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Chuck Darwin

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since May 19, 2018
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Recent posts by Chuck Darwin

I don't know how to reply to a particular post but wanted to chime in on gypsum. Gypsum does not raise soil pH. I use it to improve drainage and tilth. Gypsum replaces sodium.

Here's a description "Applying gypsum helps reclaim sodic soils where sodium that’s attached to the cation exchange complex becomes too high. The most economical way is to add gypsum which supplies calcium. The calcium displaces the sodium held on the clay-binding sites. The sodium can then be leached from the soil with irrigation water or rainfall." - Dr. Daniel Davidson from http://www.eco-gem.com/gypsum-remediate-saline-sodic-soils/

To raise pH, that is make it "sweeter," use lime. To lower pH, viz. make soil more acid, e.g. to grow blueberries in a container, use sulfur. Gypsum has worked magic on my soil structure without changing pH. My soil is a very fine silt that behaves like clay. Gypsum has a significant effect on very few soils, by the way. It won't make a clay soil behave like loam. For that you need organic material, the cure all!

1 year ago
You don't have to have two varieties of avocado. A single tree self pollinates with the help of bees that return in the afternoon. Research does show that cross fertilization seems to reduce fruit drop (avocados form hundreds of small fruits but most drop when they are the size of a pea).
The Fuerte, which means "strong," is the most cold tolerant (not really tolerant but can survive brief periods - it's not going to grow in northern France). Fuerte became became THE California avocado after a cold snap killed other varieties. The Hass later replaced Fuerte as the market leader. I grow both, along with Pinkerton and GEM. Trees can be tricky to get started - the young trees seem to want to die - but when one gets big you can hit it with a truck and the truck will lose.
1 year ago
Agree it could be misleading and adding phosphorus to soil represses a plant's acceptance of mycorhizzae symbiosis, which trades phosphorus and water for plant sugars. If you read the article you will notice that the biochar was charged with phosphorus, which increased myco fungus colonization and transfer of P to plant roots, which otherwise can't get to the phosphorus in biochar microsites, aka nooks and crannies. "We conclude that AM fungal hyphae access microsites within biochar, that are too small for most plant roots to enter (<10 μm), and can hence mediate plant phosphorus uptake from the biochar."
1 year ago
First sentence on the web site has a typo. "Too" should be "to."
1 year ago
People have been growing flax for thousands of years, in many different parts of the world.  In ancient Egypt, planting times were governed by the seasonal floods of the Nile.  In Western Europe, flax was planted in the spring, and yet, in the Himalayas and Alps, oral legend tells that flax was sewn in the fall, at the same time as barley.  China, India, the Middle East, Japan, Africa, and later North America, all had different planting times.

could be

Grown around the world for thousands of years, flax was sown in different seasons. In ancient Egypt, the Nile's seasonal floods governed when to plant. Western Europeans planted flax in the spring, yet oral legends recount that growers in the Himalayas and Alps planted flax in the fall, alongside barley. Growers around the world planted flax in the right season for their climate. The term "towhead" comes from the word for flax or hemp fibers and their resemblance to white blond hair.

Of course the first sentence is passive voice, but it works (and spells "sown" correctly).
1 year ago
I vote for Dragon Pouch Collectible Art.  
1 year ago
Of course dyed wood chips can be composted. Otherwise, the world would be filled with dyed wood chips. But it isn't. :)
Rake the chips into a pile and water it. Add a source of nitrogen to accelerate the process. I just started using one of these cheap totes as a composter with some very woody waste. http://blogsnewsreviews.com/tough-poly-bag-composts-tons/
1 year ago
The original article inoculated biochar with nitrogen and mycorhizzae and looked at the effects for four weeks. An odd mix and not very much time. Mycorhizzae like phosphorus. This is an interesting article https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0038071714002211?via%3Dihub
1 year ago