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676
Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Ziziphus jujuba (Chinese Jujube)
« on: April 14, 2015, 05:37:24 PM »
That is excellent, thanks!

677
Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Ziziphus jujuba (Chinese Jujube)
« on: April 14, 2015, 05:27:36 PM »
Li Jujube starting to flower.. plenty of fruit last year.. so it can do well in Southern CA.. picture taken about a month ago.. This is actually one of the easier trees to grow (haha, compared to things like sugar apple, cherimoya, and rollinia), so don't worry..

That is good to know :) Glad to hear it is doing well in southern CA, seems like it would probably do well here too.

The tree and especially that new growth and fruit look great! And thanks for the link. Was it a good buying experience? (Good packing, tree in good condition, etc.) I have had some great experiences and some bad experiences with mail order trees. I like to get feedback if I can before trying someone new. Thanks!

678
Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Ziziphus jujuba (Chinese Jujube)
« on: April 14, 2015, 05:17:50 PM »
Thanks nullzero!

679
Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Ziziphus jujuba (Chinese Jujube)
« on: April 14, 2015, 04:27:25 PM »
Radoslav,

Sorry to hear that it is not a good tasting producer for you. How hot do your summers get? I wonder if that cultivar might need a lot of heat to produce sugars?

680
Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Ziziphus jujuba (Chinese Jujube)
« on: April 14, 2015, 02:38:05 PM »
Awesome, thanks for the feedback! Also, thanks for same named varieties, I will start looking for those. And that is a good data point too about the fruit quality from the rootstock. It is usually a crap shoot when planting seedlings, I was wondering if this species is truer to parent through seed, but it looks like no.

I hear you about root suckers. My persimmon as the same tendencies.

Thanks!

681
Temperate Fruit Discussion / Ziziphus jujuba (Chinese Jujube)
« on: April 14, 2015, 01:53:14 PM »
Who has any familiarity with this tree? I was poking around on: http://www.desert-tropicals.com/Plants/TreeList.htm, just looking through tree information and had never come across a Chinese Jujube before. It is hardy from zones 6-10, can take the heat down here, and has interesting looking fruit.

Has anyone grown this?

Right now, I am not looking to put in a tree, just 'collating data' as they say. However, as I look online, very few places seem to sell the tree, but I have found seeds at a number of sites. How likely is a seed from this tree going to produce a tree with good fruit. Does it tend to run fairly close to true to the parent (keeps most of the desirable characteristics)? Or is there a lot of variation like we expect in most seedlings?


682
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Wind Barriers
« on: April 14, 2015, 09:21:18 AM »
If interested I'll take a photo of the line up.  They were planted 10' apart and are now about 18' tall and a solid mat from the ground to 12'.

Definitely!

683
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Wind Barriers
« on: April 13, 2015, 09:54:11 AM »
My anecdotal evidence is that shade cloth makes a bad wind break. We get 50 mph dust storms at least once a season, and I had a shade structure (70% shade cloth on a glued and anchored PVC structure) and the shade cloth was basically acting like a sail. So I had to cut some 'flaps' in it (like a doggie door) so that the wind could pass through and not destroy the structure.

So if the shade cloth is dense enough (anything over ~50%) it will block wind, but act like a sail. And depending on your structure, this will likely damage the tree rather than protecting it.

I think the best option is Mark's cypress idea. I see them a lot in my neighborhood. Like he said, they like heat, drought tolerant, etc.

Or the other option is something rigid like Waterfall's polycarbonate fence (which looks awesome by the way).

If you do go the shade cloth route, make sure to have a rigid well-anchored structure (something made of wood or metal) and tension the shade cloth really well to the structure (springs and turnbuckles).


684
Point well taken, apologies.

685
I hear you about the mixing. We fell in love with Cazadores years ago. And we love to make margaritas with it, we usually drink it straight, either the reposado or the anejo. The tequila that we most often use for mixing is actually Zapopan. We get it at our local liquor store, it is okay not great by itself, it is almost always on sale, but it is a good value and make a good margarita. But the Cabrito (when you compare price on a 750 mL basis) is not that much more but makes a superior margarita. So, thanks you you, I think we found our new mixer.

That's like taking a great single malt scotch and mixing it with Dr. Pepper.

Ha! I know what you are saying. And speaking of scotch, as much as I love tequila, I love scotch even more. If you are a scotch drinker, I would love to compare tasting notes!

Speaking of smoothness and vanilla, that is the reason why we started to get into tequila, when we started drinking some really good reposados. It is so interesting to see how much just 12 months of aging makes a difference in a tequila. The agave distillate is just so responsive to aging in wood barrels, combined with its intrinsic flavor, it is just an awesome beverage.

Yeah, mescal....I have only tried a couple, but I am not a fan. Sour tennis shoes, that's good :)

Coffee roasting!! Man, that is great. We used to roast our own coffee. We were pretty hard core about it several years ago. We would buy beans from sweetmarias.com back in the late 90s, and 2000s. Our favorites used to be Ethiopian, Sumatran and Costa Rican. Our love for coffee started because my wife and I worked at the same local coffee shop in college in the early 90s. It was great, custom roasted coffee, La Pavoni espresso machines, we made so really exceptional coffee there. So our coffee love really started from them. We don't roast anymore, but I still love coffee. I just wish I could grow it here :) I would love to give from plant to cup a shot.


686
Mark,

I picked up some Casa Noble and some Cabrito. Good calls, thanks for the suggestion!

I have some Cazadores Reposado and did a head-to-head with the Cabrito. My wife and I both agreed that by itself we like the Cazadores Reposado better. It is a little more refined, maybe a touch of vanilla that the Cabrito doesn't. But when mixed in a margarita (which is how you suggested it) we both like the Cabrito better. We got the 1.75 L, so we are looking forward to a summer of top-notch margaritas :)

And I saw the Casa Noble Reposado, which is what you suggested. But I saw the anejo right next to it and I am looking for a new anejo to try, so I got that one.

That Casa Noble anejo .... wow. That is one of the best tequlias I have have in awhile. Deep, rich, complex, vanilla and butterscotch, but very balanced. The nose is almost as good as the flavor. I wish I had not polished off my El Tesoro anejo last summer, I would like to compare those two side by side. I suspect the El Tesoro would still win out. But, you mentioned value above, and I completely agree. This Casa Noble anejo tastes like a much more expensive bottle of tequila. And I suspect I would say the same thing about the reposado.

Thanks!

687
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Vermicomposting and Vermicompost Tea
« on: April 08, 2015, 10:18:10 AM »
This is how my brew ended.  Big drop in PH not clear why. The Potassium stayed stable but the nitrogen got consumed. I'm looking for a good reference book. I would like to understand what happened here if I brew to long.  Total dissolved solids when up then down. PH dropped drastically after 30 hours or so.   The color was good, no more molasses smell, some vinegar smell at the end. Put is out over 48 hours ago straight into ground and potted plant no death so far.
         
   Brew   4/5/2015            
               
Date   time               TDS/500   PH        K PPM      N PPM
Pre brew   8:00am   3090   6.35        1500       280
4/6/2015   7:00am   3250   6.05        1400       200
4/6/1945   4:30 PM   2850   5.33        1400       170

Carlos,

Thanks for the update! I suspect the pH being lowered is a bacterial brewing by-product. I make a lot of fermented things. I make my own sourdough bread and Kombucha.

With the sourdough the bacteria/yeast mixture in the starter is what breaks down the flour. The bacteria chomps down on the sugars in the flour and makes an acid as the by-product (which is what makes sourdough sour) and this low pH environment prevents microbes that cause spoilage from taking hold in the mixtures as it ferments, and the wild yeast in the mixture love the low pH environment and it chomps down on the flour sugars and the by-product is carbon dioxide, which is what causes the leavening.

Similarly with kombucha, the bacterias make acid and the yeasts make fizz in the drink. But the acid making bacteria is so strong that if I let it sit too long in the tea, the end product tastes like apple cider vinegar. It is very acidic and sour.

Sound it sounds to me like all your molasses has been successfully converted into microbes + acidic by-products!

If the pH is too low for the trees liking, just add less molasses next time. You will get less microbes, but you will also get less acid so you will be closer to your starting pH.

688
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Vermicomposting and Vermicompost Tea
« on: April 08, 2015, 10:09:03 AM »
greenman62,
Sounds like you got a nice system! Yeah, my gardens are absolutely full of worms too,
and my tomato plants this year are huge. Also if I dig into my fruit tree mounds,
 I have to make an effort to not find worms. Good stuff.

its called stealing my neighbors leaf and grass bags when they go out to the trash
that, and 50lb bags of used coffee grounds i get from starbucks. worms love the stuff,
especially, when all 3 are mixed, they break down at different rates which keep the worms around.
 cardboard or newspaper on top keeps the sun out and moisture in giving them a nice home.

yeah, ive noticed castings (or live worms) keep tomato plants very healthy
its a great time to add rock-dust too. The worms create a ton of micro-flora
which turn the dust/minerals into a bio-available form.
That increases the sweetness and taste of the fruits, be it tomato, or fruit trees...

Right on :). Yep, I have that in the original post too. Worms *love* coffee grounds. And that fact that you have a nice mixture for differing breakdown rates is great. And I love your observation about the rock dust. I add Texas Greensand to my tomatoes for a Potassium and Iron boost + tons of other micornutrients. Combined with worm poop the plants are literally feasting :) I do the same thing for my mangoes and bananas, both of which are potassium lovers.

689
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Vermicomposting and Vermicompost Tea
« on: April 05, 2015, 04:01:23 PM »
greenman62,

Sounds like you got a nice system! Yeah, my gardens are absolutely full of worms too, and my tomato plants this year are huge. Also if I dig into my fruit tree mounds, I have to make an effort to not find worms. Good stuff.

Carlos,

Good deal! Yeah, I love the smell of molasses too. I bet this is going to be a really nice fertilization approach for you, please let us know how it turns out!

690
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Vermicomposting and Vermicompost Tea
« on: April 05, 2015, 12:19:03 PM »
I don't know if it is too much molasses. The volume I put in mine is 1-2 tablespoons per 5 gallons. And based on recipes that I have read online from others the volume tends to be 1 tablespoon - 1/4 c. per 5 gallons.

The idea is that the molasses provides an easily digestible food with a lot of micronutrients for the bacteria to grow on. At the end of the brewing process you want the molasses to be completely broken down by the bacteria and any by-products to be fully dispersed in the tea.

Especially with a fertigator, any molasses that hasn't been broken down and is remaining in your tea might 'gum up' your irrigation lines. I don't know how much of a real risk that is, but it is a potential risk. So with that much molasses I would definitely err to the side of a longer brew time.

691
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Vermicomposting and Vermicompost Tea
« on: April 05, 2015, 09:28:34 AM »
Carlos,

Sounds like you are making exactly what you were looking for: a tea with beneficial bacteria and nutrients and removing as possible sources of pathogens. Nice! Yeah, with 1 c. of molasses there will be a lot of food for that bacteria to grow on. Are you aerating it with a air pump + stone or a submersible water pump? I would let it run for 24 hours (maybe even as much as 2 days with that much molasses).

Are you going to do your original plan from the other post: dilute it 400-500:1 for use as a fertigator?

I hope this really works out for you!

692
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Vermicomposting and Vermicompost Tea
« on: April 03, 2015, 09:59:14 AM »
Hi Carlos,

I definitely understand your concern. I will not try to justify/defend vermicomposting and vermicompost tea making, I will just offer some of my anecdotal experiences:

When I brew my tea, I almost always use it as a soil drench. If used in this manner (I use a watering can because I am a backyard grower, but a fertigator would be used for a larger orchard) the tea and any possible pathogens would be applied directly to the soil. The tree would not transmit these pathogens from the root system / trunk / branches and into the fruit. So vermicompost tea application in a soil based approach should alleviate those concerns.

Occasionally however I do use vermicompost tea as a foliar spray. I have sprayed it on tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, other greens, etc. And this is just anecdotal, not proof of anything, but neither myself nor my family have ever gotten sick or observed any intestinal distress from eating garden veggies that get sprayed. The only rule I observe is that I don't pick veggies the day I spray, I always wait for the next day. This observation does not mean there is not E Coli or salmonella present, but if it was it was never in amounts to make us sick.

My $0.02, and that is about what it is worth :)

693
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Vermicomposting and Vermicompost Tea
« on: April 02, 2015, 11:38:06 AM »
No problem! I am sure food does have something to do with it. Composting worms live near the top of soils and can consume foods high in nitrogen (like manure). Common Nightcrawlers / Earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris) burrow deep and I would suspect that they prefer a different food source, more likely more broken down (less nitrogren).

I don't know how much (or really if) they actually fight (no teeth or appendages) or how they determine each others territory. Yes, that would either be a really fascinating (worms fighting to the death) or really boring (worms bonking into eachother) National Geographic :)

694
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Vermicomposting and Vermicompost Tea
« on: April 02, 2015, 10:18:44 AM »
DogLips

There are three basic types of worms: epigeic, endogeic, and anecic. Anecic worms (like a common nightcrawler you find in most US soils) are solitary / territorial. They need their space and are not good for composting.

Epigeic worms live in clusters near the top of soils. They literally crawl all over eachother and consume organic matter in high density. These are composting worms. There are a few types of epigeic worms used in vermicomposting: Eisenia fetida (Red Worm), Eudrilus Eugeniae (African Nightcrawler), Eisenia hortsenis (European nightcrawler)

695
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Re: Vermicomposting and Vermicompost Tea
« on: April 02, 2015, 08:22:08 AM »
Das Bhut

Nice, I like that system. Simple and straightforward. My process got more involved because I wanted to increase the total volume of vermicompost that I was generating in a season. I think African Nightcrawlers are great worms. Big and they mature fast. I bet they are great fishing worms for you too. I went with red worms myself because they can handle a slightly larger range of temperatures, particularly on the hot end (which is what drives the timing of my vermicomposting season).

... the eggs hatch and the new worms live off mulch and the horse manure I worked into my soil.

Exactly. I do the same thing. In fact most of my mulch is composted steer manure. We have a blend here easily available at Lowes that is half composted steer manure and half shredded and composted forest products. Makes a good mulch, has lots of organics so it holds in moisture, and the worms love it. It decomposes relatively quickly compared to hardwood bark mulch, but I don't mind replacing it because I know it is being used effectively by the worms and thereby effectively by the trees.

696
Tropical Fruit Discussion / Vermicomposting and Vermicompost Tea
« on: April 01, 2015, 09:00:50 PM »
First things first, I am not an expert nor am I trying to pass this knowledge off as expertise. This post will hardly be definitive or authoritative. But I have been vermicomposting for several years and just wanted to share my experiences for any who may find it useful.

Also, another thing to state up front is that my methodology is based on my experiences (my purpose for vermicomposting) and my environment (my location in Arizona). As such, you will get invariably different mileage based on your purpose and location.

Now with that out of the way ...

When I am talking about vermicomposting I am referring to red worms (eisenia fetida). Good two-page Q and A description here: https://www.bae.ncsu.edu/topic/vermicomposting/pubs/vermicomposting_earthworm_q_and_a.pdf

You keep worms in a 'bin' and there are lots of different ways to construct them and for different purposes. I will talk about several of them that I use in this post. For a more complete list of a lot of different designs, look here: http://www.redwormcomposting.com/category/worm-bins/. But when I talk about a bin, I am referring to a worm container that is not the ground or a garden. Something that is kept inside / in a garage / above ground outside.

I have some pretty specific constraints with my environment in Arizona (a little southeast of Phoenix). I have found that redworms tend to become ineffective around 90-95 F and they start dying above 95 F. (Although the worm cocoons can withstand a much higher temperature). I start getting average temperatures in the 95 F range in June so any worms in my worm bins die (which I discovered to my disappointment the first year I tried it). So what I do is dig a hole in the middle of my gardens or on my fruit tree mounds and in late May I dump the worm bin contents, so they can continue living in a cooler ground environment (and I get the direct benefit of having them in the soil). But what this means is that I need to get new worms for vermicomposting in October when the temperatures cool down again. I don't try to get them back out of the soil because a) it would be ineffective, they have spread out, b) I would cause a lot of damage to the soil and trees uprooting it to sift for worms. You need ~1000 worms to make a pound, and you need a few pounds of worms to do effective vermicomposting.

With that preamble, here is my basic yearly vermicomposting process:

1. In late May I dump all my worm bin contents into my gardens and fruit tree mounds before it gets too hot for the worms
2. In June-September I layer carbon rich contents (leaves mostly) and nitrogen rich contents (old/spent garden plants, tree prunings, green yard waste cut up finely) and composted steer manure. Wet it good and let it sit in the worm bins for very effective hot composting in the AZ summer (lots of thermophilic bacteria).
3. In October I order a fresh batch of worms (5 lbs. is a good amount) and start these in my small worm bins. The compost from the summer is on its way to being broken down, and is a good environment for the worms. I find they take to it right away.
4. In October-January I am feeding the worms in the small worm bins (which I keep in my garage) kitchen scraps (vegetable only), pulverized egg shells and coffee grounds (which they love). Any vegetable food prep waste is good. If the bins start getting too 'mucky' I use SoPhresh cat pine litter (http://www.petco.com/product/126506/So-Phresh-Odor-Neutralizing-Pine-Pellet-Cat-Litter.aspx - it is made only from compressed lumber by-products) to dry it out a little. I sprinkle the pellets right on top and then wait a day for them to start to break down and absorb moisture and then work them into the rest of the bin. One of my small bins is a feed-through worm bin (more on that below).
5. In February after the worm populations have grown in the bins (healthy worm colonies double in size every 3 months or so under ideal conditions) I transfer the contents to the outdoor worm bins to work on the much larger volume of compost. Also at this point my feed-though worm bin is very active and good quality finished compost is coming out of the bottom. I use this compost (which is drier and easier to work with and is free of worms) to make my vermicompost tea.
6. In February-May the large bins continue to get worked on by the worms and I continue to make vermicompost tea. I am still adding vegetable waste to the feed through bin and outdoor bins. It is adding fresh food and diverse nutrients to the worms.
7. Late May, repeat the cycle

Basic Small Indoor / Garage Worm Bin (Rubbermaid tub design):
------------------------------------------------------------------

This is the basic bin to get everyone started with vermicomposting. Very good tutorials can be found here: http://www.redwormcomposting.com/getting-started/ and here: http://tropicalfruitforum.com/index.php?topic=5679

These links provide all the info you need. I will just show a picture of my bin below



Flow Through Worm Bin:
------------------------------------------------------------------

The basic idea behind a flow through worm bin is that there is a false bottom / screen of some sort that allows air to dry out the wet vermicompost (which is very wet and 'knits' with all the protein in it). Once it is dry it falls out though the screen. You make the bin deep enough so that the vermicompost coming out of the bottom is mostly finished (not a lot of discernible stuff in it). More on the topic and designs here: http://texasredworms.com/tag/diy-flow-through-worm-bin/

My design is small (because I don't need a lot of throughput since I am just a backyard grower and gardener) and is basically 24" long x 10" wide x 12" tall. I have 1" steel mesh on the bottom. The walls are pine board and I stapled plastic sheeting to the inside so that it would hold in moisture better and the wood won't rot. I just bent the screen around the outside bottom of the bin, used a Dremel to cut off the excess in the corners and stapled it to the outside. I have the bin sitting on some blocks for airflow underneath. This is a very basic flow through bin, no bells and whistles.



Here is a view of my flow through bin from the top. Note the cheap meat thermometer in the corner, just so I can monitor temperatures and think about moving contents when it gets too hot. This bin is absolutely *loaded* with worms.



Outdoor Worm Bins:
------------------------------------------------------------------

If my outdoor worm bins look like garbage cans ... it's because that's what they are. The only thing i did was I drilled a bunch of 1/8" holes in the sides (7-8 holes in a vertical row and 8-10 rows around the circumference of the bin) for air flow (worms need to breathe - which they do through their skin). If there were no holes the bottom of the can would be a smelly anaerobic mess.



Red Worms
------------------------------------------------------------------

Once your worms get established, after a few months you want to see lots variation in your population. See this image below that has a lot of adult worms (bigger, redder, and obvious yellow tips), juveniles and baby worms. This means they are happy and establishing their life cycle.



You also want to see lots of cocoons (which is where your new worms hatch from):



Vermicompost Tea
------------------------------------------------------------------

Carlos wrote a post today asking about compost tea: http://tropicalfruitforum.com/index.php?topic=15099.0 and I wrote a response here: http://tropicalfruitforum.com/index.php?topic=15099.msg192118#msg192118 . I will include my vermicompost tea recipe from that post here for convenience.


One of the fertilizers that I use is Urban Farms Bio-Active which has all kinds of good stuff in it including Mychorrizae. I put a handful in the bag with my castings when I brew the tea. However I don't believe the mychorrizae are multiplying during the tea making process. They form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots and do most of their growing and multiplying there (mineral and food exchange with host plant, etc.). But what I think the real benefit is, is that the mychorrizae are evenly distributed in the tea at the end of brewing and when you put it on the plants (I typically do my tea as a soil drench) they are in an environment where roots are immediately stimulated and can form quick bonds with tree roots. My very unscientific take :)

Carlos brought up the good point that BioActive has Bat Guano and Poultry Litter, so does it have place in a tea? (pathogens). This is a good question, and my response is: The chicken litter and the bat guano are both composted, so the heating and breakdown process does help to remove pathogens. And this fertilizer is *very* dry. It has some small dry particles but most of it is powder. So it does seems like it has been fully broken down. I agree, there is some concern there. I personally think the reward is higher than the risk. But I use it also because I have it on hand as part of my normal fertilization regimen. And since I am a backyard grower I don't keep a large variety of fertilizers and inoculants.

So please consider the Bio-Active an *OPTIONAL* ingredient in the tea recipe below. In fact, it is all optional except for the vermicompost.

Resources:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1309.html
http://www.redwormcomposting.com/worm-tea/making-vermicompost-tea/
http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/organic/2002082739009975.html
http://www.bioag.com/images/BioAg_Compost_Tea_Recipe.pdf

2x 5-gallon buckets
20 gallon air pump
Tubing with Tee
2x Air stones
2x Large muslin bag
Long handled brewing spoon

2x 5 gallons of water (sit out overnight to dissipate chlorine)
2x 1 quart of worm casings
(rest of these are optional, but I used them)
2x 3 oz Neptunes Harvest Hydrolyzed fish
2x 2 oz Urban Farms Bioactive Dry (**SEE DISCUSSION ABOVE**)
2x 2 oz Texas Greensand
2x 1 tbsp unsulphured organic molasses
2x 1/2 tsp of Epsom Salts (for Magnesium)
2x 1 oz Apple Cider Vinegar

Collect water into 5-gallon buckets and let sit overnight. Use a food grade plastic bucket (lowes), stackable. Let the buckets sit in the sun during the day to burn off chlorine.

Place aerator in bucket 2 hours before brewing to increase oxygen and further drive out chlorine.

Put the vermicompost and dry ingredients into muslin bags and put in bucket. Dump in rest of the ingredients and give a stir.

Aerate for 24 hours and give a stir halfway through or so.

Turn off pump, remove tubing and use the mixture in the next ~45 minutes

Dilute as needed for your application

697
Carlos,

Absolutely, happy to share!

Starch aren't you worry about the chicken litter and bat guano in the Urban Farm Bioactive?

That is a very good question, and my answer is: sort-of.

The chicken litter and the bat guano are both composted, so the heating and breakdown process does help to remove pathogens. And this fertilizer is *very* dry. It has some small dry particles but most of it is powder. So it does seems like it has been fully broken down.

I agree, there is some concern there. I personally think the reward is higher than the risk. But I use it also because I have it on hand as part of my normal fertilization regimen. And since I am a backyard grower I don't keep a large variety of fertilizers and inoculants.

Probably a better / safer route especially for a larger scale application (like you) would be to get the mychorrizae and any other inoculants separately and in bulk to add to the tea brew. You would have a lot more control over your inputs to the tea brewing process like this.

698
Hi Carlos,

I brew my own compost tea is 10 gallon batches typically. Mine is based on vermicompost (I have a flow-through worm bin that I built for easy casting harvesting). I will share my recipe below.

I am no expert so please take my answers with a grain of salt. But I have been doing a little research on this and will share my perspective.

1 If you apply to the brew a few ounces of a product like the Super Soil Buster that has various types of microbes, will they multiply in the brew? Same with Mycorrhizae and Inoculants powder products.


One of the fertilizers that I use is Urban Farms Bio-Active which has all kinds of good stuff in it including Mychorrizae. I put a handful in the bag with my castings when I brew the tea. However I don't believe the mycorrizae are multiplying during the tea making process. They form a symbiotic relationship with plant roots and do most of their growing and multiplying there (mineral and food exchange with host plant, etc.). But what I think the real benefit is, is that the mychorrizae are evenly distributed in the tea at the end of brewing and when you put it on the plants (I typically do my tea as a soil drench) they are in an environment where roots are immediately stimulated and can form quick bonds with tree roots. My very unscientific take :)

2. Would it help to place some of your own soil in the brew to multiply naturally occurring microbes in the soil of the risk of bad stuff growing is too high?


I think the answer is no. E coli and other bad bacteria grow in most soils. And when compost tea is aerated, it encourages 'good' bacteria growth and discourages 'bad/anaerobic' bacteria growth. However there are many 'bad' soil bacterias that are aerobic, including E coli which would multiply in the tea brewing process. So my take is that the risks outweigh the rewards by adding soil to the compost tea process. I make my vermicompost from kitchen scraps, produce waste, composted leaves and fresh cat pine litter (not used by cats, cat feces contain pathogens), so that I am controlling (as much as one can) the inputs to minimize any bad bacteria growth.

3. Seems like worm casting is the most favored source to start a brew short of growing your own worms where can one find a good fresh source in the Miami area or best to order by mail. Any recommendations?


I agree, growing your own worms is the best option (however I have seen pure worm castings in 10-15 lb bags at my local nursery supply store). I get mine from redwormcomposting.com. I buy 5 lbs. of red worms (eisenia fetida) in October and put them in to a bunch of bins of compost that have been aging over the summer. By spring when I am ready to make tea I have lots of vermicompost available. My gardens are now full of worms, and so is the soil around my fruit trees.

My vermicompost tea recipe:

resources:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1309.html
http://www.redwormcomposting.com/worm-tea/making-vermicompost-tea/
http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/organic/2002082739009975.html
http://www.bioag.com/images/BioAg_Compost_Tea_Recipe.pdf

2x 5-gallon buckets
20 gallon air pump
Tubing
Air stone
Large muslin bag
Long handled brewing spoon

10 gallons of water (sit out overnight to dissipate chlorine)
1 quart of worm casings
(rest of these are optional, but I used them)
3 oz Neptunes Harvest Hydrolyzed fish
2 oz Urban Farms Bioactive Dry
2 oz Texas Greensand
1 tbsp unsulphured organic molasses
1/2 tsp of Epsom Salts (for Magnesium)
1 oz Apple Cider Vinegar

Collect water into 5-gallon buckets and let sit overnight. Use a food grade plastic bucket (lowes), stackable. Let the buckets sit in the sun during the day to burn off chlorine.

Place aerator in bucket 2 hours before brewing to increase oxygen and further drive out chlorine.

Put the vermicompost and dry ingredients into muslin bag and put in bucket. Dump in rest of the ingredients and give a stir.

Aerate for 24 hours and give a stir halfway through hours or so.

Turn off pump, remove tubing and use the mixture in the next ~45 minutes

Dilute as needed for your application

699
Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Sambucus Mexicana
« on: March 27, 2015, 04:07:43 PM »
I am starting to air layer it now and conduct some trials. It seems to be both drought and wet tolerant.  I think it will do just fine for you.


Awesome! I am really really looking forward to it!


When I used to live in New Mexico my family had several Mexican Elderberries around the yard. They're pretty hardy and easy to care for. But now there is no longer any on my mother's property, over the years they have all perished. One tree was blown over onto our driveway by a dust devil, while I was still living there, the rest died off from some sort of disease or pest (I have moved away by then). The last one lived for about 17 years.

Here's a link for info from my old uni, go Aggies! :)
http://aces.nmsu.edu/county/donaana/mastergardener/documents/mexican-elderberry.pdf

As for the fruit, we've actually never tried them.


They sound very hardy indeed, combined with yours and Viking Guy's observations. Thanks for the link!

700
Temperate Fruit Discussion / Re: Sambucus Mexicana
« on: March 27, 2015, 09:55:48 AM »
Adam,

Thanks for the feedback. I am sorry that it has become so invasive for you. I now understand the issues associated with this plant. If I do plant one, I will take your advice and plant in a pot and be conscious with what I do with any clippings.

Speaking of berries: I have been following your threads regarding your blueberry 'tree' and your goal of protecting the name (either through a patent or a naming registry). I really hope that works out! And when you are ready to start selling plants / cuttings I would love to try it out here in the desert. I will of course need to put it in a separate planter (we have high pH soil here and I will need something dedicated and acidic), but I have been looking for a low chill blueberry variety and yours looks like a real honest to goodness gem!

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