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Nathan Holn

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since Jan 17, 2019
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Recent posts by Nathan Holn

For those that stated too much nitrogen in composted humanure will cause excessive foliage in trees at the expense of fruit, would this be beneficial with young trees when i am not trying so much to get fruit as i am trying to get them bigger?
1 year ago
Dustin,
Finding an unused box of MiracleGro in the shed a few years ago when I bought the place is what got my mind running on this.  I had already decided I was gonna go full organic and permculture tf out of the place into an oasis immediately but life isn't as easy and it should be, and I don't like wasting things either.  I am not going to be organic certifying anytime soon or ever, so I decided to use some Miraclegro dilluted in water and use it on one half of a bed and urine on the other and found no significant differences.  So as far as using chemical fertilizers over organic ones I found no difference between one that could be bought or one that I make several times a day of course there is no reason to go with chemical, so in a sense its a sort of safe disposal rather than "should I." So back to the original question of can it do any harm, which Redhawk addressed pretty good.
As a sort of hypothetical, if someone I know says the farm they work at is switching crops and they use a different fertilizer and have a few hundred pounds of potassium nitrate and offer it for free, what do I do?
1 year ago
If offsetting the time and transport costs, there is anothet angle to look into.
I currently only split the week with the homie picking up the 5gal or so of coffee from a local place and the other gets it from another shop for backyard projects like hot composting, worm stuff, etc, and have got the go ahead from a restaurant on getting there veggies in the future as I am upgrading my composting infrastructure and have been considering the time and labor element seriously because I have two jobs and two kids and a lot on my plate, so minimizing the time drain I am considering.
We have been locating various sources in the town and its outskirts where materials could be located, such as hundreds of buckets or barrels from the juice plant, spent grain wash, wood chips from the tree places, carting the vegetable matter from restaurants etc and making casual inquiries about what they do with it.  In most cases unfortunately they throw everything away on site or take it to a local dump. One tree place lets anyone take it for free or haul it to local cattle yards which need the chips to lessen the nitrate poisoning of the water, but I know smaller operations that just take wood chips to the dump and actually pay to waste it.
As our operation grows, I intend to first make it known that they can dump suitable material for free at our site, which may be beneficial to them to reduce garbage costs, or post on craiglist and local fb groups that clean yard waste can be dumped at our site. This way there could potentially some matter dropped off without taking up my time.  As for charging, one thing to consider is how important reliability is.  Not picking up for a few days can cause some nasty backup, if its just a couple dudes and someone gets sick it can cause problems for a business, so some may prefer something good and established.  If you have something to show for it, such as a years old composting operation you can assure them you can get the job done right.  So at this point I am not pursuing charging because I don't have the humanpower or organization to handle the quantity or consistently haul the matter, but if and when I get to that point, I would try learn what they pay to get rid of their organic matter and offer the service at a lower cost.  Financial incentives drive a lot of business decisions, so making paying us a better financial decision than using the dumpster can get the attention to those not driven by altruistic principles.  Making environmentally friendly practices financially beneficial can help to change the minds of those in the periphery of industrial agriculture and who otherwise reject sustainability as some liberal-ISIL conspiracy and the environmental benefit is just welcome collateral.
At this point I cannot yet charge, but what I would charge would be metered against what it saves them, not what it costs me.
1 year ago
I am familiar with how industrial farming strips carbon from soil and depletes soil biology and all that, but am unsure about the affects of the simple application of something like potassium or ammonium nitrates.
If a garden were to be otherwise organic with the carbon being returned to the soil through composting, mulching, worms, and whatnot, what would mixing in salt peter do to soil health?
Second part of the question is what about composting soil that has been industrially farmed?  I have always added about 10% by volume soil to the compost pile to "clean" it (my soil sucks) and have since learned quite a bit about the benefits and necessity of doing so (there was a recent post in the composting section that had a very good explanation of it).  I currently pick up coffee grounds from a local coffee place and use shredded paper and whatever else I can acquire for carbon, and after this winter's success at hot composting in freezing weather I am considering moving up to humanure and a higher volume of composting.  There is a Mexican restaurant across the street from where I pick up the coffee that has ok'd picking up their vegetable matter and their is a local tree place that will let anyone take the wood chips (they usually dump them on the cattle yards- a few years back one of the piles composted bad and started a fire that killed a bunch of goats so they get rid of it as soon as they can).  There are alsp frequent posts of craigslist for free fill dirt, and I would want some dirt for throwing in the pile.  
So the question is would soil that has used chemical fertilizers have an adverse affect on the biological process or the soil down the line? Would the composting process remediate the problems?
I ask the same about herbicides.  I am slightly familiar with how things like glyphosate "break down" and bond with minerals in the soil, would hot composting break any of that down?
1 year ago