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mrsgreenthumbs
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Location: Santa Maria, California

Winter veggie gardening questions and smelly soil, yuck!

I have a surplus of TP rolls in my storage shed (I tuck them away all year round for starting seeds) and seeing as how in my area we have super long growing seasons I have been playing with the idea of doing a cold season garden. We hardly ever get frost and if we do it's very very light. If I can do this (with cold hardy stuff like lettuce, broccoli, snow peas, cabbage, maybe kale) what should be my first precaution's?

Also I was transplanting my pepper's this last weekend and noticed a stinky smell like manure and stagnant water coming from the hole where the peppers had been. My bed's drain wonderfully and I had even recently cut back on how often I watered as the season is winding down. I made the bed and filled it with lot's of soil and manure at the beginning of last winter, allowed it to all set in together then planted this spring and had a lovely crop. Now I'm wondering why it's so stinky. The plant's all seem to LOVE it, the worms must be migrating from the neighbors yard because they have just exploded in population thanks to this one bed. I planned on adding some half finished compost to it and tilling it all in before planting it again this winter but I don't want to waste the compost if the soil there is bad. What is wrong here?
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rainbowgardener
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Not sure I understood the first question, about "precautions"? You should not have any trouble growing a winter garden in your area, with all the cold hardy things you mentioned. If you are going to get some frost just cover the plants. (Plastic over some kind of hoop works well.) They should come through a light frost just fine. Didn't quite follow the connection between the TP rolls and starting a garden??

Hard to know about the second question. You said your beds drain wonderfully, otherwise I would have suspected standing water. Is it possible only the surface drains? Sometimes when people make nice planting beds but there is hard clay underneath the bed, the water just drains down to the clay interface and then sits there.

You said you added lots of manure last winter. Was that fresh or composted manure? If it was uncomposted, you may have had some anaerobic composting going on where it was buried. If you have ever left veggie scraps in a sealed bucket or plastic bag until they broke down, you know anaerobic composting (aka putrefaction, i.e. making it putrid! :) ) is very stinky. It should still break down. The only problems with anaerobic composting (besides the smell) is that it doesn't generate heat, so it doesn't break down any pathogens present and that the results can sometimes be kind of acid. So you might want to check soil pH at this point. But once it is exposed to air, everything should finish breaking down and be fine.

Just trying to speculate what could be going on....
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garden5
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I think MGT meant what preparations should she make first?

Also, I think she meant that she is saving the cardboard tubes from the rolls of toilet paper in order to use them as make-shift cells for growing seedlings.

MGT, I think you would be good to go with all of those things you mentioned, plus others (beets, radishes, lettuce, etc.) :D. If all you get is a light frost, you may not even need protection, as these crops should be able to withstand it.
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