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fertilizer burn in wicking containers Empty fertilizer burn in wicking containers

Post  walshevak on 12/14/2011, 8:03 am

I was at the garden center drooling and started talking to the owner. I, of course, started bragging about the family square foot gardens and whipped out the camera to show my tabletops and son's wicking beds. I was telling her the nutrients from the beds seemed to collect in the ponds from rainwater through the soil and wick back up to the plants. She said to watch out for fertilizer burn and to flush out the ponds every so often.

OPINIONS PLEASE!!

We don't use any fertilizers, but the compost is heavy on the manure side. We did no flushing all summer but I'm wondering if we should flush before spring planting and how often thereafter.



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Post  Unmutual on 12/14/2011, 8:42 am

All I have is an opinion on this, with no real facts to back me up. Fertilizer is not compost. The nutrients in compost are slow release and it would seem to me what you are doing is bringing back up a compost tea-like substance through wicking. If you were adding actual fertilizer to your bed, then maybe. However, with water being in the bottom, whatever goes down into the sump will be diluted regardless(sort of like fertigation).

As far as flushing goes, it might not be a bad idea anyway as I'm sure some form of sediment would develop over time. I'm not sure if the capillary action of water is enough to pull up suspended particles, so anything that doesn't dissolve will remain in the sump.
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Post  boffer on 12/14/2011, 10:18 am

@walshevak wrote:OPINIONS PLEASE!!

Suuuure! Here's my SWAG:

Like Unmutual said, I wouldn't be the least bit worried about fertilizer burn.

But you got me thinking about the accumulation of salts from the manure. It is said that an advantage of raised beds is that salts are easily rinsed away. But that puts the salt in your ponds. So, if the salt is dissolved in the water, it's getting wicked up along with the nutrients into the plants. I'm guessing you would have seen salt created problems already if they were going to be any.

About the flushing process? That would only eliminate the sediment accumulated on the bottom of the pond. Isn't every cycle where the plants use up the water and you re-fill the pond a flushing process? ie the same water doesn't sit there all year accumulating stuff.


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Post  dsfin on 12/14/2011, 5:45 pm

@boffer, wouldn't the re-fill activity be a dilution of the holding tank? Not a flushing? I would think adding more water would help dilute any accumulated salts to a reasonable level. Flushing on the other hand might still be a good idea to get rid excessive buildup of sediments I would think.
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