s. lowe

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since Jul 05, 2017
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Recent posts by s. lowe

This is also an under appreciated benefit of hugels, they can give you way better drainage and help keep plants from getting wet feet.
1 day ago
Jen, don't fret! I personally don't agree with diluting compost tea. Instead I prefer to spread around the undiluted tea, even if just a splash here and there, onto soil that has already been watered with plain water (or is otherwise already hydrated and ready to support biological allies).
My logic is that dilution disrupts the equilibrium that the biology has settled into in the brewer and could cause blooms/die offs of certain species. In fact, the farm I work at dilutes tea out of necessity and we are very careful to match the pH of the water to that of the tea to.mitigate those problems (for the record we dilute 10:1).
My personal theory is that the tea is an inoculant, and any little few drops will have millions of living organisms and if you splash those drops on a place where they can live they will spread and grow on their own and, over time, deliver their goods to your roots
2 days ago
One of the more interesting ideas that Mark Sheppard introduced to my thinking was along these lines. He was talking about why he still tills ever in his well established food forest system and he mentioned that he still wants to grow some annual vegetable crops, and if you look to mimic nature you will find that annuals tend to be early succession species. They seem to thrive on the biology that results from soil disturbance, generally. He also said that his experiments on his farm had led him to believe that he got the most production out of his land by doing a cycle of year 1: annual vegetable crop, year 2: annual grain crop, year 3-7: pasture, then repeat.

Depending on the environment, soil disturbances that happen in nature might be an unusually high concentration of herbivores in one place one year, a land slide, a wind storm that topples a number of trees, an earthquake, the establishment of a burrowing rodent population, or a thumbsy ape with more knowledge than sense ;)
3 days ago
My wife has been reading Steven Harod Buhner's book Herbal Antivirals and sharing some info with me. His all-star antiviral lineup is apparently Chinese skullcap, redroot/lobatia, and cordyceps fungi. I'm not the medicine man though, I just take what I'm told by the healers in my life that I trust.
5 days ago
Are the different cultivars of comfrey reputed to be good.for different purposes? I've only ever know comfrey as a medicinal (largely to be applied topically) and all the comfrey I've ever worked with has been either wild or the cutting I've been toting around the last 5 years that I was given off of a 30 year old cluster who's gardener gave no  name. What is the purported difference between these bocking's? Also why is it called bocking?
5 days ago
I think your approach of 'start simple and see what works' is a great way to go.

I have been told by people that you can dilute tea by up to 20:1, that is the model that the farm that I work for uses. When I make tea at home for the garden I water it full strength onto wet soil, meaning if it hasn't rained for a week or two (i live on the coast, we get rain more regularly than you all do inland) I water from the spigot before I apply the tea to ensure that the microbeasties have a good home to get delivered to.

It definitely helps to have the aeration at the bottom, You can just zip tie a nut or bolt or something to the end of your hose to keep it down. or use a produce twisty or something.

I can give you my loose recipe that I use, I brew tea in a 55 gallon drum with usually around 40 gallons of liquid in it

In the bag;
2-3 handfulls of compost
2-3 handfulls of worm castings
1 handfull of alfalfa meal
1 handful of bokashi
small handful of insect frass
big pinch of azomite/greensand

In the water;
about a pint of liquid fish (I actually prefer brands that have a diversity of sea life, you can probably find Pacific Gro near you and their good. crab, squid, shrimp, etc.. definitely seems to add to the finished product)
an ounce or so of humic acid (i inherited like 2 gallons of Anasazi Gold from a friend, I'm not at all positive I will ever buy more of this when it eventually runs out but I know that humic acid is used by commercial organic famers and I have it so...)
3-4 oz of SeaCrop - this is a sea water concentrate made on the olympic peninsula. I put it in my water and am generally convinced that it's amazing for supplying trace minerals. It can definitely replace azomite/greensand and there are other sea mineral             concentrates you could use as well but I'm a bit of a fan boy of this one and the creator, Art Ziegler, wrote a great book called Seawater Concentrate in Abundant Agriculture where he goes into the benefits of sea minerals and talks about and tests other brands besides his own.
a cup or so of soluble kelp powder or 12 oz of liquid kelp

depending on the weather I brew this for 18-36 hours (longer in the spring/fall, shorter in the summer) and then water it in
These things are all in the recipe that the farm on work on uses and my measurements are all based on easier ways for me to remember the recipe. I don't think that everything in there is 100% necessary and at home I just use what is on hand. I will actually buy quality compost, insect frass, liquid fish, sea crop, and kelp. Otherwise I depend on kickdowns, 'expired' items from my work, and random late season sales at the garden store. I make bokashi sometimes and buy it sometimes because it is central to my home composting efforts.

For a 5 gallon bucket I would say use about 20% of the amounts in that recipe as a baseline and experiment a bit. Rich forest soil can replace the compost for sure.
6 days ago
I'm far from expert but was just reading up a bit about this because I have an inherited raspberry in a big pot that I've been trying to restore to productivity. In a pruning book I have they recommended cutting back every cane that fruits after the fruit is harvested to maximize yield. They claim that raspberries fruit and second year canes and older but that older canes produce progressively less fruit but still occupy pretty much the same amount of the plants energy. My poot orphan is currently failing to set fruit well after a promising season of flowers so I am planning to just cut out every cane that tried to fruit and see if this years new growth does better next year.

You might try cutting back a bunch of the old canes and see what happens
1 week ago
My practice is to start at 1/4 of the manufacturer recommendations and slowly build up from there. My experience has been that the manufacturers often recommend using more of their product than is necessary, and sometimes so  much that it causes problems. If you've got healthy soil your plants will both have access to more inherent soil nutrition and make much more efficient use of any liquid fertilizers
Well, first of all, in my experience I found azomite to produce a reaction in compost tea that indicated to me that it was useful (there was more foam, it formed earlier, and the finished liquid was more opaque than the same recipe brewed without aconite. But we never scoped anything and those attributes are very inaccurate correlaries for tea quality) so if you've got it a bit can't hurt. I also use about 1/3 cup (I measure my dry tea ingredients by "handfulls", azomite is a pretty light handful in my recipe) so you could probably use less.

Other than that, are you watering it into the soil or applying  it with a sprayer? If you're just watering in you could consider forgoing the bags all together. My understanding is that they're primarily to make it easier to clean up and to keep sprayers from clogging so much. Your bags do look like a tighter weave than mine but i know people who use old socks so I don't think the bag is really trapping anything.

I do think that you will get more out of your tea by adding something for the microbes to eat while in the tea. This could be liquid or powdered fish, kelp, or alfalfa meal (that could go in your bag). This does make me.curious what.color the water would be if I didn't add any liquids and just had the  compost and worm castings in a bag. Maybe I'll try that later this summer.

I have to.admit, me and my garden have been living it up with no compost tea since I inherited the remnants of samples of a friend who.had been an organic fertilizer rep and moved away.  Got lots of.little progress earth packets, sample bottles from ABC organics, fish, kelp, humic acid, all the goodies. But if it stays sunny this week I'll make a little batch of tea with no liquid stuff and see if that color is far off from what I get
1 week ago
Congratulations on your first brew Jen! That does look extremely light, can you provide us what you put in the bag? And did you add any liquid of any kind (besides water)?
1 week ago