Please Visit Our Paid Sponsors
3lb and 3little birds are NO MORE!!! Help us save this info!
Posted 21 July 2009 - 12:19 PM
Here is what is posted on the site that is no more....
Last post!! going going GONE!!!
May 6th, 2009
we have moved on
there is nothing left for us to do here. . . if you want any of this information contained herein you had best get it very soon. . .
Both this site and the 3LB are no more. . .we will not be renewing either. . . so if you see 3LB as porn or whatever. . .let it be known we have no intention of associating with the former label because the three little birds are dissolved. we will not be reforming in any way
I have now found that 3lb and the 3little birds are no longer on line with all that valuable wisdom.
If ANYONE has any of their posts saved from Overgrow or anywhere else could you PLEASE add to our wisdom and our wish to save this for our world wide community? The information included in these valuable posts was priceless. Anyone wishing to add to this please feel free.
Thank you all of you for adding to our Wisdom. Let us hope many will have this to share.
- medicinecloset, SmokeToLive, Aint easy bein Geezy and 2 others like this
Please Visit Our Paid Sponsors
Posted 21 July 2009 - 12:28 PM
Three Little Birds-The Scoop on Poop.
Guano Guide – The Scoop on Poop by the 3LB (or . . . Manure it's the ****!)
the following "Guano Guide" is a work in progress . . . it's a project we've been working on and adding to for more than a year now . . . and everytime we think it's about finished - we find something more we want to add . . .
rather than find ourselves in a situation where we put off posting this information forever . . . we've decided to go ahead and put the information up "as is" . . .
in theory this is just one part of an even larger and more comprehensive project . . . our final plan is to eventually compile our flock's knowledge and techniques and methods into the ultimate comprehensive guide to organic herb gardening . . .
so without further fanfare . . . we present for your comments and criticism . . .
A Guano Guide – The Scoop on Poop
The three_little_birds manual on manure – it's the ****!
"Birds love the oil rich seeds of this fruitful plant and in their ecstasies of eating have swallowed many seeds whole. Throughout the ages Cannabis has flown here and there in the bellies of birds and then found itself plopped down on the earth in a pile of poop, ready to go."
Marijuana - The Cultivator's Handbook – 1979
Some ancient Italian in a proverb-making mood observed, "Hemp will grow anywhere, but without manure, though it were planted in heaven itself, it will be of no use at all." How lucky it is for Hemp to find Heaven in a pile of bird****. How fortunate for the birds to find themselves high. How fortunate for the first men and women to notice how the little singing creatures became euphoric after eating the seeds of the tall, strong smelling plant. The planet is tight."
Marijuana - The Cultivator's Handbook – 1979
Growing up on a small family farm, one of the three little bird’s childhood memories include complaining to her father about being surrounded by the terrible smell of wastes from the livestock they were raising.
"Sweetheart, that's not stink . . . That's the smell of money," was Dad's reply.
She certainly understood the value of the livestock her family was raising for profit, which was where Daddy's money came from. Early on, she also made the connection between the farm animals and the tasty meat on their own table.
She understood another ironic meaning for her Dad's statement when one of her first paying jobs came shoveling stock barns at a State Fair. And finally, one day as she appreciated the fine aroma of some beautiful blooming wildflowers growing in a recently grazed pasture, she also began to understand the role manure plays as a fertilizer in making our soils rich and productive. Her Father’s saying about manure smelling like money was a few simple words, but, as was often the case with his wisdom, it held many meanings.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The use of manure in agriculture is an age-old and time-honored tradition. Manure has been used as a soil amendment and fertilizer since before mankind first began recording words and symbols in writing. Scientists as prominent as Carl Sagan have suggested that the very first cultivated agricultural crop was likely cannabis. It’s possible that the mingling of manure and marijuana goes all the way back to the very beginning of mankind's attempts to grow crops for a purpose, rather than surviving by simple hunting and gathering.
Under the influence of some fine herb, it becomes simple to imagine going back in time. Looking back, in the mind’s eye we can see a tribe of nomadic people looking similar to modern man, but leading a primitive hunter-gatherer existence. We can imagine the clan following available game while taking advantage of locally available fruits and nuts. These men (and women) were not necessarily bigger or stronger than the wild animals they competed against for survival, but they were smarter. And during those seasonal migrations, one of those very distant ancestors likely noticed that their favorite herb plants were thriving especially well in areas where their nomadic tribe disposed of wastes near their seasonal camps.
They may have realized that the very herds of animals their clan had been following helped to distribute and nourish the plants they favored. Perhaps, as Bill Drake suggests, it was a discovery from a pile of bird**** where it all began. Regardless of where it started, with a little more thought, our ancestors realized that crops could be fertilized, and even grown with a purpose. Some speculate that this is how agriculture was born; that it all began with a fortuitously placed pile of ****.
In the end folks can call it what they like. Whether it's a fancier name like castings or guano, or one of the more common names like crap, poop, manure, or dung. In the end it's all just ****! The three_little_birds want you to know, however, that it can be very good ****. We want you to know that manures are one of the keys to unlocking the awesome potential of organic gardening.
In the immeasurable time prior to the invention of agriculture, before man began to till the soil, dead and rotting vegetation naturally returned to the earth as rich and fertile humus. In traditional forms of farming, our ancestors learned to use the components of animal dung and bedding wastes in a sustainable fashion. Before the discovery of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, manure was used as a resource, not a waste product. Natural humus, built up during the ages before agriculture, was replaced by manure, rich in nitrogen and other elements that plants depend upon. Today, that is no longer true.
From an environmental perspective, manure is a resource that is being wasted at a terrible rate. In some agricultural areas where a large number of livestock are concentrated and raised, manure is not a resource, but rather, it has become an environmental hazard. Consider, for instance, that a single hog will produce 3000 pounds of manure in under a year. It’s easy to see then how the large concentration of wastes found in corporate factory farms can rival a good-sized city for the total volume of organic waste produced.
According to one estimate, the USA alone has something in the range of 175 million farms animals. That multitude of animals excretes over two billion tons of waste per year. Due to mismanagement, misuse, and ignorance, very few of the potential nutrients from these wastes are returned to the land, less than 20% according to some estimates. Instead, this incredible mass of manure threatens to pollute river, streams, lakes, and even the subterranean groundwater that supplies many folk with their drinking water.
Therefore, finding proper solutions for the treatment and disposal of all that manure, in an economically feasible fashion, is an absolute necessity of modern agriculture. In the end, good stewardship requires sustainable farming practices that concentrate on finding a balance on the farm. So, as long as humans raise and consume animal livestock, as long as we keep animals such as horses for purpose or pleasure, it is wise to properly use manure to build and sustain our soil.
As a side note, one advanced form of gardening, vegan organics, does offer hope for budding organic gardeners who will have nothing to do with the use of manures and guanos. We mention this since some folk might be dismissive of the very thought of handling animal dung, and some indoor gardeners might be repelled by the thought of bringing it into their homes or grow areas. Perhaps for some folk this will be enough reason to decide this particular form of organic gardening is not for them.
We hope not because working with manures in your garden does not have to include large messes or smells . . . it's just a question of knowing your ****!
For a simple definition, manure is the dung and urine of animals. It is made up of undigested and partially digested food particles, as well as a ****tail of digestive juices and bacteria. As much as 30% of the total mass of manure may be bacteria, so it should be no surprise that dung can serve as excellent inoculants for a compost pile. Mixing manure in your compost can provide all the necessary bacterial populations to quickly and efficiently break down all the other materials common to the heap.
Manures can contain the full range of major, minor, and micronutrients that our plants need for strong health and vigor. Most manure will contain these nutrients in forms that are readily available to plants. The organic components of manure will continue to break down slowly over time, providing food for plants in the longer term as well. When composted with even longer-lived rock fertilizers such as Rock Phosphate or Greensand, manures can be used for true long-term soil building.
In addition to providing excellent service to gardeners as a potential fertilizer and soil builder, guanos and manures can also both be effectively applied as teas. Manure and guano teas act as fertilizers, providing available nutrients in forms easily assimilated by plants. They also serve as very effective inoculants of many beneficial bacteria
The nutrient value of manures can vary significantly from species to species, due to different digestive systems and feeding patterns. Even within a species, the fertilizer content of dung will vary depending on factors such as diet, the animal’s general health, as well as their age. Young animals devote much of their energy to growth, so their manure will be poorer in nutrients than that of mature animals. A lot full of baby pigs on starter feed will deposit wastes with a different nutrient value than the wastes produced by a lot full of swine ready to go to market.
An animal’s diet certainly plays a factor as well. The Rodale Book on Composting (an excellent resource) uses the example of an animal fed only straw and hay. The waste from that animal will be significantly different in nutrient content when compared to a sibling fed a diet including more nutritious feed such as wheat bran, cottonseed meal, or gluten meal.
The purpose an animal is used and bred for can even cause the nutrient value of a manure to vary. Dairy cows serve here as an excellent example. Milk production is somewhat taxing, even to a dairy cow. In addition to large amounts of calcium, milk also contains high levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the three primary plant nutrients. Since so many nutrients are being used to produce milk, less actual plant fertilizer will be available in those animal wastes for soil building.
Another factor that will change the fertilizer value of manure is relative age and the way it has been handled. Manures left exposed to the elements will quickly lose their nutrient value. Rain can quickly leach soluble nutrients from manure. A thin pile of crap can lose as much as one half of its fertilizer value in under a week. To fully capture the nutrient potential of manure, it’s necessary to compost the **** quickly while it’s still fresh.
With the exception of guanos (which are mined fossilized waste deposits) and castings (which are mild and well digested), it is generally advisable to compost wastes and manures before direct use in your garden. When added directly to soil, fresh manures can act in a similar fashion to chemical fertilizers. The Nitrogen in fresh manures (ammonia and highly soluble nitrates) can burn delicate plant root systems and even interfere with seed germination.
Another good reason to compost manures before use is the fact that some animal manure can be full of weed seeds. Proper high temperature composting techniques can kill those unwanted guests as well as many potential soil pathogens. Used alone, animal manures may not be completely balanced fertilizers. However, once the manures have been properly amended and composted, any imbalances can be easily corrected and the manure itself can be broken down and digested into nutrients that are both balanced and available for our favorite plants and herbs.
Proper composting will actually increase nutrient value in manure. Some types of bacteria in a compost pile will “fix” nitrogen. This preserves this essential nutrient by preventing escape as gaseous ammonia. If the conscientious composter prevents leaching, all of the original phosphorus and potassium can be preserved. As an added benefit, the composting process will increase the solubility of these nutrients.
We want to continue our discourse with a simple listing of manures that can be used to good effect by budding gardeners. But, we would be remiss if we did not begin by first discussing the few manures we believe are NOT suitable for use in gardening.
Human wastes, as well as the wastes of domestic cats and dogs, are considered totally unsuitable for use as fertilizer. DO NOT GARDEN WITH THESE WASTES! With these sources, too large a potential exists for the spread of deadly parasites and disease. Just say no to any suggestion for the use of those few manure sources.
That said, there are a great variety of guanos, manures, and castings that are safe and available for use by the enterprising horticulturalist. The list includes but is not limited to:
• The Manures
1. Chicken Manure
2. Poultry Manures (including Duck, Pigeon & Turkey Manure)
3. Cattle Manure
4. Goat Manure
5. Horse Manure
6. Pig Manure
7. Rabbit Manure
8. Sheep Manure
• The Guanos
1. Bat Guano – (including Mexican, Jamaican, & Indonesian bat guanos)
2. Seabird Guano – (including Peruvian seabird guano)
• Miscellaneous Wastes / Manures
1. Earthworm Castings
2. Cricket Castings
3. Aquarium & Aquatic Turtle Wastewater
5. Green Manures
Now it's time to describe the various manures and their unique attributes.
Bird Manures - are treated separately from animal manures since fowls don't excrete urine separately like mammals do. Because of this, bird manures tend to be "hotter". Overall they are much richer in many nutrients than animal manures, especially nitrogen. Because of their higher nutrient content, some growers prefer bird**** to the other animal manures.
Chicken Manure (1.1-1.4-0.6) - is the most common bird **** available for farmers. It's high in nitrogen and can easily burn plants unless composted first.
Feathers (often included with chicken manure) tend to further increase available nitrogen - an added bonus. A small amount of dried chicken manure can be used as a top-dressing or mixed in small concentrations directly into soil. Chicken manures are probably best used after complete composting. Chicken droppings are often composted with other manures as well as green matter, leaves, straw, shredded corncobs, or other convenient source of organic carbons. Chicken manure is also a common ingredient in some mushroom compost recipes. One potential concern for the budding organic farmer, is the large amount of antibiotics fed to domestic fowl in large production facilities. It is also suggested that some caution should be used when handling chicken droppings, whether fresh or dried. Dried chicken **** is very fine and is a lung irritant. Caution is also counseled since bird (and bat guanos) can carry spores that cause human respiratory disease, so please wear a mask when handling bird and bat guanos and fresh foul waste.
Poultry Manures (1.1-1.4-0.6) - are often simply chicken **** mixed also with the droppings of other domesticated birds including duck droppings, pigeon poop, and turkey turds. They are "hotter" than most animal droppings, and in general they can be treated like chicken ****.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Animal Manures vary by species, and also depending of how the animals are kept and manures are collected. Urine contains a large percentage of nitrogen and potassium. This means that animals boarded in a fashion where urine is absorbed with their feces (by straw or other similar bedding), can produce organic compost that is richer in nutrients.
Cattle Manure (0.6-0.2-0.5) - is considered "cold" manure since it is moister and less concentrated than most other animal ****. It breaks down and gives off nutrients fairly slowly. Cow **** is an especially good source of beneficial bacteria, because of the complex bovine digestive system. Cow digestion includes regurgitation (cows chew their "cud") and a series of stomachs, all evolved to help cows more fully digest grasses. Since cow manure is more fully digested, it also is less likely to become a source of weed seeds than some other manure. Depending on your location, many sources of cattle manure can be from dairy cows. Recent expansion in the use of bovine growth hormones to increase milk production certainly could become a concern for organic farmers trying to source safe cattle manures. The healthier the cow, and the healthier the cow's diet, the more nutrients its manure will carry.
Goat Manure (0.7-0.3-0.9) - can be treated in a similar fashion to sheep dung or horse ****. It is usually fairly dry and rich and is a "hot" manure (therefore best composted before use).
Horse Manure (0.7-0.3-0.6) - is richer in nitrogen than cattle or swine manure, so it is a "hot" manure. A common source of horse manure is rural stables, where owners usually bed the beasts very well. Horse manures sourced from stables, therefore, may also contain large amounts of other organic matter such as wood shavings or straw with manure mixed in. Some sources of mushroom compost contain large quantities of horse manure and bedding in their mix. So from one standpoint, horse****'s use in herb growing is already fairly well documented. Horse****, because it is hot, should be composted along with other manures and higher carbon materials, and in some cases wet down, to prevent it from cooking too hot and fast which destroys potential plant nutrients. As is true with all the different manures, healthier, well maintained animals will produce more nutritious and better balanced fertilizer. Since horses are usually well tended, this means horse manure from stables is usually a pretty good source for those in search of ****. Unfortunately, horse crap also contains a higher number of weed seeds than other comparable manure fertilizers.
Pig Manure (0.5-0.3-0.5) - is highly concentrated or "hot" manure. It is less rich in nitrogen than horse or bird crap, but stronger than many of the other animal manures. Swine crap is wetter overall than other mammal manures, and is often stored by farmers in the form of liquid slurry, that is mostly water. When allowed to dry, hog **** becomes a very fine dust, which can be a lung irritant. Pig **** is less likely to have nutrients "burn off" in the compost pile than horse manure, but is best used when mixed and composted with other manures and/or large quantities of vegetable matter.
Rabbit Manure (2.4-1.4-0.6) - is the hottest of the animal manures. It may even be higher in nitrogen than some poultry manures. As an added bonus it also contains fairly high percentages of phosphates. Because of it's high nitrogen content, rabbit crap is best used in small quantities (as a light top dressing or lightly mixed into soil) or composted before use. An excellent fertilizer by itself, some folks combine rabbit hutches with worm farms to create what is a potentially very rich source of nutritious worm castings. As with other animal manures, healthier animals fed a nutritious diet will produce a superior manure fertilizer.
Sheep Manure (0.7-0.3-0.9) - is another hot manure similar to horse or goat manure. It is generally high in nutrients and heats up quickly in a compost pile because it contains little water. Sheep and goat pellets, because they are lighter, are easier to handle than some other manures. Sheep **** contains relatively few weed seeds but more organic matter than other animal manures. As a side note, sheep farming is generally more destructive to the environment than cattle farming (or many other grazers). Sheep have a "split lip" allowing them to graze closer to the ground, so they tend to strip grass bare to the root. This heavy grazing kills many grasses, leaving earth more prone to destructive erosion. While it’s hardly considered environmentally friendly, cattle grazing is less heavy on the land than sheep farming.
"There are, in Cuba, a great number of caves providing a considerable supply of the richest fertilizer. In these caves, where bats shelter, a fertilizer has accumulated, a true guano, the result of a mixture of solid and liquid excrement, the remains of the fruit that fed the animals, and their own carcasses. All these materials, sheltered from the sun, air and rain, form a rich mix of nitrogenous, carbonaceous and saline elements. They contain uric acid, ammonium urate, nitrates, phosphates and calcium carbonate, alkaline salts, etc. The huge quantity of guano amassed in some caves can be explained by the number of beasts that have sheltered there for so many years".
Alvaro Reinoso - "Ensayos sobre el cultivo de la caña de azúcar", ("Essays on sugar-cane cultivation"), Havana - 1862
Bat and seabird guanos are some of the most wonderful, extraordinary, versatile, naturally occurring organic fertilizers known to man. They are not considered to be a renewable resource, and they are sometimes mined in an environmentally destructive fashion, so environmentally conscious growers sometimes avoid guanos.
Bat Guano - Bat guano is found as deposits in some caves that have been inhabited by these little flying mammals. Bat crap can sometimes also be found in smaller quantities in other places bats inhabit (old or abandoned buildings, trees, etc.). Bat guano has many horticultural uses. Its presence can help to guarantee efficient soil regeneration. When used as a fertilizer or tea, bat crap fosters abundant harvests of a high quality, making it an invaluable agricultural fertilizer for producing outstanding organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Many dedicated organic farmers insist that bat guano brings out the best flavors in their organic herbs. The bottom line is bat guano has many excellent properties that give it great value for growing an organic product of the highest quality. It may very well be possible to justify the boast that bat guano is "superior to all other natural fertilizers".
Bat Guano consists primarily of excrement of bats (no surprises there – eh?) It also contains the remains of bats that lived and died in that location over many long years. Bat guano is usually found in caves, and bats are not the only residents. Therefore, bat guano almost certainly contains the remains and excrement of other critters such as insects, mice, snakes and (gasp!) even birds. And, guano is by no means just collected excrement and animal remains, as guano ages it can undergo a array of complex decomposition and leaching processes.
The fertilizer quality of any particular bat guano depends on variety of factors. These can include: the type of rock in which the guano cave formed, the feeding habits of the bat species producing the guano, the guano’s age, and the progress of mineralization in the guano (which undergoes an endless transformation through chemical and biological processes). Guano can appear in a wide range of colors including white, yellow, brown, hazel, gray, black, or red, but color does not indicate or influence its quality.
One of the factors that can determine the fertilizer quality of bat guano is the dietary habits of the different bat species who inhabit a cave. Some bats are vegetarian, eating primarily fruits. Other bats are carnivorous; their diet usually consists of insects and similar small critters. As an example, the specific form of nitrogen in guano will depend on the feeding habits of the bats living in the caves. Bats that feed on insects eject fragments of chitin, the main component of insects' exoskeletons. Chitin resists decomposition, and contributes a long lasting form of nitrogen that appears in many older guano deposits. Obviously, chitin from digested insect remains is not likely to be found in any quantity in the guano of fruit eating bats.
Even a cave’s location will effect the composition of guano deposits found within. Different chemical reactions during the actual cave making process result in different nutrient characteristics in the various guanos. Over time, guano combines in various ways with the actual rock and minerals from the bedrock of their region. Ultimately, minerals may be deposited throughout layers of guano by a variety of means. Minerals that have been dissolved in water filtering through porous rock from above can fortify guano deposits as they drip from cave ceilings. In caves where water filters through the guano, soluble elements will likely be washed out, so the composition of the guano changes in other ways as well.
In addition to minerals deposited by leaching water, another factor in guano composition is the huge amount of particulates that fall from the cave ceilings and walls where the bats sleep and hibernate. The release of their liquid excrement at high-pressure pounds cave walls, and the physical presence of the bats as they constantly flit about, both combine to cause erosion. Chemical reactions caused by the bat crap (as well as many natural cave making processes), also work to break down cave ceilings and walls. All of these factors result in an invisible rain of minute solid mineral particulates. All of these mineral particulates are mixed into the copious quantities of bat crap (and other matter) deposited on the floor. As a result, bat guanos have a wide range natural / organic source mineral nutrients that are immediately available for plants, called chelates.
Another large component of bat guano deposits is the “fauna” within, the great collection of microorganisms that work as decomposers. Their main function is to accelerate the process of breaking down organic matter in the guano. These beneficial bacteria populations work to increase the guano’s wealth of essential nutrients, and can provide their own benefit to gardeners as a soil innoculant.
Once bat guano is deposited, it begins and endless process of transformation. From fresh deposits, nitrogen is the essential element that is usually released first. This is partially as ammonia, with its characteristic strong smell, which is omnipresent in fresh guano. The rest of the nitrogen oxidizes and forms nitrates that are often dissolved and leached by water. The phosphorus contained in guano comes partly from bat excrement, but is generally from skeletal remains (it may also come from mineral elements in the cave.) Many of the decomposition processes work to concentrate phosphorous levels in bat guano deposits as they age, and this provides some of guano’s greatest value to gardeners. Potassium is often the least represented of the three essential macro-elements, due to the solubility of its compounds, which are usually washed out of guano deposits by natural cave conditions.
During decomposition the actual proportion of the different fertilizer components of the guano change. As the guano breaks down, the levels of organic matter, nitrogen, and potassium will fall. At the same time, the relative levels of calcium, phosphates, sand, and clay levels will rise. The actual excrement and remains of bats are the main source of the elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in guano. The organic compounds in the excrement contain sulphur, phosphorus, and nitrogen. After decomposition and oxidation, these combine to form sulphuric, phosphoric, and nitric acids.
Over time, those acids react with mineral elements from cave rock to form a variety of mineral salts – including sulphates, phosphates, and nitrates. Leaching washes out most of the soluble compounds including the nitrates, sodium, and potassium compounds. At the same time, the insoluble phosphates and sulphates build up in larger proportions. These include calcium phosphate, iron phosphate, aluminium phosphate and calcium sulphate. .
As we have already said, bat guano is an ecological fertilizer, obtained naturally from the excrement and physical remains of bats living in caves. This product is rich in nutrients, outclassing all other existing organic fertilizers, with a better balance of essential nutrients (N-P-K), a wealth of micro-organisms and much higher levels of organic matter. Its chemical and biological composition vary according to the bats' feeding habits, type of cave, age of guano, etc.
A great variety of different agrochemical analyses have been carried out on bat guanos through the years. All the different analysis show that the nutrient and micro-organism content of bat guanos are high, but it varies according to the type of guano. Because the chemical, physical and biological composition of bat guano (and other organic fertilizers) will naturally vary, it is impossible to set a specific single value for any nutrient. The table below is copied from internet research and is a summary of the variety of results obtained from bat guano analyses.
Source: Omar Páez Malagón, January 2004
Total Nitrogen(N) 1.00-6.00%
Phosphorus Oxide (P2O5) 1.50-9.00%
Potassium Oxide (K2O) 0.70-1.20%
Calcium Oxide (CaO) 3.60-12.0%
Magnesium Oxide (MgO) 0.70-2.00%
Iron (Fe) 0.70-1.50%
Copper (Cu) 0.20-0.50%
Manganese Oxide (MnO) 0.40-0.70%
Zinc (Zn) 0.40-0.65%
Sodium (Na+) 0.45-0.50%
Organic matter (OM) 30-65% pH (in H2O) 4.3-5.5
Ratio C/N 8-15/1
Humidity (Hy) 40-30%
Total humic extract 25-15.00%
Microbial flora 30 - 45x107 u.f.c./ gr
These values are not always uniform, but provide useful data for calculating doses of nutrients or micro-organisms and analyzing the product's physical properties for agricultural or industrial use. These indicators are for intermediate guano, in the natural state of transition between fresh guano and old or fossil guano. Source: Omar Páez Malagón, January 2004
this section is reserved for more specific information on Seabird Guano
Green Manure is a crop grown for the purpose of supplying the soil with nutrients and organic matter. It is called a “cover crop” when the green manure is grown for the added purpose of reducing soil erosion. Green manures are usually legumes or grasses, and they are grown with the simple intent that they will be turned back under the soil. Cover crops and green manures are certainly cost effective for large-scale farmers, but many backyard gardeners have no idea how simple and effective they are to use. And, as we mentioned earlier, they do offer a “manure” option for growers who choose vegan organics.
Green manures improve soil in a variety of ways. Green manures add significant amount of organic matter into the soil. Like animal manures, the decomposing of green manures works to enhance biological activity in the soil. Green manures can also diminish the frequency of common weeds, and when used in a crop rotation, they can help to reduce disease and pests. When turned under, the rotting vegetation supports beneficial bacterial populations. As those decomposers do their work, nutrients stored by the cover crop are returned to the soil.
Alfalfa roots regularly grow to depths of five feet or more, soybeans and clover can reach almost as deep. Since their roots go deeper than folk would commonly cultivate with a rototiller or plow, a green manure crop can bring subsoil minerals up to where even shallow rooted plants can reach them. Green manures also help to improve overall soil structure, because those deep reaching roots leave behind minute channels deep into the soil. When these deep roots decay, they provide organic matter that promotes long-term soil building.
Except for buckwheat (a member of the rhubarb family) and rapeseed (related to the cabbages), all commonly used green manures are either legumes or grasses. Rye and oats are two good examples of grass family members that are commonly used as green manures. When we think of legumes, beans and peas are the “classics” which come to mind, but the legume family also includes relatives such as clover and alfalfa. Members of the legume family can be particularly valuable as green manures, due to their ability to “fix” nitrogen from the atmosphere.
In the legume family, a very specific type of bacteria works in league with plant roots. These microorganisms, called nitrogen fixing bacteria, form nodules on the plant roots where they work in a form of partnership with their host. Functioning in concert with the plant roots, nitrogen fixing bacteria transform atmospheric nitrogen (which plants otherwise can’t use), into ammonia, which plant roots can easily absorb.
If one of these plants is uprooted, the small nodules become visible as white or pinkish bumps the size of a large pinhead. The more nodules visible the better, since more nodules equals more nitrogen fixed. To assure that enough of these bacteria are present, commercially sold legume seeds are often treated with a bacterial innoculant. Make sure to get the appropriate innoculant for your specific legume crop if it’s necessary to inoculate your own soil or legume seed stock.
Each kind of legume requires a specific species of bacteria for effective nitrogen fixation, and each innoculant works for only a few species. It’s usually possible to buy an innoculant mix designed for all peas, snap or dry beans, as well as lima beans. Soybeans will require their own specific innoculant. A totally different innoculant will be needed to serve the needs of the vetches (as well as fava beans.) Still another nitrogen fixing bacteria will work with all the true clovers, but sweet clovers will require yet another innoculant.
With careful stewardship, a legume cover crop can enrich the soil with enough nitrogen to supply most of the following years crop nitrogen needs. Commonly used legumes for cover crops include: alfalfa; fava, mung and soy beans; a whole variety of clovers; cowpeas and field peas; common or hairy vetch; the lupines; and finally our favorite name among the legume cover crops – Birdsfoot trefoil.
Although the grasses and other non-legumes do not have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, they still provide all the other benefits of green manures. Other non-legume crops grown for green manure include; barley, bromegrass, buckwheat, millet, oats, rapeseed, winter rye, ryegrass, grain sorghum, and wheat.
Seed for cover crop and green manures doesn’t need to come from fancy little packets at the garden center. Purchase grass and legume seeds by the pound, if you can, to save money. Farm and agricultural supply centers, what we call “feed & seed” stores, usually offer the most economical source. If your garden area is small, a single pound of seed may go a long way. With the smaller seeds, a pound could be expected to last through a couple of plantings. The larger seeds of legumes, like beans and peas, don’t store as well, so it’s advised to purchase them fresh annually.
The use of green manures and cover crops is relatively simple, the primary necessity being the time to grow the plants. Some preplanning is always helpful to make sure the correct crop is selected to best meet the grower’s needs. So, for example, if enriching soil nitrogen levels is a goal, then it’s best to choose a cover crop from the legume family due to their ability to fix nitrogen.
Some green manure plantings tolerate poor soil quality better than others, so some cover crops may be chosen because they tolerate particularly acidic (or alkaline) conditions. If a grower needs to break up hardpan soil and improve drainage, some cover crops grow very strong and deep roots. Such conditions call for green manures like alfalfa and birdsfoot trefoil that can thrust their roots through anything but the most dreadfully compressed soils.
As stated earlier, deep-rooted plants can also bring up essential nutrients from the subsoil. And, some do even more; they actually accumulate nutrients, concentrating them. Growing these green manures can produce a measurable (although not huge) increase in soil nutrients. Some legumes, especially red clover, can help to increase phosphorus levels. Buckwheat also increases phosphorus, as well as helping to supplement calcium. Vetches are also accumulator plants, working to increase levels of both calcium and sulfur.
Buckwheat and Rye are examples of crops often grown as green manures that also function to control weeds. Winter Rye is actually a natural herbicide; it produces chemicals that are toxic to many weed seedlings. Buckwheat works by outgrowing its weedy competitors. The large leaves of buckwheat effectively shade out many common annual weeds.
It’s also necessary to consider the seasonal needs of your garden when planning a green manure planting. Some green manures are early season crops, while others do better when planted during the heat of summer. Winter rye and winter wheat are usually planted in the late summer or fall and then turned under in the following spring.
Another key to getting the most from a green manure planting is to turn them under at the proper time. Winter cover crops of rye and wheat, for instance, should be turned under as soon as the spring soil is dry enough to work. It’s best when turning under a winter wheat to allow at least two weeks for the green manure to “work” in the soil before beginning any spring planting.
In order to assure good germination rates, it’s necessary to wait even longer for winter rye manures to be ready for replanting. A three to four week wait is suggested after turning under a winter rye crop before sowing seeds of another crop. This is due to the same herbicidal quality that makes winter rye effective in the control of weeds. In general with most grass cover crops, the best timing is to turn them under before they form mature seed.
Turning under legumes at any time will enhance the organic matter in soil and promote an active population of beneficial soil bacteria. But, to get the full benefit of a legume plantings ability to fix nitrogen, they should be allowed to grow a full season. Perennials like alfalfa, red clover, and birdsfoot trefoil can produce additional soil enriching nitrogen if allowed to grow for a second season. If allowed those two years of growth, they can be mowed multiple times, providing a high quality source of compost or material for mulching. An alfalfa cover planting can serve as a gardener’s own sure source of fresh materials for the manufacture of alfalfa teas.
Miscellaneous Wastes / Manures
this space reserved for further information on Miscellaneous Wastes / Manures
1. Earthworm Castings
2. Cricket Castings
3. Aquarium Wastewater
As we’ve stated, one of the best reasons to use manures in growing is the fact that society (as a whole) has a surplus of animal ****. The disposal or dispersal of animal wastes is a real problem for areas where large agricultural operations produce copious excesses of waste. Even Vegans who might avoid pure animal products like bone meal or blood meal, might do well to consider using manures in growing, because the use of manures is beneficial to our planet's environment.
The best advice we can give for finding good sources of **** is to look around! We suggest you simply contact people who raise the various cows, horses, pigs or chickens that make this fertilizer. If you are lucky, they'll probably let you take a load home for free. Stables are usually listed in the phone book, and state fairs and traveling circuses can also serve as great sources for free manure. For the hopelessly urban farmer, the local zoo may also offer free crap. As an added benefit, zoos can offer some pretty exotic ****, like crap from critters like lions and tigers and bears, (oh my!) Some folk claim that manure from predator species like these can help to deter garden pests, such as rabbits and deer.
If none of these manure sources are available, or if you just prefer your **** pre-packaged, just head off to the local nursery or home-and-garden center. Wal-Mart, Lowes, and Home Depot are all examples of large outlets which will carry packaged manure products, usually cow and steer crap. Often these are at least partially composted and come labeled as "humus and manure". Nowadays, even many grocery stores carries manure products like humus and manure or mushroom compost. The budget conscious shopper can often wait until late in the season when stores are "closing out" such products before winter, to grab these items at increased discounts.
Garden centers or hydro shops are usually better sources for the more exotic ingredients like worm castings and the various bat and bird guanos. Ingredients for green manures can often be found in rural animal feed stores, or other similar agricultural supply center
- Tokecrazy, pine boy, raf33 and 6 others like this
Posted 21 July 2009 - 12:33 PM
Posted 21 July 2009 - 05:32 PM
Posted 21 July 2009 - 06:14 PM
Posted 21 July 2009 - 06:52 PM
Hey Mogie, didn't you have some larger parts stored of the good old OG site?
I am confused did you lose the copy of FAQ that you had? If so I have another copy.
- jangel likes this
Posted 22 July 2009 - 09:37 AM
Posted 26 July 2009 - 06:37 PM
Posted 27 July 2009 - 06:01 AM
- jangel and OffDaBaba like this
Posted 27 July 2009 - 07:12 AM
- Tokecrazy, justanotherbozo and jangel like this
Posted 03 August 2009 - 05:27 AM
Simple Soil Recycling by the 3LB
in the beginning God made earth also variously known as soil/dirt/sand/clay/loam etc . . . and then later Miracle-it-Grows made a mockery of the term soil and this begat hydroponics (just so no one tries to take this literally and accuse the bird’s of spreading misinformation - yes we know miracle grow soil didn’t cause the rise of hydroponics - but it makes a nice introduction story!). . . and thus began the three_little_birds efforts to bring real dirt back into indoor farming . . .
Farmer's don't throw out their topsoil after a crop, so we've always found the suggestion that folks dispose of soil after every indoor crop kind of ridiculous . . . we set out to disprove those folks who said that soil needed to be disposed of and in the process we've found our soil actually grew more fertile with time and some effort!
what will it take to use your soil over and over . . . time . . .dedication . . .a willingness (and ability) to do a lil physical labor . . . our process will involve some observation on the soil makers part . . .and you'll need to do a lil thinking . . . you will have to avoid salt and chemical ferts at all costs and build a collection of boxes or containers of different organic amendments sitting around on shelves . . .
we started with a standard soil mix pretty much like everyone else . . . when choosing a beginning organic soil we look for products like FoxFarm OceanForest or Mushroom Compost (at least the "shroom post" we find) that are often more "tree fiber" based rather than built with peat moss . . . we prefer these as our primary component over soil mixes like ProMix or SunshineMix that are mostly peat which is more acidic . . . if you plan on reusing your soil just once or twice then the peat mixes will probably work fine . . . but if you hope to use your soil endlessly like at the bird's nest then we'd say not more than 50% peat based mix to 50% tree fiber mix . . .
for the first grow prior to recycling we used a more expensive potting soil mix like the FoxFarm and then mixed in about 1/3 cheap peat based organic soil mix that was mostly peat, perlite and sand . . . we grew a couple small crops from start to finish using Earth Juice organic fertilizers and dumped all the used soil in a big 50 gallon Rubbermaid tub (w/ lid) . . . when the tub was about 4/5ths full (appx. 40 gallons of used soil) we stopped adding soil and went to work . . .
that first pass on soil remixing we added bone meal, blood meal, kelp meal and dolomite lime to the used soil . . . to be quite honest our proportions have changed a lil bit over time but it was likely something in the range of 2 cups blood meal, 4 cups kelp meal, 4 cups bone meal and 4 cups of dolomite lime . . . we mixed all those ingredients into our soil and moistened and waited a month until it was time for more soil . . .
For our next grow we would have mixed in about equal proportions of fresh and remixed amended soil . . . about ½ used soil with ½ fresh new soil and perhaps a lil added perlite to make sure the soil stayed light . . . and ran that through another grow using moderate feedings with the Earth Juice ferts . . . again we collected the used soil as it finished in the 50 gallon Rubbermaid bins . . .
at this point we started using our soil as an indoor compost bin for indoor garden waste. . . we really didn’t want to dispose of our fan leaf and stem trim in the trash . . . so we began chopping our indoor garden wastes and mixing them into our soil . . . we had quite a build up of trim trash at one time and to be honest it didn’t break down that fast this first time . . . we turned the compost in that bin several times in the next couple of months to get that trim to decompose . . . it seemed like the stems never would break down . . . finally they kind of decomposed and we mixed that “composted” soil in with our normal remixed soil and thus our composted soil methods began . . .
the plants grown in that remixed soil containing compost were very strong . . . stronger still than their sisters in fresh soil and with our 50/50 fresh and used soil remix . . . so we started including some composted soil in with every mix . . . we stopped adding any fresh soil to the mix about this time as well . . . in honesty we’d run short on soil for the moment and decided to try 100% remix . . . it worked . . . and it worked well . . .
Now let’s fast forward to a day when all of the soil remix bins had just been freshly mixed and were still stabilizing . . . we were ready to move another container to our bloom room and there was plenty of our compost on hand but no soil ready . . . now if a person reads Ed Rosenthal or Cervantes they will usually see warnings against trying to grow plants in homemade compost . . . we never quite understood this since compost is great as a top dressing in the normal garden outdoors and such . . . but we were still concerned that the “experts” knew something we didn’t . . .
we filled a 2'x3' container w/ compost and transplanted the plants in simply hoping for the best . . . turns out there was no reason to worry at all . . . they grew HUGE . . . the next time we had enough indoor compost to experiment in this way again we did . . . and the results were again beyond our normal experience . . . a third “bumper crop” from pure compost convinced us that there were secrets in the soil . . .
this post is closing in on two pages in length on the word processor now . . . so it’d be best to come back with one more post describing the current state of ongoing soil recycling project at the bird’s nest . . . in concept and practice it’s actually quite simple . . . we add organic matter as available to our soil . . . amend with nutrient goodies . . . and treat it all with great care and love . . .
we’ll be back to share the love and our current soil methods . . . the secret may very well be in the soil . . . but the bird’s won’t be keeping any secrets ourselves on how our methods work . . .
wow thats alot to read lol but all great info.
- jangel, Zoot and OffDaBaba like this
Posted 05 November 2009 - 12:30 PM
The 3LB’s Molasses Manual - A Marijuana
Growers Guide To Soil Sweeteners
This is the second in our series of threads on organic gardening techniques and tools started with the Guano Guide / Manure Manual. That particular guide was designed to be a fairly comprehensive look at the uses of poop in gardening. While we tried to keep that topic (and our puns) tasteful - there’s no avoiding the fact it’s not exactly an appetizing subject (unless you happen to be a plant!)
The 3LB's Guano Guide- The Scoop on Poop
Great Soil Recipes For Mixing Great Soil For Your Marijuana Plants
Like manure, this subject is another one of those “magical” organic goodies that contributes to plant health in more than one way. It’s also like manure
in that it’s a waste or by-product, but when we think about it, this topic really is the “other end of the stick”!
Now it’s time to move on to a much much sweeter topic . . .
Molasses . . .
like the boy’s on South Park are sometimes known for saying - “That’s what I call a sticky situation!” . . .
Sweet Organic Goodness - Magical Molasses
There are a number of different nutrient and fertilizer companies selling a variety of additives billed as carbohydrate booster products for plants. Usually
retailing for tens of dollars per gallon if not tens of dollars per liter, these products usually claim to work as a carbohydrate source for plants. A
variety of benefits are supposed to be unlocked by the use of these products, including the relief of plant stresses and increases in the rate of nutrient
uptake. On the surface it sounds real good, and while these kinds of products almost always base their claims in enough science to sound good, reality
doesn’t always live up to the hype.
The 3LB are pretty well known for our distrust of nutrient companies like Advanced Nutrients who produce large lines of products (usually with large accompanying
price tags) claiming to be a series of “magic bullets” - unlocking the keys to growing success for new and experienced growers alike. One member of the
three_little_birds grower’s and breeder’s
collective decided to sample one of these products a while back, intending to give the product a fair trial and then report on the results to the community
at Cannabis World.
Imagine, if you will, Tweetie bird flying off to the local hydroponics store, purchasing a bottle of the wonder product -
“Super Plant Carb!” (not it’s real name) - and then dragging it back to the bird’s nest. With a sense of expectation our lil’ bird opens the lid, hoping
to take a peek and a whiff of this new (and expensive) goodie for our wonderful plants. She is greeted with a familiar sweet smell that it takes a moment
to place. Then the realization hits her. . .
Molasses! The “Super Plant Carb!” smells just like Blackstrap Molasses. At the thought that she’s just paid something like $15 for a liter of molasses,
our Tweetie bird scowls. Surely she tells herself there must be more to this product than just molasses. So she dips a wing into the sweet juice ever so
slightly, and brings it up to have a taste.
Much the same way a sneaky Sylvester cat is exposed by a little yellow bird saying - “I thought I saw a puddy tat . . . I did I did see a puddy tat . .
. and he’s standing right there!” - our Tweetie bird had discovered the essence of this product. It was indeed nothing more than Blackstrap Molasses, a
quick taste had conformed for our Tweetie bird that she had wasted her time and effort lugging home a very expensive bottle of plant food additive. Molasses
is something we already use for gardening at the Bird’s Nest. In fact sweeteners like molasses have long been a part of the arsenal of common products
used by organic gardeners to bring greater health to their soils and plants.
So please listen to the little yellow bird when she chirps, because our Tweetie bird knows her stuff. The fertilizer companies are like the bumbling Sylvester
in many ways, but rather than picturing themselves stuffed with a little bird, they see themselves growing fat with huge profits from the wallets of unsuspecting
consumers. Let us assure you it’s not the vision of yellow feathers floating in front of their stuffed mouths that led these executives in their attempt
to “pounce” on the plant growing public.
And the repackaging of molasses as plant food or plant additive is not just limited to the companies selling their products in hydroponic stores. Folks
shopping at places like Wal-Mart are just as likely to be taken in by this tactic. In this particular case the offending party is Schultz® Garden Safe
All Purpose Liquid Plant Food 3-1-5. This is a relatively inexpensive product that seems appealing to a variety of organic gardeners. Here’s Shultz own
description of their product.
“Garden Safe Liquid Plant Foods are made from plants in a patented technology that provides plants with essential nutrients for beautiful flowers and foliage
and no offensive smell. Plus they improve soils by enhancing natural microbial activity. Great for all vegetables, herbs, flowers, trees, shrubs and houseplants
including roses, tomatoes, fruits, and lawns. Derived from completely natural ingredients, Garden Safe All Purpose Liquid Plant Food feeds plants and invigorates
soil microbial activity. Made from sugar beet roots! No offensive manure or fish odors.”
That sure sounds good, and the three_little_birds will even go as far as to say we agree 100% with all the claims made in that little blurb of ad copy.
But here’s the problem, Shultz isn’t exactly telling the public that the bottle of “fertilizer” they are buying is nothing more than a waste product derived
from the production of sugar. In fact, Schultz® Garden Safe 3-1-5 Liquid Plant Food is really and truly nothing more than a form molasses derived from
sugar beet processing that is usually used as an animal feed sweetener. If you don’t believe a
band of birds, go ahead and look for yourself at the fine print on a Garden Safe bottle where it says - “Contains 3.0% Water Soluble Nitrogen, 1.0% Available
Phosphate, 5.0% Soluble Potash - derived from molasses.”
The only problem we see, is that animal feed additives shouldn’t be retailing for $7.95 a quart, and that’s the price Shultz is charging for it’s Garden
Safe product. While we don’t find that quite as offensive as Advanced Nutrients selling their “CarboLoad” product for $14.00 a liter, we still know that
it’s terribly overpriced for sugar processing wastes. So, just as our band of birds gave the scoop on poop in our Guano Guide, we’re now about to give
folks the sweet truth about molasses.
Molasses is a syrupy, thick juice created by the processing of either sugar beets or the sugar cane plant. Depending on the definition used, Sweet Sorghum
also qualifies as a molasses, although technically it’s a thickened syrup more akin to Maple Syrup than to molasses. The grade and type of molasses depends
on the maturity of the sugar cane or beet and the method of extraction. The different molasses’ have names like: first molasses, second molasses, unsulphured
molasses, sulphured molasses, and blackstrap molasses. For gardeners the sweet syrup can work as a carbohydrate source to feed and stimulate microorganisms.
And, because molasses (average NPK 1-0-5) contains potash,
sulfur, and many trace minerals, it can serve as a nutritious soil amendment. Molasses is also an excellent chelating agent.
Several grades and types of molasses are produced by sugar cane processing. First the plants are harvested and stripped of their leaves, and then the sugar
cane is usually crushed or mashed to extract it’s sugary juice. Sugar manufacturing begins by boiling cane juice until it reaches the proper consistency,
it is then processed to extract sugar. This first boiling and processing produces what is called first molasses, this has the highest sugar content of
the molasses because relatively little sugar has been extracted from the juice. Green (unripe) sugar cane that has been treated with sulphur fumes during
sugar extraction produces sulphured molasses. The juice of sun-ripened cane which has been clarified and concentrated produces unsulphured molasses. Another
boiling and sugar extraction produces second molasses which has a slight bitter tinge to its taste.
Further rounds of processing and boiling yield dark colored blackstrap molasses, which is the most nutritionally valuable of the various types of molasses.
It is commonly used as a sweetner in the manufacture of cattle and other animal feeds, and is even sold as a human health supplement. Any kind of molasses
will work to provide benefit for soil and growing
plants, but blackstrap molasses is the best choice because it contains the greatest concentration of sulfur, iron and micronutrients from the original cane
material. Dry molasses is something different still. It’s not exactly just dried molasses either, it’s molasses sprayed on grain residue which acts as
Molasses production is a bit different when it comes to the sugar beet. You might say “bird’s know beets” because one of our flock grew up near Canada’s
“sugar beet capitol” in Alberta. Their family worked side by side with migrant workers tending the beet fields. The work consisted of weeding and thinning
by hand, culling the thinner and weaker plants to
leave behind the best beets. After the growing season and several hard frosts - which increase the sugar content - the beets are harvested by machines,
piled on trucks and delivered to their destination.
At harvest time, a huge pile of beets will begin to build up outside of the sugar factory that will eventually dwarf the factory itself in size. Gradually
throughout the winter the pile will diminish as the whole beets are ground into a mash and then cooked. The cooking serves to reduce and clarify the beet
mash, releasing huge columns of stinky (but harmless) beet steam into the air. Sometimes, if the air is cold enough, the steam will fall to the ground
around the factory as snow!
As we’ve already learned, in the of sugar cane the consecutive rounds of sugar manufacturing produce first molasses and second molasses. With the humble
sugar beet, the intermediate syrups get names like high green and low green, it’s only the syrup left after the final stage of sugar extraction that is
called molasses. After final processing, the leftover sugar beet mash is dried then combined with the thick black colored molasses to serve as fodder for
cattle. Sugar beet molasses is also used to sweeten feed for horses, sheep, chickens, etc.
Sugar beet molasses is only considered useful as an animal feed additive because it has fairly high concentrations of many salts including calcium, potassium,
oxalate, and chloride. Despite the fact that it’s not suitable for human consumption and some consider it to be an industrial waste or industrial by-product,
molasses produced from sugar beets makes a wonderful plant fertilizer. While humans may reject beet molasses due to the various “extras” the sugar beet
brings to the table, to our plant’s it’s a different story. Sugar beet molasses is usually fairly chemical free as well, at least in our experience. Although
farmers generally fertilize their fields in the spring using the various arrays of available fertilizers, weed chemicals (herbicides) are not used for
this crop due to the beet plant’s relatively delicate nature.
There is at least one other type of “molasses” we are aware of, and that would be sorghum molasses. It’s made from a plant known as sweet sorghum or sorghum
cane in treatments somewhat similar to sugar beets and/or sugar cane processing. If our understanding is correct, sorghum molasses is more correctly called
a thickened syrup rather than a by-product of sugar production. So in our eyes sorghum molasses is probably more like Maple Syrup than a true molasses.
In the distant past sorghum syrup was a common locally produced sweetener in many areas, but today it is fairly rare speciality product that could get fairly
pricey compared to Molasses. Because sorghum molasses is the final product of sweet sorghum processing, and blackstrap and sugar beet molasses are simply
waste by-products of sugar manufacturing, it’s pretty easy to understand the difference in expense between the products. The word from the birds is - there
isn’t any apparent advantage to justify the extra expense of using sorghum molasses as a substitute for blackstrap or sugar beet molasses in the garden.
So if you find sorghum molasses, instead of using it in your garden, you’ll probably want to use it as an alternate sweetener on some biscuits.
That’s a quick bird’s eye look at the differences between the various types and grades of molasses and how they are produced. Now it’s time to get a peek
at the why’s and how’s of using molasses in gardening.
The reason nutrient manufacturer’s have “discovered” molasses is the simple fact that it’s a great source of carbohydrates to stimulate the growth of beneficial
microorganisms. “Carbohydrate” is really just a fancy word for sugar, and molasses is
the best sugar for horticultural use. Folks who have read some of our prior essays know that we are big fans of promoting and nourishing soil life, and
that we attribute a good portion of our growing success to the attention we pay to building a thriving “micro-herd” to work in concert with plant roots
to digest and assimilate nutrients. We really do buy into the old organic gardening adage - “Feed the soil not the plant.”
Molasses is a good, quick source of energy for the various forms of microbes and soil life in a compost pile or good living soil. As we said earlier, molasses
is a carbon source that feeds the beneficial microbes that create greater natural soil fertility. But, if giving a sugar boost was the only goal, there
would be lot’s of alternatives. We could even go with the old Milly Blunt story of using Coke on plants as a child, after all Coke would be a great source
of sugar to feed microbes and it also contains phosphoric acid to provide phosphorus for strengthening roots and encouraging blooming. In our eyes though,
the primary thing that makes molasses the best sugar for agricultural use is it’s trace minerals.
In addition to sugars, molasses contains significant amounts of potash, sulfur, and a variety of micronutrients. Because molasses is derived from plants,
and because the manufacturing processes that create it remove mostly sugars, the majority of the mineral nutrients that were contained in the original
sugar cane or sugar beet are still present in molasses. This is a critical factor because a balanced supply of mineral nutrients is essential for those
“beneficial beasties” to survive and thrive. That’s one of the secrets we’ve discovered to really successful organic gardening, the micronutrients found
in organic amendments like molasses, kelp, and alfalfa were all derived from other plant sources and are quickly and easily available to our soil and plants.
This is especially important for the soil “micro-herd” of critters who depend on
tiny amounts of those trace minerals as catalysts to make the enzymes that create biochemical transformations. That last sentence was our fancy way of saying
- it’s actually the critters in “live soil” that break down organic fertilizers and “feed” it to our plants.
One final benefit molasses can provide to your garden is it’s ability to work as a chelating agent. That’s a scientific way of saying that molasses is one
of those “magical” substances that can convert some chemical nutrients into a form that’s easily available for critters and plants. Chelated minerals can
be absorbed directly and remain available and stable in the
soil. Rather than spend a lot of time and effort explaining the relationships between chelates and micronutrients, we are going to quote one of our favorite
sources for explaining soil for scientific laymen.
“Micronutrients occur, in cells as well as in soil, as part of large, complex organic molecules in chelated form. The word chelate (pronounced “KEE-late”)
comes from the Greek word for “claw,” which indicates how a single nutrient ion is held in the center of the larger molecule. The finely balanced interactions
between micronutrients are complex and not fully understood. We do know that balance is crucial; any micronutrient, when present in excessive amounts,
will become a poison, and certain poisonous elements, such as chlorine are also essential micronutrients.
For this reason natural, organic sources of micronutrients are the best means of supplying them to the soil; they are present in balanced quantities and
not liable to be over applied through error or ignorance. When used in naturally chelated form, excess micronutrients will be locked up and prevented from
disrupting soil balance.”
Excerpted from “The Soul of Soil”
by Grace Gershuny and Joe Smillie
That’s not advertising hype either, no product being sold there. That’s just the words of a pair of authors who have spent their lives studying, building,
and nurturing soils.
Molasses’ ability to act as a chelate explains it’s presence in organic stimulant products like Earth Juice Catalyst. Chelates are known for their ability
to unlock the potential of fertilizers, and some smart biological farmers we know are using chelating agents (like Humic Acid) to allow them to make dramatic
cuts in normal levels of fertilizer application.
One way to observe this reaction at work would be to mix up a solution of one part molasses to nine parts water and then soak an object which is coated
with iron rust (like a simple nail for instance) in that solution for two weeks. The chelating action of the molasses will remove the mineral elements
of the rust and hold them in that “claw shaped” molecule that Grace and Joe just described.
As we’ve commented on elsewhere, it’s not always possible to find good information about the fertilizer benefits of some products that aren’t necessarily
produced as plant food. But we’ve also found that by taking a careful look at nutritional information provided for products like molasses that can be consumed
by humans, we can get a pretty decent look at the
nutrition we can expect a plant to get as well.
There are many brand’s of molasses available, so please do not look at our use of a particular brand as an endorsement, our choice of Brer Rabbit molasses
as an example is simply due to our familiarity with the product, one of our Grandmother’s preferred this brand.
Brer Rabbit Blackstrap Molasses
Nutritional Information and Nutrition Facts:
Serving Size: 1Tbsp. (21g).
Servings per Container: About 24.
Amount Per Serving: Calories - 60;
Percentage Daily Values;
Fat - 0g, 0%;
Sodium - 65mg. 3%;
Potassium - 800 mg. 23%;
Total Carbohydrates - 13g, 4%;
Sugars - 12g,
Protein - 1g,
Calcium - 2%; Iron 10%;
Not a significant source of calories from fat, sat.
fat, cholesterol, fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C.
The How’s of Molasses
Undoubtedly some folks are to the point where they are ready for our flock to “cut to the chase.” All the background about molasses making and the various
kinds of molasses is good, and knowing how molasses works as a fertilizer is great too, but by now many of you may be thinking - isn’t it about time to
learn how to actually use this wonder product?! So this
section of the “Molasses Manual” is for our birdie buds who are ready, waiting, and wanting to get going with bringing the sticky goodness of molasses into
Molasses is a fairly versatile product, it can serve as a plant food as well as a an additive to improve a fertilizer mix or tea. Dry molasses can be used
as an ingredient in a fertilizer mix, and liquid molasses can be used alone or as a component in both sprays and soil drenches. Your personal preferences
and growing style will help to decide how to best use this natural sweetener for it’s greatest effect in your garden.
We will try and address the use of dry molasses first, although we will openly admit this is an area where we have little actual experience with gardening
use. We’ve certainly mixed dry molasses into animal feed before, so we’re not totally unfamiliar with it’s use. Folks may remember from our earlier description
of the various kinds of molasses that dry molasse
s is actually a ground grain waste “carrier” which has been coated with molasses. This gives dry molasses a semi-granular texture that can be mixed into
a feed mix (for animals) or a soil mix (for our favorite herbs). Dry molasses has a consistency that was described by one bird as similar to mouse droppings
or rat turds, (folks had to know we’d fit a manure reference in here somehow).
The best use we can envision for dry molasses in the herb garden is to include it in some sort of modified “super-soil” recipe, like Vic High originally
popularized for the cannabis community. As we admitted, the use of dry molasses in soil mixes isn’t something we have personal experience with, at least
not yet. We are planning some experiments to see how a bit
of dry molasses will work in a soil mix. We believe that moderate use should help stimulate micro-organisms and also help in chelating micronutrients and
holding them available for our herbs. The plan is to begin testing with one cup of dried molasses added per 10 gallons of soil mix and then let our observations
guide the efforts from there.
Another option for molasses use in the garden is it’s use alone as a fertilizer. The Schultz Garden Safe Liquid Plant Food is a perfect example of the direct
application of molasses as a plant food. Garden Safe products are available from a variety of sources, including Wal-Mart. Although we consider them overpriced
for a sugar beet by-product, Garden Safe products are fairly cost effective, especially compared to fertilizers obtained from a hydroponics or garden store,
and they can serve as a good introduction to molasses for the urban herb gardener.
Here are the basic instructions a gardener would find on the side of a bottle of this sugar beet by-product -
Mix Garden Safe Liquid All Purpose Plant Food in water. Water plants thoroughly with solution once every 7-14 days in spring and summer, every 14-30 days
in fall and winter. Indoors, use 1/2 teaspoon per quart (1 teaspoon per gallon); outdoors, 1 teaspoon per quart (4 teaspoons per gallon). 32 fluid ounces
(946ml). Contains 3.0% Water Soluble Nitrogen, 1.0% Available Phosphate, 5.0% Soluble Potash derived from molasses.
In our own experience with Garden Safe Liquid fertilizers, we’ve used a pretty close equivalent to the outdoor rate on indoor herbs with some good success.
Our best application rate for Garden Safe 3-1-5 ended up being around 1 Tablespoon
per gallon ( 1 Tablespoon = 3 teaspoons). Used alone it’s really not a favorite for continuos use, since we don’t see Garden Safe 3-1-5 as a balanced fertilizer.
It doesn’t have enough phosphorous to sustain good root growth and flower formation in the long term. It’s best use would probably be in an outdoor soil
grow where there are potential pest issues. Animal by-products like blood meal and bone meal are notorious for attracting varmints, so Garden Safe sugar
beet molasses fertilizers could provide an excellent “plant based” source of Nitrogen and Potassium for a soil that’s already been heavily amended with
a good slow release source of phosphorous, our choice would be soft rock phosphate.
Blackstrap molasses could also be used in a similar fashion, as a stand alone liquid fertilizer for the biological farmer who needs to avoid potential varmint
problems caused by animal based products. But, we really believe there is a better overall use for molasses in the organic farmer’s arsenal of fertilizers.
Our suggestion for the best available use, would be to make use of the various molasses products as a part making organic teas for watering and foliar
Since many of the folks reading this are familiar with our Guano Guide, it will come as no surprise to our audience that molasses is a product we find very
useful as an ingredient in Guano and Manure teas. Most bat and seabird guanos are fairly close to being complete fertilizers, with the main exception being
that they are usually short in Potassium. Molasses is turns out is a great source of that necessary Potassium. As we learned earlier, molasses also acts
as a chelating agent and will help to make micronutrients in the Guano more easily available for our favorite herbs.
A good example of a guano tea recipe at the Bird’s Nest is really as simple as the following:
1 Gallon of water
1 TBSP of guano (for a flowering mix we’d use Jamaican or Indonesian Bat Guano - for a more general use fertilizer we
would choose Peruvian Seabird Guano.)
1 tsp blackstrap or sugar beet molasses
We mix the ingredients directly into the water and allow the tea mix to brew for 24 hours. It’s best to use an aquarium pump to aerate the tea, but an occasional
shaking can suffice if necessary and still produce a quality tea. We will give you one hint from hard personal experience, make sure if you use the shake
method that you hold the lid on securely, nobody
appreciate having a crap milkshake spread over the room.
Some folks prefer to use a lady’s nylon or stocking to hold the guano and keep it from making things messy, but we figure the organic matter the manure
can contribute to the soil is a good thing. Using this method we feel like we are getting the benefits of a manure tea and a guano top-dressing all together
in the same application. If you prefer to use the stocking method, feel free to feed the”tea bag”leftovers to your worm or compost bin, even after a good
brewing there’s lots of organic goodness left in that crap!
We also use molasses to sweeten and enrich Alfalfa meal teas. Our standard recipe for this use is:
4 gallons of water
1 cup of fine ground alfalfa meal
1 TBSP blackstrap or sugar beet molasses
After a 24 hour brew, this 100% plant-based fertilizer is ready for application. Alfalfa is a great organic plant food, with many benefits above and beyond
just the N–P-K it can contribute to a soil mix or tea. We do plan to cover Alfalfa and it’s many uses in greater detail soon in yet another thread. We
prefer to mix our alfalfa meal directly into the tea, but many gardeners use the stocking”tea bag”method with great effectiveness, both work well, it’s
really just a matter of personal preference.
The alfalfa tea recipe we described can be used as a soil drench, and also as a foliar feed. And foliar feeding is the final use of molasses we’d like to
detail. Foliar feeding, for the unfamiliar, is simply the art of using fine mist sprays as a way to get nutrients directly to the plant through the minute
pores a plant”breathes”through. It is by far the quickest and
most effective way to correct nutrient deficiencies, and can be an important part of any gardener’s toolbox.
Molasses is a great ingredient in foliar feeding recipes because of it’s ability to chelate nutrients and bring them to the “table” in a form that can be
directly absorbed and used by the plant. This really improves the effectiveness of foliar feeds when using them as a plant tonic. In fact it improves them
enough that we usually can dilute our teas or mix them more “lean” - with less fertilizer - than we might use without the added molasses.
Of course it is possible to use molasses as a foliar feed alone, without any added guano or alfalfa. It’s primary use would be to treat plants who are deficient
in Potassium, although molasses also provides significant boosts in other essential minerals such as Sulfur, Iron and Magnesium. Organic farming guides
suggest application rates of between one pint and one quart per acre depending on the target plant. For growing a fast growing annual plant like cannabis,
we’d suggest a recipe of 1 teaspoon molasses per gallon of water.
In all honesty, we’d probably suggest a foliar feeding with kelp concentrate as a better solution for an apparent Potassium shortage. Kelp is one of our
favorite foliar feeds because it is a complete source of micronutrients in addition to being a great source of Potassium. Kelp has a variety of other characteristics
that we love, and we plan that it will be the topic of it’s own detailed thread at a future date. But, for growers that cannot find kelp, or who might
have problems with the potential odors a kelp foliar feeding can create, molasses can provide an excellent alternative treatment for Potassium deficient
plants at an affordable price.
That looks at most of the beneficial uses of Molasses for the modern organic or biological farmer. Just when you think that’s all there could be from our
beaks on the topic of molasses, that molasses and it’s sweet sticky goodness surely have been covered in their entirety, the birds chirp in to say, there
is one more specialized use for molasses in the garden. Magical molasses can also help in the control of Fire Ants, and perhaps some other garden pests.
Molasses For Organic Pest Control
One final benefit of molasses is it’s ability to be used in the control of a couple of common pests encountered in gardening. The most commonly known use
of molasses is it’s ability to help control Fire Ants, but we’ve also found an internet reference to the ability of molasses to control white cabbage moths
in the UK, so molasses could be an effective pest deterrent in more ways that we are aware. As we said before, there are several references we’ve run across
refering to the ability of molasses to control Fire Ants. Since we’re not intimately familiar with this particular use of molasses, and rather than simply
re-write and re-word
another’s work, we thought we’d defer to the experts. So for this section of the current version of the Molasses Manual, we will simply post a reference
article we found that covers topic in better detail than we currently can ourselves.
Molasses Makes Fire Ants Move Out
By Pat Ploegsma, reprinted from Native Plant Society of Texas News
Have you ever started planting in your raised beds and found fire ant highrises? Are you tired of being covered with welts after gardening? Put down that
blowtorch and check out these excellent organic and non-toxic solutions. Malcolm Beck1, organic farmer extraordinaire and owner of Garden-Ville Inc., did
some experiments that showed that molasses is a good addition to organic fertilizer (more on fertilizer in the next issue).
When using molasses in the fertilizer spray for his fruit trees he noticed that the fire ants moved out from under the trees. “I got an opportunity to see
if molasses really moved fire ants. In my vineyard, I had a 500 foot row of root stock vines cut back to a stump that needed grafting. The fire ants had
made themselves at home along that row. The mounds averaged three feet apart. There was no way a person could work there without being eaten alive! I dissolved
4 tablespoons of molasses in each gallon of water and sprayed along the drip pipe. By the next day the fire ants had moved four feet in each direction.
We were able to graft the vines without a single ant bothering us.”
This gave him the idea for developing an organic fire ant killer that is 30% orange oil and 70% liquid compost made from manure and molasses. The orange
oil softens and dissolves the ant’s exoskeleton, making them susceptible to attack by the microbes in the compost, while the molasses feeds the microbes
and also smothers the ants. After the insects are dead,
everything becomes energy-rich soil conditioner and will not harm any plant it touches. It can be used on any insect including mosquitoes and their larvae.
Break a small hole in the crust in the center of the mound then quickly!!! pour the solution into the hole to flood the mound and then drench the ants on
top. Large mounds may need a second application. Available at Garden-Ville Square in Stafford, it has a pleasant lemonade smell. According to Mark Bowen2,
local landscaper and Houston habitat gardening expert, fire ants thrive on disturbed land and sunny grassy areas. “Organic matter provides a good habitat
for fire ant predators such as beneficial nematodes, fungi, etc. Other conditions favoring fire ant predators include shading the ground with plantings,
good soil construction practices and use of plants taller than turfgrasses.” He recommends pouring boiling soapy water over shallow mounds or using AscendTM.
“Ascend is a fire ant bait which contains a fungal by-product called avermectin and a corn and soybean-based grit bait to attract fire ants. Ascend works
slowly enough to get the queen or queens and it controls ants by sterilizing and/or killing them outright.”
Malcolm Beck also did some experiments with Diatomaceous Earth - DE - (skeletal remains of algae which is ground into an abrasive dust) which confirmed
that DE also kills fire ants. He mixes 4 oz. of DE into the top of the mound with lethal results. According to Beck, DE only works during dry weather on
dry ant mounds. Pet food kept outdoors will stay ant free
if placed on top of a tray with several inches of DE
1Beck, Malcolm. The Garden-Ville Method: Lessons in Nature. Third Edition. San Antonio, TX: Garden-Ville, Inc., 1998.
2Bowen, Mark, with Mary Bowen. Habitat Gardening for Houston and Southeast Texas. Houston, TX: River Bend Publishing
As we had also mentioned earlier, while researching the uses of molasses in gardening, we also came across a reference to it’s use in the control of white
cabbage moths. Here’s what we found on that particular topic.
“I came across this home remedy from the UK for white cabbage moths.
Mix a tablespoon of molasses in 1 litre of warm water and let cool.. spray every week or every 2 weeks as required for white cabbage moth..they hate it..and
I thinkit would be good soil conditioner as well if any drops on your soil.. It works for me...but gotta do it before white butterfly lays eggs...otherwise
you might have to use the 2 finger method and squash
grubs for your garden birds..
"nutNhoney" wrote in message
> To the kind soul who posted the tip for spraying members of the cabbage
> family with a molasses solution, thank you so much. Today, I noticed a
> white moth hovering around my brussel sprouts. I quickly made up a
> solution of molasses and rushed back to the garden to spray. The moth
> did not land! It seemed to be repelled by the molasses. I sprayed the
> broccoli too for good measure. I think I will spray again for the next
> few days. If it keeps the cabbage caterpillars off, I will be so happy.
> Thanks again!”
So there you have it, not necessarily straight from our mouths, but simply one more potential use we’ve discovered for molasses, with at least one testimonial
for it’s effectiveness. As we said before, the use of molasses as an foliar spray, in addition to it’s potential use as a pest deterrent, would also serve
to provide some essential nutrients directly to our plants, and would especially serve as an effective boost of Potassium for plants diagnosed with a deficiency
in K. Healthy plants are more resistant to the threat of pests or disease, so molasses really is a multi-purpose organic pest deterrent.
Last Bird's Eye Look At Molasses
You’ve heard a lot now about the sweet sticky goodness of Molasses in the garden, but have we mentioned yet that some folks even view Molasses as a health
One of the 3LB’s had a grandmother who would take a swig of molasses twice every day as a part of her health regimen. We don’t add that as a random fact,
but mention it because there’s an interesting little story attached . . .
Grandma was driving down the road one day, oblivious to her surroundings, when she was struck with the remembrance that her morning molasses had been forgotten.
Most folks wouldn’t have had a solution for this problem at hand, but we have to tell you that this is a lady who traveled with a small bottle of molasses
in her purse!
So Grandma grabbed the brown bottle of molasses from her purse, and proceeded to uncap it and take a gulp as she drove somewhat uncertainly down the road.
Chance would have it, that as she performed this somewhat delicate action, she was observed by an officer of the law weaving down the road. Officer LEO
observed Grammy directly as she lifted the small
brown bottle to her lips. Of course in that day, beer didn’t come in an aluminum can, but instead was distributed in little brow bottles that looked quite
similar to the molasses bottle Grandma had just swigged. We don’t need to tell you where the law enforcement officer’s mind went.
Putting two and two together to equal an apparent and immediate danger to the community in an act of wanton disregard for the law, Officer LEO flipped his
vehicle around in a 180 turn, flipped on his lights, and began to pursue Grandma. This was a lady we never were quite comfortable letting children ride
with, but it was also a day and age before there were many laws allowing intervention to remove the license of an elderly person no longer competent to
So, we will just say it was a little while before Grandma noticed the red flashing lights in her rear view mirror. After all she’d been busy putting her
molasses away in her purse and watching the road ahead of her, not looking back behind. It probably didn’t help that Grandmother’s first instinct was also
to believe that the flashing lights behind her were really meant for someone else.
It certainly didn’t occur to Grandma that all of her actions worked to confirm in Officer LEO’s mind that he was dealing with an intoxicated old crone with
an apparent total disregard for the not only the law, but also other’s safety. And we probably don’t need to tell you that he wasn’t feeling particularly
kind or generous when Grammy finally did pull to the road’s shoulder. As the officer finally approached her car, prepared for trouble from some kind of
inebriated old crone, Grandmother came hobbling from her own vehicle a bit unsteadily due to her advanced arthritis.
Fortunately we can report that the final ending was happy, without too much unnecessary drama. After verbally demanding the officer’s intent, and then producing
the offending brown bottle for the officer’s inspection, grammy was supposedly heard to say, “Good lands officer, do you really think a woman of my standing
in the community would EVER imbibe an
alcoholic beverage while driving? Well I NEVER! . . . And didn’t your mother ever tell you that molasses is good for you?”
Well folks, there you have it, the “Molasses Manual” by the three_little_birds. If your Mother’s or Grandmother’s didn’t tell you about the sticky goodness
of molasses, you’ve heard all about it now from the three_little_birds. Like our Guano Guide was designed to be a fairly comprehensive look at manures,
we hope this look at soil sweeteners gives folks a
thorough look at the uses of molasses in their garden. Hopefully now everyone knows the how’s and why’s of the uses of this sweetener for the soil.
It looks like the last thing to add is the where’s. If you are of the theory that your local hydro shop owner isn’t rich enough yet, then please by all
means go and purchase an expensive carbo load product, but don’t complain that the three_little_birds didn’t warn you that it’s likely little more than
Blackstrap Molasses. Hey, spending it there keeps the money recirculating in the economy and is preferable to burying it in a hole in the backyard. However,
if you are a grower who wishes to be a little more frugal, there are certainly cheaper alternatives.
We’ve been known to recommend the complete group of Earth Juice fertilizers as a convenient and effective line of liquid organic fertilizers for home herb
gardeners. We’ve grown using all thier products including: Bloom, Grow, Meta-K, Microblast, and Catalyst (Xatalyst in Canada! ) Many other’s here at CW
also report great success and satisfaction with their products. Well, if folks look at the ingredients in Catalyst, one of the first things they will see
is molasses. There are some other goodies in there like kelp, oat bran, wheat malt, and yeast, but we’re
thinking that molasses is the main magic in EJ Catalyst.
Another choice for obtaining your garden’s molasses is Grandma’s source. It’s pretty likely you can find molasses on the shelf of your local grocery store.
For folks living in an urban area this may very well be the best and most economical choice for molasses procurement. But if the folk reading this live
anywhere near a rural area, then the best and cheapest source of all will be an farm supply or old fashioned animal feed shop. Your plants don’t care if
your molasses comes out of a bottle designed for the kitchen cupboard, or a big plastic jug designed for the feedlot, but your pocketbook will feel the
difference. Blackstrap molasses for farm animals is the best overall value for your garden, and it is the molasses option we most strongly endorse for
Although we do our best to post accurate and complete information, we also know that our collective intelligence on a topic far outstrips our individual
knowledge and experience, and therefore the collective knowledge and experience of the entire community here at CW is greater still. We also know there
are always questions we haven’t anticipated. So we welcome your questions, we encourage comments, and we sincerely hope for useful additions. We even welcome
criticism, as long as it’s constructive.
We’d like to remind folks to be careful out there . . . happy harvests from the 3LB!
Originally posted on Cannabis World.
Recreation of 3LB's (three_little_birds)
Edited by Warlord, 05 November 2009 - 06:02 PM.
Posted 06 November 2009 - 06:09 PM
- jangel, OffDaBaba and CrazyDave like this
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users