Featured Gardening on really poor soil

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by ClissAT, Oct 1, 2015.

  1. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,373
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    The 'brown stuff' would be called humipoo as opposed to humipee!
    They must be kept separate. Hard to do but vitally important for good results.
    Humipoo along with all paper, needs to be buried for 6mths to allow the microbes to do their work away from interference. Humipee at correct dilution can be broadcast over the ground with no ill effects to human or animal.
    I use compostable 'plastic' bags in my composting toilet & bury each bag along with a large double handful of blood & bone 50cm under the next fruit tree to be planted.
    That way the tree finds the reserves of Phosphorous once it is big enough to need it.
    Hard digging at my place I can tell you, since I am on a ridge made of rock. I get enough rock out of each hole over the course of the year of planting new trees to repair my 150m driveway every year.
    Anyone wanting to get a good bit of exercise & free muscle toning is welcome to come here & spend a few days digging holes! There's also about 50 fence post holes that need digging too! :p

    re using chicken manure; don't apply to paddocks horses graze. It is far too much phosphorous for their systems. The only P that should be applied to horse paddocks is rock P to just bring the soil back to balanced ratios & no more. The amount of P in chooken poo is almost toxic to horses.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2016
    Messages:
    359
    Likes Received:
    160
    Location:
    Brisbane
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    ClissAT your determination and commitment is simply gobsmacking to me! On my little block I have the luxury of simply bringing in garden soil and fortifying it with manure from the landscaping shop...my hat goes off to you!
     
  3. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,373
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Oh thanks for those thoughts.
    However I have just yesterday discovered I have been going a bit overboard with some elements I think.
    The pH has gone through the roof.
    Not sure if it was the wood ash for potassium or gypsum for texture. The gypsum is not supposed to up the pH & I truly didn't think I was adding too much ash.:dunno:
    But now I have most of the beds in the pH9 range which is way too high for most plants!
    So all I can do is remove half the dirt from each bed & replace it with goodness knows what, since 'garden soil' from landscapers around here is just composted bark fines which is very poor quality for the price. Also rather counter productive.
    I checked pH of some bought 'soil' & it was already a tad over neutral so a bit of a waste of time & effort adding that to soil of pH9. The natural pH here is quite high to begin with. That's rather mind boggling because the dirt is so unproductive & unfertile.
    Anyway my next plan of attack is to just use one end of each bed & dilute the soil in that part for the coming growing season right through winter.
    I'll let the other end of each bed fallow under green mulch & add some sulphur to help the process of neutralizing the pH.
    Luckily I have enough beds spare & this coming year I don't have to grow so many veg as just me to worry about (& horses & chooks that I also grow for). :feedchooks:
     
  4. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,373
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    So I thought I would give an update that may provide some food for thought for readers.

    You know how Grandpa had a gardening rule book that had lots of basic sensible low or no cost gardening techniques?

    It's sort of called Gardening 101.
    The first rule is usually dig heaps of organic matter into your soil as often as you can.
    Grow green mulch crops & dig them in before they go to seed.
    Did I mention digging in more organic matter?

    Gardening 101.

    We all know it but do we actually do it?
    Well I have to confess that I forgot or more to the point neglected to take heed of gardening 101!

    And you most certainly know the one "when all else fails, read the directions"?

    I have spent well over $1000 trying to fix my horrible soil.
    Nothing would stop it from going hard within a week or so of whatever expensive treatment it was given. Nothing prevented it from drying out within hours of a deep soaking. My dam bears witness to this fact by the dramatic speed at which it's level is dropping in the driest year I have had here so far & the last thing I need is a dry dam!

    So when all else fails there is often this little voice in the deep dark recesses of your mind... well maybe not yours but certainly in mine... that keep telling me I have forgotten or neglected my basics!

    And just what IS the basics for gardening? Well of course rule 101 .... dig in heaps of organic matter!!!
    In my case it is small chopped & partly rotted lucerne hay or partly rotted sugar cane mulch depending on what is being planted in the bed.
    This is different to adding compost but the compost I have been making recently is also a good addition.

    Ok I'm being a bit hard on myself because if I hadn't worked out the fertilizer recipe & had the soil tests first, I still wouldn't make much progress by simply adding organic matter.

    It's the combo of all those things that is finally providing soil that stays (sort of)soft after digging, holds moisture more than a few hours, promotes root development, provides an environment friendly to bacteria, fungi & all other organisms required for plant growth & soil health. I started experimenting with this 'new' treatment several weeks ago in small sections of the vegie garden & can now see it is paying dividends.

    However yesterday I also learned that I must continue to add copious quantities of blood & bone because the organic matter breaking down in the soil is stripping out the previously added nitrogen very quickly because the soil has none of it's own.

    Today I made a 100lt barrow full of 'improved nutrition' for the next round of plantings & to top up some existing plants showing stress such as the bananas.
    It consisted of 50/50 Searles 5in1 & improved garden soil mix (composted bark fines, fertilizer & soil from the landscapers yard). To that I added a hefty dose of my fertilizer recipe with extra potassium & blood & bone.
    At each place where I planted a plant (mostly flower or veg seedlings & bulbs) in an existing bed or garden area, I forked over a 60cmx60cm patch of the existing soil, added an equal volume of rotted hay or s/c mulch & same volume of mix from the barrow. That was dug in & well turned with the fork then the plant/s put in & more mulch added around to cover the newly dug soil.

    For the fruit trees I am planting to extend the orchard & that are going into virgin ground, it is a completely different story. The natural ground here is simply road base quarry. I can't put it any planner than that! There is about 4-10cm horrible dry pale grey 'top soil' that the couch grass grow in, then under that it goes to a very pale yellow or off white with red or off white shale so hard packed that I have blunted my crow bar after 15holes & must now get it repointed & hardened because I am not strong enough to punch it into the ground now.

    I dig a 50cm x 60cm x 60cm deep hole, add dead cane toads, the dries bag from the split system composting toilet, a litre of blood & bone, 10lt water & the little bit of top soil. Then I make up a barrow load of garden soil mix (same as used in the above plantings), composted cow manure, fertilizer mix, my own compost & fill the hole with that & plant my tree.

    However, now I know I must also add more organic stuff like the partly rotted sugar cane or lucerne hay mulch.
    There is only one drawback to this new mix. As the organic matter decomposes in the planting holes, the trees/plants are sinking down below the ground level. It's ok for many trees/plants to have soil up their trucks/stems but particularly citrus do not like that so I am perplexed as to how to solve this issue. Other than making a massive mound well above ground level & letting it sink over time. It would be hard to keep that mound wet due to the slope of the land.

    More thought needed!
     
  5. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,711
    Likes Received:
    1,089
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    It sure sounds like a big challenge to get and keep your soil up to speed but it's all worth the work (and money).

    If it's any consolation I still have to continually work on our soil... of course, our soil condition wasn't as bad as yours however with high raised beds a lot of our soil had to be made over a long time of adding compost and manures etc - it's a continual process.

    We struggle big time with our clay base so I need to mound up before planting most fruit trees (depending on the depth of the topsoil as it does vary considerably from spot to spot around the yard).

    Citrus is one of the few trees I don't mound as the deep roots deal with clay pretty well but I do mulch the trees heavily and add organic matter on top - the surface feeder root system of citrus loves it!

    In the garden beds I've used your method of digging in sugar cane or lucerne mulch before for really depleted or heavy soil and it works a treat!
     
  6. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,373
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    I have decided not to start anymore garden beds at ground level or to continue to fertilize or restore/improve existing beds that are not performing well.
    3 reasons:-
    1, I am getting too old to do all that bending;
    2, I'm fed up with trying to improve the natural ground;
    3, If the beds are that much higher it is harder for the chooks to see what's growing.

    I'm going to take a leaf from Mark's book & have raised beds. I might use bath tubs up on concrete blocks like I have for the horse troughs. They are cheap or free if they have a bit of rust around the plug hole & blocks are free on gumtree.

    I can do no dig with sugar cane mulch & a bit of good top soil maybe from my better garden beds.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,711
    Likes Received:
    1,089
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    I would love to see the finished result of these raised beds what a GREAT idea and a frugal way of making a raised bed.

    We should start a thread on the different types of raised bed examples :think::chuffed:

    I talked (again) about raised beds on radio this morning with Rob (90.3 FM) and cost came up from him as a big factor in why he is only going one sleeper high for his new raised beds (that's about 200mil). I like my beds to be at least a foot high (400mil) but that does mean an extra sleeper on top so it doubles the cost for a wooden raised bed such as this...

    A bunch of second hand bessa blocks on the cheap stacked two or three high would work well and soil could even be filled in the centre of the hollowed blocks with some tough herbs grown in like thyme or oregano etc making a herb border... There's lot's of options for raised beds.

    With all my old war injuries raised beds are a must for me now it's just so much less bending and kneeling, which makes a big difference on my creaky broken body at the end of the day in the garden. :D

    I'm sure with your knowledge you'll make excellent soil in no time and be growing bumper crops.
     
  8. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,373
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Since March'16 I have been progressively planting pawpaws, one every 2wks aprox.
    As I mentioned in a previous post, I dig a rather large post hole in my road base gravel pit dirt, add my 'dries' bag from the composting toilet into the bottom with a generous amount of blood & bone, cover with the scant top soil, then fill the hole with bought in 'garden soil'. That is actually composted bark fines for the most part with additives of fertilizer. I add my own fertilizer recipe along with composted cow manure & my own compost to each barrow load & mix well with the shovel. Each hole takes a full 100lt barrow load. Very hard work digging the hole then mixing the new 'soil'.

    That 'soil' subsides quite a bit & the hole has to be topped up once or maybe twice which means I have to lift the plant & refill the hole. Luckily using a potato fork to lift the plant means very little root disturbance so they don't get set back at all.

    The line of pawpaws shows the progressive planting even though they are all the same age. I'm also hoping some will be males, because so far I have no males so there are trees that are not producing fruit although they are flowering well. There must not be any males in the area because there are bees visiting.

    pawpaws 24Jun16 1.jpg pawpaws 24Jun16 2.jpg pawpaws 24Jun16 3.jpg

    You can see how impoverished the natural ground is by how yellow the grass is even after all the rain we had last week.
    Another thing that is note worthy is in the far right photo where there is a major difference in the size of the pawpaw trees. That is where I ran out of garden soil mix & went to the landscape yard for more. He told me that since I was adding my own compost & fertilizer to the mix there was no need for the expensive 'premium soil' mix. I could just use the ordinary garden soil mix & save myself a heap of cash. So, stupidly I took his advice! This is the result.

    Along the way I have modified the fertilizer recipe to include a product called NaturaMin which is supposed to be a balanced fertilizer suitable for this area. However, upon discussion with the rep it appears the farm supply shop has been lazy & selling me the general purpose bag, not the specific potassium & phosphate enhanced product this area requires. It was just as well I was adding my own K&P. Anyway that has now been rectified since the rep ordered me bags of the correct formulation.

    The idea of planting the dries bag in the bottom of the hole is that it contains a heap of P (phosphate) which the plant will need once it gets to fruiting stage. That should happen by the time it's roots get down that far & the biodegradable bag has degraded & the contents have composted underground. A heap of dead toads also went into those holes!

    pawpaws 24Jun16 4.jpg pawpaws 24Jun16 7.jpg

    Due to the amount of fertilizer I can stack into a hole I have been planting other things into the holes as well. Photo on left shows added rosellas in the first 2 holes & with the first plant in the next row a tomato or 3. Those will be finished & die long before the pawpaws get to fruiting stage. The photo beside that shows the brothers & sister plants awaiting planting. I am keeping them retarded as long as possible. I had to stop digging 'postholes' because my back & shoulders were just getting too sore from all that hard crowbarring. Also my crowbar needs sharpening & rehardening due to the gravel I am digging in. The work is so much harder when the tools are blunt.

    But I seem to have a bit of a problem. In the following photos you can see some sort of fungal or bacterial infection causing sap to be excreted from the fruit & the trunk seems to be breaking down. Has anyone seen this & have you fixed it somehow?

    pawpaws 24Jun16 5.jpg pawpaws 24Jun16 6.jpg brussels sprouts 24Jun16.jpg

    I really don't want to loose these red pawpaws if I can avoid it. The black spotty skin has been getting worse for a few weeks but this morning I saw the sap oozing for the first time & noted the stem damage also where it appears the stems are going rotten.

    One a more positive note I have Brussels sprouts coming along despite the cabbage butterflies although my back is very sore from bending over to collect the grubs from the plants for the cluckles. I think the plants are suffering a little from not enough light due to the white bird netting fence to stop the chucks eating the plants.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2016
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,711
    Likes Received:
    1,089
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    You've been very busy!

    What a great job you have done improving the quality of the soil so hungry food crops can thrive - inspirational :)

    This thread is certainly a good one to study or read through for people wanting to improve their garden soil.

    What will you use all the pawpaws for? Do you preserve them?
     
  10. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,373
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Thanks Mark for those comforting words because it sure is a labour of love & hard labour at that!

    I really don't know what I'll do with all the expected fruit. Of course that's assuming they do fruit well & the birds & sundry other critters don't get them first!

    It's sort of a test run to see if they might be income producing. If they do well on the top of the ridge then maybe I can grow a crop down the bottom of my back paddocks were the soil depth is better. The ground will still need the same additives but hopefully I wont have to dig huge post holes for each tree! :eek: Also I got those seeds for free from good stock so didn't want to waste the seedlings. If I was to do a commercial crop I would have to get certified disease free seedlings which would probably also be hybrids.

    In the meantime if I do end up with a massive crop I'll try drying some although I personally don't like dried pawpaw. I might also make some pawpaw ointment, give a lot away or if there is a glut I might do a market stall. I do love fresh pawpaw just as much as I like mango. I wish I could just live on fruit. One fell off the red pawpaw tree the other day & is already colouring on the kitchen bench so I'll be interested to get the taste.

    My citrus trees are turning out a mixed bag with some trees producing nicely sweet & juicy fruit while others trees are still bitter. Even though I used the same recipe for each tree to bring them all back to good health, some have done better than others. Same could happen with the pawpaws. Here's hoping for good fruit nonetheless.

    If the mangos & pawpaws are all fruiting at the same time next year I might have to put the word out for y'all to get up here & help me eat them! How many ways can you eat pawpaw & mango? :idea:
     
  11. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,711
    Likes Received:
    1,089
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Now I couldn't even begin to imagine how you could make that from a pawpaw sounds too scientific for me :D

    Would this ointment be like a moisturiser?
    Sounds wonderful to me just as is as a pawpaw and mango salad yum!

    I'm hoping for a better mango harvest this season some of the trees are already in flower (which is a bit weird but it'snot the first time it has happened).
     
  12. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,373
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Mark just hope you don't get any foggy mornings while the flowers are fertile.
    Otherwise they wont take as the moisture sets the pollen.
    In my area we get heavy fogs most mornings being close to the Mary river & that plays havoc with the flowering & setting. I get fungal infection as well as poor fruit set.
     
  13. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,711
    Likes Received:
    1,089
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    That's my biggest issue - anthracnose...
     
  14. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,373
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    And unfortunately there's no organic remedy that truly works.
    There are costly surface sprays that stay on a few days or until rain or fog but nothing systemic.
    It's chemicals or nothing, if the trees are not fighting fit & healthy or give successive flowerings.
     
  15. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,373
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    As you would realize by now I am always doing 'tests' & comparisons. Here is yet another comparison.
    broccoli bed chook food.jpg

    In the background (top left) of this photo is a young pawpaw tree under the red sugarcane in the old compost bin. It is a volunteer so no guarantee of fruit quality, but was so healthy I decided to leave it there as a comparison to the ones I planted close by in rows & slogged over so hard to dig the big holes for.

    The compost was made of everything that stood still on the property, manures, weed teas, kitchen scraps, chook bedding, dry stuff from ornamental garden prunings. Some was used & some got scratched through by chooks. Goodness knows what it's pH is & I never set out to achieve a particular mineral or trace element threshold in it. It's purely luck.

    So far the tree & red sugarcane are doing very well although some other capsicum volunteers which also came up in the compost are not so healthy. This tree is showing itself to be the healthiest of all my pawpaws. :rolleyes:

    It will be very interesting to see which flowers first & if there is a difference to the fruit. I cut the sugar cane for the horses & chop up the dead leaves with my large tailoring scissors for a bit of dry mulch for the garden beds when theres a space that needs covering.
     
  16. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Messages:
    4,711
    Likes Received:
    1,089
    Location:
    Bellmere, QLD
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Yes that's the question. My bet is on the fruit being good quality.

    From what I have seen, compost pile plants grow great most of the time!

    It can become annoying though when larger plants (like some of my tomatoes) grow so well the compost heap gets overrun :rolleyes:
     
  17. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Messages:
    841
    Likes Received:
    337
    Location:
    SE Queensland, Australia
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Wow you have done a lot of work, good on you for persisting under very difficult circumstances. Age catches up with all of us. If you and I included myself are planning on staying at a place for a long time then it's worth creating new beds and new technics to be able to use and move with us as we get older and not have to redo things.

    Keep up the great work :)
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,373
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    I want to do an update on my soil & water tests.

    My bathtub vegie beds are producing nicely but it is my flower beds I want to report on here today.

    Since flowers require the same fertility as fruit & veg, my flower beds have been receiving the same treatment as the F&V beds did for fixing the soil.

    I am very happy with how they have turned out.:yahoo:
    They got the same recipe that I used for my vegies dug into the same crap soil & watered with the same crap dam water. As with the veg beds, it is imperative to keep the soil moist/wet otherwise the potassium & nitrogen cant be transported through the soil to the plant, nor through the plant. So the plant is forced to cannibalize its own oldest leaves & mine them for the necessary water soluble minerals. That turns the leaves yellow with burnt crispy edges. When I see that happening I know I haven't been diligent enough with watering. On really hot & windy days that means twice daily deep watering at the expense of whatever else needs attention.

    My dam water locks up nitrogen & has excessive magnesium so between those 2 alone, the soil & plants hardly stand a chance without substantial intervention.

    Earlier this year I stopped using my standard trace mineral recipe that I made in bulk in my wheel barrow & moved to NaturaMin fertilizer designed for this area & made in Gympie. It doesn't have any nitrogen in it so I had to use in combo with a chook manure based organic fertilizer Katek also made in Gympie. I found it hard to get the balance right with extra N. But the trace & other minerals in NaturaMin fertilizer have been important. Also I have been using copious quantities of cane mulch for over a year now on this & other parts of my gardens. It has helped enormously with moisture retention & also to provide organic matter & provide some place for the organisms to live that break down organic matter into the soil.

    Now I am just using Blood & Bone & gypsum in equal volume/weight with 20% Potassium (K) added. The B&B is a natural source of nitrogen along with a few other goodies. It is pure Yates B&B not one called 'B&B based fertilizer' which has goodness knows what else as filler. I buy it by the 20kg bag. I also buy my K & gypsum in 25kg bags. The gypsum is a good source of calcium as well as loosening the soil. The large ratio of K is required because I have to water so much. K is water soluble therefore it can wash away. The normal ratio is 10%.

    So I make up a large bucket of this recipe then sprinkle it onto the mulch or disturbed soil at approximately a double handful per square meter & cultivate in then water well. It's important to turn this fertilizer into the soil or at least get it under the mulch otherwise it wont work & it must be activated with water asap. We had a little rain yesterday arvo which has helped immensely to loosen the soil as well. Adding the gypsum now will help to prevent it binding back together & clamping onto the plant roots like concrete.

    I've been using this recipe for 4mths now & I know it's working because I have flowers in soil that previously was struggling to produce green strappy leafed plants. Generally this recipe would be required only twice annually but I have to double up on that due to excessive watering & general lack of fertility. Maybe next year I will find I only need it twice a year. The leaves will tell me.

    Here are 2 photos taken this morning in the gloom of the overcast weather. Pity the flowers don't show up to their fullest extent. I have numerous blooms on each plant & strong colour both of which means the K is getting into the plants.

    Many people might scoff at this measly attempt at a flower garden but for me on this soil & with this water, it is a bloody miracle! :D

    flower garden 1.jpg

    The iceberg rose in the middle is about to flower. Several of these plants came from my Mothers garden as did several bags of her excellent soil. Effectively I have been importing good soil bugs. You can see some older hippeastrum leaves are yellow because those plants produce fewer leaves in general so each leaf is older than on most other plants.

    flower garden 2.jpg

    The Petria in the upper foreground also came from Mother's garden & I am surprised it continues to flower. I gave it to her several years ago & trained it into a standard. She gave it back to me this time last year. Part of it was damaged in the removal process so it is lopsided now but it will regrow for sure.

    A note about the cane mulch. It is very good at preventing couch grass from invading the beds. I lay it over the couch thickly & the couch dies back. Then the couch sends runners through the cane mulch to the more fertile soil. But because couch likes to have a small amount of light on its roots, those runners are easy to see & remove from the mulch. Just a matter of keeping the mulch the right thickness. Now the heather can grow instead of couch grass.
     
    • Love it! Love it! x 1
  19. Flatland

    Flatland Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2016
    Messages:
    225
    Likes Received:
    53
    Climate:
    Arid, Desert, or Dry
    Hi ClissAT interesting reading. I too am starting with very depleted soil. Basically sand. I am interested that you mentioned Lucerne tea. I have lots of Lucerne growing so what is your recipe for Lucerne tea and how do you used it? I and making horse manure tea, have horse will poo
     
  20. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,373
    Likes Received:
    624
    Location:
    Pomona, Qld
    Climate:
    Sub-Tropical
    Hi Flatland, lucerne tea is made with lucerne hay, not fresh green lucerne.
    You can chop fresh lucerne tops/green parts to dig into compost or apply around plants as a green mulch but the later is a bit of a waste.
    Lucerne tea is about the organisms & enzymes that live in the hay. When soaked in highly aerated water for a specific time, the good critters multiply exponentially. When watered into the soil they activate & make available various elements for use by plant roots.

    People say lucerne & legumes in general are nitrogen rich/forming & yes they are- sort of. But only once the roots have been dug up, reburied, died & rotted down to release the nitrogen from the nodules along the roots. You can substantially speed up the process by ripping up the fully mature plants & finely chopping, hammermilling or chipping the whole plant & root system then composting in the usual way using the lucerne as the green component. Making small volumes of compost in a rotating barrel so the compost turns regularly is the best way to utilize the heat that can be created by the composting lucerne plants.

    re horse manure, it is only as good as the feed the horse was fed, be it pasture or hand feed. If your horse is hand fed, particularly with lucerne hay, then the poo will be reasonable quality. However, is yours is like mine & mostly graze on the paddock (which is poor quality), then the poo will be the same & using it will simply amplify any nutritional shortages in your growing media. However, you can balance the manure by composting & adding the necessary goodies & a heap of lucerne tea or munched up lucerne plant.

    Another thing to be aware of is that horses process their food in a certain way that does not break down the natural wax in the plant celulose the horse eats. That wax then passes out in the manure & can make the poo very water resistant once dried. The only way to combat that is to compost the fresh manure, turning it regularly to prevent drying. Picking the manure from a stable or day paddock/yard is fine as that is considered a sacrificial area. But picking it from a paddock will leave the paddock lacking in nutrients & remove the housing for micro organisms, thereby depleting the paddock & rendering it rather wasted. This is the situation with my property.
     
    • Like Like x 1
Loading...

Share This Page