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ACIDITY AND ALKALINITY OF SOILS
pH, or power of Hydrogen, is a number which represents the logarithmic value of either the acidity or alkalinity of a test.
The numbers range from 0-14 with 0 being the most acidic and 14 the most alkaline. The difference between any two whole numbers is a multiple of 10. Most plants develop well in soils that are slightly acid to neutral (6.7 to 6.8), provided there is proper mineralization of the soil and soil organic matter.
A soil with a pH lower than 7.0 is classified as acid and one with a pH higher than 7.0 is alkaline. Generally, soils in moist climates are acidic and those in dry climates are alkaline. However, a standard soil analysis soil will reveal the pH so that a decision can be made on whether or not to alter the pH. INSTAGrowth M additions yearly work to balance pH.
Soil Minerals are the most available in the 6.7-6.8 pH range and thus most garden plants and turf prefer this range. Lilacs and clematis thrive in these soils. Rhododendrons and blueberries like a lower pH. Coniferous or softwood trees prefer a much lower pH of around 4. Plants naturally adjust the pH with the organic matter they deposit on the landscape. This is a type of allelopathic response or mechanism that plants use to minimize competition. It can be challenging for the gardener to balance these differences but knowledge of a plant’s optimal pH and grouping plants that grow well together is imperative in developing a green thumb.
Lime or ash additions to acid soils help bring the pH up to the favorable range. The high calcium hydroxide levels in lime, ash, ground limestone, marl, or ground oyster-shells on garden soils serves a fourfold purpose:
(1) To supply calcium and other plant nutrients;
(2) To reduce soil acidity;
(3) To improve the physical character of certain heavy soils;
(4) To rebalance the micro and macro organisms.
As a rule, asparagus, celery, beets, spinach, potatoes, carrots and turf are benefitted by moderate applications of lime, especially on soils that are naturally low in calcium. However, this is an indication that the soil fertility needs adjusting as high earthworm populations balance calcium and magnesium. Dolomitic limestone can be used on soils low in magnesium. It is suggested that INSTAGrowth Granular, INSTAGrowth Plant & Tree Food and INSTAGrowth M be used to rebalance and maintain a vibrant Eco-system. Most garden vegetables do best on soils that are slightly acidic and may be injured by the application of lime in excess of their requirements.
A difficult transition in obtaining a green thumb is the thinking that there are nutrients that are not available in the soil and that additions are necessary. This, as explained above, is the Balance Sheet type of thinking. It is expounded upon in the preliminary documents of How INSTAGrowth works. Understanding the crop rotation aspects of an Eco-system and how vegetation follows its own rotations helps the Beyond-Organic grower realize the importance of ecosystem mechanics to maximize plant yields with minimum inputs.
For this reason, additions should only be applied at low rates when the Eco-system is not fully understood. To simplify things we have endeavored to provide an easy solution to the Eco-system with the organic INSTAGrowth Plant and Tree Food, INSTAGrowth Granular and INSTAGrowth M products. Most garden centers do carry inexpensive soil testing kits which include a test for pH and it is necessary sometimes to remediate things more quickly or just determine how well you are actually doing. The test is easy to perform, and you should also test for essential nutrients as well. In no case should the material be applied in larger quantities than the test indicates. Most soils that are in an average state of fertility need a gentile push with the INSTAGrowth to initiate the production of minerals, rebalancing of the soils and increasing productivity. (See the article on From the Soils Up).
Alkaline soils that are generally hard or crusted may be treated with acid material or the addition of organic matter initiating the propagation of earthworms. When using organic matter in the form of manure, care must be taken that the manure itself is not alkaline. Some feedlot manures are high in alkaline soluble salts which are detrimental to plants, especially when applied in alkaline soils. It is recommended that you test your organic matter or irrigation water from outside sources so as to adjust your gardening and soil pH correctly. Use of compost developed with INSTAGrowth is naturally balanced and promotes the beneficial micro and macro organism development. Used over a few growing seasons, your INSTAGrowth vompost will give the best results.
With good drainage, plenty of organic matter in the soil (6%-8%), the moderate use of commercial fertilizers and INSTAGrowth Plant and Tree Food, INSTAGrowth Granular and compost applications, the nutrition of nearly all plant requirements can be fully met.
BUILDING YOUR OWN GARDEN COMPOST PILE
Carbon-rich "Brown" material:
These include the fall leaves in your yard or that your neighbor will probably be more than happy to give you as well. Also, any chipped wood or shredded paper is an excellent source of brown material for your compost pile. Save them and shred them periodically, keeping them in bags until you need them. Many plastics are also recyclable and biodegradable.
Nitrogen-rich "Green" material:
All the clippings from both your lawn and flower and vegetable gardens. Ultimately, the best composting is leaving the grass clippings on your lawn, thus, saving space. Composting them separately keeps the nutrients bio-cycling for gardens, flower beds and turf areas.
All plant based kitchen waste, be sure to separate out any meat or animal by-products, the only exception to this is eggshells, which are an excellent source of calcium. Crush these before adding to your compost pile. Farm animal or pet waste (manure) can also be used but needs to be mixed well with other vegetative matter as too much, like chicken manure, can burn your plants if INSTAGrowth X-Factor is not added.
Here is how it is done:
Start by spreading a layer of dry brown material, as described above, several inches thick where you want to start your compost to be (at least one meter or three feet by three feet). Do not build the pile in a space where it will get direct sun all day long as this tends to dry out your mulch and water will be needed to keep the moisture content at a level the microbes can do their work. Spread 1-2 cups of INSTAGrowth Granular evenly over this layer.
Next, add eight to ten inches of green material, as described above. Try to not overly compact the layers; you need plenty of air in your pile as the composting is an aerobic (with oxygen) process. There is an anaerobic type of composting, but it is not recommended for home composting. Again, spread 1-2 cups of INSTAGrowth Granular on top of this pile.
Add another layer of the brown material and then moisten all three layers, Do not over soak the pile, you just want the water to wet all of the ingredients you have added.
Continue this layering process adding one tablespoon of INSTAGrowth Plant and Tree food with about one liter of water and one tablespoon of INSTAGrowth M between each pile until the pile is one meter, or three feet high. Add a final liter of the above-diluted mix of just INSTAGrowth Plant and Tree Food to the top of the heap. Add the materials three parts brown to one part green ratio. If you do not have enough roughage to make this a significant pile, don't worry, just add ingredients as they are available, try to keep the same ratio of components.
After your pile has been 'cooking' for a couple of weeks use a garden fork or shovel to turn the pile over. Rotate the center of the compost to the edges and the edges to the center. Remember to add enough water to keep the pile damp but not soggy. If you see any steam coming from the matter when you turn it, congratulations, your microbe helpers are happy and doing their job.
Continue this turning process every couple of weeks, and as the mixture cools you will next see earthworms throughout the pile, another good sign that you are composting correctly and the compost is almost ready. Soon the color and texture will begin to change to turn a fertile, black, sweet-smelling friable soil.
Once the pile has turned into this soil, mix it around your garden and your plants. You may notice that the bottom and center of the pile is more fully composted. Use this non fully composted material as a starter for the next composting. It will give the new material the advantage of already populating microbes that are acclimatized to your materials and conditions.
It is not necessary to buy or build a compost bin. However, a good design allows for the removal of a finished product from the bottom and rotation of material is not necessary. Make sure your starting material is sufficient to fill at least three cubic feet to ensure there are enough microbes to generate the heat required for decomposition to happen.
Commercial composters do have an advantage of keeping your composting neat, tidy and protecting your compost from drenching rains.
Composting is environmentally friendly and provides a natural organic fertilizer that helps all your plants grow to be healthier and more productive. The personal satisfaction that you are part of the conservation effort of the planet truly is fulfilling.
CAPTURING CARBON AND FIGHTING GLOBAL WARMING?
Life forms on earth interact with the planet, causing four major cycles and multiple minor cycles that depend on longitude, latitude, altitude, biotic and pedogenic changes. The four major sequences balance each other within centuries or millennial cycles. Eventually, going into a dynamic, predictable equilibrium. Minor cycles of Eco-systems also expand and contract in rhythmic annual or decade cycle patterns, however, they can be changed dramatically by severe harmonic changes of the four major cycles. These four cycle interactions, Atmospheric, Hydrological, Geological and Biological interactions, are dependent on each other. When one is affected, the others automatically form a new equilibrium.
NOTE: Once the equilibriums become static, the Biological Cycle has ceased to exist. An excellent indication if major cycles change is the study of weather patterns. Atmospheric Rivers (AR) phenomena just discovered off the West Coast of North America or record breaking, rain or snow fall, drought conditions or abnormal high or low temperatures happening throughout the world are examples of something trying to rebalance.
According to the experts, to fight global warming one must immobilize or transform the carbon dioxide gas into other forms and minimize methane production to reduce the greenhouse effect. Assimilation of carbon is one of the oldest biochemical phenomena; it has been going on since the origin of life. The largest amounts of elements of all living matter are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. In fact 97% of the mass of all living organisms comes from the air, and 3% comes from the soil. The average human is approximately 18% carbon whereas trees and plants consist of about 51%.
The discussion of the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Cycle, in this article, concentrates on how it is transformed within the major, minor cycles, the effects it has on the environment, and how management can improve environmental cycles. The three main areas of initial capture of carbon dioxide will be outlined. The first is the carbon dioxide form in water plus the conversion of phytoplankton and zooplankton immobilization of carbon dioxide into organic matter. The second is conversion of carbon dioxide of trees into their mass. The third is the pathway of carbon dioxide in non-woody plants like grasses through soil organic matter. (attached below is a Carbon Cycle chart and Soil Carbon Restoration outline).
The carbon energy cycle begins with the process of photosynthesis capturing electrons from sunlight and ultra low frequency wavelengths, combining and transforming elements into energy packets to provide building blocks for growth and reproduction. Upon death, this captured energy is filtered through a pyramid of organisms back to the original carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere. Exceptions are in the deep ocean cycles and long chain hydrocarbon reduction reactions.
Another culprit of the greenhouse effect is that of the production of the methane gas interaction of microbes in the decomposition of dead organic matter, the elimination from digestion with animals and the release from thawing of permafrost in the arctic. In oceans, methane gas is produced from the ammonia oxidizing Archaea, such as Nitrosopumilus maritimus, degrading atmospheric carbon dioxide. N4 (ammonia), in dissolved water, degrades oxygen into nitrates NO3. Additional atmospheric methane occurs from the reduction of long chain hydrocarbons by Candidatus methanoliparum from unused heavy oil or from oil by-product wastes. To minimize these additions, it is necessary to increase the bio-cycling of both carbon and nitrogen usage in plants and recycling of petroleum by-products.
It is estimated that on a yearly basis 1.25 trillion tons of carbon compounds are produced annually in the oceans. Additionally, there is approximately 750 billion tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced. However, with green plants absorbing only 220 billions tons of carbon dioxide annually there is an abundance of carbon energy that must be immobilized before returning to the carbon dioxide gas form. Of the 1.25 trillion tons of carbon compounds produced in the ocean the largest addition is from dissolved organic matter, in the form of calcium carbonate, leached from land, then deposited in the ocean depths as limestone, a secondary method the oceans immobilize carbon. Essentially, the real outstanding balance of carbon is 1.78 Trillion lbs per year. This is not all deposited as limestone in the ocean depths but much goes through the Biological Cycle affecting the intensity and frequency of storms.
For those that are interested in further reading, refer to the Gaia Theory, developed by James Lovelock, details are also clearer in understanding the Balanced System and the above general environmental cycles. These outline the erosion and ultimate depositing of the carbon dioxide in the ocean depths and the massive compounding problems that occur, when in a dissolved state in the oceans. Lovelock predictions are occurring today with incredible accuracy revealed in storm intensities and unusual or extreme weather patterns.
The second, and much more beneficial immobilization, is that of enhancing plant growth. It is known that during photosynthesis, trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, being an integral part of the natural atmospheric exchange cycle on earth. However, because of the general deforestation over the last four hundred years, there are too few trees to fully counter the increases in carbon dioxide. Since a single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime it is imperative that new trees are planted and growth encouraged. With the use of the INSTAGrowth products, there is phenomenal production. Usually, 6-7 years growth is seen in a single year with trees maturing within ten years. Average populations of trees are between 1,000-2,500 per hectare. So an average forest of 2,000 trees will store 2,000 tons of carbon in 6-7 years with Breakthru Technology´s INSTAGrowth protocol. With the use of the Breakthru Technology, there is phenomenal production. This in itself combined with proper management, harvesting and replanting of trees, would have a multiplying effect of sequestering at least seven times the amount of carbon per acre than methods currently being used.
The third is the immobilization and increase of carbon within soil organic matter (SOM). There are five major soil families that categorize soils into groups and then regions. Each family distinguishes itself by characteristics of soil structure, chemistry and SOM. This study of classification is the science of soil taxonomy. SOM within these families ranges from 100% organic matter of woody material down to the minimal amounts in deserts or developing soils. Acceptable soil types for today´s cultivation were originally savanna or grassland environments. These original soils averaged 8% SOM and continuous commercial farming reduces SOM to an average of 2%-3% in the top 15.24 cm (6"). Also it shoud be nnoted that today many woodland ecosystems have been converted to crop land that have low SOM content. Also it should be noted that today, many woodland ecosystems have been converted to crop land that have low SOM content.
NOTE: For every 1% soil organic matter in the top 15.24 cm there is approximately 30 tons per hectare of carbon.
Breakthru Technology increases SOM 46 cm (18") deep over a 4 year by 5% or 1080 tons of SOM per hectare and compounds results when grasses or legumes are planted as a nursery with either cultivated crops or with trees. The total sequestered carbon time is shortened with each repeated cycle.
Taking the combined arable hectares of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Russia and the United States, there is approximately 760,000,000 Ha of cultivated land. If these countries increased an average of 0.075% SOM in the top 15.4 cm of land per year, this would equal over 1.71 Trillion lbs of carbon being sequestered annually from biota. More than enough to rebalance the Carbon Cycle.
In conclusion, in reviewing this material it is clear that the Carbon Cycle is out of balance from the data provided and as demonstrated in the Gaia Model. The different cycles are and will reset any greenhouse effect if there is continued abuse of the Atmospheric Cycle of carbon and nitrogen. However, if efforts are initiated just to increase SOM the earth’s natural mechanism will rebalance, storm intensity will be reduced, weather patterns will become normal and farming will become more sustainable. (Read more in Soil Carbon Restoration)
PREPARING THE SOIL
Good soil for growing is defined as having excellent tilth, moisture retention and provides a medium for excellent root development. Proper cultivation, plant rotation, use of organic matter and the understanding of the Eco-system will provide the gardener with bountiful yields.
With utilizing the natural nutrient cycles, plants exude natural health and vigor because of the productivity of robust soil. Maintaining 6-8% soil organic matter follows nature's Eco-system allowing for the transformations, translocations and transmutations of elements.
Tillage practices do not automatically create good garden soil. Tillage is needed to control weeds, mix mulch or crop residues into the soil, and alter soil structure. Unnecessary tillage may increase crusting on the soil surface, and it may compact it, if the soil is wet.
Unwanted vegetation competes with garden crops and impairs their growth. Predatory organisms include insects, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and nematodes that harm a plant. They are indicators the garden will not succeed and that the bio dynamics of the soils are out of balance. INSTAGrowth X-Factor can be used to rebalance the Eco-system. Chemical controls mask the real problems and only should only be used in dire circumstances. When mechanical and chemical controls do not work, plants that are resistant to the pests or disease should be planted in the area for a season or two until a Eco-nomic balance can be attained. It is important to know your weeds as they are indicators of problems or when soils are becoming balanced. (Read: Plant Succession Indicator Weeds)
The time and method of preparing the garden for planting depends on the soil classification. Heavy clay soils are frequently benefitted by fall tilling of the previous year’s mulch and granular INSTAGrowth Granular. The exposure to freezing and thawing cycles and the high mineral content of the clay mixed with the high organic matter allows for the movement of micro and macro organisms deep into the soil. If this practice is done yearly, soil fertility increases. Ideal garden soil is dark-colored, smells kind of sweet, compresses into a loose lump in your hand when moist, and is full of earthworms.
In general, garden soils should have granular INSTAGrowth (9 lbs or 4 kg / 1,000 sq ft) incorporated, then covered with a compost, mulch to control erosion and add organic matter. This then mixed in the spring. Gardens in the dry-land areas should be tilled and left rough in the fall, so that moisture that falls during the winter will penetrate into the soils. Sandy soils, as a rule, should be covered heavily with compost, mulch and granular INSTAGrowth (First year application of 18 lbs or 8 Kg /1,000 sq ft), then incorporated in the spring. INSTAGrowth Granular is for long term benefits and should only be applied every 3-4 years at 1/2 lb per 1,000 Sq. Ft. for average soils. Remember less is best.
For large areas we recommend getting a low cost soil test. Labs in your area can usually be found in the internet.
The results of a laboratory test need to specifically tell one the soil's pH, CEC (Cation Exchange Capacity), SOM (Soil Organic Matter), SAR (Sodium Absorption Ratio), macro and micro nutrients levels. Understanding this portion of the Balance Sheet shows the direction of the soil forming processes. Amendments to bolster the soil and plant rotation can then be decided on to maintain healthy growing plants. Many organic soil amendments, like bone meal, greensand or rock phosphates, can be combined with the granular and liquid INSTAGrowth. Producing and using your own compost saves money and helps benefit the soil fertility.
Whenever there is a heavy sod or vegetative growth, the land should be worked several times well in advance of planting to aid in the decay and incorporation of the material. Land receiving applications of coarse manure either before or after tilling should have the same treatment.
To determine whether the soil is dry enough to work, squeeze together a handful of soil. If it sticks together in a ball and does not readily crumble under slight pressure by the thumb and finger, it is too wet. Make sure to take a sample 2-3 inches below the surface to get an accurate assessment. Soil that sticks to the shoes or tools is usually too wet. A shiny, unbroken surface of the turned soil is another indication of a dangerously wet soil condition.
Seeds germinate and plants grow more readily on a reasonably fine, well-prepared soil than on a coarse, lumpy one, and thorough preparation greatly reduces the work of re planting and caring for the plants.
It is possible, however, to overdo the preparation of some soils. They should be brought to a somewhat granular rather than a powdery-fine condition for planting. Spading or turning the soil with a shovel, instead of tilling is sometimes advisable in preparing small areas, such as beds for extra early crops of lettuce, onions, beets, and carrots.
One last tip is the use of a ground cover mulch to reduce weed growth around the plants or the use of landscaping mats or plastic to cover the soil for the winter. When planting seedlings, in the spring, a hole can be cut into the mat or mulch for the planting. The mat or mulch then suppresses the propagation of weeds, warms the soil in the spring and lets water down to help your perennials and vegetables grow during the season along with saving many hours of back breaking weeding. Usually, mats are good for several years with every third to four year needing to be re-secured or replaced.
SELECTING A SITE FOR YOUR GARDEN
A back yard or some other plot near your home in full sunlight is the most convenient spot for a home garden. However, poor drainage, shallow soil, and shade from buildings or trees may mean the garden must be located in an area farther from the house. Avoid a spot that is subject to constant wind or else provide a windbreak so as to minimize the plant evapo-transpiration and soil evaporation rate.
In designing a flower garden, think about how it fits into the overall landscape. A flower bed in a spot where the kids usually play or the family dog loves to dig is not the ideal location. Pick a spot from a deck or patio, or from an often used window. Consider the background behind your garden. You probably do not want it in front of an eyesore such as trash cans or the neighbor's dog pen. Shrubs may be the answer here.
In planning a garden, consider what and how much is to be planted. It is better to have a small garden well maintained than a large one neglected and full of weeds. Diagram the garden rows on paper and note the length you wish to assign to each vegetable or flower. Use a scale of feet to an inch design. Then you can decide how much seed or how many plants to buy and start to keep a record of what is working, additions and soil condition changes.
Consider also the challenges of working your plants in plots in front of your shrubbery. Don't plant under a tree or next to a large hedge where there will be competing roots. The roots of larger plants will steal moisture and nutrients from flowers, and tree branches especially will prevent rain and sun from reaching the ground. Tree roots will also make soil preparation difficult. Remember allopathic responses, turf and flowers don't mix with trees and shrubs.
Be sure to check for buried utility lines or gas and water pipes underground where you plan to put your flower garden. Hitting a line (for example cable, telephone, electric, water, sewer, gas, septic) when you dig to prepare the soil can be dangerous, not to mention inconvenient and expensive to repair.
Many perennial plants are ornamental in appearance. Some vegetables can be grown in your flower beds; others can be grown entirely in containers. They can be used as borders around a flower garden, and can also help to deter small animals from damaging your plants.
The amount of sunlight a garden gets must also be considered when selecting plants. Most seed packages or seedlings will have instructions included on the amount of sun that is needed. This will help determine which plants will do best in the different conditions.
SOIL, DRAINAGE AND SUNSHINE
In general gardening, fertile soil is defined as soil that has excellent organic matter content, between 5% - 8%, has high moisture retention and is reasonably free of stones.
Deep fertile, friable soil is necessary for a successful garden. However, the degree of fertility or production is defined by the family and species of plant that is to be grown in the medium or Eco-system. Further definition is characterized by the longitude, latitude, altitude, parent geological material, hydrology, precipitation and natural biotic influences that are or were within the region. These outline the type or taxonomic classification of a soil. Included in the taxonomic classification is the kind of subsoil that is present. Rock, sand, clay or a hardpan under the surface soil characterize the development and nature of the soil, sometimes making it extremely difficult or impossible to understand why one individual has the ability to grow amazing products and another cannot. We at Breakthru Technology have endeavored to make products that help individuals master the art of growing changing infertile soil to one with good physical properties into production.
Certainly, by using organic matter, lime, some commercial fertilizer, and other soil improving materials this is possible. This is referred to as the “Balance Sheet” approach and is excellent to get the initial reading of the soil. Our purpose is to incorporate the Breakthru Technology thinking and utilize the “Balance Sheet” all the way to the “Balance System” or Eco-system.
A good soil has about half its volume in actual soil solids and the other half as air space. Of this air space about half are large spaces and half are small spaces. In a properly irrigated soil under normal conditions of rain or watering, the small spaces hold the water, while the larger ones are emptied due to gravity and refilled with air. This maintains a balance of water within the soil. It doesn't become overly saturated...or dry out. This balance of soil and air is the 'holy grail' of good and productive soil.
Good drainage of the soil is essential and may often be improved by installing agricultural tile, digging ditches, sometimes by plowing deep into the subsoil and mixing a non-compacting sand. A much more economical procedure is to use the INSTAGrowth Granular. The garden should be free of low places where water might stand after a heavy rain. Water from surrounding land should not drain into the garden but rather out of the garden. Another important consideration is that there should be no danger of flooding by overflow from nearby streams.
Good air drainage is necessary to lessen the danger of damage by frost. A raised garden or one on a slope that has free movement of air to lower levels is most likely to escape late-spring and early-autumn frost damage. The foliar applications of INSTAGrowth Plant and Tree Food at (200/1) have also been noted to reduce frost damage.
A gentle slope of not more than 1-1/2 % facing in a southerly direction helps early crops get started. In sections that have strong winds, a windbreak of board fence, hedge, or trees on the windward side of the garden is recommended. Hedges and other living windbreaks should be far enough away from the garden to prevent shade or roots from interfering with the garden crops.
The garden should get the direct rays of the sun all day if possible. Some crops can tolerate partial shade, but no amount of fertilizer, water, or care can replace needed sunshine. Even too much tree shade affects garden crops, tree roots may penetrate far into the soil and rob crops of moisture and plant food.
Damage to garden crops by tree roots may be largely prevented by digging a trench 1-1/2 to 2 feet deep between the trees and the garden, cutting all the tree roots that cross the trench. Then put a barrier of waste sheet metal or heavy roofing paper along one wall of the trench and refill it. This usually prevents root damage for several years.