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Dismal soil veg garden results - Cow v's sheep manure comparison!

Discussion in 'Gardening Discussion - Other gardening systems.' started by Yabbies4me, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    .
    This is an FYI post... sharing gardening experiences and info.

    I've had this particular soil veg garden going for nearly 6 years now, over those years I've developed the soil from gutless Perth coastal sand, into nice, dark, loamy soil... we've had some awesome veggies and yields. However this year the results have been dismal.

    - All our capsicums have had blossom end rot, we've had two edible capsicums off 6 plants, two different varieties.

    - I planted 6 staged lots of corn over spring/early summer, about 2 weeks apart, 12 plants per lot, a total of 72 corn plants. We've had three lots mature so far, 36 plants, with only about half a dozen edible cobs out of that. The remaining lots don't look any better.

    - Of our tomatoes, 2 Roma, 2 Quickpik, and 2 Heirloom Yellow plants, the Heirloom Yellows haven't developed blossom end rot and we've had about 30-40 edible tomatoes, but much smaller than they should be, about halfway between a normal tomato and large cherry tomato. We've had about 6-8 edible Romas and put about 50-60 on the compost heap. All the Quickpiks have ended up on the compost heap, they've all developed B.E.R.

    - We have two Chilli varieties, Hungarian Hot Wax and a Cayenne X variety I've had for about 13-14 years. The Hot wax initially dropped a few fruit before they were maturing, but we've recently managed to harvest some nice, large fruit (Hot Wax get big), and the red Cayenne’s have fruited well... but neither of them have ANY heat. That's not an exaggeration, there's is not even a warm sensation, they are basically just slim capsicums. The Cayenne’s are normally about a 3/10 or 4/10 for heat, and the Hot Wax about 2/10... this year both are 0/10... again, that's not an exaggeration.

    History of the veg garden:

    - Every year I dig in a heap of partially composted cow manure direct from a farm, and fresh chicken manure direct from the chook farm, at a ratio of about 3:1 or 4:1
    - I then spread some blood and bone over the top, along with some home grown compost/vermipost from a cold compost heap full of worms.
    - Then I lightly turn in the b&b and vermipost and give the beds a light watering.
    - Then I put a 100mm layer of lucerne hay over the top and another water.
    - The beds are then left, with regular daily waterings, for a minimum of two weeks before planting, some beds get up to 2 months rest before planting.

    This method normally provides enough nutrients for all plants to complete their life cycle... ie: grow, flower and fruit. The only plants that get any extra goodies are the corn, they normally get a second, light serving of b&b halfway through their life cycle.

    WHAT DID I DO DIFFERENTLY THIS YEAR???

    The difference this year from previous years... I used sheep manure rather than the partially composted cow manure we normally use... because we couldn't get any of the cow manure.

    The corn plants started off well, looked healthy, but developed obvious deficiencies from the start of fruiting. Now that the deficiencies have shown in the older plantings, I've spread some granulated general vegetable fertiliser around the remaining three plantings, as well as my tomatoes and capsicums (something I've been trying to avoid in my "organic" veg garden), they are looking a bit better for it, but still nowhere near as good as they should be, I don't know if I'm gonna get any more cobs or decent fruit this year.

    Long story short... My veg garden normally yields really well, from really healthy plants. The only thing I did differently this year was to use sheep manure rather than the usual cow manure...

    Moral of the story: SHEEP SH!T SUX ARSE!!!... Never again!... COW SH!T ALL DAY, EVERY DAY IMO!... :p

    This has been a community service announcement!
    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  2. fishfood

    fishfood Active Member

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    Two things i see missing every 3 or so years give it a thick dusting of agg lime also every second year 2 handfulls of potash per sq meter
     
  3. fishman

    fishman Member

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    compost tea time
     
  4. dufflight

    dufflight Member

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    +1 for the compost tea. Or dump some AP water onto the garden.
     
  5. DaveOponic

    DaveOponic New Member

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    Yabbies do you have termites in your area?

    I had a passionfruit vine growing over a wire fence a couple of years back and it yielded so much fruit we were giving passionfruits away. The next season, very little fruit. Same thing with papaya trees. I fertilised with rabbit droppings, blood and bone etc. much as you described. Dumped AP water on this part of the garden for good measure. Eventually, the PF vine, the papaya trees and tomato plants all began to wither.

    When I dug up the passionfruit vine roots and the papaya tree the root system had been eaten away by termites.

    I don't think there's any problem with sheep poo. I have used it as an organic fert. b4 without any issues. It's sold here for home gardeners.

    Have a dig around under the beds....... are you using untreated sleepers for raised beds.

    It's just a a thought but I remember that Perth is a termite prone area.

    Half my lawn here is infested with them. Tracks across the lawn. They got into the durian tree and we have not had durian for two years, the tree has been weakened.

    cheers

    Dave
     
  6. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    I have seen termites in the yard in the past, in old tree stumps etc, but I haven't seen any in the veg garden... yet. No sleepers in the veg garden, no edging at all. I'm going to be pulling out some spent corn plants on the weekend, I'll keep my eye out.

    I did have trouble with Passionfruit and Paw Paws getting chewed by termites when we lived in Karratha, so I know where you're coming from there... you'd have a perfectly nice Paw paw tree with 4 or 5 nice fruit on it one day... the next day it'd be lying on it's side.

    In addition to my cold compost/vermipost heap I do have a worm farm. I collect 1Ltr of the liquid from that and mix it into 9L of aged water, I use this on young plants and seedlings.

    By "compost tea" do you mean making up a brew using compost/vermipost in a stocking etc soaked in a bucket of water with airstone etc?... I've seen that mentioned a few times but never tried it. I just dig it into the beds.

    Potash I will give a try next season, but hasn't been required until now.

    I think Ag-lime may be out of the question here, our soils (coastal sand) are already high in pH, in fact I've added Ag-Sulphur in the past to drop the pH. Adding compost, cow manure and green organic matter (I dig in a Mustard crop every year to deter nematodes) helps bring the pH down a little, but the chicken poop is alkaline, so that'll probably be balancing some of that out.

    It's hard to get an exact pH reading on the soil in my veg garden. If I test just plain Perth sand that's near my veg garden using a Barium sulphate test, the pH is definitely alkaline, around 8.0... but if I test some of the improved soil from the veg garden, the sandy bits in the test are light purple, pH 8.0, but the the organic bits are green to pale green, pH 6.5-5.5... so what's my soil ph?


    The above quote was extracted from the aussie organic gardener website.
    Chemistry bored the crap outa me at high school, so what affect does this "replacing Calcium ions" have on available Calcium in the soil because I've never had blossom end rot on a scale even remotely similar to the decimation caused to my Capsicums and Tom's this year... do I need to back off on the manure?... what do I then add to the beds to feed the plants in an organic veg patch?... more compost?

    I'm going to have to experiment next spring, ie: add manure (composted cow) to some beds, and none in other beds (in case I've added too much in the last 6 years). Then I'll have to split each bed, lime one half and not the other, also some with added potash, some without... I'm gonna run out of bed space.

    I need to pin this problem down, because my veg garden's been brilliant until now... this year was a great dissapointment, across a spectrum of plants... that's why I'm blaming the sheep poop.

    ...:frustrated:

    Cheers, Yabbies.
    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  7. Fishdood

    Fishdood Member

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    :(

    I think only NT could boast more......I may be wrong but.....


    Yabs, I have had some good results with sheep poo.......... but........ what I was advised to do is always soak it first in water......pour the tea.....splash a bit of mud......

    I saw a mandarin that the neighbours said hadn't fruited for years go from dry hard miserable lumps to plump juicey loose skin items you couldn't get enough of. I grew all sorts of stuff from cucs n matoes n MJ n passionfruit...all in a piece of ground that previously had a swimming pool sitting on it. Stiil had the gravel base, just sheet mulched and time. But the sheep poo was good. No weeds.......at least not after I soaked it, but that was the key advice I got.

    Is cow poo better.......sh1t yeah......but sheep poo by the truck full is free under any shearing shed.:p

    Paul
     
  8. benwalters

    benwalters Member

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    Hi yabbies, sounds like you put a lot of work into that garden,
    and you usually have been getting good return for that effort
    it is surprising that goat poo would be so different to cow?

    when i read your post i wondered whether there might be a problem with the root system of veges?

    ive heard that nematodes can have an impact on production

    do you practice any crop rotation , or fallow, or companion planting, (marigolds? etc)

    i believe i have tomato virus in my soil, cherry tomatoes are the only type that dont keel over in my soil, which is a bummer, this combined with nut grass put me off soil gardening!

    all the best with your endeavors!
    cheers ben
     
  9. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    As a horticulturist, I've used sheep poop extensively, but never really dug in as a soil improver, more as a mulch, ie: in garden beds, large pot plants, around roses and under citrus trees, like you mentioned.
    I once had a fulltime job (and believe me, it was FULLtime) maintaining a 16 acre garden (yes that was just the gardens) for a mega rich bloke, and I used sheep poop in the situations mentioned above... it worked a treat as a mulch, the bottom layer would breakdown and I'd just add another layer on top. The plants always looked great, but depending on the plants and season, I did occasionally broadcast granulated, plant specific fertilisers, so the plants got everything they needed.

    I'm trying to find an older photo of my corn to compare to the current crop... when I do, you'll appreciate the difference... it's like chalk and cheese.

    We've always had nematodes since day one, they love Perth's sandy soils. However, I dig in a crop of mustard every year, that combined with the ever increasing amount of organic matter in the soil has dramatically reduced the nematodes. I still get some, particularly on the celery and tomatoes, but nowhere near as bad.

    I do rotate crops where possible, but towards the middle of summer I tend to run out of room, so sometimes a spot may get two consecutive crops of something. One of the beds in question this year had sat fallow for 12 months.

    Companion planting... Nuuhhhh, not really!... used to, but I can honestly say I never really found any difference. For the first couple of years in this garden I planted marigolds around and among my tomatoes... still got nematodes on the tomato roots. Plus, I've grown tom's and corn, and tom's and beans next to each other, which companion planting books say not to... and got good results.

    For 3 or 4 summers now, just about everyone that grows tomatoes in the SW corner of WA, from Kalbarri to Augusta, have had troubles. It's a virus/bacteria/fungus (depends who you talk to)... all the older leaves turn yellow and patchy, then dry and crinkly, it works it's way up the plant until all you have is a near dead plant with a few under-nourished tomatoes that take ages to ripen.
    .
     
  10. fishman

    fishman Member

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    to make compost tea i use a 20l bucket add couple caps seasol tablespoon molassas handful of old compost cup of worm juice about tablespoon dynamic lifter(because its there) 1/2 handful cow manure(or sheep)1/2 cup pollard or bran
    fill with water
    use heaps of aeration for 24 hours.
    i dilute one litre tea to a bucket of water you can spray plants or tip on
    the guys at organic texas reckon 10 litres could cover a acre

    put dad on to it and through the microbes produced he grew 5ft tall broad beans in an old bed
    chemical ferts get trapped in soil and the microbes(beneficial) and break it down to become available to the plants
    remember this is not a fertiliser but an inoculation of good guys(including fungi) to release the nutrients in the soil.

    also recipe does not have to be exact (real bucket chemistry)
    i tip it on my compost bins and watch the thing shrink

    I used it on my fruit trees this year and grew some great fruit which the birds have told me was tasty i will wait for next season (angry icon ) it will not load
    cheers
    byron
     
  11. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Can this be done anytime?... or does it have to be done while facing north, at midnight, on the night of the first full moon after the summer solstice... while naked?

    A guy I met at a permaculture weekend workshop years ago (a real permaculture freak that didn't believe in haircuts, shoes... or deodorant)... introduced me to this method of making the "ultimate" compost. This stuff was supposedly so good you only needed to add a golf ball sized lump into twenty litres of water... and it would cover a gazillion m2.

    It went something like this:

    You had to take fresh (sloppy) cow poop, press it into hollowed out cow horns, bury a heap of them, neatly stacked, pointing north, in a hole, on hill, at midnight on the first full moon after the solstice (summer/winter?... cant remember which one)... You then dug them up on a another significant night (again, can't remember), then mixed a small lump of this stuff into a 20Ltr bucket of rain water. You then had to stir this water with your hand, no implements, about a gazillion times clockwise, then you had to quickly change direction and stir it another gazillion turns the other way, creating a vortex... then you put it in a watering can and gleefully spread it all over your veg garden!...

    and that's no sh!t... he was so enthusiastic about it, he could hardly control himself when he was telling me how to do it. Actually, whenever I see Costa on t.v... it jogs my memory back to that guy... very similar energy!

    This guy actually thought I was going to go away and try it!... :p

    a. I didn't have a cow... for the fresh sloppy poop
    b. I didn't have a heap of hollowed out cow horns
    c. I didn't have acreage with a correctly positioned hill
    d. I couldn't be stuffed... I was led to believe permaculture was lazy man's gardening... drinkanim... not crazy man's!... :24locos:

    P.S. I might try making some of your compost tea, I can appreciate all the other ingredients role, but what's with the pollard or bran?... what does that do?
    .
     
  12. Castaway

    Castaway Senior Member

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    Thats Biodynamics and Rudolf Steiner your talking about Yabbs. Not Permaculture...but still funny stuff. Lots of people believe in it. Especially if you stuff up the gazillion clockwise stirringd and forget to scroll back at the end and cock that up by a few turns...then its all back to square one. I did it once and picked up someone else's stirred potion when it hadn't settled properly for 4.3 hours and got yelled at! Never touch another mans biodynamic's cowsh*t! It wont work as directed.
     
  13. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Yeh, I know... this guy was awfully enthusiastic about it ... but it was serious stuff, he did stress a number of times about the importance of following the correct procedure... to the 't'... otherwise you just ended up with a bucket full of watered down, 6 month old cow sh!t
     
  14. fishfood

    fishfood Active Member

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    On that kind of thing i remember my father in law telling me about getting fresh cow dung burying it in cows horns for 6 months then mixing it in your spray tank he always had a bumper veg garden
     
  15. fishman

    fishman Member

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    maybe if youy did not wash for a month and bowed to the full moon it could work better but no it is nothing like the biodynamic stuff.
    when we lived at woori yallock in the 1970s i used to hear stories about 500 and that bio stuff but luckily my dad didn't think much of the "weirdos" as he put it
    so no hocus pocus although i have been caught making this stuff in my jocks(if that helps)
    cheers
    byron
     
  16. Fishdood

    Fishdood Member

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    The cow horn thing has really got around. I've heard the same thing from local cockys too. (cattle farmers) So it must be true........ They didn't tell me to dance naked....... I guess the best kept secrets.....Whistling

    Paul
     
  17. bill newton

    bill newton Active Member

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    don't you have to sacrifice a virgin as well?
    that could be hard in our house, unless the neighbors dog comes around!

    i've read about the cow horns, 500 and biodynamics before - its a bit too much like witchcraft!!

    carna pies!!!drinkanimdrinkanimdrinkanim
     
  18. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Having a win!

    I'm having a hard time figuring this problem out. I pulled a few plants on the weekend, definitely no termites, but some sign of nematodes on the tomatoes plants, but much, much less than we've had in the past.

    However, on a positive note... our rockmelons are going ooorrrff!!!

    This spring I planted two rocky vines in the exact same spot I planted two last year. Our crop last year totalled two, yes two rockies for the whole season... one per vine!

    This year the vines are looking really healthy, and I've already harvested seven nice rockies from the two vines. Last night I did a head count of the existing rockies coming through, there are fifteen more nice ones at the moment that will definitely mature to decent sized, edible fruit. There was also a number of egg sized fruit that have just started to form, possibly another seven or eight. So we will end up with at least 22 nice rockies, but possibly up to about thirty.

    The variety is called Planters Jumbo and I'd highly recommend it. The fruit we've already harvested are big and full, the flesh is formed right through the body of the fruit, there is no hollow centre at all, see pics below.

    At least we've had one win from the veg garden this year. :p

    Cheers, Yabbies.
    .
     

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  19. benwalters

    benwalters Member

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    wow, looks great!
     
  20. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Yep!... pitty the same can't be said for everything else in the veg garden this year.
     

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