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I've got some 10+ year old flower beds (well, actually there are flowering shrubs, bulbs, perennials) that I had originally amended with peat moss, fine wood chips, etc. My soil tends to be rather fine silt-like stuff on top of clay. I did dig down and turn over all the muck by hand. Over the years, the soil has reverted back and doesn't hold moisture very well and gets a thin crust on the top if I don't mulch. The lower level of clay is really dry and hard again. I had seen an episode on "The Victory Garden" years ago about gardener in IL who dug small holes in her existing beds and buried mainly veggie scraps but I don't remember the details. This really appeals to me since digging up established shrubs, vines, etc isn't practical for me. I already have a big compost pile of mainly yard waste with oak leaves, veggie scraps, some paper, egg shells and coffee grounds but I just emptied it to amend other areas. Rather than waiting until next year for another batch to be ready, I thought spot composting would be ideal. Are there any tips to be shared regarding this method? Should I add a little fertilizer or other amendment?
I have done that, its easy to do, just took about 4 cups of fresh compost at a time and dug holes about 12 inches deep to bury it in. I also had an area that the water did not penetrate well. I dug narrow holes about 14 inches deep, filled them with moistened Soil Moist polymer, then topped it off with soil. That worked wonders and then just top dressing with mushroom compost, (bagged from garden center) and coffee grounds once a year got the worms working. Its beautiful soil now with little work. Get the worms working instead of digging, they work hard and do such a nice job!
Rebecca - Did it take long to see the benefits? I'm thinking that the ground here won't freeze for another two months so I can dig little holes everywhere and bury the veggie scraps and there should still be enough time to attract the worms. If my compost pile is any indication, there won't be a shortage of worms. I'm hoping to see some results by spring or am I being too optimistic?
No, once the worms move it things happen fast. Especially if you top dress it with something tasty for them, coffee grounds, etc. The soil moist really helped me as worms will not work in dry and it kept the soil damp. My soil was like powder and the water did not penetrate, once it was damp below the surface, everything florished.
When you say top dress with the coffee grounds, do you mean to cover up the veggie scraps with dirt and then put the grounds on top of the dirt or put the coffee grounds in the hole on top of the scraps and then cover the all of it with dirt? Coffee grounds I got.
Coffee grounds are great stuff. I usually will top dress with them, but mix them a little in with the dirt. If you put a thick layer of pure coffee grounds you will get a fungus and mold that is nasty. They are also great to just sprinkle anywhere you may have snails and slugs. It will keep them away. If you add it to your compost you will get many, many worms. They love coffee grounds! Once a year when I do my main weeding, I top dress with mushroom compost mixed 50/50 with coffee grounds. Then I know the worms will get up to the surface and work. I get huge bags from the local coffee shop so I always have plenty. I used no fertilizer or pesticide. People think I am organic, nope, just lazy!!
Sally - thanks so much for posting that link. Great article and very motivating! I thought I had read it once but I only "searched" the forums. I especially like the note about sprinkling the coffee grounds to give the illusion of great gardening soil. My very fine silty soil is a taupe color when dry. Yes, fashionable.
I did run around the yard, gathering up green stuff (the leaves haven't turned here yet) - broken Hosta leaves, floppy lily leaves, bent Iris leaves, etc. Sat on the patio and cut them into smaller pieces (I didn't want a big Iris leaf sticking out of the hole, signaling to the raccoons where I buried the goodies). Mixed it all up with veggie scraps and the coffee grounds and filters. I thought about putting the grounds out as top-dressing but thought they might work better in with the "blend" to encourage the worms. I ended up digging about 6 holes, minimum 10" deep. I did however buy 6 bags of composted manure this afternoon to spread as a top dressing - I'll mix it in with the top 3" of soil. While I'm not planting anything now, it might encourage a whole gang of worms to move in over the winter. I'll be out there digging holes until the ground freezes.
Thanks to both of you for the info!
I live in a custom home guard gated community. The CC&R's do not allow compost piles. I knew I could fine a way around that rule. We have been here at this home 8 years. Since move-in I have always composted small holes at a time working my way around the garden. I was enlightened about coffee grounds last year from a DG soil composting thread. I did go to Starbucks and they were very willing and helpful. Because I am 67 they were always asking if I needed help to my car. I just smiled and hauled my treasure out to my car. Sometimes I needed to make two trips because they are always in very small parking lots and there never is any place close to park. Then I read about placing the coffee grounds on top and then water. The worms think of coffee grounds as ice cream. With the moisture, they rise to the top, meet each other, have a love fest, then enjoy the coffee ground. Next thing you know you have many baby worms, and they do not need "Heath Care".
skwinter - Coffee grounds as a worm aphrodisiac? Your description is very visual. LOL Maybe I need to rethink my approach of mixing the grounds in with the scraps. My theory was getting the worms down further to help break up some of the hard stuff under my silty soil but maybe I need to rethink that. Hmm, maybe I need to get to my local SB and get a bag of coffee grounds to do an all-over top-dressing before the ground freezes. Two pots of coffee per day at home will take a little longer to cover the area before winter.
Glad you enjoyed the article, CindyM,
skwinter, I love how you beatthe association!
Starbucks is not always consistent with the coffee ground thing, but the one nearest me , and busiest, is saving them in a big trash can. Sometimes the batch is so heavy I HAVE to have the guy bring it to the car! Whoo hoo! If he is willing I am happy to let him. --and if I didn't buy a drink I may tip him. Last time I got that I covered about twenty square feet with a thin top layer.
I can imagine that wet coffee grounds must make a heavy load. I'm going to call this morning to see if they save or have any that I can haul away in my trunk. I have two nearby so hoping the odds are in my favor.
When I lived in South Florida, I had the opposite problem to what I have here in NC - there black sand - here hard clay!
In Fla I used what I called "trench compositing" - similar to the one sallyg has explained, but I would dig a trench and fill it with kitchen scraps, burying the scraps as I went along. Once the trench was filled, I set my seeds.
Here in NC, I have used the "dig a hole and put in the kichen scraps" - both methods work great.
One thing... any thing that has seeds... don't be surprised if the seeds sprout, either soon after being dug into the soil, or in the spring. I have grown to love volunteers, you never know what you are going to get :)
Honeybee - I was just thinking about that as I cut up a wrinkly apple for the kitchen scrap pail. Hmmm - apples, tomatoes, zucchini - I may end up with a veggie plot after all. :)
I'm lined up to pick up SB coffee grounds from two locations this afternoon. Yippee. Called ahead first to make sure. Is it a corporate policy for them to offer the grounds to gardeners? They were so nice about it.
Cindy - I don't know the anwer to your question, but anything is possible.
You certainly will need to know which ones are weeds, and which ones are baby veggies if/when the seeds do come up next spring. Sometimes they all look so much alike that you have to wait for the "true leaves" to develope before weeding out the unwelcome ones.
OK - I draw the line at de-seeding my kitchen scraps. :) I'll be able to tell my perennial from any veggie seedlings so I'm good there. Since I have only half-day sun in one small bed, about the only veggies I grow are a couple of tomatoes and peppers and some herbs.
Spread the first batch of coffee grounds and compost today and it's now raining so that will save me from having to water it all in. Maybe worms under the moonlight tonight? Also spot composted in planting holes for a couple of shrubs I moved today. They might even forgive me for moving them once they settle in.
I have a friend who has been doing this for years all through out her large beds. She particularly loves burying any scraps and body parts from seafood. When we go to restaurants, she gets doggie bags for everybody's shrimp and crabshells and fish bones and skins. She has the most amazing gardens.
A lot of composting goodies from fish body parts. I'll have to remember that. DH not into seafood except for deep fried shrimp so not much opportunity though.
Still have another big bag of coffee grounds to get out onto the garden in the next day or so before they start turning moldy. Might make another run for more this weekend.
Hi Cindy- Yes it is corporate policy to give Grounds for Gardeners. But when I asked at a couple of smaller, inside-another-store ones, they gave me that blank stare. LOL So it is best to call ahead- plus someone else might have just picked up grounds so you don't want to waste a trip.
Just so you know- those seedlings you get may not be of the same quality as the fruit they came from. Its a hybrid thing. Despite that, I have two peach trees from pits , that I am going to nurture. And several volunteer tomatos stayed growing in my compost pile this summer. I have had and seen some great volunteer pumpkins.
Honeybee- I am surprised you get lots of carrot seedlings. where do you buy carrot flowers? LOL
Quoting:Hi Cindy- Yes it is corporate policy to give Grounds for Gardeners. But when I asked at a couple of smaller, inside-another-store ones, they gave me that blank stare.
SallyG, I got the look at the Starbucks that I go to, which is located inside my large Stop 'n Shop supermarket. Then the barista told me that she had heard that it was no longer Starbucks' policy to give out Grounds for Gardeners.
But nowhere have I heard that the company has revoked this program. I'm wondering if it would do any good to call the company and press them a bit on this. There is no other Starbucks for me to visit within several miles.
Well, as far as I know (for what THAT"S worth!) it's still in effect. I think it comes down to--does that location feel it's worth their effort.
At one point, I saw something about packing up the grounds in cute little bags and putting those in a basket out in the seating area. But that's gotta be a chore and if they went un-taken--a maintenance problem. Can't have stinky bags of grounds sitting there! The 'compromise' my store has reached is setting aside one trash can for all the grounds. If someone asks they'll dump all their brewer things, close up the bag and give it out.
I keep meaning to contact the manager of "my" starbucks and praise her for being cooperative.
I also have a huge WAWA (convenience and gas store) that must go thru a lot of grounds, but I feel shy about asking them. Its a combo of--does the store have enough output to make it worth YOUR while, and is there enough customer demand, and is it easy enough to accommodate while working, to make it worth THEIR while.
My Starbucks does the cute bags in a basket thing. Just got some yesterday. Sometimes when I go in the basket is empty. At those times I just ask the staff if any are available and usually they have some not yet bagged and will give me some. But I have gotten some excuses and rejections at other Starbucks before, so it really is basically up to the employees or local store management.
Make sure you keep going in this time of year as they will stop saving or bagging them as the demand dwindles. I've had 2 stores tell me they only do it in the summer.
If you talk to the manager and make it easier for them to save the grounds for you than to throw them away, you will be up to your neck in grounds. I took in a large garbage can and a small one. I put the small one near the coffee machines, it is a standard 13 gallon that holds the standard plastic bags. They toss the coffee, filters and all in there then when its full, they take that and put it in the back in the large one. I come in once a week and empty it out. Its usually full of convienent plastic bags full, one for each day. It saves them money and I do MAKE sure its easier for them than using a regular garbage to dispose of them. I have been picking up all the coffee grounds for 5 years now. Oh and above the big can I have a note with my phone number on it in case it gets full during the week for some reason. They love it as it saves them doing anything with the grounds at all.
If you are interrupting workers for grounds or if you are not consistant and it becomes a bother for them, they are in business so its easier to toss the grounds.
Other places it would be worthwile would be the local hospital cafeteria, senior center, businesses. If I did not have more than I need I would also hit the small drive through places, seems they would LOVE to have someone pick up the garbage free, and perhaps if they bagged it for you you could even drive thru to pick it up!!
Its like black gold. When I have extra like I have had for the past few weeks, I just spread it lightly on the grass. You can see exactly where I have done so as it greens up fast and it helps hold in moisture. When I do that I do not mix it with anything, just spread it thinly. Only problem is the next day you see all these birds and you KNOW they are snacking on your worms...
When I hit up the two stores the other day, one store had them in those cute little gardener's foil bags, the other in a big plastic bag. I didn't hit the one in the hotel/theater complex even though it's probably pretty busy. Hmm - top-dressing on the lawn, heh? I'll have to try that and have just the spot in mind to experiment.
I've been continuing with the spot composting and top dressing with store-bought composted manure and SB coffee grounds. Is there anything else that I can add easily among the existing plants? Alfalfa pellets, dried molasses, etc? Or is this overkill for a non-vegetable garden? Hoping that anything I'm adding now will have time to work into the soil over winter. Of course, the ground will freeze here in another 6 weeks or so.
PuddlePirate - I have seen that article before and I was quite impressed with it and even mentioned it to my daughter last year since she was trying to rejuvenate an old garden plot at her new house. I did add a bunch of shredded paper (old tax files) to the compost bin when I emptied it a month ago. Because I'm working with an existing bed with plantings, I can't build up the soil level too much.
stormyla - I've thought about compost tea and might try it next year. I've repeatedly read how it improves the health of plants. For now, top dressing with composted manure and coffee grounds with the eminent ground freeze will have to do.
Cindy, I'm in the same boat as you. Every year I haul truckloads of composted leaf mold from the township's "free" pile. I top the beds with about a 2 inch layer. Then I add a 1 to 2 inch layer of Mushroom soil and finally cover most of them with freshly shreded leaves. If the soil is really compacted, I'll sprinkle Gypsum and rake some of it in before adding the top dressings.
Sounds as if your beds are really tucked in warmly for the winter. This is the first year I've had time (and the motivation) to do any soil amending in the fall. I just get so frustrated with some of the beds where we've had a good rain but it's bone dry 3" down. My plants should have done way better than they did in one particular bed since we didn't have a lot of hot weather and we did get some good rain except for one dry spell of a couple of weeks. Even then, the bed got supplemental watering. I usually mulch in the spring with hardwood chips every other year. I dig in any remaining mulch and then put down the fresh stuff. Guess that just hasn't been good enough. I may shred leaves in the spring and put down under the wood chips. Too time-consuming in the Nov when I'm tied up with indoor stuff.
How does the gypsum work for you? I've been tempted to use some but wasn't sure if it had to be dug in to be effective.
Cindy, I didn't dig the gypsum in. I did rake the soil a bit before applying it. That bed is 150' x 30'. It is under Maples. My soil is always dry 1" down despite water and rain. It's my roadside bed along a road that get 50 mph traffic. There is also an open field across the street and it is the windiest spot in the neighborhood.
The soil amendments have made a hugh difference. Last fall was the 3rd year of doing them. It took 2 years to get the worms to move in. The soil there used to have the consistancy of Builder's sand. Now it will hold together and retain some moisture. It's a great bed for bulbs and a lot of Xeric plants. I'm going to dig up the Hosta and Heuchera that are in it and move them to another bed. It's just too dry for them. Sun plants do much better in it than shade plants, even those supposedly for dry shade.
It takes a tremendous amount of leaves to get enough to cover a bed when shreded. In our area landscapers have to pay a recycling center to take their leaves. I have talked 2 of them into bringing me several truckloads full. I just run over them with a lawn mower with a collection bag, then spread them onto the bed directly from the collection bag. I used to put them through a leaf shreder, but this method is much faster. I can do about 10 bags in an hour. It goes very quickly.
I have lots of my own leaves, but they also have a lot of Black Walnut mixed in. I have to dispose of those leaves. The landscapers bring me only Maple & Oak leaves. I do the same thing to all of my beds, but the roadside bed is the only one that gets the gypsum. I moved here 4 years ago and nothing had been done to the property in over 25 years.
I'd be leery about mulching in the fall here because we usually get rain with the falling oak leaves and they tend to mat on the garden beds. I'm not sure that putting more leaves on top of the matted ones wouldn't smother some of the plants. Usually the west wind blows a lot of the leaves off of the beds but I do have a major leaf cleanup in the spring so that would be a good time to mulch with the leaves. I do keep the leaves off the lawn in the fall and they'll go into the compost pile. My yard tends to collect a lot of leaves from the neighborhood in addition to my own due to the west wind and other factors. It's major work just keeping the lawn cleared.
I did empty out some outdoor pots yesterday and put the potting soil right on the beds. Probably won't get dug in though until spring. Maybe the peat/perlite in the MG will help improve the soil a bit.
Cindy, I don't put the shreded leaves on top of the matted leaves. I remove the falen leaves from the beds and the garden. If I didn't have the black walnuts, I would shred these leaves and use them as mulch with an immediate return to the garden. After raking the whole leaves out ouf the beds, I put down my other amendments and then top with the shreded leaves.
I personally couldn't imagine doing this in the spring as I have so many other garden chores at that time. Also, the leaf topping helps prevent my bulbs and newly planted items from heaving over the winter, but I suppose that your fallen leaves do that too. There are many people who post on DG who never do anything to their leaves, just let them lay and compost themselves over time. They even rake their whole leaves from the lawn into their beds. They have beautiful beds.
I have that same west wind problem and end up with tons of oak leaves on one side of my lawn, even though I don't have any oaks. My neighbor's maple tree branches extend 30' into my lawn and her leaves cover the other half of my lawn every fall.
I have so many leaves that fall well into Nov that I don't even try to keep the beds cleared in the fall. Even in spring, that's a two week project. Luckily, I can start that in late March way before I can plant anything out. Gets me in physical shape for the planting season after hibernating all winter.
I have a big indoor painting project to get started on. I've been putting it off all summer since it was such perfect weather outdoors. Has to be done before Thanksgiving since I hold the family gathering here. I'd much rather be puttering in the garden.
PuddlePirate - No, my soil is heavy clay, but I have built several raised beds with potting soil as a base. Because our summers are so hot, the beds dry out very quickly, even with lots of mulch covering the surfaces.
I'm slowly adding clay to each bed that the earthworms have worked leaves into, to help with water retention. This brings problems of its own - mainly making the soil too acid. I would get a soil test, but each bed is very different from it's neighbor so one test would not give me an acurate "picture" for the entire garden.
So far, the only veggie I've had problems growing is English Peas - I'm assuming the soil is just too acid for them. In one bed I have (volunteer) black beans and peas growing together. The beans are over three feet high, the peas are around six inches high! The peas were planted before the volunteer beans came up!
I'm going to experiment with another bed that only has English Peas - adding dolomite lime a little at a time over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, I don't think lime breaks down too quickly, so I'll have to be careful not to add too much.
Honeybee - There is a little humor in adding clay back into your soil (at least from my point of view). :) Is it cool enough for you to grow peas now? Daughter in TN grew black beans and peas. She didn't have a large crop of peas, just enough to munch on while working in her garden.
We haven't had to mow the lawn for a couple of weeks so DH is due to run the lawnmower in the next week. Since not too many leaves have fallen yet, I may have him use the catcher and give me the grass clippings along with the few leaves that have fallen. I may be able to sneak out and spread them around a bit. The leaves on the trees are just starting to change color here.
I tried growing sweet peas once but it probably wasn't a good year. Sometimes we can go quickly to warmer temps in the spring so by the time I planted the seeds in the spring, it got too hot for them. Plus my clay soil probably isn't the best thing for them. I've wanted them every year when I look through the T&M catalog. My daughter in TN got quite a bit of rain this year so that might be why she's had good luck on her first try with them. If it is dry, she waters from rain barrels. Plus she has a well so no treated water.
Here in the Southwest we plant peas in September. They sprout and that is about all they do except grow roots. In the spring they flourish and grown rapidly.. My mother did the same thing and they were in the high desert/mountains of Nevada. Snow, freezing temperatures and they still stood up and were great in the spring. Maybe you are planting them to late. We were always told to have the seed in the ground before labor day.
Today they will have a high of 45 and a low around freezing. The mountains, when I was a kid, got a foot or two of snow. Not anymore. They are lucky if they get any snow. The mountains are so dried out that the deer have invaded my home town and hop the fences and eat anything green growing. Pioche, my home town is at 5782 above sea level. They also have a short growing season and do not plant their summer gardens until end of April. first of May. Then everything freezes sometime end of September, first of October. But they do perfect conditons to grown green beans and cucumbers. Cannot beat the flavor. Of course, their water is pumped from underground, way down in the mine. When the water comes out of the faucet, it is cold and delicious.
Those deer can be pesky in the winter. If we get a really deep snow cover, they'll eat my rhodies. At least they leave the hollies alone. It's hard for me to imagine winter without snow. I always hope for good snow cover for the perennials in my garden. I always wait until the last week in May to plant out annuals in case of late frosts.
Saw a re-post this morning in the DG home page about gardening in clay. Wet and cold sure describes some of my beds.
We were 91 today. Same tomorrow. I have cutting in the garage and I have to water them twice a day. But by Halloween, we will be very cold. Well, very cold as far as I am concerned. Somewhere in the 60s. I have a new big bag of Starbucks coffee grounds that I am going to spread. Funny thing, my neighbor stopped by about a month ago and asked why every time she goes by my house it smells like coffee? The mailbox is above my home. When I showed her why, she looked at me like I was totally mad...LOL. When I have to much for my compost, I just throw it into my mulch in the front landscape. My neighbors, two, go to Starbucks everyday for their coffee fix. When they do, they pick up the coffee grounds for me. I do not drink $4.00 a cup coffee but I sure do appreciate their coffee grounds.
SB iced mocha frappacino (sp?) is my weakness. Normally I don't go to SB for coffee but I treat myself when going to pick up coffee grounds. My "reward". Haven't picked up any in the past couple of weeks as I've been working on other projects but perhaps this next week I'll make another trip.
I was in a constant battle to get to the local SB's for grounds before other gardeners. I realized last year, that the only time people aren't picking up is about November through March. So i scored big by picking up weekly during that time period. I kept the grounds outside under cover - most of it molded somewhat, but the cold temps minimized that. I love the fragrance the grounds provide. Well, not the moldy stuff... Easy to see the seedlings trying to gain a foothold, too.
What was delightful was last week I turned my in-garden compose pile that I had given two 5 pound bags of SB coffee grounds. I had three times more baby worms than I had grownups. Remember. Place the coffee ground on top, water and the adults, in black tie attire will move to the top. They think it is ice cream. They will enjoy the coffee grounds, have an orgy and then go back underground and have many babies. THAT IS THE TRUTH...
I would highly recommend that you purchase as many red wiggler worms as possible for your beds. They along with a night covering of leaf mulch will work miracles for your beds. Coffee/tea grounds, leaf mulch/leafs thrown in will make them very happy and they will work their little hearts out over the winter to make your beds incredible by next spring. Now during the winter they do slow down but even in their slowest they out produce worm castings then the regular worms we have in our gardens.
You might even think about a worm compost bin in your garage. Add kitchen scapes (minus citrus) eggs shells they love, shredded papers, (no meats or grease) and what they give you, you can then add to your beds.
I put a ton of leafs, and shredded leafs on my beds to help with freeze heave, which adds a fluffiness good for drainage to my beds.
Katye - I had let my first batch of grounds sit for a week outside on the patio before I was ready to put them down. Surprisingly, there was no mold. I was expecting a soggy mess since it had rained but they were surprisingly dry, still in their original bags. Of course, the bags leak but on my weathered, discolored concrete patio, it didn't matter too much.
Janet - I'll have to think about the red wigglers in the spring. Self-imposed budget restraints until I get back to work (but then I won't have as much time to garden - what a trade-off). A worm bin would be cool but just now making enough space in the garage to actually park a car after two years of cabinet building projects. I think there's a storage shed in our future which would free up garage space next year.
More worm humor - love it!
Been suffering from "lake effect rain" here so haven't been able to do much work outdoors. Still too wet to run the lawnmower today to shred leaves for the beds. More indoor work today before football tonight.
If you find a small place outside to compost and leave the bottom open, your worms can come and go as they please. I cut the bottom out of a plastic garbage can, a black one so it would not be so noticeable, dug a hole for it, about 10 inches into the ground. I did this for a woman who is over 90 so she cannot bend so good, but had to have a compost area. Its easy for her to use, she just tosses her kitchen stuff in, and coffee grounds and closes the lid. A couple times a year I go and lift the garbage pail, find a new place for it, then put all the stuff that was on top back in, the bottom stuff is full of really nice compost and soooo many worms. I then take the worms and distrubute them throughout her garden. She loves it and it does not take much care at all. If your worms can come and go you don't have to worry about moisture or warmth. The compost is warm and full of food, that is where they will stay.
In reading the above post, I do believe what I gave this woman is a nightclub for her worms to party at. I have not seen them dress up, but I can attest to the number of babies produced. I kind of feel badly putting them in other areas of the garden, but they have work to do, enough party time.
What a great idea! I already have a kitchen trash can with a lid sitting outside of my little GH. I had even drilled holes in the sides and the bottom of it. I usually put the kitchen scraps in there during the winter instead of hauling them down to the compost pile on some of the nasty winter days. It is in one of the most sheltered spots I have. It would be oh-so convenient right where it sits now. The ground will freeze in another few weeks so I may still the opportunity to do that now. Better yet - doesn't cost anything! Thanks for that tip!
Rebecca, worms party down as they work. You were assisting them by "spreading the love".
I cut out the bottom of a 45 gallon trash can and submerged it about 6" in the soil to see how effective this is for composting weeds & garden trimmings. It worked quite well. the lid was off most of the time, & on during heavy rain, or for critter invasions. It took longer to break down as compared with my compost bins, but still rendered great compost. Not hot enough to kill the weed seeds, though. If this was used for everything except weeds, I'd consider it a useful & inexpensive way to compost for those that don't have the space. Lift & move the can & replace with the contents in order to achieve "turning" ones compost.
Cindy - due to the weather, the SB grounds sat in their respective bags for 2 - 3 months. That's when you'll see the mold. Not pretty, but it all rots eventually, so I wasn't concerned.
As a side note, I had experimented with coffee grounds to see how quickly the worms would show up on their own. I poured the grounds in piles on top of the existing soil in different places without digging it in. The worms were there under the piles within a couple days. I had done this previously with weeds & trimmings: piles on the ground - worms were there the next day. They love coffee grounds for some reason: perhaps they are all type A personalities, or just lookin' fer luv.
"Looking fer luv" - LOL! No, I'm the Type A - I'm hoping the worms will be Type B to balance me out.
My big compost pile doesn't get hot enough to kill the weeds seeds since I'm in the shade and the big bin is a lot of brown leaves and garden trimmings. Some grass clippings at times but we use a mulching mower since our soil is not the greatest (I'll omit the expletives). The trash bin is mainly kitchen waste (no meats). I can furnish my own coffee grounds for that one.
I just love this thread and all the brilliant and informative individuals on it. You can tell you garden with love. My granddaughter Natalie, who is 8 was helping me dig up a giant root that had invaded my small grass are in my front landscape. As she was digging away, I had to look the other way because she was no being careful with my worms. If I could I would name them. I quietly explained to her what they did for the garden and she was a little bit more careful but I think we had a worm wake later in the day. Weather here today in high 80s. Going to be that way all week, and my schedule is wide open for nothing but gardening. I am going to hang in the kitchen today and cook so I will not have to worry about what we are going to eat next week. My DH is wonderful. He will eat anything I put in front of him. Of course, I do know what not to put in front of him after 35 years.
My granddaughter loves to garden with me. She stared when she was about 3. She loved to find the baby worms and would gather them up in small cups. As she played with them some of them would get quite sharp turns, after that they would not want to play so well. She tried to be careful but they still got bent. She now is 6 and so careful, she loves worms and gathers them up when I move pots. I am not so careful when I clean the landscape fabric and its full of worms, so she gathers them and tells them, hurry get away from that mean grandma, I will save you. She now prefers to play with snakes, they don't bend up so bad.
I have found, in digging my beds, lots of worms like to live in very hard lumps of clay. If I find a hard dirt clump, I break it and find it full of worms. As the years go by I find less dirt clumps, they must eat their way in. One thing I wonder, how do they find the coffee so fast? Surely they cannot smell it through the dirt?
I once had some sacks of coffee that sat out for over 6 months in winter. I went to move one and found the bottom had holes where it had decomposed or worms had eaten it. As I picked it up the whole bottom fell out. First of all the smell was one of the worst I have ever smelled, really nasty. But the bag was full of worms. Now how did they find that?
I also have ADHD but did not want to reveal all of my flaws. My neighbors actually laugh with me now when I start one project. They just check occasionally because they know in about an hour I will have at least 3 others going and running as fast as I can. I actually surprised myself this week because I walked right by two projects saying to myself, these are low on the list, get to what needs to be done NOW. But, it was difficult to do. I probably had it when I was young but they did not have a clue then. I was told by my high school principal, "If you do not conform, you will not succeed." Well I surprised him didn't I.
I have it very bad. I have a woman who works for me, Monica. When she first started she was trying to explain to me that she had a problem, she thought it was an inability to focus. I told her about the disease and that I had it. She decided she has it and we are both confortable with it. We got lots done, seldom completing anything. When we actually do, we are stunned. She knows my business so well, I just give her a list and often find her off weeding in another place entirely. If its something important I refocus her but usually I leave her alone. We are content in our ADD world.
One day I walked out to the nursery and when I got there she asked me what I was doing. What do you mean I asked? Oh she said, you were half way here then you stopped and walked back awhile, then turned around and started walking this way again.
Oh, I said, that can happen to anyone. I was thinking I had to get this stuff repotted and out of the greenhouse, I had to get the bark dust spread around the daylilies and I had to unload all the wagons of stuff I had repotted. I was wondering how I was going to get this all done today. Suddenly the urge to get the riding lawn mower out and mow hit me so I started back to do that. But remember all the wagons and bark dust were in the way so I turned around. She thought it was funny, it isn't funny, is it?
Oh, it makes me feel so much better to know that others share my distractibility in the garden! Love the image of rebeccanne turning around and around as new projects occur at lightening speed! I think that this is why I have lost at least four hand- pruners in the past couple of years. I fling them down as something new occurs to me and can't find them again when I return to the original pruning project!
I do get extremely focused on a project and always have more waiting in the brain. Every morning, I run a mental schedule and prioritize everything (except bathroom breaks - those are "as needed"). Perhaps if I really retired, I wouldn't be so intent on accomplishing stuff in an expeditious manner. Not to say that I'm not easily distracted mentally by adding to my to-do list.
As for the worms and SB - get a good rain and the worms will get a blast of caffeine. That should get them busy. It works for me. :)
I have 12 pairs of gardening gloves that can be found all over my house, garage, garden due to being distracted by the call of another project. ADHD is good sometimes and I can actually get something (the same project) done all at one time...LOL
Thanks for making me feel right at home.
I cant get my worm bin started because I'm trying to complete too many other projects before it starts freezing... we are at 38 degrees right now... burrrrrrrrr just not enough time to do what I want in the garden when I have to work all day...
Oh wow, you make me smile. My neighbor is a gardener and also plays tennis. Young man, somewhere around 45 with a wife and one daughter who is 15. His wife had back surgery around August. He is big time USC athlete, mostly track and tennis. Nice eye candy. Shame on me. He is actually younger than my son. He was playing in a tennis tournament, made the point but ruptured his Achilles. Had to have immediate surgery and is on crutches for another 9 weeks. Please forgive me, but I had to paint the picture. His wife is clueless and tells everyone she is clueless. She is actually very pleased with herself that she is clueless. He does everything. Two weeks ago I was putting his garbage tote back. He was supervising me make sure I did not hurt myself. LOL. When I got the garbage tote up to where he was on crutches, he opened the garbage tote. Just at that time his wife came out as he was looking inside. He said something under his breath and then gagged. About that time I got the smell. He sai, this is horrible, this needs to be cleaned. Immediately she backed off and over her shoulder threw out the comment, "I cannot do that, I have a bad back". I went and got the tote and said I will take it next door and clean it. No big deal. I have the equipment, I will just fill it and the sun will warm up the water and later I will clean the tote. I did just that in spite of his protests. Because the tote was black, it did no take long to heat up the water. I discovered she had poured grease into the can and it was a little bit more than I expected. But you know me, Type A, ADD, ADHD and mother. Well I got the garbage tote cleaned and got some of the cleaner on my brown, sealed, very large driveway. You guessed it, four hours later I was finished cleaning my driveway. Half way through the cleaning I was actually laughing at myself. Sorry for such a long story but you had to get the complete picture to see how I am totally messed up. I did give her instructions on how to dispose of grease.
wow. I couldn't live with myself being helpless on purpose. Prevented by injuries is one thing; the other is lazy.
I like to accomplish my goals & will do so with or without help.
What I really react to is having an argument with myself about prioritizing; I snap into action to prove myself right, and I always win.
I hope my neighbours don't make videos of me working the property. My pathways are tortuous & at a minimum twice traveled. I had to make rules for myself today to ensure completion of a major task. I'm so glad I followed my rules so well because not only did I finish, but had time to take on a portion of another task.
You are like a shopper that goes into Costco and picks up two items. Membership canceled. HUH...If you are not sick why are you on this thread...LOL> Maybe you can give very sick gardeners guidance. We are all waiting. I am on my laptop and trying to determine how I can go out in the garage and sterilize my pots tomorrow for transplants???? And the Type
A, ADD and ADHD goes on. It is our secret but my DH is on full alert. After 35 year he has finally figured it out. Now he puts a post it note on the outside garage door. "Husband full alert, "ADD, ADHD in full force, Be careful..., ADD, ADHD wife out of control..." Have a great day tomorrow. Mother Winter
Does anyone have the inability to just "veg out"? DH sometimes gets frustrated with me over that. Watching tv in the evening, I'm either reading or doing needlework or some minor chore at the same time. Taking multitasking way too far.
Prioritizing and organizing my activities is my big thing although I've secretly envied people that can effortlessly drift in and out of things on a whim.
skwinter gets the award for good neighbor of the week. Not being helpless here, I'm hoping I can get DH to cut the bottom out of my trash can tonight for easier worm access. The family joke is that I'm a danger to myself when using sharp things like mandolin slicers, chef knives, etc. Even sliced my finger the other day on the edge of a plastic window box liner.
I am awful about cutting and injuring myself. One time years ago my son got me a kitchen chopper thing for Christmas. I really liked it. I read it carefully, it said in big letters BLADE SHAPE, USE CAUTION. You know I should have just set it down, it being Christmas and all. No, I picked it up and pulled it out of the box and ended up almost slicing the end of my little finger off. This was 15 years ago and I still have a fine scar. I also get sick when I see blood so I was close to passing out. My oldest daughter was 16, she got something to catch the blood and she muttered in her teen age, disgusted voice, "Oh, great, now you killed mom!" That was the last sharp thing the kids got me.
I also have a hard time sitting still. Movie theaters used to be torture for me, more so if the movie was not so good. I am so glad to watch them at home now where I can entertain myself while watching. When I was working I was a manager, oh those meetings, the ones where everyone was trying to impress boss with their plans and ideas. I would pretend to take notes about the meeting but would be writing my grocery list, planning my garden, etc.
Going to rain here all day, I have no excuse to not clean up these stacks of paperwork in the office. I will try but I sure hate paperwork. Adhd is so useful, by the end of the day I wonder how many things I have started and how little paperwork is actually done.
God forbid DH decides to sharpen the kitchen knives. Standing joke between DD, SIL and DH is that I'm better with dull knives than sharp ones. We got a new food processor a few months back and you better believe I handle those blades with the utmost respect.
Ack - hate "those" meetings. Most of them kept me from crossing a few more items off the to-do list.
My brain is more organized than my desk. Well, it's more a matter of the organized files that sit in a pile waiting for the best time to tackle. I do know where everything is so that's not so bad. Not so much time-sensitive stuff as when I was working. Don't do lists at home unless they're shopping or errand lists. That's intentional - too much stress on the last job so home has to be more of a sanctuary.
veg out? For me that's sleeping.
While I'm awake, I have too much to do & the energy required to do it.
Always multi-tasking, and I do keep lists. I don't know how else to function.
I thought everyone was like me while growing up. Never could comprehend commands to slow down, sit still, take a deep breath, blah, blah, blah. It's not in my DNA to be "still".
I finally understood that everyone has their own rhythm/pace; wish people would understand that about those of us who are constantly on the move. I stopped apologizing for it, and accepted that I run at a higher speed than others. I actually feel most relaxed when I am in motion. Wouldn't change it!
DH just doesn't get why I can't sit in front of the TV and not have my hands busy or feet... years ago I use to spin while watching TV with him. I'm good for 15 minutes tops to sit still in front of a TV and thats it, I'll jump up during commercials and go throw a load of laundry in, check e-mail or check on my dogs, then come back sit and then pick up quilting (new grand baby due in Feb 2010) so working on quilts and receiving blankets... or soap labels, or now working on organizing seeds... fun fun or reading while the tv runs...LOL DH due to heart health issues isn't allowed to do much activity so TV is how he has to pass time, but we figure I make up for his inactivity so I'm working hard for both of us...rofl..
I remember using alfalfa pellets years ago, mixed in with the soil. Don't know why I haven't continued with it. Perhaps at the time I was expecting too many miracles working with virgin clay soil. Have to give that some thought come spring. Thanks for bringing that up.
Cindy, I don't use the pellets. I use the meal. The pellets have other ingredients mixed in them and are high in sodium. I also mix rock dust, Gypsum and Ironite in the soil. I add different minerals in different years.
Cindy, your established beds are very large. Mine are quite large too. I don't have enough time and resources to completely amend all of the beds every year. One bed, the one under Maples is so poor that it gets a complete set of amendments every year. The others get amended every other year or those that are very good, every third year.
But every new plant gets the absolute best soil mix in it's planting hole. I drench all of the beds annually with Mycorrhizza, Bacillus, Kelp and Fish emulsions. I constantly sprinkle coffee grounds where the worm count is low. 5 or 6 times a year each bed gets a compost tea application. If I don't have time or enough compost left to brew some tea, I use one of the commercial compost tea bags and add some alfalfa & bs molasses to the water a few days before using.
stormyla - You are far more industrious than me! I've heard gardeners comment for years about compost tea enhancing the overall health of plants but have never tried it. I'm wondering if compost made primarily of oak leaves (my normal stuff) has enough nutritional value to go to the trouble of brewing the tea. And I've also read for years about the BS molasses feeding beneficial nematodes. Do you think it also encourages earthworm activity? When's a good time to apply the molasses? I'm planning on spreading yesterday's grass clippings and shredded leaves today on some of the beds. Wondering if it's of any benefit to wet them down (just some sprinkling) with a molasses mix. Don't have any compost left to make tea.
Cindy, Even if you just take a shovel full of native soil and put it in a pail of water with the molasses, that will be beneficial. The microorganisms in the soil will feed on the Molasses and multiply. If you have some manure, add that too. Let it sit for about 36 hours so that the organismas can multiply. Then apply it. Everything that you do will help your soil. No task is wasted.
Have soil, molasses and a partial bag of composted manure that I was going to spread dry but I'll dedicate some to the tea. Close to 70 today so I'll be out there this afternoon burying more kitchen scraps and spreading shredded stuff. And DH is going to cut the bottom out of my little garbage can tonight so I can start the worm cafe. Like you, Stormyla, I won't be able to do all of the beds but I have 3 in mind for treatment and should manage to accomplish some tasks on them before winter. I did rework almost all of my lower garden this summer with compost, digging up the hardened clay (thankfully just packed, not dry) so not doing too bad. Two beds haven't had anything done to them this summer as I'm anticipating major rearranging next year with a new outdoor shed so I'll address them next year.
Thanks all for enabling!
OK - you can call it inspiration but I call it enabling my "should do" list.
Dug about 8 more holes and buried compost. Still have one more bed that I'd like to do but I was rather generous with the veggie scraps since who knows when I'll get to those beds again. Spread the shredded leaves and grass clippings (although the shredded leaves are registering in my brain as something that should be cleaned up). Have the "tea" brewing. Used some soil, composted manure, molasses and, way back in the cabinet in the garage, I found fish emulsion and seaweed extract so they went in as well. Rather a smelly brew. Probably have 5 gallons or so and figured I'd dilute it with more water to apply since it looks pretty strong. Hmmm - wondering how the local raccoons are going to react to the brew sitting on my patio tonight. Actually, mulching is probably a good thing since I had done a lot of dividing and moving earlier in the summer.
Good for you, Cindy. Your beds and the racoon may thank you! Feed grade BS molasses was very hard to find in my area. I was able to talk a local feed store into ordering it for me. My compost contained a lot of citrus this year. I'll be interested to hear why it should be avoided.
it isn't that you can't use citrus in your compost bin it is that you shouldn't use it in a worm composting bin. A very little is ok for the worms, but (lets say you eat 1 grapefruit a day) too much will have them running from that part of the compost bin.
Regular outside compost bins can handle it and the regular worms just more room to get away from what they don't go after. Not to say they won't eat some of it, but it isn't the best.
Now if you slice it up then that will work better, but I don't know too many folks who on a day in and day out basis will slice and dice their food for the compost bin...
here is a blog that tells where citrus is good for your reg compost bin.
Great info. What is bs molasses. I totally forgot about compost tea. My dad always had a bucket on the back patio to water the plant containers. In my holding garden I always have two large holes going at a time. There are so many worms in there they are taking down a big pile in less than a week. I cannot keep up with them. I guess I need to take a bucket full of worms to a new hole someplace in the garden. This is the only place in the garden that gets water 7 days a week for 3 minutes a day. About 50 feet long and 4 feet deep, three feet across. It was made this height to enable me sitting on the edge. It is enclosed cinder block and topped with a smooth stone and the cinder block is stuccoed. The contractor actually measured me so it would be the correct height. I have two, one on each side of the property. They are great because it is easier to control the environment. Anyone east of the Mississippi know what stucco is???? Did anyone see the program on, I believe, CBS Sunday Morning about San Francisco composting program. We record it every Sunday and watch it later in the day. You now get three garbage can. Green for compost, blue for paper & aluminum cans and black for garbage. They take the scraps, grass clipping and tree cuttings. They chip it down and make compost and then sell it to the city, landscapers or who ever wants it. It is now a law and you will not get arrested but it looks like everyone has jumped on the band wagon. Good for them,...
Where I live it is in the CC&Rs that you are now allowed to have compost piles. I do not consider mine a pile because it is buried and not very big. What are they going to do, come on the property with the compost police and arrest me. I am on the Board of our HOA and in charge of thr HOA landscaping with the commercial landscapers. Got a complaint this week because one of the neighbors has a clothesline. This is a $2,000,000 home value area. I could not believe in this economic crisis, anyone would complain about someone drying their clothes on a line out side. I actually dry my clothes on a line inside my home. I have done this for over fifteen years. At our old home I actually strung a line on Saturdays and dried the towels and sheets outside. But we did have 4 children at home and they used a new towel everyday. Our neighbors came over after a couple of weeks and wanted to make sure we were not having financial trouble. The lady unhappy has had her attorney send a letter to the Board. Of course, her husband is a attorney so it is probably free gratis. She is in Lake Tahoe at their home on the lake so I really do not kn ow why she cares but now, here com es another battle. They have had this problem in Colorado and I believe Oregon and the individuals using the clothes lines are telling everyone, back off. Soil and Composting is more fun. I have a large SB delivery tomorrow from a friend that goes there everyday.
CC&R are convents, constriction and regulations. Probably only in the west becase we are so young. They control all the regulations of the area you are living in. We are controlled by a Master Association that covers miles of development. In Summerlin, where we live, they control about 50,000 homes and many subdivisions. CC&R say, no pigs, no chickens, no compost piles and a very long list of trees that are prohibited because of allegeries. You must understand that every back landscape in the SW is blocked in with some kind of fence. I was so surprised when we moved to PA in the early 70s and there were no fences between properties. It seemed to work but has never been tried in the SW. Have a great day.
Thank you skwinter. I did notice the abundance of fences in the west and thought it strange. Newer developments here have started the fence "Wars" and it has created an interesting patchwork of fences. All different kinds are right up against one another. They have created a lot of work for the municipalities, not to mention many new garden opportunities and restrictions.
Meadowyck - Thanks for posting the article. I hadn't heard of the citrus ban in compost but maybe it's more of regional thing based on human consumption of citrus. Although I would guess that a lot of citric acid wouldn't necessarily be a good thing. I don't think midwesteners eat all that much to pose a problem. We're more apple-oriented around here.
skwinter - I grew up without fences and find it difficult to have my view blocked off with a fence. Of course, I had more rural views and not someone's backyard. Never had pets that weren't confined so really never had to contemplate a fence until the deer discovered the "buffet" in my lower garden. I put up green snow fencing to keep them out and it blends in to the woods unless it's snowy.
stormyla - Why the preference of feed grade vs. food grade molasses? Obviously a cost thing but is there something about the processing? I used to work for a molasses-based feed company and was familiar with the concept of feeding the nematodes - potato farmers in Michigan and brown field clean up in CA - but obviously on a large scale where cost is a factor.
Quoting:Got a complaint this week because one of the neighbors has a clothesline
I don't own a clothes dryer - so I dry all my clothes indoors. I could string a clothes line outside, but with sooooo many birds in my yard, I think I'd be constantly rewashing clothing because of bird-poop.
Quoting:Why the preference of feed grade vs. food grade molasses? Obviously a cost thing but is there something about the processing?
I was curious about this too, so I googled it and found the following:
"You'll find feed grade molasses at the feed stores. Food grade is available at grocery stores. There is a big added expense in processing from feed grade to food grade, hence the increased cost. When you're talking about using for soils, you are really just looking for the sugars and trace minerals."
I was very interested in the citrus-in-compost discussion, since I eat a lot of citrus fruit and always throw the cut-up peels in my compost. Glad to read that this is fine as long as the peels are cut into pieces. I understand that using a LOT of citrus in vermicomposting BINS is counter-productive, since the worms don't like it that much, and will migrate away from a super-abundance of citrus peels.
This is a newbie question, but I had thought that one needed some sort of air-bubbler to make compost tea--is that true? That the microbes needed oxygen somehow? (You can see that I need more info on this.)
Finally, our HOA here in the East has stringent CC&Rs--it's not just a Western thing. For instance, we all have to have the exact same mailbox and outside light-post, and good grief--an outside clothes-line!! I think NOT! Sometimes I feel as if I live in a Stepford Wives neighborhood.
LOL, I loved that movie, the original one. Feed grade molasses has a much higher nutritional value because of the minerals. That is a tremendous added benefit to the tea. Just as there is the quick and dirty method of composting, so is there one for making tea.
Face it, we are not all going to be hard core dedicated organic gardeners. But there is still tremendous value in all of our efforts. Are we creating the best products? No, but if I waited for the best product, my beds would never get the nutrients that they are getting from the spot composting, coffee grinds, leaf mold, mushroom soil and quick tea. I can't possibly make the amount of compost that it would take to treat all of my beds every year. My compost bin (4x4') makes almost enough for all of my new planting holes. Side and top dressing of existing plants comes from those items mentioned above. I also wouldn't have the patience and dedication that Bokashi requires., so my plants make do with lesser offerings.
Ah - I wasn't aware that food grade processing stripped out minerals. I know we always used those minerals in feed grade stuff for formulating feeds. Hopefully the fish emulsion and kelp extract added some of them back.
I didn't think about supplying air to the microbes in the tea although I did stir it several times. I did sprinkle it around on top of the shredded leaves and grass clippings yesterday since it's supposed to rain today. It only sat 24 hours rather than 36. I may not have maximized my efforts as well as I could but it's better than not doing anything and it didn't cost me any $$$. Even my 4 x 12 compost bin wouldn't produce enough to top-dress all of the beds with any amount to make a difference.
We've had beautiful weather here the past 3 days so I'm hoping the worms have found their way to all of the buried treasure. Not that they'll get much done before winter but maybe they can map the location for spring. Also got my trash can sunk into the ground. While I've been hoarding my scraps for the garden, I should probably throw some stuff in there now just to get it going. I'm hoping the little critters around here don't try to dig under it this winter. Don't want to end up with a mouse bed and breakfast. I'll have to remember not to add too much citrus. I've been using a lot for cooking this summer rather than eating fresh.
I've been following this along~~andsince the weather was so GREAT this week have moved a few plants, and dug some out. I'm leaving the holes open until I get a few days of scraps for them, then filling. Occasional oops where I wanted to plant another plant in a scrap hole! But Cindy mentioned mice~~~--I hope I'm not making little 'vole pantries' with this method! Maybe I should reserve the scraps for warm weather and quick breakdown!
Stormyla - Exactly!
When I have gotten myself worked up with angst (in years past) i decided to adopt the "do what you can with what you've got" philosophy. I think that the goal of good stewardship is worth our energy & time. But I cannot always obtain the ideal or optimum components. It all rots eventually, regardless of our efforts.
I had an encounter with a lady in a store some time ago, who was quite frustrated. I asked if she needed some help & in conversing with her was told that if she could not obtain the "correct" potting mix (forget the name, but it's $25 per cu ft...!) she simply would not garden. I tried to explain how to start with what she had, what was available & amend for excellent results. Oh no - not good enough for her.
I came away shaking my head - she had her young daughter in tow, and the girl was clearly buying into Mom's viewpoint: "Only the best or not at all". That's a lady who has too much to overcome in order to see the wonders of the transformation of soil, and is missing out on the experience of the work of one's hands. The relationship of gardener to garden is rich on multiple levels. Caring for the soil brings an even deeper perspective.
Quoting:But Cindy mentioned mice~~~--I hope I'm not making little 'vole pantries' with this method! Maybe I should reserve the scraps for warm weather and quick breakdown!
Sally, I did just this thing--create little vole pantries--this winter, when I did a version of spot composting in my compost bins by burying my Bokashi scraps. The voles, or they could have been mice, built elaborate tunnels in my bins, enjoyed the worms that came to eat the scraps, and then jumped around whenever I went outside to check on my compost. Needless to say, I got freaked!
Maybe you should reserve the tasty scraps for warm weather, when the rodents won't be so attracted to your pile because they will have other places to nest and eat.
Me, I've decided to keep my Bokashi in buckets until Spring.
Capecodgardener, I had voles in my compost all last winter. Voles are herbivores and don't eat worms. That might have been moles. But actually, if they eat my buried compost, maybe they won't be eating my plants. Who knows about those vile creatures???? I saw someone write that the voles chewed right through his plastic compost bin in the winter to get to the rotten smelling fruit.
You should have done the Costco plan. They brought in the Kirkland Vodka and said it was the same as Grey Goose. Grey Goose is suppose to be beyond excellent Vodka. After customers tried their vodka, they decided it was close enough to not spend double the price. When she wanted a special potting mix, just tell her they changed the name and are now being sold under ****. She would not know the difference. If she cannot take advise from a DG Special gardener, she loses. Those kind of lies will not send you to hell. Have a great day tomorrow. I will send you a photo tomorrow of my full wheel barrow of free great dirt. I also have a whole wheel barrel full of coleus cuttings for the compost pile. And SB coffee grounds. It is going to be a buffet at the Winter residence in Las Vegas on Sunday morning. I will put out ""Saturday evening. I will take a photo of my worms. I had a great day, how about you.
Well in the West we are currently 80 degrees, we do not have voles, or what ever can eat through your plastic compost pile. We do not have gophers, mosquitoes, deer, moose wandering the street or pre historic animals. We do have tortoise, mountain lions, coyotes, quail, deer, but they are in the mountains, not the garden, mountain sheep, many small birds, rabbits, which he coyotes eat, lizards, dragonflies, butterflies, hornworms, which I move to another site because they are hummingbird moth larva. Of course we have rattlesnakes. We all played with them as children so they know us personally. A stranger, do not go near, they will kill you. Just come to see us and I will introduce you to my friends. I currency have two lizards living in the garage with my coleus cuttings. Many quail but most of the birds have headed to Mexico. Have a great day. I am going to looking at a great big large greenhouse I may be able to use the lower 4th for nothing. Just around the corner on the golf course. The owner's parents own the majority of the land around here and think I will be a great mentor for their son. He is growing organic lettuce, etal in this greenhouse and Whole Food is going to buy it all. Maybe because his parents own the land under their store. I as suppose to show him how to use cuttings to produce house plants to expand his business. I think this will be fun and wish me luck.. I will keep you posted.
skwinter - The greenhouse project sounds like it will be fun. I think I'll keep my mice and voles though and you can keep your rattlesnakes. We have enough other snakes that I show the utmost respect for, especially living next to wooded wetlands.
Katye - Very eloquent on your soil philosophy. You and stormyla really bring the topic down to earth. Anything we do with that in mind is a positive move.
CapeCodGardener - I'm hoping my mice/voles aren't industrious enough to dig too far down. Of course, there have always been holes drilled into the sides of the trash can from day one for air circulation so if they were going to invade they would have done it by now. I've seen they're little trails made under the snow but usually not close to the house.
sallyg - I'm not going to worry about the spot composting over the winter. My neighbor has a chipmunk/ground squirrel burrow under a big piece of flagstone 4 ft away from all of my spot composting efforts. They haven't bothered with digging up anything so far and they're usually my biggest culprits. Raccoons haven't bothered to explore either.
Katye - that poor lady is setting herself up for disappointment. One thing I took away from Mel's "Square Foot Gardening" book that I had not thought of before is his tip to get "soil" from many different sources because each one contains different nutrients.
I buy different organice fertilizers/amendments from various sources and throw out a little of one, and then another, every few weeks throughout the growing season.
I'm not big on a lot of commercial fertilizers. In part, I'm lazy but I also think that more natural soil amendments are the better way to go. Not that I'm totally organic but I'd rather make a lasting effect on the soil for all of my labor, hopefully for the better. Easy for me to say at the moment (not working) but hopefully I'll stay more tuned in to that.
Fortunately truly organic fertilizers that are commercially distributed are becoming more widely available and cheaper. Some of the smaller companies, whose products are not at all synthetic, are making in roads into the garden supply market. I like the Dr.Earth and Organica products
Not everyone is going to keep 20 to 50lb bags of 20 or 25 different items in their garage. Nor does everyone have the room or facilities to accept loose bulk deliveries of many soil amendments. Many people have no access to or areas to age fresh manure. When mine is low and there isn't any readily available, I buy Milorganite and add some Bacillus. What astounds me is how many people buy all of their planting soil.
For items like organic pest control and harder to find natural fertilizers and amendments I like the selection and prices at Arbico Organics and Snow Pond Farms.
I know they're out there but you'd think the local stores are only familiar with Miracle Grow. I'll buy potting soil but not garden soil. There's something wrong about that in my mind. Thanks for posting those websites. Will give them a look when I have a chance. Gearing up for painting living room and dining rooms tomorrow. Ugh. Of course, I'm having Thanksgiving here so that's even more pressure. Maybe I secretly thrive on it but fantasize for a more relaxed timetable.
In my area, it seems as though it's all Miracle Grow Products 24/7. I have seen a variety of items disappear from the shelves & replaced with a like MG product. Scotts owns them, i believe, and they are given premium shelf space.
Fortunately for me, this area has a great number of nurseries so sourcing what is needed is not difficult.
I utilize the internet for shopping, too. thanks for the links, Stormyla. I think it's easier to make a decision when we have knowledge about the options.
HoneyBee - I have Mel's original book, and I practice the same thing with soil. I think he had a lot of easy, straight-forward information, and it produces great results. So I'm sold!
SKWinter -had not considered the Costso plan. But that would be due to the Vodka factor. Easy to get distracted with that in your glass, and I don't mind if the goose aren't grey. I certainly wanted to set the lady straight, but with that chi-chi (shi-shi? she-she?) attitude, I decided it wasn't worth the effort. I bet her raised beds were fashioned from walnut inlaid with ebony, and the worms were allowed access by invitation only. Just trying to wrap my head around that episode was frightening. Since anything she grew would have some soil residue, would she even eat what she grew? Then there is the aspect of water - Evian for the garden? or is that passe' now? Sorry - I'll stop. I just felt sorry for the little girl who was growing up with this as a philosophical benchmark..
Katye, It's all marketing and wanting to be "in the know" with the keeping up with the Jonesers. Some people can't discern quality unless it has a name affixed to it. And even then, they can't honestly evaluate it. They have to rely on other people's recommendations. Why else would anyone buy some of the stuff that's sold? Some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. LOL Our own SallyG, is an excellent value finder. She can always make a very good something out of nothing.
Of the stores that do sell Organic products, most often the only choice is Espoma. While Espoma's products are very good, they are also very expensive and often include synthetic ingredients in some of their formulations. I find many other similar, purer products at better prices than theirs. Another interesting thing I have found is that Nurseries that are very expensive on their plants often sell their fertilizers and amendments quite reasonably.
I did contact 3 big box stores here about MG proliferation a couple of months back. Of course their purchasing contracts were already in place for the season so I really didn't expect big changes (and didn't see any change to their shelves). If their potting soil wasn't so convenient to use, I'd give up on them totally. Not a lot of organic alternatives around here locally. I do mail order seed starting mix and starter fertilizers but haven't gone that route with other amendments.
One tactic that has been a life saver for me has been that I've developed a very good relationship with one of the smaller local nurseries. They have been developing a very good selection of organic products.
Whenever I want to try a new product, I read all about it on the web, print some info about it and take it to the nursery.The owner has now become very interested in trying new things. Usually, I'll split a case of something with her. She only marks it up $1 or $2 and there is no shipping cost involved. A lot of times, I want a gallon of something, but she doesn't like to inventory gallons as they are harder to sell. She will sell me 4 quart sized ones at the same price as the cost for a gallon. I actually prefer this as the quarts are easier to handle and store and the product stays fresher if unopened.
Don't be afraid to ask a nursery to order something for you. Their shipping costs are usually free, being built into their distributor's pricing. I'm buying most of my items from her at the lowest price available on the web with no shipping fees.
I have used the MG Garden Soil mixed with my compost and then added to our desert "soil". Our desert soil is awful. I think the original term was blow sand. Except it has more rock than sand. I constantly screen out rocks. I am convinced that the rocks either reproduce or the earth just pushes them upward. I will clean out an area entirely of any rocks and in about one month they are back on top. I cannot produce enough compost with just the two of us left at home so the MG garden soil has helped me in getting my "dirt" into a decent soil. Until you start working with the "dirt" here in the SW, it is the color of coffee with a whole bunch of cream. When you walk by my front landscape, it smells like a cup of coffee. Thanks SBs.
The greenhouse is out of this world. It is on the backside of a golf course about 5 minutes from my home by car. When I drove up and parked, I walked over to the golf started and told him who I was looking for. Well I now know how it feels if you have been invited to see the Queen. I was greeted very warmly, immediately taken into the club house, asked if I wanted anything to eat or drink while they located the young man. Soon appeared a young man about 45, very charming and delightful. We used a golf cart for a short ride to the greenhouse using the golf cart path. Behind an office building on the east side of the golf course stands this 1800 sq ft greenhouse. During our conversation, he explained the greenhouse only cost around $25,000 to complete. Yes, but it is sitting on a piece of land probably worth over a million. He was so eager to get my opinion and learn that is was refreshing. I am 67 going on 45 but when I got home after my two visit I was giddy. I have full use of a golf cart to get to the greenhouse and my own key. He only has 1/3 of the greenhouse in production with lettuce and said I could use as much I needed now. I told him one area would be fine. Probably 400 sq. ft. He stated he would have the area ready for my use Monday. I have some homework to do before I take any of my cutting over Tuesday. I do not want to contaminate his greenhouse. So today was like Christmas and my Birthday all in one big present. I still cannot stop smiling. I am going to try and get my pictures taken this weekend. I was so giddy yesterday and I did not get much accomplished.
SK - EXCELLENT! i am very happy for you - what an incredible gift.
I cannot find any Espoma products locally - even here in the Disneyland of Gardening. Online it will be.
As far as MG potting soil goes - it is a very nice mix, IMO. I've been using it for a number of years & had great results. Convenient & my experience has been positive, so I know what to expect.
From the business perspective, i don't have an issue with MG products as they will try to market their product usage to as many as possible, and businesses are in business to make $. From the consumer side, I have noticed how many of their products are occupying the premium shelf space. If other brands are not selling, the store is not going to continue to stock them. That being said, I don't count myself in with the general public as far as my buying habits are concerned. It was smart of Scotts to introduce an organic line - they will likely increase their customer base. I have not used any of the "organic" soil mixes they make, so I have no reference for comparison.
Please, if you have products to recommend, post name & manufacturer. I'm sure there is a wealth of info worthy to share!
Katye - Just passing along info on MG organic potting soil. Daughter is growing organically in TN. Since she grows some herbs and things in pots, she tried the MG stuff. She did say that she had more difficulty with it not absorbing water or rewetting easily than the regular stuff. Since I haven't used it, I can't tell you the differences between it and regular MG potting soil.
"Disneyland of Gardening" - too cute.
The only time that I buy any soil is the first week of spring planting. Usually I buy a large bag or 2 of Scott's garden soil to which I make amendments. After that I use the native soil from the plant holes to mix with amendments to be my planting mix. I do the same for potting mix, just alter the amendments somewhat. I always have mushroom soil, leaf mold, compost, manure, peat or coir, and builder's sand and some type of gravel on hand. To that I will add fertilizers and minerals dependent on the day's planting.
For instance, yesterday I planted a dozen peonies. I added specific amendments and altered the soil mix for the needs of the peonies. Tomorrow I will plant a dozen Japanese Maples. I will mix the soil specifically for their requirements. Next I have about 20 Echinaceas and will mix the soil differently adjusting it, not only to suit the plants requirements, but also keeping in mind the conditions of the destined beds.
After that, all of my planting will be bulbs and I will mix the soil differently and add different fertilzers and minerals for those.
I never use store bought soil for pots, either outdoors or indoors. I bathe all of my outdoor "bring ins" in an insect bath before bringing them inside. I submerge the pots and plants completely in a large deep galvanized tub that contains water with dish soap, rubbing alcohol and neem.
Miracle Grow also makes an organic fertilizer that comes in 20lb bags. I used it for 2 years. What happened in my gardens when using it was an overwhelming proliferation of 24" tall dandelions. It took months to get rid of them all. I also found that this product goes horribly rancid if it is exposed to any moisture at all.
I am still giddy. I got my key today and I get lessons on the golf cart Monday. Of course i have a HOA board meeting on Monday evening and Thursday we are suppose to be very cold. And then our oldest son is expecting his first child in the next two weeks. Luke Michael Gottschalk is my grandson from my son from my first marriage. My son's father was a Physicist and he died from heart disease at the age of 42. Surgery was very experiential during that time. My son, Todd is a Internist/Peds DR and never had time for relationships. I probably will not live long enough to see this grandchild graduate from High School.
Update, I still have many coleus to get inside. I have too many plates spinning but that is no ones fault by mine. With ADD, ADHD and whatever, I am very happy. Wish me angels flying my way to help; I do this and have never learned how to back off.
Wow what an opportunity! I am so jealous. Sounds like you have the best playground a plant addict could ask for. Oh, please keep us informed, even if you are so busy and having fun, remember us. Who don't have such a playground. lol.
It looks great on the outside but starting set-up on the inside. University personnel will be there tomorrow morning to inspect. He is doing a hydroponic system but each station can be either. I think I will try both but I especially need to make sure I do not contaminate his greenhouse. When I get there Tuesday. I will take pictures. I have a Board meeting on Monday all day so cannot make it on Monday. I am still giddy. Going to get colder so I am trying to get cuttings fisished today but it is already noon and I have not started. I did not hit the floor running this morning which is unusual.
Hey gardeners, what is Espoma?? Had board meeting all day today and tomorrow is probably last day of 80s. Wed is going to be about 65. I will work at home tomorrow and start at green house on Wednesday. I will keep you in touch.,..Still giddy...LOL.
Thanks for the info. Have not seen any iof those products here. I will look at Whole Foods. Well I was wrong about the weather. I guess it was in a hurry to get the cold down here. It arrived about 4 am this morning with a roar. High winds and a high of 65. Yesterday we had a high of 83. So glad most of my gardening left will be in the garage. Just finishing up my cuttings. Have a great day. My worms probably think they have been moved...I have discovered a family of lizards in my garden area of the garage. They are living somewhere in my piles of compost mulch. They have plenty to eat with the spiders coming inside for the winter. My only problem is once in a while I will lift an empty pot and two or three small ones will go scattering. Just gives me a startled moment.
Probably because no plants requiring high acid soil are grown in Las Vegas. We have a very high PH.. Even our water has a high PH. They just do not survive. I have planted high desert blueberries but they are planted in very large pots and I check their PH daily to keep the level where it should be. All my gardening friend are laughing at me but I am
Woman. I will show them. I will look on line and maybe become the Queen of Acid Loving plants in Las Vegas. I will keep it a secret. Why would I do that, I do not charge for my advise or assistance. Maybe I should...Thank you very much for the information.
You got it but I just sent an e-mail to my large landscape company expert and asked him to find a distributor for the product. Maybe he and I will become the high acid plant experts in Nevada. You could sue for a percentage. Thank you experts. See you in court...LOL.
Skimmias are lovely -- wide short shrubs. Like the same conditions are Rhodies/Azaleas. Get a male & female plants for the flowers & berries. Easy if their moisture/sun requirements are met. Mine are almost 20 years old - measure 5-6' wide & no more than 3' tall.
Cindy, You might have problems getting them to survive in your area. I'm borderline zone pushing them. Mine get a little rough around the edges from frigid winter winds and crispy on the edges from summer sun, even though it only gets end of the day sun. Here's the one that get's it's edges burned and crispy. It's three years old. It's mate is back against the wall (not in the photo which was taken last week) and always looks beautiful. Hopefully, it will get nice berries this year. They do stay nice and dark green all year.
Katie, if mine get's six feet wide, this whole bed will need to be reworked again. I've never heard of any getting that wide. It might only be like that in the PNW.
OK - that's why they're not on my "want" list. No laurels either. May have to indulge in more Northern Lights azaleas instead as "compensation".
Hoarding kitchen scraps until I can get back outside to bury. It's either raining or I'm painting but needing an outdoor break soon. Also need to check on my buried worm bin to see if there's any activity.
That Bokashi technique looks like it might be interesting. Didn't have a chance to really read up on it but had to check it out since I had never heard the term before. Is the intent more to propagate microbes?
stormyla - have added laurels to my list to check out when I have browse time. Have been painting indoors. Would much rather be outdoors covered in dirt than indoors covered in sanding dust.
Did the last of the spot composting in a bed towards the back of the property. Wouldn't you know the pesky raccoons discovered the hidden loot! They're not as careful about digging up the beds as I am. A couple of plants got uprooted and hope they'll survive the winter. Now concentrating on feeding the big compost pile. DH is nice enough to haul the chopped leaves from the lawnmower down to the bin for me. Of all the yard chores, he seems to tend the compost pile willingly.
Here are a couple of book suggestions for you wonderful composters...maybe you've read them...but if you haven't:
the all time classic..."The Ruth Stout No Work- Garden Book" by Ruth Stout and Richard Clemence , the copyright on this gem is 1971 so it may be a challenge to find it at your public library, you might locate a lovingly used copy on Amazon. Ruth was indeed a pioneer in organic gardening. She passed away in 1980 but her spirit lives on in my gardens!
and the much newer version..."Lasagna Gardening", by Patricia Lanza. I originally checked this one out from my public library...I had to wait a long time to get it and it was a very worn, soil smuged copy. I liked it so much that I bought a used copy on Amazon.
stormyla - Getting back to laurels - which ones are you referring to? The word "laurel" is in so many common names.
jazmom - Thanks for the references. The 'lasagna garden" theory I've heard of but hard to put into use when the plants are already in place. I'm 95% ornamentals here since I don't have enough sun for many veggies. I'll look into the Ruth Stout book - sounds like my kind of gardening.
I think I tried to grow a Kalmia once. I don't think I gave it quite the TLC for the first year that I should have. I am trying Pieris japonica again after having killed one or two. This time, it's a little $3 thing from Lowe's that's survived two winters already. Still needs a little babying when it's dry but at least it does bloom for me (if the deer don't eat the buds first). Maybe the trick is to start with smaller plants - easier to establish?
I save everything from the kitchen that I can, even leftover juice and soda add sugar which is almost pure energy!Tough now cuz I don't want to overload the kitchen bin, but when the weather's better, I have a bucket with lid nearby outside the kitchen for 'slops'
Do you think the soda is OK for the Microherd? When I was in the Orient, we brushed our teeth with Pepsi and tooth paste. We drank pepsi and beer all the time as the carbolic acid was supposed to kill any bad organisms from the food and the water it was prepared in.
Well, I dumped my compost scrap pail this afternoon into a new bed to be composed. I could smell it all over the neighborhood. I have put scraps, veg scraps,bananas and skins , coffee grounds, egg shells and whatever as long as it was not animal... in this Lowes covered pail for over 4 weeks sitting in the sun on the driveway, it was beyond ripe. I placed it in a bare garden plot. The smell could be smelled for many houses but that is what i what the worms want, rotted veg matter, alfalfa pellets. But the worms loved it. But there may be no worms., I did not put any in from the compost pile worms there and we will see what is there in a week. Another trial;
stormyla-- respectfully--I doubt that would kill bad micros. Probably only reduced the amount of "fresh" water you took in. The bottling or brewing process might kill something.
I for one doubt that the wild microherd is very tender. Feed them and they'll rebound. C.mon, they evolve to defeat all our good antibiotics! Everything that goes in the pile is instantly diluted to some extent.
Yes SKW--my bucket can get pretty sour too even with winter chill.
BTW--I found molasses sold by the gallon --Bass Pro store-- as deer bait/treat. I don't know if I can determine if its blackstrap or not. The label said either feed or food grade--the first could be animal but the second sounds human.
And we do have a Brass Pro store. About 1/2 hour away but nothing is to far away for my worms and compost. docpipe, uses molasses in his worm casting tea which he heats at 76 degrees until it starts foaming. His takes about 2 to 3 days. When it starts foaming it is rocking and used right away. I need to go back and reread that again. Darn old mind just will not keep everything I need stored. I will go see what he said about molasses and will return later in the afternoon.
Great Sally! I'll start pouring the flat soda out there too. My local feed store ordered the feed grade BS Molasses for me. It was $12 a gallon. I've been talking to Doc, but he's been busy with other endeavors and not posting much. Maybe I'll send him a link to this thread.
All I see is some good things beginning to happen here. Keep up the good work. It will definitely pay off in better soil as you continue. Grab yourselves a bag or so of Biotone. That's good mycorrhizae in small amounts. A pinch per planting hole will fix you up real good.
I have a bag of Biotone in the garage. It's just the size of a coffee bag, but I've treated it like gold, that is, hoarding it. It's not going to do anything for my soil in the bag. I must put it in a place where I'll trip over it so it gets used this spring.
I sprinkled about one tablespoon of dried molasses on the top of my worm bin. Just an experiment to see what the reds would do. This morning I lifted the lid and they had moved a large amount mushy scraps and the whole bin was having a feast. I would have taken a photo but had to get DH to his Doctor's appointment. We had rain all day today and that is fabulous news for the drought stricken southwest.
Dried molasses is a tricky word. If you are using any amount of it you are paying way to much for the value of the molasses in the bag. So called dry molasses is chaff and other waste ground fine to which a little black strap molasses is added. That's it nothing more or less. You might have a cup of black strap molasses in a forty pound bag of dried molasses. You can grind some leaves and make a slurry of black strap molasses and water. Try four tablespoons in a gallon of hot tap water. Combine the leaves and your molasses slurry. Bag it in plastic and step back. In a few days the leaves will suck up all the goodies...Ala! you have made dried molasses. It does not have to be leaves. You can use any brown material including shredded office waste. No reason why you could not just toss those browns in the container and spray the with a molasses slurry in place.
Thanks docpipe. I need your number on my blackberry so when I am out pondering what to use I could call you. LOL. Oh well, it will make great filler for the rest of my garden. I will just throw it around like fertilizer and feed all my landscape worms. The bag was torn so I did get it for half price. Under 10 dollars for 40 pounds. Thanks again.
You can feed those reds of yours some coffee grounds laced with black strap molasses. Almost overnight they will be as big as your arm and twice as long. I drove through Texas one time years ago. I haven't totally cleansed my memory function even to this day. ]:o)
The worms are protein. You can cut them up in tiny pieces and work them into oatmeal, chocolate chip and raisin cookies. Don't forget the raisins. You need something to cover your worm pieces. LOL Yes I have done this and frankly no one but I knew. For some unknown reason one associate has never returned for another garden party.
I learned to eat them numerous ways in survival training. Offering them to a fish for a better meal was not an option.
I am not a veteran. They were laying soldiers off when I was of an age to go in. My survival training was done in a private business offering for those that may choose to go into foreign lands with wild country facts to deal with. We have a center that trains missionaries in the heart of our mountains. I paid a fee and did several weeks without normal food supply, utilities and water. One week was academic. Two weeks were actually doing it. It was quite a confidence builder.
Doc, this thread started if with folks wondering if spot composting in the beds was very beneficial. I remember you referring to such spots as "Honey Holes". Is there anything that you would not bury in one of these holes? Besides used car batteries and such.
Anything that once lived plant or animal will rot into humus from whatever condition it was placed on or in the soil. We often took the kids fishing for sunfish. We ate the large ones and planted the remains as well as all the fish we did not want to bother with. That is about as close to raw and living as one can get when planting scraps of this and that. I have dug in road kill on other occasions. Groundhogs have met the same fate in my gardens.
stormyla - Have you started picking up fresh coffee grounds for spring or are these leftover from last year?
I haven't done much with my big compost bin except continue to pile on veggie/fruit scraps, my own coffee grounds and shredded newspaper this winter when I can wade out there in the snow. Of course it freezes solid within a day or two but my thinking is that it will be ready to go when it thaws out in another month or so. Wondering if a dollop of b/s molasses would be good in between the additions to the pile. Yes, snow does get trapped in under each addition but I'm figuring it's a way to capture the moisture. Wasn't Jerry Baker big on molasses? I've heard of it used to feed beneficial nematodes. Wonder at what temp the native earth worms will wake up and start getting to work.
Waking up is progressive...but nothing much gets going good until the soil temperature in the top four inches gets to and stays at fifty or above degrees. Anything you add more or less just stays where you put it until your soil warms up.
Thanks for that info on the soil temps. Means I probably won't see any activity until late April/early May and will probably hold off on any extra goodies until then unless you think a sprinkle of molasses in between layers would be a good thing - ?
I think the Molasses between layers would be good. I water it down some when I add it to the compost so that it dispurses better. That way when you are abl to turn it, it will be easier to get it into more sections. Think cake batter or cookie dough here.
I get coffee grounds from Starbucks all year long. I have such a large area to cover, that it is a continuous project. This time of year, I have to call them to get them to save some for me.
OK - streusel layering with molasses it is. Gosh, any coffee grounds would have frozen solid here since they'd have to take up residence somewhere outdoors. I'm getting that spring itch and was thinking about coffee grounds the other day. I think I'll hold off though until I can see dirt to spread them on.
I save my coffee grounds including the filter in a plastic coffee can that resides inside of my recycled rubber tote along with strips of newspaper (just torn up as I pick them up off the floor surrounding the couch) and bags of scraps when my little kitchen compost pail gets full. I can then haul them all down to the compost bin together and throw them in. I had used all of my compost last year and need to get something going for this year. Just oak leaves take at least a year to break down. And no I don't run the lawnmower over the leaves in the lower garden - no space to do it and no way to get the mower down there. (Plus I'm too busy getting the leaves off the beds to think about shredding them.)
I normally take them out to their final destination too, but there's so much snow out there this past week that my holding areas are getting too full. Until late yesterday, I couldn't even get the doors open, except the garage.
Some more great ideas from doc & all. There is a very large hydroponic store down the road about 15 miles. I am going to call them and see if they have the Biotone and molasses. The Bass store is about 25 miles away. I will go there as my last resort. Have a great day. We are going to be m65 today so I will be in the front garden.
Sheesh! More zone envy. I'm trying to get a little "fix" by seed sowing. My little GH has been warm and toasty the past few days with the sunshine - upper 70's and 80's. I do heat it with a little natural gas heater to keep it above 55 at night but it sure hasn't been needed during the day. With the new door between my GH and the garage, I can wander out there in t-shirt and plant seeds in the sun. That'll have to do for another couple of months.
I did look at the local little garden center for biotone or dried molasses but didn't see anything. The kid stuck working on Sunday didn't know much about gardening stuff. I did see some gallon bottles of compost accelerator but the bottles were old and dusty and didn't state the contents so I left those alone. Will have to continue my search.
We have had hydroponic greenhouses producing tomatoes for years in our area. They have yet to produce a single tomato with good texture and good flavor. They make a salad look nice and taste like cardboard. The leaf lettuce looks nice but has no flavor. They are also producing herbs. Knowing where they come from I have refused to buy any. I need to qualify the method of growing to that of using man made chemistry as the fertilizer. We are not aware of any organic hydroponic produce being produced and distributed locally.
Went to the Hydroponic store today and again there were many customers. Very young 20 something men. Did not find biotone or molasses. I was told by docpipe not to waste money on dried molasses because it was just ground up leaves with very little molasses. I checked the bag and there is only 33% molasses. I am going to goggle and see if I can find it locally. You usually find the molasses at a livestock feed store. Have a great day tomorrow. I will be gardening all day so will not be back until tomorrow evening.
I'm shooting from the hip here but...I would think almost all parts of the country have suburbs. Most suburbs I know have weekend cowboys. Cowboys have horses. Horses have to be fed. Feed stores or mills that make their own feed brands almost all use black strap molasses. The same reasoning applies to dairies and cows.
I could understand how it may be difficult to find in downtown Manhattan. However on your weekend drives into the country feed mills show up even in New York. Out West the feed mills I saw were nearly all beside the railroad sidings in the wide open country. Here in the East the mills were on small streams where water power turned the grinding stones. I only know of one still maintained to grind on mill stones with water power but many of those mills are electrified and still grinding with modern mill equipment.
Finding black strap molasses has been a problem for some yet I think most if not all have found it when they stayed in the hunt and talked to enough people. It is not unlike the big lumber company camps trying to find someone to bring them whole sides of bacon and salt for seasoning.
Here's some discussion about sweet feed for deer feeding. http://www.realtree.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-236.html
Certainly any feed store, at the minimum, would sell premixed sweet feed for horses. Grain mixed with the feed molasses. That would have to be some level of good in the compost. But might sprout. But then you could chop in those green sprouts for nitrogen.
The counter girl at my one farm store only showed me deer molasses in a five gallon pail. If you could use that much, it would be dirt cheap per gallon. I saw gallon deer molasses in a hunting store (Have I already said that here? Sorry) which you would have to assume is the cheapest possible crap (most unrefined molasses) they could pour in a bottle and have it shelf stable in the store. From what doc has said in the past, his feed store blackstrap sounds not- totally shelf stable (leakage, microbial activity)
One of our local feed supply stores carries "Sweet Tooth", a liquid form of molasses for horses and deer. It's pretty cheap, around $20 for 50 lbs. (about 5 gallons) if I remember correctly. I'll be getting some in a few weeks.
doc - A lot of the molasses that's delivered to farms/ranches, feed stores/mills is blended with other ingredients (vitamins, minerals, mold inhibitors such as propionic acid, etc) so be careful to look for only pure feed grade molasses and not a blend.
I guess it depends how basic your principles are. Here the Dutch use feed grade in their cooking. They want nothing added to anything when possible to acquire such purity. Because of man's law those fine folks have to cheat and lie to get simple products like black strap molasses and raw milk. They know that every time something simple and basic passes through a modern food plant the goodness they seek is removed. That is exactly why black strap molasses is sought out in the animal feed grade for use on your gardens. All the good things are still in it.
I have eaten the Dutch made bread, cakes and cookies all my life. To me it is a down home touch of yester year. Perhaps to others I would be eating food unfit for human use. I am not a health nut. My lifestyle does however include a pro biotics, natural or organic vitamins and all the good organic food I can find that fits into our basic food line within reason. Our health food stores here have a very nice selection of items. We try to replace as many processed food items as possible. I try to eat less better hoping to keep my weight under control. Being human I still like some of the junk I could well do without.
I went to this extent with an answer in short to counter the alarm someone mentioned...that black strap molasses might have some live critters still living in it. God I hope so. That is exactly what we are looking for and planning to establish and maintain in our soils.
If the item is already processed and on the shelf it will still be a good choice. Simply said it will just not be quite as good as unprocessed product.
Having worked in the molasses-based liquid animal feed industry in a previous life, members should be aware that there are often other additives in feed grade liquid molasses at most feed stores and feed mills, the most common being either feed grade propionic acid for mold control (more often in warmer months and does not totally irradicate any bugs - just controls them) or feed grade polyethylene glycol to improve flow of the molasses (especially in winter). Depending on how you're going to use your compost or if you're applying the molasses directly to a garden bed, you may want to know what those additives may be and how they're going to impact your gardening goals. I'm not organic gardener but if I were, I'd want to know about additives. Just ask at the feed store or feed mill if you need to know - don't assume that it's pure unadulterated molasses.
I couldn't remember your name as I was writing my quoted post
My unprofessional guess is that either of those two things wouldn't stop me from using the product. But I am not strictly organic.
The additives are more for the benefits in feed applications rather than in gardening. Sometimes the levels of propionic acid are increased so much in the summer to control the bacterial growth that you can actually smell it. It's usually added as a liquid. pH could also be affected. Some feed mills just don't have the equipment (such as agitation) or quick inventory turnover to control the growth. In the hot summer weather, some molds can actually grow on the surface of the molasses in the storage tank. Different shipments of molasses can vary in sugars and other nutrients. Sulphur can also run high at times. There are feed industry standards but there can still be variations. My intent is not to discourage macrobiotics or including "good" bugs in the diet but rather to inform potential users about what else is in the molasses.
It has been used on a commercial scale for a long time to feed beneficial nematodes in Michigan potato fields and clean up brown fields in CA, again by feeding the good bugs.
Before I found a good source for the pure molasses, I used one of the products for attracting the deer. I found that I had to be careful in selecting among them as some of them contained as much as 30% salt. I found a hunting shop that had more than 6 different kinds and was able to sort among them for weeding out the bad ones.
I have both a Cabela's and Bass Pro locally - well, kinda. Each about 8 to 10 miles away. I might want to rethink adding molasses to my compost pile. Wouldn't you know it's in the lower garden where deer are most likely to break in? Last thing I want to do is issue them an invitation to the all-you-can-eat salad bar. 'Course, I guess the fruit and veg scraps are already doing that. Duh.
Heavy brix cane molasses is "standardized" to 79.5 brix and minimum of 43% TSAI (total sugars as invert). You would most likely find the "standardized" molasses at feed mills or feed stores. All of the nutritional values above would be proportionately reduced based on dry matter. Different molasses distributors (whether Westway or Tate & Lyle companies) could use liquids other than water (usually liquid by-products from other agricultural processing interests - corn, etc) to reduce the dry matter, brix and TSAI (usually guaranteed as terms of the sale) to the 79.5 levels, depending on the nature of the high brix to start with. All high brix molasses isn't necessarily the same despite the standard, depending on the cane processing. The liquid by-products can add some nutritional benefits as well but it's all a matter of how cheap the by-product is vs how much the high brix can be diluted, raising profit margin. Any additives for mold control or whatever would not be part of the molasses analysis because it's only added by request. I'm not sure whether the additives conform with organic standards. TMI, I know unless you're really into analyzing the nth degree what you apply to your crops, fields or compost. It is critical though in formulating animal feed.
The organic grape growers use molasses to raise the brix in the ripened fruit. The very competitive and secretive giant pumpkin growers apply the same reasoning to pumpkins but are more interested in added weight. The rest of the users I know are simply feeding their mycro herds in their soils including the living critters on growing plants to increase the occupation of living biology on both sides of the leaves to prevent the undesirable fungi (mostly) from being able to get a foothold in the first place. Some of the leaf and stem placed molasses is in fact used by the plant. It is taken in through the stoma, sent to the roots, ejected by the roots, converted to usable plant food by specialized bacteria (mostly). It can only then be taken back into the plant to build both plant and fruit on the plant.
Normally most gardeners knowing how to use black strap molasses use it as a booster to the compost pile. In this instance it will be consumed by the pile's mycro herd and many fungi. When those gardeners get 10% or more organic content by test in their soil it is very easy to boost the soil's mycro herd and fungi expansion by using black strap molasses in the soil. It's good anytime but even better as the organic content of the soil goes up. There is no specific formula. A general rule of thumb is two to four ounces to a gallon of warm water applied every two weeks. Warm water is not above 102 degrees to be safe and not cook your biological content.
If good gardeners have to worry about anything beyond the simple basics they will usually be nit picking beyond their ability financially test and prove anything. I leave the fine details to the huge growers who do in fact test and experiment with their organic farming techniques.
Likely the best way you will judge your success is the faster compost pile conversions, a higher and more active worm count and a general healthier whole plant appearance. Professional growers would in fact test for brix and normally get higher bucks for higher brix fruit. Gardeners usually just know about the simple observations. At least I believe that is all they really need to know.
That's really what I need to know. My mother once objected to a new medicine that her cardiologist prescribed. She told him that one of her friends had died while taking it. Her told her that all of his patients die while taking drugs that he prescribes!!
That was a very mean and uncouth doctor. The good doc and I would have parted company right then and there. Those turkeys put their pants on one leg at a time just like any other human being. All to often they tend to forget that.
Doc, he was a wonderful doctor with a great sense of humor who kept her alive for many years, long after any number of others had given up.
My mother was not offended at all and often repeated the story to her friends as a source of amusement.
The point of my mentioning it here is that we need to weigh the benefits of using any substance, against the possible ill effects and make our choices accordingly.
Thanks Cindy for all your molasses expertise. Have you ever wondered if it was useful outside work? It is!
Thanks doc for reposting the molasses specs.
Note that iron, copper, manganese and zinc are four of the main micronutrients in plant food. And the sulfur in there- would think it can only help, prevent bad fungus, as does lime sulfur spray. I am sold--next time I get by a store selling it for deer or horses in a gallon, and making sure I don't get the salty one.
sallyg - Haven't worked with that stored info for a long time. Used to assist animal nutritionist formulate livestock feeds. I'm sure that somewhere out on the 'net exists a chart that lists quite a few agricultural by-products (like beets, pecans, citrus, corn and lots more) with nutritional analyses that have benefits in feeds as well as possible benefits agriculturally.
I've done everything but find it, mix it and put it on your gardens and compost piles. I really do not know what else to say. There are hundreds of comments on this site and thousands over the whole net about how to build better soil. If I confuse folks, I'm sorry. That is not the bitter end if you search on and attempt to help yourselves learn from others.
Doc, I would never go beyond you. Why go beyond the expert? I just keep absorbing all your knowledge as much as I can. "THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR SHARING." I have learned so much from Doc the last 7 months I think I have at least a Master's degree. Thank you so much docpipe. You should tell us what your tag means. Love to you all.. Trying to do this and watch the Olympics. Very difficult...
Docgipe is tag or to my experience range a userid. OK now we understand. My profession for the last twenty years was restoring antique dolls from about 1930 back into the 1500's Before that I applied my arts and crafts background to restoring antique oil paintings. Along the way a partner and I opened the only school in the world with two teachers, a seminar instructor's book and levels of success for students after the basic course was absorbed. We bestowed the term Dollologist upon those who became the best of the best or about ten percent of the student body.. We were buying and selling doll dealers, doll restoratives, teaching artists and natural mohair and human hair wig makers and general restoration folks. You can find the seminars at: D & M Doll Restoration Seminars. That would now be totally the work and enterprise of my partner going forward.
I am now totally retired doing only small projects to or on our own less than perfect dolls. A few antique toys came into the picure naturally.
My restoration became widely known and acquired at the finer quality doll shows throughout the NorthEast. Our students are now making their on marks
That is how I became known as docgipe.
Our students, our doll, our wigs, our restoration may be found in Germany, France, Italy, Mexico, Canada and most of the United States. Our how to videos have literally sold just about everywhere.
I was born in 1936. Our family gardened, kept a cow, a steer, two goats, some chickens, pigeons and tame rabbit because we wanted to eat. It was a simple life but a good basic do everything yourselves for the most part. The dog was for hunting and we fished for meat and a bath in the creek on Sunday afternoons. We were down home red necked country folks. To some degree I still am. LOL
Well I was born in 1942 and was on o 4 children of a miner in a very small Nevada mining town. We grew our own vegetables, deer season was when the freezer was empty. We had chickens, rabbits and we all had our own chores. I did ironing when I was teenager for the rick man from the mine for him and his wife. I also cleaned and did windows for a very large family group down the valley. So I learned how to make money and how to save money. I was raised in an area where there nothing but white people. We had no TV until 1956 because they could not get the signal over the mountains and down into the valley. The town finally saved enough money for the booster so the signal could be bounced down into the valley. I am also still a hick from the sticks but oh well, I am having probably more fun than the majority of my neighbors. Thanks for answering my question. I appreciate your knowledge and your sharing. .
Well ...while the kudos are nice they are due in return...in this thread. When any teacher thinks the student body left is learning the teacher is the proudest and happiest scout. The monoculture players are not about to listen let alone make any costly immediate changes in their practices. It is you and I in our back yards, the smaller farms and larger home-sites that can and do bring about the healthy patch management practices. Once healthy practices are learned we rarely revert to using the poisons that have ruined our biology all accross the country.
I finally found my horticulture black strap molasses. I finally had to order from Amazon thru another vendor and pay $15 for shipping. I ordered 3 gallons. In Nevada you cannot purchase horticulture black strap molasses because it is used to bait deer and it is against the law to bait deer in Nevada and Utah. If this is a repeat, blame my old age.
hi ;;i've just been reading this thread and am grateful for all the knowledge out there from others on dave's garden. Last fall I dumped bags of leaves out in a really overgrown area behind our house, It used to be a railroad or train bed a long tinme ago. this spring i expected to see a nice layer of dirt to plant in...It looks like under the leaves some aare starting to dcompose..I am glad to read about the molassess and how it can speed up the process. I went today and bought some and will be using it over the weekend. i was thinking of mixing it into gallons of water and pouring it over the leaves, on top of a layer of dirt I had spread on them. What do you think? I am also going to look for a place to find the alfalfa meal and also going to check out the lolcal coffee shop for old coffee grounds. Thanks Stormyla and Docpipe and all the others for the information. MeganEmelia
But, I just really want/need a simple recipe to add to my homemade compost pile to get it to break down faster without hurting my earthworms. I compost shredder paper from work, coffee grinds from Starbucks, veggie peel scraps, and dried leaves. I can't add grass cause we have stray cats -- not ready to deal with that additive yet...
I have lots of earthworms in the pile. I don't want to hurt the worms.
I DO need my compost to break down faster than the whole year it's been taking...
I can get a bottle of whatever says it's "black strap molasses." I'm not that technical about ingredients/additives. If someone wants to suggest a product I should look for, I have a local Bass Pro shop within EZ distance, and I'll buy what you say.
Tell me how to mix it, when, and how much to pour onto my LITTLE compost pile (4x4x3), that has NEVER heated up...
Docgipe: I STILL don't understand how you came to be known as "Docgipe"...
Back to Vegas... Cattle Grade Black Strap Molasses is used in the state of Nevada to make cattle feed just like every other state. It is not the molasses that is bad. If anything is bad it is the humans using it improperly. It is against the law to bait wildlife in most states. In a few states baiting is a tried and proven method of hunting.
meganE--Since you have spread dirt over the leaves, that will move faster, and esp now that warm weather is coming on. Keeping the area moist and adding gentle notrogen is the way to go. I have grown things on top of a big ple of fall leaves with a thin dirt cover and they are pretty happy.
Gymgirl--too, keeping it the right moisture and gentle doses of nitrogen will keep the worms happy. I all comes down to math almost. Certain amount of carbon takes certain amount of nitrogen . 'doc' has written to so many people with molasses advice I imagine he's getting prettty tired ofit. I believe a couple tablespoons of molasses in a gallon of water will be OK. If you get no change from that in a couple days, , do it again. If the pile is good and moist yet fluffy, cover it to keep it moist. You would think 4 by 4 by 3 is big, but in my years of a pile that size, there is a border all around that might not be in optimum condition for the worms etc and that really reduces the working area left in the center of the pile. Still, there is a working center and the bottom. I like to rearrange the pile and harvest the worked bottom at times.
What happens in a compost pile heatwise has to do with the total. The molassess is simply a booster. The above advise is sound. In any event in the compost pile and in the soil of the garden nothing much happens until the garden soil temperature naturally achieves at least fifty degrees. The compost pile may heat up but the speed of heating up is sure to be controlled by ambient soil and weather temperature first.
In the begining nearly all composting gardeners have a learning curve to crawl up to success. The important thing is to just keep working at it until you learn. No one from long distance can play doctor to or for anyone who may still be on step one. Patience is a noted and needed factor. I have found that the four and six week successes tend to only show up in media print and expensive barrel sales brochures. LOL
Gymgirl - I understand wanting to have it faster! If there truly was a shortcut, most gardeners would do it.
In addition to the information & advice offered, I would urge folks to take the time to become well-acquainted with their soil - it provides the foundation for all that you will grow. All soil can be improved - some will take longer than other types, but it can be changed for the better. Perhaps it is the combination of my desire to experiment & observe over time that forces me to be patient, as I do not possess much of it naturally! This has helped me understand & apply the brakes in being hasty. Do you know anyone who is composting? You might ask them to share some of theirs with you.
In any case - if you create an area that would be optimal for worms, you will reap the benefits of their labour.
Mine are fat, happy, & reproducing best in the areas that I have used feed grade molasses. I use 1 cup to 3 or 4 gallons of water, which works well for the conditions of my region.
Wishing you the best!
Wow, what a great thread!! I just discovered it while searching for more info on using my new-found coffee grounds treasure.
Love all the posts. Love the links. Sallyg, I've read some of your articles in the past, including this one on "spot composting". This time I e-mailed it to myself for quick reference.
I have a Starbucks just over a mile from my house. I stopped by to see if they had any coffee grounds. They gave me what they had then suggested I bring in a five-gallon bucket with a lid & leave it there. They have one lady that does that & picks it up twice a week, but when her bucket is full the rest go into the trash. They said they could easily fill it for me regularly & in between I could just leave it there.
I've had more than one place offer to fill a bucket that I leave so if any of you want regular grounds, that might be something you should check into.
P.S. I read somewhere here that you don't even need to dig the grinds into the dirt anymore. Just sprinkle them on top and water them in. The "coffee" juice will run down into the dirt/soil and your worms will make beeline towards it faster than foks making a run on a Starbuck's offering free coffee all day!
Kat, I hear yah! I have fat, happy worms all over the place!
As to getting compost to heat. Add greens. Your grass is a fair support and a couple of roaming cats should not be a worry. Cats bury their poopers and it decomposes quite quickly.
Manures of any type is the most effective way to get a pile cooking. All your garden wastes are greens during the growing season. Coffee grounds are greens. If your pile is full of worms and structurally crumbly to the fact you can not identify any of its previous parts you have compost that may have been made anaerobically. How you get the conversions and the time it takes is not important. Keep reading how to information. You will find your best way as you experiment. The worms are adding casts. This is a mild and complete excellent fertilizer.
After my project last year, I confess now to being a convert to the spot composting and coffee ground spreading. The bed I worked on last year is so full of robust growth that I can't currently get in there to do more spot composting. I wanted to do more of that in another bed towards the back of the yard but had problems with raccoons digging up the buried treasure. Instead, I've been spreading coffee grounds in that area. The sufficient rains so far this season have helped the nutrients migrate down into the soil and I now have earthworms wherever I dig.
So lets form an earthworm counting club. We really might not need to know anything else to build good soil. LOL Your brag could be ..." well I have two dozen worms in a shovel full of my soil". My chalenge to that would be for the bragger to tell us all how the humus content became so high. Counts like that do exist. When my pumpkin growing soil tested above fifteen percent organic content I indeed had that many worms and possibly more.
I had an area that had no worms. I dug it up, turned the soil and then layered very slimy spoiled alfalfa pellets. I hurt my shoulder and had to wait a few days to complete the bed before I layered in coffee grounds, frozen and then thawed scraps and then the alpha pellets. Because of the delay, the pellets that I had soaking in water with black molasses added. Well, in the three day delay, the bucket full was right out of a bad horror movie. I just about lost my lunch when I was pouring in over the middle of the dirt before I layered the other ingredients and then soil. First week, no worms. Second week no worms. Third week, they were there in droves. All was accomplished with the advise of docgipe and other DG members willing to share there expertise.
I just dug small patch of potatos. Before filling the hole back in, I mounded in some reserved fall leaves and a layer of hand shredded comfrey leaves. Ahhh. Next, please, maybe green beans, maybe wait till august for lettuce
Humus content...add three or four inches of any manure and till in every fall for three years. Add as many leaves as you can till in with the manure and then till this all in too. Add organic fertilizers and trace minerals in the fall for the cover crop. Don't bother raking just scatter a cover crop over all and let grow. The following spring add a bit more raw manure and till the dickens out of the cover crop. This needs to be done a month ahead of planting and you need more fertilizer because it will have been mostly used up by the cover crop. I have done this and close coached others who were attempting to grow giant competitive pumpkins, melons and corn.
Some will object to the harsh tilling. Those who do in fast rebuilding of the soil just have never done this. At the three year point you should be somewhere between ten and fifteen percent organic content mostly humus by test. Please note that anyting above five percent is excellent. I would not do this for anything but competitive growing of very hungry plants. Five percent will give the average gardener all the goodies they ever dreamed of having.
Now if you sort this all out you should be able to deduct how anyone can improve their soil greatly with less effort than the above agressive process.
Did you mean raw manure as in "fresh horse product?" Or did you mean to say, "aged" manure?
So my stuff isn't considered "Humus" cause I don't add any animal manure? I only use confetti shredder paper, coffee grinds, veggie peel slush, and dried leaves. Does this mixture = "humus" when it's broken down beyond recognizable, or just plain 'ole homemade compost?
Anything you put into a working pile becomes humus. The humus turns into humic acid converted by specialized biology created and maintained by the roots of the plant. After this is completed and only then can the plant uptake the food it has created. The same is true of any man made fertilizer, insecticides, miticides or fungicides no matter from where they originate. When poisons get delivered to the specialized biological zone which was created by the plant is where and when the trouble starts. It takes some leaf given materials less than thirty minutes to reach that very special zone. If it happened to be Round Up the plant is toast in thirty minutes and will die in time. That is for most plants not all. Some need a second application. Less poison strengths and qualities just take longer to cause big time problems. And now our wonderful chemical companies have developed some Round Up resistant plants. I expect that is so I can ingest it and die a slower death. They claim but have not proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no passed through residual from the Round Up. I would not use any such plants in my food growing patch and I will not eat such food if I know it was grown that way.
Compost is humus for awhile but the process of conversion continues to humic acid and beyond always. How good is thought to be dependent upon a balanced mix of input including the biology from the intestines of an animal, trace elements, many different plant parts and added trace elements is the makeup of compost.. A single leaf will rot into the process. It certainly would not be the value of a stew of compost components. The confusion is in the common mistake of adding a descriptive word in front of the word compost. This has always been improper as it is today. Compost is a stew of many things and not the result of using any single thing. You can not have leaf compost but you can have leaf mold which will continue the process into humus and beyond. At no point is leaf mold finished compost. It can be finished leaf mold which is indeed a good additive for the gardens. I have often seen ground bark compost advertised or talked about. There just simply is no compost in that type of word use.
When you look at Mother Natures blend of fallen and dieing plants with intestine droppings from her many birds, animals, fish, insects and reptiles I expect we there observe some basic truths. Never do we see anything less than a great blend of many plants and manure elements. Man is the only one with good reason who has screwed it all up doing things not in touch with nature. Sometime we see the dead animals in the process. Yet some with all that wisdom create and profess the use of man made chemicals to replace the natural process parts. They seldom get challenged with the simple question. If a product is non-degradable in the bag, bottle or box where in the process does it not kill biological harm critters and living fungi? If the soil,air and water are our only basic living needs how long will it be until there is no life period? Since about 1930 all measurements involving the quality of needs have indicated a slow painfull loss. You can change these elements in your own back yards. I only hope the huge acreage farms have not gone to the point of no return.
I have a couple of areas in my yard, adjacent to current beds, that I've been throwing rabbit manure mixed with hay & other items. Keeping it wet's a chore but as it breaks down I just through more on top. I figure this winter, which is a great growing season for us here, I'll have some great crops growing!
I also have several piles in large garbage bins and a very, very large free-floating pile (unrestrained by anything). I bury all kinds of things in the middle of it. Wondering when my neighbor's will say something...
Manage to be odor free and you neighbors will not likely say a thing...unless you are observed dropping in a cat.
I have a friend living right in the middle of the city that gets away with murder but he is careful to not overload with any one thing that might create odors. He fishes a lot. All the waste hits the middle of his huge pile. There is a chicken factory not to far away. We both used to go there for bags and bags of feathers. Feather meal is pretty good stuff. Whole feathers just take a little longer. Never had a problem worth mentioning. One time a lady showed up with some Barred Rock chicken feathers. I stroked my chin and said you better watch your cat these look like hawk feathers and some of them are known to like cat. Have not seen her or her cat since.
LOL, Doc Actually, my pile is so large that I could bury a small farm animal and no one would be wiser.
I just love composting - if nothing else because I'm not contributing to the landfills. Heck, even paper towels break down easily. I do have problems with ants but they really don't cause too many problems. They're just there and that's enough to bother me. As long as I don't see an increase of ants where it counts - in my garden and house - then all in all I'm OK. Flies are bad this year. Even people who don't compost are complaining here about them but once again they just help me along.
You know Gymgirl, I felt the same way at first but if you look at the big picture they are VERY efficient creatures. Nothing breaks stuff down faster then these ugly creatures. I have a new found admiration for all things small and wiggly. Its the flies I can't stand. The maggots at least stay where they're at and don't bother anyone. The flies, tho. Gosh they're bad this year.
I don't have them in the spot composting areas. Only in the bins - and they are even getting sparse now. I think it has something to do with the heat. Now that we are between 105-110 not much thrives.
At 6 this AM my outside thermo read 69 degrees and we're going to reach 110 today I think! Was so beautiful outside & the flies thought so, too, and were all over me.
I know lots of things happen off the record. Once I wittnessed a spot where a farmer had dug a hole, shoved in a dead horse, covered with a load of manure and a mound of ground. That same fall he planted an English Walnut tree in the center of the mound. Today some years later he has a nearly mature tree and gets bushels of walnuts off that tree. He calls them Billy Nuts. Billy was the name of the horse. It costs a bunch to have a horse picked up and delivered to a rendering plant.
Doc, I'm losing weight as I type - I'm laughing my behind off!!!
The best looking trees are the ones with dead things buried around them. We've been putting our animals that've passed around my fig tree for years. And its a good looking tree! But of course it doesn't take much to keep a fig looking good. Perhaps I should plant something else that would appreciate all of the decaying goodness. My motto is never start a new tree or garden without something dead under it. Even if its just fish heads.
It's the thought of eating the produce that sucked up the buried item underneath it that I have a teeny, tiny bit of a problem with. Like, all that wonderful fig goodness I so love actually has some juice from the buried cow mingled in...
My figs are enormous this year and my Persian neighbors are very happy. They loves figs and they are free for the picking. Better than me cleaning off the patio behind the pool, of spent figs left from the birds. What is amazing is they, the birds are in the tree for a whole,day and then for two days they are gone and then they come back. Maybe they get a belly ache. LOL.
The Flowering plums, purple leaves with pink flowers, have set out an enormous amount of fruit this year. The difference it the plums are larger in size, and very sweet. I had someone knock on my door an ask if they could pick my plums and they were from India and Persia. Both neighbors. I said of course and to let me know if they needed a ladder. They cleaned the tree without a ladder. They saved me cleaning up from the birds. I eat them but not that many. Maybe next year I should look at making jelly. They were very sweet. I did eat a few and they were so sweet this year and very large,. Probably because of our mild winter, abundance of moisture and very cool spring. Have a great day tomorrow. Goodnight.
Gym Girl...Your commercial food is raised mostly on man made chemicals all of which in one way or another are poison. The groceries you purchase have been bathed in and fed these poisons. The food thus treated at the very least have far less measured quality content. Only certified organic foods can avoid this criticism completely. There are farms that use organic principles totally but do not seek certification due to cost of the process. We can seek them out and avoid the processed monoculture raised and poison treated foods at least when fresh markets have these alternatives.
When the animals die they either get buried or processed in a rendering plant. If buried the biology of the soil does a better job of converting the animal to compost or humus intno humic acid and food for the plants that can send roots out to pick up the goodness. The same is true of anything that once lived including human bodies. In rendered animal parts are considered the parts simply stated are meat meal, bone meal, blood meal and waste water. The meat meal goes into animal food, bone meal goes into farming for soil building, animal food and pet toys, while blood meal is largely prized in animal food and soil building. Feathers are high in nitrogen and they are returned to the soil and still used in natural pillows. All of these things and more that once lived when returned to the soil will give back food of much higher quality than that raised on chemicals. There is no argument to or with these facts. This has been proven in research many times over.
The soils of our country have been burned out with poison chemicals and farming practices that have largely eliminated crop rotation and other practices that are proven if used would permit the soils to recover. Our answer to a large degree has been to add more chemicals year after year. This continues to this day. I am not able to conceive how recovery can be realized. I hope and pray there are those who can figure this out and administer realistic change. These chemicals have all gone down stream and will eventually all end up enlarging the poison pockets in or streams, rivers, bays and oceans. These are all known facts and have been known for a long time.
One more thing from the rendering plant--fat--which I beleive is used in soaps and cosmetics. So we're already smearing dead animals on our faces.
I am really excited that probiotics are now recognized for human health, I have heard of several people getting prescription probiotics lately. I think , doc, it's a good sign that eventually, if needed, soil probiotics will be applied. The mycrorhizzae (sp) is a start.
The whole world is chemistry. And everything breaks down eventually, except atoms, maybe even them.
My family, including my "eco friendly" husband, had a problem eating my veggies at first because I use rabbit poop. It took convincing and determination to set the record straight. Natural is good. Poop is part of the process - as well as death and decay. Harmful chemicals are not.
At any rate there's no maggotty goodness going on in my one large bin (I really need to take pictures) or any of my piles, for that matter, and I'm wondering if its the heat or something else. Doesn't take much to bring 'em in so it must be the heat. I have seen a couple of solder flies around (courtesy of my stocking months ago as they aren't natural here). More things happen here garden-wise in fall then in the summer so I might just have to wait.
Here is the original annnouncement re: Starbucks program to give away grounds for compost. (I was quoted in the press release when I was the coordinator for Urban Composting at Brooklyn Botanic Garden in NYC.
This policy is still in effect. Previous threads indicated questions about whether the policy is still current. IT IS!!!!!
Starbucks Serves Up Coffee Grounds for Compost
Submitted by:Starbucks Corporation
Posted: Mar 19, 2000 – 11:00 PM EST
"Great Coffee is also Good for the Garden"
Spring is in the air and the gardening season is in full swing. To help gardeners get a compost pile off to a healthy start, Starbucks Coffee Company (SBUX: Nasdaq) is offering coffee grounds. Composting coffee grounds provides a good nutrition source for a garden and is a great waste management technique.
“Recycling the grounds back into the garden is a better alternative than throwing them away in the trash,” said Ben Packard, Starbucks environmental affairs manager. “At Starbucks, we continually strive to find innovative and creative ways to positively contribute to a healthier environment.”
Starbucks coffee grounds are free of charge and may be picked up at any retail location – based on availability. Ellen Kirby, director of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Brooklyn GreenBridge program explains the best way to start a compost pile with coffee grounds.
“Coffee grounds can provide a valuable source of nutrients for garden soil if used properly,” said Kirby. “Grounds mixed with leaves and clippings from the yard, along with kitchen scraps and fruit peels, are core ingredients for great compost.”
To begin composting at home, Kirby recommends that gardeners start filling a wooden or plastic bin with the mixture of leaves and other yard trimmings; then mix in coffee grounds and kitchen scraps (no animal products). To help the pile decompose faster, it is important to make sure that the materials are moist but not soggy, so add water as necessary. Aerating the pile by mixing and turning also encourages the composting process. Compost is ready for the garden when it has fully decomposed into a dark rich soil-like material. For more information on composting, customers can contact the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Compost Help Line at 718-623-7290 or refer to their website at http://www.bbg.org/compost.html.
Brooklyn GreenBridge, the community horticulture program of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, is designed to share the knowledge and resources of BBG with the neighborhoods of the borough. Working with block associations, community gardens, community centers and other groups, Brooklyn GreenBridge promotes conservation and community through gardening activities.
Starbucks Coffee Company is the leading retailer, roaster and brand of specialty coffee in the world. In addition to its retail locations in North America, the United Kingdom, the Pacific Rim and the Middle East, Starbucks sells whole bean coffees through its specialty sales group, direct response business, supermarkets and online at Starbucks.com. Additionally, Starbucks produces and sells bottled Frappuccino® coffee drink and a line of superpremium ice creams through its joint venture partnerships and offers a line of innovative premium teas produced by its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tazo Tea Company.
You guys are funny, used maggots to clean a wound on my horse back in 1968, they were there before I came home to tend her, kept it clean smelling, and the rot cleaned away, then called the vet and started with the antibiotic salves and shots. Figured she had had enuff penicillen when she was strong enuff to kick back and caught my behind, so no more shots... chuckle. A very large tear healed without complications thanx to those maggots, daddy was ready to just shoot her, and after the maggots were hosed down and removed with a lot of water hose, I could see they had been taking care of my mare for me. I always liked the smell of the coffee grounds I threw around the roses - when it rained, the whole area smelled of coffee, mmmmm. One of my favorite foods, rice and blackeyes, yummm, always tended to make me grin at the guys looking widdershins at the bowl and acting as if it were something else I was enjoying, :) Good job, doc, doin is better than goin into vapor lock over the chance it might be wrong.
I will just pick my Starbucks grounds and spread them around my front landscape. They disappear very quickly. One afternoon I was in front and this older gentleman stopped and wondered why every time he walked past my home it smelled like coffee. I told him but I think he thought it was strange. Oh well, my worms love it.
Happy Labor Day. I will be laboring in my garden tomorrow. Suppose to be under 100 degrees.
I've about jabbered myself out here. Just popped in to tell you all that this seventy six year old goat just got ten gallons of coffee grounds. I am in the process of adding them to my flower beds. I do this by simply adding to the mulch. When next Springs re-mulching time comes they will be long gone and the worms will be a dime a dozen under the mulch. I may not get this all done. I hope to spread about thirty gallons out there on my beds. As soon as any bed is treated it will get an additional treatment of molasses water. That will officially close my growing season. The soil building thing is a forever thing.
Just planted a tomato plant in an old compost pile area (old being I think I put it down earlier this year). Truly can not believe how nice that soil is. Really I don't have to plant anything as I have volunteer whatevers coming up everywhere. We have hard clay, caliche (sp?) soil where nothing can really grow in it. Ahhh, but the compost turns it into a beautiful thing - I have volunteer plants coming up everywhere because of it. Water + compost mixed in with our soil - I've really come to enjoy gardening in the ground far more then in the barrels, which I can't keep moist on my life!
One of my best friends told me it was impossible to build caliche ground. So sad for me because I have seen great gardens following the compost, mulch, manure and cover crop management. My spell check does not know how to spell it either. LOL Good for you! I see many great gardening years ahead as you wish.
You never know without calling first if any particular Starbucks has grounds ready. If the demand is low they do not want to waste their effort. So just call first or be prepared to wait/ explain/ come back another day. Even if they don't pack it up in the foil bags they may just pull out the trash bag and give you that which I prefer anyway. Some of the little in store stands don't even know about it.
Ten gallons is a great load! The most I've gotten, I would guess to be less, and that was really heavy!
Actually in most instances it is best to move the visible leaves away from the planting spot. Bring it back in as the plants grow. This gives your very tiny root hairs a chance to get established easier. If you are setting a potted plant you need not be quite as careful. A leaf or two in the hole will hurt nothing and you can immediately move some mulch into the plant.
It is sometimes amazing to me to see the dark line of fully composted humus between my mulch and the soil. This is your compost factory working to one degree or another 365/24 hours a day. Note even ice cream in your freezer will spoil which is part of the rotting process. Freezing does help your mulches break down as well as giving your plants insulation from changes in the surface temperatures.
I like to have about a four inch line of naked soil for the first month of growing or until the soil temperature raises to fifty degrees. In a gardening sense not much exciting happens when the soil is below fifty degrees. The biology really gets going at about fifty degrees. Think of this somewhat like trying to eat a bowl of bean soup that is not quite warmed up enough to be good eating. A few degrees more makes the soup. Your body temperature is ninety eight degrees. Your comfort comes from about seventy degrees. The garden plant and critter life has a comfort zone of a minimum of fifty degrees. They do do best at about the same temperature in the soil as your body or about seventy degrees.
Planting early helps nothing unless you tent the planting zone with a temporary green house. You can buy yourself two to three weeks with a temporary cover. You are still dealing with the averages and facts I mentioned.
This has been such a wonderful thread that I decided to bump it to see if you all are still interested & want to keep it going. It's definitely been popular...293 replies & 1910 views!
If so, I think we should start a new thread, Volume 2, or? This one is getting very long.
I, for one would like to hear from others how their endeavors have worked out...share some I ideas that I've tried...get more great expert suggestions from sallyg & others in the community...& maybe see some pics.
What do you think? Any of you interested in continuing this thread?
Always interested in this subject. Thanks for reviving it, nuts!
I have to say that the soil health and drainage has been much improved in the bed I started improving at the beginning of this thread. I have a terrible tendency to over-plant in my one and only half-sun bed (soon to become full sun) and the soil quality couldn't begin to support all of the plants. I'm seeing more blooms on already-established plants and improved growth on formerly stagnant specimens. While I would love to continue the method of burying fruit/veg scraps, there's not enough room to get a shovel in so I've been using a lot of coffee grounds (saved them all winter in an old cracked flower pot outdoors) and these get tilled into the top couple of inches of soil. I also have some fall leaves and tree branches to be shredded for mulch as well. (I've heard that it's better to use locally grown material for mulching - other than the carbon footprint of transport or the introduction of non-native pests/disease, is there any other reason to do so?) I'm hoping to do more spot-composting in other beds if I can figure out a way to keep the raccoons from digging it up.
Thanks for responding so quickly, WormsLovSharon CindyMzone5 & Gymgirl.
Cindy, thanks for starting this thread way back in Sept, 2009. It's obvious there's a lot to be learned & shared.
I have a lot of terrible soil, hard-packed plus clay. The best bed is a long narrow raised bed that my husband built along our neighbor's fence a few years ago. Because he dug out most of the soil & replaced it with good topsoil, leaves & other ammendments, it stays nice & easy to dig. Most of the others pack down even though they have been tilled and ammended numerous times, probably because of all the clay. Also, some areas of the yard stay soggy for a long time.
I have trouble digging down 12" in those beds to spot compost, but I have two Bulb Augers, a large & a small, that we bought at Menard's a couple of years ago to help me plant bulbs & other plants. I've started using those augers (you put them on the end of a drill) to dig narrow holes & to fill with veggie scraps. I also bury coffee grounds & compost. Bulb augers in the catalogs are expensive, but the ones at Menard's were only a few dollars each & they've worked great.
Cindy, try spraying Liquid Fence in the hole & on top of the soil after covering it up. I do that with tulips & I've never had a problem with them being dug up.