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Fertilizer?  RSS feed

 
Brandon Greer
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I'm planting my first garden this year so I'm using ground that has no organic matter built up. My main crops are corn, beans and potatoes. Everything I've read about corn is that it requires heavy fertilizer. So what should I be doing to ensure the corn is properly fed? I'll bring in some compost for sure, but is that enough? Does it require something more? Suggestions please.
 
Cj Sloane
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I've had good success mulching with grass clippings.
 
Alder Burns
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In my experience a huge difference between happy corn and unhappy corn is in one thing....urine! Apply plenty to the area before planting, and keep on applying it, diluted four to one in water, on a regular basis thereafter. Up the frequency at the first sign of yellowing lower leaves or paleness in color.
If by potatoes you mean white potatoes, they are even hungrier for nitrogen than corn is, and they benefit more from attention paid to soil structure as well as fertility.....that is, to strive for a loose, fluffy, friable soil rich in organic matter. If I had to pick and had limited resources, I'd focus the available compost and manure on the potato patch, and use urine on the corn. If you are anywhere southern, where potatoes are harvested in early summer, you can often plant corn right after them and still have time to make a crop. Since the potatoes are a bit lazy and will leave plenty of the nutrients behind, the corn will do a good job of mopping them up.....
 
Brandon Greer
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Thanks for the replies. So what I'm seeing is: grass clippings, compost, manure and urine. That's quite doable.

What I had read on other sites was something like bonemeal and bloodmeal which is stuff I don't think I can produce on my land, but the above mentioned stuff is readily available.

A couple additional questions:

1. Do the grass clippings have to be green? All my grass now is still dead.

2. Will leaves and straw work as well?

3. Can I put just straight manure into the garden or must it be composted first? I seem to remember hearing that I can put chicken manure directly in the garden. Please confirm.
 
Cj Sloane
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Please consider adding your location to your profile so we can see it.

If the grass is brown it'll be a carbon source not an N source. I've never needed to fertilize before the grass was ready to be cut but I always put some compost in the hole I put the transplant or seed in.
 
Cj Sloane
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Brandon Griffin wrote:

3. Can I put just straight manure into the garden or must it be composted first? I seem to remember hearing that I can put chicken manure directly in the garden. Please confirm.


No you can't put manure in without composting or it will "burn" the plants - especially chicken.

The exceptions are rabbit, goat, sheep poo. They are mild and can go right around plants - though probably not around anything that would touch an edible part like lettuce.
 
Brandon Greer
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Cj Verde wrote:
Brandon Griffin wrote:

3. Can I put just straight manure into the garden or must it be composted first? I seem to remember hearing that I can put chicken manure directly in the garden. Please confirm.


No you can't put manure in without composting or it will "burn" the plants - especially chicken.

The exceptions are rabbit, goat, sheep poo. They are mild and can go right around plants - though probably not around anything that would touch an edible part like lettuce.


From rabbit, goat and sheep, what is the order of preference, if any? On craigslists, I'm seeing a lot of postings for Alpaca manure that say they don't burn plants. Is Alpaca any good?

P.S. I added my location
 
R Scott
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alpaca/llama are probably the best, assuming they are not shot up with a bunch of persistent wormers and other chemicals. They are an almost perfect balance, a nice time-release fertilized mulch.

As for the others, it is also more dependent on chemicals than anything--they all work well. Around here, rabbits tend to be the most natural diet and goats get the most wormers. I WON'T use goat manure here.
 
Cj Sloane
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Good point about the wormers. Check for all livestock manure.
 
Brandon Greer
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I very much appreciate everyone's help.

I see an ad on CL for $15 per filled "leftover feedbag" for the Alpaca Beans (I'm guessing beans is farmer speak for manure?). I'm sure it varies by region but is that a reasonable deal? And how much manure should I be looking to get per 100 sq ft?

 
Rich Clay
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I usually feed my corn with two certified organic fertilizers, alternating them periodically. They are a fish fertilizer and a kelp fertilizer. This year, however, I'm burying my corn plot in free wood chips and covering with a little soil before planting.
 
Cj Sloane
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Rich Clay wrote:This year, however, I'm burying my corn plot in free wood chips and covering with a little soil before planting.


I do not recommend burying wood chips - they will suck up the nitrogen - anti-fertilizer, if you will. You can use the wood chips on top of the soil as mulch.
 
Rich Clay
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Mulch it is, then. Thanks for the tip!
 
Brandon Greer
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Cj Verde wrote:
Rich Clay wrote:This year, however, I'm burying my corn plot in free wood chips and covering with a little soil before planting.


I do not recommend burying wood chips - they will suck up the nitrogen - anti-fertilizer, if you will. You can use the wood chips on top of the soil as mulch.


Does the wood buried in hugel beds do the same?
 
Cj Sloane
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Logs decompose much slower so it's not a problem.
 
Brandon Greer
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Cj Verde wrote:Logs decompose much slower so it's not a problem.


Thanks for the clarification
 
Brandon Greer
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Back to the subject of fertilizing with urine: How long can urine be stored before applying it to the corn? Can it be stored up and applied once per week, or would it need to be dispensed daily to avoid spoilage?
 
Alder Burns
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Urine from a healthy person is pretty much sterile...the longer urine is stored, just like any semi sterile organic substance, the more likely it is to breed potentially problematic bacteria. That said, I usually accumulate my own for a day or two in a gallon jug, which makes a good "dose" for some section of the garden, a raised bed, or a compost pile. I have used it like this, diluted if on live plants, even on my salad crops without any problem and a lot of benefit.
 
Brandon Greer
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As for getting my beds ready. Right now I just have freshly dug ground, it looks like pretty lousy soil.

Ok so here is a preliminary plan. Please correct me:

First I add some compost

Then I mix in some organic matter into the soil - grass clippings, leaves, straw etc.

Plant crops

Then add some cold manure

Add urine periodically from there on out

Does this sound right?


 
Alder Burns
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I find that I personally can fill a gallon jug with urine every two days, quicker in summer when I'm drinking more water. I would add it to anything at any stage in your process....to the soil, to the compost, to the manure, to the organic matter, and, after diluting, to the area after planting. The only thing I would avoid is putting it on the soil a few days before planting, or diluted application till a few days after seedlings emerge. Usually in my system, most beds get a couple of jugs on them before planting, and a couple more, diluted, a few weeks after planting. Nutrient hungry plants like nightshades, brassicas and corn might get more. The rest goes onto composts and mulch piles.
 
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