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Organic fertilizering

Santa Barbara, CA

On my farm I rely a lot on well-made compost as the source of soil fertility and available nutrients for my crops. But there are times that a crop might need a boost, or other times when cold soils limit available nutrients. As an organic landscaper, I often cannot apply as much compost as often as I think the soils need.

So I am always on the lookout for acceptable soluable sources of fertilizers. Ain't no good to put down greensand to correct a current inadequacy of Potassium -- greensand releases so slowly. So I reach to potassium sulphate (a much more soluable mined mineral).

So, let's hear from you old-time gardeners and the newer gardeners that have been experimenting.

LET's chat about organic fertilizers.

Marsh

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Marsh, all of my organic fertilizer comes from the barn yard and brings some interesting weed seeds with it. I've been trying some covered compost piles lately, but it's just too easy to get a loader scoop full of that lovely rich stuff and spread it around. I'm especially fond of the piles that develope where the heifer hay bale leavings, well supplied with manure, disintegrate for a year or two.

New Paris, OH

I like using Maxi-crop, a soluable kelp folier feed. I also like compost tea.

For potassium/Magnesium we rely on Sul-po-mag. A fairly quick release.

We also use cover cropping for fertility. Rye, Buckwheat, vetch are all used on our farm.

Finally I can't say enough about running livestock on fallowed fields. We have chickens and they do a great job of weeding and feeding. Chicken poop adds lots of calcium and Nitrogen.

Lyndeborough, NH

Hey Marsh,

Coast of Maine has some sea blend, 3-2-2.

Want some wood ash from the wood stove?
Sugar maple or Northen Spy apple..
I don't know if I could ship it to CA.

At the local Agway, They had a 0-0-19 IIRC

Byron





Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

I can't add very much to this thread but I'm all ears (eyes) so keep it coming. I do know that seaweed (kelp) is a very useful additive!! I am also interested in a cover crop that i can sow this fall, any ideas? I was thinking crown vetch!

Santa Barbara, CA

Byron,

Don't need more alkalinity so keep the ash to yourself. Are you talking about Squanto brand fertilizer? I love it and have a couple of cases shipped out here every year.

Kathleen,

You are lucky to have the "good" stuff and thanks for composting. Do you make a use compost and manure teas? Can you help Louisa with he question about a winter cover crop for VA? I WAY too far away to advise what is best.

I wrote an article for the Fruit Gardener journal (CA Rare Fruit Growers) in the July-August issue. I list the fertilizer values for the different organic materials and give some typical NPK formulas using these materials. I don't know if it is on line yet. Be nice if I can get permission to post it on DG.

Lyndeborough, NH

Marsh

Did you see the chart at NMSU?

Could post addy.


Byron

Santa Barbara, CA

Go ahead, Byron

Lyndeborough, NH

NMSU fert chart
http://www.cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h/h-159.html

NMSU nat. fert chart and veggie chart
http://www.cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h/h-120.html

Santa Barbara, CA

Those are pretty good. Nothing on potassium or micronutrients.

Lyndeborough, NH

Marsh

Yup I do have a sputter about potassium.

Seems like NM soils are real high in potassium.

Yesterday Dave Dewitt, Author of "Pepper Garden" and about a dz other books about chiles joined a chile group that I am on.

I asked about potassium for the rest of the world. He has
fwd my note to Dr Paul Bosland, probably one of the top 5 in the world, chile experts.

I only asked if he felt that the p-k ratio should be held near 1 to 1 for chiles..

If you have some other questions, I'll try. no promises for answers..

Byron





Santa Barbara, CA

My soils out here tend to have enough P and Ca but low in N, K, Zn and Fe. Problem of alkaline soils. Keep us informed with your queries.

Lyndeborough, NH

Marsh,

Didn't really get a good ans.

Other than K should be about 60 ppm with mmhos around 1.

Byron



Santa Barbara, CA

Byron,

That's discouraging. The number sounds right for stem and root growth and wall strength.

Lyndeborough, NH

Marsh

Basic's were N= 20, p= 80 and k = 60

1-4-3 ratio ?

I only know 1 source for soils,
Thanks for being there.


Byron

Louisa,clover is a good cover crop'

Troy, VA(Zone 7a)

Thanks Sis - I will try it. I want to plant a meadow and thought a good cover crop would start the ball rolling and add nitrogen to the soil. Can I sow clover now and then turn it under in the Spring? Byron and Marsh - I love your posts. It's like listening to the radio and hearing the experts...lol!! Great stuff :-)

Yes Louisa'

Santa Barbara, CA

Byron,

At least out here, peppers need good nitrogen to get off to a good start, so we like to get the transplant with a good N source and maybe and flowering come back with P and K with enough N to carry the others into the root system.

Thanks Louisa, glad to share what ever knowhow I got.

Lyndeborough, NH

Marsh

Do you use Calcium or Ammonium nitrate ??

Byron



Santa Barbara, CA

Neither...I am an organic farmer, remember?

Last year for N I used blood meal or organic cotton seedmeal, this year I used feather meal. Added gypsum as needed for Ca

Lyndeborough, NH

Sputter yup sorry. Slap my finners wit a granite rock.


Santa Barbara, CA

Weeeeeeeeelllllllll! I would hope so, Byon. lol!

Richmond Hill, GA(Zone 8b)

Marsh, I've used blood meal many times but then I'm not gardening on acres and acres like you are. Don't you find blood meal rather expensive to use for your purposes? Also, one more question. How do you compost on a broad scale to have enough for your acres and acres?

Santa Barbara, CA

Hey, Terri

A bunch of us smaller organic growers get together to buy fertilizer in bulk (ton pallets of 50# bags) to get the best price. My orchards are sustained pretty much with biennial additions of mulch (shredded trees and shrubs) and foliar applications of fish-kelp. Every few years we band soft-rock phosphate and alternate years some alfalfa meal and SulPoMag.

We make enough compost to apply the equivalent of 12 tons per acre from material generated onsite plus primo yard waste from my landscape and maintenance business. We do most of the work by hand including chipping the larger materials. I also bring in culls from a local produce outlet and coffee grounds. Plus of course the chicken coop bedding.

New Paris, OH

Aged or composted chicken manure has a Lot of N (I don't know the analysis though). We have chicken so that in the manure of choice in our compost piles plus we plant a lot of clover on fallowed areas and run chickens on those areas and usually have a bit too much N for many crops.

I am embarassed to say we have not soil tested in several years so i don't know the profile on out soils. I guess it is about time to get the soil probe out and take samples and send them off.

Lyndeborough, NH

Marsh

Thought you had stables nearby??

Byron



Santa Barbara, CA

Byron,

Yes, we have about 2000 horses within a mile radius but they use a lot of cedar bedding. I used to have one ranch drop loads of mostly manure and any spoiled alfalfa for free but then the waste disposal company paid him big buck to haul it for purpose of meeting percent of waste recycled in relation to total waste stream.

We do pick up some from a small operator to make a special compost I am using experimentally for compost tea and for asparagras.

(Zone 6a)

for a cover crop, try buck wheat, it germinates fast, has a hollow stem that allows you to till it in without mowing
first.
we till in at blossom stage.

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