We get plenty of rain that starts in Oklahoma, which is OK with us - and the rest from Texas, drawn up from the Gulf of Mexico. Last week we had a series of showers, all less than predicted, but still abundant.
I parked the wheelbarrow under the eaves - and it was full. Four rain-barrels filled. The litle wastebasket also filled.
The transplanted Butterfly Bush kept showing signs of wilting before the roots had a chance to build up again. Before the rains, I kept extra rain-barrel water for the plant, and used it often. Now it looks as green and perky as the big brother plant, which is nine feet tall. The larger plant gets stored rainwater and the murky water left in the birdbath that I converted from a children's swimming pool.
When the rain is plentiful, gardeners who save the extra rain wonder what to do with so much. Several inches of rain mean there is no need to water for a while. If it continues to rain and mist, day to day, water is delayed even more and the storage containers fill to overflowing.
There is no better boon for gardeners. Rain is liquid fertilizer, the gentlest and best, life-giving for the plants and for the soil creatures that thrive when their thirst is satisfied.
Below is a summary of the nitrogen cycle.
- All life requires nitrogen-compounds, e.g., proteins and nucleic acids.
- Air, which is 79% nitrogen gas (N2), is the major reservoir of nitrogen.
- But most organisms cannot use nitrogen in this form.
- Plants must secure their nitrogen in "fixed" form, i.e., incorporated in compounds such as:
- nitrate ions (NO3−)
- ammonium ions (NH4+)
- urea (NH2)2CO
- Animals secure their nitrogen (and all other) compounds from plants (or animals that have fed on plants).
Microorganisms play major roles in all four of these.
The nitrogen molecule (N2) is quite inert. To break it apart so that its atoms can combine with other atoms requires the input of substantial amounts of energy.
Three processes are responsible for most of the nitrogen fixation in the biosphere:
- atmospheric fixation by lightning
- biological fixation by certain microbes — alone or in a symbiotic relationship with some plants and animals
- industrial fixation
Atmospheric nitrogen fixation probably contributes some 5– 8% of the total nitrogen fixed.
Under great pressure, at a temperature of 600°C, and with the use of a catalyst, atmospheric nitrogen and hydrogen (usually derived from natural gas or petroleum) can be combined to form ammonia (NH3). Ammonia can be used directly as fertilizer, but most of its is further processed to urea and ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3).
The ability to fix nitrogen is found only in certain bacteria and archaea.
- Some live in a symbiotic relationship with plants of the legume family (e.g., soybeans, alfalfa).
Link to a discussion of symbiotic nitrogen fixation in legumes.
- Some establish symbiotic relationships with plants other than legumes (e.g., alders).
- Some establish symbiotic relationships with animals, e.g., termites and "shipworms" (wood-eating bivalves).
- Some nitrogen-fixing bacteria live free in the soil.
- Nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria are essential to maintaining the fertility of semi-aquatic environments like rice paddies.
Although the first stable product of the process is ammonia, this is quickly incorporated into protein and other organic nitrogen compounds.
The proteins made by plants enter and pass through food webs just as carbohydrates do. At each trophic level, their metabolism produces organic nitrogen compounds that return to the environment, chiefly in excretions. The final beneficiaries of these materials are microorganisms of decay. They break down the molecules in excretions and dead organisms into ammonia.
Ammonia can be taken up directly by plants — usually through their roots. However, most of the ammonia produced by decay is converted into nitrates. Until recently this was thought always to be accomplished in two steps:
- Bacteria of the genus Nitrosomonas oxidize NH3 to nitrites (NO2−).
- Bacteria of the genus Nitrobacter oxidize the nitrites to nitrates (NO3−).
However, in 2015, two groups reported finding that bacteria in the genus Nitrospira were able to carry out both steps: ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate. This ability is called "comammox" (for complete ammonia oxidation).
In addition, both soil and the ocean contain archaeal microbes, assigned to the Crenarchaeota, that convert ammonia to nitrites. They are more abundant than the nitrifying bacteria and may turn out to play an important role in the nitrogen cycle.
Many legumes, in addition to fixing atmospheric nitrogen, also perform nitrification — converting some of their organic nitrogen to nitrites and nitrates. These reach the soil when they shed their leaves.
Our basic human failing is taking abundance for granted. God provides the abundance to such an extent that we assume it will always be there. Looking back, we can see that a subversive president and a subservient Congress can wreck a country in eight years or less.
Reversing the damage is like cleaning up after a tornado and flood. Some people want the perfect presidential candidate, but that person is not going to repair the damage by himself.
This is my example of practical politics - taxing garage sales. I remember when Congress suggested taxing garage sales so that taxes were withheld at the time of the yard sale and sent to their greedy coffers. The outrage was so great, so universal that the plan was dropped immediately.
The same thing happened with the government idea of withholding the tax on passbook savings as the interest accrued: floated as a concept, killed when national fury erupted. Now we have no interest to add up and very little money in savings. Obama passed a national, unlimited tax nicknamed ObamaCare, and the GOP did nothing to stop or reverse it.
The country will not change for the better as long as we let a radical minority dictate policy for the majority.
Likewise, the fever for electing the right Synod President in Lutherdom is irrelevant as long as factions control the practical outcome. The Wisconsin Synod is completely controlled by false teachers whose passion is justification without faith and Church Growth. They dominate all the leadership positions and skim all available money for themselves. SP Mark Schroeder is either the cause of this debacle, as their Manchurian Candidate, or the product of it, bowing the knee to the Jeske Crime Family and kissing both cheeks to honor the Godfather of Thrivent.
The solution is to write a letter to Christian News? Herman Otten promotes justification without faith and sells the Valleskey Church Growth textbook. The FBI can raid WELS headquarters and Otten will spike the story or soft-pedal it on page 17.
Back to Creation Gardening
So - now I have full rain-barrels in the backyard and roses needing some help in the front yard. The rain I have is very much like the Means of Grace. All I can do is distribute this rain, because God has provided the blessings inherent in the rain. There is nothing I can do to invent or manufacture rain. The new science has shown that chemical nitrogen, fixed by man, is vastly inferior to what rain or bacteria can manufacture.
I have been coveting water-pails, but they were often a separate item when stopping at Lowe's or Walmart. My jerry-built solutions, like a wastebasket in the wheelbarrow, were sloppy and impractical.
Last week a neighbor made a point of thanking me for the Mothers' Day roses. No, I did not write about this neighbor so far. We had along talk in his front yard while his sons played with Sassy. He decided I could use paint-buckets in gardening, and I thought that would be great, when he was able to find some clean ones from his business. After a while we finished talking and Sassy headed for home, 1/2 block away. I was just inspecting roses when he caught up with four paint-buckets, perfectly clean, with handles, each one carrying five (5) gallons. You thought "one gallon, big deal," didn't you.
That will be my job today, Most of the lagging roses have leafed out now. I will give some promising green canes another prune and extra rain water. If they fail to come out of dormancy, they will be replaced by Edmunds Roses. The new ones will be soaked in rainwater and planted.
Gardener Accused of Dumping Rainwater
No one has accused me - I just like the phrasing. There are times when I have had so much rainwater in the back that I wanted to get rid of it fast - before the next rain. That meant starting with a clean barrel and providing some plants with triple rain:
- Before the rain,
- During the rain,
- With more stored rainwater to follow.
The chief recipients are the nearby Butterfly Bushes, new tomato plants, Hosta from Mr. Gardener, roses along Mr. Gardener's fence, the Honeysuckle vine, Ederberries, and the Blueberries.
The plants are green and lush from the abundant rain and extra rainwater.