Molasses

Anyone here use molasses in the (veggie) garden to augment potassium? If so, liquid or dried and at what concentration and delivery rate? Thanks!
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Derald
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Derald wrote:

No. The reason is that the amount you would have to apply to make a difference would attract ants, vermin, etc and drastically alter the balance of microorganisms and make the place smelly and sticky. The content of molasses varies according to its source but it seems to be around about 2% potassium. This may be significant as a dietary supplement but it does not fit the bill as a soil macro nutrient amendment. From a practical point of view there is no way to get a substantial amount of potassium into deficient soil using strictly organic methods. This is why many 'organic' standards have a get out clause for the use of potassium sulphate. I prefer organics where feasible but use potassium sulphate.
D
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Derald wrote:

no, i use worm composted veggie scraps.
almost any plant material should have enough potassium.
one reason i would not want to use molasses is that it is the concentrate from making sugar left over i.e. the impurities, perhaps including stuff i'd rather not put in the gardens.
with the amount of compost you use i don't think potassium would be a problem? is it because of the high pH?
songbird
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On 12/18/2013 10:28 PM, songbird wrote:

Whole thing seems like a waste of food. I'd say to op, eat the molasses, piss in your garden to recycle the nutrients.
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     snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net writes:

My take is that a lot of things like this come from localized advice that gets spread too far. Someone in a sorghum area find that waste molasses, which he can get free, will help his soil. Word travels and people start talking about buying molasses for the garden.
For example, I grew up reading Ruth Stout, who was a great fan of spoiled hay for mulch. Lots of people will go way out of their way to get spoiled hay, thinking there is something special about it. She used it because she got it free.
I love hay, but can't get it free. I *can* get chipped/shredded brush free (not counting sweat). It makes a pretty good mulch.
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Drew Lawson | Radioactive cats have
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On 12/19/2013 9:45 AM, Drew Lawson wrote:

I think you are right. Then a commercial enterprise will pick it up and make a ton of money marketing to those that think they are doing something better for the environment even though it costs much more.
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You're not too clear on the concept of "conversation," are you?
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Drew Lawson What would Brian Boitano do?

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Derald wrote:

are there larger forms of potassium sulfate to use as a slow release version? that would give you longer term acidification.
songbird
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songbird wrote:

Not unless it was packaged up in semi-soluble coatings, by itself it is very soluble. Also sulphur is a better way to lower pH that doesn't risk adding excess salts, I wouldn't recommend this as a method.
D
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David Hare-Scott wrote:

which excess salts? potassium sulfate doesn't have any other thing in it.
mix it with wax, eventually the wax will break down, making it close enough to a slow release version. or you could go combination with adding more sulfur to the mix for more acidification.
songbird
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songbird wrote:

I wasn't trying to say potassium sulphate contains more than one salt. I was including potassium sulphate along with other salts that you ought not collectively apply in excess amounts and using the plural to indicate the general rather than the specific - which is usually applied to sodium chloride. However just by itself K2SO4 will cause damage if applied in excess.
The classic case was a friend who applied a soluble "citrus food" ( a mix of salts) to their lemon tree. On the principle that if some is good more is better they overdosed. All the leaves fell off and they were lucky to save the tree. It doesn't really matter what the salts were it is the total amount that counts, you can do just as much harm with excess salts that are useful in correct quatities as those that are not useful at all.
D
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David Hare-Scott wrote:

...

yes, well sure, that is why i always recommend green stuff as amendments, at least then it is coming from plants and is unlikely to be a problem even when applied by those who don't really read directions...
in this specific case i'm not worried that Derald doesn't have some idea of what to do with what he's ending up with.
songbird
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Derald wrote:

yeah, that's why i do most of my composting in place or keep it in buckets to save it from leaching away too easily.

...

pelletized alfalfa would have a few percent K like about any other green.

granite chips or dust mix seems a good amendment in your case. i'd also do more composting by digging it right into the gardens instead of using a separate pile (making sure the compost isn't from a seed ridden source, of course, of course...) <-- heehee, bad joke but i couldn't resist... :)
my other suggestion in the other post would be to mix the potassium sulfate and sulfur in wax and use chunks of that in the garden as a time-release effect.
songbird
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Derald wrote:

the known analysis of nutrients of alfalfa is a little more definite than anecdotal or mythical.
it would not be short lived if applied more than once.
however, my other note about mixing sulfur with wax to make it a longer lasting acidifier would give more of an extended effect.

how is that?

some crops like peas can be considered both a cover crop and a green manure besides the harvest of peas and pea pods. just a matter of viewpoint and use of the greens.

if dug in below there is no need to take surface space. indeed, with your climate/moisture it would probably not be a good thing anyways to surface compost much greenery anyways.

also limited by soil formation, sunlight, rain, wind, dust, insects, animals, fungi, bacteria, ... the number of factors in combination is a wonderful complexity.

if he's a seller of rocks, he might have a pile of suitable rocks with dust under them, offer to scavenge that dust as people who buy decorative rocks don't usually want it. or perhaps he doesn't have a segregated pile of that type of rock, but worth a shot. if anything you get to go look at piles of pretty rocks. around here that's worth a field trip any day.

i think the truckloads of horse apples and prevailing winds would cover about any blemish on a reputation. :)
songbird
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    What do you mean? I add it every time I prep a bed for planting, which is two or three times annually; not as a top dressing but tilled into at least the top eight-to-ten inches or so, along with whatever other amendments might be in the mix. Please note "tilled" and "tilling" are generic terms for working the soil with my hands or with hand tools and definitely _not_ "rototilling".

    ...and I would want to add wax to the soil, why? Sulfur is fine, thanks, and last long time. The well water is the culprit

    Because during the time that the greenery is decaying the garden experiences a temporary loss of nutrients, notably nitrogen. Nitrogen "fixing" is for the plants' benefit, not the dirt's ;-) If I'm going to have to supplement the nitrogen (for example), anyway, in order to re-plant immediately (and sometimes sooner than that), there is little point to the extra work. Instead, garden "waste" gets chopped fairly uniformly with a mulching blade on a power lawnmower so that it composts very quickly and then either is mixed into the beds prior to planting or, less frequently, applied as a top dressing. Although, I "till" more deeply than some folks do and double-dig every second or third year (tree roots), nothing is gained by burying un-composted "greens" below the root penetration of most of the stuff that I grow, I don't want to contend with the side effects of burying it more shallowly and there's no way I'm going to let a bed just sit there unproductive, still requiring water, while waiting for 125 pea vines to rot. Having said all of that, though, I quite often _do_ cut off the pea vines and leave the roots, especially it the successive crop already is planted among them.     In this part of FL, the gardening year starts in Sept-Oct. and from then until late July-August, none of my beds is empty for more than a few days. By then the peas are long gone (they don't last past May, as a rule) and any remaining beans are struggling.     If you recall, the molasses query that started this thread was with an eye toward using it as a readily available fast acting source of potassium to correct occasional deficiences in the short term. Mildly alkaline water, stink bugs and grasshoppers (Damn, I just noticed today that grasshoppers have cut off some of the garlic) are far more chronically damaging.

    Well, it's sort of a big-ass front loader and bins of rocks kind of place. I have no idea why people want them or what they do with them.

    Petoskey rocks. Had a few of them around here someplace for a few years.

    Nobody's close enough to care. Besides, they wouldn't notice it over the smell of their own stinky equines. For very many years, I composted right next to the house. Open windows made sure that I monitored the compost closely: Stinky compost is sick. Once (and once only), I gathered mounds of grass clippings (had a lawn service at the time) and tried my hand an anaerobic composting in black plastic bags. Man, _that_ was some righteous stuff but astoundingly fragrant on hot summer nights; never again.
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Derald
USDA 9b
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Derald wrote:

i mean add it more than just before planting as it seems indicated that another application is being needed.

wax mixed with sulfur would give you a longer release form of sulfur and acidification. if using plant waxes (instead of beeswax) then it will not harm a thing. you're speaking of adding some elements to offset temporary pH spikes and i'm trying to think of things which will give you more buffering capacity. that's what you need to add to the soil if you are not going to condition the water.
i think chunks of bark (1/2-1 inch across) would help too if mixed into your gardens when you do your digging out of roots. peat moss (certain kinds are more acidic than others, i'm not on-line at the moment, but sphagnum based peats are the ones i'm thinking of), but generally, there's gotta be some things you can amend with that will increase your buffering capacity. setting up a tank of bark and peat moss to condition the water before using it might be the easiest approach as then you are dealing with the problem at the source (one place) instead of having to deal with it in each place you are watering...

i don't think so, greens when breaking down may be a short-term source of fermentation byproducts (alcohols, CO2, etc) but it is not the same thing as what happens when adding too much carbon (brown stuff) to the soil. i've never had a problem with burying green stuff down three to six inches below immediately planted seeds. by the time the seedlings get roots down to the green stuff they're already mush.
green stuff is a nitrogen source, depending upon what type of green stuff (legumes can have quite a bit, notably alfalfa and trefoil).

if you are hitting a deficit situation and having to respond to that i don't see that as being any less work than taking a few moments to bury green stuff in between plants.

by then it has been transformed from green and soft stage (source of nitrogen) into woody (carbon) stage. i.e. the bacteria/fungi in the compost pile or in the soil have gotten the benefit of the nitrogen and fermenting juices instead of the garden soil under the plants.

sure, no need to disturb the soil if other things are growing and doing well. i do that type of notill harvesting in the tulip gardens. i don't want to mix or move tulip bulbs around.

i was reading about monarch butterflies yesterday and in there someone mentioned that they'd not seen any grasshoppers this past year. we've had a very respectable population of grasshoppers for several years now. they may chew on some things, but i'm not about to add any thing to get rid of them. the birds seem to like them. as i also recently saw a movie of two children that roasted grasshoppers to sell them i may want them sometime as a back up food source. they're big and healthy. :)

decorative areas, rock mulches, xerascaping, erosion control, rock walls, fire places, flooring, counter tops, ... i could use quite a few tons of various colors here to add some variety to the crushed limestone (but eventually i'll hope to get rid of the limestone in most places anyways if i stick it out here for the long term).
which reminds me, my teen years in the family flooring business, some times we'd be hauling 100lb+ bags of chips of rocks of various colors to use in terazzo floors. not sure where to source such stuff these days as we used to move it by traincar loads at a time for the bigger jobs. but that may be one approach to try for a specific mineral in an easy to use uniform size chip. i really missed out when i went away to college. they cleaned out the warehouse and dumped a lot of different bags of left over chips into the parking lot to fill in holes. greens, reds, yellows, black, ... *sigh* could have had a blast with those. i guess the general term would be the word aggregate, but you might also find something under marble chips or terazzo floor suppliers. i know it isn't a common flooring as it was before, but i do know it still does get done from time to time so the supply channel is likely still out there if a bit rusty/dusty... :)

over the years we've collected rocks from various parts of the country as we've been on trips. a geologist would walk onto this place and have a riot. there's a little bit of everything except lava rocks from Hawaii (i suspect if i ever travel there i may not return).

oh, i didn't know you had horses that close to your place. the smell of horses doesn't bother me nearly as much as the horse flies.

yeah, fermenting grass will get ammonia notes going if it is too thick. that's tough on the nose.
ok, well time to go, take care, be good, etc., etc. :)
songbird
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