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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 10:39 pm 
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Location: Allen,TEXAS
I've been reading different internet material on aerated compost teas for the past couple of days. I'm sure I can go on reading more and more, but here are a few questions.

To clarify:
You take some compost, add water, aerate/agitate, and maybe give the whole mess some food. After 24 hours or so, if the stars are in alignment, you have a microbial elixir that's good for what ails you.
Now, the bacterial population in the brew expanded as a result of the process, but the fungal and protozoan populations are not much greater than what was in the compost to begin with - essentially they were mechanically extracted from the compost, put in suspension and hopefully didn't cook, starve or suffocate before the tea is applied.
Am I on track so far?

Questions:
1. Once I have applied the tea to the soil often enough, and the microbes establish, why do I need to continue to reapply? The bacteria, fungi and protozoans that are suited to the environment live and multiply, those that aren't suited die off. What is it that depletes the beneficial microbes in the soil?

2. Why do some folks propose adding pond water as an inoculant? I don't think many of the plants I have are use to having aquatic-based microbes around.

3. What exactly does "soil drench" mean? If 5 gallons of tea (in solution) is suppose to cover somewhere between 10,000 sq ft to an acre of land, it seems more like a light spraying than drenching. I think I understand how to drench my tomato plant, but what about my bermuda turf?

4. Some folk put lava rock and other minerals in the mix - does it benefit the tea, or simply put micronutrients in suspension for the direct benefit of the plants after application?

5. Why am I making this so complicated?

I have many more questions - maybe I'll just break down and buy Ingham's book. But then I'll be compelled to buy a microscope, digital thermometers, DO meters....

In the end, it really doesn't matter. What I'm going to do is take some compost, add water, aerate/agitate, and maybe give the whole mess some food. Then I'm just going to sling it around the yard and see what happens.

Regards,
Patrick Ferrell
Allen, Texas


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 8:34 am 
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The only thing I can tell you is the tea is far more beneficial than clorinated tap water. ALso, you should dilute the tea (maybe 10-1?), that's how you get enuf to water the whole yard.

Cap't Compost knows 'the rest of the story'. :)

Patty

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 2:34 pm 
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ACT should not be that complicated to understand nor to use in your gardening style!

Keep in mind that ancient organic farmers have had some success with using non-aerated manure and compost and herbal tea recipes, used as very diluted soil drench applications for centuries, before we modern sustainable farmers have come to "perfect" the process with high-tech aeration devices to breed the beneficial aerobic bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes, protozoa, etc., in our organic topsoils and compost piles.

The secret to any sustainable, common sense, approach to soil building is always feed the beneficial soil and composting microherd. That can be done by composting, green manures, mulching, and biostimulants, other than just ACT recipes.

ACT was never intended to be a "cure-all" for all gardening needs, nor was it ever intended to totally replace basic composting and cover cropping technques.

ACT is best used as a complement to composting methods, not a replacement to composting. To me I use ACT frequently every week in some soil or foliar application, along with my other no-till composting and green manure methods, as a sort of "insurance policy". It helps me feel better about the health of my plants and my soil, just in case my compost is too young, or if some of my composting materials are a liitle too strong in proteins or ammonia. I still use tons of compost and green manures all year round to feed the micoherd in my soil. That is always step number one!

Keep in mind that all soil and composting microbes need proteins and carbohydrates to live and thrive. They can get this from ACT or from other sources.

Simple ACT is just mature compost plus any non-chlorined water source plus any high sugar/carb source. Molasses are usually recommended because they are rich in sugars, potassium, iron, and about 10-20 other micronutrients. However old candy, natural honey, or any other sugar source will also work.

Even though there is still lots of debate about high bacterial vs. high fungal compost piles and the same for ACT, you don't need to worry about that either. Good composted topsoil should have both beneficial bacteria and fungal colonies living in it. If your own ACT brew doesn't do it. So what. You can still make beneficial fungal growth happen in soils just by using high fungal sources like old milk,cheese, or yogurt products, old aged sawdust, old forest dirt, etc.

To me I just feed the soil, and don't sweat the "college professor" versions of ACT brewing these days. If you are not careful you will get trapped into more of the religion, or politics, of organics, rather than the common sense and economics of organics.

Even one of my heroes, Mr. Malcolm Beck, author of "The Secret Life of Compost", told me once that in his 40+ years of composting and lecturing and farming, he feels that many young sustainable farmers are getting too complicated and confused with all the advertised hype of organics, vs. just getting a sound basic understanding of the God given natural principles of soil organics.

The only other proteins and carbs that I may add to my ACT recipes, is just various cheap, no-salt, cattle feeds, or corn meal, based on what crops I'm growing.

My earthworms is my garden beds don't care if my ACT is perfect or not. They just live and breed and go crazy in my organic topsoils.

The most important thing beside feeding the soil, is just have fun!

Happy Gardening!

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 2:58 pm 
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Location: Allen,TEXAS
I'm really not sweating it ... just have the interest.

I figure that nature will tell me if she likes what I'm doing or not (and usually she doesn't). I'll going to make a basic tea and sling it around, like I said.
My resources this year allow me to add compost to my lawn OR mulch all of the shrubs. I'm chosing the mulch this year and will apply the tea to the turf. Hopefully I'll be able to put down some compost by the fall.

Captain, I like the idea of using candy to feed the little critters. We've still got plenty left over from Halloween (and Christmas, and Valentines).

Regards,
Patrick Ferrell
Allen, Texas


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 3:03 pm 
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That sounds great!

Keep up the great work!

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 7:45 am 
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Location: fort worth,TEXAS
good gravy! i have been mixing up my garrett juice with water from the hose - which is connected to the city water supply (my only source!)
is the chlorine killing all of my soil microbes? this is what i water the garden with as well! what is a gal to do?

help!
merri


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 8:00 am 
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Merri-

It's OK!! We all have to water w/ol' city water a lot. Of course it's better if we have only rain water but not happnin' in the summer.

I truely 'feel your pain'. Last time I tried a garden I started seed in little 'cups' in flats. Babied them for weeks. Transplanted them w/great care. Then we had an ice storm! Waaaaay past the 'last frost date'. So this year I've dug several beds, added TONS of good stuff had seedlings up & lookin' good.

WHAT WAS THAT WE HAD LAST NIGHT!!?

All the little stuff looks trampled, maybe some of the sprouts that were bigger will survive. Sigh.

My only suggestion for you about the lasagne beds is that you may need to wait til next year for any results.

We had hard as rock dirt and spread a pretty good am't of dry molasses, lava sand, humates, compost. That was last fall. Then we planted 'hairy vetch' as a green manure. Then early spring we 'turned' that into the soil & spread those same amendments again plus a little conrmeal.

I could dig in that dirt w/trowel!! Whoohoo.

Oh, if your area has a lot of grass, laying down several sheets of newspaper will cause it to die out, then you can start w/amendments.

Hope this helps.

Patty

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2007 7:19 pm 
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thanks patty!!!

so nice to hear words of encouragement - even if it means this year is 'trial and error' (trowel and error?!) and i have to wait a season for the beds to build up.

i desperately need a mower to gather and spread grass clippings and mulched leaves in these beds!!!

i will just keep building up and planting all summer. i WILL harvest something, if it is just one tomato!!!!

last night's rain was really something else. i was caught in a hail storm after dropping my son off at scouts (chick pea sized), then a tornado was posted to run right through rendon (we live between mansfield and burleson), so i was stuck here all alone running for our studio with cell phone and candles! we really lucked out!!!

my seedings are covered in splashed up soil.

ps, do you know if worm castings are good to plant seeds in? like if i dig a little trench with the castings and put the seeds in that, vs right in the heavier soil???

again, i really appreciate your response!
thanks, merri


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 7:31 am 
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I still have some seedlings I started in egg cartons that I had not set out yet so maybe I'll have flowers, at least. All the vege seeds were out.

I think the best way to start seeds is in a mixture of castings, dirt, compost, expnanded shale & some cornmeal for fungus control. I've had problems w/only compost being too rich. I think worm castings might be also. MHO.

Patty

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:25 pm 
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thank you again patty!!!

do you have any opinion on those little jiffy peat pellets for seed starting? the trays with the domes are so handy, but i have had trouble with dampening off what with the cool and cloudy weather.

chat soon, mary


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:23 am 
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merri,
If you've been mixing bottled Garrett Juice with tap water, don't worry. The bottled Garrett Juice from Garden-Ville has no living microbes in it. They are all filtered out in the bottling process.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 7:16 am 
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DD doesn't recommend peat for anything, it doesn't break down. If you add a little corn meal to your mix, that will help control damping off.

Patty

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2007 7:52 pm 
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Corn meal also helps control the seed sprouting. The reason corn gluten meal was discovered to act as a seed preemergent "herbicide," is because corn meal was found to have a weaker preemergent effect. Corn gluten meal seems to have a concentrated effect. So what this means is don't use corn meal to control damping off. Use milk or liquid seaweed or garlic juice instead.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 7:16 am 
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Aaahhh-good to know, David. I didn't use corn gluten in the potting mix, tho, used ordinary cornmeal (horticultural).

Patty

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2007 5:51 pm 
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Is it ok to use the liquid seaweed with fish emulsion mixed? I already have some of this. We are vegan, thus no milk in the house...
thanks to all for so much aid!
merri


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