Square Foot Gardening Forum

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.


Search
 
 

Display results as :
 

 


Rechercher Advanced Search

Latest topics
» What's a good type of lettuce to try for some one who doesn't like lettuce?
by Mimi2 Today at 8:17 pm

» newbeone
by sanderson Today at 8:13 pm

» Tryst with my first DIY SFG
by Mimi2 Today at 8:12 pm

» Plantoid' s going into hospital ....
by walshevak Today at 8:11 pm

» What are you eating from your garden today?
by Mimi2 Today at 8:07 pm

» Tomato Mystery Mix
by Ginger Blue Today at 8:05 pm

» CANADIAN REGION: What are you doing in September 2016
by Mimi2 Today at 7:54 pm

» New England September 2016
by sanderson Today at 7:50 pm

» The Research Journey:free-The Gardener’s Guide TO PERFECT GARDEN SOIL
by trolleydriver Today at 5:37 pm

» Soil Blocks: Tutorial In Photos
by sanderson Today at 2:57 pm

» The SFG Journey-Cover crops
by trolleydriver Today at 12:26 pm

» Compost
by camprn Today at 8:13 am

» Hand Pollination ?
by camprn Today at 8:11 am

» parsnips in square foot garden?
by sanderson Today at 4:01 am

» Oh no! My hibiscus moscheutos plant has some roots exposed!
by RJARPCGP Today at 2:38 am

» Second Year SFG in Canada
by Scorpio Rising Yesterday at 8:33 pm

» The Research Journey:SELF-WATERING SALAD GARDEN COURSE
by has55 Yesterday at 6:58 pm

» Admin back! Classic cars
by AtlantaMarie Yesterday at 5:38 pm

» Kale & Parsnip Question
by countrynaturals Yesterday at 3:09 pm

» compost thermometer
by sanderson Yesterday at 1:58 pm

» Northern California & Coastal Valleys - What are you doing this month?
by sanderson Yesterday at 12:37 pm

» EXPERIMENT: Tomatoes to Powder
by trolleydriver Yesterday at 11:00 am

» N&C Midwest: September 2016
by Scorpio Rising Yesterday at 9:29 am

» The Research Journey:what to plant now, fall gardening in Dallas-Ft worth
by sanderson 9/25/2016, 9:55 pm

» Medical Topic...may be helpful to some folk....
by sanderson 9/25/2016, 9:50 pm

» Gardening in Central Pennsylvania
by Scorpio Rising 9/25/2016, 9:04 pm

» Mid-Atl - Jul 2016 - Wwwwaaaaahhhhh!
by Scorpio Rising 9/25/2016, 6:07 pm

» Another item for composting.
by llama momma 9/25/2016, 4:04 pm

» mulching
by dstack 9/25/2016, 12:27 pm

» 1,000 worms on their way....
by Cajun Cappy 9/25/2016, 11:45 am

Google

Search SFG Forum

Measuring organic content

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Measuring organic content

Post  GreenGene on 9/13/2014, 12:15 am

I am aware I can send samples in for analysis, but is it possible for the average Joe to measure and determine the organic content of the grow medium with reasonable accuracy (+/-10%)?  What is possible?

GreenGene

Posts : 27
Join date : 2012-03-15
Age : 62
Location : Zone 9a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  sanderson on 9/13/2014, 12:58 am

GreenGene, Interesting question. I'm curious as to why you want the info. If you are using Mel's Mix, at least 1/3 by volume is organic, that is, once-living, recently decomposed material.

____________________________

Find more about Weather in Fresno, CA
Click for weather forecast

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 11684
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 67
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  camprn on 9/13/2014, 7:49 am

The sphagnum peat is also an organic component of Mel's mix. Simply put, if it was once a living thing it is considered an organic substance. Dirt is not. Vermiculite and perlite are minerals and not considered to be an organic substance.


____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

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!


camprn

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

Female Posts : 13981
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

View user profile http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-week

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  sanderson on 9/13/2014, 9:57 am

True, the moss was once living. I was assuming it was the nutrient organics that were the focus. The word "Organic" is used in several ways.

____________________________

Find more about Weather in Fresno, CA
Click for weather forecast

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 11684
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 67
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  GreenGene on 9/13/2014, 11:05 am

I am using mels mix with 1/3 organic composts by volume from 5 sources.  However, across the board, my veggies are low in yield and small in size, even with fertigation at each watering.  For correction I intend on solarizing the beds for 80-90 days then amending the bed mix with 1.6oz/sqft each of azomite for mineral content and bone meal per an organic shop vendor recommendation. 

http://imgur.com/a/sYhjy

The two tumbler composters at the end simplified blending batches of new mix for me.  One is used to blend the organic composts, and the other to bring the 3 components together.

Measuring organic content and C:N ratio may be helpful if it can be done on a budget.

thanks,

GreenGene

Posts : 27
Join date : 2012-03-15
Age : 62
Location : Zone 9a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  boffer on 9/13/2014, 11:27 am

You might try the traditional topsoil separation test as described at the bottom of the page.. Most of the organic material will float to the top. It will give you a rough idea, but not 10% accuracy. I've used this method on topsoil, but not MM.

If you're handy, you could do a burn test and burn off the organic material. Measure weight before and after.

If you suspect nutritional deficiencies, then you should have your MM tested for nutrients. You could have high organic content that is depleted.

____________________________

Last frost date (50%): April 15     First frost date (50%): Oct 15    
Zone: Irrelevant

boffer

Male Posts : 7392
Join date : 2010-02-26
Age : 63
Location : yelm, wa, usa

View user profile http://boffer.us/

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  camprn on 9/13/2014, 1:43 pm

@boffer wrote:You might try the traditional topsoil separation test as described at the bottom of the page..  Most of the organic material will float to the top.  It will give you a rough idea, but not 10% accuracy.  I've used this method on topsoil, but not MM.

If you're handy, you could do a burn test and burn off the organic material.  Measure weight before and after.  

If you suspect nutritional deficiencies, then you should have your MM tested for nutrients.  You could have high organic content that is depleted.
you sir are simply brilliant! Thanks for the suggestions!

____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

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!


camprn

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

Female Posts : 13981
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

View user profile http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-week

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  GreenGene on 9/13/2014, 3:34 pm

Thank you for the informative link to soil types and testing. 
 
I am new at gardening and may have incorrect concepts of 'high organic content that is depleted'.  What are the 'best if used by' parameters for composts in states of being bagged and/or being blended with other composts, ready for sqft use.  I've not seen that in any compost labelling in that arena, but could have missed it. 

Each season (or with each sqft replanting) the 1/3 organic component blend is replenished. After that, my target is bi-monthly alternations between adding blended compost to beds and applying a 3-4-4 organic fertilizer along with 16oz of 2-2-2 through fertigation.  I would like to feel the nutrient part of the equation would be solved with that, but the pudding has not revealed any proof.

Thanks again,

GreenGene

Posts : 27
Join date : 2012-03-15
Age : 62
Location : Zone 9a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  camprn on 9/13/2014, 4:09 pm

@GreenGene wrote:Thank you for the informative link to soil types and testing. 
 
I am new at gardening and may have incorrect concepts of 'high organic content that is depleted'.  What are the 'best if used by' parameters for composts in states of being bagged and/or being blended with other composts, ready for sqft use.  I've not seen that in any compost labelling in that arena, but could have missed it. 

Each season (or with each sqft replanting) the 1/3 organic component blend is replenished. After that, my target is bi-monthly alternations between adding blended compost to beds and applying a 3-4-4 organic fertilizer along with 16oz of 2-2-2 through fertigation.  I would like to feel the nutrient part of the equation would be solved with that, but the pudding has not revealed any proof.

Thanks again,
OK, there are a few mis conceptions in your post.
Firstly, after the growing season you don't replace with more mix, all you add is more quality compost.
Secondly, there are no industry standards for bagged compost and quality (nutrient density) is not guaranteed. I recommend using bagged compost in the same year it is purchased.

Thirdly, the quality of the compost is only as good as the variety and quality of ingredients used to make it. When making compost there should be more nitrogen than carbon in the mix of stuff to rot. Nitrogen is required, along with oxygen, to promote the composting process.

Have you read the Composting 101 thread?

____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

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!


camprn

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

Female Posts : 13981
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

View user profile http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-week

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  boffer on 9/13/2014, 4:40 pm

In April, 2013
@GreenGene wrote:This is my first gardening experience and I must have already made a million rookie mistakes. But I guess things are going ok for now because the plants seem to be thriving.

Judging from your pictures in that post, I agree that your plants looked good.  If you had had poor MM, your plants would have looked sad long before the picture was taken.

What has changed since then?  Are you using different compost?  Are you watering so much that all the nutrients are running out the bottom?  

From what you said above, you've applied more nutrients than I've ever dreamed of using.  There is such a thing as fertilizing too much, but I don't know anything about that.

In my experience, weather plays a major role in plant development and production.  How has your weather been this year compared to last?

____________________________

Last frost date (50%): April 15     First frost date (50%): Oct 15    
Zone: Irrelevant

boffer

Male Posts : 7392
Join date : 2010-02-26
Age : 63
Location : yelm, wa, usa

View user profile http://boffer.us/

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  CapeCoddess on 9/13/2014, 5:34 pm

I'm still stuck on the 'even with fertigation at each watering' part of Greene's 2nd post.  Does this mean you are fertilizing every time you water?  If so, with what and why?

CC

CapeCoddess

Posts : 5211
Join date : 2012-05-20
Age : 60
Location : elbow of the Cape, MA, Zone 6b/7a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  GreenGene on 9/13/2014, 7:11 pm

The bi-weekly fertigation is run at 1:100 dilution (EzFlow Fast). After a couple of days, another bottle of fertilizer is dispersed with dilution rate reduced to 1:1000 (Slow).  I use http://www.espoma.com/p_consumer/pdf/Gro-tone.pdf for now.

I irrigate twice daily dripping 25 to 35 gallons across 200sqft split into 4 zones (3-4minutes/zone which is the point where the tabletop beds just begin to lose water and drip themselves [deep percolation] ).   The surface to 6" sweet spot root zone area must surely be saturated at that point.  It looks it, and the finger poke test confirms.  My target was to have a drip emitter at, or effectively close to, each plant within that plants sqft planting matrix.

GreenGene

Posts : 27
Join date : 2012-03-15
Age : 62
Location : Zone 9a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  CapeCoddess on 9/13/2014, 7:32 pm

Have you tried growing in your SFG without fertilizing?

CC

CapeCoddess

Posts : 5211
Join date : 2012-05-20
Age : 60
Location : elbow of the Cape, MA, Zone 6b/7a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  sanderson on 9/13/2014, 9:17 pm

GreenGene,  I also live in a Zone 9A.  It was 101*F today.  The MM looks beautiful, and the beds and watering systems are so well built. But, something else is going on. My original MM and beds were so pretty but not nutritious so that is coming from someone who learned the hard way. Embarassed Here's my Johnny-come-lately diagnosis from all the discussions so far today:

Over-watering:  Your area gets 40-60" of rain per year.  I got 2-3" (can't remember the total at the end) last year.  You should not have to water every day much less twice a day.  By mulching the top of the MM you can slow water from evaporating at the surface, yet allow the excess to drip out the bottom.  If the bottom MM is saturated, there could be a lack of air in the lower Mix, or soggy feet (roots).  Soggy roots can be as bad as not enough water.

Over-watering means the nutrients from the compost are going out the bottom faster than if watering occurred when it was really needed.  By cutting back the watering, the slowly released nutrients from the compost will be able to hang around more and feed the plants.

Mulching:  In hot zones, every drop of water counts.  But you have plenty of natural water so your irrigation days will only be needed between rains.  Mulching the top allows the water to more evenly distribute within the mix, side to side and top to bottom.  Mulching shades the MM, keeping it cooler.

Compost:  If you are buying 5 commercial composts as the blend, reading the labels is vital, critical, super important.  Once the beds are filled with MM, no more peat moss or vermiculite/perlite is added.  Many bagged composts have wood chips, rocks, bottle caps, peat moss, "top soil", sand, vermiculite, and other ingredients that defeat the purpose of only adding compost to refresh the Mix for the next planting.  Do you screen (1/4" metal hardware cloth) the composts to remove wood chips and other large undesirable items?  Is one of the 5 a good composted animal manure without peat moss or wood chips? My garden is getting healthier and healthier now that I make my own compost, complete with horse poop!

Can you list the 5 composts that you are using?  That will help us try to further evaluate the situation.  

Compost top dressing: The Mix in long season crops (a few months) will shrink down.  Adding compost to the top will keep providing nutrients to the end of that crop's growing cycle.

Solarization:  Solarization kills micro-organisms in the soil.  That is great if one has harmful nematodes, but other organisms are being killed at the same time.  Since you have raised beds, nematodes are probably not a problem, so don't solarize it.  I think of the movie "Avatar" where all life on that planet was inter-connected.  That's what soil is like.  Teaming with life.  Unless it's solarized, or water-logged (allows the wrong kind of organisms to flourish, the anaerobic ones, or the wrong form of fertilizers are used leading to acidic or alkaline or salty conditions, etc.

I'm sure there will be other folks adding their replies. In summary, too much watering, lack of mulch, and perhaps less than stellar compost ingredients.

____________________________

Find more about Weather in Fresno, CA
Click for weather forecast

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 11684
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 67
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  GreenGene on 9/14/2014, 2:00 am

organic
  component     (C:N)  
1 cow             (18:1)
2 mushroom    (15:1)
3 chicken          (7:1)
4 turkey          (15:1)
5 leaf mold    (100:1)




Evapotranspiration computations from a recent irrigation. The Emitter columns exhibit water delivery per plant.  I suppose in my case, <4oz (less than a quarter cup) per plant is probably overwatering and allows organics to percolate past and below the primary root zone.



  0.1992  in   Z1   Z2    Z3   Z4   Daily  Emitter  Emitter Emitter
 24.8     gal   gal   gal   gal  gal   gal     gal         oz       drips
   2.9    min   4.2   9.7  7.0  3.9  20.9   0.029     3.71    439

Does the sqft gardening method favor a green house environment?  The observed negative impact from what I thought was a small amount of water leads me to wonder if beds should be covered to protect the grow medium from rain which is often delivered larger quantities.  Evapotranspiration based irrigation durations yields little to no draining below the bed while after a rain they drain quite a bit.
I left room in the beds for mulch, but haven't used any yet primarily to afford me the opportunity to become familiar with drip irrigation. (and gardening itself).  I feel I understand the concept and benefit, but felt its absence wouldn't be terminal. Bad call on my part.  I've made a lot of those.  Maybe my 3rd gardening season will see fewer.

Many thanks

GreenGene

Posts : 27
Join date : 2012-03-15
Age : 62
Location : Zone 9a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  sanderson on 9/14/2014, 2:42 am

I just sent you a private message. See P.M. above.

____________________________

Find more about Weather in Fresno, CA
Click for weather forecast

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 11684
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 67
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  camprn on 9/14/2014, 10:27 am

Greengene, perhaps you are over thinking all of it.

____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

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!


camprn

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

Female Posts : 13981
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

View user profile http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-week

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  boffer on 9/14/2014, 12:19 pm

Perhaps we could be more helpful by going back to the beginning and getting a better understanding of the problem.

@GreenGene wrote:...However, across the board, my veggies are low in yield and small in size...

That's a comparative observation based on one year's gardening experience. (One year is what I think GreenGene said)  There could be a problem, or it could be the normal fluctuation in garden performance that all gardeners experience over the course of years.

Pictures would be helpful.  So would knowing what veggies we're talking about, the time of year they were grown, growth rate (did they reach a certain size and stop, or just grow slowly, etc.), direct seeding or transplants, and any visible abnormalities.

____________________________

Last frost date (50%): April 15     First frost date (50%): Oct 15    
Zone: Irrelevant

boffer

Male Posts : 7392
Join date : 2010-02-26
Age : 63
Location : yelm, wa, usa

View user profile http://boffer.us/

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  GreenGene on 9/14/2014, 12:43 pm

@camprn wrote:Greengene, perhaps you are over thinking all of it.


Very well could be exactly that.  It would be me driving the wrong way on a one way.  Or attempting a second from a one trick pony.

GreenGene

Posts : 27
Join date : 2012-03-15
Age : 62
Location : Zone 9a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  GreenGene on 9/14/2014, 4:43 pm

@boffer wrote:.. what veggies we're talking about, the time of year they were grown, growth rate (did they reach a certain size and stop, or just grow slowly, etc.), direct seeding or transplants, and any visible abnormalities.

tomato-(I & D), pepper (hot & sweet), leaf lettuce, celery, chives, parsley, red, white but mostly yellow onion, green bean-pole, okra, beets, garlic, onion-scallion, red, white and yukon potato, carrot, cauliflower, broccoli, rosemary and other culinary herb.
I may have been a week late, but tried to adhere to The Almanacs planting guides.  This was my first year to start seeds indoors then transplant which seemed to go well.  I only lost 1 seedling due to 'transplant cockpit error'. Across the season, I planted 176sqft of 200sqft (78% utilization) totaling a grow potential of 912 plants.
Organics were added to the beds prior to planting and I fertilized every couple of weeks using quality, but unsifted composts or Espona Garden and Grow 'Tone' products. The plants reached some point then stopped. 
Visible abnormalities?  The plants yielding smalls (tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, celery, especially onion) were tasty but few.  Potato and carrot were closer to  expectation.   Does abnormality include lack of pollinators?  I saw very few bees.  A few wasps a couple of ladybugs. I have purchased a mason bee hive and will get the bees and more hives later.

You have all been very helpful.  I do not want to consume more of your valuable time and insight. Thanks.

GreenGene

Posts : 27
Join date : 2012-03-15
Age : 62
Location : Zone 9a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  camprn on 9/14/2014, 6:41 pm

What is your location?

____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

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!


camprn

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

Female Posts : 13981
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

View user profile http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-week

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  GreenGene on 9/14/2014, 7:11 pm

@camprn wrote:What is your location?
Near the 9a / 9b boundary just south of Houston.

GreenGene

Posts : 27
Join date : 2012-03-15
Age : 62
Location : Zone 9a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  sanderson on 9/14/2014, 8:53 pm

GreenGene, Can you edit your location (under Profile) so folks know when you live and what your climate is like? "South of Houston, TX" is close enough.

The plants you listed do not need pollinators. Things like cucumbers, melons, tomatillos and squashes do, or else you with a sable paint brush. I need to run but I will write more when I get back.


____________________________

Find more about Weather in Fresno, CA
Click for weather forecast

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 11684
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 67
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  sanderson on 9/15/2014, 2:28 am

GreenGene, We are all here to help. My time? Well, I'm retired.

____________________________

Find more about Weather in Fresno, CA
Click for weather forecast

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 11684
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 67
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  Marc Iverson on 9/15/2014, 2:40 am

The usual half-joke is, that means you're busier than ever.

Though for someone turning compost piles at midnight, maybe that's actually true ...

Marc Iverson

Male Posts : 3636
Join date : 2013-07-05
Age : 55
Location : SW Oregon

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Measuring organic content

Post  Sponsored content Today at 8:18 pm


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum