Beautiful Peppers, Courtesy of SOIL Compost
Some encouraging (and tasty) news from the SOIL gardens at Penye. We have harvested our latest crop of green peppers, planted in evenly sized, spaced, and watered plots, but with one important difference: one plot was planted with no compost, one was planted with 3 pounds of SOIL compost per foot, and one with 1.5 pounds of compost per foot. The result? The plot without compost yielded far fewer peppers, and they were small and scraggly. The plot with 1.5 pounds of compost per foot yielded strong, healthy, beautiful and bountiful peppers; they got our tummies rumbling! We’re not entirely sure why, but the 1.5 pound per foot patch resulted in a better yield than the plot planted with 3 pounds of compost per foot. Although both plots planted with compost looked far heartier and had a much higher yield than the no compost patch, there was a discernible difference between the two with-compost plots.
The photos below show the three pepper patches (can you tell the difference?), the harvested peppers, and Agronomist Jean Marie and me celebrating (or lamenting) the size of the peppers.[slickr-flickr search=”sets” set=”72157632247648974″ items=”13″]
December 31, 2012 (12:40 am)
It is likely that 1.5 lbs compost per foot fulfilled the needs of the peppers. This is a good illustration of the Law of the Minimum, which states that adding whatever it is that is limiting yield (a plant nutrient, moisture, light, whatever) will increase yield only until something else becomes limiting. Since compost supplies multiple nutrients, it is likely that some other factor besides nutrients was limiting the yield of plots with the higher rate of compost. Assuming this was the case, I would take it as good news, since it means that a little compost goes a long way and you’ll have more to use elsewhere.
Alternatively there could have been some toxicity factor with the higher rate, but I doubt this was the case since you didn’t observe any deformities in either the fruit or the plants.
By the way, did you replicate this experiment?
January 3, 2013 (3:13 pm)
Dear Lois! When I conferred with our Agronomist here in Cap Haitien in order to properly respond to your comment, his eyes lit up with joy upon hearing me say “the Law of the Minimum!” “Yes!” he cried! “Who is this lady?” He thus agrees with you that it is most likely a demonstration of the law of minimum. We make a very nutrient-rich compost, and so, like eating to much on Thanksgiving, it is likely that a little too much left our peppers feeling a little sluggish. We are in the process of executing some similar experiments at our farm up here in Cap Haitien, our largest one examining the crop yield of 4 different plots of corn – one with nothing, one with urine, one with compost, and one with compost and urine. The relative heights of the different plots of corn have all varied throughout the experimentation process, however the plot with compost only is now recorded as being the tallest. We are presently waiting for the corn to dry for it to be harvested, counted and weighed in order to provide further insight into the results of our urine and compost applications. Our agronomist very strongly stresses the importance of knowing the quality of our soil and how it might change from year to year. An example of this is that last year, the control plot didn’t grow at all. Since then, a large eucalyptus tree that had been growing nearby has been cut down. (Eucalyptus trees extract an enormous quantity of water from the soil). This year, without that competition for moisture, the control plot is already faring much better. Interesting stuff! I hope this answered your very well-informed question! I am sure that our agronomist would love to respond to any other queries, so keep them coming! :)