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Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

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Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  camprn on 11/29/2013, 9:14 am

Do you have a baffling question about the garden? Did the neighbor give some advice? But is it true? Will it help? Post a question here if you cannot seem to find a good answer and other members may be able to help shed some light on the facts.

@yolos wrote: Is it a myth that decomposed pine needles turn the soil more acid. 
I did some digging on the internet and have found something of a consensus, based on scientific study, that it is a myth adding pine needles turns the garden soil very acidic. There would have to be lots and lots of conifer needles added over millennia to make that happen.

http://www.gardenmyths.com/pine-needles-acidify-your-soil/

http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/2702/#b

http://www.pinestrawdirect.com/PineStrawMulchAcidity-SeparatingFactFromFictionThroughAnalyticalTesting.pdf


There are a few links to soil research to be found here at a Master Gardener site.
http://www.mastergardeners-rc.org/blog.html

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  camprn on 11/29/2013, 9:32 am

Myth Busting by the Garden Professors.

http://puyallup.wsu.edu/~linda%20chalker-scott/Horticultural%20Myths_files/

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  llama momma on 11/29/2013, 9:49 am

There you go.  Much better. 

A site like that, or similar, at least could potentially hold far more credibility than a

bunch of hobby gardeners debating what is 'the truth'.


Last edited by llama momma on 11/29/2013, 9:59 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarify)

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  plantoid on 11/29/2013, 11:54 am

@llama momma wrote:There you go.  Much better. 

A site like that, or similar, at least could potentially hold far more credibility than a

bunch of hobby gardeners debating what is 'the truth'.
Your belief in professors is far greater than mine.Laughing Laughing 
 
Laughing Educated anti social derelicts sounds a more apt description of the many I've met and had to put up with . .Wink

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  camprn on 11/29/2013, 12:15 pm

Please folks, keep this thread on track.

Do you have a baffling question about the garden? Did the neighbor give some advice? But is it true? Will it help? Post a question here if you cannot seem to find a good answer and other members may be able to help shed some light on the facts.

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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

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/29/2013, 12:41 pm

OK, I've got one that persists in my neighborhood.  Or maybe it's two rolled into one...

Oak leaves are no good for composting as they take too long to breakdown and add too much acid.

But when they are just about the only leaves you have, whatcha supposed to do???  idk 

What say you all?

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  camprn on 11/29/2013, 1:17 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:OK, I've got one that persists in my neighborhood.  Or maybe it's two rolled into one...

Oak leaves are no good for composting as they take too long to breakdown and add too much acid.

But when they are just about the only leaves you have, whatcha supposed to do???  idk 

What say you all?

CC
Oak leaves will take longer to compost than, for example, maple leaves. Oak leaves contain lignans that inhibit rapid decomposition. By chopping or shredding the leaves, this will provide more surface area for bacteria to break down the leaf and advance the time frame of leaf to usable compost. Hot composting of shredded oak leaves will also speed the process.

https://sharepoint.cahnrs.wsu.edu/blogs/gardentips/archive/2012/10/05/faqs-on-composting-leaves.aspx

http://mdc.mo.gov/conmag/1995/10/autumn-leaves-myth-and-reality

http://bayweekly.com/old-site/year98/lead6_16b.html

http://www.organicgardeningguru.com/composter-connection/making-compost/what-a-good-pile-needs/

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  boffer on 11/29/2013, 1:19 pm

CC, I've heard that too, so I'm curious what shows up.

Oak leaves have made up 20% of my compost for the last 4 years.  They seem to decompose just fine for me, but I haven't composted any other type of leaves in significant quantity to compare to.  For the record, my big compost pile is on a 1-1½ year cycle, which I suppose is long compared to many other members.  My MM pH is consistently around 6.8. [Edit: On second thought, my pH reflects Mel's contention that multiple compost sources balance out, and not of the pH of the oak leaves. Duh!]

I haven't found the data from any research, but this ag school says they are fine to use but compost more slowly than other leaves due to the higher lignin content.

web.aces.uiuc.edu/vista/pdf_pubs/LEAFDISP.PDF
(copy and paste link)

These schools also say they are fine for composting:

http://projectcompost.ucdavis.edu/node/19
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/compost/common.cfm

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/29/2013, 1:38 pm

@camprn wrote:
http://mdc.mo.gov/conmag/1995/10/autumn-leaves-myth-and-reality
"Scientists have found that fallen maple and oak leaves release natural phenols during the first 6 to 8 months of the rotting period. These phenols inhibit growth of seedling roots, but rot and disappear from soil and mulch within 9 months of weathering. Better to keep dead leaves and leaf compost out of an area where seeds will be sprouting until after plants are up and growing well."

Whoa! Shocked  I've got oak leaves all over my shut down SFG beds right now.  I take them off in spring.  Wonder if this has anything to do with my not being able to grow root veggies, fact or myth?

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  camprn on 11/29/2013, 2:06 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:
@camprn wrote:
http://mdc.mo.gov/conmag/1995/10/autumn-leaves-myth-and-reality
"Scientists have found that fallen maple and oak leaves release natural phenols during the first 6 to 8 months of the rotting period. These phenols inhibit growth of seedling roots, but rot and disappear from soil and mulch within 9 months of weathering. Better to keep dead leaves and leaf compost out of an area where seeds will be sprouting until after plants are up and growing well."

Whoa! Shocked  I've got oak leaves all over my shut down SFG beds right now.  I take them off in spring.  Wonder if this has anything to do with my not being able to grow root veggies, fact or myth?

CC
in one of the other posted articles, I think one about mulch, it speaks to this point. During natural decomposition of the oak leaves the phenols
are released during the first few months after  the leaves are shed from the tree.  I cannot find any indication there should be deep absorption of these compounds that would adversely affect your root crops.
Maybe someone else knows, or can find, more information.

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/29/2013, 3:29 pm

Got another one that I'm working on with someone right now...

Urine containing medications is unsafe for use in gardening.
Fact or myth? And what about all the different chemicals contained in foods we eat? Does that affect the urine's safety?

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  camprn on 11/29/2013, 5:08 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:Got another one that I'm working on with someone right now...

Urine containing medications is unsafe for use in gardening.
Fact or myth?  And what about all the different chemicals contained in foods we eat?  Does that affect the urine's safety?

CC
Let us know if you dig anything up about that. Looks like the a university in Australia is working on that.
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2012/01/31/3415550.htm

Anything that goes in is going to come out one way or another. if someone is using antibiotics for an infection, typically all of it is not metabolized and some is passed out of the body in the urine. Antibiotics are  a wide range of medications and they all have different effects on  various bacteria. I don't know about antibiotic action on the soil bacteria.

animal antibiotic use problems.
https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ID/cafo/ID-348%20HTML/ID-348.html

Urine use as a fertilizer would not be considered organic under current EU rules.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urine

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/29/2013, 6:06 pm

@camprn wrote:
Urine use as a fertilizer would not be considered organic under current EU rules.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urine
"Urine contains most (94% according to Wolgast[20]) of the NPK nutrients excreted by the human body. Conversely, concentrations of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, commonly found in solid human waste, are much lower in urine (though not low enough to qualify for use in organic agriculture under current EU rules)"

Now I need to find out where the heavy metals come from...but I have an idea that we're going to go full circle here.

Funny how trying to answer one question brings up so many other questions.Wink 

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  camprn on 11/29/2013, 6:27 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:
@camprn wrote:
Urine use as a fertilizer would not be considered organic under current EU rules.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urine
"Urine contains most (94% according to Wolgast[20]) of the NPK nutrients excreted by the human body. Conversely, concentrations of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, commonly found in solid human waste, are much lower in urine (though not low enough to qualify for use in organic agriculture under current EU rules)"

Now I need to find out where the heavy metals come from...but I have an idea that we're going to go full circle here.

Funny how trying to answer one question brings up so many other questions.Wink 

CC
Did you try any of the links in the footnotes to see if the info was there??

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/29/2013, 7:06 pm

@camprn wrote:
@CapeCoddess wrote:
@camprn wrote:
Urine use as a fertilizer would not be considered organic under current EU rules.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urine
"Urine contains most (94% according to Wolgast[20]) of the NPK nutrients excreted by the human body. Conversely, concentrations of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, commonly found in solid human waste, are much lower in urine (though not low enough to qualify for use in organic agriculture under current EU rules)"

Now I need to find out where the heavy metals come from...but I have an idea that we're going to go full circle here.

CC
Did you try any of the links in the footnotes to see if the info was there??
Yes, I saw the levels but not the source: "The levels of heavy metals were very low in the urine. Mercury, cadmium and lead were all below their detection limits, 0.0004, 0.0013 and 0.027 mg/l respectively. These values corresponded to: <1 mg Hg/kg P, <4 mg Cd/kg P and <89 mg Pb/kg P. In the measurements at Ekoporten, performed after this ORWARE study, the detection limit for cadmium was lowered and it was found that the Cd/P ratio was 2 mg Cd/kg P. Thus, urine is a very clean fertiliser."

Other sites state the source of heavy metals in urine as being food, water, air, pollution or by absorption through the skin through contact with heavy metals in industrial work, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and agriculture, etc.
One such site:
http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/heavy+metal+poisoning

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  cheyannarach on 11/30/2013, 2:07 pm

What a fun link. I have enjoyed reading it. I have heard that you aren't supposed to compost citrus fruits (someone told my hubby that). I asked why not and he had no explanation so I continue to compost them. Hope I am right...

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  Turan on 11/30/2013, 11:53 pm

Interesting thread.

Here is something I wonder about. I have heard said innumerable times that you should never leave eucalyptus leaves on your soil. That nothing will grow there then. But that was not my experience when living in San Diego. I assume it is like the oak leaves, phenols that disperse in a couple months and long time to compost but other ways fine.

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  Goosegirl on 12/1/2013, 10:12 pm

Here is a link I found regarding the eucalyptus leaf question, as I had no problem with them in Nor Cal either.  

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/eucalyptus-bad-compost-65137.html

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  Turan on 12/1/2013, 11:11 pm

So I was not delusional about composting them. I did not use them in the garden compost though, but more like a BTE mulch that broke down and became soil.

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  Marc Iverson on 12/2/2013, 12:49 am

They accumulate lots of flammable sap in So. Cal and occasionally big branches fall off.  Their sap can peel the paint off your car in no more than a few hours, as my poor (formerly) nice-looking (formerly) expensive car can testify after not long at all in a parking lot ringed with eucalyptus trees.  Also great water-suckers, as I recall.  All in all, not something you want to grow unless you're a koala, unless you've got just the right circumstances.

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  Marc Iverson on 12/2/2013, 12:58 am

Truth or myth?  Finished compost needs cool-off time(3 months? 6 months?  a year?) to be safe to put in your garden.

Example that prompted the question:  Every seed or even seemingly-dead plant I throw in my compost pile made of 90% horse poop thrives.  Heck, often better than the stuff I've carefully tended in the garden.  Way beyond its normal season, too.

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  sanderson on 12/2/2013, 2:49 am

In college (last Century), I had to take Plant Ecology as one of the Plant classes.  One of our field trips involved selecting different wild trees, selecting a measured patch (was it one sq yard?) and counting the number of different kinds of native grasses and plants that grew under each tree in that square.  What we found was that each tree species had it's own ratio of plants.

Survival of the tallest or best root system or toxin shedding.  Something drives each plant to survive.  Eucalyptus in Australia have to compete for the water and nutrients so it makes sense is would produce a "toxin" to keep down many competitors.  What grows under living pine trees?  Mainly acid-loving plants like azaleas.  Once the leaves and branches compost, it seems that the material becomes more neutral.

In our SFG, there is very little competition for water or nutrients (exceptions fall under non-companion planting or "thirsty" plants).  Plus, regardless of what acid, alkaline or toxic plant material is thrown in the compost pile, the final material is basically neutral and non-toxic.

The plant world is as amazing as the animal world.

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  plantoid on 12/3/2013, 4:59 pm

@Marc Iverson wrote:Truth or myth?  Finished compost needs cool-off time(3 months? 6 months?  a year?) to be safe to put in your garden.

Example that prompted the question:  Every seed or even seemingly-dead plant I throw in my compost pile made of 90% horse poop thrives.  Heck, often better than the stuff I've carefully tended in the garden.  Way beyond its normal season, too.
The seeds grow because the digestion system of the horse does not kill them and you have not hot composted the manure with the greens as well as you could have which does indeed kill the seeds when the heap  temperatures get in the 120 oF range and above for a couple of days running  as it sterilizes/cooks  the seeds and bits of live plant root .

 See "The Berkley 18 day hot composting method "  ..also note that it says  you move the heap and turn the outsides into the inside of the heap to kill the wed seeds.
 
I think it is Boffer who has a simple way of sorting out  the dormant seed problem  .  He makes the veg bed up a few weeks  before it is needed and simply weeds it as a crop free bed which means he can pull every single bit of growth out. He then turns the square over and waits another few days for any new seeds to germinate /appear, re- weeds the whole bed , turns it over again and then starts his crop growing.

Re:-
The resting / weathering of the heap it depends what your compost is made of & how you composted it ..

 My take on this is  ..... green horse muck , fresh fish bye-products and neat chicken muck  give off lots of ammonia  .. which will harm delicate seedlings . If you have too much of it in your heap  You could well still have it giving off ammonia when you think it is time served compost .
weathering buy restacking it in the  open to let the oxygen into it  will allow the ammonia to decay and or  escape .

 This is especially true of most of the commercially available pre packed horse , chicken and steer muck  that is passed off as fully composted material when in fact  the ammonia generated when you tip it out the bag tells you it is not   . That's when  you spread it out for a couple of days turning it over every day or so before using it to make your Mel's mix.  .

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  Marc Iverson on 12/3/2013, 7:53 pm

Understood, plantoid.

What my question was getting at, though, was why stuff seems to thrive in raw horse poo despite all the usual cautions against using it. It seems that, far from being overwhelmed by ammonia, for example, once I toss something in the horse poop, it becomes almost impossible to kill it. I had a tomato plant growing there for a month after I ripped it up, in 30-ish degree temps even; it even came out with a new tomato. I finally had to physically chop it into pieces to kill it. Other things -- suckers, tops of root veggies, seeds from inside melons and tomatoes and cukes and squash -- tend to use the pile not as their opportunity to compost themselves up for my delectation, but to sprout and regrow. For a substance that's supposedly bad for plants and seedlings, you sure couldn't tell by the way everything I put in or on it thrives.

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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

Post  boffer on 12/3/2013, 8:03 pm

Marc, see if this thread is applicable to your question.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t15704-does-fresh-chicken-manure-burn-lawn-grass#162778

If your horse manure was from a field, and not a stall where it gets mixed with urine and bedding, it might not be too 'hot' for the plants.


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Re: Truth or Myth? Garden Lore Explored

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