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Stickman's 2018 Soil Mineralization Glog

In-ground New England Foodie Soil Testing Amendments Biochar

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#1 stickman

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 08:14 PM

Hi all! Now that the new year is here, it's time to swing into gear and get ready for the next season of growing chiles! I'll be starting my seeds in a few weeks, and after rotating the crops in my raised beds to get rid of the Pepper Maggots that showed up in 2016, I'll be able to plant a lot more this year. In the meantime, I thought I'd share what I do to prepare my garden soil for the start of the season. I've grown chiles in pots and in-ground, and for me at least, I seem to do better with the plants grown in the soil.

 

To start with, my garden soil is sandy, so I have to add lots of compost in the top six inches of soil to hold moisture and prevent nutrients from leaching away. Soil microbes break it down in just a few years though, so keeping it topped up is a yearly necessity. We compost our kitchen waste to that end, but there's never enough, so we also buy it from a local outfit that produces it commercially. I was put onto adding biochar as well by brother Scott (Devv.)  The biochar does the same things that humus does but it lasts longer and  helps the environment by sequestering carbon in the soil. I've also been reading about how amending with Montmorillonite clay can increase fertility and help with soil structure, but more on that in a future post.

 

At the end of each growing season I take soil samples from my various gardens and get them tested at Logan Labs in Ohio. They do a more thorough job than our UMass extension by testing for Cobalt, Molybdenum and Silicate levels as well as he usual suspects. :)    I'm taking a "Build and Maintain" approach toward soil nutrients because I want my plants to have the best organic nutrition available to them, and at the small scale I'm planting, it's affordable for me. http://nevegetable.org/cultural-practices/plant-nutrients  

 

Here's my last soil test, taken the end of November. It's the starting point for figuring what amendments I'll need when I prep my beds for planting in the spring. The pepper garden is bordered in yellow.

fall2017soiltest.png

 

In my next post I'll cover the math I use to figure that out. Cheers!


Edited by stickman, 01 January 2018 - 08:24 PM.

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#2 tctenten

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 08:19 PM

Great to see you back Rick. I will be following closely to see if the pepper maggots are gone. I had them bad last year on certain varieties.

#3 stickman

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Posted 01 January 2018 - 08:29 PM

Great to see you back Rick. I will be following closely to see if the pepper maggots are gone. I had them bad last year on certain varieties.

 

Hey Terry! it's been a great break but I'm glad to be back in the action. :thumbsup:
 


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#4 Genetikx

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 11:05 AM

Wishing you a great 2018, Rick. Never heard of a pepper maggot but sounds like they should receive the business end of a flame thrower

#5 stickman

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 12:33 PM

Wishing you a great 2018, Rick. Never heard of a pepper maggot but sounds like they should receive the business end of a flame thrower

 

Cheers Ryan, and Happy New to you as well! Pepper maggots are pretty nasty for sure. You don't know they're there until it's too late and then half your pods are full of frass. :doh: For those of you who don't know about these little bastiges, here's some info...   http://ipm.uconn.edu...ggot.php?aid=57

 

I don't spray my chiles, so my only option is crop rotation... planting garlic in the beds where the pepper maggots were found the year before and planting no peppers for a whole year to let the next generation of pepper flies disperse before planting more. We'll know if it worked for sure in July.
 


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#6 PaulG

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 01:49 PM

Tally ho, Rick!  Good luck making those perfect beds for your plants.

 


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#7 stickman

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 03:14 PM

Hi Folks! On to step two... Now that I have my soil test results in hand it's time to figure out what my target levels are for the various nutes to compare to what are already in the soil. If I already have more present in the soil than the target for a given nute... I can skip that one and move on to the next. There are 3 worksheets to use, and the right one for you depends on your soil pH. For pH under 7.0 you'd use the acid soil worksheet.

 

For a pH of over 7.0 and a Calcium percentage of TCEC (total cation exchange capacity) over 79%  OR a pH of  over 7.45 and a Calcium percentage of TCEC above 71% you'd use the Calcareous Soil Worksheet.

 

If your soil conditions are in between those parameters you'd use the Excess Cations Worksheet.

 

Looking at my soil test results I see my pepper garden has a pH of 7.6 and a Calcium percentage of TCEC of a little over 83%, so I will be using the Calcareous Soil Worksheet found here.   http://soilanalyst.o...ent-dense-food/

 

At the time I got the results back from the soil test I did a "fizz test"

  • Put an ounce of dry soil in a clean, dry bowl.
  • Add a tablespoon of white vinegar (5% acetic acid).
  • Listen carefully.

The amount of fizz is roughly proportional to the amount of carbonate in the soil. If you have to listen closely to hear it, it is weak. If you can see lots of bubbles, it is strong. Medium is in between.   I had a weak reaction, so I recalculated my TCEC using the formula on the lower right edge of the calcareous soil worksheet. This changed my TCEC to 14.119 

The next step is to get the actual levels of nutrients on the same page since some are in pounds per acre and some are in parts per million. Since the amount of soil in an acre times six inches down is estimated at around 2,000,000 pounds you multiply ppm times 2 to get pounds/acre. Bear in mind that with the exception of Phosphorus, the results are for the element itself. To bring phosphate into line with the others, you multiply the phosphate reading by 0.44 to get the pounds per acre of phosphorus.

 

When that column was filled in I calculated my amendment targets using the formulae on the worksheet from the top down.  

 

amendment targets.jpg

 

I don't want to add too much Nitrogen, so I'll go with the 100 pounds per acre recommended, and the same for kelp meal to provide trace minerals in amounts too small to measure. My TCEC is greater than 10 so I'll go with 70 pounds per acre of sulfur. Subtracting the amount of boron present from the target I see I'll need 2.32 pounds per acre of boron. Doing the same for Molybdenum and Silicon, I see I'll need 1.78 pounds/acre of molybdenum and 20.2 pounds/acre of silicon.

 

I move the deficit figures to the other side of the worksheet and begin step three.

 

amendment recommendations.jpg

 

Compare the deficit to application limits. Adding too much of some nutes locks out others, so here's where we put on the brakes.

I'm not limited by Nitrogen, Trace minerals, Cobalt or Silicon, but I don't want to add more than 2 pounds/acre of Boron or 0.75 pounds/acre of Molybdenum, so I change my deficits for those to the application limits.

 

Now that the deficit targets are calculated I have to convert them down to the size of my actual garden since it's much smaller than one acre. My raised bed where I grow my superhots is only 40 square feet. An acre is 43,563 square feet, so I divide 40 by 43,563 to get 0.000918

I take the amount of element needed in pounds per acre and multiply by 0.000918 to pro-rate the amount to the size of my garden. Using Nitrogen as an example, 100 pounds/acre multiplied by 0.000918 equals 0.092 pounds per 40 sq. ft.

 

Lastly, each amendment has a different percentage of the elements that make it up.  Feather meal for example, is made up of 12% Nitrogen, so to figure the amount I divide 0.092 by 0.12  to get 0.767 of a pound, or about 12 ounces.

 

The rest of the deficits can be figured with the percentages listed on the bottom of this side of the form. That means I'll be adding 12 ounces of feather meal, 1.4 ounces of kelp meal, 5.9 ounces of gypsum, 9 grams of borax, 6 grams of Cobalt Sulfate, 1 gram of Potassium Molybdate and 3 ounces of Potassium Silicate solution in General Hydroponics Armor Si.

 

Cheers all!

 

 

 


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#8 stickman

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 03:15 PM

Tally ho, Rick!  Good luck making those perfect beds for your plants.

 

 

Cheers Paul, and Happy New Year to you too! Wishing for good things for you in 2018! :)
 


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#9 bpiela

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 04:54 PM

Rick,

 

On the pepper maggots, how far away are your raised gardens from the areas where you will be planting peppers this year?

 

Looking forward to seeing you resolve this pepper maggot issue. 

 

Best of Luck in 2018!



#10 stickman

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 06:48 PM

Rick,
 
On the pepper maggots, how far away are your raised gardens from the areas where you will be planting peppers this year?
 
Looking forward to seeing you resolve this pepper maggot issue. 
 
Best of Luck in 2018!

Hey Ben, thanks for stopping by!

My raised bed for supers is on the south side of my house and my veggie garden is about 200 yards north of that. The Pepper Maggots were in the Annuums I had planted in the veggie garden in 2016. I didn't plant any peppers in the veggie garden in 2017 so that generation of Pepper Flies didn't find anything to lay their eggs on and continue the cycle. 2018 should be clear of them (I hope!)

Best of luck to you in 2018 as well!

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Edited by stickman, 02 January 2018 - 06:49 PM.

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#11 tctenten

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 08:30 PM

Hey Ben, thanks for stopping by!

My raised bed for supers is on the south side of my house and my veggie garden is about 200 yards north of that. The Pepper Maggots were in the Annuums I had planted in the veggie garden in 2016. I didn't plant any peppers in the veggie garden in 2017 so that generation of Pepper Flies didn't find anything to lay their eggs on and continue the cycle. 2018 should be clear of them (I hope!)

Best of luck to you in 2018 as well!

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Rick is it really that easy to get rid of them? If so I will not plant any peppers in my containers.

#12 stickman

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 09:17 PM

Rick is it really that easy to get rid of them? If so I will not plant any peppers in my containers.

The lifecycle of the Pepper Maggot goes like this: the adult Pepper Flies mate and the female deposits the eggs on the outside of the unripe peppers. The eggs hatch and the larva (maggots) burrow their way inside to the placenta. They feed on it until ready to pupate, then burrow their way back out, drop to the ground and burrow their way into the soil underneath the host plant to pupate through the winter and emerge as winged adults when the soil warms enough in late spring or early summer... Then the cycle repeats itself if there are more of the host plants nearby.

By the time you notice any damage to your pods it's already too late to keep them out without spraying. That's why I try to break the cycle by not planting peppers anywhere near the infested area for at least a year.
If it's easier for you to grow peppers in pots far enough away from the infested area that the pepper flies don't spot them, it sounds like a good plan to me.




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Edited by stickman, 02 January 2018 - 09:19 PM.

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#13 tctenten

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 09:32 PM

I have read up on them and there really seems to be little you can do. I did notice, and you commented about them liking the annuums. Last year they crushed my jalapeño, cherry and ricotto plants but saw very little damage in some of the other varieties that were in close proximity.

You seem to be a year ahead of me, so I am rooting for you.

#14 Chorizo857_62J

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 01:47 PM

 

Cheers Ryan, and Happy New to you as well! Pepper maggots are pretty nasty for sure. You don't know they're there until it's too late and then half your pods are full of frass. :doh: For those of you who don't know about these little bastiges, here's some info...   http://ipm.uconn.edu...ggot.php?aid=57

 

I don't spray my chiles, so my only option is crop rotation... planting garlic in the beds where the pepper maggots were found the year before and planting no peppers for a whole year to let the next generation of pepper flies disperse before planting more. We'll know if it worked for sure in July.
 

 

Thanks for the link...I was about to ask.

J



#15 bpiela

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 05:45 PM

Rick, I found this negative quote in the Pepper maggot doc you posted:

 

"the adult fly has been known to migrate up to a half mile to infest fields with no previous history of this pest."  These things are evil.



#16 stickman

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 06:06 PM

 

Thanks for the link...I was about to ask.

J

 

Cheers Jeff, and welcome to the zoo!

 

Rick, I found this negative quote in the Pepper maggot doc you posted:

 

"the adult fly has been known to migrate up to a half mile to infest fields with no previous history of this pest."  These things are evil.

 

No argument here! Short of spraying, about the only way I know of to keep the flies at bay when they're in the area is to make low row covers with agricultural fabric and bury the edges of the fabric so the flies can't get at your peppers. It makes it a real PITA to water though, unless you have drip tape or soaker hoses set up underneath, and if the pupae are already in the soil around your peppers that won't work.


Edited by stickman, 03 January 2018 - 06:08 PM.

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#17 stickman

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 12:31 PM

Dang Folks! It looks like I jumped the gun before I got my soil stuff completely straight... It's a complicated subject when you get into the math aspect of it. It seems like I missed the part where they told me that although my pH and Calcium levels are high enough to have to use the Calcareous Soil Worksheet to figure out my amendments, I had such a weak reaction to the fizz test with white vinegar that I'm supposed to use the Excess Cations Worksheet after re-calculating my TCEC with this formula.

 

post-5842-0-74010000-1514920912_thumb.jpg

 

So now I can use Ag Sulfur in my beds instead of Gypsum and I have a higher TCEC than I would if I went with the first worksheet. This is what the new worksheet looks like.

 

side one.jpg

 

side two.jpg

 

The final list of amendments for the pepper garden barring additional Mykos and molasses that I'll add as tea in the spring. Hopefully by practicing "no-till" methods and keeping the biochar topped up I'll be able to avoid having to add the Mykos in future.

 

amendments.jpg

 

 


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#18 tsurrie

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 01:34 PM

See you got all sciency here.... :) happy new year Rick. I really wish you set those beds perfectly and have another great season before you. Will be following for sure. Cheers.



#19 stickman

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Posted 06 January 2018 - 01:50 PM

See you got all sciency here.... :) happy new year Rick. I really wish you set those beds perfectly and have another great season before you. Will be following for sure. Cheers.

Cheers Uros! I've been helping out at an organic farm for a bit over a year and that's how they do it. I'll grant you the Sodium Molybdate and Cobalt Sulfate don't sound all that organic but they're derived from natural sources before being processed, and Borax is mined in the American Southwest. When I prep the beds in the spring I'll mix them all together with sifted compost and work them in a bit with a spading fork. My raised beds are too small to need a broad fork.


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#20 Devv

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 09:18 AM

Rick you always keep me reading ;)

 

I do have one comment about the ingredients, but perhaps one cancels the other. Wood ashes are a source of K, but they raise the Ph. I'm guessing the Sulfur will control that level?

I'm also surprised at the Ph you have. I thought, as a rule that the East Coast soil was more acidic.

 

Good luck with this years grow!


It's all about the pods....






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