BB from TN
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Update on "Direct Composting"

Early this year I posted about direct composting and asked for advice. In case anyone was wondering I did okay with green beans and bell peppers. The cucumbers did well for a while then fizzeled out on me. I don't know if the vines died of old age or ran out of organic matter to feed off of. I did way better than last year at least, last year I got close to nothing from the garden. Tomatoes looked like they were going to do well at first but then the plants just stopped producing. This year I plan on doing the same with direct composting and also I'm growing cover crops to grow my own mulch. Winter rye and hairy vetch through the winter then probably fava beans and mustard in spring then probably sorghum and sunflowers in summer. This new plan is inspired by "Soil and Diverse Cover Crops" series that I saw on youtube.com.

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jal_ut
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Re: Update on "Direct Composting"

Garden soil consists of clay, silt, sand, some organic matter and a host of small bugs and microscopic organisms. You need to start with this basic soil, then add some (a little) compost and peat moss.

If you buy the so called "Garden Soil" in a bag, it is likely sawdust or wood shavings with a bit of peat moss mixed in.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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jal_ut
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Re: Update on "Direct Composting"

Crazy software gave me a double post. Grrrrr.

There does not seem to be an icon to delete the post?
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Update on "Direct Composting"

There has never been a delete button. If you really want a post deleted, PM webmaster or any of the moderators and they will do it for you.

For the occasions of double posts, which does happen to me sometimes also, I just edit out the duplicate post content and leave a little message that says "oops, duplicate post" or something like that.
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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jal_ut
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Re: Update on "Direct Composting"

Tks for setting this grumpy ol man straight rainbowgardener. Now perhaps you would like to comment on the Ops problem?
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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digitS'
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Re: Update on "Direct Composting"

I'm busy right now with some of that "direct composting."

Many farmers till crop residue into the soil at the end of the season. There are some benefits but my rototiller's performance isn't up to doing a very good job with so much material at this time of year. The tractor guy is scheduled to show up in the big veggie and make it look a little better for the winter months. I'll have days of work with Rogue the Rototiller next spring or need Tractor Guy back. Neither of these practices have a lot of appeal. He can do a fairly good job out there and so can Rogue but there's the expense/labor.

I avoid just leaving all that frost-killed material on the soil surface through the long winter months in another way in the little veggie garden. One in every three beds is dug out and all the plants are buried to compost in place. I've been doing this in that garden for just about 20 years and it works well.

In the big veggie garden, I essentially have unlimited ground ... too much. I can ignore it and let Tractor Guy deal with it but I just bet I could be a better steward by growing cover crops and rotating the garden area. Even doing this on a smaller scale could be beneficial but how not to turn this into a monumental expense or task presents important questions. Having my own tractor would be one solution but I can't justify that anymore. Still, I have to find a way to keep the neighbors happy and avoid having Code Enforcement show up while, at the same time, having a productive garden and a healthy diet and activities.

Growing a succession of cover crops would be great. Peas in spring, probably multiple plantings of sunflowers through the summer and something that would winter-kill like oats in the fall might be a good regimen. The currently unused ground would be in continuous production in a soil building process. Would it really be better than doing nothing with the ground other than weed control? Sowing with lawn grass seed and mowing it every Saturday is the other common practice in the neighborhood. There are also neighboring alfalfa fields but they aren't kidding me. Custom field work on 2 and 3 acres just amounts to an expense. The value of the hay isn't making up the production costs. I'm not responsible for that much ground ... Thank Heavens!

Retreating to the little veggie garden is a possibility but one needs challenges in life as long as things don't get outta hand, with too much money slipping through the

digitS' ;).
Make everything as simple as possible but not simpler. ~ Albert Einstein

imafan26
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Re: Update on "Direct Composting"

Production the first three years on a new garden using just organic inputs takes a while to get up to the point where it has an established soil web that can sustain plants. It is especially hard if you are trying to grow heavy feeders like tomato. You will need to supplement them with organic fertilizer and fish emulsion or compost tea because you will need to feed the plant as well as the soil. If you plant more legumes in the beginning especially inoculated legumes it helps since the inoculant will increase the nitrogen fixing bacteria and the legumes and bacteria can be tilled in and their nitrogen stores will be available to the successive crop. Keep on adding compost and eventually by feeding the soil, the soil can feed the plants.

Although, I understand these concepts, I am not totally organic since I do not like to use animal by products and I like big plants. So, I take the middle road, I add compost and I have changed my compost from Big R which is mostly saw mill waste to a compost made from multiple sources. I test my soil and I can only use composted chicken manure in one of my 3 plots. The others are too alkaline. I do use steer manure instead but not a lot, it still contains salts. I do use sulfate of ammonia according to my soil test recommendations which helps with the alkalinity and adds the nitrogen I need without adding phos or potassium. I do use sulfate of ammonia in my acidic plot and it has a pH 6.0 which is what it should be according to my soil test for my type of soil. It is good for growing greens and tomatoes but not for plants that like the alkalinity and need less nitrogen. Those things I grow in the alkaline plots (greens and roots). I don't use urea and because sulfur will bring the pH lower, I added lime this year as well. I do till in residues and do some green manure but mostly I use vermicast when I have it. I don't have the space for regular composting and I don't like the vermin it attracts, so I buy compost. In the herb garden using kitchen waste can sometimes be a problem since the mongoose will dig it up to get the worms and bugs that are attracted to it.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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jal_ut
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Re: Update on "Direct Composting"

I do not grow in containers, but out back on the lot in the soil that was there. For container growing, I will suggest getting an NPK fertilizer and use it according to directions on the bag. The two biggest problems are lack of Nitrogen and lack of water. You can get those little testers for checking the water level. Look in your gardening store. Oh, and put your pots where they can get lots of sunlight.

Tops of things like radish, turnip, carrot, are clipped and the tops just left on the garden. The night crawlers will work them back into the soil, or when the crops are done I may run the Troy-bilt tiller over the area. At end of season standing corn stalks and all other garden plant residues, leaves and weeds get tilled in with the big JD six foot wide tiller. I don't keep a "Compost heap" but all organic materials go back on the plot.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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