We're starting a new veggie plot and I've received our soil test.
My major need is calcium, phosphate, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc and, boron.
What I'm using to correct; listing it at lbs/per 1,000 sq.ft.
Calcium: dolomitic lime (45lbs)
Phosphate: soft rock phosphate (10lbs) and elemental sulfur (2lbs)
Potassium: langebenite (K-mag 5 lbs)..building reserves with minerals, whatever I can find locally, (azomite, greensand, 0-0-60) (3lbs)
zinc and copper sulfate (0.25 lbs)
biochar: as much as I can scrounge
boron: Solubor spray
We plowed under some winter grass in this plot (loam soil) so there is plenty of nitrogen and organic matter to get seed and transplants started. Tilling in amendments. Transplants and any bed that can get mulched, will get mulched. I plan on this eventually being no till, but will till in more lime in fall and the mulch will get tilled in with it, for more immediate organic matter. Using home brew compost tea for microbes and humic acid. I'll use fish emulsion during fruit set.
I hate doing things twice and always second guess myself once things get growing. Any changes, or recommendations are appreciated!
One philosophy of mine is to add as much organic material as possible. Despite sometimes quite large amounts, I've never seen a problem I attributed to the additions, and I always wind up with a beautiful soil. I've used leaves, rice hulls, spent brewery hops, stable sweepings, fresh horse pooh, aged cow and chicken stuff, sawdust, wood chips, moldy hay, leftovers from straw bale gardening, and on and on. In a few cases, I had some germination from seeds, but it was a one time fix and easy to handle, especially since we've always mulched heavily. When I add material which is not fully decomposed, I supplement with nitrogen to compensate.
Another philosophy is to use only inorganic material which can be demonstrated to be needed. Your list of amendments seems appropriate for that soil analysis.
I whole heartedly agree about the compost. We don't have a don't have a bucket loader on the tractor and it's difficult to transport as much as I need. Perhaps I misused the term mulch, I'll be composting in place.
I use everything I can scrounge from the barns and coop, but straw is all but impossible to get in Texas. I've been using old hay, as long as it's deep enough I don't get much germinating. That works great for transplants, the hard part is getting beds ready for direct seeding. If I try to pull back the hay, it sprouts a jungle. I'm not sure how I'm going to deal with that yet, perhaps adding a solarization cover time into the rotation?
I plan on more root crops that can be left to breakdown in the soil as well. Still experimenting which ones grow the best here that the animals will eat and don't make our milk taste funny.
Shoe, is this also true of adding Azomite to the soil? I got all excited (easy for me) about discussions re: Azomite and purchased a 40# bag. A friend here in Phx mentioned on another board that using Azomite in an already alkaline soil will cause the pH to whack out with negative results. Do you have an opinion on this? There was a recent conversation about Azomite but I have not been able to find the thread again.
I've read about Azomite over the past years but haven't any personal experience with it. With it being mainly a supplier of trace minerals/micronutrients I tend to get those things from using cover crops, compost/misc plant matter amendments, and rock phosphate.
From just now visiting the link you supplied I found it has a ph of 8 which is a bit alkaline. However, this doesn't mean you couldn't use it sparingly in your alkaline soil. Some reports I've read state it may not be as water soluble as the makers claim. If that is the case then there won't be any immediate affect on your soil pH. Any idea how alkaline your soil is? If it is around 8 already then there would be no "whack out" (grin) of your soil pH by adding it. It wouldn't have an immediate affect/effect on your soil like lime would (raising soil pH) or, at the other end of the spectrum, like sulfur would (reducing soil pH).
Yes, that does help Shoe. Thanks. Never have done a soil test but since I keep amending it each season, I'm guessing the pH is a fluctuating thing and I'm not really planting in 'native' soil. I just finished digging out a bed that I have not amended much, took a wheelbarrow load of soil out to plant the asparagus. I don't know how accurate these 4-in-1 probe testers are but I just checked that load of soil and it's pinging out at about 6.5. LOTS of fat juicy worms in there!
Great! 6.5 is a wonderful pH to work with. And I thought I saw on another thread you were using a commercial/nursery "loam" mix, so you should be good to go. I wouldn't worry in the least using your Azomite.
The pH probe testers are close enough for what you need to know. I have several. (Don't have the 4 in 1 kind though.) It's pretty important to keep the probes well cleaned though so be sure to wipe them down with a "scratchy" cloth (like tulle or gentle scrubby pad).
Aw, Hijack away, Mary! I learn so much from everyone's experiences :0)
Shoe, I think alkaline is true of most the state, but the further east the more acid it becomes. I'm in a narrow band right before the piney woods woods called the post oak belt. I can go out in my yard and find everything from slick yellow clay to sugar sand. This new plot is loam with a few small pockets of sugar sand. Ph shows 5.9
What prompted this test was last years tomatoes. I grew a couple hundred pounds of san marazano tomatoes... despite adding compost, minerals, mg, and alfalfa to the rows, every single tomato was inedible, mealy and bland. But no BER, so the Ca count really caught me by surprise.
Mary, I need to double check but I think azomite comes in two textures, the finer would be more surface area and released quicker. I'm glad you mentioned it, I didn't know azomite is ph 8 and think I'll lean more towards using it then greensand. At least till I can get enough organic matter incorporated.
Azomite is also a livestock supplement, I like the idea of feeding it to cows and let them do all the work of spreading it around the pastures ;0) win:win
Heheheh, getting more bang for your buck using those cows, too!
I saw on the Azomite site that some people also take it for a supplement, 1 to 2 tsp/day. Hmmm...I think I'll stick with my Centrum, it won't get stuck between my teeth like Azomite would. :>)
Wow, 5.9 pH. This past summer I was sowing grass seed for a customer who had a pH that low and 45 lbs was recommended (according to my charts) so you should be right on target. I have in my notes to apply half of that amount initially then the rest a month or two later so it wouldn't shock the soil.
As for mealy tomatoes, I know temperature sure comes into play there, usually cold temps though and I imagine you get more than your share of heat in Texas. Sure hope you get a better tasting crop this year. I'd recommend Heidi over most SM types though; it's got great flavor, the perfect juice to meat ratio, produces over a long period and seldom has BER. Don't get me wrong though, S-Marzano can be a keeper, too but it's difficult to find a good seed stock since it is a tomato named after a region more-so than after a particular variety/strain.
Shoe (cold, wet, and someone on the boob tube is threatening snow. Go figger.)
I use both greensabd, and azomite... and occasionally add aragonite since the calcium is in an available form, and the magnesium is low...
Aragonite Raw (0-0-0-94 Ca) - A sea calcium that is high in calcium and low in magnesium. 97% calcium carbonate and calcium silicate combined; 33%min - 40% available calcium. Other minerals in aragonite; Fe203 .025%, Al203 0.15%, MgC03 1.50%, SO3 0.20%, NaCL 1.25%, Sr0 1.25%, Si02 0.88%. Rate: 250 - 500 lbs. per acre. Nat’l List
I'm considering some of this for a raised bed:
Cal Plus Liquid 6% - From ORGANIC BIOLINK® this liquid Calcium is complexed with naturally fermented organic acids and is immediately available to plants. Calcium is essential for plant’s cell wall structure and helps with fluid and nutritional transport. Contains 0.5% humic acid derived from seaweed. Rate: use 2 oz per gallon water, or 1-2 Qts per acre. WSDA Certified Organic.
cocoa_lulu wrote:AWhat prompted this test was last years tomatoes. I grew a couple hundred pounds of san marazano tomatoes... despite adding compost, minerals, mg, and alfalfa to the rows, every single tomato was inedible, mealy and bland. But no BER, so the Ca count really caught me by surprise.
That is an old wives tale that apparently will never go away. It seems once upon a time some researcher tested BER-affected tomatoes and found low calcium levels, so they concluded that was the cause. Well, maybe in a sense it was - but the reason for the BER isn't a lack of calcium in the soil. Ask anyone who has used lime, superphosphate, gypsum, calcium nitrate - and still ended up with BER. It is a physiological condition caused by a failure of the plant to either absorb or translocate calcium into the developing fruit - that must occur VERY early in the fruit development (really right after fertilization), which is why calcium sprays generally don't work either. Root problems, injury, stress, uneven soil moisture, even growth spurts (which pull calcium into the new stem and leaves) - all can cause BER in susceptible varieties, even with plenty of calcium in the soil.
It is a perfect example of the statement so well known to students of science and statistics: "correlation does not imply causation".
rjogden wrote:Ask anyone who has used lime, superphosphate, gypsum, calcium nitrate - and still ended up with BER.
Yep. Our soil has so much naturally occuring gypsum that soaker hoses turn white first usage as does the soil surface around them. And I guarantee that if I water sproadically and heavily I'll get BER. BTDT. Makes the soil alkaline - 7.5 to 8.0 in native soil, about 7.3 in amended beds,otherwise no adverse effect on the things we've grown, Except Azaleas, they just wouldn't thrive no matter how hard I tried to acidify their beds.
"...BER. It is a physiological condition caused by a failure of the plant to either absorb or translocate calcium into the developing fruit - that must occur VERY early in the fruit development (really right after fertilization), which is why calcium sprays generally don't work either. ":
Ditto what Rich said above. And I suggest everyone concerned with BER read the sticky on BER in the Tomato Forum, a great mini-treatise by Carolyn that iterates the above statement.
However, the Ca, whether it is in soil or the plant (locked up or not) may play a role in BER but I doubt it has any role in Cocoa-lulu's tomatoes being mealy and bland, which is what she was referring to initially. Sure wish I could figure out what would make tomatoes like that (mealy and bland) other than temperature or variety traits. Any ideas, anyone?
Horseshoe wrote:However, the Ca, whether it is in soil or the plant (locked up or not) may play a role in BER but I doubt it has any role in Cocoa-lulu's tomatoes being mealy and bland, which is what she was referring to initially. Sure wish I could figure out what would make tomatoes like that (mealy and bland) other than temperature or variety traits. Any ideas, anyone?
One possibility: Cool temperatures (below 50F) at any point during fruit development are strongly implicated in mealiness and lack of flavor because they interrupt some of the processes needed for proper ripening. If these processes are interrupted, they do not generally restart, and your fruit will resemble artificially-ripened winter tomatoes.
Mineola is where my uncles once had gorgeous watermelon patches- there are pretty places there...I dont remember if you guys had the droughth we did down south, but the weather was definitely off last year
Thanks, Rich. I thought I mentioned the cooler temps but maybe it was on another thread. I bet, like me, you'd never think of putting a tomato in the fridge either! Blasphemy! *grin
The other year we had just excessively hot weather and very little rainfall, several of my tomato varieties tended to have extra thick skins that year. Flavor was so-so. I was glad I normally grow a variety more than one year to determine its features (or faults). Weather sure plays a role, doesn't it.
I had posted a thread about those lousy tomatoes last year...I looked it up http://davesgarden.com/ apparently I did have BER (internally) and the whole BER/calcium thing was explained to me then...guess Momma was right, I don't listen very well.lol
Shoe, I reread my report and it's suggesting .."45lbs now and test again next year, as another ton/acre may be needed. It is best to use only 45lbs/1000 sq.ft, unless deeply incorporated, at a time to avoid soil shock"...I'm a bit nervous about adding more, but since I'm tilling this into the soil, my question is, will I have enough?
BTW, I was listening to you and Carolyn when you both suggested Heidi...it's under the grow lights as we speak :0)
Darius, I love the stuff you find! I'll have look those up. The aragonite raw sounds like a product I can get locally called sea-90. For now, I need the mg tho, and not so much the na.
About the texture, there wasn't any cool temps last year during fruit set. I got to think it was a bad variety and not optimum soil for growing the san marizano...I won't be retrying them again. ever.
I don't have the soil as the rest of the state, I get a bit more rainfall in the the spring, but I get to share all the same brutal summer temps!
cocoa_lulu wrote:About the texture, there wasn't any cool temps last year during fruit set. I got to think it was a bad variety and not optimum soil for growing the san marizano...I won't be retrying them again. ever.
I don't have the soil as the rest of the state, I get a bit more rainfall in the the spring, but I get to share all the same brutal summer temps!
Sounds like it could have been the variety. Paste tomatoes are reportedly prone to going mealy. Come to think of it, I've had that problem myself with some I grew in containers.
cocoa_lulu wrote:That's what I'm hearing too. I'm not hung up on having a paste, but would like a great tasting early det. that would hold up well under canning...really, is that so much to ask for :0)
Consider the name "paste tomato". It implies they are intended to be reduced down to a paste, which translates mainly to a low moisture content to reduce the time and energy required to reduce them. Texture isn't an issue because they end up in a form where the original cell structure is completely gone. Flavors and chemical composition undergo some drastic changes during the long cooking and milling processes as well.
I believe Carolyn has posted the names of some favorites for canning, and IIRC they are not paste types. Sorry, I have lost that pointer.
cocoa-lulu, I attended a class recently about growing tomatoes in our desert environment. Each participant received two tomato starts, one of them is called Silvery Fir Tree tomato. Here's what TomatoFest says about this one:
A Russian heirloom. An early season (55 days) dwarf tomato plant. Our TomatoFest organic tomato seeds produce short, 2', determinate tomato plants with wispy, fern-like, silvery fuzzy leaves that yield moderate crops of bright-red, 2", 4-5 oz., flattened, round tomatoes. A perfect tomato plant for growing in small containers and hanging baskets. Good tomato plant for a patio garden. A perfect choice for a canning tomato and salad tomato. A unique tomato variety. Disease Resistant. http://store.tomatofest.com/Silvery_Fir_Tree_Heirloom_Tomato_Seeds_p/tf-0454b.htm
I am looking forward for you to try this tomato.
This might be a very stupid statement ... when I see the word "Russian" on a tomato title I just stay away from that variety, because: how can a tomato plant, which was an heirloom in cold Russian, do well in my hot-sunny-no water garden in Texas?
sooo... I hope you will prove me wrong ... giggle
Rich, That makes sense but when I buy canned tomatoes they are always in that oblong 'paste' shape. Are the commercial canned tomatoes not a paste variety? The other hopeful canner I have this year is 'rutgers'. A neighbor recommend and uses that one.
Ah Mary, thank you. I've seen that name Silvery Fir Tree, probably from a Podster or Calalily thread, didn't realize the attributes tho. I trust those ladies opinions! I'll put those on next years list :0) Eager to see how it does for you as well.
Drthor, in many ways we can use some cold area plants to our benefit. They have to rely on plants that will set fruit early before it gets cold. We have to rely on plants to set before it gets too hot. That's how I understand it.
>Are the commercial canned tomatoes not a paste variety?>
Not usually. I think Rich was referring to Carolyn's mention of using non-paste types for sauces rather than using paste types, mainly for more flavor that comes from them (the non-paste types).
Canned tomatoes are usually along the lines of standard determinates, and yes, Rutger's was the standard for canning for decades. You may like that one, C-lulu, especially if you find "Rutger's" rather than "Rutger's Improved". I'd highly recommend Marglobe as well (one of the parents of Rutger's).
I grew Silvery Fir tree several years ago but it was more of a novelty for me. The wimpy foliage allowed too much sun scald on the fruit in my area. I bet Calalily is using covers/shade cloth on hers though, possible to prevent that but also cus of the high winds in her area.
My seed for 'rutgers' says indeterminate, that's the one I want?
I looked up Marglobe in plantfiles, I'm really interested in this. I've been growing 'japanese oxheart' for my husband, It's his favorite. We like the meatiness, but it just doesn't produce much fruit.
I've promised to find him another oxheart since I didn't save these last year. The Marglobe description says some are heart shaped, so might it be a good replacer?
I'm currently growing a tomato variety, Russian Rose. It's supposed to be cold-tolerant. Subsequently, I'll be growing it as a spring/summer AND a fall/winter variety, to see which 1/2 of my growing season it likes the best. I'll be sowing seeds again in June...
I'm betting on the fall/winter...one thing I can tell you now -- it is gonna be one monster of a tomato. The seedling stems are already as thick as a fat pencil -- the kindergarten fat pencils!
>My seed for 'rutgers' says indeterminate, that's the one I want?<
Yes, cocoa- that is what I'd prefer. You probably have "Rutgers" or "Rutgers Select", both being indeterminate. And yes, definitely try Marglobe; Rutger's dates back to to the '30s and Marglobe further back than that...there's a reason it's been around so long, eh?
And if you like your Rutgers you may want to save some seed from it. There are so many derivatives of "Rutgers" you never know what you're gonna get from some seed companies. Even Rutger's (University) admits to losing the original strain years ago so all available now are probably variants of the original.
As for hearts/oxhearts, I've never found one to be really productive. I guess it's a trade-off between quantity and quality/taste. Lots of folks really love the oxheart flavors. (I think they are some of Carolyn's most favored tomatoes.) I don't believe Marglobe is considered a true heart though but none-the-less it's a keeper. How about slicing one up and putting your hubby's taste buds to the test (blind test!) and then share his opinion w/us! *grin
I got out my reading glasses, I can't find 'select' mentioned anywhere, so keeping my fingers crossed I'll be a good strain.
I am going to try Marglobe, thanks for talking me into it. Shouldn't be too hard setting up your taste test experiment, I've long suspected he mows around my flower beds blindfolded. Ha
Shoe, or anyone for that matter, you mentioned using green manure. Do you happen to use summer cover crops?
I'm starting to panic about getting enough mulch. I don't think we'll have enough hay bales (the ones I have well are rotted) Still having to buy fresh hay this year for the critters. I found some straw 60.00 per 4x4x8 and a four hour round trip..ugg, can't do that either.
Is there anything anything beside cowpeas or bush beans that can be used as a living mulch during the summer?
Thank you! I'll check into buckwheat, that would be nice if it does grow here. I was under the impression it won't grow here, however I can't remember why I thought that that. Brain like a sieve I tell ya!
I read till my eyes glazed over last night and still need to do more research. I'm interested in soybeans, haven't tried those before and they may grow out longer then green beans, not sure. Any idea there?
'Puna' forage chickory sounds promising, especially since it's not a legume. I think it's suppose to be sowed in the fall tho..still researching :0)
Yet another non legume, sunn hemp. I'm getting conflicting web info as to whether it's toxic to livestock, that would be discouraging. Everything else sounds good, nitrogen fixing, large quick mass. One site said that if cut early can be tilled in. I was thinking of the possibility of thinning it out and using the leaf stalks as mulch on other crops. It looks kinda sparse as far as foliage goes tho.
"Shoe, or anyone for that matter, you mentioned using green manure. Do you happen to use summer cover crops?" "Is there anything anything beside cowpeas or bush beans that can be used as a living mulch during the summer?"
I use buckwheat here and hope you can, too. You can get double-duty out of it by letting it flower then go to seed. Not only does that bring in pollinators and some of the beneficials but is extremely cost effective. It needs to be sown pretty thickly though 'cus it is basically a skinny stalk with a few leaves on it. Here it will flower/seed in 3-4 weeks, five tops. If you let the seeds drop it will re-sow and they'll start volunteering. I use it quite a bit at the ends of rows, within rows, etc because it comes up so quickly. (I can't stand bare spots in the garden.)
If you don't want to wait for it to flower/seed you can easily knock it down with the back of a rake or shovel. The stalks are hollow and can be easily laid down to become mulch material.
I wonder if Sudangrass would do well out your way as well. Although it can grow as tall as me most folks will mow it back several times so it grows a nice root system, suppressing weeds that way. The good part is that cold weather will kill it so it won't volunteer like some other grasses will.
And yes, soybeans will grow out longer than bush beans, mainly because they are day-length sensitive and won't flower until later in the year. Again, sow very thickly.
Shoe, sudan might just be my best bet, that's a great idea! I might try seed head types, I can put up some chicken scratch as well and still have plenty of organic mass left over.
I would really love to have the chicken scratch, there's a sorghum syrup festival each year where they use a mule to press the canes. Too much work for moi, but I'm glad someone is keeping the tradition alive :0)
The other info is really helpful too! Dh wanted to disc today, still too wet. After last year, I will never complain about rain ever again. promise.
This plot is 2, this was plowed for the first time last year. We grew corn, tomatoes (the crappy san marazanos) cowpeas, okra and sweet potatoes.
Once the drought was on us in full effect I knew we couldn't irrigate and have enough water for livestock left in our tanks. Cows were let in to forage cowpeas and sweet potatoes before we cut out watering. In September we put 2 feeder pigs in this area, in hopes they would eat remaining sedge nuts and bahia. Bahia is gone, plenty of sedge left and some bermuda.
Last pig leaves in the morning :0( We are going to spread there manure, because of the manure this area will be only for fodder crops.
Plot 3 is what I call the kitchen garden (pic is from last year) because it's easier to access from the house. The beds are various ages because I raised them just recently (winter 2010) So not each bed is equal in terms of their growing abilities. I really can't afford to have each bed individually tested.
I can't remember which beds were limed, some have more composted chicken manure then others...For the most part I've been able to sort out what to grow in each bed based on intuition.lol However, I've tried 4 of these beds and still have poor luck with beets.
Edited to say that this photo had been taken to show the difference with amending, the green beans in the foreground were planted into the lawn. I had put in the raised bed in place, had extra seed, but no amendments. Far right, lower bed shows the same green beans in amended beds.
Sorry to be so long winded, my question is based on the soil samples from plot 1. What might I add to the kitchen beds to help beets?
Mary, is there a critical time to add the fish emulsion or nitrogen for beets, or just every few weeks?
I love fish emulsion, but at times can forget to add for a few weeks. Last year I thought about making my own, but Podster mentioned her father used fish heads under plantings. I asked Dh and his friends to save me their "stuff" left over from fishing. I used a post hole and pair of long tongs .LOL. to put around the yard. It's amazing what a difference it made, I see exactly where each fish was buried by the lush growth. I think every kids remembers from social studies, the indians planting corn over fish heads. It just never dawned on me to try. Maybe I should try beets in the fish amended beds, thanks.
The long tongs are must tho, eww.
Oh, and what is YMMV?
Don't think there is a 'critical' time. My beets had been languishing and I used the fish emulstion because DH was gone for the morning and he's such a woos about the [very minimal] odor I just thought it would be a great time to get the beds sprayed. Then the beets popped. and the onions popped...
I noted on a thread somewhere that DH was supposed to go back to Alabama for family business but the plane never left the ground so he came back home after a few hours. One of the things I had planned to do while he was gone was spray the heck out of everything with the fish emulsion...some women do other things when the cat's away. Me? I plan to sprary fe on my garden beds. You know you're old when...so I sent him to the flea market without me that Sunday. And again today. It's a rough life.
cocoa, rock phosphate is great for root crops (beets, carrots, turnips, etc). If you can get some ground rock phosphate that is one of the best investments you can make in your soil. It doesn't take much and it patiently waits in the soil for a root to come into contact with it; if no roots come near the particles it will stay in the soil patiently waiting for some plant to come along and use it.
I love fish emulsion, too. It's pretty tame and can be used quite often. I prefer it as a foliar spray, more often than not.
The instructions that came with the onions stalks said to dig a trench for the fertilizer a few inches away from the trench that you would dig for the onions. I guess that concurs with your comments Shoe, don't let the roots come in contact. I love it when multiple sources say the same thing. Too often there is competing information and it's hard to make sense of it. Thanks for your input.
Sounds like you got your onions from Dixondale Farms. They're a great company (even though they shipped my onions last week to another farm. arrgh.) Or if you didn't then someone told you the correct instructions.
Yes, especially using chem fertilizer (10-20-20; 10-10-10, etc) you never want to plant the roots of anything directly in it. Bad news. Planting your onions next to a fertilizer furrow will give the onion roots a choice to "approach with caution" towards the fertilizer. Keep in mind using the recommend amount of fert comes into play.
Shoe (hoping to set out onion plants this coming week here.)
Ah poor Mary's husband.lol I'm glad I'm not that sensitive to the FE smell. Tho, I've made some alfalfa teas that would make your nose curl :0) At least I hope he found something good at the flea market?
I'm planning on using the rock phosphate from now on. Darius sent me tons of links last year that convinced me. I have been using bone meals, that's the only organic P my local hardware store carries, but I've been putting it down right before seeding the beets...perhaps I should reseed in areas that have previously had bonemeal added. Since then, carrots and turnips plumped up fine, but those had bone meal form a pervious crop of beets or onions. Would bonemeal really be that slow to breakdown in one season? love learning.
Aw, he's a keeper for sure, Mary!
That reminds me, DH brought home a blueberry and raspberry plant yesterday. I'm going to put them out in the field garden and see how they do with our pond water.
Darius, yes that's one of the files I have saved. I am so glad you resent it tho! I didn't remember anything about waiting 14 days to plant. I've written in bold across my notes..Thank you, ma'am :0)
I found a fairly local source (40 miles) and they have everything else I'm looking for so worth the trip.
May go today for supplies, first calling Ag agent and seeing if I can do buckwheat.
When I first heard the kids at Berkeley were using it for fertilizer decades ago I had to give it a try! And being a man with "dead eye aim" I can also easily mark my territory in an effort to keep out deer and such! *grin
Ya'll be careful with the wood ash though as it'll sure change your pH if you use too much.
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Haha, I've told the guys they're free to pee on the compost pile, until I move the pile behind the trees, I don't think its going to happen.
I have a new Ag agent, this guy is awesome!
The old agent, I could hear him rolling his eyes at me over the phone.lol
He said buckwheat isn't really grown here because of our ph, but it was certainly worth a try if I'm doing so much to correct the ph.
He said sudan grows so lush here that growing it just for mulch, cut mulch or an intercrop wouldn't work because it robs so much N and P. If I want to grow some for a seed crop, to treat the rotation/fert like I would for corn.
As for my cool season, he said it really didn't get better then plain ole cereal rye. For my area it serves two purposes, green manure and as a nematode trap.
The second part of the morning didn't go as well. The feed store (an 80 mile round trip) that I called last week, (the ones with EVERYTHING on my list) Didn't have a single thing I had specified, nor could they order it (as they said they could last week). My son was with me, I'm trying to comprehend why the guy lied to me on the phone, then there was the slowly dying mouse trying to crawl onto our feet as we talked... That will be my last visit there.
Got the name of another place, they had a least some of the things I needed, dolomitic lime, mineral 0-0-63, copper, zinc and microbes. They'll order k-mag and buckwheat seed. They no longer carry soft rock P and can't order it, so I'll get CalPhos on-line.
Been up since 4:30 getting the bull and pig loaded in the dark, that was a whole 'nother story.lol
I need a nap :0)
Darius, I'm top of the world, now!
Just bumped Sally's calf for the first time! My records would make her due June 6th, she's been two weeks late with her last 2 calves...I'm going to be very upset with the both of you if she calves on Pee on Earth Day ;0)
What fun. I fondly remember letting new calves suck on my fingers when I was a kid. Grew up in Vermont - lots of cattle around but never heard the bumping thing. Thanks for sharing, it gives me a visual treat.
darius wrote:They nourished the root vegetables with a combination of urine and wood ash, which they found worked at least as well as traditional mineral fertilizer, and produced growth of 10-29% over conventional fertilizers.
Oh good grief! I've been peeing on compost heaps (when the situation allowed it) for some 45 years. The urea in urine is a water-soluble source of readily-available nitrogen, and manufactured urea is sold everywhere by the 50# bag.
Most of the sodium we consume also ends up in our urine. Some crops might not like that. Beets don't mind and IIRC sweet corn is actually stimulated by a small amount of sodium.
You have to bump the calf on the moms left side- and it moves places as it grows - like circles high then the heavier n older as the cow moves toward 'freshening' the calf descends- bumps lower. 4 days before the cow drops the calf her hips start sagging hollows at her tail bone, Was fun, also worrisome if the calf is so large it hurts the cow. Stay safe guys- it seems dry everywhere I go and Not just at home...
My neighbor is a vet and said he'll show me how to check the other way as well, the kind of checking that requires should length gloves...man, these threads can turn quick.lol Sorry!
I called the lab and voiced my concerns about so much lime and P going down at once. A very quick call since they charge 80.00 hr for phone consults. I still have some question and trying not to call back!
He said there is some concern with the P getting tied up when putting both lime and P down in the spring. And that it would help if I add a small amount of gypsum with them as well. He said to also make sure that the beds received humic acid in some form. Since I'm stretching it thin on compost... I may be getting load, but for now assuming I'm not.
Are all humates the same? I've seen powered humates and liquid humus, not sure which would be better or if they're same thing
Lqds may hold a more concentrated formula, makes it available immediately, where pwd may be wanted as a work in before planting? Haven't worked with either actually... That is good ur neighbor a vet- we kept angus bulls for our Holsteins narrow hips, so only rarely had to turn a calf, kept come alongs and antibiotics in a fridge- but milk fever always required sulfa drugs if we couldn't get em back up. My favorite fertilizer was always the dairy manure, sigh,I don't miss the milking 2x a day...
I think I figured out the humate stuff, I've been hung up on the 'acid' part that comes from compost..Thinking it must dissolve the calcium or something...anyway I'm way off base, so don't listen to what I just :0)
The lab wants me to use a leonardite or lignate(sp) based product, with the lime and P, because one of it's many properties is protecting plants from rapid PH changes. Nature is so cool!
Kitrianna, your right, I'm going to split the application with dry and liquid, just to be safe.
Don't you ever travel anywhere with good weather?lol
The hubs made up a cool little pdf that I can print of at anytime to keep track of my rotation and amendments. I'm breaking the big plots into 4 mini fields and rows.
Go for it, Linda. I think it's going to come in handy.
I'm also making up my own chart based on the one Texasrockgarden has posted. I'm going to add which dates I plant indoors, when they go outside and when they're pulled. A rotation key, like which plants are N-P-K or nitrogen fixing. Lastly, germination temps on those seeds that I direct sow. I hope to have everything at a quick glance.
Those will all go into a binder with my notes (no more hunting down little slips of paper.lol) and a pouch for receipts. I plan to take it with me when I go shopping. Hopefully it keep me from making repeat purchases of seed. I'm bad about that.
Nature of the beast describes what I do, sigh. I TRY to stay off of east coast, but when the weather is bad it is where product is needed the most, I see trees being shipped now to be ready for the nurseries since they go in ground before the weather warms- or I take a whole truck of pwd choc milk for cold days and happy kids, sometimes it's ice cream to south Texas for the heat relief, you see? There will be veggies and fruits soon on their way to farmers markets in the northeast for people hungry for winter to end. Chuckle, and your beloved teas are made in the northeast and shipped in to the south- such as the canned and bottled teas. My peace of mind is memories of gardens and flowers, and animals, and when I am in Michigan- The Wolverine State- my windows are firmly up against the pollens since every plant in that state blooms and all at the same time.
Oh Pod, it's nothing fancy by DG recipe standards! I cook them in chicken stock, then use an emulsion blender to smooth and some salt, pepper. Then add a bit of milk or cream and some chopped dill.The dill is still alive from fall! That's about as fancy as I get with carrots.lol I have to stop myself from eating them all up while raw.
Kitt, grateful for people like you who get us our stuff when needed the most! I can't imagine going a summer without my beloved ice tea! :0) stay safe.
All amendments, except azomite, are tilled into the rows and one of the larger 'plots'.
Dh did the tilling, I asked for 3ft. rows with 3ft walk ways. I don't know how he measured, but it looks like it going to be snug between those rows! However, I'm not one fire, free and handsome help :0) I'll work it out.
I ran short of amendments for the second 'plot'.The bright side is I don't have to wait to seed. So weather permitting, I'll be getting corn seeded sooner then later. I'll foliar feed the corn and amend that area in the fall.
I'm covering the rows with compost, or at least the rows that I can transplant in. A lot of my compost is only 'half cooked', so I thought placing it on top a better option than tilling it in.
Getting an update in before the sun is up. I've used all my compost, then 6 round bales of old hay..still not enough so I got 2 Pu truck loads of wood mulch..then realized I'm in over my head.lol
I asked the city if I could have all the mulch I wanted, they laughed and said yes, they'd love for me to take it. BUT, when I showed up with a dump truck, they said I could only have one load. I was welcome to more, once I used that up. The smart a** in me wanted to know who exactly was going to arrive at my house to be sure I'm using it all. I can't get a dump truck every time I want a load, so I'm back to getting it by the Pu truck load...slowing going! It is free, so I shouldn't complain..
Further to the right. Moving dirt that has beed piled up on top of an old greenhouse foundation. May put that to use in the future. I'm using composted wood mulch in raised circles for winter squash. Will move some spreen and amaranth to help shade then over sow bare areas with buckwheat.
The left side of the garden is all sown, beans, corn and tomatoes. This side has been flooding with every rain, I've dug a few sections to help drain. The wood mulch I'm getting from the city have a lots of logs in it. So, I'll be using those to start raising some of the rows for future use.
Still have a ways to go with mulching this side...the grass is catching up quick!
Raised beds are doing well, hard to get amended when so many things are in different stages of growing. I was able to scratch in a little of the calphos and 0-0-60. It looks like I'll have good beets for the first time in years! Thank you all!
Have you watched the youtube video, Back to Eden? If not, you really need to, for the detailed information about using wood chips in the garden. I wish I could get free wood chips, even if just a P/U load at a time. I need a mountain of them!
Kristi, yes to hugelkulter! I never have enough of one organic matter to really follow a formula, so it's sort of a Ruth Stout/hugelkulture/permacultrue/lasagna thing going on :0) Darius sent me a link to some keyhole gardens and I'm thinking those will get incorporated in there, somewhere, as well.
There is 1,000 sq ft. of raised beds in the kitchen garden, then 5,000sq ft. of plantable rows in the field garden. We sold a small parcel of land that had an old barn on it. The new owner said he was going to tear it down. I hadn't been up to that old barn since we bought it. Was surprised to find lots of lumber and some tables that had been used in the old greenhouse production. We brought all that home and looking to use some of those things as well.
I guess because the field garden is so new, it's bothering me that it's so monoculture in nature. I received about a pound of caraway and cumin seeds in a trade last year. I been hoarding all my dill seeds. I need pollen plants that will attract predators and keep them happy.
Have you grown caraway or cumin? I'm wondering if I should wait till fall to sow them. Or any suggestions to what will do well?
Darius, yes I did! It was well produced, loved those opening shots. And I'll never forget the line, "why would I eat something a bug wouldn't". lol
I'm a bit worried about worried about squash bugs loving all the wood chips, but nothing ventured...
This year I'm planting all kinds of herbs (not all culinary) and flowers mixed in here, there, and everywhere, to attract pollinators and predators. Plus dividing my larger clumps of comfrey and planting starts in every area to "chop and drop" several times a season for nitrogen mulch.
I seeded some zinnia and cosmos around the border. Found that's not going to work, dh keeps weed eating them to keep the electric fence line clean. Luckily, I still have time to get more into 'safer' areas.lol
I love comfrey! All mine died in last years drought, I didn't think anything could kill it. Do you grow the sterile russian strain? You know if you say 'yes', I'm going to beg for a piece :0) Will gladly pay shipping, and will not in the least be offended if you need to keep it for yourself.
So comfrey is a good nitrogen fixer, huh? I found it listed in only one of my gardening books and it says to grow from root cuttings. Most of the desert gardening books are silent on comfrey...I wonder if it's hard to grow here. I found interesting information about cosmos and zinnia's though! I need to plant more flowers around the garden. I'm so focused on veggies and soil prep that I'm forgetting to bring in pollinators and predators.
I was lucky enough to get a load of wood chips dumped in the yard from a local arborist. It's the cat's favorite litter unfortunately. I still have I large'ish pile under a sheet. :-|
All I know is that my comfrey variety doesn't spread like wildfire. The clumps do enlarge (mine has doubled in size in 5 years), and the place where I dug out my original start has regrown a small clump... I must have left a piece of root.
I really don't think that I have enough to share this year, since I want to transplant starts to new garden areas. However, I do have a contact (somewhere!) for a man in Murphy, NC who sells a bit of the bocking (?) variety, which I believe is the sterile Russian kind. IIRC, they are pretty cheap.
Mary, what I know of comfrey is that is has an extremely deep tap root. It's one of the reasons it makes good green manure and tea, all the trace minerals are brought up from the sub soils. You have to be sure to plant it where you want it, or it will spring back life from the left over tap root. The common variety is said to be a very prolific self-seeder. As Darius said, there is a sterile Russian strain...that's the one you want if you have any concerns about invasiveness. I hope you can grow it, bonus...it's a very pretty plant!
Darius, no worries! I'm probably better off ordering some multiples and putting one or two in each row. If you find the sellers info, lmk :0)
Flowers for blooms are definitely necessary because most herbals are not showy or continuous bloomers. I've planted herbs around the borders of my raised beds... Nigella sativa, borage, chives, dill, par-cel, basils. All in hopes of attracting or distracting bugs as the case may be.
I've not grown caraway and the only cumin I've grown is Nigella sativa (black cumin). If that is the cumin you are thinking of, I start it early spring and it blooms and dies back for me in summer. The foliage is delicate enough I don't think it would like colder weather. I do have seed from last year if you want some. Without looking, I also believe I have ample seed from Agastache ~ anise hyssop and I know I have seed from Spilanthes ~ the eyeball plant which is fun and blooms most of the summer although I'm not sure if it really draws pollinators.
I can't believe you lost your comfrey in that drought. My plant dies down and will pop back from the roots when I think it is DOA. Mine blooms but has never reseeded. If I am not mistaken, it is the correct comfrey... lol I've kept it potted as I'm unsure where I want to plant it. As a result of being contained, it has not grown abundantly.
BTW, weeding this evening I found a sturdy clump of Gomphrena coming back from the roots. I am not believing that plant. Compact soil, no moisture other than rain and austere evening sun. What a survivor. I saved seed from it last year ~ ya want some? It is not the purple but reddish orange.
Around the outside of my meager raised beds, I layer pinestraw. I know others use shredded leaves and/or wood chips to prevent the need to weed eat. So far it has worked well on this end.
Darius, Thank you! I'll see if I can get some from Nantahala next spring, 25.00 for 25 plants is hard to beat!
Interesting info too, I was unaware of the different strains. It sounds like I could have had no.14 since mine died during the drought.
Kristi, I'll stop being stubborn about taking seed from you, cause I really want the agastache.lol I appreciate it and will send you a SASE. I have some that has reseed every year, but I'm only seeing one this year and I'm scared it's too big to move now. Thank you!
I have no idea what kind of cumin this is, I have half a zip-lock bag full, so let me try this first.lol
You have always had such great success with gomphrena, I'm jealous. I don't know how our soil could be that much different, but it's always been an annual for. I love them, they won't love me back with re-seeding :0)
I headed back out there now, I've found some more zinnias and marigolds in my stash. And a tray of basil I started a few weeks back. Which is another mystery to me...I can't direct sow basil, I've sown entire packs and only one or two seeds will germinate. If I start them in trays, I get 100 percent germination *shrugging shoulders*
Cocoa ~ I didn't mean to be overbearing when offering seed.
I am such a small scale gardener but have a passion for eclectic seeds/plants.
As a result when I purchase the unusual seeds, I sometimes have to purchase a larger quantity than I need. I end up with far more seed than I can use so I am always glad to share but as far as trades, I don't always have room or desire for a lot of seeds.
All of you that do large scale gardening have my admiration for your effort and determination.
Gomphrena IS an annual. This one baffles me. I ignore and abuse it and it is like a Texas invasive!
So I just read your last post... does that mean you aren't in the market for the Agastache seeds? Even some different types?
I'd not heard of Magenta Spreen ~ it looks like a Rose Orach plant. Do you care for it fresh? Or cooked? Or not at all ~ lol
If that's an open invitation for agashtache seeds, I would love some. I planted two kinds - golden jubilee and rose mint - last fall but have not seen anything sprouting yet...maybe they are waiting for the heat?
Darius, thanks for taking the time to look for the info on comfrey. I'll keep that plant in mind for future.
MaryMcP wrote:If that's an open invitation for agashtache seeds, I would love some. I planted two kinds - golden jubilee and rose mint - last fall but have not seen anything sprouting yet...maybe they are waiting for the heat?
Of course MaryMcP. Everyone here is generous when able and I will share also. Just dmail me...
On the agastache seed germination, I found the same as Cocoa said above regarding basil germination. They start better in pots than direct sown. I clump germinate in gallon jug type greenhouses. Then transplant to their final spot. Did you plant yours in ground?
Krist, your not overbearing! I feel indebted to you for all the wonderful seeds you've sent me. I'm so sorry if my post made you feel that way. Even if you never had seeds to offer, your a gem, in my book :0)
You read the agastache post correctly, I already have the seeds. I just tossed out a pack on the soil and hoped for the best. I did a quick search before spreading them and there seems to be some concern about toxicity to livestock, I'll have to keep a close watch to make sure they don't get too aggressive.
Magenta spreen goes by the common name Tree Spinach http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/51557/
I like it in small amounts raw, especially mixed with other summer green. Cooked it taste like spinach without the slimy texture. I use it a lot in pasta and enchiladas. And there are very pretty.
Mary, check out that link, I might convince you to try them as well ;0)
Cocoa ~ thanks for that link. It finally connected in my peabrain.
No seeds for the magenta spreen ~ thanks though. I'll stick with the Malabar spinach vine.
Have you have started your roselle seeds yet this year?
The thunder drove me inside..so far looks to be a big bluff :0(
Yay, Mary, I'm happy you'll try these. It's such a fun plant. The coloring is actually a fine metallic purple powder on the surface of the leaf. It only comes off when cooked or rubbed. For giggles, I use it as 'garden makeup'. lol
I have heard people says it's invasive, so please keep a close watch the next year. The seedlings are easy to recognize and pull when young.
Kristi, roselle is transplanted and I'm pampering it along. I wasn't planing on this long cool spring (I'm not complaining.lol) I think it will be happier when the heat kicks in. Btw, a few seasons back, the wild pigs took out the majority of my wild pasture garlic. So, I'm moving your garlic back there. Your garlic will get the royal treatment (electric fencing!).
Darius, the weeds have been a big issue, I'm not certain which ones to keep. All my weeds are invasive.lol I did discover that if I take down a prickly nightshade weed, that a big brown and tan stripped beetle will move to the tomatoes. So, the prickly unidentified weed will stay.lol
I need to look into nitrogen fixing tree as well, all the ones I can think of for the south are invasive as well.
I like that 55 DTM too. Kristi, that was one fine tasting tomato. The reviews I read about the foliage are true though, that baby couldn't handle even the early, lite, heat. Even on the front porch where it got only very early sun. Moved it to more shade, it still struggled, put out 2 or 3 fruit. I'm germinating some now for fall planting. They may do better at lower temps.
Keep me posted on how it goes for you and I'll do the same. ps: when DH bit into one of them, his eyes rolled!!!
Here's some other short DTM's that I'm germinating now.
How odd is that, a tomato that couldn't handle heat and sun was received from the class on growing tomatoes in the desert environment.
I will hope it is better suited to fall. This will be the first time I've tried SF and maybe fall growing will be the best choice. That makes container growing even more preferable for me. I will try to remember to post my results on this one also. lol
Just curious... you said that class passed out two tomato starts. What was the other cultivar your class gave you and how did it do?
Kristi, the other tom was a stupice and it did really well. That was my second stupice and it's a keeper. I'm not sure why the instructor decided on silver fir tree as one of his give-away's. It is odd. I'd have thought maybe a Phoenix tomato!! Anyway,in the end I'm glad he did.
I've been meaning to update the progress of the beds, but have been so busy. However that's IS my biggest gripe, so life is pretty good ;0)
Most everything is doing exceptionally well. I can't tell if it's the soil, really good weather, or a combination.
I've put up 28 qts green beans..they are still going strong.
froze 10 gallons of shelled cream peas
6 gallon bags of corn ears
As well as a trash can full of dried corn and sunflower seeds for the chickens.
21 pints of salsa
7 pints pickles
Froze 3 gallons of cherry toms
3 gallons of breaded okra
Should be able to start canning tomatoes tomorrow, yay, my goal is 70 quarts..keep your fingers crossed for me.
Been giving tons away and proving for extended family. This last weekend I set up at a local farmer's market. I was so nervous no one would want anything I had to offer, but I almost sold out of everything. It was fun and I had a nice time visiting. Made enough for my fall seed purchase.
A friend of ours has hives and harvested 20 gallons last week. He recently has taken a night shift and doesn't have time to sell. So, we took that with us as well. I get free honey out of the sweet deal..pun intended :0)
Forgive my sloutchy appearance, it was early and I had a tight grip on that coffee mug.
Mary the two large tomatoes I'm growing this year are Yellow Brandywine and Blk.Krim. The Yellow Brandywines have been 16-20 oz and the Blk.Krims have been 16 ozs (no more, no less) it's strange how consistent they have been.
Kristi, of course I had to shop, just a little.lol Brought home some lovely bread, plum jam and bitter melons. Having the bitter melon tonight, was told by vendor to slice thinly and saute' with sliced pork, onions and tomatoes...if it was too bitter tasting, add more tomatoes.
The tomatoes that wilted are long gone, lost about 30. The toms with funny crinkled foliage never out grew it, didn't die, some are not producing, some are. Nothing, like a disease, ever spread tho. That leaves me with about 150-180 vines that are producing very well. Happy I planted the extras.
The annual grass and weeds, including basil I planted among the now dead tomatoes are thriving??? I don't what to make of the situation, but will concentrate on more compost and drainage in that area.
I need some advice on filling a new raised bed we constructed this past weekend. It's RB #2, and sits in some bright light. There's not a lot of direct sunlight on it, but, from my history growing brassicas in the eBuckets, I've determined it will be enough sun for my cabbages, broccoli, and cauliflowers.
Bed #1 remained largely empty this past season. I grew only 5 tomato vines at one 4' end. About three weeks ago, I planted 15 bell pepper seedlings on the other end of the bed. I'm about to cut the tomato stems and replant with some rooted tomato cuttings I took when the plants were healthy.
Bed #1 is filled with a mix of:
5 parts pine bark fines
2 parts peat (MG potting mix)
2 parts vermiculite
1 part compost
In addition to the broccoli, cabbages, and cauliflowers, I will be growing root crops, too, beets, carrots, and turnips. Both the RBs were filled to 11" deep; the soil below was tilled an additional 8-10" (tilled only once, the very first time...). The RBs sit in the same spot as I had the broccoli, cabbages, and cauliflowers growing last season in 5 and 6.5 gallon free-draining buckets. That's how I know about the light they'll need. I got a really good crop on this site.
That's the background. I know the brassicas are heavy feeders, and like lots of organics. If I put the broccoli, cauliflowers and cabbages in RB #1 (on second thought, I better NOT put more tomatoes in just yet...better in the buckets...) I should amend the bed with a goodly amount of compost, yes? I bought seven 25 lb. bags of MOO-Nure from Home Depot this weekend. I've only ever used Black Kow Composted manure before, but, since these 25 lb. bags were fairly light, I surmised they do not contain a predominant amount of the dreaded SAND..., so I'm comfortable going ahead with this brand.
Regarding RB #2 for the root crops ( I think the cabbages can go in with the tall stuff, yes?), since I'm building this soil from scratch, what do ya'll recommend filling this bed with? I still have enough of the pine bark fines, sharp builders sand, compressed sphagnum peat, perlite, and some vermiculite available to mix together. I also have soft rock phosphate, fish emulsion (which I'm just learning how to use, with great results...), and kelp.
I've grown root crops before, but didn't take that "you must thin" advice seriously, so I got marginal results. But, in that process, I discovered how WONDERFUL beet tops taste, so I wasn't a total bust, and I did get a nice number of good-sized beets to pickle.
Any advice will be much appreciated, since this is my first fall crop ever to go directly into the ground. Prior to this, it's all been grown in buckets and containers in MG potting mix. I've never had to figure out soil formulas, amendments, and crop rotations.
I think I can rustle up some leaves (no pun intended...) If I don't add the peat, what's my water retaining element in this bed? the Vermiculite? The pine bark fines will allow for excellent drainage, and the chunks in it provide for great aeration. The root crops will appreciate the loose-ness of this mix. I guess the cabbages will need to go in RB #1 with the tall stuff, since that soil will be a little tighter once I add the compost.
Oh, and how do I add the soft rock phosphate to Root Bed #2 (may as well refer to it as such...)? Do I mix this in with the ingredients, or do I make trenches and put it down in there, before I sow the seeds on top of the bed? This bed will be direct sowed with the beets, turnips, and carrots.
P.S. I have a half-filled trashcan that I've been chucking the old clipped off tomato vines and detritus in. Can this be incorporated in any way into any of these beds as organic material? The can sits out in the sun, and is mostly tomato vines.
Linda, I think you've already tasted the results of using the Black Kow Composted Manure and that will be the only compost I will use. I'm even thinking of adding it into what comes out of the compost bin when I empty it. Lowe's carries it in 50 lb. bags, I've never tried the manure from HD since I've had such great success with the Black Kow...Plus the BK is $3.19 a bag here, I'll even add it into the raised bed when we add it in for the spring planting..
Cocoa_lulu, Congrats on your first market experience. We did our first market a couple of weeks ago, and I've made the decision to grow commercially next year. Once the bug bites, you're done for... Look at the Market Grower forum for the posts I've put there...
Linda, I'm not sure I can be of much help. My raised beds are not 'filled'. I tried to fill them with compost when we first built them, but the compost dried out so quick. Now they are just holding pens for composting in place.
In the last 2 years, it goes something like this.
#1, fill with chicken bedding cover with hay. (let sit 6 months) these are my favorite broccoli and cabbage beds
# 2 put down 3-4 inches of compost and cover with old hay or pine straw.
#3 put down kitchen scraps and cover with old hay or pine straw.
#4 put down composted manure, then mulch
#5, now that my soil has been tested, I put down my basic amendments first, then do one of the options above based on what I have available.
What mulch I use is based on what crop will be planted next. Old hay is transplanted into, but creates too many weeds for direct sowing. Pine straw can be raked up then direct sown.
I was afraid if I didn't respond on this thread, you would think I was ignoring you. But as you can see, I use more farm castoffs then other people.lol
Oh wow, Kevcarr, commercially? You did get bit.lol
This market is only 4 hours, once a week, about 10 vendors. They have a gentleman that shows up and plays polka music. It charming and lots of fun, but they told me it's too small to draw in serious growers. Thats fine by me, once a week is enough. I actually owned a local business some years back, but closed because of the long holiday hours. I saw a lot of my old customers at the market. I always had the kindest, fun customers, and so humbled they were excited to see me as well.
I'll visit your thread, thanks for the heads up :0)
Your photo looked like The Goddess sitting above a cornucopia.
>> I tried to fill them with compost when we first built them, but the compost dried out so quick.
>> Now they are just holding pens for composting in place.
Any time I put finished compost on TOP of soil, it dries right out,. which I assume must kill or hurt the beneficial life forms in it. So I would rather turn it under the soil or at least rake it in with a long tined cultivator. Surface roots, beware!
I also found that my raised bed dried out fast at the corners and edges. I use loosely fitting concrete paving stones, so water drains right out, and then wicks and evaporates through. The fix for that is to "line" the walls with plastic cut from big bags of soil amendments like pine bark and manure compost. The plastic is heavy gauge and would have gone to landfill anyway. It l;ooks nicer if you trim it so that it stgays below soil level, or fold it under. Sometimes I only line the corners, or don't line at all.
Once I feared the many aggressive roots close to the surface where I was adding a narrow RB. So I laid down somne of that plastic UNDER the RB. Usually I hate plastic under roots, but this was the only way to keep heather and rhododenron roots from instantly taking the bed over. Now that is my ONLY bed that stays moist for a long time, and I found out that several plants NEED that steady too-wet condition. Despite being shallow and narrow, sometimes that is my only thriving bed.
So maybe plastic-on-the-ground is not always a bad thing!