Do I need to inoculate my compost pile?


Joined
Jan 5, 2017
Messages
931
Reaction score
895
Location
Atlantic Beach, Fl
Hardiness Zone
9a
Country
United States
Egg shells are a supply of calcium but they are extremely slow acting for plants to be able to uptake their calcium. Just because you have ample calcium in your soil doesn't necessarily mean that your plants are able to uptake it. This is the cause of blossom end rot, the plants inability to uptake calcium. In my soil, which has an overabundance of calcium, BER is a huge problem simply because the plants cannot uptake calcium. The absolute remedy in my alkaline soil is to use epsom salts. Somehow epsom salts changes the chemical structure of the calcium and allows plants to uptake it. I don't know why or how this occurs only that it does. I get BER on tomatoes, watermelons, canteloupes and even peppers. It is a major problem every year but if I apply a handful of ES at planting and another at fruit set, BER absolutely disappears.
What you're saying is much more believable Chuck; It's never as easy as it sounds:D
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Aug 26, 2017
Messages
173
Reaction score
42
Location
Portland metro area of Oregon
Hardiness Zone
Zone 8b
Country
United States
This is an interesting discussion because my parents and I ran into blossom end rot last year with our san marzano tomatoes. They were the only variety that got blossom end rot. We had put bone meal and lime into the soil before planting and the plants got watered every day. Yet it still happened.

I did some reading yesterday that said it takes about a year to lime added to the soil and actually be absorbed into the soil. And that most of the liming should happen in the fall.

Well, I didn't know that and didn't really apply much lime last fall. I've started putting in lime now but I suspect it will be too late. What this means is that my soil is probably calcium deficient.

I haven't had a soil test done but I have read that soils in my area are typically acidic because the heavy rains nine months of the year leach out the calcium.

The epsom salts idea is interesting. I'll have to look into it further.
 
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
7,362
Reaction score
3,583
Location
Tarpley Tx
Hardiness Zone
8b
Country
United States
This is an interesting discussion because my parents and I ran into blossom end rot last year with our san marzano tomatoes. They were the only variety that got blossom end rot. We had put bone meal and lime into the soil before planting and the plants got watered every day. Yet it still happened.

I did some reading yesterday that said it takes about a year to lime added to the soil and actually be absorbed into the soil. And that most of the liming should happen in the fall.

Well, I didn't know that and didn't really apply much lime last fall. I've started putting in lime now but I suspect it will be too late. What this means is that my soil is probably calcium deficient.

I haven't had a soil test done but I have read that soils in my area are typically acidic because the heavy rains nine months of the year leach out the calcium.

The epsom salts idea is interesting. I'll have to look into it further.
Epsom salts may not work in acidic soils but it won't hurt anything either.
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2017
Messages
3,719
Reaction score
3,418
Location
Birmingham Alabama
Hardiness Zone
8a
Country
United States
Egg shells are a supply of calcium but they are extremely slow acting for plants to be able to uptake their calcium. Just because you have ample calcium in your soil doesn't necessarily mean that your plants are able to uptake it. This is the cause of blossom end rot, the plants inability to uptake calcium. In my soil, which has an overabundance of calcium, BER is a huge problem simply because the plants cannot uptake calcium. The absolute remedy in my alkaline soil is to use epsom salts. Somehow epsom salts changes the chemical structure of the calcium and allows plants to uptake it. I don't know why or how this occurs only that it does. I get BER on tomatoes, watermelons, canteloupes and even peppers. It is a major problem every year but if I apply a handful of ES at planting and another at fruit set, BER absolutely disappears.
Sulphate Sulfur can be taken up by the plant. ES is 13% Sulphate, 10% magnesium. I have seen its positive effect in my calcium rich soil, but so too the positive effect of sulfur alone. This year, I am starting with a more sulfur rich environment, at a lower ph arrived at with peat moss and sulfur. The garden was 7.8 ph in January.
soil_ph_nutrient_availability.jpg


Its this type chart that shows the balance I am after. We have red clay which derives its color from iron. The high calcium content gives us 8-8.4 ph as I find in my yard. I have no idea how or if the moly will be an issue in the garden this go round.

One detail I have observed is that like @Chuck but unlike @Purrfluff where I am in the southeast it is hot. Actually I am far enough south to have a level of heat that arrives early enough and lasts late enough in the year to generate a major composting effect such that the time it takes to denegerate any material, eggshells or woodchips for example, is quite short. This is a combo of both heat and moisture, but 90 to 100% humidity at 90f is our Late May-early September normal summer day. The transpiration of plants in the northern areas to mine are probably lower. Conditions of high humidity, cold and a low transpiration rates may result in calcium deficiency. Salinity buildup might also cause calcium deficiency because it decreases the water uptake by the plant. These are things I do not have much experience with. My biggest problem has been splitting tomotatoes.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Aug 26, 2017
Messages
173
Reaction score
42
Location
Portland metro area of Oregon
Hardiness Zone
Zone 8b
Country
United States
In my area snow is quite rare. Even this year didn't have much snow. Humidity is typically high.

I think our chief problem with composting is the same as plant growing. It rains for nine months out of the year. And while it doesn't usually get super cold it also doesn't get very warm except for July through mid September. There's a reason that parts of Oregon have temperate rain forests.

I've found it's taking forever to stuff to break down and rot here. It is a source of endless frustration. I don't know if it's the cool temps or the constant rain.
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2017
Messages
3,719
Reaction score
3,418
Location
Birmingham Alabama
Hardiness Zone
8a
Country
United States
I would say simply heat. Heat is a major thing for chemistry. Even problem chemistry. Here in the winter, the Nematodes spawn once in 90 days. In the summer, once in 20 days. It really plays a part in a lot of goings on that I do not think I appreciated as much before I tried growing plants.
 
Joined
Aug 26, 2017
Messages
173
Reaction score
42
Location
Portland metro area of Oregon
Hardiness Zone
Zone 8b
Country
United States
I would say simply heat. Heat is a major thing for chemistry. Even problem chemistry. Here in the winter, the Nematodes spawn once in 90 days. In the summer, once in 20 days. It really plays a part in a lot of goings on that I do not think I appreciated as much before I tried growing plants.
I think you're right on the money there. I'm hoping the composting process speeds up considerably around June. I turned it the other day and it was steaming (and smelly) again. I worked in some shredded fall leaves and spread things out a bit.

I'm going to start separating the thick stems from the leaves of the spring plants I am pulling. I tried to run my mini tiller through the heap and the result was a completely tangled tiller. I'm going to start running over the stems with the lawnmower.

Last year I didn't realize you need to water the compost heap in the summer or it shuts down. I shan't be so careless this year.
 
Joined
Oct 8, 2017
Messages
3,719
Reaction score
3,418
Location
Birmingham Alabama
Hardiness Zone
8a
Country
United States
I believe I would not water it with ph neutral water given a choice. It will end up neutral but I would offer that the slight acidity favored for soil activity from rain serves the same purpose in a compost pile. a wettable sulphur or added acid perhap in the water.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Aug 26, 2017
Messages
173
Reaction score
42
Location
Portland metro area of Oregon
Hardiness Zone
Zone 8b
Country
United States
I would be deeply reluctant to add any acid to my compost. Acidic soils are a problem here and I have to add lime to correct that. In fact I've considered putting some agricultural lime into the compost heap.

The constant rain tends to leach the calcium from the soils and acidifies it.
 

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top