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Progress

This is a discussion on Progress within the Gardening forums, part of the Survival Food Procurement category; You've all heard me lamenting my poor soil and you may have seen me post about digging out my raised beds in the spring, adding ...

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  1. #1
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    Progress

    You've all heard me lamenting my poor soil and you may have seen me post about digging out my raised beds in the spring, adding cardboard and rotting wood in the bottom, them layering in my native soil with bagged compost in an effort to improve both the nutrient content and the water holding capacity of the soil. Today I had the chance to see my efforts had returned any results. I pulled back the straw on one of the beds, scattered organic fertilizer over the top and then dug it into the soil. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the sand layer looked; much less like sand and much more like soil. It's still not where I'd like it to be, but it's so much closer to that place than where I was in the spring. I'm attributing it to a. organisms added to the soil from the rotting wood; b. better moisture retention allowing decomposition or organic matter; and c. organic fertilizer working with natural processes rather than interfering with them.

    Progress-20201027_121038.jpg

  2. #2
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    Excellent work! It will surely pay off!!

    Peace,
    Michael J.
    JustAnotherNut likes this.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulag1955 View Post
    You've all heard me lamenting my poor soil and you may have seen me post about digging out my raised beds in the spring, adding cardboard and rotting wood in the bottom, them layering in my native soil with bagged compost in an effort to improve both the nutrient content and the water holding capacity of the soil. Today I had the chance to see my efforts had returned any results. I pulled back the straw on one of the beds, scattered organic fertilizer over the top and then dug it into the soil. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the sand layer looked; much less like sand and much more like soil. It's still not where I'd like it to be, but it's so much closer to that place than where I was in the spring. I'm attributing it to a. organisms added to the soil from the rotting wood; b. better moisture retention allowing decomposition or organic matter; and c. organic fertilizer working with natural processes rather than interfering with them.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Awesome!! Got leaves? Add those too. When you get back over here, start more compost. Get an old garbage can or something like that, poke some air holes in it.......then start adding stuff. Leaves, kitchen waste, pine/fir needles, whatever, Also add some dirt & worms. Then when you go back over next spring, dump that in and turn it with the straw into that soil. Then plant some peas & lettuces & spinach in all the beds, while it's still cool & before the heat loving crops are planted. Those early crops, especially the peas will add the needed nitrogen to the beds, that prepares the soil for the later crops.

    Even if you don't need or could possibly eat that many peas or greens, doesn't matter......you're growing your own soil builders. Just so they get some good growth to them, then turn them under before planting later crops. It may sound like a waste of seed, but it's still being put to good use....and you don't have to plant as much as you would for eating.

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  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustAnotherNut View Post
    Awesome!! Got leaves? Add those too. When you get back over here, start more compost. Get an old garbage can or something like that, poke some air holes in it.......then start adding stuff. Leaves, kitchen waste, pine/fir needles, whatever, Also add some dirt & worms. Then when you go back over next spring, dump that in and turn it with the straw into that soil. Then plant some peas & lettuces & spinach in all the beds, while it's still cool & before the heat loving crops are planted. Those early crops, especially the peas will add the needed nitrogen to the beds, that prepares the soil for the later crops.

    Even if you don't need or could possibly eat that many peas or greens, doesn't matter......you're growing your own soil builders. Just so they get some good growth to them, then turn them under before planting later crops. It may sound like a waste of seed, but it's still being put to good use....and you don't have to plant as much as you would for eating.
    We have at least 15 mature big leaf maples in the yard, so, yes, we've got leaves. And grass. We always have compost going over there. Transporting it here is a bother, but it can be done.

    There's a very small window here between when it's warm enough to grow anything and when it's time to plant warm season crops. I might be able to squeak out four weeks. Would that be enough time for the peas to get enough growth to do any good?

    I'll need more seeds.

  6. #5
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    Put all your used coffee grounds into your piles. Earthworms love coffee grounds.
    We use a keurig at my house and believe me it is a major pain to cut open each k-cup and scrape out the grounds. But it is worth it in the end.
    JustAnotherNut likes this.

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulag1955 View Post
    We have at least 15 mature big leaf maples in the yard, so, yes, we've got leaves. And grass. We always have compost going over there. Transporting it here is a bother, but it can be done.

    There's a very small window here between when it's warm enough to grow anything and when it's time to plant warm season crops. I might be able to squeak out four weeks. Would that be enough time for the peas to get enough growth to do any good?

    I'll need more seeds.
    Might want to consider a high tunnel setup to extend growing season on both ends.
    JustAnotherNut likes this.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Trapper View Post
    Might want to consider a high tunnel setup to extend growing season on both ends.
    It's something I've considered, but because of our frequent high winds I've never gotten around to implementing. It would have to be very sturdy.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulag1955 View Post
    We have at least 15 mature big leaf maples in the yard, so, yes, we've got leaves. And grass. We always have compost going over there. Transporting it here is a bother, but it can be done.

    There's a very small window here between when it's warm enough to grow anything and when it's time to plant warm season crops. I might be able to squeak out four weeks. Would that be enough time for the peas to get enough growth to do any good?

    I'll need more seeds.
    Hard to tell if it's enough time or not, but anything is better than nothing. Nitrogen is put into the soil from the roots of legumes and the plant material should break down fairly quickly. You could always start peas ahead of time, then plant them out to grow as much as they will in that 4 weeks.....and/or wait another week before planting the heat crops but start them ahead of time as well. OR you can plant stuff right next to or within those peas, depending on how it's planted and available space.

    Just do NOT plant garlic or onions near peas or beans, but other 'heavy feeders' should be fine. Agreed on the coffee grounds, they also add nitrogen.


    You don't have to plant a bunch in each bed, but it's true the more the better. Depending on the size of the beds and how many beds you have........I'm just throwing out numbers here but if you have say 10 beds all about 4x10, just plant the center line every 2 ft (5 seeds per bed) then devote 1 bed for peas and plant that heavily. In the 9 beds intended for other things, maybe leave the peas to grow in place and plant the heavy feeders all around the peas, then medium or light feeders farther out. Pick the peas as normal during the spring/early summer, then leave them alone to go to seed & let dry on the vine. You'll have more seed for the future.

    As for temps.....that depends. Don't forget raised beds are warmer than in ground and if you can figure out a secure topper, that can give you an earlier start and/or later finish. I have seen a simple 2x2 A-frame, that was attached with hinges on one side and you could probably attach some kind of locking device to secure it
    Pobilly Duke likes this.

  10. #9
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    Heavy doses of compost and manure are great game changers in soil improvement.
    If the grow spot is going to be dormant fall/winter, then its ok to use hot manure.
    Once your spot is heavily layered with compost/manure, cover with a heavy layer of mulch.

    Depending on the beginning condition of the soil, it may take more than one season to create a fluffy, nutrient enriched bed.
    During your grow season make sure to continue to side dress with well rotted compost and aged manure.

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrganikRoots View Post
    Heavy doses of compost and manure are great game changers in soil improvement.
    If the grow spot is going to be dormant fall/winter, then its ok to use hot manure.
    Once your spot is heavily layered with compost/manure, cover with a heavy layer of mulch.

    Depending on the beginning condition of the soil, it may take more than one season to create a fluffy, nutrient enriched bed.
    During your grow season make sure to continue to side dress with well rotted compost and aged manure.
    I don't have a local source of manure. I'm also leery of hot manure because we had a bad experience with the introduction of a lot of weed seeds at our other place.

 

 
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