imafan26
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Tilling in vegetable residues question

I know I can till in vegetable residues. I have done it before. How long should I wait to plant on it.

My winter garden is nearing its end the broccoli and beets are done, the onions bloomed but only made small onions probably because I still have too much nitrogen and an acidic soil. This has happened before, so I am not that surprised.

I usually only wait a couple of weeks. Is that enough?
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gumbo2176
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Re: Tilling in vegetable residues question

Plants like broccoli with thick stems I generally remove the main stems, chop them up a bit and toss them into the compost pile, but I'll cut off the leaves and till them under. Then it is usually about a week or two before I pull my rows and plant, depending on rainfall. Springtime in my part of the world can be wet and that slows progress in the garden as far as pulling my rows and getting things in the ground. I was a couple week behind this year due to rain.

imafan26
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Re: Tilling in vegetable residues question

So, I should maybe use mostly the softer parts of the plant and not so much stem. It makes sense, the stems are high carbon but they will take longer to break down. I am still going to add compost as well. Thanks for the advice.
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applestar
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Re: Tilling in vegetable residues question

I think tied-up nitrogen while decomposition takes place when tilled in is often the reason for not planting right away, but since you said you already have more than enough, a couple week wait should be ample I would think?

I don't till but I cut off spent plants at ground level and then almost everything that is not diseased are left on the surface as mulch (Chopping off wayward sticking up branches and leaves) and hard woody parts like broccoli stems are left in the paths as something to step on and trampled when muddy. I generally try to do this in situ so plant debris stay in the bed as part of the rotation.
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cousinjordo
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Re: Tilling in vegetable residues question

applestar wrote:I don't till but I cut off spent plants at ground level and then almost everything that is not diseased are left on the surface as mulch (Chopping off wayward sticking up branches and leaves) and hard woody parts like broccoli stems are left in the paths as something to step on and trampled when muddy. I generally try to do this in situ so plant debris stay in the bed as part of the rotation.
I've really wanted to try this in the upcoming year to try and prevent some weeds and help the soil at the same time. But I also broadcast planted turnips, kale, collards in loosely defined rows last fall and then tilled it all in this spring. Seems to have really helped the dirt this year. How do you go about planting with all the dead "mulch" on top of the ground? Just dig through and cover back up? Does it inhibit germination at all?

Sorry for all the questions! :shock:

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jal_ut
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Re: Tilling in vegetable residues question

Adding organic matter to the garden soil is a good thing to do. The worms and micro-organisms in the soil break it down and convert it to plant food.

Couple of ways to do it:

1. Make a compost heap and all grass clippings and vegetable residues get tossed on the heap. In the fall after a killing frost this all gets scattered on the garden plot and tilled in.

2. Mulch your garden with this material after the crop plants are up and growing. This helps hold in the moisture and the worms and mini critters will work on it some as well. In the fall it gets tilled in.

Note: Best to till this stuff in in the Fall rather than in the Spring. About planting: if you have a lot of mulch, you may need to
pull it aside a bit to expose some fine soil then plant. The mulch can be between rows till the plants get larger.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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applestar
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Re: Tilling in vegetable residues question

jal_ut wrote:About planting: if you have a lot of mulch, you may need to
pull it aside a bit to expose some fine soil then plant. The mulch can be between rows till the plants get larger.
^^^^^
THIS
--thanks jal_ut :D

In early spring when I want the soil to dry out and warmup, I might also rake everything off the raised rows and onto the path to trample down -- this will depend on many factors (0) what am I planting in this bed? (1) if I want/have source for completely new mulch or not. I might just pile the mulch in unused section of the bed (2) large chunks of unwieldy/undecomposed matter in the mulch will quickly decompose when trampled into the mud (3) need to remove large roots like tomato and corn stalks in bed that may not have completely broken down over the winter, but fine roots are gone and you can just tilt and jiggle those stalks loose from the soil. They can be used as fill for the low swampy parts of the paths after scraping up the topsoil to pile on the beds or for making airspace in the compost pile.

Raking and re-distributing the mulch can be useful because I almost always find that one cutworm that the Garden Patrol missed in the process.
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imafan26
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Re: Tilling in vegetable residues question

I have a lot of weed roots in my garden and nutsedge and I can literally shovel off a layer of roots easily. The garden is deep and drains well so that part is not the problem but it can be a problem getting through the root layer just to plant. Unfortunately most of my weeds are not killed by just topping them so the roots do grow back, I tried no till but I still needed to add compost to the soil since the compost sinks every year. My base is red clay. I don't really know how else to work more compost in without tilling.

I usually remove most of the plants and send it to the composting facility and I only tilled in the soft things like bolted lettuce, vegetable scraps, and eggshells from the kitchen waste. I am thinking of tilling in more of the stems from the garden instead of just the leaves. I am not worried about the extra nitrogen demand since I use sulfate of ammonia and apparently still have too much judging from the size of my kale and onions. I actually want to experiment on turning in a larger volume of garden waste as a scavenger. Usually I plant Asian greens for scavengers. Eventually, it should all break down and return the nutrients which should reduce my nitrogen requirements even more. I am only planning on using the smaller stems, the larger parts and roots still will go to recycling. I will have to machete or use two machete (Chinese food processor) the stems and it is too much work on the hardest stuff. It doesn't always work in the garden to leave roots behind. I pulled out some old Swiss Chard once and threw it to another part of the garden and it kept on growing.

I don't have space or enough browns for a compost pile and it attracts too much vermin so I primarily do worm composting. It still attracts a lot of roaches though, but takes up less space and the worms do the turning. I primarily feed them kitchen scraps and weeds from the garden. Stems and branches still go to the city recycling facility. In the tropics, most trees are not deciduous. The only deciduous trees in my yard are the plumeria and they have plumeria rust of the leaves need to be disposed of every year. BTW plumeria are native to Mexico, Caribbean, Central America down to Brazil. They are very common plants especially in the drier parts of Hawaii, but they are not native. The other trees and shrubs, drop only older leaves and I prune them to keep them in check. It would be the only time I would have enough for a pile but the pile would only have one source.

If I till in residues, do I mix it in to the soil evenly or do I do trench composting?

When I mixed corn stalks in the soil before, the one drawback was that it was hard to get a smooth top layer for planting with all the pieces of stems sticking out.

Should I keep some of the soil unmixed just for the top or just put a an inch or two of compost over the surface to make it smoothe and plant through that?

Mulching with the harder residues sounds like a viable option for some of the thicker stems. I usually use newspaper as mulch since it slows the weeds for a while so the veggies can get established but it doesn't block water from getting trough. I have fewer problems with it than with leaf or bark mulch where the weeds just grow on top of it and I have to water the mulch before the plant sees any water. I can use the stems in other parts of the yard not just in the veggie garden.
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jal_ut
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Re: Tilling in vegetable residues question

I have had good results mulching tomatoes with newspaper and covering the paper with grass clippings.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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