Seed starting experiment - soil mixes


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We make leaf mould here. We have a big collector that fixes on the back of the mower tractor, and it takes 9 big bulk bags of leaves to rot down and eventually make one big bag of mould.
 
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Thanks guys.

@zigs , @Tetters - you two with the black plastic trash bags are giving me flashbacks of a few bags of stuff going anaerobic.

@Chuck - as usual a ton of info in your post. I have not yet played with the likes of greensand, azomite, or other rock dusts. But right now I will latch onto your cornmeal info:

Next, another extremely important product should be lightly sprinkled on top of the soil at seed planting to prevent damping off. This product is Horticultural cornmeal, aka Stone Ground Cornmeal or Whole Ground Cornmeal at the grocery store. NOT enriched cornmeal. I haven't had a case of damping off in many years.

I've had a terrible time with damping off.

How heavily are to applying this cornmeal? As with everything the dose makes the poison. I am used to hearing of cornmeal / corn gluten meal like this used on a lawn (I tihnk that would be turf for the likes of those in Kent) as both a pre-emergent weed prevention and as a nitrogen fertilizer. Almost as an alternate to Preen. Not what we want for starting seedlings.

I shred up fall leafs and mulch in the garden heavily before putting it down for the winter. This year I am trying a new idea with the extra leafs which I heard on a Joe Gardener podcast. I have a wire mesh ring about 4' in diameter and 4' tall which I had heaped over with leafs last fall. Now that pile has broken down and compacted to about 2' tall. A few weeks ago I planted sweet potato vines in it and am letting those run. I guess the thinking is when you're digging out the potatoes you get to harvest the leaf mold / compost for the other garden beds and the leafs are fluffier than dirt to dig in. Plus the pile warms up much faster than the ground here in land of winters.
 
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Thanks guys.

@zigs , @Tetters - you two with the black plastic trash bags are giving me flashbacks of a few bags of stuff going anaerobic.

@Chuck - as usual a ton of info in your post. I have not yet played with the likes of greensand, azomite, or other rock dusts. But right now I will latch onto your cornmeal info:



I've had a terrible time with damping off.

How heavily are to applying this cornmeal? As with everything the dose makes the poison. I am used to hearing of cornmeal / corn gluten meal like this used on a lawn (I tihnk that would be turf for the likes of those in Kent) as both a pre-emergent weed prevention and as a nitrogen fertilizer. Almost as an alternate to Preen. Not what we want for starting seedlings.

I shred up fall leafs and mulch in the garden heavily before putting it down for the winter. This year I am trying a new idea with the extra leafs which I heard on a Joe Gardener podcast. I have a wire mesh ring about 4' in diameter and 4' tall which I had heaped over with leafs last fall. Now that pile has broken down and compacted to about 2' tall. A few weeks ago I planted sweet potato vines in it and am letting those run. I guess the thinking is when you're digging out the potatoes you get to harvest the leaf mold / compost for the other garden beds and the leafs are fluffier than dirt to dig in. Plus the pile warms up much faster than the ground here in land of winters.
Just barely cover the soil with the cornmeal. If you put too much down it forms a crust. After you water a couple of times it disappears and I like to add a little more. You don't need it once the plant gets some size to it. If you have problems with mold and mildew just put a cupful into an old sock and place the sock into a gallon of water. Let it sit for a day or two and use it as a spray, either as a remedy or a preventative. If you maintain a spray regimine on cucurbits you will not get powdery mildew which plagues most squash and cucumber growers. Corn gluten meal is a LOUSY weed preventer because you must know the time on the calendar when the seeds will germinate and that is just about impossible. It is a much better nitrogen source with a N of about 10 than anything else but the cost of the stuff makes its use as a fertilizer rather cost prohibitive and never ever use the stuff with seeds or very young plants. If you incorporate leaves or any organic matter into your soil, if you spray the soil heavily with 2 oz molasses per gallon of water you will find that most if not all of the incorporated material will have been completely composted over the winter. On all of my vegetables I use molasses at least once every two weeks and if letting the soil rest for the winter I add a lot of oak leaves, turn them under and spray molasses heavily. By spring planting time my soil is always light and fluffy and not a leaf in sight. You cannot go wrong using molasses. It does nothing directly for plants but it GREATLY enhances the numbers of beneficial soil microbes.
 
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Wow! Fancy concrete mix has less ingredients! I would expect a great deal from these efforts! @Mr_Yan I learned that a weak betadine drench will end the damping off, at least temporarily. 3tbsp to a gallon. Its a immediate contact killer but will not hurt the plants, you, or stain, though it looks like it would. After purification and clean water you can start the cornmeal efforts. Betadine will kill the tricho growing in the corn too so don't drench unless you are running out of time waiting for the tricho buildup.
 
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Thanks guys.

@zigs , @Tetters - you two with the black plastic trash bags are giving me flashbacks of a few bags of stuff going anaerobic.

Very good point @Mr_Yan

The bark is still warm so I've been opening the bags to let the steam out, don't want any mould or smelly bacteria :eek:
 
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The last photo was taken on Monday and the attached photo to this post is taken on Friday of the same week.

The difference between the peat and coconut coir verses those with sawdust mixed in is clear.

From this I will continue to use the peat bale I have until it has been consumed then move to using coir.

@Chuck - you mentioned greensand in your mix and I expanded it to rockdust generally. Is greensand, greensand, greensand? That is, are there good brands / sources and bad copies of them or do I just get the first one I find? I know some people evangelize rock dust. Is rockdust interchangeable with greensand?

@DirtMechanic - the betadine solution. Is that used both as a tool disenfectant and a spray / drench on the seedlings or just spray contact killer? I know damping off is a soilborne fungi and is endemic around my place.

I will have another experiment in the future. I am thinking it will include greensand and corn meal but I think the betadine trails will be purely reactive and not planned.
 

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It can be, but for tools one can use something stronger. The povidone iodine not hurting living tissue is the key indication for use as a general antiseptic.
 
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The last photo was taken on Monday and the attached photo to this post is taken on Friday of the same week.

The difference between the peat and coconut coir verses those with sawdust mixed in is clear.

From this I will continue to use the peat bale I have until it has been consumed then move to using coir.

@Chuck - you mentioned greensand in your mix and I expanded it to rockdust generally. Is greensand, greensand, greensand? That is, are there good brands / sources and bad copies of them or do I just get the first one I find? I know some people evangelize rock dust. Is rockdust interchangeable with greensand?

@DirtMechanic - the betadine solution. Is that used both as a tool disenfectant and a spray / drench on the seedlings or just spray contact killer? I know damping off is a soilborne fungi and is endemic around my place.

I will have another experiment in the future. I am thinking it will include greensand and corn meal but I think the betadine trails will be purely reactive and not planned.
Greensand is a mined product from ancient ocean beds. One mining spot will be different from another but all are good, all are chock full of minerals. I don't know what rock dust is. Is it just some rocks someone pulvarized? I was speaking of Rock Phosphate. I use it to enhance bloom numbers in tomatoes and peppers. Rock phosphate is NOT interchangeable with Greensand as RP has a high phosphorus content and few other useable minerals, whereas Greensand is full of all trace minerals plants need. Greensand though is getting scarce. There are others on the market which I haven't used. There is even a Brownsand that is supposed to be excellent.

In alkaline soils Rock Phosphate will only work with DIRECT contact with a tomatoes roots. I works poorly if mixed into soil. At planting when you dig your hole for transplanting just put a big handful into the bottom of the hole and place the transplant on top. In side by side experiments I have found the RP tomatoes produce about twice the amount of tomatoes than an untreated plant will, especially on larger sized varieties.
 

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