# [NAFEX] Organic Silica Source(Tips for greenhouse)

Mark & Helen Angermayer hangermayer at isp.com
Sat May 5 10:21:29 EDT 2007

```Hi Kenneth,

After looking into it, I've determined laundry borax is the same thing as
agricultural borax which has a number of uses.  Used in forges to take the
hardness out of steel, used as an aid to laundry detergent, or as a
fertilizer.  20 mule borax is penta borate with 11% actual boron.  The
highest general recommendation for boron I've heard is 2ppm (tomatoes may
have a higher recommendation, you could check on that).  Sooooo, here is my
calculation:

A foot/acre of soil weighs about 3.5 million lbs (depending on the type of
soil). Since there are 43560 sqft in an acre, 3.5 mil/ 43560 gives 80 lbs.
per sqft.  I wouldn't expect the root zone of maters to go much beyond 8
inches deep so the top 8 inches would weigh 80 lbs. X .667 = 53 lbs.  I
would expect the roots would extend laterally to cover an area of about 3 X
3  or roughly 10 sqft.  So 53 lbs X 10 sqft. = 530 lbs. of soil in each
plant's root zone. At 2ppm that would calculate to 530/0.000002 = 0.00106
lbs. per plant.  Since your boron source is 11%, that would calculate to
0.00106 lbs. / 11% =  0.00964 lbs. of 20 mule borax per plant.  Here is
where it may get dicey, the conversion of weight to volume.  There are 32
tablespoons per fluid pound.  I'm going to guess borax weighs half as much
as water per volume.  So let's say there are 64 tablespoons per pound of
borax.  That would mean you would need 0.00964 lbs X 64 tablespoons per
pound =  0.62 tablespoons per plant (a more manageable number).  At three
teaspoons per tablespoon, that would come to 1.85 teaspoons of borax per
plant.  If you watered approximately 20 gallons per plant over the season,
you would mix it at 0.0925 teaspoons per gallon, or a little less than 1/8
of a teaspoon per gallon of water.  I hope all my calculations are correct.
Maybe someone out there can double check 'em.  Lastly, it all assumes there
is zero boron in your soil as a starting point.

Gotta go, with all the rain, the ants have found their way in.  We are being
over-run with them.

Mark
Kansas

----- Original Message -----
From: "K Q" <kumquat at operamail.com>
To: <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2007 10:34 AM
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Organic Silica Source(Tips for greenhouse)

> Dylan,
>
> Can you speculate a little for me? If I wanted to hand water my 'maters
say once every week or two with trace amounts of boron derived from Twenty
Mule team washing borax, How would I go about it? Dissolve a cup of Borax in
5 gallons of water, then only use a cup of that stock solution per 2 gallon
watering can?
>
> Perhaps I should do a titration study with something fast growing like
radish. Find out just what levels are toxic in my conditions.
>
> I realize this mineral is potent and would like some idea of how weak to
make it. We get 40 inches of rain per year, and I am sure significant
amounts have been washed beyond the rootzone of most vegetables in the
millenia that have gone before.
>
> Kenneth
>
>
>
> > Date: Wed, 2 May 2007 12:37:54 -0400
> > From: "Dylan Ford" <dford at suffolk.lib.ny.us>
> > Subject: [NAFEX] Organic Silica Source(Tips for greenhouse)
> > To: "North American Fruit Explorers" <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
> > Message-ID: <004101c78cd8\$b8d61190\$826ec344 at dylanwmvi3setm>
> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>
> > > I. Silica - The Forgotten Nutrient
> > (SNIP)
> > >           As I understand it from reading many of his (Hugh Lovel's)
> > postings, the farmer
> > > must perform a delicate balancing act to get sufficient silica up into
his
> > > plants, and any recklessness in this pursuit can lead to tragedy.
> > >
> > >           Silica is ubiquitous in the environment, but is not
sufficiently
> > > available to plants absent trace amounts of boron to increase its
> > fluidity.
> > > Boron easily rinses from soils where there is insufficient
"sequestered
> > > carbon" to grip it.
> > (SNIP)
> > >           The enlightened grower's conundrum is that naked boron, even
in
> > > tiny amounts, can be toxic to the plants and also to ants and other
> > > indispensible insects that perform vital functions in the soil, so it
must
> > > be used extremely sparingly and always be applied with generous
buffers of
> > > protective humates such as humic or fulvic acid, or at very least
> > > wormcasting- or compost-tea (and even added sugar), to temporarily
bind it
> > > up.
> > >           Mr. Lovel further asserts that potassium silicate -  an
> > industrial
> > > product manufactured (with trace boron) for use in terra-cotta glazes,
if
> > > mixed with soluble humate could be a valuable form of amorphous fluid
> > silica
> > > for the grower, but (though it could do no harm, he maintains) is not
yet
> > > permitted for agricultural use under current Organic Standards.
He
> > > therefore offers an alternative home-brewed solution which I tried
with
> > > first-rate results. Mr. Lovel writes,
> > >
> > >           "Here's a recipe. You can use rice hulls (not bran) or
bamboo.
> > > Burn these to ash. The ashes will be rich in potassium silicate. Cook
this
> > > ash at the rate of 2 or 3 kilos to a 20 litre pot [of water] to make a
lye
> > > solution that will be rich in potassium silicate rather than sodium.
> > Strain
> > > this, and while still simmering add a kilo of diatomaceous earth that
is
> > as
> > > finely ground as possible. This will be rich in amorphous fluid
silica.
> > Also
> > > add a half cup of soluble boron such as disodium octaborate
tetrahydrate,
> > > otherwise known as Solubor. Simmer this at least twenty minutes with
> > > stirring, and strain.
> > >           You will have a solution that will be fairly rich in
potassium
> > > silicate. Add this to your earthworm leachate [or better, soluble
humates]
> > > at a rate of a full cup for every four litres. Water all squash,
cukes,
> > > zukes, capsicums, okra and anything else that may be susceptible to
> > getting
> > > too lush, weak, bug-bitten or diseased. For tomatoes double this rate
and
> > > use two cups per four litres. These are all natural materials except
> > > possibly Solubor, which is permissible in most organic certification
> > > programs."
> > >
> > > (A Hugh Lovel cautionary note: boron creates sap pressure in plants,
and
> > > young seedlings do not have a large enough vascular system to handle
the
> > sap
> > > pressures that are beneficial in their later growth. Get plants up and
> > > running before being too generous with boron.)
> >
> > (SNIP)
> >
> > >           Hugh Lovel has a great many more informed insights and
> > considered
> > > opinions to share with open-minded growers, some of which I "get" and
some
> > > of which I don't (yet), but the silica - boron - humate trinity is one
> > that
> > > added an important new preventive concept to my plant-health and
> > protection
> > > toolbox.
>
>
> --
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