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Ideas for immediately available nitrogen needed  RSS feed

 
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I am about to plant out tomatoes I started along with sweet pepper plants and ground cherries. My plan is to put some of them in large containers and some into the ground. I got the garden bed soil ready in the autumn by broadforking the existing grass, putting cardboard over that, putting about 6" of shredded leaves that sat for a year+, then raking in alpaca manure, azomite, and worm castings. That sat until now. I noticed that not many weeds came up in the spring. Good for me as far as saving labor, but possibly indicative of a not so happy soil. I noticed that a lot of mushrooms grew in the garden bed, but not much else. Anyway, I planted out some lettuce, broccoli, chard, all as transplants, peas (direct seeded weeks ago) and potatoes in part of the garden, and while they are all surviving, no one is really thriving and barely growing, with the exception of the pea plants that are doing great and the potatoes who are also doing well. So I got one of those home garden soil testing kits (I know, not such a great way to test the soil, but I don't want to wait 2-3 weeks for the soil sample results to come back from the state ag dept.). The kit shows no color at all for the nitrogen. Nothing, not even a hue of pink. It shows fine for potassium and low, but there, for phosphorus. The pH looks to be about 6.5. So I am thinking that the lettuce, chard, broccoli, and cabbage are not getting going due to low nitrogen. I already got blood meal sprinkled around the plants and gently raked in a bit and also bone meal. I am wondering, however, what we can add that will give the soil a decent amount of nitrogen immediately. I will also be starting the mowing season of the little lawn we have left and am thinking about adding the clippings as a thin layer of mulch to the plants, but that, too, will take a while to break down. I want an immediate nitrogen fix for the soil. Any ideas? Diluted urine, maybe? Anything else?
 
pollinator
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I wouldn’t trust the test kit unless the soil actually looked barren. It’s seems like the manure would be enough. Were  the leaves partially composted?   The blood meal is probably enough too. A little chicken manure would work but could burn the plants .You could dig in some more manure if they need a boost.

Di
 
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Pee in a bucket, it's got a lot of fast acting nitrogen, then dilute that 5:1, pour in garden. You ought to see any nitrogen deficiency symptoms wane in just a couple days.
 
Ken W Wilson
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How long ago did you set out the transplants? Maybe their roots aren’t down into the soil enough yet. Were they growing good until you planted them? Did they get sunburned?  I always have to give mine shade for a few days.
 
Annie Collins
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Thank you for the replies. The lettuce, broccoli, chard and cabbage were put out more than 3 weeks ago. At first I thought they had to acclimate, but it's been too long now. They are not dead and the leaves are okay. But they are just sitting there, so to speak, and not growing and are the same size as when I put them out. That is why I figured they needed nitrogen. It will take a lot of pee to cover the garden, but I guess we'll get started. Anything else we can add besides the diluted urine?
 
Ken W Wilson
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I’m not sure about using pee near lettuce. It might be OK. I’d need to know more about it. Some people wouldn’t eat anything from a garden fertilized with urine. It would bother me for most plants.

Do you have chicken manure? It’s has much more nitrogen than most manure.
 
Annie Collins
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Chicken manure, I don't have any, but I am sure I can find some aged manure on craigslist in my area. I think I will use diluted urine (I have no problem with it) and aged chicken manure for the immediate nitrogen fix, and add some more blood meal over the entire beds for the longer term addition. I will also look more deeply into planting nitrogen fixers for next year so I don't run into this lack again. Thank you again for your help!
 
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Funny how people have no problem with chicken shit on their lettace but their own pee is a issue.
Some compost exttact would work well. Last year i had the same problem and just used a 5 gal pail put some horse manure in it let it sit over night with water. Then pour around the plants.
Bubbling it would work better but i think if your soil isnt to heavy and you have good microbes in it. It should go areobic in the garden.
My garden took right off when i did this but it was to late in the year for some things since i was scared of burning plants.
 
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It's not just a matter of getting enough nitrogen around the root zone of the plant, but you also must have healthy microbial soil life to help the plant find and uptake the nitrogen.

Healthy soil is packed with bacterial and fungal life.  Unhealthy soil can be chock full of N, K, and P, but the plants will not be able to access it if they don't have a healthy community of microbial life to serve as intermediaries.  It would be like sitting at a table in a restaurant but having no waitress to bring your food from the kitchen to the table.

So yes, pee is fantastic.  But pee along with a big scoop of healthy, living compost is what you're plants are screaming for.  Better yet, pee on the compost, give it a day or two, and then scratch that compost into the soil immediately around the plant. 
 
Annie Collins
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Thank you, Rob, yes, compost extract is another great idea! Maybe I could even put in both chicken and horse manure.
And Marco, indeed, a rich microbial life in the soil is crucial, of course. As I mentioned in the original post, I have a six inch layer of shredded, aged leaves, along with alpaca manure and worm castings. I also mentioned that I saw a lot of mushrooms growing in the bed which shows active fungal life in the soil.
I will update the thread in a few days after applying the diluted urine, chicken manure, and the horse/chicken compost extract tomorrow. I should have a lush little jungle within a week, I would think!
 
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hau Annie, the plants you have in the soil are not so much fungi oriented plants, they are more to the bacterial side and having great fungi present, while a good thing, is probably holding back the growth of the needed bacteria.
Urine is a good N fix, but for longer term you will do better with spent coffee grounds (the worms will love you for providing them too).
I would definitely make up an aerated compost tea and water the soil with it, at least two times over the next 3 weeks should boost bacteria numbers greatly and get things more in the right balance for your vegetables.

Redhawk

Have you checked these out? Redhawk's soil threads
 
Annie Collins
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The plants I mentioned in the original post really took off! The difference is amazing! We continue to pee in buckets, dilute, and water. I couldn't find any free manure sources within an acceptable driving distance to make extract with, but am still hoping.
I did add quite a bit of worm castings to the original soil mix in the autumn so figured that that should have added a good amount of bacterial life. I will add more and also source coffee grinds and continue putting the word out that we are looking for manures. As far as making the aerated tea, I don't have a pump for that. I know that the aeration really helps, but I am hoping to keep the whole garden happy without the use of electricity (until I get solar panels one day, maybe).  I am hoping to keep the soil bacteria happy with the simple addition of extracts/soups, with just being hand-stirred a few minutes/day. Something like that.
Thank you again, everyone- I am very appreciative of this community!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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If you want to do some bacteria increases with out having compost teas available, you can use some Acidophilus  milk or yogurt as an inoculant for the soil.
Another item is probiotics, should you happen to take these, just dissolve a couple of the capsules in slightly warm water and use that to inoculate.

Redhawk
 
Annie Collins
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:If you want to do some bacteria increases with out having compost teas available, you can use some Acidophilus  milk or yogurt as an inoculant for the soil.
Another item is probiotics, should you happen to take these, just dissolve a couple of the capsules in slightly warm water and use that to inoculate.

Redhawk



Of course, brilliant! I should have thought of that! I am still in the process of connecting all the dots regarding the world of bacteria/ fungi and soil life, and gardening in general. Soon the tidbits of information I am gathering will all connect so I get a clearer and better holistic understanding of it all, but until that happens, I sure do appreciate the help!
I don't take probiotic capsules, but I make water kefir and kombucha. I assume I can use those for the soil along with the yogurts, yes?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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You will want to read my next thread then, I'm going to be going over this exact subject in some detail.
I just skimmed over it in a previous thread and I talked a little about in my current research thread.

Redhawk

yes you can use those, just be sure to aerate them before incorporating. *added later because I missed reading the kefir/kombucha question.
 
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Adding diluted urine or diluted chicken/rabbit manure teas are some great ideas for a quick fix, but just don't overdo it.  After some initial applications, you should secure your plant's/soil's future with some compost.  Below are some caveats that I have about not overdoing it and how to start building a more permanent garden bed (because permaculture).

Rob Macintosh has a good idea of diluting the chicken/rabbit manure into a makeshift compost tea.  However, do not use fresh chicken/rabbit manure directly on plants.  N-value is way too high and it will burn everything.  You must either dilute it or compost it with a high carbon source first.

Like James Freyr above says, yes, *fresh* diluted urine works for adding nitrogen, but just be sure not to over do it.  If you keep watering the same plant with diluted nitrogen again and again, you'll burn out the soil.  You'll get a circle where nothing is growing and then on the outskirts of the circle will be a ring of fantastic leaf growth.

I would never recommend putting blood meal, bone meal, azomite, or any other amendment with a super high NPK or other nutrient value directly onto or in your soil.  Blood meal, for instance, has a N-value of 12 to 15, which is way too high.  You shouldn't really put anything higher than a 2 directly on your plants (in my opinion). Anything with a N-value of 13 will not only burn your plant's roots, but it will also destroy all the fungal and other biological activity in top (and most important) inches your soil.  No plant can survive/thrive with a super-high N-value in it's surrounding soil. The best thing to do with those sorts of amendments is to compost them first.  The best thing to compost blood meal with is a high carbon source, like wood chips. 
The best composts don't have more than 2 nitrogen in them, but the entire spectrum of nutrients are biologically available in them.  Besides worm casting or a nice matured compost, some common readily available compost-equivalent weed-free (and often money-free) things that you can put directly onto your plants include raw alpaca manure, composted/old cow manure, & old leaf mold.  And then, (if you can), it's important to cover this compost layer with a layer of light and porous/aerobic mulch, like straw, seed-free weeds, or woodchips.  This protects the compost (and the soil underneath) and keeps the compost moist, biologically active, and nutrient available.  Adding this top layer also prevents your plants from getting too hot and drying out.
 
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