[tomato] Reply to Thomas

Paul Reynolds (Tomato@GlobalGarden.com)
Sun, 07 Mar 1999 01:03:48 -0600

Howdy Thomas,

Yea, I agree, I don't like using chemical fertilizers unless I have
too.  Here where I've been living the past 7 years, the soils are a fine
sand with a fine sandy loam to fine sandy clay loam in the subsurface
about 1.5-3.0 feet deep.  Basically, with this area being in a 40 inch
rainfall belt, the surface soils saturate fairly quickly do to the high
permeabilities and the subsoils, having substantially lower
permeabilities, causes the water to not move off too quickly.  Thus,
there is the problem with large amounts of leaching of nutrients.

These soils also pose problems with the plants acting as though they are
root bound and tends to lend to lodging of the plants.  Major problem
with my tomato plants growing 7-8 ft tall with a total canopy 3-4 ft
across.  And no, I don't cut my plants back too often.  Just if they get
too leggy with thin trunks and limbs.

Thus, my reasoning for using manure as much as I do and spicing that
manure up a bit more with chemical ferti.  Phosphorous (P) is very
easily bound in the soil and generally don't move around once it's in
the soil environment.  However, if there is soil saturation, there is
movement and P isn't tied up near as readily.  With the high carbon
source found in manure, P is held at a state where it's not AS available
for leaching, but, the bugs that develop in that manure help to keep it
available for the plant.  Manure also tends to hold moisture as well.

After planting my tomatos, in the manner that I described earlier, I can
go out after 2-3 months and that plant will have its roots all balled up
in that manure that I had put in that hole.  Very few roots outside of
that dug area.  Kinda like pulling a root bound plant out of a pot.

As far as transplanting plants from inside to out and using VAM, I would
think that there would be a problem there.  Basically, it would be
similar to putting a plant in shock from transplanting.  You are also
transplaning the VAM into another environment.  Temperature, moisture,
soil texture and other factors can all have a hand in affecting plants
and organisms.  Using the soil from the location the plants are going to
be placed was a great idea on your part and will go a long way to ending
some problems.

Also, as with you, I learn more through on hands experience and doing my
own experimentations.  I guess the "scientist" part of me is just too
darned deeply ingrained to do it any other way.  Those of us that grow
are all scientists in one form or another.  Experimentation is what
makes life interesting for me.

Worms is something that we don't have much of here, except in my
compost.  Got some of the biggest night crawlers in my compost that
you've ever seen.  Some as thick as a pencil and as long as 10 inches.
And yea, if you are "poor" on worms, then those soils are very limited
in organic possibilities as far as the natural system is concerned.  It
seems that worms have to have organic material to survive.

If I remember correctly, the soils in WA in general, are of volcanic and
glacial till origin.  Am I correct??  These soils will be tight and
mucky when they are wet.  Seems as though the Klamath (spelling) Valley
in Oregon has problems with carbon.  There doesn't seem to be enough C
in the soils, thus, very little decomposition within the soil
environment.  Most soil microbes are predacious on soil Carbon sources
and C is the mainstay for all life.  Without it, there isn't much
there.  Without C, there isn't much of an organic component, thus, no
beneficiaries such as worms, bacteria, and some fungi.

Did you know that your worms are marketable??  Might be something worth
checking into if you are interested in making a bit more money.

Weeds are a major problem and the only way to over come them is to keep
after 'em and not allow them to flower and produce seed.  Same with
weeds as with animals, their number one goal is to reproduce.  Did you
know that one square foot of soil may contain as much as 1,000 weed
seeds that are viable for up to 10-20 years??  Just a bit of trivia.

In my garden there is NO use of pesticides.  My garden had two red ant
dens that devastated me two years in a row.  No matter what I did.  I
wasn't willing to kill them because I had 3 breeding pairs of horned
toads (horny toads, or Texas horned lizard) in my garden area.  Red ants
are their mainstay and I didn't want to harm them in that manner.
Especially since they are on the state endangered list here in Texas.

Now that you are retired, do you realize that you have one of the best
educations in Agronomy that a person can have??  ;-)  You didn't know
that you were an Agronomist or a research scientist did ya??  Shoot, you
have a better working knowledge than most of the "Agronomists" I've met
since I graduated with my degree.  You definately seem to have a working
understanding of how the soil system and plants should work in unison.

Enjoy conversin with ya.  Keep up the good work friend.  Sorry for the
lengthy post, but, am hoping some of ya can use some of this.  :-)


Paul Reynolds