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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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 :-)
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.