Garden Box Question?

I made two garden boxes during the summer, 12 x 4 feet and 1 foot high, too big to move. I used a mixture of compost, peat moss and vermiculite. I live in the thumb area of Michigan (zone 5b). I also enjoyed the fruits and vegetables of my labor.
Note: I removed some of the mixture from the sides to keep the boxes from separating to freezing (I hope).
The main question: Should I cover the boxes with tarps? Will the cold winter and snow cause the soil to be compressed-compacted? If I cover the boxes up, will it be come a haven for mice? or diseases and molds form?
To cover or not cover, that is the question!
Enjoy Life .......... Dan
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Diseases & molds: Forget about it.
Mice: What would happen if you pulled off the tarp in the spring a a couple of mice ran out from under it? Would you die? Would you be traumatized and spend the rest of your life in therapy?
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So that would be a yes - cover the boxes? I am not so much concerned about my mental health, it is messed up already :) It is the physical concerns. I have had plants, shrubs and trees to die from diseases and other problems over the years. I am just wondering if some garden practices are better than others for healthy soils and healthy plants.
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I'd cover the box AFTER it freezes. And, check with friends for the name of a good therapist. :-)
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On 11/30/06 7:46 AM, in article poAbh.6485$ snipped-for-privacy@news01.roc.ny,

Snicker! C
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Smart lady! Get over here. :-)
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On 11/30/06 4:48 PM, in article rkIbh.6637$ snipped-for-privacy@news02.roc.ny,

NUTS! C
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Western NY. Sorry.
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On 12/1/06 10:19 AM, in article jKXbh.6666$ snipped-for-privacy@news02.roc.ny,

C
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I'd just work on improving the soil. I get tree cutting folks to deliver their wood chip. I got about 15 loads begging to be moved. I usually place it ( Chips) on our walking paths to aid in breaking it down. Neighbors used to ask why now they ask for some. Crazy and therapy may be subjective. :))
ROT DECAY DEATH ....GOOD speak with someone who never had dirty hands or produced a garden about those words.
Bill who just placed an electronic mouse trap in my attic. A consequence of having only one cat about I guess.
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S Jersey USA Zone 5 Shade
http://www.ocutech.com/ High tech Vison aid
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In article < snipped-for-privacy@sn-indi.vsrv-sjc.supernews .net>,

The advice about the leaves and wood chips seems to make mulch more sense than covering the boxes. So I will not cover the boxes. However, if I seek mental therapy they may lock me away. I would not be able to tend my garden and that would truly make me insane :) Gardening is my source of therapy!
Enjoy Life ......... Dan :)
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I plant vegetables in an oak shipping crate. I have used it for 6 years and never cover it till spring. I do dump leaves in it in the fall and shovel them under before spring. It has metal corners.
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BetsyB

"Dan L." < snipped-for-privacy@goesnowhere145.net> wrote in message
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In article snipped-for-privacy@goesnowhere145.net says...

You could but I doubt it would make any difference unless you're worried about a snow thaw and then a long heavy freeze. If the soil in your boxes have proper drainage then most of the excess water should drain out.

Yes, but tarps aren't going to prevent that. You'll need to rebuild your soil at least every other year. I read that peat moss, vermiculite, and compost all break down significantly that will impede drainage the next year. I've made many of these big boxes over the years and some of them have had big problems when I didn't change out the soil in the Spring. Growing plants in containers is much different than growing them in ground. I use pine bark, perlite, (some) peat moss, sometimes a little compost, and slow release fertilizers in my mix. Around 1/3 of my mix consists of reusing the old soil.
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I think it would be more effective to get on a second year of leaf mulch cycle. Let the leaves decompose for at least one year in a mulch pile and use those leaves for the current year mulch. The benefits are that the leaves will not draw any nitrogen out of the soil while they decompose. Also, they will compact to a much smaller volume after composting, so you can get a much denser and more effective insulator
for the winter. If you are stuck for this year, try substituting some mushroom compost for this current year until you can prepare some good leaf mulch for the next.
Sherwin D.
"Dan L." wrote:

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I have read that letting the ground heave and fall during freezes and thaws over the winter / spring is good for breaking up / aerating the soil. Good thinking with removing some from the edges - I always throw all my leaves in on top of my garden boxes - this does not keep the ground any warmer, but when the leaves are frozen, step on them to break them up so that they will be smaller and easily "digested" by bacteria nd earthworms once you till them into your soil. If you keep rabbits / chickens ,etc, toss they "by-products" of living :) into your bins as well - cover with more leaves, the decomposing manure will actaully warm things up and add a lot of nitrogen to your bins.
HTH's :) Boisegirl --- Zone 6 - who is wishing it would snow and warm up! Bbrbrrrrr
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Thanks to everyone, and all of the advice is very useful. What does bother me is: The advice listed contains a lot of common sense. So I am glad I made such a posting and learned a little bit more about gardening. However, I keep saying to my self "What was I thinking?" :)
Enjoy Life ..... Dan :)
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