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Stickman's 2020. I'm baaack!

Hi all, after a year away dealing with health issues and multiple re-organizations at work I'm back with another slimmed down New England superhot glog. In addition to everything else on my plate last year I had a mild outbreak of Pepper Maggots in my vegetable garden. Due to that I'll be practicing crop rotation and planting onions and garlic there to encourage the little bastiges to move along so I can plant Gochus, Southwest varieties and sweets there again next year.
I'm continuing with my soil mineralization strategy in all of my garden plots to replace what was stripped away so thoroughly in the past. We're located on top of a Bluff above the Green River in the Connecticut River watershed. This whole area was underwater when the glaciers melted at the end of the last Ice Age, and the immediate area around us was a river Delta far enough from the source that the sediment deposited was mostly sand. It was extensively farmed for many years, which stripped away the topsoil. New England has some of the oldest soil in the world anyway, and has lost so much of it's soluble mineral chemistry that I'm working toward replacing what was lost so I can grow happy, healthy and above all, nutritious plants from the soil I've enriched.
This glog is a continuation of that journey, begun in 2018 with Stickman's Soil Mineralization glog. I'll try to keep it fun while sharing my growing methods and results with those of you that're interested in following. Next post will be about soil testing. Cheers all!

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stickman said:
Hi all, after a year away dealing with health issues and multiple re-organizations at work I'm back with another slimmed down New England superhot glog. In addition to everything else on my plate last year I had a mild outbreak of Pepper Maggots in my vegetable garden. Due to that I'll be practicing crop rotation and planting onions and garlic there to encourage the little bastiges to move along so I can plant Gochus, Southwest varieties and sweets there again next year.
I'm continuing with my soil mineralization strategy in all of my garden plots to replace what was stripped away so thoroughly in the past. We're located on top of a Bluff above the Green River in the Connecticut River watershed. This whole area was underwater when the glaciers melted at the end of the last Ice Age, and the immediate area around us was a river Delta far enough from the source that the sediment deposited was mostly sand. It was extensively farmed for many years, which stripped away the topsoil. New England has some of the oldest soil in the world anyway, and has lost so much of it's soluble mineral chemistry that I'm working toward replacing what was lost so I can grow happy, healthy and above all, nutritious plants from the soil I've enriched.
This glog is a continuation of that journey, begun in 2018 with Stickman's Soil Mineralization glog. I'll try to keep it fun while sharing my growing methods and results with those of you that're interested in following. Next post will be about soil testing. Cheers all!

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Welcome back Rick!!
Douglah 'Alphanerdz' back in the garden??


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Trippa said:
Welcome back Rick!!
Douglah 'Alphanerdz' back in the garden??


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Howdy Trippa! If I get germination from my seed stash I will. Last year I grew one plant that yielded a good harvest of pods, but I grew it alongside a half dozen other super varieties and didn't sequester any blossoms after self-pollination to keep the genetics clean. Just too much to do then. I'll try to do better this year.
How've you been keeping?

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Hi Rick,great to see you back and getting ready to start another year of growing.I recall you working on the remineralization in '18.
We take many trips to NH/Vermont  just to escape from the heavy traffic & enjoy some Greenery..nothing more scenic that driving
alongside the Connecticut  River..beautiful.Our property used to a farm but was not used as such for many years.I don't have a
big garden as we have a lot of deer around,just a small fenced in area near to the house and that keep them at bay.so far.
Amending the soil is manageable.You're so right about NE soil being farmed out and thus needs replenishing of its mineral.

Hope you stay healthy and your garden thrives in return for all the work you're doing.
Cheers..Sandy
 
 
Great to see you back in the saddle, my friend!
 
Missed you and your soil mineralization program
last season - looking forward to another awesome
grow from the Rickster in 2020! Last I remember 
you had added some silicates to your soil.
 
Good luck this year, buddy!
 
Cheers guys! Thanks for stopping in. [emoji3]

On to topic... For more in-depth info on what I'll cover here check out a book called "The Intelligent Gardener: or how to grow nutrient dense food" by Steve Solomon and Erica Reinheimer.
https://sites.google.com/site/kandati938kok7/iftHis5267eniwe2321
I got turned on to this book about 3 years ago by a homesteader friend whose veggie garden really impressed me with the size and quality of what it produced.
Down below is this year's soil sample results along with last year's for comparison. Gotta get to work now. More on this later. Cheers all! 

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Cheers Jeff, Uros and Giancarlo... thanks for dropping in!
 
So anyway, looking at the progress I've made in the superhot garden in the last couple of years it looks like I've managed to decrease the soil pH significantly  from 7.7 to 7.4 by adding sulfur, but the organic matter dropped from a bit over 7 percent to a bit over 6. Not surprising since I wasn't able to add any compost last year and I don't mulch the supers with organic matter like straw. I was able to raise the Total (Cation)  Exchange Capacity by adding a bit of Montmorillonite clay to the soil. What makes this kind of clay special is its ability to hold onto nutes so they don't leach away when it rains, but loosely enough that the plants and their soil-dwelling microbe helpers are able to extract them when needed. As sandy as my soil is, I need to add amendments that'll help it retain nutes. Biochar helps, but there's never enough. Humus is what usually acts like a sponge, but it decomposes at about the rate of 1 percent a year as expressed in this soil test so one application lasts on average 5 - 7 years... depending on how thick you lay it on.   

On a side note... this clay used to be cheap and available to farmers but some human health gurus have been touting its benefits as a "colon cleanser" and the resulting demand has pushed the price up beyond what any farmer could afford for a plot or field of any size. 
 
     Looking at the major players, I see I've increased the available Phosphorus, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium while lowering the Sodium in the soil. This is good! Sodium content between 0.5 and 3 percent is optimal in your soil and I got it down to 0.78 percent.  Available trace elements Boron, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Cobalt, Molybdenum, Selenium and Silicon are holding about the same from last year to this after adding amendments, so last year's plants used most of what I added. I'll continue to add amendments at a rate calculated to increase the soil's reserve capacity without causing nute lockout. It's a delicate balance that I'll show in my next post when I show my amendment worksheets. Cheers all!
 
Welcome back Rick!  Sorry to hear about the health problems.  Hope all have cleared up.   Looks like you are raring to go!   Best of luck with the crop rotation.  I hope that works for you.
 
PaulG said:
I thought most of the numbers in the chart
looked pretty good compared to their ranges.
 
There are some pretty big holes here Paul... New England is notoriously short of available Boron, Cobalt, Molybdenum and Silicon. That's not to say that they're not present, but the more soluble forms have mostly leached away with time and erosion. Selenium is another trace element that's lacking, but in such small quantities that it's impractical at my scale to apply it. It's kinda hard to measure one one thousandth of a gram without professional equipment...  ;)
 
Mr.joe said:
I own that book and have read thru it, but I haven't gotten around to filling out the worksheet like I should. I'll live vicariously thru you and follow along.
 
Cheers Joe, maybe afterwards you'll be inspired to try it for yourself, eh?  :surprised:
 
bpiela said:
Welcome back Rick!  Sorry to hear about the health problems.  Hope all have cleared up.   Looks like you are raring to go!   Best of luck with the crop rotation.  I hope that works for you.
 
Thanks for the good wishes Ben. We're getting by here, but there's a cpap machine in my near future.
 
... Back to our regularly scheduled program...
 
Here are the worksheets for last year and this year in the pepper garden. The front of the worksheet is used to compare the nutes present in your soil with the ideal. I'll have to ask Steve how he arrived at it but I suspect it was from testing young volcanic soils. The first numbers you see are TCEC (Total Cation Exchange Capacity), pH and Organic Matter present. To explain TCEC... it's the ability your soil has of holding onto nutrients without letting them quickly leach away. Sandy soils like mine are the worst this way, and clay soils are the best. Organic matter in sandy soil acts like a sponge that holds onto water and nutes until your plants need them. Last year I noticed a big jump up in pH which I think was caused by amending with Azomite for trace minerals. It's a fossilized volcanic ash that's alkaline as hell and probably better suited to soils more acid than mine. To reverse this I amended with Kelp meal for trace minerals instead, and laid down Ag Sulfur to bring down the pH. It seems to have worked, so I'll be continuing on in that vein this year. 
   By adding 4 pounds of Montmorillonite clay to my 40 sq ft pepper bed last year I was able to raise the TCEC by around 30 percent. This was enough to kick my soil up into the higher bracket in the Boron through Copper section of the worksheet. That means the soil can hold onto more of these things now without locking out other nutes so I'll give it more of these (as needed) until I reach the threshhold and drop down to maintainance levels after that. 
     Once you've worked out what your shortfalls are you move to the back of the worksheet where you compare them to application limits listed and figure out which amendments you'll be using to address them. The instructions for the math are on the bottom of the sheet along with the percentages of the elements present in the amendments. 
     Chiles aren't heavy Nitrogen feeders, and 100 pounds per acre is plenty for them for a season. The estimated Nitrogen that my soil holds based on the percentage of organic matter present is about 100 pounds so theoretically I won't need to amend with Nitrogen this season. However, that N is chemically bound up, and it takes the activity of the soil-dwelling microbes to release it. They are pretty much dormant until the soil warms up enough for them to become active later in the spring so I'll amend with 50 pounds of blood meal to give them a quick shot early in the season. The rest is pretty straightforward. Assuming I can get a dry load of compost the end of April or early May I'll mix some in a wheelbarrow with the amendments and lay it down evenly over the plot to prep for planting later on when things warm up enough.
     Cheers all!
 

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Very thorough, Rick. With my container grow, I'm
not sure how I would address these issues. I just
apply some amendments and fertilize a little and
hope for the best.
 
If growing in the ground, I can see this would be
the only way to approach it. Good work!
 
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