Garbage in, Garden Out, The Recycling Gardener, Leftover Meat
Meat? In the Garden?
Cooked meat buried in the soil? How about raw meat?
Well, think about it. We have discussed the prairies of yore and their incredible soils that have fed us for more than a century. What happens to an animal out there when they simply die, or, say, if they were unfortunately caught in a prairie fire?
OK, some of this goes to carrion eating animals, ravens and vultures, but the remainder deteriorates into the soil. But even that which is eaten is then converted by the animal into fertilizer and again, eventually returned to the soils.
Not it is not a good idea to allow your pet to just lie on the ground, but many pet owners, us included, simply bury the animal and the worms craw in, the worms crawl out. . .but I digress .
Again, the nutrients stored in the meat you eat, or that which goes bad in the fridge, can be recycled into the ground to the benefit of the organisms that live there as well as the plants that can use those newly released nutrients.
Meats, especially red meats, have several forma of iron in them, and this is essential for green plants. All proteins have nitrogen for the soil and plants, lots of minerals, carbohydrates for the bacteria and fungi, so meat has a lot to offer.
Remember, it has the potential for growing contagion, you definitely want to bury meet, or other animal products, not let it sit at or too near the surface, but think of it this way, why do bacteria and fungi grow quickly on meat? Because it has a lot of nutrient! Those same nutrients can provide your soil and plants with nutrient once recycled into the soil.
This morning I took some incredibly good chicken curry soup which I made, and apparently made too much of, and added it to my in-ground worm bins, What is that, you ask?
In-Ground Worm Bid, OK, it isn't a bin....
In Ground Worm Bins
I was forced to recycle everything when we moved into this house and it was apparent no one had ever put anything organic into the ground beside the trees and shrubs. Leaves, fallen fruit, everything went back into the ground. Once worms started to appear I put some leaves under flat rocks and bricks, squashed organs fallen from the tree under this, and so on. Worms started to appear, and so this was soon augmented with more nutrients.
We drink coffee and tea and these grounds always go into the ground, particularly onto ferns which thrive with the added acids.
But under these rocks I put almost everything from leave and fruit, as stated, to household food waste.
A few weeks ago we had some leaf fall from the ash tree and I made a pile, dumped my grass clippings into that, then dug up some of the garbage and worms from under the rocks, my in-ground worm bin.
The bacteria and fungi help break down the leaves and lawn clippings, the worms eat this of course, and then just a little sprinkling from time to time and turning the pile every few days and we have high grade organic mulch for the soil.
The rocks keep cats out of the food scraps, and the occasional skunk pops in to snack on worms and grubs. But grubs break up the soil, aerating it and taking organics down into the soils, even the skinks help this process, so really not an issue.
Remember the bad guy in Hawaii Five-0 named Wo Fat? That was a fun television series, Wo Fat was the perennial bad guy who always got away. He was Professor Moriarty to Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett. Well Jack Lord asked the writers to let his character catch Wo Fat as the last show when the series ended, so they did. The bad guy got the ultimate closing like, “Book him Dano!” (Since that was first written several years ago, they have brought back a new series with the same character names! Than heavens they kept the original soundtrack!)
Well, he isn’t the only “Fat” that has a bad name. Bacon, Chicken, Beef fats are routinely dumped in the trash or down the drains, but in the soil help break up clay, stimulate bacteria growth, add carbon to the soil. Dumping fat down the drain really doesn’t do your drains any good, it doesn’t lubricate the drain so it passes other things more easily. It clogs them and then you need to clean them out which, believe me, isn’t all that pleasant. (“Fats” really describe the basic oil, some hydrogen and oxygen, but when more complex oils, waxes, sterols, like cholesterol, and triglycerides, it is more correct to call this complex “lipids” but common parlance is “fats.”.)
The main atom that makes up lipids of all types in animals is carbon.
Fat is not evil. Along with protein and carbohydrate, fats, lipids, if you will, forms the cell walls of all animals, and bacteria.
A good, healthy soils can contain a reasonable amount of fat from food sources to help create a healthy soil balance. Unless your yard is extremely small, or you eat way too many fatty foods, you are not likely to overload your soils. Just be sure to bury it and mix it into the hole you put it into.
Think of it this way: dark soils have high carbon content and tend to grow plants very efficiently. Oil contaminated soil is soils with excess carbon in the form of various oils. Bacteria will slowly break these down if given time, but yes, even soils contaminated with car oil can be mixed into other soils and used in the garden. The oils eventually break down into carbon compounds that are useful to the soil and the plants.
Walking on Egg Shells
Eggs shells in the soil add calcium carbonate, use especially in tomatoes and in mulch or compost.
As with other things, breaking them into small pieces helps to recycle it. I sometimes use a blender and some water. The water picks up calcium carbonate and so is good even for house plants, the shell drops to the bottom rapidly once the blender is stopped, so shake it before spreading it, and as you spread it.
By the way, snails and slugs don’t like broken eggshells on the soil so will stay out of the area.
Conversely, tomatoes love egg shells and provide the calcium they need to prevent bloom end rot, the black bottom condition that tomatoes develop.
Iris live Lime-Away or other phosphoric acid products like soda pop
Lime-Away for Blooms! Really!
A good friend and I were tramping around out local mountains when we came across an old home site that had burned and been abandoned many years before.
The house was gone, the foundation partly there, we could see steps and flower beds. The entire area was reverting back to native habitat.
What survived after all these years and complete neglect were the bearded iris. The rhizomes ran unbroken for yards along the soil to terminate in tiny little plants at the end. We decided the torture had to end and sent them to a better place.
No, not plant heaven, we took them home to our yards where they could actually grow!
Well, grow they did and mine were blooming, his were not then I realized he didn’t know the secret.
“Are you serious?” he asked.
“Absolutely!” said I. Lime away and several other similar anti scaling products are almost completely phosphoric acid.
Not only can our soils use the acid, the phosphorus is a fertilizer element that makes the plants bloom.
Phosphorus has a bad name but only for a partly good reason, and this is that reason. This is why we don’t want it in our rivers.
Algae is a plant that responds particularly well to phosphorus and then blooms.
This should pretty because we are familiar with our garden flowers, but when algae blooms it reverses its metabolism and instead of making oxygen and burning CO2, it burns oxygen, and fish die if they cannot get out of the area. They are quite literally asphyxiated. But, when you want iris or other blooming plants to bloom, dilute some Lime Away or other lime killer (read the ingredients first, make sure it is phosphorus) and spray it on the soil.
Needless to say, my friend thought it was pretty cool that he could force his iris to bloom. This is good for other plants as well, such as a fruit tree that does not bloom too well, or even roses or orchids. Just be careful not to overdose them.
An ounce in a gallon of water applied once a week for a few weeks will do just fine.
When the Chips are Down
We like to have people over, and we always have food.
When it is young people, we always have too many chips. They are left outside for hours while people munch on them and the chips get stale.
So what do you do with leftover chips?
Think about what a chip is. It is either corn or potato with salt and oil.
All of this can go into the compost heap or simply get buried into the garbage hole.
The salt doesn’t do anything for the garden, but watering will carry it off, that is, leach it slowly, and it really isn’t enough to harm anything if there is enough soils around it, particularly of there is compost in the soil.
This is simply a bit of fiber and a lot of starch and a little oil, which the microorganisms would love to eat after you are finished.
Root Killer for Citrus?
Now there is an odd one for you.
And, no, we don't want to kill your citrus.
Do you have a citrus plant that produces sour fruit?
Go to the store and read the root killer labels. Pay attention to either the ingredients or to the warning label.
What you are looking for is copper sulfate which is usually the root killer in drain root killers.
Take it home and on a full size tree, say ten feet or so in diameter, sprinkle one full cup, that is a cup measure, around the entire root area.
Your citrus will be sweet with next year’s fruit production and remain sweet for a decade or more.
The copper is used in an enzyme that changes starch into sugars.
Above we talk about phosphorus which you can use if the plant isn't blooming, but don’t mix the two, apply them separately and best if separated by several waterings.
This copper treatment is only to sweeten citrus, if won’t give you more fruit (the phosphorus will).
We also discussed iris. Don’t get the copper close to the iris, it will kill them, remember it is a root killer and bearded iris roots are at and near the surface, a citrus is not.
This will also kill most of the soils fungi (not really a good thing), so, if you are in an area where you harvest fungi, this isn't for you, or, at least you need to be selective. Fungi hate copper.
Root Killer for Killing Toadstools
If you have citrus you may be in an area with what are commonly called toadstools.
Toadstools are a large white capped mushroom where the cap has small brown spots on top.
Here’s the killer: One mushroom that looks very much like it is a very desirable edible mushroom, but pick the wrong one and you are going to become very sick. If you are young and eat a lot, or have some other underlying medical condition, this might be your last meal.
It is hard to tell the two apart. Don’t try unless you study mushrooms carefully and have a good reference on them. Fungi have very specific ways to tell one from another. The size and shape of the cap, it’s color, whether it has a vale covering the spore gills, the color and size of the gills, whether they are attached to the trunk, or not, even the color of the spores themselves all differentiate different species.
For the rest of us they are an annoyance in the grass or yard.
All you need is one application of root killer, as above, but diluted in water and sprayed around the grass or yard.
If you live in a cool and wet area I do not recommend this because it will kill off the other fungi also and fungi help the soil in many ways, but if you have kids that might pick toadstools and eat them, this would be a quick way to kill them off and they will not come back.
What do you recycle?
Do you try and recycle? How about into the garden?
Your Soil has a Sweet Tooth
If you have a sweet tooth, dump the refined sugar in the garden and replace the carbohydrate in your diet with Stevia.
It is much better to have the sugar feeding fungi and bacteria in the soil than in your mouth anyway. The carbohydrate from sugar does help stimulate soils organisms. Honey is a good carbohydrate (unless you are diabetic), maple syrup is also (the real syrup, not the maple flavored sugary stuff), but sometimes even these can go bad. Put them in the garden, the fungi and bacteria will love you back.
Honey can go bad if it has water or other liquids added to it.
Today, however, the wife showed up with a container of pure maple syrup with mold on top. I simply sprayed water into the container, shook it up then sprinkled it all around the yard. In this case, on the grass to help keep the soil healthy.
In a different article I advised dumping fireplace ash on the soil, but to keep the organisms growing this needs carbohydrates, and sugar will do the trick.
Seriously though, you ought to eliminate refines sugars immediately from your diet, and then refined starches (white rice, white flour, etc), and then reduce your carbohydrate intake in general.
The more we learn about carbohydrate consumption the worse it looks.
Cottage Cheese for Fuchsias?
Spoiled Cottage cheese or yoghurt? Make a small hole in the soils to the side of the potted plant and deposit the milk product, mix the soils a bit and watch the plant grow. Dump it in the mulch pile if it is a closed device, or bury it anywhere in the garden. Guaranteed positive response, or your money back!
All soil organisms love milk products of all types. Soft mike products are easier for them to invade, consume, and multiply in, so don’t be shy with cottage cheese.
Do bury or cover it so cats and dogs, raccoons and skunks can’t get into it.
How many times have we left cheese in the refrigerator until it became a Science Fair project?
Fungi is nature’s way of recycling the nutrients in cheese and, after a few weeks in the refrigerator, the cheese starts to compost itself.
Remember, cheese is usually (not always) a product of fungi fermentation. I say usually because many cultures treat raw milk with acids from lemons or limes, or even vinegar to make the proteins curdle so it can be used without fermentation. This is a very fast way to make cheese.
Remember, cheese may have an antifungal added, so it becomes a slower nutrient source and rots a bit before it is used on the soil. Not a problem, but, either grate it and put it deep in a mulch pile, or bury it where an animal won’t dig it up and it won't be dug up for at least 6 months.
You could try my Patented (NOT) in-ground worm bin from above for the cheese.
There is more to come.