Compost is NOT enough? Steve!? NOOOOO!!!


The brilliant Steve Solomon, author of the must-have book Gardening When It Counts, talks about why just compost is not enough to grow the best veggies:

And he doesn’t even touch on the toxic manure problem.

If you want a healthy garden, start by making amazing compost out of everything you can find – but also pay attention to what Steve Solomon is saying. Micronutrients are key to healthy soil and nutrition.

Steve’s book The Intelligent Gardener is a great place to start your research – I highly recommend picking up a copy.

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  • Hmm… confirms some of my suspicions, but I wonder if he is overstating the case.

  • This is relevant to me. I have tried not using commercial fertilizers and making my own compost primarily from horse, donkey and chicken manure and bedding. I'm pretty sure it is out of balance. I have huge muscadine grape vines with almost no fruit. My citrus has a yellowing pattern on the leaves. I sent a picture to the local agriculture dept. that suggested that I have a magnesium deficiency. There are other issues with figs, blueberries and peaches. So, I'm going to try an experiment of going back to fertilizer with extra mineral additives (ironite and epsom salts) to see if I can get back to past levels of production.

  • I have used almost no commercial fertilizers and I find that as long as I compost heavily, using every trick in the book (including–yes–urine), I get decent but not stunning results with most veggies, excellent results with a few (the leafy brassicas, yard-long beans, okra, hot peppers, sweet potatoes, cassava), and generally poor results with sweet things like blueberries, strawberries, citrus, and cantaloupe.

    Of course, I have been focusing first on core survival crops so I suppose soon it will be time to put some more effort into figuring out the fruits.

  • Read your toxic poop article… I found this article which discusses picloram, clopyralid and aminopyralid back in 2012 when a horse breeder I know was talking about a new poison that he'd found for his pasture… that rendered the poop unfit to garden with…

    Re the poor compost…
    While a horse that is fed a quality diet will produce a slightly better product than a cow that's fed poorly… I fail to see it as an important consideration when building my compost pile… As they say… you gotta eat something.
    My bottomless sand is soooo poor that anything organic helps… (as long as it isn't poison).

    • "Anything organic" is definitely a good start, particularly with bad sand. If the garden is your main source of vegetables, however, it would be good to think about importing some greensand, kelp meal (though maybe not, thanks to Fukushima), azomite or other volcanic minerals to bind with that organic matter and keep you from missing some micronutrients long-term.

      • Depending upon where you are in FL, and if a hurricane strikes, you might try heading to an affected beach and gathering gobs of Sargasso weed (as with any marine substance, rinse before adding to your garden to get out the NaCl) before the authorities do something useless with it to restore the tourism quality of the beaches. That way you just have at most Gulf oil-spill related problems. Dilution & microbes may take care of those by the time material hits the coast.

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