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hendi_alex
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Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Pretty good leaf harvest this year

Have about 125 cubic feet of layered leaves, manure, recycled potting soil, and kitchen scraps. Have lots of leaves left to gather and have one more 64 cubic foot bin. Also will layer a leaf/manure mixture in several new raised beds. Don't generally aim for compost, but rather use the material when it is about 30% compost, 50% leaf mold, and 20% barely decayed leaves.

rot
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why?

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What's the advantage to using what amounts to partially composted organic material?

Just curious
..

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hendi_alex
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I'm always behind on the amount of compost available versus my needs. Whenever the leaves are perhaps 50-60% composted, I'll use them to fill most of the volume in a new raised bed, or will plow them in the top several inches of a new conventional bed. IMO the manure and partially composted leaves provide nutrients immediately, they help condition the soil for moisture retention (my soil is almost 100% sand) and to cool the soil, they serve as food for the earth worm population, and over the next season or two they continue to break down and provide a trickle of nutrients and other benefits to the bed. Whenever I get to a stopping point with establishing new beds, will probably let more of the leaves fully compost before using that organic gold. But for now, partially composted manure, leaf mold, with some completed compost appear to be getting the job done. Everything seems to grow quite well in that concoction of ingredients.

rot
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neat

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Neat. I would think it would reduce down a lot in your beds though. It does sound like you produce a lot so I guess it isn't any problem top dressing later.

I don't worry too much any more spreading my not quite ready, lumpy, clumpy remediated scraps anymore.

I can also get my hands on lots of coffee grounds easily so that feeds the worms in the hard clay around here.
..

2cents
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For the established areas, Are you guys doing no till? Incorporating?
If so how is it working out? I am willing to change my heavy digging and incorporating, if convinced it is worth it. But just putting it on the top just doesn't seem like an advantage. Doesn't it blow away?

New beds I've not had a problem just stacking it up(wood[composted] and leaves[sometimes composted]) 1-2 ft deep with little dirt on top and planting. I use whatever I've got. I've put a whole tree chopped up and whole shrubs chopped into the bottom of a new bed, takes 3-4 years for them to completely break down, but they do over time.

I have convinced the neighbor and others to quit bagging the good stuff out to the street. If they don't want it give it to me.

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hendi_alex
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I'm not such a believer in 'no till' for the person who has very heavy clay or very sandy, almost dead, soil. My almost beach quality sand simply has no life, except for perhaps the resident nemotodes and fire ants. So for the first season I may deep till and mix a large amount of my composted material. I then augment individual potting holes for perennials. During successive years, I'll broadcast my semi composted mulch and till with the tiller in areas dedicated to annuals, and for the perennials will side dress with composted material. If a bed ever appears to finally contain adequate organic matter, then and only then do I move closer to a no till method.

This most fully composted material does not tend to blow away because it is pretty heavy and crumbly. My land is flat and porous so washing away is not a problem. Someone on hilly clay soil would most likely need to use some kind of barriers to disrupt water flow to keep surface mulch in place. But wouldn't that be true for most any surface treatment in that kind of location.

2cents
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I'm in heavy clay here. Nearly flat land.
I've been deep amending for the 12 years since we moved, some are raised bed next to a rear housewalk. A couple are 2x4, 2x6, and 2x8 side boards.
When kids were small we changed the sand box each year and that went into the beds to increase drainage.

It has been deep amending with compost/leaves/leaf mold/yard debri.
The coffee grounds are a recent amendment and this year will show if it has made a difference.
Although last year was really good. This dirt finally seams to be producing, the way I've hoped.

I'm always looking for a better way, although deep amendment appears to be the best I've found.



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