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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Rejuvenate Soil Mix is Rejuvinated by Mid-January!

Part of my consulting work is with a soil mix company in Las Vegas called Viragrow ( When I started with this company all of their soil mixes contained composted biosolids. These composted biosolids met or exceeded EPA's federal requirements to be categorized as EQ (Exceptional Quality aka Class A) compost (40 CFR Part 503).

The disposal of human waste as an exceptional quality compost is a partial solution to the tremendous recycling problem we have regarding the disposal of our own waste. I am personally not opposed to recycling human waste into exceptional-quality, composted biosolids. In fact, I am very happy to see it done.
Apex Landfill in Las Vegas. The decision to landfill human and landscape waste forces compost soil mixing companies like Viragrow to look out-of-state for composted waste.
About 10 to 15% of Viragrow's customers, many who were Vegan, wanted a compost that had no animal waste in it at all. Rather than turn them away, I worked on creating a soil mix that met all Vegan requirements; no animal or human waste present in the mix. 

Thus Rejuvenate was born about one year ago sourcing compost components in Central Utah, 450 miles away. That's more of a carbon footprint than I like to see. Sourcing components as close to "home" as possible has always been a goal of mine. "Buying local" is not a possibility since all of our waste goes to public landfills.
The "old" Rejuvenate. The "new" rejuvenate will be "vegan" with a carbon footprint nearly half of its original AND screened to a smaller particle size.
I was able to find composting components, that contained no animal or human waste, 243 miles from Viragrow's facility in North Las Vegas. Rejuvenate Soil Mix is being "rejuvenated" with a compost that only has to travel 243 miles! This NEW Rejuvenate will be available in mid January, 2017.

Viragrow Delivers!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Rock Phosphate

Q. I discovered from the internet that soft rock phosphate apparently does not work in alkaline soil. Does our Las Vegas soil contain any phosphate? I wonder if in long term it can be unlocked with some fungi or something like that. 

A. There is some phosphorus in all soils. The question becomes whether there is enough phosphorus in the soil to support what we are trying to grow.
            When we grow vegetables and fruit trees in soils, these plants take minerals from the soil and store them in their leaves, flowers and fruit, stems and roots. We eat roots, stems, leaves and fruits of different plants. This is how we get the minerals in our body to support our health.
Rock Phosphate
Viragrow does not carry rock phosphate. 0-3-0
            When we grow plants and harvest them, we remove whatever minerals they removed from that soil. These minerals need to be replaced in the soil. We replace them by applying soil amendments like compost or fertilizers or both to these soils.
            Some minerals are needed in large amounts by plants while others are needed in small amounts. Phosphorus is needed in large amounts. When we intensively grow vegetables and fruit in a small area and harvest them, nutrients need to be put back in the soil.
            Phosphates found in fertilizers provide enough phosphorus for most plants. Adding compost to the soil supplies the microorganisms needed to help plants use this phosphorus. As long as the soil is healthy and vibrant by using amendments such as good quality compost, the type of phosphorus added will not make much difference.

Rock phosphate is considered an "organic" source of phosphorus even though there is nothing "organic" about it. It comes from minerals found in the soil. This points out some of the confusion regarding the word "organic" when it comes to gardening. Many composts have phosphorus in the "organic" form including composts made from biosolids.Who knows where these "rock phosphates" come from and what they have in them that may or may not make them acceptable for "organic" gardening.

Viragrow Delivers!

Properties and Uses of Whitewash Paint

This standard includes guidance on the preparation of whitewash paint. It also includes general information on its composition, characteristics, advantages and uses. Most modern whitewash paint is made from latex paint. The most common dilution is 50/50 ….. water/paint.

Whitewash tree paint is available from Viragrow


      A water-based paint
Composed primarily of water and lime mixed to form a thin paste.
Binders are often added to improve the durability and chalking resistance of whitewash paint. These can include wheat, rye or buckwheat), starch varnish, glue, skim milk, whiting, brown sugar, vegetable oil plasticizer, casein, formaldehyde, borax or sulfate of zinc.

Fruit trees painted with whitewash paint
     Alum was sometimes added as a hardener to prevent the coating from rubbing off.
     Carbolic acid was sometimes added to create "sanitary" whitewash.
     Indigo and bluing were popular additives in counteracting the tendency of some binders to yellow.
     Whitewash can be tinted; historically, they were tinted with earth pigments, brick or stone dust; currently, lime-fast pigments are recommended.


    Adheres best to rough porous surfaces.  It does not adhere well to smooth porous surfaces
    When applied to a surface, the mixture forms a thin opaque film of calcium carbonate (plaster).


    Fairly easy to make.
    Non-yellowing (because there is no oil binder).
    Less expensive than other finishes.
    Effective in adhering to masonry surfaces.
    Considered a "sanitary" coating exhibiting disinfectant qualities (i.e. sometimes used to retard the decay of wood).
    Somewhat effective as a fire retardant and thermal insulator when applied in thick layers. (Not recommended to apply in thick coats for fruit trees)


    Historically used on the exterior to reflect heat.
    Also, historically used to protect fruit tree trunks from frost and insects.
When properly mixed and applied, new growth has no trouble getting through a thin layer of whitewash


NOTE:  This mix has good adhesion and chalk resistance.  It can also stand covered for several days before using.

    Make the lime paste by soaking 50 lbs. of hydrated lime in 6 gallons clean water
                                                   - OR -
    Slake 25 lbs. of quicklime in 10 gallons of boiling water.  Either combination will make about 8 gallons of paste.
Dissolve 15 lbs. of salt or 5 lbs. dry calcium chloride in 5 gallons of water.
Combine with lime paste and mix thoroughly.  Thin with fresh water as necessary.


   Before whitewashing any surface, gently wash the surface with vinegar.
   Be sure that brushes and pails are clean; be sure to strain the wash.
   Always slake the lime with boiling water and cover container with sackcloth or burlap to keep in the steam.
   Never let the lime dry up - when the lime has broken up, keep covered.
   When the lime has thinned to the right consistency, add 2 tablespoons of salt to each pail of wash.
   Add pigments if desired to achieve color.

Whitewash can be applied using sprayers or with a brush

Viragrow Delivers!