Well , here it is late August , and the garden is starting to slow
production . Sometime this week I'll get the burner finished so I can can
the jalapeno peppers , since I don't want to freeze them . We have several
gallon size freezer bags full of whole frozen tomatoes , and about
30-something bags of shredded zucchini - 2 cups per bag , since that's how
much she uses for 2 loaves of Z-bread <which is delicious , got a loaf
sittin' right here >.
I wish I knew more about potatoes , mine never blossomed and I have no
idea if there are taters down there or not - top growth wasn't all that
prolific either . Radishes turned out to be a waste of time , as did the
green beans . Acorn squashes did OK , but not stellar , and the cants are
just now starting to ripen .
Lettuce is going to get another chance in a couple more weeks , as soon as
it cools off a little more . Oh , and garlic , we love it and I seem to
recall it does best if planted in the fall ... gotta prep a place for it
soon if we're going to plant some . My wife says next year we're going to
have a bigger bean patch so she can can some . Might do a row of corn and
freeze it in single-serving size since she's allergic .
All told , I'm simply astounded by what we grew here , I've never had a
garden produce this well . And surprisingly few depradations by insects and
other pests . We lost a few tomatoes to some kind of boring bug , but it
wasn't really a loss - the chickens LOVE tomatoes and consider the bugs a
bonus ! Only change I plant to make is to move the lower edge of the garden
down a few more feet and let the top edge <nearest the woods> go back to
nature since nothing did very well up there . I'll be increasing the size
too . I think next year I'll mulch more with hay/straw to keep weeds down
and enrich the soil more . My only concern there is that the grass hay will
contribute to the grasses growing in the garden , and grass hay is all we
Oh yeah , and bees , we're gonna have bees next year too , since we're
here to care for them until they get established . There are lots of native
pollinators , but I haven't seen a single honey bee . And we really like
Oh , I'll always listen to <read> advice . Won't necessarily use it , but
I'll listen . I have a good idea of what I want to accomplish , and if I can
find a better/easier/cheaper way to get results ...
For one thing , I want to plant something as "green mulch"
this fall to be tilled in to help increase the organic content of this soil
If looking around for ideas, "green manure" is the more common term.
I personally favor things that will winter-kill - does mean it has to go
in early enough to get established and grow before it's killed, but it
also means it's not coming back from the dead in spring when you try to
till it in. Builds some fertility, and holds soil through the winter so
you don't lose it. Some things that will grow through winter might be
less prone to coming back when plowed/tilled - check with the extension
agent or other local growers for ideas to suit your climate. If you can
give a section of garden (or "a part of your rotation") over to growing
green manure through the growing season, your options increase.
If you have a truck or trailer, also keep an eye out for horse people,
and brown manure. Most of them don't have a spreading plan, so they get
piles. Best bet is to re-pile at your place and see what the weed
content is like, while giving the pile a few turns (inside to outside,
outside to inside) to try and do in the weeds. If the pile is uphill of
the garden, so much the better (runoff/leachate gets into the garden.)
Then spread it. If you get on a regular collection run, it is a far
faster way to build fertility than green manuring.
Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by
Please don't feed the trolls. Killfile and ignore them so they will go away.
Chicken houses abound around here ... not so many cattle operations , but
there are a couple of horses-for-hire places . Might be a good pace to start
, if someone else hasn't already got a deal with the owners . My only
problem with composting is a shortage of green stuff to add to the pile . We
don't have a "lawn" , just the wild grasses/weeds that were already here ,
and which I cut occasionally with the weedeater . I can get all the brown
stuff I want , got about 12,000 trees that drop leaves every year ... maybe
make a deal with a lawn service or something for green
Exploring options .
Cows' and chickens' output is usually spoken for or used by the farmer
(or the chickens' is available, but at a price. Still, does not hurt to
ask.) Horse is the one most commonly available for free, since most
horse people are not farmers. Horse people who are farmers will use the
"Compost color" can be deceptive. When I refer to brown manure, I simply
mean the actual color. From a "compost" perspective it's green material
(high nitrogen), though it's often mixed with enough "brown" (high
carbon) bedding that it can be composted as-is. Chicken, if you get it,
is usually in need of a LOT of additional brown material and a year or
so of aging/composting before use - it's very high nitrogen, as anyone
who's cleaned a chicken coop knows - ammonia city.
As for leaves, make piles, don't sweat the green/brown content, don't
worry about turning them, and 3 years later you have leaf mold, a very
desirable substance. You might also consider burying wood (dropped
limbs, brush, etc) under your beds (hugleculture is the trendy German
Your "wild grasses and weeds 'lawn'" could get some alfalfa, wheat, rye,
oats, buckwheat etc. added to it and serve as (more of) a source of
local green material. Or you can simply rake what it does grow when you
cut it, and use for mulch or compost.
If your garden is a "hole in the trees" you might also benefit from
cutting a bigger hole - it will give you more room to grow green stuff,
but more importantly (depending on the size, shape and aspect of your
current hole) it might give your garden more sun, which can be a
limiting aspect of "hole in the trees" gardens. If that does not apply,
then you should ignore it, but it can be a large factor if there is
shade for any appreciable period during the growing season (though I
gather that some mid-day shade can actually be a good thing in the south
- not something I have any direct experience with - local knowledge
Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by
Please don't feed the trolls. Killfile and ignore them so they will go away.
We call ours "Our Ladies of the Coop" and when I clean out the <small>
henhouse I put the hay/manure on a compost pile . 3 hens , and we usually
get 3 eggs every day .
I can rake up all the leaf mold I want ... but our trees are all oaks , is
that going to make the material on the acid side ? Somewhere I read that ,
but that was a long time ago and I don't remember where .
It's not exactly a hole in the trees , our clearing is probably like
100-120 feet <running SE to NW> and 60-70 feet wide . The garden gets
limited morning sun , but from around 10 AM on it's all in full sun . I'll
be moving it a few feet to the SW next year , the best results were further
from the tree line . My wife's a bit miffed about losing half <or more> of
the wild blackberry patch , but I can move those and only lose one year's
crop . And in the move I can make them much easier to harvest and prune .
That patch of wild berries is just that - wild , and while I did clean out a
bunch of dead canes this spring , it's still a pure bi**h to harvest
anything without loss of blood .
Chicken is good for adding nutrients particularly N and P but not so good as
a soil conditioner to add organic matter.
Might be a good
You don't need to add anything. The nuggets will break down to a soft
fibrous bulk with very little odour. Horse is one of the least offensive
manures that needs the least processing or care in its use. Many people
over-think this composting business and make work for themselves. You can
put horse pucks straight on to mature shrubs (for example) hot out of the
beast. Unless you know the provenance of it a test for viable seeds is in
order first as stabled horses can be fed whole grains (but not necessarily)
as part of their diet where some grain can survive their chewing and
digestion. If there is viable seed and you don't want (say) oats to sprout
you will have to partially compost it. If it is damp and the weather is
mild the seeds will sprout and be killed off as you turn it.
All manure from herbivores is good. Chicken, and rabbit seem to be the
best for both nitrogen, and phosphates.
To add vegetative (as opposed to fecal) organic material to your soil
(roots) try rye, or buckwheat. For nitrogen, plant legumes or clover.
I'd recommend that you don't till your garden, except in its first year.
Tilling accelerates the loss of organic material (OG) from your soil. OG
holds moisture. Tilling kills earthworms which aerate and fertilize your
soil. Lastly, tilling destroys mycorrhizae fungi, which transport
nutrients to the plants in your garden bed.
the horse apples for viable seeds -- they'll sprout fairly quickly --
and get the stuff into the beds ASAP. All of that green-brown, C:N,
etc. is trivial, in my view, when compared to actually getting the goods
into the garden where it can do its thing. The time spent calculating
and figuring is better spent in the garden actually "doing", IMO. It is
true that nutrients leach out during the composting and may be "wasted"
and that "green" compost "steals" nitrogen while it's rotting but those
nutrients can easily be amended when preparing for planting and the
compost and compostable materials need to be in the ground where the
microbes can work their magic. The horse manure has a head start
because it contains the enzymes and microbes from the animal's
alimentary canal. In fact, manures make very good starter when
composting garden and yard debris. I can say, though, (and from
personal experience) that among a gardener's happiest days is the one on
which he realizes that those damnable oats finally are done sprouting.
i would not use anything from a lawn service
as then you are asking for crabgrass and other
lawn weed invasion. also, many of them spray
gunk that is probably better avoided in a veggie
if you can find someone who does tree
removal services, it's much better to get
ground up tree branches and shredded bark.
wood chips last longer as a mulch and
work well enough for movable pathway
material. when they are used up wood
chips turn into a nice crumbly dark
amendment. plus, if you can talk them
into dropping off green hardwood sections
you can use those for mushroom farming.
by far, the best option for low cost
green stuff is to grow your own if you
have the space. you can use that growing
green stuff to keep the bees happy if you
cut it in strips leaving some standing
so it can flower while the mowed areas
recover. also, never hurts to leave
some of the green stuff behind as you
cut as then it self-fertilizes and
builds that soil too (in case you ever
want to rotate your garden into a new
try a more shade tolerant plant up there like
rhubarb. you've already got it cleared so might
as well fill it with something instead of letting
it revert to potential weed troubles for the rest
of the garden. along with the rhubarb plant a
nice legume cover crop (clover, birdsfoot trefoil,
alfalfa, etc.) as that will also help keep the
weeds down and encourage the rhubarb. for free
fertilizer you can chop it once in a while and
spread it on the gardens.
a winter cover crop in some areas will help keep
the nutrients in place (instead of leaching away
with the winter or spring rains). also all that
green stuff growing through the winter is helping
keep your soil community well fed and active.
also keeping some green spaces going at all times
will provide harbors for the good bugs and give
the worms plenty to feast upon.
any of your fields that you can include patches of
mint, oregano, thyme, clovers, alfafa, trefoil
(which for us is very consistently blooming most of
the summer), cosmos (annual, but the bees love 'em),
hollyhocks (plant in places you don't have to cut
back as they are picky/irritating to have to cut
if you can put in early spring bloomers like
the crocus and daffodils that gets bees into
your gardens early to explore around. with
woodlands you might have to protect any bulb
plantings with a cover of wire mesh to keep
the squirrels from digging them all up.
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