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Soil fertility and possible vermiculite problem

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Post  ander217 on 11/20/2010, 7:50 am

I found this site online and it explains soil fertility and NPK usage very well. I was especially interested in the paragraph which discussed how vermiculite can adsorb or fix potassium to its edge or between its layers and slow the availability of potassium to the plant. However, if I understood correctly, that nonexchangeable K can maneuver itself around to become exchangeable K, but there are conditions which must be met and others which can hinder the process.

(After reading this article I wonder how plants manage to grow at all. It's an amazing process.)


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Post  happyfrog on 12/5/2010, 8:45 pm


kind of reminds me of activated charcoal and the adsorption it can do with both toxins and nutrients.

i would think that since the soil is so strongly amended with compost that the overall nutrient level is going to be much higher than the 'average' garden bed that it might be a moot point?

but perhaps somethikng to consider in future plantings and to generously amend with more compost than is 'officially' needed per square ('the whole one trowel thing). i know i always put in a huge scoopful from an old ricotta cheese or yogurt container so there's more than is recommended.

mel told me when he was at my house that it's always ok to add more compost. the danger comes in when not adding enough or any when replanting for next succession. . . because of nutrient loss from last crop. he remiinded me also that in the various other countries that don't have easy access to peat moss, vermiculite and the like that he advocates growing in straight compost.

thanks so much for sharing this article. made me put on my thinking cap and ponder this for a bit. Smile

would love to know more of your insights on this topic.

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Post  Charles on 12/6/2010, 7:43 pm

Perhaps I can make one or two points on this intresting subject, with regard to 'NPK' fertilizers usage on soil.
OK, it is true that the three main elements are nitrogen, phosphorus and potash (potassium) are important in the context of a living soil. It is how these nutrients are delivered and become water-soluble that is important to the understanding of plant nutrition, not instance gratification for the plant by introducing NPK fertilizers, hence the saying 'Feed the soil, not the plant.' Feed the micro-organisms, the mycorrhizae and other soil life provide the right condition, and the nutrition of the plant will be taken care of automatically.
We (meaning plants, animals and ourselves) introduce organic waste - humus to the soil, which is essential to maintaing a good soil tilth -an open sponge like structure, which maintains good aeration and has the abiliy to hold large reserves of water. It contains plant food instore, for release by micro-organisms when needed by plants. Humus is the essential organic ingredient in soil, without which soil life would all but cease to exist.
A lot more can be said, but I hope this gives a little insight into a very complex cycle of life in the soil which in turn feed all the plants and feeds the world cheers.


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Post  camprn on 3/31/2012, 9:56 am


To grow fabulous food in the Square Foot Garden, the growing mix (Mel's Mix) needs to be healthy and have the nutrients the plants need. This is the reason for the 5 types of compost. The more sources you get, the higher the probability of getting all the nutrients your plants need into the mix. Here is a good read about indicators that there may be a problem with the availability of nutrients to your garden plants.

Among other things, if you choose to make your Mel's Mix with less than 5 different types of compost you run a greater risk of seeing these things listed in the article.
Some signs that your plants may be in trouble


43 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.

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


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Post  curio on 3/31/2012, 11:37 am

Thanks for that link... some very valuable information there Smile

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