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Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

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Post  Marc Iverson on 12/3/2013, 8:18 pm

That's probably it, boffer. The horse poop I use comes from horses that are almost never confined to their stalls, so their poop usually has up to a full day to air at least its surface out.
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Post  boffer on 12/18/2013, 11:05 am

Truth or Myth: compost tea is valuable for a SFG garden?

(Let's focus on the application of compost tea to Mel's Mix, and not its use as a foliar spray.)

I'm hoping someone can provide good evidence one way or another.
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Post  camprn on 12/18/2013, 6:29 pm

@boffer wrote:Truth or Myth: compost tea is valuable for a SFG garden?

(Let's focus on the application of compost tea to Mel's Mix, and not its use as a foliar spray.)

I'm hoping someone can provide good evidence one way or another.
Here is an interesting read from a horticultural scientist about her search for peer reviewed scientific studies focusing on using compost tea for disease suppression in the garden.

http://puyallup.wsu.edu/~linda%20chalker-scott/Horticultural%20Myths_files/Myths/Compost%20tea%20again.pdf

Some evidence, one way and another. This looks like a power point presentation and perhaps missing some basic info.
http://organic.kysu.edu/CompostTea.pdf

More food for thought.
http://www.gardenmyths.com/compost-tea/

I think in my garden I will stick, for the most part, with simply topdressing my Mel's Mix with compost. The timing and amount would be dependent upon the plants that are in the bed.

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Post  plantoid on 12/19/2013, 5:46 am

Truth or myth ?

You get better crops  if you plant acording to the phase of the moon !

A very contentious issue , many people will have views upon it and lots will swear by it .

 My view of it all :-

In the heyday of religious fervour  & still hanging on by the finger nails in these modern times , the priests being kept and fed by the others in their societies were able to educate themselves because of being relieved of the massive burden of always having to provide for themselves and working for some one else.


They intelligently used/hijacked  pagan concepts that had evolved over thousands of years as to when to do things & designed a planting schedule to fit the church calendar so that the illiterate congregations were able to follow the seasons for sowing  /planting  out & harvesting.

It is much more likely that the best optimum times for the sowing /planting & harvesting are done when the weather is the best rather than at rigidly set times on the calendar .
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Post  boffer on 12/20/2013, 9:56 pm

@boffer wrote:Truth or Myth: compost tea is valuable for a SFG garden?

(Let's focus on the application of compost tea to Mel's Mix, and not its use as a foliar spray.)...

I asked because I can't find sources that say that it is.  I can find sources that say it's an important tool for commercial farmers: farmers create barren soil when they use chemical fertilizers year after year.  By applying compost tea every year, they are able to rejuvenate and maintain soil that is alive with micro-organisms.  In other words, they are able to feed the soil using a method that is more cost effective and practical than trying to add compost to hundreds or thousands of acres.

The farmer sends his soil to a lab for analysis of the micro-organisms.  The lab can then  tailor a compost tea recipe for the farmer to use that will boost the low level or missing micro-organisms, and that will make the tea lean more bacterial or fungal depending on the farmer's need.  The farmer will often have his tea made commercially, and the tea maker will have the tea analyzed to ensure correct results.  

The farmer will then apply the tea at a rate of 5-20 gallons per acre, depending on how depleted the soil is.  

5 gallons of compost tea per acre to maintain healthy soil.   thinking   It appears that a little goes a looooooong way.  

That all makes sense to me.  It's when gardeners take the concept to the backyard that I get lost.  If a gardener has a highly organic growing medium like MM, isn't the garden already full of  micro-organisms?  And if a gardener makes his tea with the same compost that he puts in his MM, isn't he adding the same micro-organisms?  Very few gardeners get their soil lab-analyzed for major and minor nutrients.  Given that the cost of testing is much, much greater for micro-organisms, I doubt very few gardeners have those tests done.  So they don't know what they're starting with or what, if anything, they need.

The type and number of micro-organisms in compost tea is determined by the variety of composts and other ingredients that go into it, whether it's aerated or not, small bubbles or big bubbles, ambient temperature, time that it is steeped, method of filtration, time elapsed to application, and I probably omitted some factors.  There are so many variables, no two gardeners are going to make similar teas.  And without testing, they have no idea what they've created.

But I keep coming back to this question: MM is 1/3 organic matter.  Are we really lacking micro-organisms?

And then some gardeners make  compost tea for the nutrient value: NPK and minor nutrients.  A gardener would use about the same amount of compost in a 5 gallon tea bucket as they would add to 1 or 2 squares in a box.  Although they say that compost releases nutrients slowly over weeks or months, let's give the idea the benefit of the doubt, and say that all the nutrients leave the compost and enter the tea water in a day or two of brewing.  So we're taking the nutrients from a couple handfuls of compost, diluting it  in 5 gallons of water, and then spreading it over who knows how many square feet of MM.  Have we really added anything of significance?

Lacking credible research, I'm really fence sitting about compost tea.  I'm open to the idea that it could be valuable to the home gardener, but for now, I'll put my compost in my MM.
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Post  sanderson on 12/21/2013, 2:14 am

After reading "Garden Myths" above, it looks like MM achieves with its 1/3 compost more than compost tea added can do. However, as Boffer wrote, it seems reasonable that barren dirt could benefit from it as part of a rehabilitation process after years of just chemical feeding.
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Post  CapeCoddess on 12/21/2013, 12:06 pm

I use compost tea occasionally because some of my squares & boxes hold a crop for the whole year, like most of the greens.  And when they are densely planted it's difficult to add more compost.  That's where the tea comes in.  I use it to 'refresh' the organisms & nutrients without compost getting into and/or on the leaves.

Do I need more organisms & nutrients, are they depleted after several months?  Probably not, but it doesn't seem to hurt.  And it makes me feel like I'm doing all I can to give my plants a good 'diet', like they give me.  Wink 

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Post  boffer on 12/28/2013, 10:27 pm

Does aluminum foil make a good reflector for grow lights?

When using lights for starting transplants indoors, or growing plants indoors, some gardeners will put a reflective surface under the plants and on the walls surrounding the plants and lights, so the plants will receive as much light as possible.

There seems to be two strong opposing opinions about aluminum foil.

One, it works just fine.

Two, stay away from it at all costs.

About all I've been able to find is anecdotal opinions.
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Post  camprn on 12/28/2013, 10:48 pm

I found some stuff, but it seems the quality of the light source is more important than reflecting a poor light source. there is a lot of lingo in this that I don't understand.
http://www.cornellcea.com/research/lighting/cyclopticsHID.html

http://www.uaf.edu/files/ces/publications-db/catalog/anr/HGA-00336.pdf


I have not yet found anything empirical about reflective foil or colored film improving seedling growth.

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Post  boffer on 12/28/2013, 10:51 pm

This is the only source I've found by someone who at least has the background to sound like he knows what he's talking about!

http://www.tomatoville.com/showpost.php?s=37395eb9fae8efb2368c1aba8977215d&p=313755&postcount=3
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Post  boffer on 12/28/2013, 11:13 pm


This link is a goldmine!  Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored - Page 2 3170584802 

Nothing about aluminum foil, but all the facts a person needs to determine lighting requirements, heating requirements, shade requirements, ventilation specs, energy costs, and more, for either indoor or greenhouse growing. Definitely worth book marking.
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Post  camprn on 12/28/2013, 11:14 pm

@boffer wrote:

This link is a goldmine!   Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored - Page 2 3170584802 

Nothing about aluminum foil, but all the facts a person needs to determine lighting requirements, heating requirements, shade requirements, ventilation specs, energy costs, and more, for either indoor or greenhouse growing.  Definitely worth book marking.
Well......... Good!  What a Face 

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Post  camprn on 2/15/2014, 1:21 pm


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Post  boffer on 2/15/2014, 1:38 pm

Thanks, camp, there's some good ones on that list.
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Post  camprn on 3/10/2014, 2:26 pm

OK, new myth /truth... Please someone do some research regarding this claim that aspirin boosts tomato plant immune system.  thinking 
Can anyone find empirical study? or 3?

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Post  Turan on 3/10/2014, 2:46 pm

Willow water is often used as a rooting compound and it is the original source for aspirin. So I would try a search on salicylic acid as a rooting compound to get past the myths to some actual research.


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Post  rabbithutch on 3/10/2014, 3:06 pm

Because I am not a professional, I will not attempt to pontificate nor to approve or disapprove of any practice for anyone else; however, many of the questions here about compost are addressed in the Rodale Complete Book of Composting.  I got my used copy last week and have poring over it. 

For Cheyannarach, I, too, thought that citrus was no-no.  Rodale's book says that citrus makes great compost but requires a bit of pre-processing.  In fact he mentioned getting waste from citrus processing plants.  I suspect that one would want to use it sparingly and not overwhelm the compost pile, however.

Great thread!

I will return to it and read the links more thoroughly over time.

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Post  Chopper on 3/10/2014, 11:14 pm

@camprn wrote:OK, new myth /truth... Please someone do some research regarding this claim that aspirin boosts tomato plant immune system.   thinking 
Can anyone find empirical study? or 3?

From an article I found using the search "aspirin boosts tomato plant immune system". The author was very skeptical but came around after researching various scientific studies:
"Back to aspirin.  In the Cornell link, above. and a variety of other sources, there is evidence that aspirin water (approximately, one aspirin tablet dissolved per gallon of water), sprayed on leaves and allowed to soak in, can activate the plant immune system and fight plant disease.  Quoting the Cornell article (using the tobacco plant model)... "
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Post  boffer on 4/27/2014, 11:58 am

Truth or myth:

A heavy rain makes veggie plants vibrant/thrive.

I've heard many gardeners say this, but I've never experienced it because 'heavy' rains in my climate usually happen in the gardening off-season.

If it's true, why so?  Do gardeners not water deep enough?  Do the plants prefer an overall shower rather than just getting their feet wet when gardeners water?  I've heard snow called the 'poor man's fertilizer'; does heavy rain bring nutrients with it?  Do the weather conditions (like heat and humidity)  prior to a heavy rain cause the plants to look sad, but when the weather is cooler after a shower, the plants look happier?

Any other reasons this could be a truth?
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Post  CapeCoddess on 4/27/2014, 12:03 pm

@boffer wrote:Truth or myth:

A heavy rain makes veggie plants vibrant/thrive.

I've heard many gardeners say this, but I've never experienced it because 'heavy' rains in my climate usually happen in the gardening off-season.

If it's true, why so?  Do gardeners not water deep enough?  Do the plants prefer an overall shower rather than just getting their feet wet when gardeners water?  I've heard snow called the 'poor man's fertilizer'; does heavy rain bring nutrients with it?  Do the weather conditions (like heat and humidity)  prior to a heavy rain cause the plants to look sad, but when the weather is cooler after a shower, the plants look happier?

Any other reasons this could be a truth?

Great questions! I know in my garden the plants are so much happier with the distilled rainwater then they are with the chlorinated hose water. That's all I got... thinking
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Post  camprn on 4/27/2014, 12:12 pm

Poor Man's Fertilizer has to do with elements in the precipitation and the fact that the ground is not frozen and can absorb the nutrients.
http://www.weathernotebook.org/transcripts/1999/04/26.html

http://www.adn.com/2008/10/08/550298/blanket-of-snow-is-a-poor-mans.html

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Post  boffer on 4/27/2014, 1:27 pm

If rain has the nitrogen content suggested in those links, it certainly speaks to plants' ability to rapidly use liquid amendments.

If a garden shows signs of vigor after a heavy rain, is it then an indication that the growing medium is short of nitrogen?

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Post  camprn on 4/27/2014, 2:47 pm

Or water.

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Post  plantoid on 4/27/2014, 4:14 pm

@Turan wrote:Willow water is often used as a rooting compound and it is the original source for aspirin.  So I would try a search on salicylic acid as a rooting compound to get past the myths to some actual research.



 I can't recall the names ( SHAME !  ) the chemical that stimulates the growth nodes on plants soaked in willow water elixir ( 6 to 8 inclh long willow end twigs are best ,as these contain the most ingredient , simmered for a couple of hours then allowed to cool to room temp ) is called something like dia-meth- al ????????   look for that on a pack of hormone rooting compounds . I did a fair bit of research about 20 years ago looking for the magic cheap ingredient to kick start several thousand cuttings in to rooting mode.

 The salicylic acid found in the leaves here in the U K is an ancient herbalists aspirin substitute if the leaf is fresh .. one leaf is one & a bit aspirins worth .. Keep those horses away from the willows so they don't overdose on them .
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Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored - Page 2 Empty Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  plantoid on 4/27/2014, 4:20 pm

As well as plants liking a good soaking , rain also contains dissolved carbon & nitric acids which it collects from the air as it falls to earth .. this weak  " carbonic acid "  is soaked into lime soils and these released limes then act on the soil to help release other nutrients that were until the rain came locked up in the soil .
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