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Gary350
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I'm returning to my old way of composting.

I pulled up 5 rows of blue lake bush beans and mowed them with the lawn mower then I tilled the mulched pieces back into the soil. I plan to till a few more times today and tomorrow then plant 2 lbs of pea seeds in the same 15x30 ft area. I should have a good crop of peas in November. I am tired of screwing around with a compost pile mulching the plants then tilling them back into the soil is much easier. The space that use to be taken up by the compost pile can now be used to grow more things.

greenstubbs
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Whatever makes your Kitchen Sink.
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soil
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i agree, no point in carrying everything to a pile, letting it rot and then returning it to the soil. i just chop and drop!
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john gault
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I was watching a progam about harvesting techniques on the show, Modern Marvels. One of the items were tomatoes and the machine is designed to yank the plant out of the ground and separate the tomatoe and return the plant and all green tomatoes to the soil for mulching/composting. I was impressed.

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farmerlon
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Re: I'm returning to my old way of composting.

Gary350 wrote:... I plan to till a few more times today and tomorrow ...
First, let me say that I commend you for adding organic matter to your soil. I think that is one of the best things any gardener can do. And, I have no problem with the "sheet mulching" or "sheet composting" method of letting that organic material stay in the garden where it grew.

However, I might suggest that you could maintain higher levels of organic matter in the soil, if you discontinued the repeated tilling. That "over-aeration" of the soil will likely deplete a lot of the mature humus that is in the soil.
In my opinion, that is where you could see a real gain (over time) by composting those crop residues in a pile first. It should be much easier to incorporate the mature compost into your soil, with little or no tilling ... thus preserving more of your soil structure and more of the organic matter already present in the soil.

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rainbowgardener
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I understand the appeal of just leaving weeds where they are pulled or chopping up plant leftovers and laying them on the soil, vs maintaining a compost pile.

But I have to wonder... if you look up almost any plant pest or pathogen, it says "overwinters in garden debris."

EG's

squash bugs: Squash bugs will often be found feeding on old fruit or in abandoned plantings, so clean cultivation is essential to reduce the overwintering population. https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/leaf/squash_bug.htm

weevils: In the fall, adult weevils migrate to shore where
they overwinter in the leaf litter. https://www.apms.org/japm/vol39/v39p63.pdf

A fall cleanup of the yard and garden removes plant refuse on which many plant disease organisms (called pathogens) survive the winter. ... these old vegetable plants and weeds harbor diseases and insects. After a killing frost, make a total cleanup of all plants still in the garden. Take special care to remove all tomato and potato vines as well as fruits and tubers; all parts harbor blights that may cause severe losses. Be sure to remove all vines and fruits of cucumber, melon, and squash. Continue control of the cucumber beetle (Figure 1) into fall, as the bacterial wilt pathogen overwinters only in the cucumber beetle. If corn smut was a problem, destroy (by burning, burying or depositing in a sanitary landfill) all smut galls to reduce the amount of overwintering smut. https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/hortcrop/pp737w.htm

and on and on.. I have seen MANY times that leaving plant debris, leaf litter, etc, provides overwintering spots for many pest insects and diseases.

That is one of the things that keeps me cleaning up the yard and taking it to the compost pile.

I also think that compost is a different product than broken down weeds or plant remains. Compost is created from a blend of many different items ("no more than 10% any one thing"), including carboniferous, nitrogenous, calcareous, etc etc. Greens and browns, kitchen scraps, and every conceivable macro and micro nutrient, all blended together, so that the finished product has all of that in it. It has the tilth and moisture holding capacity of humus. I prefer to add that finished product to my soil.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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Gary350
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rainbowgardener wrote:I understand the appeal of just leaving weeds where they are pulled or chopping up plant leftovers and laying them on the soil, vs maintaining a compost pile.

But I have to wonder... if you look up almost any plant pest or pathogen, it says "overwinters in garden debris."

EG's

squash bugs: Squash bugs will often be found feeding on old fruit or in abandoned plantings, so clean cultivation is essential to reduce the overwintering population. https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/leaf/squash_bug.htm

weevils: In the fall, adult weevils migrate to shore where
they overwinter in the leaf litter. https://www.apms.org/japm/vol39/v39p63.pdf

A fall cleanup of the yard and garden removes plant refuse on which many plant disease organisms (called pathogens) survive the winter. ... these old vegetable plants and weeds harbor diseases and insects. After a killing frost, make a total cleanup of all plants still in the garden. Take special care to remove all tomato and potato vines as well as fruits and tubers; all parts harbor blights that may cause severe losses. Be sure to remove all vines and fruits of cucumber, melon, and squash. Continue control of the cucumber beetle (Figure 1) into fall, as the bacterial wilt pathogen overwinters only in the cucumber beetle. If corn smut was a problem, destroy (by burning, burying or depositing in a sanitary landfill) all smut galls to reduce the amount of overwintering smut. https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/hortcrop/pp737w.htm

and on and on.. I have seen MANY times that leaving plant debris, leaf litter, etc, provides overwintering spots for many pest insects and diseases.

That is one of the things that keeps me cleaning up the yard and taking it to the compost pile.

I also think that compost is a different product than broken down weeds or plant remains. Compost is created from a blend of many different items ("no more than 10% any one thing"), including carboniferous, nitrogenous, calcareous, etc etc. Greens and browns, kitchen scraps, and every conceivable macro and micro nutrient, all blended together, so that the finished product has all of that in it. It has the tilth and moisture holding capacity of humus. I prefer to add that finished product to my soil.
That is probably all true but I think the compost pile will be a more cozy worm place for the bugs than my garden. The compost will decompose and stay cozy warm all winter my garden will be mud, water, ice, snow and the ground will be frozen hard as stone for several weeks. Bugs will probably winter over in either place.

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soil
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there will always be bugs and disease, its a matter of is your garden healthy and diverse enough to keep those things in check
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

DoubleDogFarm
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I'm not sure it's a good argument, but nature cuts and drops all the time. It's mostly us humans that seem to have a need to pile and categorize.

Eric
Last edited by DoubleDogFarm on Sun Sep 04, 2011 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rot
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What works best

..
What works best is what works for you.

I no like tilling. Composting works for me.

I have to admit, the extra space for growing is attractive though.

to sense
..

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rainbowgardener
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My two compost piles together take up about a 6x4 space under the shade of a big black walnut tree. Not going to grow much else there.

I don't till anything.

The wire bin now holds just the finishing/finished compost. The working pile is in the plastic earth machine. I don't think much is going to winter over in there, but even if it does, before I use the compost it will have spent some months cooking in the first pile and some months finishing in the second pile. To me that's not the same as having hiding places for weevils and squash bugs and every other thing all over my yard.

There's always going to be some diseases and some bugs and I'm an advocate for the fact that we need to have some of the leaf eater bugs around to feed the birds and make sure the beneficials are around. But since I don't use poisons, they will be there, whether or not I provide special housing for them, just hopefully not in the same numbers.

And I like my finished compost which is a different substance than just broken down weeds.

Everybody has to do what works for them. I try to keep reading and learning and being open to new ideas and my style of gardening has changed over the years. But what I'm doing now works for me and I like it. If I had acres to play with, I'd probably be doing something different, because my way of gardening would be too labor intensive. But with my 1/3 acre city lot, it's just fine.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration



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