AnnaIkona
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How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

I have started adding about a cup of left over veggies to my raised garden beds each day. As compost bins don't work well where I live. And I was wondering if the veggies I add to the garden will rot in about 5 months (when I'll plant my tomatoes)?
I usually add coffee leftovers, apple skins, carrot skins, etc. So pretty thin stuff.

Was this a good idea? Will the veggies and leftovers rot and mix with the soil in about 5 months? Is there anything I can do? Should I mix the soil periodically?

Thank you!
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tomc
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

A USDA zone or provincial notation will go a long way in helping get site specific answers. You may want to amend your profile or signature line.

Size and temperature go a long way to determining the speed of decay. Direct contact with soil also helps. IE a big pile rots faster, warm rots faster.

I live in SE-OH (zone 6-A) and everything kitchen scrapy I put in compost will be gone by May 1st
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AnnaIkona
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

I live where it barely gets over -7 °C in the winter, and gets up to 35°C in the summer. Do you think my scraps in the garden will rot during the winter?
Zone 8b, Canada

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rainbowgardener
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

-7 C = 19 F. No at temperatures below freezing ( 0 C) , very little decomposition happens, although it will be breaking down some, slowly, just from the freeze thaw cycle. But once it warms up, your stuff will break down quickly, having been through the winter. But as tom said direct contact with soil is important. You need to bury your scraps.
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imafan26
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

Also remember, the main reason that meat by products and grease is not recommended for the compost pile is not because they don't break down, but because they attract vermin.
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digitS'
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

The temperature on most winter days here, rises above freezing. There is likely to be -17°C and colder temperatures, maybe not rising above that in the afternoon, but not very many of those nights & days.

You can bury kitchen scraps 20+ centimeters into the ground. That's what I do at this time of year. I dig out a bed and pile compostables in there, then recover with soil. Composting in place, some call it.

If I dig into that bed in late winter, plant material in there may still be green. By late summer, it will have nearly disappeared. By October, there will be little which can even be recognized as organic in origin.

My soil drains easily and this area is semi-arid, even without the drought. There will be a number of summer days above 32°C. With these conditions, this composting in place works well for me.

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Peter1142
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

I was going to leave the piles of end of season dreg tomatoes in the garden to compost in place, but since they have rot issues I don't want to overwinter anthracnose or whatever else is rotting my tomatoes. Not concerned about blights or bacterial disease, they won't survive the winter. Maybe if I cover them with compost it will help. Thoughts?
Zone 6b SE NY
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digitS'
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

The soil in my little veggie garden is quite fertile. I'm able to dig out every bed almost every year. This has been going on for about 15 years.

The little veggie garden catches everything coming out of my kitchen and yard at home. That means whatever I bring home from the big veggie garden either goes to the dinner table or the compost bucket and finds its way to little veggie.

The worms down there in the summer are incredible. Since it's 8" under soil, I don't worry much about what is down there. Weeds with seeds are a no-no. I can't say that there are any tomato plants in there. They are out in big veggie and the tractor guy will soon show up and till them in. Oh wait. There have been 3 tomatoes in containers in my backyard regularly. They will go to one of those beds but will be accompanied by 15 gallons of potting soil.

Steve
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toxcrusadr
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

Peter,

Tomato blight - at least the common 'late blight' that starts on the bottom leaves and works its way up - does live in the soil and infects the plants by mud splashing up when it rains. So on the one hand it shouldn't make that much difference what you do with the tomato plants since blight lives in the soil, but on the other hand, it does survive the winter. So there's that. I compost my tomatoes or sometimes send them to the city compost facility even though I apparently don't have to.

Of course if you really do have something other than late blight, all bets are off. You'd have to research how each of those diseases overwinters and base the handling of plant residues accordingly.

I do think garden beds should be covered in winter if possible, with leaves, grass clippings, compostables or other types of mulch.
Tox

Peter1142
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

Toxcrusadr,

is not true at all. Late blight is not soil borne, doesnt overwinter (except on potato tubers), and is spread by the wind. In addition, Late blight starts with the succulent growth at the top, not the bottom.

Sources:
Usablight.org (has detailed explainations about how two mating types are required)
http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/plantpath/exte ... Blight.htm

Early blight is said to be able to become soil borne and overwinter on crop debris, but this is largely theoretically for where I live. I had Early Blight real bad last year, didn't carefully clean up any crop debris (I mowed it), and it did not return this year. Early blight is easy to identify with the bulls eye pattern. The same is true of Septoria (except the ID), but this seems to survive however it does much easier and is a common problem no matter what you do.
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toxcrusadr
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

I'm just repeating what I've heard around here. I may have my blight mis-identified. It starts at the bottom, leaves turn yellow, then brown, then fall off. It starts in early summer and works its way up the plant. By fall the leaves are falling off well above the halfway point on the plant. I suppose since it starts early, it's not late blight. Whatever it is that I have, comes back every year no matter where I rotate the tomatoes or what I do with the crop residue. It looks like this:

Image

I certainly don't want to steer anyone wrong as to how to manage diseases, because I'm not that good at it myself!
Tox

Peter1142
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

Looks like Early Blight IMO... not saying you had any bad advice... just correcting some common misconceptions about Late Blight. :)
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AnnaIkona
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

Thanks for all of your replies! :) I decided I'll add a tiny amount (about 2 cups) of kitchen scraps to my garden beds each week, and at the beginning of spring I'll order worms so that they'll decompose all the scaps (if they haven't yet).

Can't wait until Spring to start plantin' away! :) Take care folks!
Zone 8b, Canada

toxcrusadr
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

I wouldn't spend $ on worms, although it won't hurt anything to add them. If you have any worms at all, they will come and work on the stuff you bury, and multiply. If you have no worms it's probably because conditions are not good for them yet, so worms you add will not do well. Luckily there is a host of microbes in the soil that can digest organic matter, so it will break down regardless. Worms are only part of the equation.
Tox

ButterflyLady29
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

With early blight, since it lives in the soil, wouldn't putting mulch at the base of the tomato plants prevent the blight from being splashed up onto the leaves? You would have to start as soon as you put the plants out and keep spreading it out as the plants grow, if that is something that could prevent the disease. I've not had a problem with early blight and I mulch everything. Just wondering if it was related.

I don't put veggie scraps directly in the garden. We've got too many animals here that would dig them up. Raccoons go nuts for egg shells that have egg residue and opossums and rabbits love fruit peelings.

toxcrusadr
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

I do mulch my tomatoes asap after planting, but somehow it always happens to a greater or lesser degree. It was wicked humid and rainy last spring followed by a dry late summer and it was the worst ever. I should really spray more for it. If you don't start early - before you even see it - there's almost no stopping it. Slowing it down is about all you can accomplish.
Tox

ButterflyLady29
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Re: How Fast does Food in the Soil Rot?

Thanks for the reply. I'm sorry you have so much trouble keeping tomatoes going. I've never had a problem with blight and wasn't sure if mulching would keep it from happening or not. I've read that it does, sorry to hear it doesn't.

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