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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 3:35 am 
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Alan_L wrote:
I don't know if I agree with compost having NO nutrients. Here's a page with a study of composted cow manure and straw bedding:

http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/eng4466

I don't dig a hole without putting some compost in it in my yard. But it's definitely not considered a fertilizer (especially to heavy feeders like bamboo).



That information pertains to composted CATTLE MANURE, a very different thing from garden clippings and coffee grounds.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 3:36 am 
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David wrote:
Hello John,

I'm going to have to disagree with the master gardener. Compost is full of micro elements that are readily available to plants. Compost lightens the soil, aides in moisture retention, and increases the plants vigor and health. Healthy plants are less susceptible to stress, diseases, and pests. Plants set blooms, and fruit better when dressed with compost. The micros in compost are time released so the plant is never hungry for these difficult to obtain nutrients. Compost is full of beneficial microorganisms which helps the soil mature and turn into really good humus- rich garden soil. Then there's humic acid, fulvic acid, and plant ready amino acids etc., etc., etc.



I think his point was that properly maintained soil *already* contains all those microorganisms and so all that is left is the fertilizer value and it aint much.


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 5:40 am 
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On composting, I use it to feed the worms, who I let them do the tilling and aerating and leave worm castings for the roots to feed on. However, compost takes a lot of nitrogen to break down. So you have to use manures, which is good or bad to about half of the organic types that I have read out there. Personally I use any kind of fertilizer that I can get, be it organic or synthetic. None of my bamboos has complained one lick about my applying either type.

What I learned from my UC Davis horticulture training and college courses in ornamental horticulture is to use what is called cold composting as a top dressing on soils here in the west. It helps retain the moisture in the soil (biggest benefit in my book) and helps add organic matter to the soil. It also feeds the worms, as they can only eat decayed dead plant material. As said above, the worms do a lot of soil tending as well. I will also do hot composting with manure if I have a supply of that stuff.

I am not big on rototilling compost into soils. I use rototilling as minimal as possible, and at most once a year to prepare a bamboo bed for planting, or to prepare my veggie and flower patches. More tilling than that and you polish the soil. I rototill the soil plain, without adding organic material. If you grind in compost you change the chemical composition of the soil, and you can create abscission layers. Abscission layers are boundaries where water cannot pass, as well as where roots cannot pass. I have seen these layers form a lot when people buy potted plants and dig a hole and stick them in the ground. A year later, and the roots have all wound around in the hole as if they are still in a pot, and the plant has drown because the water does not drain from the soil.

Of late I have also read a lot of reports that show that coarse material for top dressing of soil is far better than fine material. For similar reasons that I stated above, fine compost material creates a flat abscission layer that water and roots cannot penetrate. So you get lateral water layering and flooding. You also get a more compacted soil. With coarse wood, bark and other types of chips that are 1"-2" or larger in size, you get the moisture loss reduction benefit, and you do not create an abscission layer so that roots and water can grow and pass through the top layer of soil and chips/compost. Large material also has far less surface area, and hence breaks down a lot slower, and also does not require nearly as much nitrogen leaving more of it for the bamboos, or whatever else you are growing. Coarse material is also better at erosion control, as when rain hits the chips it does not cause the soil to loosen and run off. Chips also work well for weed control, but so does fine compost.

This does not apply to my potting soils, however. For that I have developed a method whereby I add a lot of organic material in my potting soil, with the intention that it break down in a year or two, so that by the time I plant it in the ground, the soil in the pot has basically decomposed into roots of the plant, and inorganic soil similar to (or exactly the same as) the type that I am planting in. In that case, the abscission layering is avoided, and the plant takes root a lot faster. I use about 1 part soil, 1 part peat moss, 1 part perlite, 2 parts fine composted fir needles, and 1 part steer manure. Sometimes if I do not have compost I will use sawdust shavings. Both are free around these parts if you know who to ask and where to look for it. I then tpo dress the potted boos with coarse wood chips. That helps keep then cool in summer and warm in winter, and helps retain water better. Once the plants are later planted in the ground, they get top dressed with gobs of coarse wood and bark chips. Bamboos love that stuff, and the rhizomes can run all they want in the loose top layer of wood chips. The worms like the decomposed fines in the chips. I seem to have a lot of worms, because the moles are invading my bamboo area now and leaving mounds. I use the mound dirt for making potting soil with because the moles have created some nice loose soil that is very easy to shovel into a wheelbarrow. And the circle of dirt is completed. Or some such...

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 6:06 am 
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On sizing up bamboos, I have to say that maximizing leaves and light and the photosynthesis factory, as it were, is not the best way to improve plant growth and vigor. I get about as much growth from my bamboos now with sun from 10am to about 5 pm as I did with them in full sun from 6am to 9pm here in summer. Looking at several electrical solar collector systems installed around here this summer, the highest energy intensity from sunlight is in a rather narrow time window between about 11am to 3pm (daylight saving time, equivalent to 10am to 2pm during standard time).

Also an observation I have made this year: All my nigra types have massive amounts of leaves. They are downright furry. They require and take up a lot more water as a consequence. They do not really grow any faster than my vivax, which in comparison are quite sparce in leaves. Similarly nuda and aureosulcatas have far fewer leaves than the bushy blacks. However, they do not grow any slower than blacks do. Many of them grow a lot faster than the blacks do, actually.

And again... sigh... from my professional horticultural training and experience, the largest factors for plant growth are water and heat. The rest of the factors (nitrogen, solar intensity, fungal mass, silica, the lesser fertilizers, yadda yadda) are far less of a factor overall to plant vigor and growth rates. If you want more bamboo growth (particularly you, Steve in NY), put them in a greenhouse where it is warmer. That is why there are literally millions of greenouses around here. Greenhouses do not intensify the solar radiation. They only make the air temperature higher. Maximizing photosynthesis for more bamboo growth is simply not substantiated in any literature that I have, nor in any of my experience growing any types of plants. Temperature is by far the largest factor limiting both the size and growth of your bamboos (as is water, but I assume that your bamboos are getting enough water).

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 10:45 am 
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JohnC wrote:
I think his point was that properly maintained soil *already* contains all those microorganisms and so all that is left is the fertilizer value and it aint much.

My experience is that "master gardeners" are somewhat well-versed in the use of commercial fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides.

To claim that there's no nutritive value in compost is simply perverse.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 1:50 pm 
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Location: Eustis, Fl zone 9a/b right between too cold & not cold enough Location Details
compost may not provide many nutrients directly, but it does improve the conditions for the micro-organisms that help the plant absorb nutrients already there. it also absorbs and holds water which in my sandy soil would quickly seep to a level below where the roots normally reach. too much in the planting hole makes the roots hesitant to leave the composted area and enter the plain sand area beyond. I think the biggest factor in speed of growth and increase in size is simply whether the plant is naturally suited to your areas conditions or the micro-climate it is planted in. all the soil amendments in the world wont help a plant that is not suited to where you live.
i started planting last years peppers in store bought garden soil, when i ran out i started mixing sand with the dirt left in last years pots after the annuals in them had died. the last few were planted in pure sand.
the ones in sand required a little more fertilizer and water as they leached quickly but beyond that the plants are pretty much identical.
the bamboos i planted in spring of this year have surprised me with the jump in size and the only amendment they received was a handful of oak leaves in the bottom of the hole.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 4:10 pm 
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ShmuBamboo wrote:

Of late I have also read a lot of reports that show that coarse material for top dressing of soil is far better than fine material. For similar reasons that I stated above, fine compost material creates a flat abscission layer that water and roots cannot penetrate.


Absolutely agree 100%. I used to use fine wood mulch, kind of shredded more than chippy and discovered that when it compacts over time and dries out it forms an almost perfectly waterproof layer. I switched to *very* coarse wood mulch this summer and clawed back that fine stuff and used it to make basins around my plants to hold water when I bucket water them from the pond. Then the very coarse mulch over it all. Now when I pour in the water it goes straight into the soil, doesn't sit on top taking forever to drain down.

The fine stuff is very useful if you want a place where nothing grows, just spread it thick and compact it with your feet and it's pretty much the same as a few layers of landscape fabric.

Theres a lot we can learn from periodically digging a hole near our plants and looking at the layers in the soil (particularly after a normal watering).


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 9:30 pm 
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Location: upstate NY zone 6B Location Details
Quote:
Temperature is by far the largest factor limiting both the size and growth of your bamboos (as is water, but I assume that your bamboos are getting enough water).


They definitely seem to grow faster with higher temperature because bamboos that are shooting are making noticable gains day to day. In NY especially this year, we're getting more than enough rain, maybe too much with 6 inches of rain per month so that should never be a problem.
I have over 100potted bamboos and only enough greenhouse space for about 70 so some of them will have to stay outside through the winter. If I had enough $$ I would probably get an individual green house for all my in-ground bamboos to size them up faster, but 90$ per greenhouse X11 boos would be about 1000$ :(
I think some reasons bamboos such as vivax, parv or dulcis can put on size might not even be their amount of leaf surface, or energy intake ability. I think Its more in their genetics.

Its good that larger pieces of mulch would be better because I use cut up bamboo branches and put them around my boos since I don't have a wood chipper. It should break down eventually.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 10:29 pm 
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stevelau1911 wrote:
I think some reasons bamboos such as vivax, parv or dulcis can put on size might not even be their amount of leaf surface, or energy intake ability. I think Its more in their genetics.



:blackeye: LOL- Surely it's NOT taken you that long to work out.... :mrgreen:



But you missed out the top notch performer- aka, Ph. prominens- :wink:

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:48 am 
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I'm planning to stop fertilizing my bamboos with any nitrogen at all since its getting close to fall and I don't want any fall shoots prone to get top killed, or continue to produce excess foliage in the late fall which might not harden off enough. The only problem is that almost every fertilizer out there has nitrogen in it.
Last fall I nearly killed my vivax by loading it with high nitrogen grass fertilizer(weed&feed) all the way into october which must have caused it to try making leaves all the way into december, but ultimately top killing after the winter.

Would a better alternative for fall fertilization be greensand or rock phosphate? I could also leave it alone as far as fertilization for the rest of the year which might have a better effect than applying nitrogen fertilizers.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2009 6:41 am 
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stevelau1911 wrote:
I'm planning to stop fertilizing my bamboos with any nitrogen at all since its getting close to fall and I don't want any fall shoots prone to get top killed, or continue to produce excess foliage in the late fall which might not harden off enough.


Just curious, I've seen this argument before and it always seemed a little peculiar to me. I mean if cold can potentially kill leaves then the more leaves the better right? Wouldn't you just feed it something semi balanced as normal and let it do it's thing?


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:15 am 
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After 1 year I still don't know exactly what effect a fall fertilization has on bamboo, but on the hardier species, I don't think it can hurt to add more fertilizer in the fall since they are still growing and it also looks like shoots will come up whenever they want to regardless to when I add fertilizer since most of my juvenile groves made their summer shoots at different times.

I've also been using only organic stuff that shouldn't have any harm like horse manure, mulch, garden scraps, small branches, bamboo, newspapers, grass clippings, leaves, ect. I have also watered them once in a while even though the soil hasn't really dried up this summer to promote more root/rhizome growth.

This kind of shows the extent to how much I fertilize and based on the increase in size of each successive whip shoot and overall rhizome mass of this plant, I think it can have the same level of upsize as Steve in France's raised box plant next spring. The large whip shoot in the back between the 2 milk jugs in the back kind of shows at least how far rhizomes have spread so far.
Image

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Last edited by stevelau1911 on Sun Sep 12, 2010 8:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:27 am 
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After a few years of growing bamboo in our zone 7-ish I see absolutely no reason to feed any differently in the fall than any other time of year with any of our bamboos that can grow here.

As far as I can tell the thing to do is feed whenever you feel like it / can get a deal on fertilizer of whatever kind. This year it's been chicken manure which we've got a deal on.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 3:59 pm 
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The first 2-3 yrs. the plants are putting on leaf mass in preparation for up sizing and all the mulching and fertilizing can only enhance the process but I'm attempting selective pruning of 2 yr. old culms right before shooting season. My reasoning is that they have served their purpose feeding the root mass and by the third year are about to be buried in the interior of the clump by the larger canes thereby reducing their effectiveness. By pruning this old growth at the right time the energy necessary to feed them can then be redirected into the new shoots. Whether this translates into larger culms or more culms, I find out next Spring.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 4:10 pm 
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I don't remember the source nor do I have any idea if there is ANY science behind it BUT...I recall reading that the nitrogen feeding adversely impact the size or some aspect of the cell walls and that this made them more susceptible to freezing and bursting so do not fall feed with a high nitrogen. At the time I read this I decided to proceed as though it had some merit so I do not fall feed outdoor plants with any high nitrogen ferts.

Now, for those with a scientific bent have at it but remember that I am not going to defend this position! Merely, recalling an old article...

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