll bite. How does lime go with manure?

HG
Just slap me why don't you!

Doesn't lime ease the burn of manure? :roll: :(

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No slapping going on here, friend... just trying to figure out where you were coming from. Here's the thing...

The burn in manure is ammoniacal, not usually pH based, and the carbonate nature of lime can lock some of that up... it can also stabilize phosphorus (P) in the same manner, but it decreases bacterial counts, including the nitrifying bacteria that move ammonia to the nitrite form (by [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrosomonas]nitrosomonas[/url]) and then nitrite to plant available nitrate (by [url=https://www.microbiologyprocedure.com/soil-microbiology/nitrification-in-soil.htm]nitrobacters[/url]). But if we stall this process, and we leave ammonia in it's soluble state, the more likely it is to volatize or wash away. We would thus lose nutrition we could be saving by moving the ammonia into the most stable form of nitrogen there is for soil; bacteria. (At 5:1 C/N ratio they are the most nitrogen intense thing in compost)

So liming makes it break down faster physically, but it does not necessarily make for better compost. Nature has no need of lime, so neither do you. That's all I was getting at... You far from being the only one to add lime for assumed reasons; I think there are a lot of folks who do it every year without knowing the why or the facts. I'm just trying to get those out there. We need to start thinking in terms of biology instead of chemical composition if we want good compost and good organic gardens...

HG
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Thanks Scott, by the way--- YOU THE MAN!

I was wrong and your right I am one of those that add lime to my yard and garden every year. I guess it isn't needed. I thought it was good for breaking up heavy soils so maybe if that is true than I haven't been that far off.

So why would YOU use lime or would YOU use it at all?

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I NEVER do, because my soil is too alkaline to start with. If your soil is very acid (i.e. more than a little bit, since as noted a lot of plants like it a little bit acid), use lime to bring it back towards neutral.

Here's a nice little article about lime, which says in BIG LETTERS:

So never lime in the same year you fertilize if you can avoid it and certainly not in the same couple of months.

https://www.allotment.org.uk/fertilizer/garden-lime.php

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From that article i saw this:
Changing the acidity level of the soil

To raise the pH and lower acidity or sweeten the soil, we add lime. To lower pH and increase acidity you can add sulphate of ammonia or urea which are high nitrogen fertilizers.

From this you can see that adding manure will also lower pH and make the soil more acid.

It’s counter to what you expect, but adding loads of manure year after year will actually reduce soil fertility by making it too acid so the plants cannot access the nutrients. They become locked up.
Never Mix Lime and Fertilizer

If you have ever had a pee (slightly acid) into a toilet with bleach (very alkaline) in it, you will have noticed there is an unpleasant reaction, Just the same if you mix your lime and fertilizer. They will at best cancel each other out in an unpleasant, to the soil, reaction.
This basically sums up my reasons for using lime whether they are founded or not in my case. But I have bad clay soil and I always use lime for that as well as bringing down the high nitrogen of the manure since that makes it more acidic. But than again it say's not to add lime when fertilizing or add high alkaline material to high acidic material. Which I would be doing. So maybe I'm on the right track but headed in the wrong direction.

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The article does say that acid clay soils are harder to work (than non-acid clay soils). So if your soil is acid and clay, that might be a justification for using the lime. If it's just clay, I think gypsum would be better for breaking down the clay or just working in lots of organic materials. I started with heavy yellow clay you could make pottery with, but could hardly stick a trowel into. Have never added anything but compost, leaves, mulch. The soil where I have gardened it is beautiful now, dark and crumbly.

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RBG, you amended your soil as nature would, with natural elements to be food for bacteria and fungii, and everything turned out well, right?

Which came first? pH or biology? Do bacteria love base soils, or do they CAUSE base soils? Does fungus thrive in acid soil or is it the causal agent thereof?

These are, of course, rhetorical questions as no one has been able to answer that question to date with even the vaguest inklings of certainty... yet we assume that our chemical ministrations are exactly what is needed to put things right. We humans will make this soil fertile where nature has not.

Lime away at clay soil, knowing that lime will not even begin to become readily activated for months, and much of it will simply be sucked up by the ionic nature of the clay. You will need to do it yearly; you will have no choice otherwise if you are to attain your baser soil. Know also that as soon as you stop, within a year it will regress back to it's original tendencies...

Gypsum likewise is recommended to flocculate clay soil, and likewise it is a band-aid on a chest wound, soon dissipated and in need of reinforcement. Perhaps purchasing mined products, wrested from the depths of the earth and shipped great distances with much attendant damage and pollution isn't a very sustainable, practical, or rational approach?

I am sure a decent soil test would make our true situation clear. Gixx's soil is still a mystery without a test, but knowing his practices and having looked at hundreds of soil tests, let me hazard a few guesses. I am sure he has plenty of calcium in his soil already; he has been religiously dumping lime on it. This is not his fault; it is a failing that goes deep and wide amongst gardeners, passed from generation to generation like some ancient ritual who's true meaning has long been forgotten.

We do not actually know if his soil is acidic or base, but for the sake of conjecture, let's say it is the acidic clay that RBG is concerned with. When we look at the soil test we will see all Gixx's hard work there; in the total nutrient column (the typical Melich III test you would get from an extension service) we see plenty of calcium, possibly even high levels. But say we are getting a complete picture and have a Melich I weak acid test done as well to determine what might actually be plant available (the weak acid response found in the rhizosphere is not strong enough to etch all the possible nutrition out of the soil; the Melich I mimics the biological weak acid response).

Suddenly our "available" calcium from the initial test has dissappeared. The intensely cationic nature of the clay (due to it's high surface area) has swallowed it up! So our answer is to dump more on? To what end? Like Dr. Ingham's farmer we become locked in a feedback loop without end, as we make our soil base, we degrade the fungal side that is most important to our weak acid forces, so less is etched, so more is needed, so more fungii die...ad infinitum...ad nauseum. :roll:

Increase our fungal mass by adding leaves, twigs and other carbonous yummies, and the weak acid forces increase, etching out more calcium, which in turn raises pH. So we had the means in our soil all the time; even here in the acidic soils of the Notheast woodlands I hardly ever see low calcium in soils, just calcium locked up in biologically poor soils. We are just fooling ourselves with lime, or chemical fertilizers, or pesticides, thinking that we in our infinite wisdom can do better than nature and we are invariably incorrect.

When we take time to understand natural forces we quickly find that they are for the most part completely self regulating, to the benefit of the ecosystem as a whole. We do not even begin to understand the real depths of that wholeness; we have been repeatedly unable to establish a sustaining ecosystem made by human hands. Little glass globes with a twig and some shrimp are immediately amusing, but I have yet to hear of one going for more than a year or two; [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2]Biosphere II[/url] and it's second coming showed just how tragically ignorant we are on this topic.

Our understanding of ecosystems is abbhorently flawed for the same reason Gixx was pouring on the lime; the passing on of paradigms that have little to do with the reality of the situation. We have been trained to think as chemists; aren't we taught that life itsef is just a series of chemical reactions? Weren't we told that there would be better living through chemistry? The Bionauts were very particular to get this tree, that bird, those ants, but an ecosystem is not an engine, a thing comprised of parts, it is a living organism as real as you or I.

We should not think as chemists or mechanics, we should recognize that we are simply voices in a great choir, senior senators in a congress of beings. Certainly we have a conductors hand, a president's command beyond that of the other species, but we need recognize we are simply another force of nature, not a master set above it. We are not able to change the laws agreed to by all, but in our hubris we do just that, committing crimes against our brethren species that I pray they never hold us accountable for. But I do feel we need to hold ourselves in account for these things... we should be first asking, how does the ecosystem vote? What note can we add to perfect the harmony?

So is Gixx's crime of liming punishable? :wink: He has already payed the fine of purchasing vast amounts lime, and served hard labor spreading it, to little or no end. I think time served will do... :lol: But compost would have nurtured the system from smallest bacteria to largest tree, balancing pH as the fungii and bacteria found equitable levels, harmed no one, and sequestered some carbon from the atmosphere at the same time. So I ask again. What's with all the lime?

HG
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I do use wood ashes in my garden. I noticed that wild strawberries always grew really well, in areas that had been burned over.
Not wanting to risk a forest fire with uncontrolled burning, I save woodashes, in 5 gallon buckets. (We use them to clear ice, and we carry them in the car to get us unstuck when roads are icy.)
I barely sprinkle my garden with them, just to add a bit of nutrients from the ashes to the soil.

I have a crazy garden situation. I have heavy red clay. It is acidic. But, the water supply is alkaline, it has tested out as liquid rock. I have oak and hickory trees everywhere, and the leaves land everywhere. I usually end up mulching with them alot. And I often bag the leaves and let them make themselves into compost. I have tried adding sand to the beds, the sand comes to the top and the clay sinks below, it will not stay mixed together, reminds me of an hour glass. The clay particles are so tiny they just keep falling to the bottom. The beds with organic materials do much better, so sand didn't help my beds.

I am careful with woodashes due to the lye they give off when wetted. Often I strain the wood ashes, and I am searching for the small charcoals that are left over in it... these, I put in the strawberries... my way of trying to make it like a fire had happened there. I don't know what the soil there would test out as... but I do know the strawberries, used to die every year. Every year it was start over with new plants. With the wood bits added to them during the winter, these plants are going on their 4th year. Not the original plants of course, but this planting.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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Ashes are higher in potassium, and the charcoal component acts as a cation capacitor, storing nutrients and biology in it's honeycombed structure. [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_preta]Terra preta[/url] is an ancient technology based on this idea that we are just starting to rediscover.

We think technology means more gadgets, but sometimes people in loincloths have technology we need just as much. Maybe more...

HG
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ashes to ashes

..
I've long understood wood ash to be pretty lousy in nutrients.

In the compost bin they tend to smother so I spread them thin.

If you read the stories of the ancients, Pandora's Box and The Garden of Eden comes to mind, they are always warning of the double edged sword of technology or knowledge. Yeah technology brings benefits - but at a cost.

Isn't there something about knowledge doesn't bring wisdom?

to sense
..

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Lousy in big nutrients, with the exception of some potassium. It does have some good traces (and some bad ones too; seems [url=https://www.springerlink.com/content/w641416826114063/]cadmium can be an issue if too much is used[/url]).

As for technology I have believed we are o.k. as long as we ask the other species what they think...
There is almost no area of human life today that is not touched by the effects of science and technology. Yet are we clear about the place of science in the totality of human life---what exactly it should do and by what it should be goverened? This last point is critical because unless the direction of science is guided by a consciously ethical motivation, especially compassion, its effects may fail to bring benefit. They may indeed cause great harm.
The Dalai Lama

Word. (That's "Oath" to our Aussie members :lol: )

HG
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I do have 2 soil test kits, they are very old but I'm sure they will still work. I was planning on doing a test this year. Remember that this is only the second season of my garden. In reality the majority of my garden is first year never planted on. It was HEAVY clay and rock nastiness when I began it is getting much better. Maybe I'm going about it all wrong but I'm not a biologist, I'm a backyard gardener.

Though in my defense I have about 300 sq ft of garden. I have only added a small bag of pulverized lime last year. Though I added 2 truckloads of compost and i believe 2 maybe 3 truckloads of manure plus most of my grass clippings and lots of leaves as well as kitchen scraps throughout '09.

How far off am I, and what would you suggest I do or change?

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Geez

..

Geez gixxerific. I think you've done everything I would have done except for the lime. I don't know jack about gardening so the lime would have never occurred to me. I'm cheap too so I make compost instead buying things for the garden.

I started composting when I decided to plant some grass where we used to live. I cleared out a pile of leaves before I started and noticed it was moist and full of worms and lots of little seedlings sprouting in the midst of hard dry soil in a desert climate. Then I went out and bought a truckload of topsoil with compost mixed in it. I spread the seeds and when I went to spread the cover I found bits of asphalt and concrete.

The rye grass grew in time for the coming rains so we didn't end up with a flooded back patio but when the rye grass finally died away in about 11 months I was left with dry hard soil again.

I felt dumb for paying money for dirt. My father-in-law mentioned something about composting and I asked him a few questions. I looked at a few things on the internet and just started. One thing lead to another and I currently have four bins running and if I get off my lazy butt, I'll get up to 5 or 6 again.

In the process I've acquired patience, a little knowledge about gardening and plants and soil. I've also acquired an appreciation of everything I consume now that I try to digest everything I can in my happy bio-remediation bins.

Now compost is a happy by-product and I'm slowly improving the cruddy soil that is our sub urban plot. One of these days I'll figure out how to make time to grow a garden.

to sense

..

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Yeah, gixx. You've obviously worked hard, learned a lot along the way, grown some great gardens, and you are working to garden with nature, so you are way ahead of most people. Even though I had been an organic, work with nature gardener for years, I've learned a lot since I've been on this forum too. Most of us have tended to focus on soil chemistry (that's where the NPK's and pH's come in). The Helpful Gardener's wisdom is to focus on soil biology instead; it's a whole new way of thinking.

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Re: Geez

rot wrote:..

Geez gixxerific. I think you've done everything I would have done except for the lime. I don't know jack about gardening so the lime would have never occurred to me. I'm cheap too so I make compost instead buying things for the garden.



..
Trust me I'm cheap too (unless it comes to electronics). All that stuff I have put in my garden was only 25$ or so. The manure is free where I get it and lime is super cheap. You get t free yards of compost, mulch a year if you live in the city where the Compost facility is so bonus there.

I had a great spot for compost at my last house I haven't quite found the perfect place for it at this house yet but i get by.

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rainbowgardener wrote:Yeah, gixx. You've obviously worked hard, learned a lot along the way, grown some great gardens, and you are working to garden with nature, so you are way ahead of most people. Even though I had been an organic, work with nature gardener for years, I've learned a lot since I've been on this forum too. Most of us have tended to focus on soil chemistry (that's where the NPK's and pH's come in). The Helpful Gardener's wisdom is to focus on soil biology instead; it's a whole new way of thinking.
As some of you know I have been gardening mostly organically for 10-15 years. As you said I as well as you have learned a lot form here but there is so much to know, so I keep my learning cap on all the time. No offense Scott but some of the stuff you talk about goes right over my head, but I try to figure it all out.

NPK, pH, anaerobic, aerobic, nematodes, micro-macro-biology, to till or not to till, hoop houses, green houses, companion planting AHHHHHHH I need a road map! :lol:

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No offenses meant or taken, Gixx. Some of the stuff I talk about goes right over pros heads, too. I still remember the groans when I taught a class on merging soil biology and soil chemistry to the NOFA faithful; it is not easy stuff to grasp, mostly because it calls so many sacred cows, like liming and chemical fertilization into question.

And that is all I am really trying to do here, shift some paradigms away from being chemists to being biologists (figuratively speaking, Gixx). Until we start to realize that biological means, and ecologically sound means are one and the same, that utilizing natural systems leads to naturally fertile gardens, we will continue to lime, and use chemical fertilizers and pesticides, all of which shuts down the natural systems that nature uses to support plant life. In other words, work with Nature or against it. Really isn't much grey area here; certainly not as much as many people assume.

I am not trying to bash anybody or turn everyone into scientists, just trying to show folks there IS a better way... as for roadmaps Gixx, I just don't know two people that do everything the same, so no map will get everyone to the right place. We all find our own way when pointed in the right general direction and that is mostly what I try to do.

IF there is one thing I do think applies to everyone everywhere (and those of you who have been around here a while are probably sick of hearing it) it is compost. The naturally occuring biology is all that is necessary to release soil nutrition, balance pH, retain moisture, increase tilth and support plant systems in a non-soluble, non-polluting manner that is good for ALL living things from top to bottom of the food web.

Compost ALWAYS works, and is pretty much ALL you need to have a healthy garden. Sure I buy some fish ferts and alfalfa pellets and corn gluten and even some commercially made compost because I find benefit there I cannot get myself, but for the most part I build my gardens with compost, and they simply get better and better. So will yours.

So Gixx, don't take this personally. I have come down the same road you are on now, I am just a little further down it than you. I am just trying to save you the time and labor and money of messing around with lime, as if you get your greens and browns in line, pH just follows. Nature is a smart mother like that.

For instance, once bacteria figured out how to eat lignin (back in the [url=https://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/carboniferous/carboniferous.html]Carboniferous era[/url], about 290 million years back), we have had the exact same amount of oxygen in the air, about 21%. Ice ages, warming periods, mass extinctions come and go, but between plant material, soil biology, ocean systems, et al, the planet finds the exact balance.

In the early Carboniferous era, when plants developed lignin, but nature had not yet figured out how to digest it, carbon locked up in dead plant material and could not rot (this is how we got coal and oil, and WHY it might be bad to put all that locked up carbon back in the atmosphere, but thats another story). So carbon levels in the atmosphere got lower and the oxygen levels shot up to around thirty percent. And the planet went haywire. 150 foot tree ferns and three foot dragonflies; everything got huge. But eventually Nature found her balance again. Nature is always striving for ecological equilibrium in every system, every predator/prey relationship, every weather pattern.

Humans are the only species that has developed the ability to distinctly alter all these relationships. Scientists call our current geological period the Anthropocene, or age of man, because man is having more geological effect than any other natural force. We should never forget that we wield a two-edged sword whenever we take steps to alter our environs, and in my mind, we should look to Nature to find the balance she is always striving for.

That's all I'm sayin... :)

HG
Scott Reil

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Yet another great post Scott.

I'm totally with you on the compost thing. I have always composted my last garden was very fertile so I never had the need to go buy compost but my garden now was a virgin and needed some help. I'm sure some people will look down on me buying others compost since it might have left over chemical residues and whatnot but you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes. :D

The whole idea of the earth righting it's wrongs to stay in balance is great but let's see what it will do about our intervention. Mankind is not only killing the planet but themselves mom nature might just body check us into oblivion some day to retain the balance we are taking away.

By the way keep doing what you are doing and I myself read all your links as well.

I love this place

Dono

Now where is that dang Spring thing they keep talking about. :P

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so ...

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So chemistry is the diagnostic, a la soil tests, and biology the treatment.

Reducing it down further: compost and mulch to the teeth.

I think that's all about I'm going to do.

Thanks again.

to sense

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To Rot: Certainment, mon ami. C'est bonne...

To Gixx: Look down on buying compost? Not me. Do it at least once a year and have two different sources, but I know these guys and they both do it right. One's a dairy farmer who only uses antibiotics on sick animals and quarantines them, and the other guy runs a USDA Organic farm. Both have been composting for over a decade, and I can call and talk anytime about what's going on. Get to know your supplier.

As for the other part, bumping off our species might just be Nature's way of restoring balance. Could hardly blame her at this point. To whit, Alaska has gone up three degrees average in the past decade, the Arctic ice sheet is about half as thick in the places it is still left, and methane levels up there are showing up to 1000 times the normal backgound readings, meaning the methane clathrate (frozen methane) has begun thawing (methane is twenty times more powerful that that greenhouse gas we all know and love, CO2).

Last time that happened on earth, temperatures skyrocketed in just a few years and triggered our last mass extinction. Hang on, humans, this could get bumpy... won't make gardening any easier, either... :evil:

HG
Scott Reil

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HG I;m sure the city's composting is pretty good. But some might say you don't know where all the material came from and they would have a point. All that compost is from the city's collection from residences. Though I not all that worried. They do call it "Class A Screened" compost whatever that may mean. [url=https://www.stpetersmo.net/default.asp?pageID=10286]My composting Facility[/url]

I'm aware of the some of the problems we are facing due to our stupidity negligence and just plain laziness. It could be another Ice age or worse. Humans think nothing can stop us but the dinosaurs probably thought the same thing. :shock: :( :evil:

Peace
Dono

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