Garden Wisdom Blog — category: Soil Talk

The Poop on Manure

category: Articles and Instructions category: Garden Resources category: Soil Talk how-to-grow organic

The Poop on Manure

What is manure? Broadly speaking, manure is organic matter. Animal manure is the feces of animals—primarily of livestock like horses, cows, and chickens. It may be “pure,” but it often includes bedding or litter materials like straw or sawdust, in which case it will also contain animal urine. Facts about manure. Depending on the source, manure is very high in organic matter as well as nutrients essential to plant growth. As animals digest the plants and other food they eat, they are broken down by anaerobic bacterial action in their stomachs. Manure is, in some ways, like compost that has...

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Too Much Nitrogen

category: Articles and Instructions category: Garden Resources category: Soil Talk

Too Much Nitrogen

Nitrogen is one of the three most important so-called “macronutrients” for the healthy growth of plants, along with its equally important cousins phosphorus and potassium. These three elements are the central components of most fertilizers, and they form the N-P-K ratio that is shown on fertilizer packaging. A good, balanced, organic fertilizer for general garden use might have an N-P-K ratio of 4-4-4, as does the outstanding All Purpose Blend from Gaia Green. One of the most common problems we hear about in the garden, and not just from beginners, is the presence of too much nitrogen. This element is...

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Container Soil vs. Garden Soil

category: Articles and Instructions category: Garden Resources category: Soil Talk

Container Soil vs. Garden Soil

We often talk about cultivating organic soil that is rich in microbial action, and full of organisms. Soil in your garden combines naturally occurring minerals with the various organic and mineral amendments you add. As the organic matter breaks down, it feeds layer after layer of soil biology — moulds, fungi, arthropods, earthworms, and so on. Right down to the microbial layer of bacteria and protozoa. The richer the ecosystem, it seems, the more fertile your soil will be. Soil biodiversity also protects your soil, and acts as a kind of cushion against atmospheric stresses like drought or frost. The...

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Soil Block Recipe

category: Articles and Instructions category: Garden Resources category: Product Instructions category: Soil Talk

Soil Block Recipe

Soil Blockers have been around for many years, but their popularity is spreading fast, largely by word of mouth. Using this Soil Block recipe and Soil blockers will eliminate the need for plastic seedling trays and insert flats, so they represent an ecologically sound alternative for people who find themselves starting masses of seeds. A soil blocker creates individual cubes of lightly compressed soil. A single seed is planted in each block and grown into a seedling to the stage it is ready to transplant into the garden – or into a larger soil block. Because the sides of each soil...

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Nitrogen fixers

category: Articles and Instructions category: Garden Resources category: Garden Wisdom category: Soil Talk

Nitrogen fixers

Here’s a bit of geeky plant science for you. David Bradbeer at the Delta Farmland & Wildlife Trust sent me this great image of the roots of white clover. You can plainly see bumps along the roots that are called nodules. Over millions of years, the plant has evolved a symbiotic relationship with certain species of soil-dwelling bacteria called Rhizobia. This group of bacteria has the ability to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and “fix” it by metabolizing it into ammonium, which is a nitrogen compound that the plants can make use of. The plants benefit by using this extra...

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