Gardens and Worms !

I'm new here , and I've been reading and catching up a bit on the group . I'm in Memphis Tn , and after last year I'm tripling the size of my little garden plot . Had too much in too little room last year . I've tilled up some lawn , and added a 3-4" layer of "pro mix" compost from my local nursery . I'll be tilling that in as soon as my tiller part arrives ... but until then , I just went out and turned/mixed by hand the plot from last year (same 4" layer of compost ). I must be doing something right , I found worms as big as my little finger and 6" long in there . The wife thinks (and she's right) that it's time I get some lettuce and spinach in the ground . I think I'll plant a couple of rows of green onions too ... I also planted tomatoes (slicers and cherry) , marigolds , and peppers into some peat pods today . Hopefully this year I'll get better yield on the 'maters , last year wasn't exactly stellar - probably because of overcrowding and not enough fertilizer . I'll be adding some slow-release veggie fertilizer to the soil when I till the compost in , especially where I tilled up grass . What I won't be doing is using any chemical pesticides . I've had pretty good luck with using a border of marigolds plus spraying with a tea solution made from red peppers . -- Snag Learning keeps you young !
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Using a roto-tiller will turn the worms into hamburger. That may be a short time benefit, but a long term loss.
Roto-tilling destroys the network of fungal hyphae that gives soil structure. This includes the mychorrhizal network that is so important to plants."
Mycorrhizal (MY-coh-RIZE-ul) fungi are multi-celled organisms that form special "I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine" relationships with plant roots. As recent electron microscope images have shown, these organisms develop into long chains called hyphae (HIGH-fee) and get energy from the plant and help supply nutrients to the plant. In other words, they depend on each other for survival.
Roto-tilling dislocates and chops up small invertebrate animals (such as insects, worms and spiders), and bacteria, and it kills worms and destroys aeration and drainage. "The soil looks nice and smooth, but it quickly looses structure, especially in places where you get lots of rain.
We till because early American's fell under the spell of an English country lawyer, Jethro Tull, who thought that roots eat soil particles and the smaller you pulverize soil, the easier it is for roots to eat it.
To grow healthy, productive plants you need healthy, productive soil. It is the organisms in the soil that provide the food plants need, in the form they need, when they need it.
There is one time when using a tiller is okay: when breaking up sod-grass. Just do one pass to break up the sod. One pass only. The less energy you can use when planting, the better. Control weeds with mulches, in the case of annuals and vegetables, green mulches and in the case of perennials, shrubs and trees, brown mulches."
The idea is to avoid compacting and deep-tilling the soil, which harms the structure.
Roto-tilling is definitely, out. The only time it is acceptable is when you want to plant vegetables and annuals in areas just claimed from forests. You want to increase the bacterial dominance and rototilling does that. The fungal structure will return if organic fertilizers are used.
Supporting soil structure is just good science.

You may want to look at Lasagna (No Dig) Gardening, a.k.a. Sheet Mulching.
You're garden soil shouldn't be more than 10%, or less than 5% organic material.
Garden soil should be 30% - 40% sand, 30% - 40% silt, and 20% - 30% clay. You can check your soil by scraping away the organic material on top of the ground and then take a vertical sample of your soil to 12 in. (30 cm) deep (rectangular or circular hole). Mix this with water in an appropriately large glass (transparent) jar. The sand will settle out quickly, the silt in a couple of hours, and the clay within a day. The depth of the layer in relationship to the total (layer/total = % of composition) is the percent that fraction has in the soil.
Garden soil needs a constant input of nutrients, i.e. carbon, e.g. brown leaves, and nitrogen, e.g. manure in a ratio of C/N of 25. This is the same ratio you will what in a compost pile. -----
Let it Rot!: The Gardener's Guide to Composting (Third Edition) (Storey's Down-to-Earth Guides) by Stu Campbell
<(Amazon.com product link shortened)94901182&sr=1-1>
p.39
Compostable Material Average C/N
Alder or ash leaves ............................ 25
Grass clippings ................................ 25
Leguminous plants (peas, beans,soybeans) ............................. 15
Manure with bedding ........................... 23
Manure ....................................... 15
Oak leaves .................................... 50
Pine needles .............................. 60-100
Sawdust................................. 150-500
Straw, cornstalks and cobs .................. 50-100
Vegetable trimmings ........................... 25 Aged Chicken Manure  ........................  7 Alfalfa ................................................ 12 Newspaper........................................ 175 -----
http://www.composting101.com/c-n-ratio.html
A Balancing Act (Carbon-to-Nitrogen Ratios)
All organic matter is made up of substantial amounts of carbon (C) combined with lesser amounts of nitrogen (N). The balance of these two elements in an organism is called the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio (C:N ratio). For best performance, the compost pile, or more to the point the composting microorganisms, require the correct proportion of carbon for energy and nitrogen for protein production. Scientists (yes, there are compost scientists) have determined that the fastest way to produce fertile, sweet-smelling compost is to maintain a C:N ratio somewhere around 25 to 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen, or 25-30:1. If the C:N ratio is too high (excess carbon), decomposition slows down. If the C:N ratio is too low (excess nitrogen) you will end up with a stinky pile. (cont.) ------
No reason to till after the first preparation of the garden (no reason to till the first/last time but it does speed up soil development). Spread out your soil amendments: € N: € 18.37 lb. chicken manure/ 100 sq.ft. (2.88 oz/sq.ft.) € € P: € 3 lb. / 100/sq.ft. (.48 oz/sq.ft.) € € K: € How much wood ash should you use in your garden? The late Bernard G. Wesenberg, a former Washington State University Extension horticulturist, recommended using one gallon of ashes per square yard on loam to clay-loam soil, and half as much on sandier soils.
<http://www.plantea.com/manure.htm € Manure Chicken Diary cow Horse Steer Rabbit € N 1.1 .257 .70 .70 2.4 € P .80 .15 .30 .30 1.4 € K .50 .25 .60 .40 .60 € Sheep Alfalfa Fish Emulsion € N .70 3 5 € P .30 1 1 € K .90 2 1
€ Sources: Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, An Illustrated Guide to Organic Gardening, by Sunset Publishing, and the Rodale Guide to Composting. <http://www.plantea.com/manure.htm € Manure Chicken Diary cow Horse Steer Rabbit € N 1.1 .257 .70 .70 2.4 € P .80 .15 .30 .30 1.4 € K .50 .25 .60 .40 .60 € Sheep Alfalfa Fish Emulsion € N .70 3 5 € P .30 1 1 € K .90 2 1
€ Sources: Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, An Illustrated Guide to Organic Gardening, by Sunset Publishing, and the Rodale Guide to Composting.
Cover this with newspaper (to block light from weeds and provide a barrier to sprouting weeds). Cover the newspaper with mulch (up to 6" in depth). Spray the garden bed with water, and wait 6 weeks before planting (if you can).
A dibble can help with planting. The dinky little ones from the nursery may be of some help, but I prefer a sharpened, old, shovel handle for making a hole through the mulch and paper for planting seedlings.
Adding drip lines takes a little time, but saves a lot of time during the season.
Additional info:
http://www.diggers.com.au/articleWhatsNewIsOld.shtml What's new is old CLIVE BLAZEY EXPLAINS WHY HEIRLOOM SEEDS ARE SUPERIOR TO HYBRIDS AND GENETICALLY ENGINEERED (GE) SEEDS. -----
<http://www.choiceinagriculture.com/articles/2-monsanto-seed-business-rol e-revealed>
AP INVESTIGATION: Monsanto seed biz role revealed
By CHRISTOPHER LEONARD AP Agribusiness Writer © 2009 The Associated Press Dec. 13, 2009, 11:54PM ST. LOUIS ‹ Confidential contracts detailing Monsanto Co.'s business practices reveal how the world's biggest seed developer is squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies and protecting its dominance over the multibillion-dollar market for genetically altered crops, an Associated Press investigation has found.
--
http://transitionculture.org/2009/02/23/a-farm-for-the-future-essential-v
iewing/
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Cross-Eyed Mary 4:09 Jethro Tull Aqualung
--
Bill S. Jersey USA zone 5 shade garden






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Bill who putters wrote:

Actually , more detailed than I really expected ... and once I've incorporated some organic matter into this poor excuse for soil I have , I'll put the tiller away . This area has been in grass and weeds for years . The soil is heavily compacted , and has quite a bit of clay . Once it's prepared , I'll be following (more or less) Ruth Stout's methods . -- Snag Learning keeps you young !
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Clover, and buckwheat cover crops can do wonders for clay soil.
Unemployment is capitalism's way of getting you to plant a garden. - Orson Scott Card
===
--
- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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wrote:

Hi , Snag, I just wanted to say Hi. , Because I started out last year with Ruth Stouts books in hand. To control weed issues. And have less work. So I put down the hay and straw and ground cover and overall I've had good success. Id be very interested in what you think of Ruth Stouts garden philosophy. And if you read more then her first book. Because I'm still using the hay as mulch
Diesel.
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DogDiesel wrote:

I used her (first , apparently) book way back in the early 80's , didn't realize she's written more . I just like the idea of using organic material to control weeds , which also ends up enriching the soil .
--
Snag
Learning keeps
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Exactly. Well then you did like me . Use the first book. My issue was morning glories, which in her next books kind of pointed out some flaws in her first book. Such as morning glories and switch grass and a couple other weeds wouldn't get stopped by deep mulch. But nevertheless its still relevant as mulch gardening is mulch gardening. Billy posted the book below and its a more or less an updated mulch book gardening book. Think advanced Ruth stout. Or how Ruth stout would build a layered mulch garden. But its nowhere near as fun to read as Ruth's books. Her writing style is at least 75% of the fun. You might want to find it somehow, or her later books. even if its library. .
Lasagna (No Dig) Gardening, a.k.a. Sheet Mulching.
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On Sun, 20 Mar 2011 17:01:08 -0400, Bill who putters

Indeed! Here is more sound advice... worth exploring

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wzfY990OXU

--
Charlie

“To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wildflower.” ---
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Sorry, I didn't identify the type of phosphate product.

As rock phosphate
-----
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- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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He can take one taste and tell all that. good trick.
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I did this to one bed today, tossed around some iron (ferric) phosphate to knock back the slugs and snails, and I'll plant peas tomorrow. The peas are starting to grow tendrils, and once they interlace, separating them, without doing too much damage, is tricky.
--
- Billy
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
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That is easy to do...the overplanting...I usually manage to accomplish some of that every year. Yards are a waste of space and resources, better to fill them with edibles and pretties to whatever extent is practical and possible!

Good luck...and take care of those worms. They are good indicators of soil health. The better my soil becomes, the fewer insect and biological problems I find in the crops.
--
Charlie

"If a healthy soil is full of death, it is also full of life: worms,
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<<Actually , more detailed than I really expected ... and once I've incorporated some organic matter into this poor excuse for soil I have , I'll put the tiller away . This area has been in grass and weeds for years . The soil is heavily compacted , and has quite a bit of clay . Once it's prepared , I'll be following (more or less) Ruth Stout's methods >>
Yes, far mor information than you need, but if you spend any time in this group you'll find that to be the norm with some. They have way too much time on their hands and take themselves way to seriously. If you have worms like that, you're off to a good start. I'll offer you the same advice I've given here prviously. I suggest you look at;
www.dirtdoctor.com
Not a method of one man, but a compilation of techniques and tips from people who actually use them. They are all organic. Take a look and see what you think. I'm not affiliated with the website in any way. Good luck with your new garden and have fun!
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Yes but bill without a net wrote so much, he must know what he is yacking about!
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You think?? hmmmm........
wrote:

Yes but bill without a net wrote so much, he must know what he is yacking about!
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