On Sat, 07 Jun 2008 08:02:06 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
How many NG members are using worm castings, or liquid worm castings,
for tomatoes and everything else <g>?
They're supposed to be spectacular in improving the soil (which
according to organic gardeners, helps plants more than chemical
fertilizers). I'm just at the beginning of my program, so wondered
about others' experiences.
Last year I mulched my peppers with shredded office paper. The worms
loved it; I had to replace it several times. The dirt was almost
nothing but worm castings by the end of the year.
I'm gonna do the same thing this year if it ever stops raining.
You should be able to find some cheap fertilizer that dissolves in water
at Home Depot or Walmart. I got a big box of 15-30-15 at Walmart for less
I like to fix the fertilizer with equal parts pulverized lime to take care
of ph issues and prevent blossom end rot.
Get some fish emulsion and use it at full strength and throw your
10-10-10 away. If you can't do that, then use it with your fish emulsion
at a quarter strength. Chemical fertilizers kill soil organisms that
will feed your plants. If you grow soil, the soil will grow your plants.
I agree with your conclusion, mostly, but not how you get there.
Commercial balanced fertilizers are mostly made with urea, ammonium
phosphate, and potassium chloride. None of them are particularly
harmful to soil organisms *if used lightly*. OTOH, if you pour on the
ammonium sulfate to make your lawn look like a golf green, you will ruin
When you first start feeding the soil, it will sometimes compete with
your plants for nutrients, especially nitrogen. Feeding the plants will
help. The problem is when you feed the plants while ignoring the soil.
If used lightly (or strongly), salts of ammonia and nitrates won't
nurture the web of soil organisms whose dying populations feed the
plants through the breakdown of amino acids. I'm sure you will agree
that the soil organisms are better served through mulching, application
of rock phosphate, and application of either "green" or animal manure.
From my reading (I'm sure you will correct me if I get it wrong) of
"Teaming with Microbes", chemical fertilizer salts affect soil organisms
in the same manner as table salt does snails and slugs. In low
concentrations, they don't hurt but they don't help the soil. Fertilizer
salts do help plants (in a limited way with macro-nutrients) but you may
as well be growing hydroponicaly in that case and you will have reduced
the phytonutrients anthocyanins and flavonoids in your harvest.
So, where are the holes in my reasoning?
Hope your garden is doing well:o)
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