ping songbird: a theory to run by you

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Hi Songbird and All,
I was told that alkalinity blocks the "cracking" of nutrients from the soil.
Now I have used the self same compost from the local guy that everyone else uses for years. They grow wonderful vegi's. I got small harvest of small fruit. Compost did not work for me.
I am thinking that I am looking at compost all wrong. I should look at it as nutrients and not as anything that will create soil from dirt blown in from the desert winds.
And compost, or any fertilizer, won't do any good, unless I change my soil Ph to crack to nutrients from the compost. (Peat holds water and changes the Ph.)
And, I have been asking around. The folks with success with the compose also bought his soil as well, which I did not do (can't afford it).
Am I on the right track or am I all wet?
-T
I am ready for next year's crop of weeds! Free compost! I wonder if the chickens will dare show up. Chuckle. I may have to switch to bolted purslane.
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T wrote:

think of it this ways, life is mostly mediated by water and water is a great solvent for almost everything. the more life you have going the more likely the pH will adjust to "neutral" aka 7.0pH. that is just how it goes...
there are certain plants that prefer different types of pH. you can learn how to evaluate an area by looking at the plants that grow and knowing this.
yes, it's true that high pH will make certain nutrients less available to plants. but some garden veggies are ok at higher pH too (spinach, beets, cantaloups, cabbage, ...). another approach is to add some sulfur, gypsum, ammonium sulfate or iron sulfate. if you also add a little clay that helps hold nutrients too (it doesn't take much).

compost is only a part of the story. good topsoil is a mix of sand, clay and loam with some compost added to keep the bacteria/fungi happy. compost itself often has very little in the way of nutrients. it is a long term and slow release fertilizer. gives surface area to bacteria and carbon source for fungi to break down.

in sandy soil compost often breaks down a lot more quickly too if there is enough water. what you want to do is add some clay if you don't have any clay at all and plenty of organic material too. the clay will help hold both water and nutrients.

compost added will be better than nothing, but too much peat moss will also not do much as it also has so very little nutrients.

building topsoil in a poor soil situation takes time. i've been at it here for a long time too and it is coming along, but it doesn't happen overnight. in an arid climate i think it will take even longer.
have you ever looked around for free fill? some times people advertise it.

chickens?
the growing of a winter cover crop will help. :)
songbird
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On 08/27/2016 05:25 AM, songbird wrote:

The peat is to retain moisture and lower the ph. I have never seen dirt so very dry in my life.
Weird, six inches down, I found tiny tunnels with black beetles about 1/4 to 3/8 long making their homes. I have seen them come out at night. They don't seem to be hurting anything. Never realized where they lived.
I put vegi scraps at the bottom, then mix the peat with the native dirt. I also use Dr. Earth's all purpose fertilizer.

A member of the family is chemically sensitive, so I have to be paranoid as hell if it is not organically certified.

I was making fun of the weeds. After I started harvesting them for compose, they seemed to take off to parts unknown. I will see next spring if they are gone permanently.

I think I will go back to compost AFTER I get the soil improved.
I save all my worm crack (melon rinds) for burying. It ain't soil until it passes ...
It is nice to see things FINALLY coming together. A lot of that has to do with you. Thank you!
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T wrote:

it was dry here for most of the summer, now it has finally turned around, right about when we don't really want that much rain. oh well, drink up Mother Earth... :)

there are a huge number of beetles. most of them harmless (like bacteria).

won't hurt. get some clay if your soil doesn't have any.
...

do wood products bother them? like wood chips?

purselane can take over and provide a lot of forage.
...

anything you can scrounge will help. keep your eyes open for free stuff you can use.

y.w. keep at it. :)
songbird
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On 08/27/2016 08:53 PM, songbird wrote:

I love the thunderstorms. The nitrogen in the water give great growth spurts! :-)
Well as long as they don't come with hail.
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On 08/27/2016 08:53 PM, songbird wrote:

You never know where they come from. Pressure treated wood is deadly. Wood sprayed with insecticide and anti fungals (for wood burning stoves) is also deadly. Our fences are redwood.
Also, you have to be careful with wood chips, etc., as they draw termites and we can't spray/tent for them. This is one reason why I never started with wood raised beds. I could have used cedar or redwood, but I can't afford anything and your words kept rolling through my head about never having enough room with beds.
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On 08/27/2016 08:53 PM, songbird wrote:

I have been washing off my eating purslane all over the yard hoping for it to seed next year. Purslane live my ground pots and has found nearly every one of them without help from me. I have harvested some massive tender branches out of them. Yummy!
My ground is so bad, the purslane prefers my decorative rocks.
I may start burying bolted purslane in my ground pots next year. Purslane in the rocks is the first to harvest and the first to bolt.
Can you think of any other frozen tundra vegi's I can grow over winter like garlic?
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T wrote: ...

chard, but not sure it will survive being frozen. too high in oxylates perhaps too... not sure.
no, winter is my time of rest. :)
if anything grows here it has to survive the snow and the well below freezing temps. not much does in the veggie kingdom unless it is buried. and even then the bunnies and deer can smell them and will try to dig them up or eat the tops off...
you may be too overfocused on food and not seeing the major point, which is that during the winter, when the ground is other- wise being left fallow you have the chance to grow a crop which will vastly help your poor soil. harvest the free energy from the sun, use those roots/exhudates to help break apart that soil. get nearly free organic matter.
songbird
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On 08/29/2016 05:27 AM, songbird wrote:

Maybe so.
Our growing period is so short (mid June to Sept/Oct) that it just seems like "cheating" to plant over winter vegi's. And I do love garden garlic!
And Winter is also the time for me to write up everything I have learned and plan for the next season.
So far, winter has not improved my soil. Your advice, yes. Winter, not so much.
One thing I learned is that don't count on seed exchanges to give you the exact seed you think it is.
Over half this year's http://www.rareseeds.com/striata-d-italia-/?F_Keyword=SSQ110 turned out to be something entirely different, but they were fast growing and produced huge fruit, plus were very tasty, so and wonder if I will reorder the same seeds next year? The ones that were striata-d-italia took a long time to produce.
The http://www.rareseeds.com/ronde-de-nice-squa/?F_Keyword=SSQ111 are a hoot and a half! Pumpkin shaped zukes! Plus their leaves have a lot of wax on them. Maybe it will protect against powder mold? We will see.
-T
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T wrote: ...

yes, so the next bit of advice is to grow winter rye and/or winter wheat. give it a try. see what happens. :)

true, if a package says Open Pollenated then you can assume the genetics might be mixed.
almost all beans i grow here are open pollenated and i end up with odd crosses showing up. even this year, i planted only two varieties of beans (a new low for me, since i started) and i picked some pods already that are starting to dry and have found "odd" beans not at all like either of the ones i planted. oh, well, i'm sure they're edible. :)

i like to save as many seeds as possible for the things that we grow other than the plants we get from the greenhouse.
saves money if i don't mind the results and have the space.

yep! are you growing them this year or is that plans for next season?
we have tons of squash growing now (which is why not so many beans got planted).
the cucumbers took a hit from the rains we had but the vines still have green leaves coming back out so i'll leave them.
we've ended up giving away most of the pickles we made so if i can get another good crop and can find some dill out where i tossed some seeds i'll make another batch. they're easy to make. :)
songbird
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On 08/29/2016 05:47 PM, songbird wrote:

This year and I plan for them next year too
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T wrote:

do you eat apples?
if so, apple seeds planted in the fall will sprout the next spring. another free resource that can be used to break up the soil and provide some stems/wood/branches/leaves.
i just coppiced the sprouts here from a few years ago. almost two inches across already. and regrowing. so they can be cut again in a while for more free sticks.
songbird
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On 08/30/2016 07:18 AM, songbird wrote:

Unfortunately, no. They are in the category of hybridized for levels of cabs that do not exist in nature, along with oranges and bananas.
I can have one tablespoon of apple sauce a day, but I don't. I go for the berries, which I can have 3/4 cup at a time.
I can have a few stone fruits too, but not a lot. I will use an over ripe apricot smashed and simmered in butter as a topping for coconut pancakes, etc..
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T wrote:

*sigh* you realize there are hundreds or thousands of different kinds of banana's right?

i was just curious if you had an easy source of fruit seeds to work with. even if you can't eat the fruits, the wood is useful and of course any scraps you can get from anyone who cans apple sauce would be free organic matter. :)

yeah, i like peanut butter and apple sauce on mine at times. don't eat them very often though. we're not huge breakfast eaters.
songbird
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On 08/31/2016 07:17 AM, songbird wrote:

Yes. I see two types sold in the grocery store. I use to adore the red ones.
Bananas are a grain. Think of a banana as a huge rice kernel. Bananas are nearly all starch (which converts to sugar almost instantly below your chin). No matter which type of banana, it is still almost all starch, it being a grain and all.
Banana, 1 cup raw, mashed http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1846/2
Carbs: 51.4 grams Calories: 200 KCal Glycemic load: 18
They are really bad news for diabetics.
Now if we could come up with a banana that was mostly all fat, I be your man!
-T
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On 08/31/2016 07:17 AM, songbird wrote:

I buy my berries at the supermarket and Trader Joe's, mostly blueberries.
Do you know of a cold weather berry I might grow?
I am a bit afraid to bury cherry pits, as they might grow. Folks around these parts buy them for their wood burning stoves (whole house heaters). Their houses always smell so nice during the winter!
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On 08/31/2016 12:09 PM, T wrote:

I have buried avocado pits. So far they have not sprouted.
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T wrote: ...

not a cold loving plant IIRC.
i sprouted some once in some pots, but they get big.
chopping the pits up keeps them from sprouting and i hope they will make good worm food as that's what i've done with some here.
they have an interesting yellow color when oxidized.
songbird
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On 8/31/2016 3:22 PM, songbird wrote:

compost easily. We also have a lemon tree about three feet tall now. We had one in Louisiana and must have brought some seeds with us. This lemon is actually a cross between a lemon and a grapefruit, they have fruit the size of a large grapefruit but taste like lemons. I'm hoping this one will survive as we used to make a lot of lemon jelly, put up lemon juice, etc.
We're waiting to see about the avocados, they need males and females to make fruit, surely there is a variety of sexes there.
Miz Anne's sisters flew in from Maryland today. Big wedding in the family here very soon so the whole crew is showing up.
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On 08/31/2016 07:17 AM, songbird wrote:

I haven't made coconut pancakes in a while. The wife loves them too. But, with all the produce to cook, it will probably have to wait for winter.
I had too many zukes this weeks. I had to freeze some of what I cooked. Things are looking up!
I am now down to 14 zukes plants. About half of them will produce a fruit every other week.
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