Best Way to get Nitrogen to the Soil

MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZAugust 8, 2010

I attended a class yesterday about seed saving and the speaker talked alot about corn. As a side discussion he mentioned that planting legumes to add nitrogen does no good until the legume dies. The legume plant needs the nitrogen in its own root system but once harvested and you till or turn-under the soil, the dead roots then add nitrogen back to the soil.

So, what do I need to do for my corn now to give it nitrogen? In the past I made a tea from alfalfa pellets. This works great but is very stinky, draws LOTS of flies and is time consuming to make. (You need a bubble system to add air to the tea as it 'cooks'.)

The speaker suggested adding granulated sulphur. Any other ideas? Thanks all.

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lazy_gardens

Adding soil sulfur lowers the soil pH ... I don't see how that would add nitrogen at all.

Why not "side dress" with some high-nitrogen fertilizer, like chicken manure or commercial fertilizers?

If you want to do it organically you have to start the year before with planting a cover crop of beans, harvest the beans, and leave the roots and tops to decay in the dirt and release nitrogen. Or add lots of high-nitrogen material to the area - grass clippings, coffee grounds, etc.

The "bury dead fish" at the roots works well, as does trench composting between the rows with high nitrogen material like meat scraps, chicken manure.

But that can't be done in August to improve this year's crop.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 11:38AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Oh lazy you are absolutely right. He was talking about lowering the pH with sulphur. Thanks for cleaning up my notes for me! :~]

I could do coffee grounds easy enough, and that smells better than well rotted alfalfa pellets. Will the coffee grounds have an immediate effect? I'll try some commercial fertlizer for now and plant the beans in early Sept to get some help for next year.

Thanks for the tips.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 1:37PM
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thisisme(az9b)

Most of the soil down in the Valley is high in PH do to all the caliche. A high ph can lock out important plant nutrients so an application of soil sulfur can be very good for your plants if their roots are growing in native soil. Heres a link with a suitable explanation from the Arizona Master Gardener site.

http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/soils/ph.html

The full article starts here and includes fertilizing. This article is good reading for any serious gardener living in Arizona.

http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/soils/soils.html

Be sure to click on the "Next" at the bottom right of each page to continue reading. I realize some of it may be a bit boring. However some if it is very interesting and enlightening and can be put to very practical use by any gardening growing in the Valley. I recommend printing it up and highlighting the important parts for future reference.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 4:46PM
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rtl850nomore

As long as you are healthy...urea nitrogen...dilute your own. OMG don't flame me it's hot enough around here.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 10:19PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

marymcp, that hydroponics store on Bell and I-17, Sea of Green - West has a bunch of different organic liquid fertilizers that make my tea brewing way easier. I think you recommended them to me. I "brewed" a batch and added some to our 3 sisters bed. Looks pretty good right now, time to add some more, as corn are heavy feeders.

rtl850nomore, no flames ;) this is actually being done in south America as we speak. Colleges, scientist and researchers are teaching this technique to the local "poor" as part of subsistence living.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 3:14AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

thisisme, you are right, the MG Manual is a great resource. Thanks for the links, the pages are on my reading pile.

rtl....always finds the simple approach. Why complicate matters???

and mangled, thanks for the reminder, I need to visit that store again anyway. What did you brew for the 3 sisters bed?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 9:04AM
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rtl850nomore

I keep thinking about your first post Mary. Chris may be correct...I don't know...but I can't help but think the Indians of the Southwest knew what they were doing when they planted the three sisters. I'm going with the Indians.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 1:04PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

If they planted the same patch of ground each year, last year's legume crop will feed this year's corn. and on and on......At least that's how I'm beginning to think of it.

Do grass clippings and coffee grounds give an immediate nitrogen fix?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 1:32PM
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moroseaz

>Do grass clippings and coffee grounds give an immediate nitrogen fix?

No. As they break down, they USE nitrogen. Once they've broken down they'll release nitrogen. Think of it as mulch. It remains mulch until it breaks down into compost. One stays on top of the soil, the other is soil. There are lots of commercial fertilizers on the market with varying levels of nitrogen and prices to match.

Grass clippings should never be used as a top dressing. If they aren't composted, they'll form a water barrier and heat the soil enough to kill surface roots. I've used a layer of grass clippings to mulch over a fallow rose bed during summer. Once the weather cools down, I rototill the clippings into the soil, add dried manure and maybe a soil sulphur then let it compost over one growing season. It takes awhile but I like the results... except for the occasional resilient grass root, lol.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 3:53PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

This conversation is beginning to remind me of that old Chinese (or something) saying:

Best time to plant tree? 20 years ago. Next best time? Now.

Thanks everyone. I'll head up to Sea of Green and see what they have for me and my corn. This morning I doused them with a tea made from Budswel, a product from the Guano Company. It's seabird and bat guano with worm castings. I typed this somewhere else lately so if I'm repeating myself here please forgive me. It's great stuff but I don't think it's high nitrogen.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 7:51PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

hey marymcp,

I brewed a tea with bat guano and seabird guano + Maxicrop Liquid Seaweed + Alaska Fish Emulsion + Organic Care Seaplex all about a 1/4 cup in 30 gallon barrel of rainwater. Sat for about a week, stirring several times daily. Boy do our tomatoes and melons love the mix.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 11:56PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Nice....very smart on the rain water. I should have set up my 50 gallon drum, forgot about it. Bad Mary.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 9:03AM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

I would have added worm castings, but they were out! We do have 2 55 gallon rain barrels, but they are only filled about a quarter each since the last rains, need to move them to a better location for catching the rain.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 11:03AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

I went to Sea of Green yesterday and picked up some Foxfarm fertilizer - Happy Frog Tomato and Vegetable 7-4-5. It's granular so I'll dig it into all the crops this weekend. Watch out! Corn's going to take off!!!

Thanks again to all for the tips and info.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2010 at 11:43AM
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rtl850nomore

I stayed home...drank a lot of water...poured the diluted results on the garden...cheap...cheap...cheap

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 1:28PM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

You are so funny rtl.....

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 4:54PM
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neilaz(9a)

rtl,
Do you filter out all the meds you are on? :)

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 10:39AM
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rtl850nomore

LOL, no meds for me, not even aspirin. Actually I was in Parks this weekend and I soaked a pile of wood chips as an experiment. I had been reading on another site where urine heats up wood chips. We'll see...

    Bookmark   August 24, 2010 at 4:30PM
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thisisme(az9b)

I mulch in the Spring with 2-3" of composted de-smelled steer manure. At Home Depot its only $ 1.99 a bag. Its been on sale once or twice at $ 0.99 a bag.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 1:00PM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

thisisme, I need about a dozen dump truck loads of that for our land up north ...

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 8:55PM
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