Video: Soil life theory talk

Discussion in 'News from around the damp planet' started by Finchj, Jun 12, 2014.

  1. Finchj

    Finchj Junior Member

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    Hey everyone,

    It has been a very long time since I have posted anything here. I've been busy with a three month internship at an urban farming project in Helsinki, which is drawing to a close next week. I have a few different options ahead of me, but permaculture design remains at the heart of all of them :party:

    Anyway, I thought I would share a talk I gave during an "Urban Farming School" day at the project. I had 45 minutes to explain some basic soil life, with an emphasis on mycorrhizal fungi and vermicompost. I exaggerated a bit with the percentage of plants that associate with mycorrhizae and made some other mistakes constantly (like calling them all mushrooms even though I said that they aren't!). Plus my body language was all rigid and wacky. But I think that adds to the fun? :giggle:

    This was not really enough time, but I did my best to explain a bit (without the aide of a whiteboard, just a trusty book) about why those two topics are so important. This was because there would be another 45 minute session where we transplanted tomatoes into the greenhouse at the Turntable.

    As part of my internship, I wanted to bring to Dodo (the non profit, NGO, behind the project) some new concepts. Integrating vermicompost and mycorrhizal fungi into their consciousness up was a big part of this. Unfortunately, we did not have enough vermicompost to do as many demonstrations as I had wanted, so we settled for three "new" ways of setting up the soil for the tomatoes versus the old way. Now, remember, this is a non profit and we only have so many materials to use. This is a side-by side demonstration of both vermicompost and mycorrhizal fungi, based on peer reviewed studies, NOT a scientific study in and of itself.

    So, this year, we have:

    1) Control: 10L peat soil with .5L commercial composted chicken manure with seaweed fertilizer (traditional way). These grow very tasty tomatoes, but in effectively dead soil. To play it safe (and due to the amount of vermicompost we have access to), these make up the vast majority of tomatoes in the greenhouse.

    2) Control + mycorrhizal fungi: 150g mycorrhizal fungi inoculant (OffYouGrow standard from Symbiom [certified for organic use]) and .5 L fertilizer. I expect this to outperform the control once the fungi establish themselves.

    3) 20% vermicompost + 25g blood meal: 8 L peat soil mixed with 2 L vermicompost (kitchen scraps/coffee grounds as the main feedstock) and 25g organic blood meal. See this link to Cornell University for evidence on the effect of blood meal and vermicompost together. Oh, and the 20% vermicompost comes from work done at North Carolina State University. I expect that this will perform better than the control, and more than likely better than #2. From observation so far (almost a month), this is true. The blood meal and micro organisms in the vermicompost allowed the plants to almost immediately overcome the stress of transplanting and begin growing.

    4) 20% vermicompost + 150g mycorrhizal fungi inoculant (same stuff as #2) + 25g blood meal: Same as #3, but with the addition of mycorrhizae. I expect that the tomatoes treated in this manner will outperform all of the other ones, barring some kind of disaster!

    I am proud to report that I crowned one of the tomatoes which received 20% vermicompost and 25grams of blood meal upon transplanting as the "champion" for having formed the first tomato of the season.:clap: Since the tomatoes were not started with either vermicompost or mycorrhizal spores from the beginning, it will take a few more weeks for the tomatoes which have been inoculated with mycorrhizae to differentiate themselves from the pack- which I fully expect will happen as the summer moves on.

    Without further ado, here is the link to the video:
    [video=vimeo;97211081]https://vimeo.com/97211081[/video]

    Thanks for reading (and perhaps watching!)

    PS- you can check the link to my Tumblr, 60N Permaculture, to see photographs and read about what I have been up to. I will have some photos of the tomatoes under discussion up later today or this weekend.

    Oh, and I've had a haircut since then. :angel:
     
  2. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Hey Finch! Nice to see you pop back up again. I don't have time to watch right now bit will come back later. Please report back on the results of the experiment!
     
  3. johnw7000

    johnw7000 Junior Member

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    Awesome Finch great talk and a vitally needed topic too! Long live mycelium for without it the 'web' literally fails :)
    I read a book recently called 'teaming with microbes' which covers what you say too, plus I've checked out Dr Elaine Ingham as well.
    All the best & thanks for spreading the 'web' :)

    Cheers form OZ
    John
     
  4. Finchj

    Finchj Junior Member

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    Update

    Hey eco and john- thanks for the replies! I just returned to Finland from a 2 week visit to the States to see my ailing grandmother. Got to spend some time in the garden there (thats an understatement), so lots to update on my thread about it.

    I haven't been able to get back to the Turntable yet (touched down Friday afternoon), but here is a little graphic I put together that shows the growth of the tomatoes with some comments. Basically, vermicompost plus blood meal is a ridiculously powerful combination. Hope it is clear enough- reposting it from my blog.



    [​IMG]

    Reposted from 60N Permaculture:

    [​IMG]
     

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