Hi I am starting my first organic garden in Jeju, South Korea, somewhere not too accommodating to the organic gardener.
It is impossible to buy organic compost here, so have started planting my seeds in soil that I have dug up and then microwaved to kill the weed seeds. However, because this is a volcanic island, I guess the soil very acidic as after mixing a soil sample with baking soda, got a bit of fizz!
So, I am currently on the hunt for some wood ash to sprinkle over my seed beds, to get something other than some herbs to actually sprout! But here are my questions:
1. As I first sewed my seeds about a week ago and haven't yet added the ash, should I have to re-plant, or will the seeds spring to life once they get their desired pH level?
2. About how much ash would you suggest to use on a small container of e.g. spinach, and how regularly to re-apply?
By compost, do you mean "compost" or "potting soil"? I've seen that some people in the UK use the word "compost" for any potting soil. People on this forum use the word "compost" to mean well-rotted stuff that rots, eg leaves, manure, kitchen scraps, paper, weeds, etc piled together and allowed to compost. If you have some space you could make some compost with leaves and kitchen scraps. If your space is very small, a worm bin might be more effective and give you excellent compost. Slightly acid soil should be okay, but if your soil is very acid then yes, perhaps some ashes are a good idea. You can add them after plants are growing, but try to add them in very small amounts each time and stop before you add too much.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
Right, I mean "potting soil". I have started on a compost pile, but I imagine it won't be ready until next year. I found some ash and put a little on, now I just have to cross my fingers and hope there wasn't any chemicals in the ash that will kill the plants..
Heloise, i would recommend against microwaving your soil to kill weeds. You also kill the microbes which are where you get the soil fertility Weeds are actually natures way of replenishing the soil. At Bhaskar Save's farm he has no weeds as his soil no longer needs them. Meanwhile we can cut down the weeds and use them as green manure. The weeds are nature's gift to your garden.
If you add sheet compost you will increase fertility and more important in the tropics you can increase organic matter in the soil, which grows microbes. By sheet compost I mean kitchen scraps, any kind of brown materials (dried organic matter, which may be laying along the streets) or even leafy green materials which you have around, cover with a little soil . or mulch Or take what you already have in your compost heap and put it out directly next to your plants and cover with either some mulch or some earth. I do not look for NPK value but for food to feed the microbes.
The whole idea of NPK came from scientists analyzing soil that grew great crops. As is often the case with our science, they got a small part of the picture which is the chemical anaysis, but they did no get that it is the microbes that make the minerals available and hence we need to feed the microbes.
you might want to learn about our project in Tamil Nadu, Inda. www.handsonpermaculture1.org