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another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

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alternative view to making compost tea

Post  has55 on 7/28/2015, 12:18 am


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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  sanderson on 7/28/2015, 3:48 am

Has, Interesting. Thank you. I also watched "Why I don't shred leaves, the field trials and Why I Narrate Videos." And "Off Grid Garden Tour: Back to Eden Method Success." The one thing I liked about the second one is that she mentioned compost topped with thick layer of wood. I think some folks think it is only wood chips.

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  Scorpio Rising on 7/28/2015, 9:49 am

Interesting video, Has. I have never used compost tea, because I just use compost. And I am lazy! I also don't shred leaves, again, because I am lazy and they break down eventually on their own.

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  boffer on 7/28/2015, 12:11 pm

@Razed Bed wrote:...So, if compost tea does not add microbes to a garden, then compost does not either, which makes no sense... 

I acknowledge I'm guilty of confirmation bias at times, so that could explain why I heard him say, 'compost tea does not add anything that's not already there in a growing medium that's high in organic material.'

Farmers do use tea as a foliar drench, but they also use it to add microbial life to soil that is sterile from years of chemical fertilizer use.  I get that.  

What has never made sense to me is gardeners who make their tea from the same compost they put in their gardens, and think they are adding major nutrients.  Gardeners use about the same amount of compost to make their tea as they would use amending a couple squares for re-planting.  Whatever nutrients are leached in the tea making process are then spread among several boxes in an amount so diluted as to be of little to no value.

And just what is in homemade tea?  Nobody knows for sure unless they have it tested like farmers do.  There are so many recipes and techniques that home gardeners swear by, that nobody makes the same tea,  if for no other reason than everyone's compost is different.

@Razed Bed wrote:I recommend two books to read to help you become immune to the mainstreamers that use the "not peer-reviewed" scheme.

For those not familiar with the term 'peer reviewed', it is a method to determine if a process that results in a conclusion is valid and repeatable ie. is the conclusion logical.  It is  an evaluation of the process.  It's used frequently in the science world, and should be used more frequently in the world of backyard gardening.

Example: A gardener applies amendment X to all their plants (process), sees some type of improvement in all of them, and therefore thinks the amendment was the cause of the improvement(conclusion).   To determine if the conclusion is valid, one must look at the process.  How did the gardener account for all the variables that influence the growth of plants, particularly the weather and growing medium?    Without having control plants  that experience the same conditions (few gardeners do), there's no logical way to attribute the perceived improvement to the addition of the amendment.

Humans will never come close to emulating the logic of Spock.  We  rationalize  the available data to arrive at conclusions that often satisfy our needs for convenience and comfort.  We all do it, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, and I'm not suggesting anyone change.  I am suggesting, however, that as consumer's of information and products, we look more logically at the claims being made before we accept them as true.  Be skeptical:  marketers are clever and sneaky, and  people convey opinions as facts without even realizing it.

Science doesn't, and can't, explain everything.  And I would guess that we all believe some things to be true that can't be explained or proven.  I'm only suggesting that we take a moment to determine if the information we are considering is an opinion or based on facts, before we decide whether, and how, we might utilize that information.  And that includes this post!

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  Scorpio Rising on 7/28/2015, 1:45 pm

I know in my 4 boxes, there was variance in the preparation of the MM in each, because me and my kids used the tarp method for mixing. Therefore, there is too much probability of statistical variabliity since I did not control the volume, weight and content of each box. Plus I started with a base of maple leaves! Whole ones.

Science in the garden does happen, around here, notably at Ohio State University. In the backyard garden however, most of what we hear/use is anectodal "evidence", which is not evidence at all, but is based on experience, like what many of us share (thank you!) here on this forum. It is not however subject to scientific method, in that it is not reproducable due to the many variables we are all dealing with. Still valuable IMHO.


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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  CitizenKate on 7/29/2015, 10:47 pm

His videos are very interesting.  I've been experimenting with compost tea this year for the first time, and so far the results are inconclusive.  I fed it to two of my sickliest tomato plants in early June, and today they are the healthiest two tomato plants I have.  But I've also fed it to the green beans, onions, cucumbers, and basil plants.  The basil is out of control, but all the others have done poor to average.  Of course there have been other factors - the heavy rainfall, bugs, caterpillars, high heat...

I like his low-maintenance approach, too.  If just dressing the top of the soil or growing mix with compost produces the same result as compost tea, why bother with the hassle of making and delivering the tea?

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/30/2015, 3:34 am

Boffer, even if you use the same compost in your compost tea that you would put directly in the garden, I believe you make it easier to absorb quickly if you let it soak in water for a while and give it a good stir. Maybe too easy sometimes; it certainly can promote quick green growth. I would imagine those who like compost still use it even if they like using compost tea, too, so it's not like one has to choose one and throw out the other.

Compost tea doesn't necessarily use a lot of compost, too. And often it uses many other things, and people add aeration devices and yeasts and sugars and all kinds of things that may or may not slide more toward the magical than scientific side of things.

I like even the simplest compost teas, but I don't generally like watering leaves, and would prefer to use it on plants eaten for greens rather than on plants I want to fruit.

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  boffer on 7/30/2015, 11:57 pm

@Scorpio Rising wrote:...In the backyard garden however, most of what we hear/use is anectodal "evidence", which is not evidence at all, but is based on experience, like what many of us share (thank you!) here on this forum....Still valuable IMHO.

Agreed.  The vast majority of gardening information on the internet is anecdotal.  It makes for fast and fun reading in a short amount of time.   Unfortunately, anecdotal information becomes factoids.   There are still people who believe that everything they read on the internet is true, and that advertising claims are truthful at face value.  I'm suggesting that we need to evaluate the presentation and context of  information for relevancy.  


@Marc wrote:Boffer, even if you use the same compost in your compost tea that you would put directly in the garden, I believe you make it easier to absorb quickly if you let it soak in water for a while and give it a good stir.

Then let us agree to disagree and that our discussion is for  consideration by others.

The host in the video listed 4 reasons why he's discontinuing the use of CT.

1. His gardening  objective is to do as little as possible while  still attaining a satisfactory harvest.   He put this first on the list, and I agree with his priorities!

2. There's no added nutrients beyond what's in the compost that the tea is made from.  Whatever nutrients are released in the tea, it is then applied over many squares, reducing the amount added per square  to very little.  Using the compost as top dressing or mulch makes more sense to me.

3. He questions whether the addition of extra micro-organisms provided by CT is necessary.
   From what I've read, 5-10% organic material in native soil is optimal for maintaining healthy, living soil.  MM is 33% organic material.  It would seem that MM has plenty of micro-organisms to spare, but I have no idea if there is a saturation limit beyond which additional micro-organisms would be of no value.

4. He claims that there's no peer-reviewed research showing CT is effective in high compost content growing mediums.
I haven't found any either, although that doesn't mean it's not out there somewhere.  Granted, science doesn't have all the answers, and some folks value peer-reviewed research more than others.


If I asked 100 people to 'make some stew for their family', the results would be 100 different types of stew.  Some would make their stew in a pot, or deep skillet, or slow cooker, and all would be cooked for various lengths of time.  Some would have meat of one type or another, some would be vegan; there would be a variety of veggies, some fresh, some canned or frozen; some would be thick gravy, some thinner like soup; they would all have different seasonings.  There's no telling what the nutritional content would be without analyzing each pot of stew.  

If I asked 100 people to 'make some compost tea', the results would be similar.  Some would start with various mixtures of compost, some with fresh organic materials; some would stir, some would aerate with a bubbler, some would let the tea go anaerobic; some might add unsulphured molasses or whatever else strikes their fancy; the tea might brew for 3 hours or 3 days; ambient temps could be 35 or 95 degrees.  There's no way of telling what the nutrient and micro-organism content of the finished tea will be without analyzing each batch.  And even if we knew that, the effectiveness of the tea would be dictated by the deficiencies of the growing medium to which it is applied.

I keep looking, but I've yet to find a reason to use CT on MM made with homemade compost.

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  gwennifer on 7/31/2015, 2:28 am

@boffer wrote:
I keep looking, but I've yet to find a reason to use CT on MM made with homemade compost.

Maybe this has already been discussed and I missed it, but my understanding is that in simple terms people are using CT as basically a homemade, organic fertilizer.  So it's therefore useful during the growing season when plants have used up the available nutrients before they're ready to harvest, and it's not practical to dig in more compost.  

Lucky you if the per-the-book scoop of homemade compost that you put in each square to replenish the nutrients before replanting gets every crop through to harvest; I've rarely experienced that.  And when I've got nine bean plants per square, I simply can't get in there to dig in more compost.  And sometimes the volume of the beds hasn't depleted enough to allow more compost to be dug in anyhow.  I can water everything with CT though.  

Not that I ever have!  (too lazy)  But it seems like a valid reason to be doing it.  Well unless, like you said earlier, it's so watered down as to be ineffective anyway.

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/31/2015, 3:21 am

@boffer wrote:
@Marc wrote:Boffer, even if you use the same compost in your compost tea that you would put directly in the garden, I believe you make it easier to absorb quickly if you let it soak in water for a while and give it a good stir.

Then let us agree to disagree and that our discussion is for  consideration by others.

Okay, but remember the name of the "universal solvent"? It's water.

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  Scorpio Rising on 7/31/2015, 9:36 am

High school chemistry flashback! Water, the Universal Solvent! Thank you, Mrs. Fugate! She was brilliant!

2 sides of the same coin, boffer and Marc. You either do it or ya don't. Good points made by all.

Me either, Gwennifer, too lazy!

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  boffer on 7/31/2015, 12:19 pm

@Marc Iverson wrote:...Okay, but remember the name of the "universal solvent"?  It's water.

Right, water dissolves more molecules than any other liquid.  But are the nutrients that are bound up for whatever reason in sufficient quantity to make a difference?  It seems to me that that would have shown up in the test results conducted by labs for farmers.

If one keeps their MM well-saturated, where is the point where saturated compost quits releasing nutrients that could then  be unbound by being flooded in tea?  If that's the case, we could use what we consider spent (used) compost as a source of nutrients to be extracted in CT.

Beats me!

If I took 4 quarts of compost to make tea, kept the tea air-entrained with a bubbler, and grew some plants hydroponically in the tea, then at the same time, I grew the same plants  in 4 quarts of the compost for comparison, would we learn anything of value?  I don't know much about growing hydroponically, so I don't have a clue if there would be factors that make the experiment moot.

Along the same line, I've been wondering about this scenario for a while:  Many gardeners have observed explosive growth in their gardens after heavy downpours, and I wonder why that is.  Is it the volume of water that does it, or does the downpour bring with it a significant change in weather that the plants respond to, either from cool weather causing slow growth to hot weather, or from excessively  hot weather that stunts growth to cooler weather that the plants thrive in?  Are there other variables to consider?  I've never experienced it myself, because I don't get that type of rain  during summer.

If it's the sudden addition of great amounts of rain water that is the major factor, doesn't that suggest that the gardeners' watering habits are less than ideal for optimal plant growth?  (For the sake of discussion, let's pretend that watering habits aren't dictated by conservation concerns or expense.)   Or, does rain water contain a significant amount of minerals not available from municipal supplies or wells?  

I've heard snow described as the 'poor man's fertilizer',  but haven't heard rain described that way.

Just wonderin'   thinking

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  Scorpio Rising on 7/31/2015, 1:11 pm

Rain vs Hose: Multi-factorial, I am sure. Never thought about the associated weather change. I do know that rain wins big-time as far as effect on my plants. I just assumed that it was because rain saturates all the ground, not just the ground immediately occupied by something I planted. Therefore, much more moisture is available to the plants over time. It is much deeper, more broad watering. And less chemicals I would suppose than my city treatment plant water.

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/31/2015, 1:19 pm

I don't remember where I read it, but recall reading that a good rain is like a light dose of fertilizer because of all the elements it pulls down with it from the air -- nitrogen (the primary component of our air) and various carbons and such.

I don't know how scientific that is, but I thought it was interesting.

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  Kelejan on 8/1/2015, 4:45 pm

I have read the same thing, Marc.  I always feel that the rain has something extra.
The water we spread from our hoses must have the effects of any treatment given it. What I do is fill my five-gallon pails and let them stand for a day before I hand water the seedlings and other special plants that are generally in pots..

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/1/2015, 6:20 pm

That sounds smart. I was just reading about a brain infecting germ that killed a kid recently; it gets up your nose and starts eating your brain. The local water authority is increasing the chlorine in the water to help kill the bug off.

That seems the smart thing to do, but it just points out that the public water supply isn't necessarily consistent when it comes to either germs or the things used to kill them ... and we and our gardens might feel the effects either way.

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Another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

Post  Ronlev on 8/5/2015, 4:35 am

Re: Inproved growth post rain

I've struggled with the rationale for this for over 15 years until a recent read.  
We've all seen that our gardens explode after a good rain. Why? The two simple thoughts that I had were the amount of water in rain versus tap and chlorine
versus clean water.  

Anecdotally,I found that really saturating the plants did not do as well as a small shower.  Similarly, bucketing rainwater did not give me the impression that was as good as rain. 

Recently, I read that the nitrogen in the air is mixed with the water particles as
the rain comes down. Also, elsewhere (nutritional versus gardening info) I read that
an especially healthy water one can drink is not the usual H2O, but rather, I think, H3O2 I.e all water is not water

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Re: another idea from do nothing gardening-composting tea

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