[NAFEX] Organic Silica Source(Tips for greenhouse)

Lon J. Rombough lonrom at hevanet.com
Sat May 5 10:28:09 EDT 2007


Here in Oregon where winter rains tend to wash boron and potassium out 
of the soils, the recommendation for grapes, at least, is two pounds of 
Borax per acre, every three years.  No more than that or it may cause 
boron toxicity which looks similar to boron deficiency.   That works 
out to a level teaspoon per vine, usually applied in the spring at 
budbreak.
-Lon Rombough
Grapes, writing, consulting, my book, The Grape Grower, at 
http://www.bunchgrapes.com  Winner of the Garden Writers Association 
"Best Talent in Writing" award for 2003.
For even more grape lessons, go to  http://www.grapeschool.com
For growing supplies and more;  http://www.grapegrowersolutions.com

On May 5, 2007, at 7:21 AM, Mark & Helen Angermayer wrote:

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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