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hendi_alex
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Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

What you read, vs. what you experience

It is kind of funny to me, reading about how placing unfinnished compost (leaf mold, compost, raw leaf mixture) will drain all of the nutrients from the soil and will cause plants to suffer. Yet each year several volunteer plants sprout from my compost pile. Almost every year at least one or two cantalope vines, and generally one or two tomato plants grow. Now this is in a fairly fresh pile with lots of raw leaves, and many kitchen scraps added all through the summer. Yet these plants sprout from those kitchen scraps, and where do you think that I generally get my prize melon? And at that time of the year, usually late July, where is my prettiest tomato plant growing? You guessed right there in that concoction of raw leaves, half rotten kitchen scraps, where obviously (according to the literature) there is not a speck of available nutrient to grow anything. So I have to ask, can anyone explain why this nitrogen depleting, nutrient desert would grow such lush volunteer plants, that make extra large fruits.

This anecdotal evidence is one of the primary reasons that I have no hesitance in using my partially decomposed compost when the need arises. In a perfect world, the pile would always be turned at least three times and would cook all through the summer and would not be used until that fine texture black crumbly material was all that remained. But I am convinced that the use of this partially decomposed mixture is not the sin that some would make it out to be.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

Charlie MV
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" The more complicated you make the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain" Scottie... Star Trek 3 The Search for Spock.

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Gnome
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Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:17 am
Location: Western PA USDA Zone 6A

Charlie MV wrote:" The more complicated you make the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain" Scottie... Star Trek 3 The Search for Spock.
Have you ever seen a book entitled 'All I really need to know I learned from watching Star Trek' by Dave Marinaccio? I stumbled upon this little gem in a bargain book bin some years ago for $3.00, the tag is still on it. You might find it interesting but look for a used copy.:wink:

https://www.amazon.com/Really-Need-Know-Learned-Watching/dp/0517883864/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233040774&sr=1-1

Norm

Charlie MV
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Norm, I'll keep an eye opened for it at our used book store but I probably could have written the book. I am an original treker which shouldn't be confused with a trekie. We trekers watched the original episodes in our early teens in our pajamas in the late 60's. Most of us did not count Deep Space Nine as a trek show and really got pissed when the movies kept crashing or blowing up the
Enterprise. :lol:

rot
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Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

sometimes you only have to keep it moving

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Sometimes I need the bin space so I'll spill compost before it's fully done.

No major disasters.

I will collect the avocado leaves into a fruit packing bin and once they've dried, Ill crunch them up in a milk crate over a bucket to make leaf mulch. Leaf mulch must go in wind protected areas. Grass clippings work better out in the open and won't blow away but break down faster. I'll mulch with coffee grounds with grass clippings for cover and the worms really dig it.

I had a throw anything in there experimental compost in a fruit packing crate going for a while. I was fishing bread products and produce out of a supermarket dumpster then. I just kept filling and reducing and then I stopped filling and just watered. A squirrel left some sunflower seeds that started growing so I threw in some spare tomato seeds and got a bunch of tomatoes. We'll see if we can't get another season of tomatoes out of it. Got chicken wire to keep the squirrels out.

I've got a four year old oak started by a jay planting an acorn in a leaf pile. I was clearing out the area and almost stepped on the seedling with the acorn partially exposed. I covered it up a little and cleared around it. It doesn't get a lot of sun right now but with any luck it will slowly just keep growing for how many years it has. The ground around is now heavily mulched with 3 inches of compost, grass clippings, coffee grounds and now the avocado leaves keep the weeds out.

A few nice things that just happened with little effort on my part.
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applestar
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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Don't you just love volunteer tree seedlings?
Right now, I have 2 willow oak seedlings that I'm trying to keep alive and 2 shagbark hickories that are in good places to grow. Another hickory was growing next to the A/C unit and I thought I could move it -- it was only about 8" tall above ground. But when I started digging (this was back in Oct), I dug down about 15" and the taproot still kept going down :shock:. I tried filling the hole with water and tugging on it, and it gave up about 2 more inches, then broke off :x . I had a deep-root tree pot from one of my fruit tree purchases, so I potted the root up in that and stuck a plastic take out tray underneath to prevent any new downward root growth. I refilled the hole around the pot with 1/2 mulch, 1/2 soil, then mulched the rest well. If it's still alive in the spring, I'll try to find it a permanent home. :wink: There's also some kind of cherry that's growing where it's not suitable (already about 3' tall). I root pruned it back in fall, and hopefully, will be able to move it in the spring.

Hm. Just realized this is the compost forum. Sorry this is OT -- I just got carried away!

Going back to the OP, I use unscreened compost too, especially when planting trees and shrubs. From what I've been reading, the larger pieces and sticks do no harm, and in fact, will break down to provide the higher level of carbon and fungal materials that the woody plants need. :wink:

BTW, I checked out the Star Trek book at Amazon. Mixed reviews, so I'd be hesitant to buy it but might be worth a peek. :D I liked the OS and TNG myself. There were some good V and DS9 episodes, but some really bad ones as well. :roll: You'll have to excuse me, I'm really scatter-brained this morning, but did you see the Dirty Jobs episode last night? ... Gamebird cleaning/feather-down pillow place.... Featured a wonderful little ol' gal -- quite a character -- and after noting that she kept saying things that would be great printed on a T-shirt, practically every other comment of hers was followed by Mike muttering "T-shirt!" :lol:

rot
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Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

volunteer or rogue

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When we moved, I took several rogue fig, pomegranate, acacia and tow dwarf peaches with us.

One fig and two acacia plus four pomegranate in the ground. Another fig is at my Dad's. Looking for places for two more acacia, figs and the two peachettes.
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Timlin
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Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:59 pm
Location: Zone 3 Canada

I am in a cold zone (3) and each fall I make a compost pile in late September/October. It freezes pretty quickly after I've made it so come spring when it thaws I turn it, add to it all the kitchen scraps I've saved all winter and plant immediately into this raw compost my squash plants.

As the compost heats the squash absolutely relish the feeling and they grow like mad. They produce the very nicest squash possible and by the fall when the squash have been picked I move the compost to the gardens and I begin to build a new pile.

I have neighbours who spread their kitchen scraps over the snow above their garden all winter long and till it under in the spring before planting. It works wonderfully for them but I don't care for the messy look of the garbage spread over the snow all season and then working it's way out as the snow melts so I don't do the same...........but it works wonders and the garden grows zestfully.

More than one way to skin a cat it seems.

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