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Poor SFG :(

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  walshevak on 8/10/2012, 9:47 pm

@Richard2 wrote:I don't dare call this "Mel's Mix". He probably wouldn't want his name associated with it:) I bought all bagged material from the 2 big box stores and some local F&G stores. 7 different bags, mostly each from a different store and as much variety in the source of the compost as I could find...ie: steer, mushroom, chicken, sheep, 1 bag of vegetation, etc and added the peat and vermiculite. I thought I was doing it right:( The tests show otherwise.
The chore now is to get what I've got to a place where it will be good for next year. I don't have any hopes of salvaging much this year. I'd like to do a 2nd 4X8 SFG next year. I'm thinking of moving half of the soil I have into the new one and adding some kind of soil to each one.

I'm sorry, but I'm not buying the test results. That is an impressive list of composts and you "should have" had a good mix. You did it all the right way. I can't believe the nitrogen level was zero. Low maybe, but not zero, even if you got "last years" bags that had been left out in the open and leached out.
This thread came out with such different results.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t8673-mel-s-mix-lab-analysis-results
Could there have been a typo?
Kay

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Soil Mix

Post  Richard2 on 8/10/2012, 10:02 pm

Thanks, Walshevak...I threw out all the bags, so don't know if they were pasteurized or not. Some thing is obviously wrong because the garden is doing so poorly.

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  walshevak on 8/10/2012, 10:34 pm

Someone else also mentioned the killer herbacide that can be in compost. My daughter got hold of some of that this year in some truck loads of well composted horse manure. Her garden is almost destroyed especially the tomatos and beans. They got very stunted plants. She does row gardening and her husband plans to scrape off the top 6 inches of soil next year.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/killer-compost-zmgz11zrog.aspx - this title is misleading. It doesn't show any way of preventing or correcting.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Grow-It/Contaminated-Compost-Clopyralid-Aminopyralid-Pyralid-Dow-Chemicals-Toxins.aspx

Does anyone know if soil can be tested for this at a reasonable price?

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  gwennifer on 8/10/2012, 10:42 pm

Oh what a bummer. Hey Richard you're a real champ for coming back and updating us with your results and I appreciate your patience with us.

Let's see here, what about bark/chunks of wood in the mix? Uncomposted materials will rob nitrogen from the mix as they compost. When you were mixing things up, were your composts all pretty well composted? Nice and black and crumbly?

Other than that, I'm thinking lack of micro-organisms/sterile soil like cautery and Cincinnati brought up. Are there results for microbial activity from your test?

By the way, I'm sorry you're having so much difficulty posting the results. Do you perchance have "Snipping Tool"? It's a little program that lets you grab a section of screen and save it as a photo - I think it comes with Windows? With that, you could just open your e-mail attachment and snip a screen shot to then post.

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  Richard2 on 8/10/2012, 10:50 pm

The Mother Earth link in Walshevak's link say:
"Whatcom County in Washington has been hit especially hard, with losses to community gardens and several organic farms estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those affected think the source of the contamination was cow manure used to produce local composts."

That's where I am...Whatcom County!! I had so many different composts I probably had some of this. Maybe it's making sense now. Except the lab results still don't look right.


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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  camprn on 8/10/2012, 10:58 pm

Shocked WOW. When you call the UMass lab on Monday maybe mention this story about the herbicides to them. They may actually have a test they can run, but I bet they will need a new sample. So tell me, how long was the turn around time from when you sent the sample to when you got the results?

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Result timing

Post  Richard2 on 8/10/2012, 11:18 pm

Date Sampled...8/4
Date Mailed......8/6
Date received...8/8
Results emailed...8/10

Sample was taken on a Sat and mailed on a Mon.
Good turn around I think.
And Yes, I plan on talking to them about the herbicides, testing and the effect herbicides have on nitrogen depletion.

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Mother Earth News

Post  Richard2 on 8/10/2012, 11:37 pm

A quote from the 2nd link in Walsheval's post:

"Testing for contamination is a slow, painstaking process that comes at a steep price of $350 (or more) per sample, so most commercially-made compost is not tested.

Both of these herbicides were approved by the EPA before their persistence in compost was known, and before lab tests existed that could detect residues at damaging levels. We think approval of these pesticides should be revoked before the damage gets worse.

To express your concern about this hidden danger to your garden, write to your senators and congressional representatives to make your voice heard. You can also contact Rick Keigwin, director of the EPA’s pesticide review division.
See our earlier report: Milestone Herbicide Creates Killer Compost for lots more background on this issue.
Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Grow-It/Contaminated-Compost-Clopyralid-Aminopyralid-Pyralid-Dow-Chemicals-Toxins.aspx#ixzz23Cm1gslB"


My thought is that if you haven't got this problem now, it's coming to your area soon!

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  Turan on 8/10/2012, 11:54 pm

@Richard2 wrote:The Mother Earth link in Walshevak's link say:
"Whatcom County in Washington has been hit especially hard, with losses to community gardens and several organic farms estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those affected think the source of the contamination was cow manure used to produce local composts."

That's where I am...Whatcom County!! I had so many different composts I probably had some of this. Maybe it's making sense now. Except the lab results still don't look right.


pale

The only way I know to recover from this is to remove all the soil and replace it.

Thanks for posting your test results. It will be interesting to see if hyper feeding of blood meal etc can pull plants through on herbicide contaminated compost....
Best of luck.

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  southern gardener on 8/11/2012, 12:06 am

@Richard2 wrote:I don't dare call this "Mel's Mix". He probably wouldn't want his name associated with it:) I bought all bagged material from the 2 big box stores and some local F&G stores. 7 different bags, mostly each from a different store and as much variety in the source of the compost as I could find...ie: steer, mushroom, chicken, sheep, 1 bag of vegetation, etc and added the peat and vermiculite. I thought I was doing it right:( The tests show otherwise.
The chore now is to get what I've got to a place where it will be good for next year. I don't have any hopes of salvaging much this year. I'd like to do a 2nd 4X8 SFG next year. I'm thinking of moving half of the soil I have into the new one and adding some kind of soil to each one.

We bought several bags of the Pre Made Mel's Mix, and have the same problems. Small stunted yellow plants. Watermelons planted in March, still 1 1/2 feet long with golfball sized melons. Pumpkins yellow and stunted with flowers like they're at the end of their life cycle, tiny corn, on and on. The company has since replaced the bags for us, but I still wonder if there is something "amiss" with the stunted and almost burnt appearance of the garden? Is the garden salvageable? We have tested the soil ourselves, as it's not practical to test so many weird areas of the garden at $15 a pop. The tests all show low PH and "fertilizer" amounts. There are plants that have done pretty well, but they are in the minority for sure. We have plants on our property that are HUGE (not in SFG), pumpkins, onions and tomatoes in particular. We are in the midst of making our own compost, but to make enough for for close to 300 SF takes a while. My DH made me more beds yesterday that we will fill with the new MM. I SO desperately want this to work!! Hope for good results. This info is sure an eye opener. Thanks so much for posting all the info you did. Good luck.

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Good/bad

Post  Richard2 on 8/11/2012, 12:14 am

I've had the same results. I've got very good results from regular yard dirt with nothing added...Great Broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and onions, yet the same crop in SFG is a loss. All planted at the same time, watered the same, etc, etc.

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  RoOsTeR on 8/11/2012, 12:17 am

@Richard2 wrote:Some how the program won't let me host the soil results:(, but here they are:
ph...7.3
N (NO3)....0.0
AM (NH4)..0.0
P.............28
K............167

How can this be? No Nitrogen with 7 different composts which included 1 bag of chicken compost? I don't doubt the results, can't understand it.

I do notice a difference in the plants that are still alive being slightly more healthy since I started feeding the nitrogen. I think it's too late for the tomatoes, cucumbers, Cauliflower, broccoli and strawberries, but the lettuce is coming and I have 1 banana pepper set that might survive.

Perhaps I can get the results up for you. Hit the email button under my avatar (not the pm button Wink ) and forward me your results through email. I'll see what I can do.

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Email

Post  Richard2 on 8/11/2012, 12:46 am

Thanks, RoOsTeR:) I can't see anyway to attach it to the SFG email system. It's a PDF file. When I copy and paste, the format goes all wacky and unintelligible. If you have access to my account, send me an email and I attach it to a reply. I appreciate your help:)

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  Cincinnati on 8/11/2012, 10:44 am

@Richard2 wrote:The Mother Earth link in Walshevak's link say:
"Whatcom County in Washington has been hit especially hard, with losses to community gardens and several organic farms estimated at hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those affected think the source of the contamination was cow manure used to produce local composts."

That's where I am...Whatcom County!! I had so many different composts I probably had some of this. Maybe it's making sense now. Except the lab results still don't look right.


Richard, I'm beginning to get a clearer picture of what might be happening. Since the MEN article pinpoints this problem in your area, I recommend a different course of action.

I suspected a compost problem but didn't want to scream about zebras at the first sight of hoof prints. However, I don't think I would try to salvage this MM. I had an issue with my tomatoes last fall. So this spring, I dumped all the soil into a new flower bed in the front yard and started over.

You may not have a contamination problem, but why chance it with another growing season. It's for this very reason that I won't go to my city reclamation department and get the leaves and yard clippings they collect from the populace. I don't know what they are spraying on their trees and lawns. I only accept the leaves from my neighbors that I know are not using chemicals on their lawns and foliage.

I have wanted manure from a few local sources, but I am unsure what chemicals went into the cows and horses so I am leary of that as well. Farmers are attempting to make their crops bulletproof without regard to the end result downstream.

I'd cut my potential losses now. This is your opportunity to add a beautiful flower garden or two and give your vegetables a fresh fertile home as well.

ADDITIONALLY: I'd ask the local county extension agent to review your soil in light of the claims of the MEN article. This could help them prevent this kind of thing down the line. Grab a couple more samples for them. If you have a local AG college/university, I'd contact them as well. This would be a great research project in light of the MEN claim. Somebody is obviously already aware of issues in your area.

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  Turan on 8/11/2012, 1:29 pm

@Cincinnati wrote:[
I'd cut my potential losses now. This is your opportunity to add a beautiful flower garden or two and give your vegetables a fresh fertile home as well.

One note of caution here..... Most flowers are as susceptible to these herbicides as any vegetable. The herbicides are supposed to kill broad leaf plants like dandelions and wild mustard and that includes Aster to Zinnia. It is only safe for grasses.

Here is more about the Whatcom county situation http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/aminopyralid/index.html

My thought after reading the article.... this specific herbicide is aminopyralid. They say it breaks down in 1-3 years in the soil from microbial action. Sooooo that suggests mix lots of home made compost (very microbial active) into those beds and grow corn in them next year. Add more home made compost and it should be ok again for that following year. Soooo if that feels too risky, spread it over your lawn and do not rake up the clippings from that area for a year.

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  Richard2 on 8/11/2012, 1:55 pm

Turan...Great article. Thanks for finding it and posting. Although not as formal a test, I essentially did the same thing by planting some of my crops in SFG and some in potting soil and yard dirt. It's pretty clear to me that's the problem. It looks like it still lingers here in Whatcom County despite the eduction they have done with farmers and applicators. I bought my compost in the spring, all in Whatcom County.

I need to find a new supply of compost!

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  walshevak on 8/11/2012, 8:17 pm

I have a question? Were all your composts locally made? Or were some commercial products shipped in? From what I'm reading, it only take one to contaminate the whole batch of MM. Since the bioessay test involves trying to start peas, you can start buying composts now and do the test on each bag you buy BEFORE you make MM for spring planting. A good winter project.

Sounds like you are going to have to start over. Bummer!!!!! My son in law plans to scrape off the top 6" of his row garden and let the pile sit for 2 years. Maybe you can do the same with your current MM. Plant corn in your single 4x8 this spring. Corn is not affected by the herbicide. Do not put the contaminated MM on the grass as you will be wanting to use the clippings in a compost pile which you need to work extra hard on now. Get as much compost going as you can NOW and through the winter. Go ahead and build the expansion 4x8 you were planning (or 2). Then in 2 years, you will be ready to return to the current bed and will have 3 4x8 beds.

Kay

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Pyralid Herbicide

Post  Richard2 on 8/11/2012, 8:57 pm

Kay, I really appreciate your help with this:) and everyone else that has contributed...Thank you all.
Judging by the pics in the Whatcom-WSU article, I'm guessing I'm at about 5ppb aminopyralid. My edible pod peas grew to about 3' and produced some fruit. It seemed to affect the tomatoes, onions, broccoli and cauliflower. Peppers were affected the worst. One died, the others were on the way out but recovered somewhat when I started adding the nitrogen.
I'm sure some of the compost I bought was bagged locally. Some I think came from OR. There is a commercial composting operation nearby I'm going to check out. I understand it is run by a family that used to have an organic dairy operation. I know dairy cows is where they think the problem originated from here, but I can get compost there and haul it with my trailer. I want to be careful and get a sample of their compost first and run the test.
I probably won't decide exactly what I will do until the new year and after running some tests on different composts.
I guess early next year I can sample the SFG, run the test and decide then if it needs to be replaced.

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  walshevak on 8/11/2012, 9:39 pm

Sounds like a plan and at least you know you can grow corn in the old mix for a year or so. Makes it seem like less of a loss. Keep posting with us so we all can learn. It is very important to our gardening family.

Kay

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Re: Poor SFG :(

Post  Turan on 8/12/2012, 1:40 pm

@walshevak wrote:Sounds like a plan and at least you know you can grow corn in the old mix for a year or so. Makes it seem like less of a loss. Keep posting with us so we all can learn. It is very important to our gardening family.

Kay

+1 Keep us posted this is a problem we are all having to look out for now.

Kay, I wonder if now might be the time your daughter would most need a raised bed? Rather than bull dozing off the soil, just in classic SFG manner raise above it? Though I totally can see the relief of bull dozing the contaminated stuff aside with a healthy ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH

I find myself worrying now every time I see some one using hay pellets to boost a compost pile.... How can we know if that hay is safe? Pellets are intended for livestock feed like horses or llamas and rabbits. There are no restrictions on this herbicide being applied to their feed. Same concern when we gather manures from an alpaca or llama or horse farm, does the farmer know if the hay was sprayed and do we know to ask?

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