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  • Azolla as a fertilizer

    Hi all, This all started as I have a pond full of Azolla / duckweed mix that my wife almost used aqua herbicide on to clean it out. I decided I would look into uses for it to avoid the harmful chemicals / out of curiosity. Our Azolla formed such a thick mat last year that willow tree seeds germinated in there and started growing trees floating in the middle of our pond. Ive been reading about it, asking Chat GPT to write me articles about it for fun, and even selling it on eBay!!! It's supposedly edible to humans, super food for animals, and makes a great organic fertilizer.

    Now I'm going to put it to the test. I first mentioned it on this post: https://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-h...9-fig-chat-gtp

    So here's the plan. I would appreciate your input, feedback, thoughts, etc. While this year, I'm running the experiment on tomatoes, I plan on using this as a natural fertilizer for my figs too. I can be a little more scientific and control more variables with tomato plants.

    Azolla Experiment:
    Hypothesis: Azolla as an organic fertilizer will enhance the growth, and production of the tomato plant on the left.

    Today, I bought 2 yellow tomatoes at the farmer's market. Same size, same strain, same height, and overall same appearing health. I built identical gopher cages one with pink zip ties and one with blue. (we have crazy gophers who will eat any roots they can so this is a must), I buried the cages the same depth in my soil under my woodchips (thumbs up for no dig gardening), and ran a drip line to both off the same line to ensure equal watering amounts over the season. The variable: Azolla! I put Azolla under the plant on the left prior to planting, around the gopher cage, and then also as a mulch on top. The second plant (the one on the right), I left with no Azolla. I'll update this post over the summer and see if there is a noticeable difference in growth, fruit production, the appearance of overall health, etc. I plan on trying to remember to put a bucket of Azolla on the plant on the left once a week.

    Attached Files

  • #2
    Some more photos:
    Time: The day of planting
    Attached Files

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    • #3
      Interested in seeing your results. The only thing I see as an area of concern is the spacing of the plants. Are they spaced 2-3ft on center. It seems like at such a close spacing, roots from the "non-Azolla" plant could easily grow toward and access nutrients in and around the soil where the Azolla plant is. Maybe a little more spacing would make sure that there is little to no chance of that happening. Just my 2 cents.
      -Ethan
      NE Indiana Zone 6A / Ft. Wayne Area
      2023 Wishlist: OLGA, BORDA BARRQUER

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      • FrostyMorningFarm
        FrostyMorningFarm commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks, that's definitely a possible issue. I space them this way mainly to match up with my other 4 tomato plants for symmetry. That being said in the past my tomatoes seem to stay inside their gopher cages almost completely due to the underground pruning crew (crazy gophers)... lol

        But Your probably right I should have considered that. My other thinking was that I wanted the solid similar enough to not account for the growth difference. I have areas in my garden where its very sandy and pool-quality soil and in other spots its pretty high in nutrients. By keeping them close like this I was hoping to keep their surrounding soil similar but may have inadvertently messed it up by placing them too close. Only time will tell! I should probably have bought 3 tomatoes at the market and then I could have tested this out too by having the 3rd even farther away from the azolla multch

        Thank you so much for your impute. Im very interested in this as I seem to have unlimited azolla so if it works out I'm going all in with my figs!

      • pdxambassador
        pdxambassador commented
        Editing a comment
        You could slide a sheet of plastic into the soil between the two plants, until it sits several inches below the surface as a sort of “wall” to keep the Azolla nutrients from being accessed by the non-Azolla plant.

    • #4
      If this ends up working out anyone could grow free azolla if they have a pound or even large tub. Then have their own organic free fertilizer!

      Comment


      • FrostyMorningFarm
        FrostyMorningFarm commented
        Editing a comment
        The stuff doubles its surface area in like 5-7 days!!!

    • #5
      I have much of this available as well. wondering if using it green or partially composted?. Before winter set in I skimmed my pond of several pounds of it and buried it in mulch when the snow melted and I dug under the mulch it still looks like the day I took it out so I've been letting it dry in the sun and it turns White so I guess I'm going to try it both ways
      Thankful that you're doing the experiment.🙂

      Comment


      • FrostyMorningFarm
        FrostyMorningFarm commented
        Editing a comment
        From what I’ve read it’s totally fine to just use it as green compost. It’s so light and fluffy that it really makes soil nice. I’ve been mixing it into my potting mix this spring as I up pot my rooting fig cutting!

    • #6
      5/14/23 update - starting to see the Azolla tomato pulling away from the pack! (azolla - right)

      Click image for larger version

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      • #7
        5/21/23 update, Azolla for the lead!!! (azolla right / non azolla left)


        Attached Files

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        • goodfriendmike
          goodfriendmike commented
          Editing a comment
          Looks good!

        • FrostyMorningFarm
          FrostyMorningFarm commented
          Editing a comment
          SmigFith Its not the end of the experiment yet but the results have spoken early on! Now I'm trying it on my figs... See below for experiment #2

      • #8
        Next experiment… Azolla for my figs!!! I’m going to use one pot of our organic horse manuer soil and one with the same but adding Azolla using rooting cuttings from my coyote rainbow figs! Pics to follow…

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        • #9
          Azolla Experiment #2 - Coyote Rainbow Fig

          Same size and design pots with an equal number of drainage holes, same base soil, same planned watering regiment, same planned sun exposure, only difference the addition of 50% Azolla mix to soil.

          I selected 2 of my Coyote Rainbow fig rooted cuttings.
          Cuttings: both tip cuttings, cut and rooted in the same rooting mix, rooting hormone. as similar root and leaf growth possible as well as similar overall scion size. I then removed all but 3 leaves on the cuttings to equalize them to each other's growth stage as possible.
          Attached Files

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          • #10
            Frosty Morning Farm - Coyote Rainbow Fig 5/21/23
            Plant 1 - Organic potting mix without Azolla
            Plant 2 - Organic potting mix with Azolla mix (about 50% ratio to soil)
            Attached Files

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            • #11
              Science takes time... but If I could have a super power it might be to manipulate time...

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              • #12
                Good idea. Here's some supporting info.
                https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/art...%20and%20yield.

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                • #13
                  Click image for larger version

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ID:	1365262 Tomato update, I have not been adding more Azolla since the last post. It's just rocking out with what's already in the soil / mulch.

                  Comment


                  • FrostyMorningFarm
                    FrostyMorningFarm commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Note: Azolla / Pond muck mix on left in this photo for the record. My Azolla in my pond all died after adding 150 cat fish. I think maybe they came with some bacteria or something that killed the azolla but the floating muck is still there and works the same as an organic fertilizer as the living stuff.

                • #14
                  Fig update: (note: figs grow slow in my cool coastal air)

                  Not much difference yet but Azolla (left) Coyote Rainbow Fig is showing greener leaves and starting to put about baby leaves faster too.

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                  • #15
                    Azolla-infused Click image for larger version

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                    • #16
                      No Azolla in Organic horse with a little cow manure soil mix Click image for larger version

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                      • #17
                        tomato update

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                        • FrostyMorningFarm
                          FrostyMorningFarm commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Found out today that my water timer died. This could have been bad it my Mom didn't notice it when visiting for fathers day. Luckily I was able to give the drippers a good soaking and no casualties of the dry spell

                      • #18
                        Go for it!

                        As a rule of thumb, faster something grows, more nutritious its fertiliser.

                        The ability of azolla’s symbiont, anabaena, to sequester atmospheric nitrogen has been used for thousands of years in the Far East, where azolla is extensively grown in rice paddies to increase rice production by more than to 50%.
                        The ability of azolla’s symbiont, anabaena, to sequester atmospheric nitrogen has been used for thousands of years in the Far East, where azolla is extensively grown in rice paddies to increase rice production by more than to 50%. Rice is an enormously important staple in many tropical and temperate regions of the world. Billions of […]
                        London, UK.

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                        • #19
                          Azolla Fig Update 7/8/23
                          Azolla enhanced left, purchased soil right... what a difference it makes!
                          Attached Files

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                          • #20
                            Study Conclusion: Azolla mixed into potting mix not only speeds up growth without risk of burning plants like commercial fertilizer, its organic and natural, it also helps keep leaves beautiful and darker green. Using at a much on top can help keep soil levels moist as well!

                            Dont think I planting anything without Azolla any more!

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                            • #21
                              How was your tomato mulched with azolla doing

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                              • #22
                                How is your tomato mulched with azolla doing

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                                • #23
                                  Click image for larger version

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ID:	1380733​Its hard to even tell where it begins and ends its so huge! Lots more flowers than its non Azolla sibling

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                                  • #24
                                    I have to start skimming my pond of all that beautiful green mulch 🙂👍

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                                    • #25
                                      Fig update: 8/19/23

                                      I moved them out of the patch for the pic that you can tell whats going on.the growth difference between azolla and non azolla is bonkers
                                      Attached Files

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                                      • goodfriendmike
                                        goodfriendmike commented
                                        Editing a comment
                                        A big difference. Looking good man.

                                      • LoPresti
                                        LoPresti commented
                                        Editing a comment
                                        Excellent! Something the big companies don’t want people to know for sure.

                                      • TNJed
                                        TNJed commented
                                        Editing a comment
                                        Wow - nice!
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