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The plant - soil fertility cycle 
Latest OrganiCalc improvements
New tools for using other amendments
and more...
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Happy Equinox! 
Whether you are harvesting a giant Romanesco Broccoli "Veronica" (as Erica is about to do in the picture above) or are buried under tomatoes or snow, the seasons are changing.  

We hope your garden is full of flavor and vitality!
March 2016 Newsletter contents - clickable links
OrganiCalc is a tool for improving the fertility and mineral reserves of your vegetable garden soil. 
Click to subscribe or renew
 We've recently made some improvements to OrganiCalc....
  • We've changed the name to "OrganiCalc for Vegetables".  Our recommendations are for growing great vegetables.
  • Dolomitic lime is quite valuable in some situations.  If magnesium is needed to balance your soil, OrganiCalc will now recommend dolomite if your soil has low pH or low calcium and magnesium saturation.
  • Do you wonder what your soil analysis is with respect to the mineral targets?  We've added a column to the Analysis Table displaying your measured levels as a percentage of target.
A Boron Story
The photo below is of Romanesco Broccoli plants, taken December 15, 2015.
There was a failed crop of cucumbers in this bed which I pulled in late August, and transplanted in the Romanesco seedlings.

Usually I apply feathermeal, a bit of gypsum for sulfur, and as little powdered borax as possible between crops. As there was no leaching and the cucumbers didn't amount to much, I was nervous about applying the borax. "Oh, well", I said, "At least the plants on the ends will be ok, even if the plants in the middle get too much boron". As you can see, the two plants on the left that got the boron are doing much better than the single plant on the right.

The difference would be even more striking if I hadn't given borax to the plant on the right (and indeed to the whole garden) about 5 weeks ago, when I realized what was happening.

This is probably the most stunning trials result I have ever seen.
What if I want to use different amendments than those OrganiCalc recommends?  
 
We've created a new calculator to help you use different amendments.  Click here to see it live.
Using it is simple...
  1. Choose the amendment you want to replace.
  2. Enter the weight or volume of the amendment OrganiCalc recommends.
  3. Enter the name of the amendment you want to use.
  4. Enter the percentage of each element the amendment supplies (from the product label).
  5. Voila! The weight of the amendment appears.
  6. If your amendment is a liquid, enter the weight and volume of the bottle.
  7. Voila! The volume of the liquid amendment appears.
For those of you following the California drought, thanks for sending us rain!

Understanding the plant - soil fertility cycle

The best growers utilize both minerals and biology in their quest for excellence. These two major pathways for getting nutrients into the plant are not mutually exclusive - in fact they can support each other.

In the mineral pathway, nutrients enter the plant roots directly, without intervention of the soil micro-organisms.  In the biological pathway, microbes use soil minerals to build their bodies, but also receive food from the plant roots directly. 

Read more...

How to use OrganiCalc if you have "fizzy" soil

If you have soil with calcium carbonate in it naturally, or if you have added lime in the past three years, or if you have added gypsum in the past six months, your soil may be "fizzy" to some degree. [Click here for instructions on doing a fizz test at home.] 

Now you can use OrganiCalc to determine a good amendment regime.

If your soil fizzes, ask the lab to do an additional Ammonium Acetate pH 8.2 (AA8.2) test as well as the standard Mehlich 3 test on your soil.  If you are using Spectrum Analytic, be sure to also ask for the sodium M3 test.

When you get your test results, follow this procedure...
  1. If you use Logan Labs, determine the TCEC using our calculator here. Enter the Calcium value from the AA8.2 test and the Mg, K, Na and pH from the Mehlich 3 test.  The calculator will show you the TCEC to use for OrganiCalc.
  2. Enter your test results into OrganiCalc but use the Calcium value from the AA8.2 test instead of the one from the Mehlich 3 test.  If you used Logan Labs, enter the TCEC from the calculator (see step 1).
Interplanting
I use interplanting lots, mainly for efficiency. Here, taken February 19 are onions and lettuce interplanted with cabbage. When the cabbage needs the room, the onions and lettuce can be harvested.  I have sometimes left the lettuce and onions in place and I still get big cabbages.

Usually I just put lettuces between the cabbages, but this year I was out of room for the onion sets. The cabbages, lettuces, and onions seem to be coexisting quite well.
Did you know?....
The Soil and Health Library has a large selection of free downloadable books on radical agriculture, holistic medicine and more, including a unique collection from the early days of the organic movement with authors such as Sir Albert Howard and Lady Balfour.  The library was developed in 1996 by Steve Solomon and has recently moved to a new website at http://soilandhealth.org
We love to hear from you.  Contact us here.  Read testimonials here.
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