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which fertilizers/ minerals go in the compost and which ones directly into the bed?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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I know that all phosphorous should go into the compost and not directly into the garden beds.  I know too, that any additional nitrogen might get lost in the composting process.
But what about lime/dolomite? I watered the boron and the manganese in I think it is easier to manage. What are the downsides of putting various fertilizers in the compost and what are the advantages to put them in the soil? I don't need any potassium. Were does blood and bone go?
 
gardener
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Lime, either calcitic or dolomitic, you want to add directly to the surface of the soil for the greatest pH adjusting effect. Lime raises the pH of a soil by displacing hydrogen ions that are attached to cation exchange sites on soil particles with calcium or magnesium, depending on what kind of lime is being used. I guess a little lime in a compost pile wouldn't hurt by any means. When I use lime, I apply it directly to my soil.
 
pollinator
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Hi Angelika.

I think as a general rule, animal manures that haven't been composted, as well as any amendment that is food for soil life but hasn't been inoculated with it, can cause a localised draw-down of biotic levels as those biota in the soil seek to colonise and convert the fertiliser.

I have been told repeatedly that nitrogen is lost in the composting process, and so the method in which you tuck your compostables under a layer of mulch (of which ruth stout, I believe, was a proponent) is often suggested as a compost alternative, but I don't know how levels of nitrogen loss compare when you're talking about a hot compost as compared to a cooler compost that seeks to preserve and culture soil microbiota.

I may be mistaken, but isn't bone meal largely phosphorous? Wouldn't that mean that it gets composted every time? Also, I have used blood meal as an animal pest deterrent, in conjunction with urine, applied directly to the soil surface, and haven't noticed any ill effect, but that might be my not seeing the bad.

I generally like to make up for the loss of nitrogen through cover cropping with green manures and growing them also as ground cover between my plants. I like all clovers except red (I feed half of the chop to my Flemish Giant, and red clover is no good for her), and any time they get too large for what they're supposed to be succoring, I chop them down to the first few leaves on the plants. The root-zone die-off provides a cornucopia of goodness for the soil life, and it benefits all the soil around.

-CK
 
gardener
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Todd and Chris pretty well covered your initial question so I will stick to the nitrogen portion.

Usually Nitrogen gets lost as ammonia gas, you can smell your compost to determine if you are actually loosing nitrogen in a big enough way as to be a concern.
In a properly constructed heap you have enough air internally to prevent the ammonium producing bacteria from producing ammonia.
If you are using manures (high nitrogen(ammonia) products) then you need to add more carbon (browns) material to counteract the production of free ammonia by the bacteria.
Bones that are not ground into meal can become part of the compost heap, meal goes on the soil, if meal is added to a heap that contains high nitrogen items, some of the nitrogen will be converted to ammoniates, which will not be available to the plants.

 
Angelika Maier
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Thanks for the answers, all clear now. Unfortunately I can only get blood and bone I never saw bone alone. I usually used it and lightly incoorporate it into the soil without too much measuring. But since it's phosphorous it would do well in the heap too.
 
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Have never heard that phosphorous should not go directly onto the soil. Why is that the case?  At least two of my most respected garden gurus - Michael Philips and Steve Solomon - recommend direct applications to the soil.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Nothing wrong with blood and bone as a mix Angelika, and if you mix that directly into the soil, the K from the bone will simply be around for a long time and it won't "supercharge" the soil since it has to be broken down by the fungi and bacteria to make those minerals available to the plants.
 
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