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Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

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Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  BrotherNorm on 7/6/2012, 8:39 am

This column appeared in my local paper this morning. I found it interesting and germane to SFG so I thought I would share.

Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Synthetics or organics, that is the question.

Date published: 7/6/2012

Guy J. Mussey is an agent in Virginia Cooperative Extension's Stafford County office, specializing in environmental horticulture. Phone 540/658-8000; fax 540/658-8006; email
Email: gmussey@vt.edu.


IT'S A KEY part of my job as a Virginia Cooperative
Extension agent to provide the public and green-industry professionals
with factual horticultural information. There are many myths and plenty
of misinformation, and it's my job to disseminate only research-based
facts.

This sometimes causes much angst when the myths are agenda-driven. I
recently got into a heated discussion with my brother, for example,
about the merits of organic gardening. Though I agree that
pesticides are often overused, and can cause damage when they are, they
do serve a beneficial purpose when used in an environmentally
responsible way.

The argument was over the use of synthetic fertilizers versus
natural sources of nutrient management, which he advocates. Though
composted manures provide many benefits, their nutrient value is
generally very low. In most cases, copious amounts of organic matter
must be applied to provide adequate nutrients to deficient soils.

The soil is the source of inorganic nutrient elements, which are
normally available as ions: Nitrogen is available as nitrate, phosphorus
is available as dihydrogen phosphate, sulfur is available as sulfate,
etc.


No matter what the original source of the nutrients, they can be
taken up by the plant only in these forms. So the complex molecules in
organic sources must first be broken down to these basic forms before
the plant can absorb them.

Synthetic fertilizers, on the other hand, can be used in a
calculated and controlled manner that allows the plants to take up the
needed nutrients. That's not to say that organic matter doesn't
provide other benefits, such as improving the tilth of heavy clay soils
or increasing the water-holding capacity of sandy soils, but organic
matter such as compost and manure does not add much nutrient value.



Link to article: http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2012/072012/07062012/710199

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  plantoid on 7/6/2012, 9:16 am

Synthetic fertilized do not have the vast range of micro nutrient /trace elements that you find in mother natures own produced composts and try as they might no chemical company can come close to it. Synthetic fertilizers do not build up beneficial bacteria in the soils .

You have only to investigate the nutrient content of worm cast or Bocking 14 comfrey when composted to get my drift .

Strangely enough the author seems to fail to appreciate that plants nutritional requitements will change as the plant grows & comes to fruit and this is where a decent compost wins hands down . Plants so not need continually high levels of strong nutrients .


Almost 15 years ago I sat in on a session or two with a former officer of the Newzealand Agriculture department policy unit . He was telling us that since man has moved over to synthetic chemical fertilizing , the nutrient values of things like oranges and tomatoes has diminished tremendously even when fully ripened in their natural state & in the local soils .



Knowing that he who pays the piper all too frequenlty calls the tune , I wonder who is standing in the back ground of that report/study ??

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  boffer on 7/6/2012, 11:27 am

There's a never-ending amount of information on the internet. A lot of it is anecdotal, biased, and opinionated. I found this gem that I refer to often, written by a soil scientist who is accustomed to writing peer reviewed documents. She offers some wisdom about evaluating the validity of what we read.

Just for context, this is an excerpt from an article she wrote in a magazine that is targeting general audiences, and not the scientific community.


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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  BrotherNorm on 7/6/2012, 11:37 am

It appears that the quote from the SFG book fails #2 unless it's backed up by #3

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  boffer on 7/6/2012, 12:20 pm

I can see that. I would throw in #1 as well, and #4, sometimes.

From what I've read elsewhere, those are the reasons that gardeners who are more interested in the science of gardening have a difficult time accepting the SFG concept. There is no documentation that verifies the simplicity of Mel's claims; he's not a trained horticulturalist; he's obviously selling a product, and there's no doubt that he tweaks pleasant emotional responses.

The bottom line of the book: "This is what I've done, and you can do it too." I believed him, and son of a gun, he's right! Initially, I noticed the lack of data and documentation in the book, but I also noticed the critical thinking in some of his decision making. And I related to the thought processes whereby he came to some of his conclusions. That was appealing to me, and as basically a non-gardener when I read the book, scientific arguments about the method would have been distracting and counter-productive.

'Seeing is believing' or in this case 'Trying is believing' is what the book offers. In the time that I've had so much success with SFG by the book, my own thinking has become more analytical and critical of other gardening techniques and practices that are being touted. Ironically, I'm not able to accept them on good faith as I was willing to accept SFG! But it gives me a better appreciation of why experienced row gardeners are such a difficult sell to the method. There's no denying that I drank the SFG Kool-Aid!

Edit: Come to think of it, plantoid is into the science of gardening as much as anybody. It would be interesting to hear what appealed to him initially, thinking the way he does.


Last edited by boffer on 7/6/2012, 12:32 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Afterthought)

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  Turan on 7/6/2012, 1:51 pm

This is a long time discussion going back to the 40s at least. Rodale started a long term trial of the 2 systems 30 years ago. Now we know what Rodales bias is. I would like to know how much peer review has been ongoing on this project but beyond that as far as I a lowly gardener knows it has been preformed honourably.

Rodale Farming Systems Trial Fast Facts

Organic yields match conventional yields.

Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought.

Organic farming systems build rather than deplete soil organic matter, making it a more sustainable system.

Organic farming uses 45% less energy and is more efficient.

Conventional systems produce 40% more greenhouse gases.

Organic farming systems are more profitable than conventional.



Now as too the claim that manure is not as high in NPK as synthetic fertilizers~ that is a very broad statement covering fresh chicken droppings to mowed grass Rolling Eyes And sort of loses the point of what plants can handle (you will kill your plants with the high NPK fertilizers no matter what the source unless diluted..... to the levels of say grass clippings...... Laughing

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  CharlesB on 7/6/2012, 2:30 pm

I find his argument bias'd and limited.

Plants have many more nutritional needs than NPK if we want them to be nutritional food. Sure if I am selling by the pound all I care about is how many pounds I can get out of my land but I am not doing that.

Also one needs to look at calorie crop vs. nutritional crop. I don't eat corn for nutrition, I eat if for energy. I know it is not going to be anywhere near the nutrition I'll get from home grown leafy greens that I prepare the soil for.

Industrial farming speaks an entirely different language than the home gardener. They have entirely different purposes and goals.

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  greatgranny on 7/6/2012, 5:44 pm

@CharlesB wrote:I find his argument bias'd and limited.

Plants have many more nutritional needs than NPK if we want them to be nutritional food. Sure if I am selling by the pound all I care about is how many pounds I can get out of my land but I am not doing that.

Also one needs to look at calorie crop vs. nutritional crop. I don't eat corn for nutrition, I eat if for energy. I know it is not going to be anywhere near the nutrition I'll get from home grown leafy greens that I prepare the soil for.

Industrial farming speaks an entirely different language than the home gardener. They have entirely different purposes and goals.


Have had farmers argue that we wouldn't be able to "feed the world" if we didn't use synthetic fertilizers.  That's pure ----.  If we taught the people in third world countries how to grow things they wouldn't need to rely on the "feed the world" people.  I believe that is what has driven Mel to teach us and others how to grow nutritious food for ourselves.  He isn't just keeping it to our continent.  There are teachers that he has taught.  Passing it on is the key. 

This article is very biased.  He must have stock in some fertilizer companies. 

My parents farmed and gardened organically long before it became the newest "buzz" word.  We had cows, pigs and chickens.  None of them were cooped up in a building during the spring-fall.  The meat was to die for, the eggs were large and had orange yokes, milk straight out of the cows.  The veggies my Mom put up every year fed a family of 7 until the next crops were ready.  She had a goal every year for how much to can or freeze.  50 pints of every veggie and many pints of fruit that we also grew.  The manure from the barns was on every square foot of the 160 acres. 

When my Dad quit the pigs he plowed up the pig yard and planted field corn.  The corn was about 10 feet tall.  Too bad it wasn't sweet corn.

 

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  littlejo on 7/6/2012, 6:30 pm

I'm doing this to have better vegetables to feed my family, and also to save money in the long run.
I have spent approx $60 on chicken feed, to make the manure, to make the compost. We've probably eaten $60 worth of eggs! Then there is the labor in making the compost. I've saved the money I would have spent going to the gym!
I remember doing a traditional garden. I had to buy several bags of fertilizer, mix it in, weed, hoe, weed some more, and I can say that the veggies still did not taste as good, and even tho we had twice the size of the garden we have now, we still have more produce from our small SFG.
I have been doing this for 2 yrs. and haven't had to buy fertilizer yet.

Also, I read the 2nd page to the above article. Sorry, the person who wrote that has never gardened. If you take 2 of the same type of plant, and you water 1 and get the leaves wet in the middle of the day, you will burn up the plant.
Jo

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  CindiLou on 7/6/2012, 6:59 pm

"This can be accomplished by exposing the plant to full sun for a short time (one to two hours) each day and gradually increasing the amount of time spent in full sun."

I NEVER start my babies hardening off in FULL sun!

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  plantoid on 7/6/2012, 7:13 pm

From what I've read chemical fertilizers such as NPK were developed as a result of the first & second world wars when man power on the farms was depleted due to millions being killed or injured .
I think Fison were the first producers with a 7,7,7 formula it did seem to grow beter crops but all that glitters is not gold more of that later.

It was a fairly cheap fix that only needed a couple of guys to put in place whereas the old way used to be , clean out the over wintering yard in early spring or the dairy daily , put it on a big muck cart that was horse driven , stack it in a massive pile in the field that was going to be manured in a five crop and a fallow field cycle of agriculture which could take twenty or so guys a week of hard graft to complete in the spring and again in the autumn just before ploughing the " seasoned " manure in . The muck heap was usually placed inthe fallow field which was clover sown after being cropped the previous year for clover takes nitrogen outt he air and fixes in in the roots in the gound .
I remember my father coming home almost crying at the pain of split hands and masive muscle cramps in his legs, arms and back after broadcasting guano pellets over a 30 acre field ..it was even worse when the farmer moved to try nitrates for once it gets into splits and cuts your hands bleed as it burns the skin ( no health and safety gloves in those days.
As the man power reduced even more as factory work inside a weather safe environment wwith far better wages took precedent the farmer was almost forced to go the artificial route , but as i said all that glitters is not gold.

Sugar beet used to look fantastic after a dressing of man made fertilizer , it was only as recent as the mid 1990's that people started doing intensive tests to see if the nitrate run off from these fertilizers could be reduced that it emerged that sugar beet did not need any where the levels of stuff being out on it to give high sugars. though the stuff did make it look nice and green .
Nowadays the formula of the artificial stuff is almost individualy designed for the g=crop and locality it is grown in . this means you can grow plants in what woiuld normaly be barren lands .
The end result is nowhere as nutricious or contains the same varied levels of trace elements that a plant grown on a balanced compost of manures and organic materials has.
thoug they can produce masses of lower quality food but even this is having to be played with using genetic engineering to try and get plants that insects and disease attack . The organic side of thing whilst being much more intensive in labour / time does produce fantasticaly health plants that can with stand all sorts of attacks and damage and the quality of the end product is way up on the chemical factory grown stuff.

When I lived out in the sticks in 1995 one of my farmer pals told me to get what ever potatoes ( King Edwards ) I wanted from his field adjacent to my place when I ran out of eating my own potatoes which were of the same seed batch from him .
he had more crop per plant , bigger potatoes and that is where it ended my KE's were slightly smallerr had a few less but they stored for many months in moist peat and they were a much more solid celled potato texture that tasted quite different to barry's field potaotes .
The next year we did the same again but this time I had a years deep manuring and crop growing in the gardens .. these potatoes were far superior to his chemical spuds in all aspects.


Some where I have seen a list of the chemicals , nutrients & trace elements available out of a nominal compost made from cattle on straw , fowl on straw and seeweed , the list is long , very long .

As the compost decays in the ground new combinations and new trace elements are slowly released from the action of the compos on the soil with chemical factory stuff this is not usually the case.
That's why we are seeing legislation to reduce the disolved nitrates and salts from factory made fertilizers in our underground water supplies and rivers .

The earth has run well for millions of years without artificial fertilizers and our plant life has adapted to it well otherwise many a species of plant would have died out Humans have also adapted to eating that sort of pant life .

We have only had 70 years of factory chemical fertilizers and it does not look good .. far too many plants / crops are high in nitrates which we have to try & filter out in out bodies without harming our bodies .

I chose Mel's way because I'm too crippled to do my gardening any other way .
I did a lot more research than just reading his books & using what I already knew.

My crops are way way better than even when I was using composted manures, well rotted stable muck & mushroom compost out the small mammal farm we built up .

I can honestly say I have never ever had so many peas off 12 sown peas , ther is nothing in my beds that is not better than I have ever grown it before in 47 yerars of gardning .
Pat of it is down to the first two element of the MM peat and vermiculite for lightness oxygen and moisture in the soil but the five composts are the key .. I have seven or more animal dungs in my own compost as well as lots of vegetation both brown and green . These vegeatvie compsted material do not have much wood content so there is little nitrogen robbing ..
On my original setting up of the beds I realized I was short of things good for growth so I bunged in generous sprinkles of fish blood and bone meal to the mix as I was turning it over and left it to activate for a week before using it to get the beneficial bacteria going. You don't get these bacterial in chemical factory fertilizers that's why it has become necessary to use microbial fungi with some of them .

Of the agent making his claim , he comes overgv to me that he is a teacher who is short on facts and skills to put his idea over without sounding like a total pratt.


PS
Yes my post is full of " mistooks " the edit facility will time out before I correct it ...read my base line and smile ....that it's not you . Wink


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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  greatgranny on 7/6/2012, 7:32 pm

@plantoid wrote:From what I've read chemical fertilizers such as NPK were developed as a result of the first & second world wars when man power on the farms was depleted due to millions being killed or injured .
I think Fison were the first producers with a 7,7,7 formula it did seem to grow beter crops but all that glitters is not gold more of that later.

It was a fairly cheap fix that only needed a couple of guys to put in place whereas the old way used to be , clean out the over wintering yard in early spring or the dairy daily , put it on a big muck cart that was horse driven , stack it in a massive pile in the field that was going to be manured in a five crop and a fallow field cycle of agriculture which could take twenty or so guys a week of hard graft to complete in the spring and again in the autumn just before ploughing the " seasoned " manure in . The muck heap was usually placed inthe fallow field which was clover sown after being cropped the previous year for clover takes nitrogen outt he air and fixes in in the roots in the gound .
I remember my father coming home almost crying at the pain of split hands and masive muscle cramps in his legs, arms and back after broadcasting guano pellets over a 30 acre field ..it was even worse when the farmer moved to try nitrates for once it gets into splits and cuts your hands bleed as it burns the skin ( no health and safety gloves in those days.
As the man power reduced even more as factory work inside a weather safe environment wwith far better wages took precedent the farmer was almost forced to go the artificial route , but as i said all that glitters is not gold.

Sugar beet used to look fantastic after a dressing of man made fertilizer , it was only as recent as the mid 1990's that people started doing intensive tests to see if the nitrate run off from these fertilizers could be reduced that it emerged that sugar beet did not need any where the levels of stuff being out on it to give high sugars. though the stuff did make it look nice and green .
Nowadays the formula of the artificial stuff is almost individualy designed for the g=crop and locality it is grown in . this means you can grow plants in what woiuld normaly be barren lands .
The end result is nowhere as nutricious or contains the same varied levels of trace elements that a plant grown on a balanced compost of manures and organic materials has.
thoug they can produce masses of lower quality food but even this is having to be played with using genetic engineering to try and get plants that insects and disease attack . The organic side of thing whilst being much more intensive in labour / time does produce fantasticaly health plants that can with stand all sorts of attacks and damage and the quality of the end product is way up on the chemical factory grown stuff.

When I lived out in the sticks in 1995 one of my farmer pals told me to get what ever potatoes ( King Edwards ) I wanted from his field adjacent to my place when I ran out of eating my own potatoes which were of the same seed batch from him .
he had more crop per plant , bigger potatoes and that is where it ended my KE's were slightly smallerr had a few less but they stored for many months in moist peat and they were a much more solid celled potato texture that tasted quite different to barry's field potaotes .
The next year we did the same again but this time I had a years deep manuring and crop growing in the gardens .. these potatoes were far superior to his chemical spuds in all aspects.


Some where I have seen a list of the chemicals , nutrients & trace elements available out of a nominal compost made from cattle on straw , fowl on straw and seeweed , the list is long , very long .

As the compost decays in the ground new combinations and new trace elements are slowly released from the action of the compos on the soil with chemical factory stuff this is not usually the case.
That's why we are seeing legislation to reduce the disolved nitrates and salts from factory made fertilizers in our underground water supplies and rivers .

The earth has run well for millions of years without artificial fertilizers and our plant life has adapted to it well otherwise many a species of plant would have died out Humans have also adapted to eating that sort of pant life .

We have only had 70 years of factory chemical fertilizers and it does not look good .. far too many plants / crops are high in nitrates which we have to try & filter out in out bodies without harming our bodies .

I chose Mel's way because I'm too crippled to do my gardening any other way .
I did a lot more research than just reading his books & using what I already knew.

My crops are way way better than even when I was using composted manures, well rotted stable muck & mushroom compost out the small mammal farm we built up .

I can honestly say I have never ever had so many peas off 12 sown peas , ther is nothing in my beds that is not better than I have ever grown it before in 47 yerars of gardning .
Pat of it is down to the first two element of the MM peat and vermiculite for lightness oxygen and moisture in the soil but the five composts are the key .. I have seven or more animal dungs in my own compost as well as lots of vegetation both brown and green . These vegeatvie compsted material do not have much wood content so there is little nitrogen robbing ..
On my original setting up of the beds I realized I was short of things good for growth so I bunged in generous sprinkles of fish blood and bone meal to the mix as I was turning it over and left it to activate for a week before using it to get the beneficial bacteria going. You don't get these bacterial in chemical factory fertilizers that's why it has become necessary to use microbial fungi with some of them .

Of the agent making his claim , he comes overgv to me that he is a teacher who is short on facts and skills to put his idea over without sounding like a total pratt.


PS
Yes my post is full of " mistooks " the edit facility will time out before I correct it ...read my base line and smile ....that it's not you . Wink


Couldn't have said t better myself. tongue

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  bakermtb on 7/6/2012, 11:14 pm

I am not sure about a lot of things, but one thing you need to remember. Mel has done a lot of research before he wrote the book. His main goal was, "What works for the gardener and was it easy". After many years of using the SFG method I would not go back to the other methods. The method is easy with great production using the organic compost (Mel's Mix)
The proof is in the yield.
(25 year SFG gardener)

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  BrotherNorm on 7/9/2012, 10:23 am

@bakermtb wrote:I am not sure about a lot of things, but one thing you need to remember. Mel has done a lot of research before he wrote the book. His main goal was, "What works for the gardener and was it easy". After many years of using the SFG method I would not go back to the other methods. The method is easy with great production using the organic compost (Mel's Mix)
The proof is in the yield.
(25 year SFG gardener)

I'm sure it is or has been for many but not for all. There are many posts here from first year year SFGers regarding the poor first year yields. Myself included. The usual answer is to hang in there, it's common, it gets better. Since this is my first year I'll head that advice and see what happens next year.

In the mean time one of the things I'm getting ready to do is to take a soil sample and send it out for testing. I'll post the results when I get them.

Soil sample aside there is a pattern that has emerged in regards to production and yield. All except for one batch of radishes of root crops have failed or have not developed properly this includes beets and two different varieties of carrots.

The spinach, kale and chard are all under developed. The spinach died back and I pulled it out.

My lettuce (red Romain and a french green leaf variety) are doing fine but it took some time to get where they are.

The pole and bush beans are both experiencing low yields. The potatoes, French fingerling and Yukon Golds both had low yields.

The corn is stunted and falling over. The mix doesn't seem to provide enough support for the height and weight of the corn stalk.

I have been using organic fertilizers which one would have to do regardless but until the soil test comes back I'm basically shooting in the dark as to the proper type and amount of fertilizer I should be using from the beginning and throughout the life cycle of the plant.

What makes this conversation difficult is the variables in the types of composts that are added to the mix. As for myself I did use five distinctly different type of composts. But that says nothing of the quality of those composts and what each one is adding to the mix as a whole.

That being said I still contend, unless someone can change my mind that the peat ratio is too high. It should be lowered and the delta should be given to the composts. I started to go down this path myself with a new batch of mix just to compare the difference.

All in all I believe the organic method can and does work but it's trickier to dial in when you are just starting out.

Cheers...





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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/9/2012, 11:16 am

If you have in fact come up with better ratios than the 1/3 peat, 1/3 blended compost, and 1/3 coarse vermiculite, and can substantiate those findings, you should by all means contact Mel and the foundation and let them know of your discoveries.

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  littlejo on 7/9/2012, 11:21 am

I am in my 2nd yr, and I agree that the first yr. can be hard to get thru for some. I didn't know what compost was supposed to look like, or smell like. What is supposed to be in the compost? I bought the 5 kinds, but, I didn't buy the most expensive, or check out the reputation of the maker!
Some of my compost smelled like Jim Beam, some had pieces of bark, sand, small rocks, sticks, small pieces of plastic, etc. Some of it smelled of pure manure! None of these is in good compost. There is no set standards for compost!
I had row gardened before, so I knew the veggies were not thriving. I cheated 1 time. I applied 1 application of Miracle Gro. This gave the compost time to finish cooking and me time to make some compost of good qualiy. I had the best harvest that I've ever had in all my yrs of gardening.
The only vegetable that I've put any fertilizer too was the corn since then. I used a organic fertilizer, after the corn was up, because I know it requires lots of nitrogen, and I do love my corn.
And, I've made some worm tea a couple times.
My 2nd yr has been good, and except for the d___ bugs, I'm very satisfied.
I did add some extra peat in with the squares of acid loving veggies, tomatos, potatos, strawberries, sw potatoes.
I hope that you will be patient, and let your garden grow for you.
Jo

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  Turan on 7/9/2012, 11:54 am

Any new garden has problems settling in. I agree that 1/3 peat is too much if the compost is of questionable nutrient value. The problems that seem to be outlined in this forum are not the worth of synthetic versus organic, but of how to quantify compost worth and then adjust the ratios with peat accordingly.
I keep hearing the simplicity of MM while the reality seems it is just as delicate a soil ecosystem as any soil. If made from all bagged ingredients it then does not have the resources that the native soils at least have. It is too bad that compost bags do not have large red labels saying HANDLE WITH CARE! LIVING ENTITY INSIDE!

I hope that Mel or his staff read this forum and are thinking about how to tweak their product/system. We are providing them with data by force of participating here.

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  greatgranny on 7/9/2012, 11:59 am

I wonder if the problems that we have could be partly due to not soaking the mixture when we are adding it to the beds. Also, maybe not understanding how to measure each part of the mix. Personally, being a cook, I believe in exact measuring. When I started, I took a bucket and filled it with one of the ingredients. (Remember to break apart the peat before doing this) I put a certain number of filled buckets into a wheelbarrow. Then I mixed it and then put it in the bed. I kept doing this until the bed was full. What happened the next spring was a miracle.

We also have to take into consideration that the weather is not always ideal. Duh! This year I have had tremendous success with some crops and some (the cool weather ones) are a disaster. I decided that I could just wait until I can re-plant those same things when appropriate for my area. The only exception to the cool weather disaster has been my broccoli which 4 plants produced enough to fill (after breaking the head apart) 2 gallons bags for the freezer - plus I've eaten some.

I can understand the discouragement and to be told to hang in there might upset some. This method does work if the exact directions are followed.


Reminder: Fluff up the peat before you measure it. Can't emphasize that enough.

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  llama momma on 7/9/2012, 1:06 pm

I am starting to wonder if the whole 5 way compost thing should be prefaced Heavily with something like: For the first year gardener, it is Absolutely Crucial to First secure a Local source of either aged manure or a variety that does not burn such as rabbit, llama manure, etc. This will ensure a high nutrition level right from the start.
Then proceed the first year to make that manure 50% of the mix and have vermiculite and peat around 25%. This way the garden is up and growing with success the first time. It's basically how I started 2 years ago. For the other composts, I had only 3 wagon fulls (a childrens little red wagon) of spent composted flower garden greens to add to a 4 by 8ft first time garden. Next, in the course of the first year a newbie must work on producing their own 5 way compost to feed the garden later on for optimum results.
My sfg is still heavy on manure but the results are very good.
It's got to be so discouraging for a new sf gardener to purchase bags of crap that doesn't always work. I know I would have quit altogether.

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  BrotherNorm on 7/9/2012, 1:17 pm

@llama momma wrote:I am starting to wonder if the whole 5 way compost thing should be prefaced Heavily with something like: For the first year gardener, it is Absolutely Crucial to First secure a Local source of either aged manure or a variety that does not burn such as rabbit, llama manure, etc. This will ensure a high nutrition level right from the start.
Then proceed the first year to make that manure 50% of the mix and have vermiculite and peat around 25%. This way the garden is up and growing with success the first time. It's basically how I started 2 years ago. For the other composts, I had only 3 wagon fulls (a childrens little red wagon) of spent composted flower garden greens to add to a 4 by 8ft first time garden. Next, in the course of the first year a newbie must work on producing their own 5 way compost to feed the garden later on for optimum results.
My sfg is still heavy on manure but the results are very good.
It's got to be so discouraging for a new sf gardener to purchase bags of crap that doesn't always work. I know I would have quit altogether.

I'm stubborn so that helps

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  llama momma on 7/9/2012, 1:22 pm

Ha! I like stubbornness put to good use Very Happy and I'm married to one of those too.
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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/9/2012, 1:24 pm

Agreed greatgranny. Weather plays a crucial role in the success and failures in our gardens.

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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  No_Such_Reality on 7/9/2012, 2:45 pm

@littlejo wrote:I had row gardened before, so I knew the veggies were not thriving. I cheated 1 time. I applied 1 application of Miracle Gro. This gave the compost time to finish cooking and me time to make some compost of good qualiy. I had the best harvest that I've ever had in all my yrs of gardening.

The main benefits of artificial fertilizer is just what you experienced. The ability to quickly correct a deficiency that is present.

The problems with artificial fertilizers is just that strength. Like sugar and caffiene to the human body, you can pump the system to get one more out of it but eventually you hit a crash point.

Regarding organic versus traditional farming, I've had some lengthy discussions with a farmer I trust, essentially, the same problem you have is what proper fertilizer use allows to be corrected. Similarly with a pest infestation.

Or, we can go back to the first pages of this thread and really wrap our minds around the amount of labor needed for traditional organic soil building farming.

In the end, you're better with a properly maintained organic system that is sustainable. But a supplement of artificial fertlizer isn't the end of the garden world if you are doing it to bridge a solution to a growth problem.

Keep in mind, the flavorless tomatoes in the store aren't flavorless because of the farming methods, they're flavorless because they've been bred that way so they turn a nice uniform red color and ship well.




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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  plantoid on 7/10/2012, 7:34 am

@BrotherNorm wrote:
@llama momma wrote:I am starting to wonder if the whole 5 way compost thing should be prefaced Heavily with something like: For the first year gardener, it is Absolutely Crucial to First secure a Local source of either aged manure or a variety that does not burn such as rabbit, llama manure, etc. This will ensure a high nutrition level right from the start.
Then proceed the first year to make that manure 50% of the mix and have vermiculite and peat around 25%. This way the garden is up and growing with success the first time. It's basically how I started 2 years ago. For the other composts, I had only 3 wagon fulls (a childrens little red wagon) of spent composted flower garden greens to add to a 4 by 8ft first time garden. Next, in the course of the first year a newbie must work on producing their own 5 way compost to feed the garden later on for optimum results.
My sfg is still heavy on manure but the results are very good.
It's got to be so discouraging for a new sf gardener to purchase bags of crap that doesn't always work. I know I would have quit altogether.

I'm stubborn so that helps


I'm stubborn too Norm Wink ..
Let's see if I can change your view by logic ? :fall:

study The peat is to all intents and purposes inert ...it has no food value nor will it rot to give much of one over the years . The quality of using peat is that it provides the skeleton/frame work for roots to grow around , provided drainage and a place for usefull molisture to stay . It is also light and easy to work as it has lots of air passages in it .

Vermiculite is similar but can hold lots of water when it is in excess and gently /slowly lets the peat wick it out as the peat dries again it has no nutrient value. The peat and vermiculite abosrb liquified nitrients & worm evacuations produced or released as a result of water & air upon decomposing composted materials

When we take a few scoops of common garden soil and mix it with water , shake it well for a few minutes and let it settle you will see it settle out into bands that equate to something like 2/3 of almost inert materials. Those lower materials in the bands are the anchor / skeleton for the plant roots .


Now we look at the composts you have used how many say that they use recycled wood products , forest floor products , peat or coir etc ....all woody materials that will rob your garden of nitrogen unless well composted over several years.

These nitrogen robbers in your compost can be as high as a 90% content .
If any of your so called composts mention or indicate that they can be use as or it is to be used as a soil improvers its a fair chance they are very high in the woody materials .
Most companies that make them cannot afford to have massive piles of decaying /composting woody material hanging around ,they need cash flow and space to put the incoming new materials that they have contracted to remove from elsewhere so they send the mixed up stuff out in bags at the lowest levels of composting that can legally be referred to as compoost .. It does not automatically follow that what you see in the bags is useful nutricious plant food compst just that it is rotted vegetable material ......for that is what compost is.

Now re read the bits in Mels book 2005 editon about getting on to making your own composted vegetation & animal dung that does give composted nutricious material for your garden that contains a whole shed load of plant foods . It will not be heavy on the partly composted woody materials if it is made correctly .
don't just believeme either check out the berkley 18 day hot composting and explore the lists of materials that can be used for a good nutricious compost there are hunderds and hunderds of them . Set this list of ingredients against the contents list of commecially processed gunge that is commonly available .
You'll notice straight away that the commercial lists are very heavy on woody materials in most cases.
The global recession has caused many a commercial set up to use whatever is the cheapest material they can get to make a compost product .
Big box stores buyers will not usually know how sensitive the useful nutrient content is to the likes of us .
They will just look for a pretty bag of something called compost that they can sell as at a good profit.

Some compost makers will still stick to what makes a useful nutrient enriched compost that works ..these are the ones that you need when making up your MM , using the website is a way of finding what is currently working and what name it is sold under for mel's book is around sevenyears old and things will have changed tremendously since it was written .

Make your own very varied ingredient compost with out too much woody materials add some animal dung based manures ..history & proof of the pudding tells you that this will always work , as it has been done very very successfully for thousands of years.




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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

Post  BrotherNorm on 7/10/2012, 10:00 am

Plantoid thanks for taking the time to write this explanation. It was very thought out and helpful. Kudos.

A good quality compost is obviously key to the overall success of the mix with its 1/3 ratio. If a first year SFGer is not be able to get the type of quality needed to support this ratio can and should the ratio be altered to provide more quantity to a low quality compost until a higher quality compost can be acquired.

In essence there could be two ratios, the preferred for those those with high quality compost and an alternate for those who don't. thinking

This would also explain why the first year SFGers may have problems but in the out years they don't. After the first year their own compost piles are probably ready and they begin to add that to the first year mix thereby creating the quality of compost that is so important in supporting the 1/3 ratio.

Cheers,




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Re: Synthetic fertilizer richer than manure

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