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Ozark Lady
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Scott, I can't hammer a nail with a hammer! And it isn't unusual to see me try with a shoe, rolling pin, etc. :lol:

Honest, my take is: You have to have humus. If you have no other source of humus use the leaves, use weeds, use what you have. If you have nothing, you will have dust, not soil, it will blow away!

In an ideal world, have a lawn to mow, have a compost maker, and simply pile manure hay, leaves, grass clippings, weeds, kitchen waste into it, and take wonderful compost out of it.

Most of us are not at either extreme, we have more than leaves, and less than the compost maker. So, we find the combination that works for us.

I have woods, I bring in a chainsaw and remove the large trees, then I bring in goats to eat the brush and get the bramble cleared out, then I run pigs to go through and root out the weeds the goats didn't get and get to the "root of the problem".
Then I go through and plant a grass mix, it will have alfalfa, fescue, rye, lespedeza, Kentucky blue grass and several other grass or legume type seeds. I let it grow, and self seed for one season, only one or the big weeds will return.
Now I mow and rake it, I let it set and dry out, and chemical changes happen within the grass. And finally I come back and bale it up. I have hay. But, within my bale of hay I also have weeds that grew in with my grass, small trees, and even some bramble and other stickers, and this is in a fresh field.
I spend some time grubbing out the stickers, and trees etc. But, next season I will still get a mix of grass, legumes, and brambles, trees and weeds. And some of the grass seed mix will take off and some won't. Some is cool season grasses and some is warm season grasses, so it depends on which cutting we are discussing to know what constitutes hay.

Straw: When farmers complete harvesting wheat, rice, barley etc. There is stubble left in the field, they then come in and cut it, comb it into windbreaks and wait for nature to do the chemical change, and then they come back and bale it. Yes, again, there will be some weeds mixed in, and maybe some grass, but not alot. Quite often straw is left long past the chemical change and it is more woody than is hay, and is therefore slower to break down.

I know how to make hay fields, straw fields and bales of either.
I also know that within the plants there is a chemical reaction, where the last of the chlorophyl is used up and the sugars turn into starches. It is not all simply decompostiion happening to the plant it is also happening within the plant.

To a lesser degree the same thing is happening to leaves, but they have already passed some of the stages that the hay or straw has yet to get to, and some of the biological processes, just aren't gonna happen there.

Even within a goat, the processes are happening. A goat does not digest their food, not really. They eat, they put the food into a holding stomach, where it is wetted and wilted. Then they bring it up, all full of the bacteria, and they chew it finer, then swallow it into a second stomach, where the microbes are heavy and very healthy.
Here is where digestion takes place. Here is the microbes that you must be very careful to keep in balance. A sudden diet change and those microbes are simply not there to digest the food, and the goat can starve with a full stomach.
Some of those microbes only digest grains, some hay types, some leaf and woody stuff. And they are inefficient at best on other types of greens.
If a goat is in trouble, you must give them probiotics, which are just some new bacteria to populate their stomach and digest the food. But, it is simply better to just make all changes more gradual and keep those microbes healthy in the first place.

Soil is similar, it has bacteria that digests and again, it must have sufficient numbers to do the job, or the stuff just sets there. The good news is, the soil isn't dying it is waiting for new little bacteria to get born to get the job done, more water, warmer temps and you got it, new bacteria. And straw or hay is similar to the probiotics that is used to rescue goats from malnutrition. You could give the goat a bit every day, to ensure they have plenty, but normally a healthy goat will make their own. I say that it is similar, what I mean is it is full of the bacteria, microbes etc and they are replenished, restored and fed by it.

You can make your own hay or straw at home. It does not have to go through a baler to become hay or straw. It does need to be cut, then cured, which is a process happening within the plant. The chlorophyll must be used up. And you have hay or straw.

To make your compost you are wanting: manure- teaming with the microbes to kick off digestions, hay or straw- plants that have had a chemical change, and greens- plants that still have sugars and have not been changed into hay or straw yet. A balance is what you want in a perfect world.

Again, we are mostly not dealing with a perfect world.

And I do use hay, and I use manure, filled with bacteria and microbes from the goats digestive system, and the bedding that is filled with manure, urine, and beginning to break down already. I can prove that I use hay, by the amount of grass growing in my beds! I always manage to miss a few seeds when waiting for the grass in the bedding to seed out and die.

But, I refuse to burn the leaves, and they have to be somewhere, so they are in the garden. And I only bring bags of leaves from my yard to set and break down in plastic bags, all the rest of the leaves used in my garden, put themselves there! I don't go looking for them. If I wanted more there is plenty and easy to get, but I don't ever need to go find any.

I have a 4'x4'x3' bin in the garden, it is suppose to be a compost bin, it is full of leaves every year. I also have a boat, that got hit by lightning and cant be repaired in the garden to hold compost, it is also a leaf bin. I am in the process of getting a shredder, then those leaves will get ground and they will break down faster. In the meantime, it is store them, use them, burn them, or bag them up and ship them to landfills. So, I store them in compost bins, until I can use them. And I use too many, and I still can't get ahead of the leaves that fall naturally into my garden.

Will I build a compost pile? NO WAY! And there are many on here who are not going organic, nor will they compost. But if they will just add some humus to their soil, whether it be leaves or hay, straw or grass trimmings, it is still better than creating a dust bowl. And mulching can be done in any situation and it is better than bare soil, whether the mulch is hay, straw, leaves, newspaper, or cardboard! I actually had a man on another forum, tell me to get rid of the leaves, and rocks and chop out those roots and stumps, and get that dirt some air! He was dead serious and raises a great garden.

I do not believe that it is a lack of intelligence, that leads one man to walk one path and another man to walk another. And I do not believe that the plants can only live if you do exactly like person A.
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I don't disagree with your last paragraph there, not one bit. What I disagree with is leaves and straw serving the same ends... one serves fungal and one serves bacterial and those are yin and yang; opposite ends of the spectrum... You are balancing leaves with high bacterial manure inputs, but with all the talk of leaves instead of hay, giving the impression that they are interchangeable. They ain't.

You know better than me if your gardening style is working for you. Fukuoka-sensei is all about the experimentation, observation and adjustment thing and I agree wholeheartedly that there a a lot of ways to get there. But if some first timer comes in here and gets the impression they can pile leaves on their garden and it's going to get better and better, we have just set them up for a world of dissappointment, right?

I always try to assume the baseline user when posting and it sometimes makes the more experienced folks think I am talking down or bashing their technique. OL's longer post before this one shows the tricks and tweaks that make the leaves work for her; she is in effect sheet composting on her beds with both bacterial and fungal inputs. Just leaves will spell doom for veggies (but would be fine for trees and shrubs); just hay or straw is doable, but still wants a little bacterial tweak (compost or manure) for best results, and some leaves in that will not destroy anything...

Where did Einstein find the devil? :wink:

HG
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Ozark Lady
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Einstein and a devil? Huh? You lost me there.

I did find a video, and this is funny. It is about fish. But, it is also about the whole ecology of what you are doing. Not the intensive thing, the whole overall picture and how it all fits together.

I do take one detour in gardening that just wouldn't work for many folks.
I try to grow a plant, and I try different things, within reason. Then if it won't grow in my conditions... fine I can live without it. I am not trying to turn my woodland growing into a farmers highly productive field that has that fabulous black dirt in it. I am trying to work with nature, what is my nature in my world. And I am not going to -wall- trying to make this soil into something that it isn't. I am going to try to make this soil the best that it can be, within what it is. I hope that makes sense.

I will always have rocks working to the surface, I will always have roots where I don't want them. And I will always have leaves in oversupply, unless a forest fire strips this land, and then, it will grow back, because I will plant it, I will help it grow.

And I will discover what plants I can optimize, not maximize in this soil.
If I love one that just can't handle the acid, or the fungal quality, I know how to use a flower pot! That is a good candidate for aquaculture.

I know many of you have wonderful soil, and you have that black dirt (to die for) please don't try to turn it into woodland soil. You could make just a bucket of woodland soil for something you want to grow in woodland settings.

I accept that I can't grow alot of cold weather crops, my climate doesn't cooperate. So is it worth it to me, to set things so that I can? Depends on what it is would be my answer, and can I find a heat loving replacement.
On another forum, I addressed the issue of summers being too hot for tomatoes and how you have to protect them. Many folks there only grow them as a winter crop. I grow them as a spring crop and as a fall crop of them, I have new plants coming up. I just can't count on spring planted tomatoes to make it till fall and still produce.

Anyhow, here is the video that I found. And I, hopefully, can learn to be like Miguel and not Don in this video.
Enjoy! https://www.ted.com/talks/dan_barber_how_i_fell_in_love_with_a_fish.html
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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Great vid OL; I love TED. Check out [url=https://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.html]Jamie Oliver's TED talk[/url] for a look at why we got so bad at raising food and what to do about it...

I hear ya, and I think we all need to find our own ways, but a lot of people log in here without a clue and are looking for a way to start. We can certainly debate the best way to do things, but the individual newbie isn't looking for debate, they are looking for answers. I simmply try to clarify the options as much as possible, sometimes playing devil's advocate. If you are not polluting my water or air, I do not much care how you garden yourself. But I will try to give people the benefit of my experience to find the best ways to make them successful.

In my experience, hay will always benefit a soil as both mulch and biological amendment; leaves are a good mulch but without further thought about the carbon content, this can create a soil imbalance. The beginner is better served by using hay instead as it is easier and uses less labor and inputs in the long run. Those who wish to put more time and labor into their garden can use inputs at hand...

HG
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We were talking about collecting thatch over in [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=118806#118806]"Ye Olde Farm" thread[/url] the other day. Then today, I was outside looking at some tufts of grass that were taller than others (about 6"~8") -- especially the Orchard Grass and what I keep calling Kentucky Blue but might be just winter rye or something (are they perennial?). I decided to get my Kama (Japanese hand sickle) and "harvest" them for the New Tomato Bed and the New Sunflower& House.

As it turned out, I ended up with A LOT. Enough for 3~4" layer on the NTB which only had a thin 2~3" layer of leaves on it, and 1~2" layer for the larger 1/2 of the NS&H which only has straw on it.

As I was going around cutting these grass, it came to me :idea: -- Grass clippings ARE the hay sub for small-scale gardens like mine. So, WHY should I grow only LAWN GRASS? Why not grow more nutrient dense pasture or hay seed mix in a designated area and allow them to grow much longer (better for preventing matting down, etc.) for harvest and use? I already have the Orchard Grass area, which is along the ENE foundation of the house. The rich dark green of that "Kentucky Blue" make me think it's pretty good source of GREEN so it can just keep on growing there, and I could start a Clover Hay Mix in a sunny dry area.

My lawn grass already has a good distribution of white clover and I get nice clover/grass cuttings mix, but may be I'll overseed with some pasture mix in the backyard play area where I can let the grass grow a little longer.... 8)

I'm also looking at the annual early spring garlic mustard outbreak (3 or 4 pairs of leaves and 2~3" right now) with renewed interest 8) 8). I'll wait until they're a bit bigger to go around "harvesting" them. (I feel like the witch in the Gingerbread House.... :twisted: )

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Good thought! I always have plenty of garlic mustard! (on my wild and unmulched hillside). It usually goes straight on the compost pile. But no reason it couldn't become mulch. Per the reading we've been doing (chapters we aren't supposed to be discussing yet! :) ) I may have been making my veggie beds overly fungal with all the fall leaves and wood chips for mulch. I'm hopefully correcting that a bit with my "direct extract" almost compost tea. Maybe a little later I'll even make some real AACT (though I'm still finding the whole bucket, pump, time it for 36 hrs and use right away, sterilize all the equipment stuff not in real harmony with my lazy gardener, don't-work -too -hard- at -this style). But using more green mulches would be a good thing and not hard at all.
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Ozark Lady
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I am investigating biochar, to see if I can find a constructive way to get rid of more leaves. Also with so many tree tops all around, plus dead trees, I will be overrun with branches and wood, even for burning in my house!
I am studying to see if I could use a container, within the existing woodburner, that is in the hahsa, and perhaps make some biochar. I just don't want burning leaf piles or woodpiles burning, too big of a fire hazzard. But, leaves everywhere is also a fire hazzard, they gotta go somewhere, someway, somehow. And not in a landfill!

Next will be: a use for rocks, that have lovely fossils in them, but really, I am tired of them surfacing in my garden. Perhaps in cement stepping stones? Gotta be something I can do with them!
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I don't grow hay like grasses in the open yard. But I do have about 9 plantings of ornamental grass that I cut down in the spring and save for the compost. This year I saved them for the garden beds. It's not a ton, but pretty much, not sure if you would call them greens or browns but they are there. I never had any problem with weeds though just using them for a compostable.

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Grass is greens, my friend and dried grass is hay. There ya go!

Clippings of lawn grass will have more of a tendency to decompose than straw would; like any other plant there are varying carbon rates from part to part (In trees the leaves are higher in nitrogen than the rest; the twigs a little less so, the branches a little less than the bigger limbs, which are a little less so than the trunk, down to the real carbon storage in the roots) Same with grasses...

But grasses like Miscanthus and such should stick around a while...

HG
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I didn't read all of the posts (ADD tends to kick in at the end of a very long week!) but I think I got the jist of it: I'll be better off if we spread out grass clippings on top of the leaves, let them dry out a little and mix them in? We don't put anything funky on the lawn so I don't have to worry about funky stuff in my veg garden. Or I could get some hay/straw- still an option, keeping my eye on Craig's list and Freecycle.
"If we throw mother nature out the window, she comes back in the door with a pitchfork." Masanobu Fukuoka

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Now you are at least balancing C/N some...

HG
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https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=121042#121042
Sage Hermit wrote:I put the cardboard and hay on but they blew away in the wind so I need to steak down twine just loose enough to keep from blowing away heheh or water this time
Ah. Watering definitely helps. Since then, [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=22797]in my case[/url], the rabbit wire fencing -- required for all my gardens expected to protect from marauding bunnies -- have kept the straw contained within the area except for few stray wisps. Piling the grass/weed cuttings on top have also helped to keep them in place. I'm snatching up what we call "onion grass" -- wild lawn garlic -- that are growing in big tufts right now and tossing them everywhere I'm NOT expecting to grow peas or beans. Unfortunately, the ground is soft enough that sometimes I end up with the bottoms. Then I have to take the trouble to cut them off, but I've been putting the roots back in the ground. :lol: Why kill off future mulch material? :wink:

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Alan in Vermont
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Ozark Lady wrote:I am investigating biochar,
What is biochar?

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applestar
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I think biochar was discussed in [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=20669]this thread about Terra Preta[/url].

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I LOVE when we are spreading great ideas like that...

:D

HG
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Thank you guys for the interesting thread. I loved the video.I used a bit of rock dust in my beds. Biochar next - first I ahve to go camping, since I live in the condominium- no way to create my own. :roll:

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what she used was spoiled hay..and she said that when the weeds sprouted on top of the hay (she puts it on real thick) she said she would just turn it upside down so the weeds grown would just smother.
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Just spread two bales on the veggie garden yesterday; turned back some of the area I did last week and you can see the difference already! Moist, darker, teeming with worms (and I expect lots of other biology). And what a difference in the weed populations in the hayed areas vs. the control area (getting a good shot of weed seed today; lambsquarters and purselane, as I am comparing a green mulch of weeds to the hay).

HG
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HG so are you saying you have a hay mulched section and a green mulch mulched section as a control area?

When you say "moist, darker" are you saying the ground, the mulch or the plants are darker.

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Hey Gixx,

Plants just went in yesterday, but the soil is much nicer (moister, darker)...

And yes, I have one section of garden I am growing a green cover on, purselane and two varieties of lambsquarters ( three if you count the volunteer crop as seperate from my Chenopodium album seeds...). I will stick some maters and squash in there once they are sizeable, just knocking back the greens before hand...

Ate until full on fresh lambsquarters yesterday (eating the tops off as I transplanted from the green bed to the sides of the rows in the main garden). Beats pruning, and I really think that this is my favorite green now, better than leaf lettuce! Who knew? Early, wicked hardy (as we say in these parts), and I am getting a great crop already...

The wife is still suspicious of eating "weeds"; if I'd tucked it in a plastic tub and told her it was designer greens she would probably be loving it... hmmmph... :roll:

HG
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HG you should deprive one of nitrogen for kicks. they are like an N flow test with purple indicator.
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Neat idea, toil... I can do that...

HG
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Whew! Went on a shopping expedition today: Some stuff for a new tomato support idea (thank you TZ!) at Tractor Supply where a very helpful elderly gentleman found me the hardware needed to do what I wanted to do (He asked me SEVERAL times *how* I planned to pound down a 7' post -- He seemed relieved when I relented and got the 6' fence posts that were on sale), a hay farm where a dour elderly gentleman sadly told me he's behind in hay-making because his sister-in-law has cancer and that NOBODY has hay because of the rain except for a feedstore, a gardening co-op where an elderly gentleman and I discussed the merits of Spinosad, and I was able to tell him about its honeybee toxicity until the compound has dried (thanks RBG! :wink:).

I also bought 2 kinds of premium potting soil: Pro-mix Ultimate Organic and Gardener's Gold Organic, a bag of humus, as well as my usual favorite -- Bumper Crop Organic Soil Conditioner. Whew!

At the feed store, they had two different kinds of hay -- Canadian Timothy hay (regular -- I think 45lb? square $6.49) and NY mixed alfalfa hay (65lb square $10.99). Straw was $5.39. Initially, I was going to get 4 Canadian hay, but decided to get 2 Canadian and 1 NY, plus 2 straw.

I'll break them down into flakes and use them to turn a narrow 15"x12ft space into a Sauce Tomato Bed. I also need to make another narrow bed for DH's Wax Begonia Bed by the front porch (I had to buy them -- just could not grow them from seed :roll: But I'll mix in my seed-grown Salvias for a nice arrangment) I'm thinking I'll get cuttings from that hanging Lobelia basket too.

Oh! Oh! ALMOST FORGOT !!! :oops:
The whole reason I posted in this thread is that at the feed store, I was explaining what I was trying to do with the hay and why I was asking them the 20 questions about what's in the hay, why I really want to try the alfalfa-mix hay for the extra nitrogen and potassium, etc. and was telling her how I've been trying to find "spoiled" hay but with no luck, and saying how silly it seems to intentionally "spoil" perfectly good hay. The lady who turned out to be the owner told me that if I leave my name and phone number, she'll call me on those occasions when she gets moldy hay that she can't sell. :() ... I may end up with more hay than I'll know what to do with.... :wink:

As it turned out, as soon as I stepped out the door to go get the hay/straw bales, the sky opened up and we had a sudden shower. I drove home in the rain, perfectly happy that my 5 bales were already getting a good start to being spoiled. :lol:

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Great story Apple, maybe I should have you shop for me. :lol:

Did some shopping myself today not that extravagant though.

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AS is having a Three Straw Revolution... :lol:

HG
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Ha ha. :lol:

Here's my modified hay bale Sauce Tomato Bed. It only took 1-1/2 bales of hay. It also turned out that one of the square bale dimensions is exactly 15" :()

The ground was pretty much solid overgrown white clover. I fork/fractured the area, scattered some wheat bran, kelp meal, a bit of Dr. Earth Veg fertilizer because it was there, then almost finished unscreened compost -- enough so almost no green was showing. Then topped with flakes of the good alfalfa mix hay. The sides are timothy mix hay flakes held up against Rabbit fence, and the top 3 large squared portion of the fence should provide the first courses of "tomato cage." I'll Florida Weave type tech once the plants are taller.
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/Image6985.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/Image6990.jpg[/img]

Almost done, just have to fill it, but I need DH to finish pounding the fence posts the rest of the way in before I can secure the fence. (I couldn't wait and HAD to try putting the hay in. 8)

You said you filled yours 1/2 way with unfinished compost, then with purchased finished compost, HG? With tomatoes, I think I might have to tweak that a bit -- put my usual mix of garden soil and Bumper Crop on the bottom and use some of the good potting soil I just bought on top (I plan to mix them all up.
:idea: I think I'll scatter some bokashi in the bottom to lure the earthworms even more -- do you think all this might be too much and "cook" the tomato plants?

This won't have the moisture holding capacity of full hay/straw bales like yours, but I'm hoping it'll do. At least I got the rain barrel all set up on this side of the house (I was using it to water the bed :mrgreen:)

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I was a bit worried about "cooking" as well, AS, but found that my half finished stuff (with all its pine needles) takes quite a bit to fire it up, and the compost was well finished.

The hottest thing in the pile has ended up being the hay; digging into one of those bales now is pretty toasty, but some of the potatoes I tucked in there are shooting up, so not hot enough to cook them I guess. Seems like the heat was just enough to boost everything along; the corn and beans are ripping right along, and the squash is catching up nicely in the past few days...

I doubt the bokashi will fire things up too much in an aerobic situation, and will keep things from getting stagnant at the bottom; why not? You have added another interesting wrinkle on my experiment and I can't wait to see how it turns out. Your way of doing it seems incredibly space efficient, and mutable to any space at all, no matter the shape. Very cool!

HG

P.S. Spoiling hay on purpose does seem silly, but most farmers who stack the stuff beyond the capacity of the barn end up with a few skunked bales that animals won't touch. Perfect for me though...
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Here it is planted! :clap:
I packed it in. It's going to be a jungle by the end of the season :shock: I'm still thinking of adding leeks between the toms and maybe a couple of bush beans.... :roll:

[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/Image7012.jpg[/img]

It looks like this from the side (this was before I added the extras along the side)
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/Image6992.jpg[/img]

I also made a new "bed" for cotton plants where it used to be grass and clover by putting down flakes of hay, then poking holes and planting, then filling with potting soil. You see it in the foreground. These are Brown cotton.

In case you're curious, those are 3 kinds of cabbages (NJ Wakefield, Red Acre, and F1 Caraflex) under the row tunnel. I have Lincoln shelling peas behind, and sowed Delicata winter squash and Pie pumpkin between gaps in the pea plants. They germinated about 3 days ago. We'll see if this succession scheme will work. 8)

-- update
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/Image7594.jpg[/img]
-- update as of 7/16/10 after removing the insect screen row tunnel and harvesting the cabbages:
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/Image7630.jpg[/img]

----

Here's another bed for Green cotton along the back of my "Sunny Meadow" garden. The colors in the cotton plant are complementing the color of Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' very nicely :D
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/Image6996.jpg[/img]

-- update as of 7/16/10 with cotton starting to bud
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/Image7634.jpg[/img]
Last edited by applestar on Sat Jul 17, 2010 12:10 am, edited 3 times in total.

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gixxerific
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Looking good AS, I really love what you are doing. I can't wait to see what the end result is. Still rethinking my way of gardening everyday.

A never ending learning experience I must say.

Rock on Apple.

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Me too Gixx; we all teach each other with our little experimants and AS has more than most... :D

HG
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applestar
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Some of the plants are wilting :( Some worse than others. The big mystery volunteer tom in the back is the only one completely unaffected (It was the only one planted from a 1 gal pot. It's at the lowest point in this sloping bed.)

Too much water? Not enough? Too hot? Cooking in the root zone?

It was cloudy with some threat of rain most of the day yesterday, then overnight temp plummetted to 50's. There was actually dew this morning (haven't had a dewy morning for nearly a week), and some of the plants had recovered some (peppers especially).

I HAD to water today -- we're in the middle of a drought and every thing needed a good soaking. Some of the plants remain better. I think one tom is a goner. Yellow Bell and Bell Star are the worst affected.
[img]https://i290.photobucket.com/albums/ll272/applesbucket/Image7069.jpg[/img]

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"Too much water? Not enough? Too hot? Cooking in the root zone? "

I don't think we have any way to answer those questions, but you do. If it were me, I would try digging down into the root zone on one of the badly affected ones and see what's going on down there. Is it damp and mushy or dry or hot or ??
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In my hay bale gardens only one potato survived out of the ones planted directly in bales; the rest are completely disintegrated, and the temps still there suggest cooking may have been the cause... :(

In the center where I filled with compost, the crops closest to the bales are head and shoulders ahead of the ones in the middle, furthest from the hay. This suggests two things, that increased heat may have helped root development, or that the increased ciliate population of hay in combination with the high bacterial population, released massive amounts of nitrogen. I am leaning towards the latter as the one plant not showing this differential has been the runner beans, which are the same size throughout the bed... that suggests to me that the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen maintains the equal sizing...

Watering in your situation accomplishes two things, both moisture and cooling, and it would be hard to overwater that bed, I think. Water more and see if it doesn't help, but it would be hard to say with which issue...

A soil thermometer would be a big help, even a meat thermometer like you use on a turkey would help... there is certainly some composting still going on in this method and the heat can be more than one might think...

I added extra fertiliizer to the middle plants; Bradfield 5-5-5 Tasty Vegetable (yes, organic); we'll see if they catch up...

HG
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Interesting about the heat issue. I guess we're both finding out some caveats about this method. Soil thermometer? Oh I have one of those, but it's in the completely DIAGONALLY opposite corner of my garden in the compost pile, and is way too far to go and get. :lol: :wink:

We had a good soaking rain (FINALLY!) this afternoon, and we're getting a cold spell (overnight air temp went down to 51ºF, 60's during the day today) Most of the plants appear to have recovered. I lost one tomato plant (Valencia which is too bad because I only have one other) and an Alaska Nasturtium. Cubanelle Banana Pepper might not make it. A Bellstar tomato is looking limp but may yet recover, and the rest of the Bellstars and Yellowbells, as well as the other Alaska and a parsley are still looking slightly hangdog.

I don't know if it's actually the cool weather/rain that's helping or that the bed has had the chance to mellow a bit. I think I said earlier or elsewhere that, normally, I would allow at least 2 weeks for a sheet mulched bed to settle in before planting.

I'm wondering if you planted the potatoes WAY ahead of the normal schedule, while it's still really too cold under normal circumstances, they might make it. You would then have EARLY potato harvest out of the haybale raised bed.

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Ozark Lady
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Let's talk hay!
I got several old bales down today, to mulch, the garden soil is already cement. Some one or other is hogging all the rain! :evil:
My hubby insists that we got 30 minutes of steady rain this morning before I got up, well, you can't prove it by my soil!

Anyhow, I did get alot of things mulched, but OMG I am itching.
Does everyone itch like crazy from putting out hay?
I did my sneezing and watery eyes thing too!
Allergies and hay don't seem to get along so great!
Once it is down, I do fine with it, but the breaking bales and placing it, just really gets me all itchy! You get the stuff off, but all the tiny scratches still itch! Sheesh.

Mulching is up close and personal, I was eyeball to eyeball with several cutworms today. Bt to the rescue... and now, now that I sprayed, it looks like rain! Going to wash all my Bt off.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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A little bit OL, but I used some skunked stuff which seems not to hit me as hard...

Sorry to hear about cutworms but don't worry about BT washing; bacteria stick like glue (actually make their own in the form of polysaccharides).

Pertty darn hard to wash away...

HG
Scott Reil

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applestar
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Some details on EH's Synergistic Garden are described [url=https://web.archive.org/web/20060716042140/www.fukuokafarmingol.info/faemilia.html]here[/url] and other pages on the same website.

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great link, AS!
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I took the time to reread this whole thread since I just recommended it elsewhere :wink: and had a thought about OL's hyper-fungal naturally leaf mulched beds. :idea:)

You know those chickenwired hoops you use to keep the chickens out, OL? After a bed is done growing stuff and you've cut-- not uprooted -- the plants and laid them on top of the mulch, how about using them to keep some chickens IN for a week or so to scrabble around, eat any bugs and their eggs, larvae, or pupae, and leave their blessings... They would likely shred up the leaves in the process (you don't need a mechanical leaf shredder :lol:) Feed them and water them in there as necessary: Chicken tractor. Then let that bed compost away for a month or two. This way you've added the necessary N and bacteria to offset the high C/fungal. 8)

Just had another thought that if you confine your goats in a smallish paddock full of leaves for however long is appropriate every day, they might eat and trample the leaves as well as leave their "processed" blessings there as well. Not sure if this is a viable idea without goat experience of my own, but I thought I'd toss it in. :wink:

You've got most of the animal components/members of a permaculture --What's the right word? ... Homestead? Farm? -- It's just a matter of putting them to work.

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Ozark Lady
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I began the original garden with chicken tractors.

I took horse fencing, and built cages that fit what I wanted for a bed, and it was 4' high. We then used the landscape timbers to secure the bottom of the wire boxes.

I removed all surface rocks, then we placed chickens in there. These were young ones, so I knew the manure wouldn't be wonderful.
You folks do know the age of the animal affects the quality of the manure.
You can't count on baby animal manures to do much more than add humus, since they use up most of the nutrients in their food.

I left them there, food and water offered as usual, and I had to cover half the roof, due to heat issues. The trees were still pretty small back then and not alot of shade. That was 15 years ago, so imagine how much smaller they were.

Instead of moving the tractors, I kept building more, allegedly they were suppose to deposit "gifts" on a thin layer of hay and then I was to lasagna it and on and on. I moved the chicks, not the tractors from one bed to the next.
1. Baby or young chickens don't do alot of scratching.
2. They did do good at eating the weeds.
3. They didn't really place enough manure to amount to anything.
4. I did keep adding hay, but it just never did build up into the lasagna mat that was shown in the book "Chicken Tractors".

It was basically a bust. The chickens were great lawn mowers, weed eaters, and that is about it.

But that is a great reminder, I have alot of something ( I have tried to id it, it is a nettle, a basil, or a mint that family somewhere) and it is out of control. If I pen the young chickens there, they will definitely clear that out for me. Goats won't eat it. And since I have 16 baby chicks and more that I need to go get. I have enough to get a couple tractors up and going. Then I can pen the baby ducks there after weed removal, and let them have a slug-fest.

All of my chicken wire garden cages are up at the bag garden at the moment. The beauty of them is they are sections, so I can re-arrange and make them to fit a 4' bed or a row of bags! Some are 3' widths and some are 2' widths. They aren't overly secure without the timbers of the raised beds, but they encourage animals to stay out of there! I had chickens digging up the plants, and dogs digging in the soft dirt to lie there. And no... I did not let sleeping dogs lie... she is over 100 pounds, not good lying on my bag garden!

Here they are at 2 weeks planted:
[img]https://i728.photobucket.com/albums/ww281/Ozark_Lady/000_0350_phixr.jpg[/img]

The original garden, once the plants are larger, and well mulched, with hay, I simply remove them and let the chickens help with bugs.

The forest garden is doing great, I did add some bone meal, wood ashes, cottonseed meal, and fish emulsion to half of them. But, growth wise, I can't tell any difference. They are doing fine!
Here is the forest plants at 3 weeks:

[img]https://i728.photobucket.com/albums/ww281/Ozark_Lady/000_0352_phixr.jpg[/img]

So far, I am well pleased with both the forest and bag experiments. The bags are filled with topsoil, amended with aged manure. I do plan to mulch both with hay to keep the weeds down, but, I am waiting till the plants are larger to survive the slugs, for now mulch is a bad thing for them.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

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