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s. lowe

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since Jul 05, 2017
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Recent posts by s. lowe

You can definitely just spread it on the surface of any of your beds. You could do it before you spread new mulch or use it as mulch. It's likely mostly peat, coco coir, and perlite so while not super nutritionally valuable it has lots of housing for microbeasties
58 minutes ago
I would suggest looking a bit deeper at shepherds system, it can be adapted to any temperate climate and remember that his personal farm in Wisconsin represents an extreme example of the diversity he promotes. You could create alleys of marketable nuts and then run either livestock or field crops in between them. The alleys could be 50, 60, 80 feet apart. As wide as you wanted really (it seems like good advice to start your alleys to your equipment so that each alley is an even number of passes with your tractor).
If tree nuts feel like too long to maturity you could run berry bushes
1 day ago
Hey TJ -

I just looked online and it appears we got an amazing deal on the 100 gal vortex brewer I was using. It was definitely home mad and not as nice as most of the commercial ones that I found but it was also significantly cheaper. I might try to go wriggle it loose from the unscrupulous landlord who sort of seized it after all. I believe the pump we were using was an ecoair 5 commercial air pump that does 1400 gallons/hour, pretty affordable at around 100$ usually. The company makes on size larger, ecoair 7, that I think pushes air at close to 3500 gallons/hour and is still under 200$.

My main questions are, what is your budget? How much fabricating do you want to do? And what is your application capacity? (how much aerated tea water can you apply per hour?)
oops, those questions were more for Artie I guess. For the cheapest way that I make the volume you're talking about TJ is a 55 gallon pickle barrel with pvc plumbed down to a simple manifold at the bottom of the barrel with a male hose barb out the top. You can get really good aeration with a pretty cheap air pump (I know the ecoair 3 will work wonderfully for this size) and 50 gallons can reasonably be diluted into 200-500 gallons of water (some folks even say 1-20 dilution of tea to water is functional) to be spread around.
2 days ago

C. Letellier wrote:I am going to say the answer is yes.  The first modern soil science seminar I went to, one of the speakers was no till potato farmer from Colorado.  They were doing a 2 year rotation and only doing spuds every other year.  So if it works on spuds that have to be dug surely it can be made to work in beets.  Here is one of the videos from that speaker.  If you hunt the internet he has several others.

This was the first person that came to my mind as well. To be clear though, for anyone who doesn't want to watch the video, the Rockeys are not no till farmers. They rotate back and forth with half their land in cover crop/mob grazing cattle and half in potatoes. The half that is in potatoes has a border and strip down the middle of insect habitat and the potatoes are planted along with a mix of peas, buckwheat, and a couple other companions.

His presentation is pretty awesome and seems like it could work with beets
3 days ago
Your big limit, like TJ said is going to be cost. If you buy premade models than a 100 gal brewer can easily run $700 with the pump. The biggest brewer I have ever personally seen in action made about 900 gallons of tea at a time in an 1100 gallon water tank (about 7 or 800$) and it made use of a massive air pump that probably cost 500$ or more as well as a good bit of plumbing. Probably the cheapest way to go if you want to make an unlimited volume of tea is to find a flowform model for around $1000 and buy a 2 or 300$ biosafe pump. With those two things you could make compost tea on a volume only limited by how large a water reservoir you can source. What's your budget? that's likely to be the limiting factor
4 days ago
You don't want to fully dry it out and you don't want it to be sopping wet, in my experience it maintains its outward appearance, including feel and smell, for a year when stored in a plastic bin or bucket.
6 days ago
I'm not positive that the wood products would work well, the straw would be my first vote from that list. I made a successful batch last year (still chipping away at it cause I made so much) and used a mix of wheat bran and coffee chaff. I got the coffee chaff for free because it's a waste product from roasters (it's basically the bits of bean skin and little chips of coffee beans that flake off during the roasting). If you have a coffee roaster local to you they can likely hook you up with as much of the chaff as you'd like to take. I think that if you mixed it with dried out coffee grounds that you could also get for free you would have a solid free substrate
1 week ago
Hey Travis, I applaud your efforts and really think that Skandi's suggestion to track the foods that make up your grocery runs and look at that list to identify things to try to grow. Like you said, if you eat out more your grocery bill goes down, but regardless of where your grocery bill goes month to month, the more of it you can supplant with homegrown food the lower it will be (the next trick will be saving this windfall rather than simply upping your non-grocery food bills).
1 week ago

paul wheaton wrote:As the article seems to talk about a lot of ways that "reactive nitrogen" can get into the atmosphere and cause problems, I think a lot about grass.   Green grass is loaded with N.   And, in time, it will become straw (yellow and dry).   I've always just pointed at this and said "denitrification!" (it just occurred to me that I should point with a stick and let people assume the stick is a wand).  I never thought to contemplate which forms of N were going into the atmosphere.  Perhaps the very kind that the article author is worried about?

Reading through this thread I got to this post and an idea just POPed into my head. Does the change from green to brown represent the nitrogen off gassing as the plant dies or does it represent the nitrogen being pumped back into the soil to feed the microbeastie amigos or (and this is the new thought) does it represent the nitrogen being moved from a mobile form into a more complex and stable protein?  Maybe some of our more knowledgeable chemistry friends have some thoughts?

Also, I don't think I saw it noted, but to the OPs concern about N-fixing plants contributing to excess N in the soil, my experience has been that clovers and such won't nodulate in soil that has sufficient nitrogen supplied to it. The best nodulation I ever got (dark red centers on nodules as big as a lentil!) was after adding nothing but some rock dusts and a bit of home made compost over the cover crop seeds in beds that I had been adding manure to at the end of each growing season. So I don't think you need to worry about the N fixers taking things overboard
1 week ago
Sounds like peach seeds might be a great option for us in the northwest

Also I recalled that silica can be used as a foliar to aid in fungal resistance and I've seen pretty crazy general immune improvement from using sea-crop fairly sporadically (I'd imagine other sea mineral concentrates would be similar, I'm just partial to sea crop and it's kinda local coming from Olympia I think )
1 week ago