Ask a Question forum: Soil nutrients

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Name: BunkG
Norwell (Zone 6b)
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BunkG
Mar 8, 2014 9:21 AM CST
Hi,
I'm looking to grow more organically in Massachusetts , also a bee keeper.
Given my soil region can you advise generally the type of organic nutrients that would help the success of the vegtable garden. Also I'm doing a combination of indoor germination and direct outdoor planting. Thanks for your help!
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Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Mar 8, 2014 9:35 AM CST
I've been reading about a product called Azomite. It's something you might want to look into:

AZOMITE® is a uniquely natural material, mined in Central Utah, USA. For over seventy years, crop producers have used AZOMITE® to support plant growth and vitality. Typical assays reveal that the material contains a broad spectrum of over 70 minerals and trace elements. AZOMITE® requires no mixing. It is odorless, will not burn plants and will not restrict aeration or water penetration. AZOMITE® is not manufactured or chemically prepared. It is 100% natural and completely free from additives, synthetics or fillers.

http://azomite.com/about.html
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Mar 8, 2014 11:54 AM CST
Nothing improves your soil like compost, just my opinion. Check with your County Extension or your local landfill to see if they have a composting program. We have free compost available here, you just have to load and transport it yourself. It's excellent! Not a substitute for fertilizer, though. Very low analysis in fresh compost and it depletes quickly. The beauty of the compost is that the cellulose fibers act like little sponges and absorb moisture and nutrients until they break down themselves. They expand and contract as they are wet, then dry, leaving air pockets in the soil as well. All great for soil health and plant growth.

Anne, that Azomite is fine as far as it goes, but according to two nursery people I respect highly in Salt Lake (where I lived for 21 years) it's just trace elements, not really a fertilizer. The main useful component is the Silicon which is definitely gaining popularity for use on a variety of plants. Here's the chemical analysis from the MSDS sheet NaK2Ca5A13Si21O706H2O plus varying trace amounts of other minerals including silver and some toxic compounds. You gotta be careful of stuff that says it's 'natural' just because it comes straight out of the ground. Lots of toxic stuff comes straight out of the ground, including lovely things like arsenic. Unless they test each batch, they don't know what's going to be in it. They only have to test it if it's for human consumption.

I did some separate research on Silicon and am now supplementing my veggies, brugs and orchids with a product called Pro-Tekt 'The Silicon Solution'. It's so far shown good results with increasing tolerance to cold and also resistance to fungal diseases. The theory is that it helps to strengthen the cell walls.
Elaine

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Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Mar 8, 2014 1:34 PM CST
Thanks for the Azomite info .. I was on the verge of buying some!
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Mar 8, 2014 3:15 PM CST
One warning about the free compost available from city or county yards - it's not organic, can contain all manner of chemicals as well as bits of glass, aluminum, tires, rope, bones, etc.

My first batch was beautiful, wonderful, terrific, I couldn't stop talking about how great it was. The next batch killed everything it touched. Same thing happened to a friend and he relies on plant sales for his income. Ouch. Shut my mouth.

Compost is good, but please either know your source or make your own. The bees will repay your kindness.
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Name: joseph wittenberg
high desert (Zone 8b)
Permaculture Region: California
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grizzlyjoe
Mar 8, 2014 3:26 PM CST
I think it depends on what you want to plant too. As stated before, making your own compost is a great way to add soil nutrients. If you can keep chickens their bedding and manure is excellent for gardens, plus you can let them run around in there when the veggies are picked and they will scratch up the ground, eat harmful insects, and fertilize the ground. A small flock can probably maintain themselves off of your food waste and they will provide you with eggs. A worm bin is really easy to set up and there is an excellent tutorial here http://garden.org/ideas/view/dave/130/Vermicomposting-Easy-a...
Typically anything you can do that is just gathering from around you or on your land is the best.
If you have a lot of downed trees or limbs you can also check out a hugel bed http://garden.org/ideas/view/dave/41/Building-a-Hugelkultur-...
Name: BunkG
Norwell (Zone 6b)
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BunkG
Mar 8, 2014 4:50 PM CST
Thanks so much for the responses, I think this is going to be (bee) a great site for info.

I'm fortunate to have a large acreage and have mulch in several locations , mostly from maple and pines. So the mulch is from the property and have been using it to some degree. My winter rye loves it in my asparagus patch.

Now for the other vegtables, I have not mulched much from that mulch source and have used mostly commercial fertilizer, miracle grow etc... I want to get away from that this year so I'm Iinvested in now getting the soil conditioned from Mother Earth....Do you. think the mulch containing a fair amount of pine is generally too acidic?

I live near the ocean and have a good source of kelp....some reading tells me that the nutrients from the kelp are excellent for the soil and that the salt and the abrasive nature
of it helps with pest control.

Thanks for the info on Azomite and will do more research on the qualities and benefits of the resource.
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Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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chelle
Mar 8, 2014 7:16 PM CST
Anytime and all the time is the right time to add compost from a known and trusted source. Finished compost (including some manure composts) can be added to the surface soil whenever you have it. Worms and microbes will take it from there. This should be considered an ongoing process, not just a starter exercise. As long as you provide food (compost) for your soil organisms, they'll eventually break it all down into usable food for your plants.

While you're waiting for your soil to become nutrient-rich from compost, worm activity and microbe interactions you could apply a processed seaweed or seaweed and fish emulsion combo foliar feed directly to your plants, as they need it.

I'd offer a word of caution about the use of fresh kelp, however; it might be best to compost it first so that some of the salts can be leached away beforehand.

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Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Mar 8, 2014 7:21 PM CST

Plants Admin

I can't help with the kelp question BunkG. I've often wondered how the folks at Neptune's Harvest desalinate it. As for pine needles, my understanding is that they don't acidify soil, especially if composted. If someone has differing information I'd be interested to read it. Have you had soil tests done on the area(s) you plan on planting?
Evan
[Last edited by eclayne - Mar 8, 2014 7:24 PM (+)]
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