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Anyone use JUST actively aerated compost? tea?

Posted by herbal z7 MD (My Page) on
Sat, Jan 19, 13 at 23:13

So I've been reading about Elaine Ingham, Bountea and "Teaming with microbes". I've bookmarked about 20 web pages and have read twice that many articles online. The one question I want to know is, "Is anyone using JUST AACT in their garden? Supposedly, I should be able to do away with tilling and fertilizing or soil amending, and focus on green manure, AACT and composting. I'd appreciate hearing from those that are doing this, or something similar.

This post was edited by herbal on Sat, Jan 19, 13 at 23:15

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Anyone use JUST actively aerated compost? tea?

Applying just an ACT+compost regimen to soils would not supply enough N/P/K to keep an active garden going at peak production unless you're talking about existing shrubs/trees with already healthy soil. It wouldn't be very good for a vegetable or other high intensity garden as a sole method for supplying nutrients.

While it is great for soil structure, micronutrients, bacteria, and fungal food supply, it's just not enough for a high production garden.

Fwiw, most cropping systems in soil don't need a lot of N/P/K help per year...unless you're growing a heavy feeder like corn. Heck, a lot of people only need N help because they already have a healthy P and K abundance in their soils.

I would at least consider an N source if nothing else if using your proposed system unless you're growing trees/shrubs/perennials. Depending your native soil makeup, you might need some Ca(calcium) help, too, unless your ACT+compost regimen provides it (or you live in an area where it's already abundant in the soil). Ca is a too often overlooked "micronutrient."

This post was edited by nc-crn on Sat, Jan 19, 13 at 23:59

RE: Anyone use JUST actively aerated compost? tea?

What would the microbes that you would be spraying live on if all you did was the AACT?

RE: Anyone use JUST actively aerated compost? tea?

I think of this sort of thing as trying too hard. In gardening, you're free to do things your way, and experiment in any way you like. But people have been growing gardens for a long time without the latest super-special method. Soil microbes live in soil - it's what they do. If you have properly amended soil in the first place, you won't have to think about soil micro-fauna.

it's as if they're replacing a total focus on manufactured fertilizers with a total focus on soil ecology. My take - there's no need to be an extremist - in either direction. There is no 'only' that will take the place of a well rounded concern for what plants need. That being said, the best way to decide is to do it in one part of your garden and see what you get. Good luck.

RE: Anyone use JUST actively aerated compost? tea?

"Teaming with Microbes" is an awesome book, but some of the companion writing by others coming off of assumptions in the book is leading to some odd suggestions/thoughts/methods.

I'm seeing a lot of talk about people who seem to think they can fertilize with their microbes. Dead/degraded/etc fungi can provide about 5% N and bacteria about 10% N. That said...a teaspoon of chemical 20-0-0 fertilizer contains 20% N...the problem is it's only a teaspoon. That's without getting into the issue that a soil "teaming with microbes" will feed off the residuals of the dead.

Setting up a good microbe, fungal, etc population in the soil is nice, but there's still the issue of the most limiting factor in a garden. You still need to take care of the major nutrients...and building a good soil structure to hold onto it all.

The physical structure and nutrient holding capability of the soil...and proper macro nutrients (as well as "major micronutrients" like Ca/S) should be addressed as well as (or before in some cases) you focus on fine tuning your soil for healthy microbial action. Give your microbes a "good home" and you'll spend less time taking care of it and providing inputs into it.

This post was edited by nc-crn on Sun, Jan 20, 13 at 15:18

RE: Anyone use JUST actively aerated compost? tea?

The purpose of compost tea is to transfer the microbes from compost into the soil without doing the heavy lifting of all that compost. Ideally the compost tea brewing will multiply the microbes by 1,000x. Once the microbes are in the soil, they must be fed with protein. If you use only chemical fertilizer with no protein, you will lose all those new microbes. If you use organic fertilizer, then the microbes will do what you are looking for - provide plant food to your garden. Simply applying more and more microbes will not help.

RE: Anyone use JUST actively aerated compost? tea?

Perhaps an understanding of the Soil Food Web would help here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil Food Web Primer

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