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through page 204.
i love this chapter. it is so satisfying to me to finally get the ridiculously deep discourse i have always wanted! don't think that means i understand it all, or can read it at any pace other than s....l....o....w....
yes, the peridoic table gave me pause. is he for real?! but, man, i might not have gotten that D in chemistry if they had just made it applicable to the world like this. it's hard enough to just remember a list of weird sounding stuff (molybdenum?), even when it's attached to something real.
i do feel the forest for the trees thing again. or, i guess, i wonder if it's really necessary to know that molybdenum is needed for nitrogen fixation on legumes. can't we just put on lots of compost and call it good? but, that's what every OTHER book has given me-- the interpretation of these details. and i wanted the details. (plus, part of the point of permaculture is that we cannot afford to use the classic organic gardening advice "put lots of compost on it" to produce a whole worlds worth of food. where would all the compost come from? we need to know more to be able to design truly self-sufficientsystems) so... i took a deep breath and read the three page list of periodic elements. don't know how much i'll be able to remember, but it will be interesting to referrence when i get my soil test back in the spring.
the pH section was very interesting to me. just, what it IS-- what *makes* the acidity or alkilinity. i had never thought to wonder. ions. who knew? the chart of mineral availability dumbfounded me. i have to wonder if the captions got put on there backwards. does that chart really say that in organic soils phosphorus, boron and manganese are virtually unavailable between pH 7 and 8? that in organic soils minerals are better available at pH 5-6.5? and that only in mineral soils is it the classic 6.5-8? does that mean that if your soils are very high in organic material (mine are, being built mostly from peat and silt) that you should go for the lower pH range? beets particularly have never grown that well for me, and i wonder if they can't get the boron they need....
the mind blowing part of this chapter for me is a realization that i had been slowly coming to before, but table 8.2 really solidified like a brick to the head-- that everything the plants need is ALREADY THERE (1,000-10,000 kgs of Nitrogen/ha?!?!) the limiting factor is only whether they can access it. which is where the soil life comes in, and (i now see) why organic people make such a huge deal about it.
it really makes me wonder about my soils, built not by nature, but by me with a bucket and a shovel. i think when nature builds your soil you can probably more or less assume it's more or less got the right balance of stuff. mine sure looks good, and has always grown decently, but i wonder if maybe a little of what i thought was slow growth due to the climate, might be due in fact to some basic stuff out of whack.
i can't believe i never sprung for a soil test before. i guess i was going on the assumption that if i just kept adding good stuff every year, it would be fine.
i can tell i will be coming back to this chapter many, many times.
what did you think?

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Replies to This Discussion

Crap!  The last time I checked the board was early last week so I just spotted this now.  I'm so sorry.

Anyhow, parts of this chapter made my eyes glaze over, I admit.  You may be a bit more excited about it than I was.  However, I also found the pH section interesting.  I love the part where he says just about every level of pH is present SOMEWHERE in the your garden soil.  Good to hear.  I about drove myself crazy last spring planting my blueberries.  

Those tables confused me a bit too, and I actually discovered the text referenced  the wrong table in 2 instances.  Once I figured that out, I was slightly less confused.  The mineral availability chart that you mention doesn't give any values of availability.  Phosphorus, boron, and manganese are shown to be the least available in those ranges, but it doesn't reveal exactly how much.  So it doesn't seem to mean none, right?  Anyway, I guess I'm saying it might not be as bad as it looks.  Therefore I wouldn't freak out too much about your DIY soil.  

I've never sprung for soil testing.  The pH thing I mentioned above is a good example of why.  Take soil from several spots, mix it together, and you'll have a representative sample?  Average sample?  Mollison says our measuring methods alter the thing we measure.  And it seems to me that no matter what the result, they're gonna tell you to add organic material.  But I get why in your case you want to check it out since you created your own growing medium.     

It's so funny that you mention molybdenum.  Wells in our area are being tested for high levels of that one.  Turns out too much is not good in your water.  I never heard of it until a few months ago.  

This chapter has definitely reiterated to me the importance of mulch.  NO BARE SOIL!!!!  Coming up with enough material to mulch vacant spots is sometimes a challenge for me.  It kills me to actually purchase bales of straw, but I digress...

I'm really psyched to do my own test of soil composition with the mason jar.  We're still frozen solid, sadly.  Nasty out there right now.  

Hey I think he was making up words again.  What the heck does flocculate mean?  If I knew that, I guess I would understand deflocculate, flocculating, and flocculants.  Ha!

The next section looks pretty interesting.  Looking forward to that!

floculation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flocculation
that clears it up.
i was just thinking this morning that permaculture is, at root, an agriculture system which aims to stop extractive use of SOIL and WATER, and instead *build* these two precious resources up. almost everything i can think of that's considered a permie technique or tool stems from conserving soil or water. so, to build rather than destroy soil, you must have permanent plant cover or huge amounts of mulch. organic gardening uses compost. but in a permanenet agriculture where would all these compost and mulch ingredients come from? which leads to the heavy emphasis on perennial food crops, which leads to the keyhole beds and guilds, etc.
i haven't finished the chapter yet, have you?
anyone else reading?

Meadow one of the reasons I love to read the entries here is that when students of Permaculture are discussing the topic they always come up with unique perspectives on the design process. You are doing that very well.  Bryce

Flocculate in the context of soil science is the coming together of electrically charged clay particles to form a larger sized flocculate or to put it bluntly--glob of clay. Flocculation is important in soil science as it is where the cation and anion charged particles  energy exchanges take place regarding moving minerals in solution from the soils through the fungal networks to the plant roots.  Bryce

Jennifer Thompson said:

Crap!  The last time I checked the board was early last week so I just spotted this now.  I'm so sorry.

Anyhow, parts of this chapter made my eyes glaze over, I admit.  You may be a bit more excited about it than I was.  However, I also found the pH section interesting.  I love the part where he says just about every level of pH is present SOMEWHERE in the your garden soil.  Good to hear.  I about drove myself crazy last spring planting my blueberries.  

Those tables confused me a bit too, and I actually discovered the text referenced  the wrong table in 2 instances.  Once I figured that out, I was slightly less confused.  The mineral availability chart that you mention doesn't give any values of availability.  Phosphorus, boron, and manganese are shown to be the least available in those ranges, but it doesn't reveal exactly how much.  So it doesn't seem to mean none, right?  Anyway, I guess I'm saying it might not be as bad as it looks.  Therefore I wouldn't freak out too much about your DIY soil.  

I've never sprung for soil testing.  The pH thing I mentioned above is a good example of why.  Take soil from several spots, mix it together, and you'll have a representative sample?  Average sample?  Mollison says our measuring methods alter the thing we measure.  And it seems to me that no matter what the result, they're gonna tell you to add organic material.  But I get why in your case you want to check it out since you created your own growing medium.     

It's so funny that you mention molybdenum.  Wells in our area are being tested for high levels of that one.  Turns out too much is not good in your water.  I never heard of it until a few months ago.  

This chapter has definitely reiterated to me the importance of mulch.  NO BARE SOIL!!!!  Coming up with enough material to mulch vacant spots is sometimes a challenge for me.  It kills me to actually purchase bales of straw, but I digress...

I'm really psyched to do my own test of soil composition with the mason jar.  We're still frozen solid, sadly.  Nasty out there right now.  

Hey I think he was making up words again.  What the heck does flocculate mean?  If I knew that, I guess I would understand deflocculate, flocculating, and flocculants.  Ha!

The next section looks pretty interesting.  Looking forward to that!

I have not finished it yet either. Do you want to pick a discussion day?
I struggle with perennial choices in my veggie garden, hence the straw mulch. But I am going to try polyculture in one of my large beds and I'm considering utilizing some of the old plant material from last year as mulch rather than putting it in the compost bin. Conventional advice says that may promote bad bugs or disease, right? I'm getting a different message from the permie crowd, though. Never before have I read about plants providing their own mulch. Brilliant!
i finished the chapter this morning, and i'm ready whenever you are.
re mulch. i think i totally depends. the permie crowd can mulch a plant with it's own material because 1. they are using mostly plants that aren't common to agriculture, so don't have a host of nasties following them around, and 2. the complete lack of mono-culture helps keep nasties away even from the regular crops.
i certainly wouldn't have used spent tomato plants to mulch my garden in New Orleans, where tomatoes were magnets for all the worst bugs and fungus modern agriculture has provided us. but if it's a plant you don't have pest or disease problems with, why not?
what sort of polycuture do you have in mind?
thanks bryce. i appreciate that you have kept tabs on us! it's great to have a real teacher in our midst.

Bryce Ruddock said:

Meadow one of the reasons I love to read the entries here is that when students of Permaculture are discussing the topic they always come up with unique perspectives on the design process. You are doing that very well.  Bryce

I'll try to finish this afternoon.  

I'm thinking about my asparagus.  All the top growth from last season is out there and I usually cut 'em down & throw in the compost bins.  But now I'll try to chop 'em a bit and use as mulch in another part of the garden.  Tomato brush doesn't seem like a good idea here either.  There's always some leftover fruit & it just seems to get too funky.  

I'm taking the polyculture "recipe" straight out of Gaia's Garden (bought my own copy recently after renewing the library check-out repeatedly).  It's the Jajarkot one on pg. 181 with lots of greens and brassicas.  My broccoli and kale seedlings really want to be out in the mini-greenhouse, but there's a giant pile of snow where it gets set up.  We are STILL stuck in the 30's with single digits at night.  

Okay I'm done.  I'll let you kick it off.  Not sure if you want to start another thread for it...

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