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Foliar spray recipes

 
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Hello friends. I am interested in preparing my on foliar spray from within the borders of my farm. Like the biodynamic folks I do not bring things from outside in. I feel that this sixteen acre farm can easily provide for itself. What I have is weeds, grasses, ferns and lots of other material. What I need is someone to give me some basic ideas on combinations, fermentation and any other helpful advice to get me started. Thank you.
 
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I, too, try to be self-sufficient and not haul in external inputs, but here on the southeastern coastal plain, there are some micro-nutrient deficiencies that do require external supplementation. I'm thinking of boron, which is necessary for good fruit set and which is in short supply around here due to our abundant rainfall. I make a solution of about a gram of boric acid in 2 quarts of manure tea, strain that into a sprayer attachment for the garden hose, and then all the fruit trees get a dousing just about this time of year when they are about to leaf out.

This is a particularly effective way of getting the boron to where it is needed, because translocation can be problematic for boron applied to the soil. The two commonly available sources of boron are boric acid (sold as roach/ant poison) and sodium borate (sold under the name "20 mule team Borax"). It is easy to go from deficiency to excess, given the small amount of boron that is required for plant metabolism. The safe way to apply it is not in a single application, but to add it in small amounts every time you do a foliar spray. Just make sure to get a couple good rains in between applications, otherwise you run into problems like they have out in the drought-stricken west, where low rainfall can lead to overaccumulation of boron.

 
Scott Stiller
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Great tip John. Boron is something I've never thought of using. I'll be purchasing some this week.
 
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John Elliott wrote:  The two commonly available sources of boron are boric acid (sold as roach/ant poison) and sodium borate (sold under the name "20 mule team Borax").  It is easy to go from deficiency to excess, given the small amount of boron that is required for plant metabolism.  The safe way to apply it is not in a single application, but to add it in small amounts every time you do a foliar spray.  Just make sure to get a couple good rains in between applications, otherwise you run into problems like they have out in the drought-stricken west, where low rainfall can lead to overaccumulation of boron.



Thank you for sharing this. I came up onto information on boron as I was searching about teeth and bone remineralization as it seems lots of people are deficient in it, and it is very important to make sure calcium will not be pulled out of bone tissue and deposited in weird places like joints, arteries, etc. Of course, magnesium, D3, K2 play role as well, but there is more information about those out there. Here are a few source about it:
http://cheflynda.com/2015/03/the-inexpensive-arthritis-osteoporosis-cure/
http://www.positivehealth.com/article/nutrition/boron-major-cause-and-cure-for-arthritis
http://nexusmagazine.co.nz/resources/1904borax.pdf
Also, I found some information, that using artificial fertilizers inhibits boron uptake by the plants, and possibly microorganisms play role as well. I think I will add small amounts (half teaspoon of borax per gallon) of it to my plants once or twice.  Mitleider preplant mix contains some of it too, which is interesting.
 Do you use it every year? Once or twice?
 
John Elliott
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Joy Oasis wrote:
 Do you use it every year? Once or twice?



I'm adding it all the time.  Whenever I prepare a 5 gallon bucket of compost or manure tea, it gets a squirt of roach powder -- about a gram of boric acid. At that rate I'm still probably not putting enough out into the garden.  The fruit set on the apples and plums this year was still disappointing, although the pears and persimmons are looking nice.  
 
Joy Oasis
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John Elliott wrote:

Joy Oasis wrote:
 Do you use it every year? Once or twice?



I'm adding it all the time.  Whenever I prepare a 5 gallon bucket of compost or manure tea, it gets a squirt of roach powder -- about a gram of boric acid. At that rate I'm still probably not putting enough out into the garden.  The fruit set on the apples and plums this year was still disappointing, although the pears and persimmons are looking nice.  


So how often do you make it approximately?
 
John Elliott
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Joy Oasis wrote:
So how often do you make it approximately?



Except in the extreme heat of summer or the dead of winter, I'm always tossing compost or manure tea on some part of the garden,  maybe three or four times a week.  So that's like 5 or 10 buckets a week for an area of about half an acre.  Sometimes the hugelbeds get drenched, other times I fling it over the blueberries or blackberries, sometimes the fruit trees.  It's become just another item on the list of daily garden chores.

The way to think of foliar sprays, root drenches, mulchings, and weedings are as tools in your arsenal to slowly bend Nature into the direction of your permaculture design.  Nature would like for a lot of weeds to grow in my hugelbeds; I yank those weeds out, feed them to the guinea pigs, and then soak the guinea pig manure in a bucket of water.  Add some micronutrients to the manure tea (boric acid, epsom salts, maybe some zinc chelate) and then it is ready to recycle by tossing it back into the garden.  It is a very incremental shove that I give to Mother Nature, but she is slowly beginning to reward me for my efforts.  
 
Joy Oasis
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Thank you so much for such a detailed answer. So each spot most likely gets it about once or twice a week. Then I will do it also about once a week. I also made weak solution of borax for myself( 1 teaspoon of borax to a quart of filtered water, and then use 1 teaspoon of that twice a day -basically no taste and I get about 3mg of boron per serving). It can be also used to neutralize fluoride in water (about 3/4 teaspoon for a gallon, so I figure about half cup per bath.)
 
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What are some other foliar sprays you use for fruit trees? I'm going to try compost tea this year
 
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Compost teas , especially ones with worm castings seem to be a favorite of all plants at just about any growth stage.

The other tradition that seems to carry a lot.of this.type of wisdom is Korean (or Asian?) Natural Farming. As I understand it they produce two types of inputs. The first is made.by taking a bunch of finely chopped plant matter and packing it in a vessel with a bunch of brown sugar (or any minimally processed sugar really) and the collecting the thick sappy liquid that collects as.the sugar draws out the plant juices. This is then applied as a foliar at a rate of about 4000-5000:1, I've never heard a recommendation higher than a ml/gal. Your intuition and initiative could be your guide here as far as what your plant inputs are. This solution.made from hot peppers is said to be effective against bugs, one made from garlic is said to work against molds. I just heard a man speaking about his uses of it and he said.that he just made 5 gallon batches using whatever vigorous green leaf weeds he had on hand as a vegetative growth enhancer and that he would make one with mixed flowers as a fruiting/flowering enhancer. He said like 10 lbs of plants chopped and mixed with about 2 lbs of sugar in a 5 gal bucket with a weight on top. Apply the harvested liquid as a foliar spray at the rate of 1 ml/gal.

I was once told that the traditional knf feeding for fruit trees was this treatment made with unripe peaches.

The second preparation they make is chopped up plant matter fermented anaerobically in water. I did.one experiment with this. I took a large lawn waste bag filled with nettle and comfrey and chopped it up into a 55 gallon barrel. I then filled it up to about 40-45 gallons of water, covered it, and let it sit for an entire moon cycle. And the end it reaked something tremendous and a slimy culture had grown on the top. I then diluted that liquid at a rate of about 10:1 with plain water and aerated the mixture. Within 2 hours the aerated mixture had a wonderful fresh sweet smell. I applies that over the whole garden and I can certainly attest to seeing the largest squash, clover, and celery leaves I have ever personally witnessed in that garden.

In any case it seems that those two techniques could allow you a lot of flexibility in using what you have on hand to produce garden nutrition. You could perhaps inquire about what plants contain a lot of the mineral complex you're seeking (boron for instance) and make a preparation out of those plants to try to get targeted results. Or you could use a wide diversity of inputs to try to produce broad spectrum nutritional inputs.

Whatever you try, please let us know how it turns out
 
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