Kelly_Guy
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jal_ut wrote:
but the majority of the top layer is compost and composted manure.
Manure and compost are great soil amendments. I said soil. Yes, soil is that wonderful layer that covers much of the earth and is what plants grow in. Start with Soil then add a bit of manure or compost. An inch of manure or compost is plenty if mixed in well. If your soil is heavy in clay, add some sand to loosen it up.

Manure and compost are very close to the same thing; partially digested organic matter. Rich in plant nutrients, but too "hot" for good growing by themselves. I have seen garden plots ruined for two years by the application of too much manure. Nothing would grow. ("If a little manure or compost is good, a whole lot is better." is a poor assumption. )

Most soils contain clay, silt, sand, humus, organic matter, chemicals, water, and a host of living organisms: bacteria, yeasts, fungi, worms, and insects. A vital part of soil is the mineral part, sand silt and clay. I think too many gardeners try to make phony soil and forget or ignore this requirement.

Our goal should be to improve our soil, not try to make soil. Have you ever wondered how long it took to make the soil that covers this earth? Have you taken a moment to see the bounty that grows in real soil?

May I suggest that we start with real soil and amend it with the goal of improving its fertility?
Getting back to gardening after a long hiatus, and doing raised bed gardening versus till and row for the first time, I am learning this personally. Thanks for your post.

Kelly

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gixxerific
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RBG yes some have tomatoes on them and they are somewhat greening up. Those in the pics are not the same ones I took before when I was wondering what was wrong with them. They still look bad but slightly getting better. Also quite a few of the ones with tomatoes are only about a foot out of the ground. I almost think the tomatoes are slowing the plant down that could be another thing.

Jal I understand I went overboard and that may be the main concerning factor here. If I would have tilled it all in together I believe it would be doing better. That was my goal to till it all in than I decided to try without tilling. There is somewhat virgin soil at the bottom of the holes but since they are being transplanted the roots will grow more laterally than straight down.

BrianS I'm am hoping once thing warm up they will skyrocket. They were planted pretty early.

Jbest I had them in gallon pots, but some were about 2 feet give or take. Yes they were a bit rootbound. Hoping they will figure it out.

All I know right now that this is the worst garden I have ever had and am not liking it. Even last year in some fairly crappy soil I had mammoth tomatoes and other veggies that simply took over the place. I know next year will be good I think, of course I thought this year was going to be great. But as some of you have said it's not over yet.

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It might actually be the manure. Crops have been devastated all over the UK because of residues of chemical herbicides that pass through animal guts unchanged, end up in the manure and go on to kill and maim plants everwhere. It's a huge contamination scandal that is also affecting the US:

https://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/29/food.agriculture

https://www.rachelcarsoncouncil.org/index.php?page=a-gardener-alert--update

Possible? :(

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Man, Gix, that really stinks! From reading what everyone else has said, it does sound like it may be the compost. Did you till it or just layer it on top (I think you just layered it)? One thing that's coming to my mind is that it wasn't completely finished. I've read that compost should sit for at least a month after it looks ready to use.

The bacterial may be drawing nutrients (nitrogen) from the soil to continue breaking down the organic material.

You may also need a string of nice weather, too. Some warmth may be what you garden is waiting for.

Just sit tight, I'm sure everything will work out great.
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gixxerific
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Possible delilah but unlikely. I have been getting free manure from this same place for 10+ years and have never had a problem.

If it ever stops raining here I will try to rough up the soil a bit.

But I believe this fall I will get a load of topsoil an till in. After mixing the garden real good. The microbiology will just to make a comeback. I know there will be worms because there are so frigging many now. I shouldn't have gone no-till so soon in my newer gardens progress.

Yeah G5 It was basically just layered on. It was pretty well finished. Still warm but nice and crumbly like good compost should be. I did let it sit for a month or so as well before planting.

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Ozark Lady
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Gixx, be careful with hauling in topsoil.

I hauled one load and it is junk, plain and simply, now residing in my compost bin for the bacteria and worms to fix it. The second load is better, but really, not as good as my own garden soil.

I would just use hay to mulch and wait and see.
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gixxerific wrote:Possible delilah but unlikely. I have been getting free manure from this same place for 10+ years and have never had a problem.

If it ever stops raining here I will try to rough up the soil a bit.
W/regard to the manure situation in Britain, that was in 2008. It took several months (from March to perhaps June or July) for the chain of contamination to be figured out, but I haven't read anything since then about a recurrence. Thank goodness.

And, gixx, I think the major clue to your garden's performance is your own words..."If it ever stops raining here..." The soil is water-logged and the plants are cold. Nashville has flooded, middle Tennessee is soaked. The weather patterns are weird (again). Plant roots need air to breathe just like people and animals do.

It could be as basic as this.

Cynthia

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gixxerific
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OL thanks for the heads up on topsoil. But I know a few good places around to get stuff and I know a LOT of bad places. :lol: I always check it out first. Last year my neighbor bought some locally, I wish he would have talked to me first I would have told him not to go there. But he ended up with wild onions taking over his flower bed.

Cynthia thanks for your advice but again I don't think it was over watering. It has been weekend rains here and this soil/compost drains rather well. Just this week is a sever thunderstorm every day for a week straight. Some places got over 2 inches in a little over an hour this morning. That will not help but before this it was about right I even had to water a few times.

All in all I think it will be alright eventually I have never had this slow of a start before.

Now on to a thread about possible early blight on my spuds. :lol: Will it ever stop. At least I haven't seen any bad bugs yet, last year was my worst bug year ever.

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applestar
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Quick question: Have you fractured/forked the underlying soil?

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gixxerific
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applestar wrote:Quick question: Have you fractured/forked the underlying soil?
I dug pretty deep into the clay if that is what you mean. I did break it up a bit than threw in some loose soil/compost before putting in the plants. I did mix it up a bit at least the top layer with a shovel and rake.

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Nope. I meant when you were layering on the manure/compost. Plunge the garden fork in as far as it would go, and wiggle. I stand on mine to get the tines into the clay, then sway a bit before stepping off and yanking it out. About every big step in all directions. -- My standard prep before sheet mulching a lawn area. The holes made by the tines as well as the fracturing creates fissures for the worms and other soil organisms to travel -- they make their own cross tunnels. All that fissuring and tunneling creates micro-passageways for the air, water, nutrients, and microbes to penetrate deeper into the clay and begin the conversion into good soil.

In my garden, the moles follow the worms and make even more tunnels that then presumably get flooded with each rain, washing even more good stuff into the clay. The plant roots will follow the fissures and tunnels -- I really don't have to dig around much and by the end of the season, there's nice fluffy soil. Then, of course, I don't pull out the plants but cut them at soil level, leaving all those roots to break down in the soil to whatever depth and root growth pattern they made.

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"Then, of course, I don't pull out the plants but cut them at soil level, leaving all those roots to break down in the soil to whatever depth and root growth pattern they made."

That sounds like a nice idea.. So far when the tomatoes and peppers and stuff are done for the season, I have pulled them out roots and all. Put the soft stuff in the compost pile, let the stuff that is too tough and woody dry out for awhile and then run thru the chipper/shredder, then compost.

When you leave the roots in the ground in the fall, have they mostly broken down by the next spring's planting, or are there still root clumps sitting around under ground? The latter result would deter me a bit, since I just have my few raised beds, I can't just go plant somewhere else while I wait for the roots to finish breaking down.

Thanks! RBG
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Jbest
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rainbowgardener wrote:"Then, of course, I don't pull out the plants but cut them at soil level, leaving all those roots to break down in the soil to whatever depth and root growth pattern they made."

That sounds like a nice idea.. So far when the tomatoes and peppers and stuff are done for the season, I have pulled them out roots and all. Put the soft stuff in the compost pile, let the stuff that is too tough and woody dry out for awhile and then run thru the chipper/shredder, then compost.

When you leave the roots in the ground in the fall, have they mostly broken down by the next spring's planting, or are there still root clumps sitting around under ground? The latter result would deter me a bit, since I just have my few raised beds, I can't just go plant somewhere else while I wait for the roots to finish breaking down.

Thanks! RBG
Its a good idea to leave the roots in place. The Mycorrhizal Fungi colonize on the roots which will stimulate next years roots. The only part that I can find in the spring is the main stem which will pull out easily.
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gixxerific
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No i didn't do the fork method I don't own one though I would like to get one if I ever start working again.

I also cut off plants at soil level and leave the roots to rot. Though not tomatoes since they are known to harbor disease plus they take forever to break down.

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gix, I would just give it some time. I think we need some warm weather. I understand you are trying to go the no-till way. May I suggest this fall after frost, you till it deeply one more time and mix some of the underlaying soil/clay with the top material. The addition of a little sand would be good at this time too. By spring things will be fine. Then you can go with no-till and add mulch and a little compost or manure each season. The bio community will work the organic matter into the soil. The roots of plants go quite deep and this also adds organic matter to the underlying layers. You should have a great garden next year. I think things are a little out of balance right now.

Clay is not all bad. A soil with about 1/4 clay is great in fact. The clay holds water well and comes in close contact with the root hairs so the roots can absorb the water and nutrients. Clay, silt and sand work together to eliminate large air pockets which allow roots to dry out. Also the clay, silt and sand provide many minerals that your plants need.

You don't need to worry about disturbing the bio community by tilling to mix your soil ingredients together and incorporate organic matter. The spores of those organisms are everywhere. They will take off and grow if given the oportunity and a favorable environment.
Last edited by jal_ut on Thu May 13, 2010 1:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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gixxerific
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Thanks Jal that is what I intend to do. I'm already planning for next years garden and this one hasn't even started yet. :lol: I should have tilled deeply last fall, I'm pretty sure I didn't. I will be adding another row, which I have already started to sheet mulch. So I will give it all a good workout this fall.

It should be great next year, but that is what I said last year. Who know there is still time it may still be great this year. I just have to stop being so hard on myself. :wink:

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It'll get there, Gixx. My goal is to leave this property in better condition than I found it -- in terms of soil biology, environment and habitat, natural community, and productivity. You're already well on your way. :D

Jbest is right. Only stalks that can be persistent are corn, and those I just leave in place and plant around, unless I HAVE to put something there or the stalks keep getting in the way, then I cut those flying buttress roots and they just fall over. Even sunflower stalks are ready to come out by spring. I just bury the 1/2 decayed stem along the border or put them in the compost pile.

I throw out in trash any tomato stalks that had suffered disease but leave the roots in place. I don't plant tomatoes in the same spot the following year. Same with potatoes. I'm not as consistent with peppers and eggplants, but I'll follow the same regimen if they get diseased.

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Containerized plants can be really finicky about coming out of the root ball and soil they have been in for a long time; we call this a soil interface and it can be a real setback for a plant. I think John might well be on to something...

I think you might have hit on it yourself to some degree, Gixx. Too much unfinished compost could be causing nitrogen lock as the bacteria propagate to finish the digesting job. If that is the case some hay (as I have often suggested) will add a huge shot of cililates that will tear into a big bacterial population and start some nitrogen release. You can be dumping on nitrogen and only locking it up in bacteria; protozoa are our first line of predatory nitrogen looping for bacteria...

I suspect the combination of the two might produce the results you are seeing... organics is complex, and you need to get a lot of things right to get it to all line up, but at least it gets easier every year... We'll help Gixx...

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gixxerific
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I have 0 cash but there is a place 2 minutes selling straw. WE shall see how things go.

I believe the container may have something to do with it. But than again the same containerized potted plants are in bigger containers and all are about 3 feet + tall just setting fruit this week, all with bagged soil and very little fertilization. The ones in pots are a diff variety if that matters and from what I read they (spirodonovskie) are only supposed to get about 2 foot tall.

But it's not just the toms doing poorly so are some other things. It is growing but slowly. Maybe the bacteria are catching up with themselves. Or the compost is mellowing out I should say.


Side note: My peas and potatoes are doing good so far (in the ground). And my onions and carrots in pots are 30-40 times bigger than the ones in the ground.

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I fill your pain, gix. Last year I kept looking at my garden and saying "What the xxxx" Squash plants just sat there, tomato plants would wilt and die, etc. Very discouraging after so many years of just great produce. But that was probably the biggest problem.....so many years.

This year I brought i top soil from some old farm land, actually moved some of the existing soil and replace it with the new top soil. At other spots I just worked the new soil in with the old. I put the rippers on a box blade at full length and ran thru the garden as much as I could. Also, I build two long boxes that have only a layer of sand and the new top soil.

Most of the garden is doing great (I need a fingers crossed emoticon) BUT three or four tomato plants are just sitting there. There are about six plants in a row, two are thriving, and the others just sit. All other plants in the garden are doing fairly well. Needless to say this area will be dug out and replaced.

Good luck with it. Maybe the warm weather will cure it all.
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gixxerific
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:idea: I just thought of something it hasn't been overly warm or overly cool here. I keep saying my tom's in the 10 gallon black pots are doing better. Maybe that is because the soil is warmer in the pots :idea: :?: .

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gixxerific wrote::idea: I just thought of something it hasn't been overly warm or overly cool here. I keep saying my tom's in the 10 gallon black pots are doing better. Maybe that is because the soil is warmer in the pots :idea: :?: .
Now you're on to something, Gix! That could easily be the case. I've always heard that tomatoes that are planted in the cooler weather will kind of just sit and languish...until it warms up. They will then really take off once the weather has warmed.

I'd wait to see what happens when the weather gets consistently warm. If there is still little growth, then I'd start to be concerned. I'm sure you'll still have a great garden this year.

Good luck.
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"In the beginning of August, the rice plants in the neighbors fields are already waist high, while the rice plants in my field are only about half that size. People who visit here are always sceptical and ask, "Fukuoka-san is the rice going to turn out alright?" "Sure" I answer. "No need to worry."

I do not try to raise tall fast growing plants with big leaves. Instead I keep the plants as compact as possible. Keep the head small, do not overnourish the plant. and let them grow true to the natural form of the rice plant.
Masanobu Fukuoka, One Straw Revolution

:)

HG
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gixxerific
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:
"In the beginning of August, the rice plants in the neighbors fields are already waist high, while the rice plants in my field are only about half that size. People who visit here are always skeptical and ask, "Fukuoka-san is the rice going to turn out alright?" "Sure" I answer. "No need to worry."

I do not try to raise tall fast growing plants with big leaves. Instead I keep the plants as compact as possible. Keep the head small, do not overnourish the plant. and let them grow true to the natural form of the rice plant.
Masanobu Fukuoka, One Straw Revolution

:)

HG
Yeah that's...... uhhhh...... what I'm ...... uhhhh...... doing..... yeah that's it. :P

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Gixx, I'm just sayin' (like it says on the cover of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy)...

DON'T PANIC!

HG
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The Helpful Gardener wrote:Gixx, I'm just sayin' (like it says on the cover of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy)...

DON'T PANIC!

HG
Great book/series. We really need to hang, we have a lot in common. 8)

But yeah I feel ya. I'm probably just getting nervous. It's been rough lately and nothing is going right, so why would the garden.

I think it might be coming around but still I have never ever seen it this rough in the beginning before trying all these new techniques. Live and learn.

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