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rainbowgardener
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Re: natural fertilizer for raised beds

Even if you can't carve out a 2 ft square for a compost bin, you could definitely do worm composting. Here's a couple threads about it:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... hp?t=18171
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... hp?t=35062

And the worm castings are a really good ingrediant for compost tea! :)
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imafan26
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Re: natural fertilizer for raised beds

Actually a minimum compost pile would be 3x3x3, but you would also need a place to turn it so another 3x3x3. One pile at a time is slow and not much compost 3 piles are better but you would need a 3.5x 10.5 space to do it. One pile for building, next pile cooking, third pile finishing. My yard is 15-30 ft deep from the house to the perimeter. Too close to keep vermin outside.

The differences in compost tea. Aerated compost tea is faster than non-aerated tea. If you let the water stand 4 days before you make the tea, most of the chlorine will volatize off. If you aerate it, it can be ready in as little as 72 hours. Non aerated teas take 4-5 days. But it is better if it is stirred every day.

There is conflicting information on non aerated tea, some articles say that it contains anaerobic pathogens and can be harmfull, however there are not many scientific studies to come to any conclusion. It is generally accepted that AACT is the preferred method.
There are a few things you have to know in making compost tea
1. The source of the compost matters. You want a hot composted compost that gets to at least 131 degrees to kill off the worst of the disease causing pathogens. If your compost isn't good and contains mostly good organisms it doesn't matter if the tea is aerated or non aerated, disease causing pathogens may be different but can live in either aerobic or anaerobic conditions.
2 . The purpose of growing the tea is not to make 'fertilizer' but to grow the organisms to feed the soil and they will in turn make more of the available nutrients available to the plants. Note: for the organisms to survive and thrive in the soil, the soil must contain enough organic matter (carbon) and nitrogen (usually from fertilizers, manure, animal and plant by products) to sustain their population and still have enough left over to sustain the plants. This is one reason why I do not plant directly in compost alone, it does not contain enough nutrients for both the organisms and the plant by itself. Unfinished compost will compete with the plants for nutrition and if it is not hot composted, may still contain pathogens.
3. If you make aerated compost tea, there is a clock on it. You have to prep it and if you go more than 3 days, you have to add more blackstrap molasses or the organisms will starve from lack of a food source and start to die.
4. Aeration selects for anaerobic bacteria, but there are aerobic pathogens like xanthomonas that would love those conditions.
Once aeration stops, you need to strain and distribute the compost tea within 4 hours. Since you have selected for aerobic bacteria, they don't live very long in an anaerobic environment
5. The advantage of non-aerated tea over aerated tea. In the garden there is no active aeration, organisms grown in non aerated tea live longer. Although there have not been many studies. I hypothesize that the organisms are more like the brine shrimp I used to grow for my aquarium. They are being cultivated to feed the soil organisms already in residence and not to augment their numbers. If you ever did a lab experiment and cultured soil, you would find many different colonies of bacteria on a plate depending on the media, but the colonies of different species compete with and eat each other and some of them actually create lethal zones around them to keep other bacteria and fungi away. It is how antibiotics like streptoymycin was discovered. Pennicilin was discovered in bread mold. Bacteria usually eat yeasts, when bacteria are killed the yeasts population soars and causes problems. Billions of organisms live in and on the human body. The host (us) normally are not bothered by them unless our immune system fails or we get sick.
6. Your making compost tea in a water environment so you would be selecting for bacteria and fungi that survive in that kind of environment. Then you are going to put them on a plant in the air and on the soil, which are again different environments, not all of the microbes will be adaptable.
The University https://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/facts ... sttea.html
https://www.finegardening.com/brewing-compost-tea

We actually did an experiment for the master gardener class on aerated vs non aerated tea. Lettuce seedlings were grown in pots all using the same media. Peat/lite with osmocote slow release fertilizer. On one group AACT was used on the second group non aerated tea was used. Unfortunately since this was a class experiment not a scientific one, there was not a control goup (so the study design was a bit flawed). A few of the lettuce plants died from unkown causes but of the ones that survived, the ones grown with non-aerated tea were larger. (Again not scientific, it was based on observation not actual weights).

It would be a good experiment to try to do a better study. Have a control group. This study was done in pots using basically a sterile potting mix and fertilizer. Not many organisms to start with in a pot, Just what it gained from the air, and water. The pots were on a bench so no contact with the ground, but at least the mix was made at the same time so the media was the same for all the plants. Since osmocote was used, for fertilizer, most of the growth of the lettuce could have been the result of the fertilizer and not of the compost tea.

It would be good to try the experiment on a larger scale in a homogenous field. Using the same crop and variety. Intial soil test for NPK and soil microbes
Have three groups n=30 in each group. One group would be the control, the second would be aerated tea (dosage and intervals would need to be determined) and the third would be non aerated tea.
Tissue and soil analysis should follow for weight, test plants for pathogens (safe to eat), soil microbes, NPK (looking for changes in the soil. Some of the changes will be inevitable since the crop will use up some of the nutrients and it will be different for different crops and under different environmental conditions.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: natural fertilizer for raised beds

It's why it is really hard to do good science about this kind of stuff - the variables are endless. I planted the same flowers in the same soil in two different flower beds maybe 30' apart. One of them was close to (and partly shaded by) the big old lilac tree and one was not. The flowers in more sun were half again as big and floriferous.
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jul1799
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Re: natural fertilizer for raised beds

imafan26:

I completely agree with your post, while some of suggestions are fat from being realistic for me.
While I'd love to use them, I have to get real.
If my cucumbers and pepper would not die and actually produce something decent, I would be already happy. If I get everything else perform better then usual - I would be double happy:) Everything else should wait for if/when I retire.
It took me 3 days to read your post to the end... I can not even think about "better results". Aerated tea still sounds miracle to me. I have to hold of my excitement though, since local Walmart did not have items in stock, and, once ordered it takes them a week to deliver.

Saying that.... Last year we had one of the blue bins where I just dumped tomato leafs I cut from plants (not sure it is a great technique, but it is not a point) and some grass. I was surprised to see some compost by end of summer and we "planted" along with rest of frozen tomato plants into the raised bed.
I might be wrong, but it looks like this year plants are quite happier then ones from last year.

I'll try to do experiment again (there is no way I can have any decent compost file as my backyard is small and I have tons of plants and shrubs)m but unfortunately I have no idea why it worked last year. I did not add soil or anything special

tanks for advises I do appreciate them greatly..

From my back home videos , I can see that people widely use non-aerated compost tea. I would not know name, since it is not in English, but as far as I understand idea that what they use: grass /nettle/dandelions/ are submerged in water for some period of time and is it stirred from time to time. Some refer for as long as a month.

People usually have bigger place to do so.

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applestar
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Re: natural fertilizer for raised bed

In the north, one way to compost if you don't have the room is to do it off-season IN THE GARDEN BEDS.

I've been playing with this idea and found that even if I build a pile at one end of the bed after clearing it for the fall, and migrate the pile across the bed when I do a full turn, it really helps to enrich the soil in the bed (remove and pile everything next to where the original pile was located -- I'm doing this with wire rabbit fence circle, so pile top 1/3 on the ground, then pull up the fence and put around/over the new pile and secure, then break down the rest of the pile and put inside the wire containment). Of course there is a period of time when everything is frozen and you won't be able to move it, but you can resume as soon as things start to thaw and you can get the wire fence off the ground. It will be a while until the ground dries and you can plant anyway.

You could also simply make the compost pile in the center of the bed. If I'm leaving it for the duration, I like to make the pile where I will be planting heavy feeders for next summer.

Depending on when you start up again in spring, the compost may or may not be finished, but the bed will be mostly weed free and crumbly. The unfinished compost ingredients could be moved to another bed or trench composted in the pathway.

I like to start off the spring planting with plenty of peas and fava beans to help build up the soil fertility even more. You need to be creative with the planting design and spacing to allow planting the warm weather/summer crops in between since there is an overlap when peas/favas are not quite finished producing, but you will need to plant.
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jul1799
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Re: natural fertilizer for raised beds

your idea is great if you have some kind of fence around your beds. We do not have space for any fences. Last year we had groundhog destroying everything. He ate even horseradish:) We have placed some chicken wire temporary around beds. it caused inconveniences for both of us (me and groundhog), but he did not stop coming. We also had mice ,squirrels and birds. They all quite vicious for cultured food.my black current is eaten quite fast if I am not careful, while wild in the park waits another 2-3 weeks to be eaten
Placing compost pile in the middle might attract even more critters then we currently have .

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applestar
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Re: natural fertilizer for raised beds

Pests and bird/animals marauders are a whole different topic. But I generally don't find them to be much of an issue in my compost piles. Sometimes small animals and birds help control insects pests in the compost pile so I don't always restrict access. From other members postings, I gather raccoon raiding parties can be a major headache, however.

As for competing with them for harvest -- Certain birds will very quickly find your berry bushes and small fruit (cherry) trees. Grapes, too if I had them. Here, we have catbirds and robins as the main raiders, with cardinals, mockingbirds, bluejays and Orioles staying a little less voracious and flighty. Catbirds will start visiting a week to a few days before the berries will be full ripe. They and robins will start sampling blushed berries. Chipmunks will also go after berries.

I use homemade birdscares and netting, and even tulle party favor bags on individual and trusses of berries when only limited harvest is forthcoming and I can't spare any to the birds. Unprotected, the birds will strip the bushes bare.

Squirrels and chipmunks and groundHOGS will go after bigger fruits like plums and apples, peaches and pears.

Mice -- I'd rather they stayed outside than come inside the house. I don't see them out there that much, but they do manage to find their way into the garage after it gets cold. I discovered we have a pretty big garter snake in our garden patrolling around. Hopefully there will be less mice. My neighbor feeds homeless cats -- they are not welcome in my garden, but Maybe they do control some of the mice. They have been known to destroy bunny nests.

We have had an on-going battle with groundHOGs. Without a secure fencing, which is difficult because they dig AND climb -- believe me I've tried all different kinds -- trapping them has been the only sure solution.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

jul1799
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Re: natural fertilizer for raised beds

We have netting and tried to make some devices to scare birds. Black current is ok but some other berries would be eaten through netetWe Had rides for carrots and tomatoes. One year was especially bad and we had to throw all tomatoes...
Will see what happend this year. Critters control would my next research.

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