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Do you fertilize? If so, what do you use?

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Post  sanderson 11/20/2013, 9:39 pm

Mikesgardn wrote:I used miracle-grow when I first started because I didn't have a compost pile, and I only used one type of commercial compost in my soil mix.  Now that I have a decent quality compost pile, I don't use miracle-grow.
+1
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Post  GloriaG 11/21/2013, 2:22 am

Hi Cincinnati,  You've made a couple of really good points!

Just because something "says" it's organic, doesn't mean it's chemical free.  Bonemeal, bloodmeal, liquid fish, kelpmeal and compost teas however are derived from plant/animal based chemicals not synthetic sources.  It's why I choose them.

Yes - I suppose there could be 5% of some synthetic chemical products in there, but I'm not sure there's any way to avoid it.   Besides - even our air, drinking water and home-made compost have at least that many chemical compounds dispersed in them.  So to garden "organically" in the literal sense may be an unattainable goal.  For me, I'm happy just avoiding synthetic chemicals where I can.
 
Your next point about "too much fertilizer" is also a good one.  There have been numerous studies that show both under and over fertilizing impede the growth of seedlings and plants. 

Because plant/animal based amendments like the ones I've listed above are already in a form that's readily available to plants, they break down and disappear from the soil VERY quickly.

That means that if you add them at the package rate (usually 1 oz per gallon applied monthly during the growing season) your plants quickly get a big boost, then have nothing to use until you feed them again a month later.  It's basically a feast or famine situation for the garden.  It's also why so many synthetic fertilizers come as "slow release".

Ergo the old adage that says you should fertilize "weakly, weekly". In other words - if you have a bed that needs nitrogen and you decide to apply liquid fish - instead of using the whole 1 oz/gallon application then waiting a month.  You can divide the 1 oz over the next four weeks, and apply 1/4 oz/gallon each week.  It adds up to the same total amount over the month, but it spreads out the application so the plants have a small amount of nitrogen available all the time.

Lastly -  you're right, it's a good idea to test the soil regularly if you're going to add amendments.  In my case, I test for N-P-K, pH, TDS, EC, and soil temp at home.  It's not perfect, I can't test for the trace minerals, but it's been OK so far.

Sorry, if I'm long-winded here, but I wanted to clarify a little. 
Thanks,
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Post  boffer 11/21/2013, 10:36 am

Turan wrote:...What one does and when is in the eye of the gardener.  As you learn your garden, your situation, your reactions become subtler and garden and you sort of grow together.
+1
Dream big; plan big; start small.  Expand your gardening commensurately  with your evolution as a gardener.  


Turan wrote:KISS is a cute phrase and nice for giving people the confidence to get started in this process but it is just a tip of an iceberg.
Some people look for reasons to abandon the KISS concept, while others achieve success by adhering to it.  Whatever path brings tranquility to a gardener's soul is probably the best route for that gardener.
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Post  plantoid 11/21/2013, 11:20 am

One thing that has become apparent to me  for quite a while :-

 My ANSFG beds  can't follow Mel's idea of many different crops growing side by side in each bed as I tend to have plenty of long term crops several that grow quite large  .
 
The  quick salads & long tem herbs we do use can be grown and rotated in two or three beds each year.  
 These beds do get a trowel of quality compost  when ever some thing is harvested
The glasshouse takes care of tomatoes and capsicums ,aubergines , winter salads & bringing on of the UV hot bed started seedlings into viable outside plants for setting out in the beds..
 

The remaining beds have such things as parsnips, carrot, swedes, turnips, curbits, brassica  etc. in groups..... usually one type per bed  to make pest control easier and to ensure that my bigger plants don't swamp the smaller ones .
 I've tried to do the one or two  trowels of my home made composts ( usually around 30 to  50% animal dung based ) and found I too needed to feed the brassicas & curbits .

This autumn & year end as the beds become clear of crop I've done a level barrow load of the same content compost to each 9 sq. ft. bed.
 My leeks have done fantastic so far so have the curly Kale . 
 The beds that were used for roots like , Carrots, Parsnips , Beetroot , Swede , Turnips and Kohlrabi were given a trowel full of the compost per square in February this year .. these have done really well with no forked roots and some great produce. ( unlike last year when things were over matured and they looked like cows udders Laughing )
 The beans and peas were given a deep manure in the square foot they were growing in of four trowels of compost per sq.ft. they also did very well .
 

My runner beans & celery  got a bucket of compost per sq. ft. , I set two bean plants in the top 3 inches of old bed covering & got more 36 inch long beans again Very Happy 

I too will keep and eye on this way ,  for I strongly suspect that Mel's method given in his books for sowing/planting  might not be suitable for our UK climate .
 Everything else in his books is great , perhaps I should think of what I'm doing as tuning things for local conditions.
  .
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Post  Turan 11/21/2013, 1:52 pm

boffer wrote:
Turan wrote:KISS is a cute phrase and nice for giving people the confidence to get started in this process but it is just a tip of an iceberg.
Some people look for reasons to abandon the KISS concept, while others achieve success by adhering to it.  Whatever path brings tranquility to a gardener's soul is probably the best route for that gardener.
+1
It is a huge subject really and seems to have to do with how a gardener processes concepts? But also with serendipity as to what their own circumstances and those of the area.

I have noticed in my own gardening a sort of cycle. I get excited about something and make big changes of some sort or other and then spend the next couple years trying to modify what I did into a simple easy thing that some one else could understand my instructions for garden care taking. I am always striving towards KISS and then disrupting it. I do not follow cooking recipes either Shocked 

I was hankering after a chipper shredder after reading here. Then I was out hauling stuff from the barn and chicken coop and realized that the animals are doing that all for me already. They spend all summer trying to get into the garden to feast on broccoli and tomatoes so in the fall I give them the spent plants to enjoy and thus chop and process into good compost material. KISS

Right now I have one major disruption going, moving beds to make navigating a bit easier. One disruption in midcourse... a greenhouse with one bed in it and another to make and the planting in it to be explored and figured out. Really I do not need to be disrupting the composting routine now.

Keep us updated on your exploration of amendments.

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Post  southern gardener 11/21/2013, 2:43 pm

Turan wrote:
I was hankering after a chipper shredder after reading here.  Then I was out hauling stuff from the barn and chicken coop and realized that the animals are doing that all for me already.  They spend all summer trying to get into the garden to feast on broccoli and tomatoes so in the fall I give them the spent plants to enjoy and thus chop and process into good compost material.  KISS  
 
That's Paul's philosophy in the Back to Eden gardening. He throws all his stuff to his chickens, and once a year sifts out his chicken pen and lays a good covering over his garden. I can tell you first hand, it works!  We too were toying with the idea of a chipper/shredder for the larger items Smile


Last edited by camprn on 11/21/2013, 3:29 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fixed quote box again)
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Post  dstack 11/21/2013, 3:42 pm

sanderson wrote:...Frantically started hot composting, collecting buckets and buckets of produce from the farmer's market and coffee from Starbucks, heat treated grass clippings, bought cow manure and wood shavings, etc.  The first 2 batches were B- but the plants started responding.  My third batch of compost to use in the spring reached 160* and 2 months later is looking like it's going to be a winner, A+....
Sanderson, what do you mean by "160*"? I never thought of going to farmers' markets. I'll have to try that. I've brought home well over a thousand pounds of coffee grounds from my local Starbucks over a period of a year-and-a-half, but unfortunately the local shop has stopped separating it from the trash and thus, they don't give it out anymore. Sad I'm wondering if that's the decision this particular Starbucks. Please let me know if you've found the same at your local shop as well. 

Although I considered myself as an aggressive composter, as you may have seen in my YouTube video... 
...perhaps I could step it up a few notches.
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Post  boffer 11/21/2013, 4:37 pm

dstack wrote:sanderson...what do you mean by "160*"
160 degrees

160°
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Post  walshevak 11/21/2013, 5:05 pm

I've found that  some of the Starbucks are exactly like that, don't sort out the grounds.  Others are inside  malls or other stores and  the mall or  store doesn't allow the freebie stuff to be carried out.

Kay

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Post  boffer 11/21/2013, 5:12 pm

Turan wrote:
boffer wrote:
Turan wrote:KISS is a cute phrase and nice for giving people the confidence to get started in this process but it is just a tip of an iceberg.
Some people look for reasons to abandon the KISS concept, while others achieve success by adhering to it.  Whatever path brings tranquility to a gardener's soul is probably the best route for that gardener.
+1
It is a huge subject really and seems to have to do with how a gardener processes concepts?  But also with serendipity as to what their own circumstances and those of the area...
 
+1 for the pleasure of gardening serendipity.  Do you fertilize? If so, what do you use? - Page 2 3170584802 

I've become intrigued with how gardeners approach their gardening, and how much it reflects about their personalities and thus their lives beyond gardening.  It's also fun to look at the big picture: how gardening fads come and go, and how the marketing of gardening products  affects us whether we realize it or not.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 11/21/2013, 5:45 pm

My method is to dive in headlong to whatever I'm learning (hence my past year here on SFG), pick the brains of those more experienced and wiser than myself and then try to pick a small area each season to learn and improve.

I have to be hands on to learn.  I can read it in a book but it won't become "my personal knowledge" until I've implemented it a few times, then I just remember from then on out.

When I read tidbits here and there in the forum, I remember them later and can go search the answers out.  I LOVE the internet!!!  It has made learning sooooo easy.
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Post  Cincinnati 11/21/2013, 9:47 pm

I have been getting coffee grounds from several locations of my local Starbucks for the past few years. It used to be I had to fight for CG when they put it out in 5 lb foil bags. Now I ask when I'm getting my cup of coffee and they pull whatever is in the trash can behind the counter for me. They do not save it, but if I wanted to go dumpster diving, I could retrieve more. I bring home about 20 lbs at a time.
I thought too much of any one ingredient in compost is undesirable.

I add the 20 lbs of wet coffee grounds to one chamber of my compost barrel. I create about 25 gallons of finished compost in each batch. So my compost should average just under 1 lb of composted wet grounds per gallon of compost. I'm guessing that is about 3/8-1/2 lb of coffee grounds per gallon of compost.

What is your ingredient list/ratio? Have you had any batches analyzed?
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Post  jimmy cee 11/21/2013, 10:38 pm

dstack wrote:
sanderson wrote:...Frantically started hot composting, collecting buckets and buckets of produce from the farmer's market and coffee from Starbucks, heat treated grass clippings, bought cow manure and wood shavings, etc.  The first 2 batches were B- but the plants started responding.  My third batch of compost to use in the spring reached 160* and 2 months later is looking like it's going to be a winner, A+....
Sanderson, what do you mean by "160*"? I never thought of going to farmers' markets. I'll have to try that. I've brought home well over a thousand pounds of coffee grounds from my local Starbucks over a period of a year-and-a-half, but unfortunately the local shop has stopped separating it from the trash and thus, they don't give it out anymore. Sad I'm wondering if that's the decision this particular Starbucks. Please let me know if you've found the same at your local shop as well. 

Although I considered myself as an aggressive composter, as you may have seen in my YouTube video... 
...perhaps I could step it up a few notches.
dstack
I'm picking up bags of used coffee grinds at our local Starbucks, I've given the people there some great tomatoes this season.
Also on the PA turnpike, I stopped in at a Starbucks, asked for the used grinds, they told me they save them for local farmers...
Must not be Corporate policy.
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Post  sanderson 11/22/2013, 2:27 am

Dstack,  I haven't been to the 2 Starbucks that would save the grounds for me since September.  The shops inside other businesses or malls couldn't give away the CG because of mall/business rules.  My SB were stand-alone businesses.  I would call during the day to "reserve" their CG for pick up around 8 pm.  I had to reserve them because there was a man that also collected them.

160* is 160 degrees F
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Post  Marc Iverson 11/24/2013, 2:45 am

donnainzone10 wrote:I would advise anyone against using Miracle Gro.

It had been my impression that the product's chemical salts eventually would accumulate, to the point that nothing would grow in soil treated with it.

I don't know for certain whether this is true.

HOWEVER-- I just found the following link:

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/miracle_gro.html
An agricultural scientist advised me not to use Miracle Grow, as, he said, it leads to an accumulation of heavy metals in the soil.
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Post  CapeCoddess 11/24/2013, 9:11 am

This thread is making my head spin. I never realized it could be so complicated.
Shocked 

dstack wrote: I've brought home well over a thousand pounds of coffee grounds from my local Starbucks over a period of a year-and-a-half, but unfortunately the local shop has stopped separating it from the trash and thus, they don't give it out anymore. Sad I'm wondering if that's the decision this particular Starbucks. Please let me know if you've found the same at your local shop as well. 
Our local Starbucks will save the grounds for me if I bring in my own lidded 5 gal bucket. The manager tapes a little sign on it for all the employees "Coffee grounds only".

CC
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Post  boffer 11/24/2013, 10:26 am

CapeCoddess wrote:This thread is making my head spin.  I never realized it could be so complicated....
CC
+1

But isn't it fun to watch?
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Post  sanderson 11/24/2013, 12:34 pm

Dear OP Dstack,  See what you started??  Very Happy   Good Topic.
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Post  Cincinnati 11/24/2013, 1:47 pm

walshevak wrote:I've found that  some of the Starbucks are exactly like that, don't sort out the grounds.  Others are inside  malls or other stores and  the mall or  store doesn't allow the freebie stuff to be carried out.

Kay
They don't allow the trash to be carried out? I understand there are rules, but How does the mall mgmt know you didn't pay for something? Stores do freebie promos all the time. 

People who consume part of the garbage are minimizing landfill waste.

I would ask the manager if he/she could do something for you. The company is very green! Pun intended. Our local Starbucks used to bag grounds in the foil bags the beans come in. Every time they opened a new bag of beans, they bagged the spent grounds for gardeners. That location closed, and my other two locations just double line a trash can and give it to me in trash bags.

The other options is to find another Starbucks. They are very close together in our area.
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Post  sanderson 11/24/2013, 2:24 pm

Pretty obvious when you have a plastic bag slung over your bent back, hauling out the grounds!  Very Happy
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Post  dstack 11/24/2013, 8:21 pm

sanderson wrote:Dstack, ...I would call during the day to "reserve" their CG for pick up around 8 pm.  I had to reserve them because there was a man that also collected them.

160* is 160 degrees F
I've never had luck with calling ahead. Every time the person taking the call either forgot or never communicated the message to anyone else. 

160 degrees is impressive!
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Post  dstack 11/24/2013, 8:31 pm

audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:...When I read tidbits here and there in the forum, I remember them later and can go search the answers out.  I LOVE the internet!!!  It has made learning sooooo easy.
Me too, but there's also so many myths that are perpetuated on the net and it's hard to know what to believe. Ultimately you have to try it yourself and see what works. 

This is my first season with my new SFG boxes, and this forum has been a HUGE help for me, but even then it still goes back to what works for me.  Wink
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Post  camprn 11/24/2013, 8:39 pm

dstack wrote:
audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:...When I read tidbits here and there in the forum, I remember them later and can go search the answers out.  I LOVE the internet!!!  It has made learning sooooo easy.
Me too, but there's also so many myths that are perpetuated on the net and it's hard to know what to believe. Ultimately you have to try it yourself and see what works. 

This is my first season with my new SFG boxes, and this forum has been a HUGE help for me, but even then it still goes back to what works for me.  Wink
Agreed.



Science helps too!Wink 

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Post  dstack 11/24/2013, 9:26 pm

MY BIGGEST SCORE OF COFFEE GROUNDS FROM STARBUCKS - FEBRUARY 2012

Do you fertilize? If so, what do you use? - Page 2 Starbu10

I estimated that was about 220lbs!

Also, yesterday was my first experience with fish emulsion. But OH MY... it looks like a bad case of diarrhea and it smells worse, if you can imagine that! No  WOW! I think I'm still recovering from nausea, but I'll be happy if it helps the garden. I just couldn't wait any longer for the student to get the soil samples which she was suppose to get this week. I didn't fertilize everything so I still have untreated soil that can be tested.

Next I'm on the hunt for worm castings since so many of you fine folks have mentioned it. Wink I didn't see it at Lowes or Home D. Do you buy yours online? What's a good source?
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Post  camprn 11/24/2013, 9:43 pm

dstack wrote:MY BIGGEST SCORE OF COFFEE GROUNDS FROM STARBUCKS - FEBRUARY 2012~I estimated that was about 220lbs!
NICE!!!


dstack wrote:Next I'm on the hunt for worm castings ... What's a good source?
Homemade compost with coffee grounds.  Worms are VERY fond of coffee grounds.

Pretty much and good nursery will have worm castings in their fertilizer/amendment section of the store.

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43 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t1306-other-gardening-books



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