Garden Myths - Learn the truth about gardening

Archive for the Plant Care Category

Compost Tea NPK Values

Compost tea is reported to be great for growing plants and some companies even call it a compost tea fertilizer. What is the NPK value of this magic potion?

I started this post about a year ago and at that time there were many products on the market but I could not find one that provided the Compost Tea NPK value. I checked again today and was surprised that the number of compost tea products available is down significantly. Maybe it was too expensive to ship all that water around the country? Maybe it did not work and people stopped buying the product?

Interestingly, the number of commercial DIY kits for making your own tea is up significantly. When you click on Google images for ‘bottles of tea’ you are taken to pages selling kits. Even with kits the same question needs to be asked. What is the NPK value of the tea these kits produce. Very few of the manufacturers I looked at provided such information, but many did say their compost ingredients were the best. Easy to say if you don’t give any data.

Even if you are not interested in compost tea – the following discussion will show you how companies are misleading consumers.

What is the NPK value of compost tea?

What is the NPK value of compost tea?

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Can Leaves be Used to Identify Nutrient Deficiencies?

There are lots of examples of people trying to use plant leaf characteristics to identify nutrient deficiencies in the soil. This seems to make a lot of sense. If the soil is lacking a specific nutrient, it should show up in the plant and it seems to follow that by examining the physical characteristics of the leaf you should be able to identify the nutrient deficiency.

How reliable is this method of diagnosis? Can you really identify a nutrient deficiency in the soil by looking at plant leaves?

Plant Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms by Permablitz

Plant Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms by Permablitz

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Is Coir an Eco-friendly Substitute for Peat Moss?

In the search for a peat moss alternative, coir is the one that is most often discussed. Coir is made from the outer husk of coconuts and is a waste product from the coconut industry. Environmentalists are quick to point out that “since it is a waste product it’s use is more environmentally friendly than using peat moss.” How can such common sense logic be wrong?

Shipping coconut husks to a coir processing plant in Vietnam

Shipping coconut husks to a coir processing plant in Vietnam

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Peat and Peat Moss Alternatives

The horticulture industry is being blamed for depleting peat reserves and environmentalists are calling for a stop on using peat for growing plants. What are the peat moss alternatives? Is there a suitable substitute?

The horticulture industry would have no problems switching to another product instead of peat. After all, most gardeners are quite aware of the importance of preserving our environment. In this post, I will look at several peat moss alternatives to see if there is a viable option.

Peat and peat moss alternatives

Closeup of growing peat moss

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Mulch – How Does It Affect Soil?

Mulching the garden is a very common recommendation. Mulch will reduce the number of weeds and it will hold moisture in the soil but how does mulch affect the quality of soil?

There are lots of claims that mulch improves soil but have you ever seen numbers to validate them? I haven’t either. How exactly does mulch improve soil? It should add organic matter, but how much? It should increase the number of microbes, but is this really true? Unfortunately, almost nobody studies landscapes and gardens because no one will fund the work.

Luckily I was able to find one very good research paper that looked at this exact problem.

Effect of fertilizer and mulch on soil, by Garden Myths (based on reference 1)

Effect of fertilizer and mulch on soil, by Garden Myths (based on reference 1)

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