I have had the ugly compost bins made from wooden pallets, the worm bins, the big mounds and piles in the back yard, the huge round hog wire bins and so on.. I've turned with pitchforks, concerned myself about heat, moisture and all the elements of cooking perfect compost and here is my personal and honest assessment of it all.. Compost bins aren't pretty and the textbook cooking compost method takes too much work, too much time and leaves me with too little product to ever make it worth my while..
After reading Lasagna gardening and seeing how the most perfect compost in nature is made by slow and gradual decomposition of leaves underneath a canopy of trees, my philosophy has shifted to a "feed the soil, not your compost bin" mentality. I compost in place and let the gradual decay of organic matter feed the teaming microorganisms and worms. The heat created in a compost pile is energy transferred and lost to breaking down the organic matter to it's smallest form, instead of letting that energy transfer gradually and more usefully in your soil.
I'd much rather let nature do the work and I get all the rewards for it. All of the organic material that would have been added to a compost bin is now composted in place. Simple, easy, wonderful for the soil, great food for the beneficial organisms and your worms, easy on your back, less work, no worries about heating and right moisture contents. Compost happens whether you work real hard and baby your pile or lay it down on the soil and walk away. It happens better if you walk away, get out of the way and let nature do it's job all by itself.
For those who still don't want to believe... fine.. you keep that pile turned and fed while I go tend to my garden
Many of us who garden are quite familiar with the concept of raised bed gardening - particularly those of us who have dirt that glows red with clay. We're also extremely familiar with composting - we have compost piles or bins hidden out of sight, full of leaves, grass clippings and the vegetable scraps from our kitchens. We wait, if somewhat impatiently, for that stuff to turn into the "black gold" we then spread on our gardens and cover with shredded bark or other mulch we must truck in to our gardens.
But there is another way. This way puts to an end the annual process of tilling our garden plots! What's this you say? No more wrestling with that bucking machine or breaking our backs as we till our plots with hand tools? How can this be?
It's developer, Ruth Stout (1884-1980) called it "no dig, no work" although even exponents of her methods, like Pat Ruggiero and Howard Markham of Fluvanna, admit there is no gardening without work - this method just involves less backbreaking work than most. It's a method based on nature's own way, the "no-till" or "permanent mulch" method, and it's amazingly simply.
"Think about it," Pat challenges. "Think about how the leaves fall from the trees and land at their bases. Nobody comes to rake them up. They just stay there and decay - and they begin to feed the trees, those big, healthy trees. No one fertilizes them. No one cleans away the leaves and makes the forest floor neat and tidy but the trees flourish."
Pat and Howard both grew up in farming communities but had worked and lived most of their lives in Northern Virginia. They knew they wanted to retire to a place where they could garden and when they saw this seven acre property in Fluvanna, with its south facing slope, they knew this was it.
"We became very interested in no-till gardening shortly after we started gardening here," Pat explains. "We tilled the beds the first year, and again the second year, but no more - we just pull the mulch aside, plant, and pull the mulch back again." And, indeed, the mulch is never removed - it is simply added to and over-planted with cover crops in the off-season.
"Our favorite cover crops are bearded oats, field peas and hairy vetch," reveals Pat. "We broadcast the seeds, take the rake and tamp the mulch that is in place so the seeds to settle in, and let them grow." The oats and peas come up almost immediately and they grow and flourish until the frost kills them. The vetch grows a little but it's the oats and peas that take over the "resting" beds during the fall. When they die, Pat and Howard do not pull the cover crops up by their roots. The plants will simply fall over by themselves and there they will remain. In the early spring the vetch takes over and grows until the couple is ready to plant their food crops. Then the vetch is cut down to act as mulch and eventually it, too, composts in place.
Even when their vegetable crops are finished, the plant remains are composted in place. Pat says that when it comes to the corn stalks, Howard will use the chipper/shredder and grind the stalks down before returning them to the plot where the corn had grown. "You could just throw the whole stalks on the ground and they would eventually turn into compost but they're awkward to work around. It's easier just to break them up and give them a head start," she says
"No-till gardening is based on improving the soil," Pat explains. "We keep the soil covered with organic matter. Soil microorganisms (the "microherd" as they're affectionately known among some organic gardeners) feed on the organic matter, mixing it into the soil, and eventually the soil changes. That's how Nature tills the soil. Because vegetable plants have a high nutrient requirement, we also add our own finished compost at planting time. Depending on the vegetable, we might add 1/2" compost over the whole bed, or we might just add a shovelful in each planting spot."
Pat is a Master Gardener with the Virginia Extension Service's Master Gardening Program and notes that there's usually a new Master Gardening class starting every year in late January. She recommends it for anyone who wants to learn more about gardening. (Contact your local extension service for more details.)
"Soil is built from the top down," she continues. "Nature tills the soil that way and that's part of the philosophy of no-till gardening. We compost in place, perhaps adding a little more compost here and there, and the microorganisms in the soil, the microherd, feed on the compost, dragging some if it down with them, leaving behind their castings, and eventually the soil changes."
The soil in the vegetable beds has changed greatly in the seven years since they came to garden here. As Pat pulls away a small circle of matted hay and other decaying cover to show off some of her ready to harvest potatoes, she easily shoves her hand nearly wrist deep with little effort. The soil is beautiful, dark loam - the kind of soil that even Martha Stewart would envy.
"Two of the principles of no-till gardening are to make sure that there is always something for the microherd in the soil to eat," Pat explains as the teaching side of her comes out. "The plants don't access the hay and cover crops directly. The microherd does and it's their waste that the plants eat. No-till gardeners always make sure that there is something for those organisms to eat so that the plants will always have something to eat. The second principle is that the organic material that composts in place, eventually breaks down and changes the texture of the soil for the better, which makes it easier for the plant roots to develop and take in nourishment." It definitely appears that their gardening method is working well for their garden.
"We started planting from the very first year, of course," Pat says. "The crops were okay. We started with the hay (spoiled hay was a favorite mulch of Ruth Stout, the method's founder) and compost and cover crops. "But it was somewhere about the fourth year that the garden took on a new vigor - we just saw this really big change in the fourth year. This is the seventh year now and we think the garden has made another big advance this year."
The no-till gardening method has another benefit that the couple enjoys. According to Pat, it's only the northern most vegetable beds, those at the top of the hill, that must be watered every week or so. "The lower beds don't seem to need the extra water," she says. "The thatch of mulch holds in the moisture that the plants need and we don't need to water the lower beds very often. It's really a big benefit of the no-till philosophy."
The additional compost that is applied to the beds in early spring comes from their property. Leaving the leaves that fall beneath the trees on the property to feed the trees from which they come, Howard takes the leaves that blow onto the grassy areas of lawn, along with grass clippings and chipped branches that have fallen or are groomed from the surrounding bushes and trees and he composts them behind the couple's berry bushes on the northwest side of their property. The compost is used solely in the vegetable garden and not on any of the many beautiful perennial beds that surround the property. "We use the no-till method with them, too," Pat states, "but they have to rough it on their own, compared to the vegetable beds."
If the condition of Pat's and Howard's perennial beds is based on roughing it, then their vegetable beds are nothing short of a five-star restaurant for plants and there's not a tiller, man or machine, in sight.
Thanks for sharing w/ us. I am very intrested in the no till garden concept. I live in on a suburban lot that was bull dozed and the soil was packed down before we moved in. I've been working on pulling rocks out and loosing the soil to no avail (heavy clay soil w/ gravel). Often times, if I want to start a new bed I have to dig out subsoil that was brought to the top during construction. There have been a couple of times here I just threw it in the trash. I know this is wastefull and back breaking work, but I want my plants to flourish.
I hope that my compost piles and bags of leaves will help loosen the soil.
Very interesting, and very timely! Today we have a bit of sunshine, and it's not too cold. I was thinking about getting out a rake and cleaning up (finally) last year's bed (just established last spring). It's full of fallen leaves and stalks from the annuals and perennials. But then I question, what about the invasion of pests and rot? Wouldn't it tend to encourage some of those unwanted things? Or maybe I'm not understanding the concept correctly... I think I'll go grab my galoshes and head outside to take a peek at winter's impact on the garden!
Judy, Thanks I really hope this can be helpful.. It's really a good idea to learn from those who have learned from doing and have figured out a better way.. I know there are some die hard bin composters here and if you enjoy doing it fine, but I want my end result to be great blooms and healthy plants with the greatest efficiency and this is how I do it now.
Dean.. it takes some work to do this too... but it will take a lifetime if you think you can cover a plot of your description with home made compost. I promise you it will work wonders for your soil if you cover with as much organic matter you can get your hands on. If it weren't for the much needed rain we are getting right now, I'd be trolling the streets for bags of leaves to load into the truck and bring home. I use to mow them to cut them up.. now I don't even bother. I dump them all over the places I want to build my soil and create new beds and mulch existing ones and it breaks down into seemingly nothing over time...just like compost in a bin!
As far as your subsoil underneath.. your really doing too much work if your thinking of removing it all and then replacing it will "good soil".. Reminds me of when I first started out and was told by an experienced gardener that the best way to get my soil right was to double dig all the beds I wanted to create..Ya right.. take a look at my huge beds and see how I would still be digging. I still see that method in the gardening books and think, gee, no wonder gardening is going by the wayside if thats what people think it takes to grow great flowers..
Here's an example of a huge soil transformation for you... Out by my side garden, I have a trash bin and my husband had changed the oil himself and placed the oil to be taken to a recycling center out by the bin. It got knocked over by one of my children who didn't bother to right it back up and oozed oil all over and down a slope where I had planned to plant. I was very disturbed to say the least.. Thought the toxic dump area would never ever be hospitable to plants and wanted DH to rent a backhoe to get it up and my shoveling and filling bucket after bucket was to no avail. It was a huge messy pile of muck. A local municipality gives away free leaf mold (chopped leaves that have been collected into a pile and cooked a little) each spring and I get it by the dump truck load and use it as mulch and pile it high where I'm creating new beds.. so I "covered" the oil slick with as much of the organic material as I could pile on to keep us from stepping in the oil and tracking it all around. While I really can't tell you how much time it took, one day out of curiosity, I stuck a shovel down as far as I could get it and dug up and around the slick and there was no oil. It was all pure black soil with no grease in it. It was transformed.. My husband isn't allowed to change oil at home anymore and here is where that happened.. My trash bin is just to the bottom left in this picture. and I have plants thriving where this happened and I later planted it in. http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/fp.php?pid=4019398
Sanna, you would use the exact same organic materials you would use in a compost bin.. no animal products. I've never had a varmit problem.. except for the flies that love apple cores.. so those get tossed further back on the property or gently buried and covered. Leaves that fall are a natural mulch, weed suppressor and soil food. They will attract millions of beneficial live bacterial and worms which will break it down quickly and build up your soil. Promise. I don't remove the leaves in beds over winter or come spring. I leave them in place and cover with more leaf mold for mulch. I do remove them from the grass areas and again dump them where I want food for my soil.
Pile them where you want to create a bed/beds. If there is grass or anything growing there, put down a thick amount of newspaper or cardboard first to smother the weeds/grass. Lay down the leaves and they will break down in place and in a couple of months you can dig to the bottom and see the black gold emerging. Try to keep feeding your soil with as much organic material as possible.
i think i already do this method to a certain extent--i do have a huge compost pile--but i don't wait for it to decompose--it is a sort of holding area and it does cook a bit--about once a week i go out and take wheel barrows of it to different flower beds--it is layed on thick and is mainly leaves, coffee grounds and shredded leaves--to me it is easier to have it in a compost pile till i am ready to spread it out --but i do end up letting it "compost" on the beds--i think it is easier than the lasagna method too since it just gets mixed in the big pile and no worry about layering-just dump and spread
Linda, Worms LOVE coffee grounds and it's a great food for them.. However, I only direct apply coffee grounds around evergreens as a top dressing.. And I dump and spread it directly onto areas where I will be creating beds to get those worms going good and strong. I do not place it directly around perennials or annuals in my garden. I once grew black eyed susan vine in an area I had heavily top dressed evergreens with grounds and while it grew vigorous and strong, it offered very few blooms and my best guess is that the soil PH took away from the blooms. Coffee grounds need to be neutralized into worm castings before they see your blooming flowers. :) ohhh.. and if you should get a wet bag or a leaky bag on your way out of the coffee shop and get it on your cars upholstery, it will never ever come all the way out!
I have a question for you, we moved into a house that had ivy smothered beds. We have weed whacked, pulled, and shoveled until we are exhausted. Do you think covering the area with cardboard and leaves will be effective?
dove--i hired someone to dig deep and pull out our ivy which had been there for the 18 years we have lived here and who knows how long before that--it does keep popping up again and i keep pulling it out again--i think ivy is very hard to ever get rid of completly! i bet the cardboard will help tho!! at least it is easier to pull up now--i guess it's because it is newer ivy with weaker root systems?--good luck with your ivy destruction!!!
ohhh Dovey.. Ivy :( Nope.. it will take more then cardboard and leaves. Pull out as much as possible and then maybe.. and I wouldn't be surprised if there were still a few sprouts. I have some coming through my fence from a neighbors property and I try to keep it cut back as much as possible. It's pretty when you want it :) Tough when you don't.
Thanks Penne :) It's my passion.
Yes Linda.. I've learned lots the hard way! No need for anyone else reading this to though :)
Dovey - Ivy is a tree. Seriously, it has gigantic roots & they have hands with claws on the ends that cling to the earth's subsoil & will not let go.
Cardboard - no. Been there.
Concrete - yes! But ever so difficult to garden in.
I hate to tell you, but you'll need to dig it out - go as deep as possible & remove as much root/leaf matter as you can.
There is a positive aspect to this: your soil will be nicely plowed up & you can mix in lots of compostables, cover it up & go your merry way.
I sincerely empathize with you...
Thank you all for telling me what I really didn't want to hear *L*
The ivy has been there for some where between 40 to 60 years and we pretty much come to the conclusion our efforts will only make the it manageable. I've given up on planting those beds with roses.
I'm waiting for inspiration about what to plan in there. Hubby says only 100 year old colleges should be allowed to plant ivy.
dovey- when we got "rid" of our ivy it was old and woody and not so pretty anymore--now the ivy that comes up is not woody or tough looking but prettier--and as i said before -easier to pull up--sometime if i get tired of pulling it i might let it grow in again but at least it will look nice and fresh --rather than woody and tangled mess! so i guess what i am rambling on to say is that it is worth taking it up even if only to start over!!
susan--i just reread your article because it has inspired me so much lately--i am covering all my flower beds with thick layers of leaves--throwing in some shredded paper and coffee grounds--and skipping the compost pile ---i just have a few concerns--in many areas i covered the ground with paper to get rid of weeds, old plants etc--so how will the soil get the nutrients from my leaves etc? also in rereading the article it said the mulch must have micro organisms to break it down--am i right to assume that those just come into my leaf/shredded paper/coffee ground mix?
The soil will get the nutrients from the leaves as the leaves break down. And as Puddle said.. all the worms and microorganisms will appear to break it down over time, creating a rich topsoil. The worms will pull it down too.. No tilling required :) Think of it this way.. if you leave birdseed out in feeders, birds will come find it and eat it.. If you put down rich organic material, microbes will come digest it as well :) While a thick layer is great for building new beds.. remember not to put it on so thick in your existing beds that you don't let your plants see the light of day come spring.
Yes, exactly.. the paper is organic material just like your leaves.. I haven't wet mine down.. the rain does that for me.. However, if you leave the newspaper there and don't cover it up with something right then to weigh it down, the wind will take it.. been there and done that
i lay down the big brown bags sold at lowes etc for recycling--i tear down one side and open it up---it is so large to cover a lot of area--and is made to decompose --and more quickly than the cardboard
Susan, It is rare that I read as much as you have posted and at the least come up with some minor differences of opinion if not worse.
Folks I have read this thread word by word and breath by breath. What Susan has presented is one of the best such discussions I have read anywhere.
Old habits are indeed hard to break but this is one you can build a little at a time. Any compost habits you may have or worm cast use practices may continue but will be mostly not needed once permanent mulch practices are nicely developed.
Along the way the so called basics are still important...manures, trace minerals, humic acids, organic fertilizers and black strap molasses for your living biology. In cold climates mycorrhiza needs to be replaced because the host plants do not grow to support those fungi over winter. These elements not including mycorrhiza in the north can be reduced to nearly no use as the permanent mulch system moves towards excellent each year it is faithfully worked, trusted and continued.
Cathy-that is too funny-because that is where i get my bags from too--picking up bags of leaves along the alley--AND--yes i have returned some bags to the houses too!!! i love that you do the same--my husband thinks i am crazy!
Have enjoyed this thread, and have a question I posted elsewhere in the compost forum, but never got a good answer to.
I collect coffee grinds from my job at the rate of one 5-gallon bucketful every 8 days. I bring them home in the green garbage can liners, and tied them up at first, until I broke open a few bags last month to spread in the flowerbeds for the winter, and they were full of these huge larvae. Too large to be maggots. They look sorta like an oval stretched out pillbug, not rolled up in a ball, much bigger, whitish in color, and they move very slowly. Any idea what these larvae might be? The coffee grinds were fairly teeming with this critter. I hate maggots, but these weren't they. I googled several sites to try to identify them, but to no avail. After I found them in the bags, I started leaving the grinds in the buckets and putting the lids on them. I know they won't get any aeration with the lids on, but I'd rather air them out when I need them than face the teeming larvae!
I dumped all the leaves we raked in mid-November into a small flowerbed under two trees. I layered the leaves with the coffee grinds and sprinkled them down, just like I do my compost pile. I kinda figured like you did, that the organic matter would break down over time, and in place. And the worms would come because of the coffee grinds. Getting ready for Springtime. I went ahead and dumped the coffee grinds with those larvae into the bed. I guess I'll know soon enough what comes crawling (or flying) outta that flowerbed!
I saw your name and read the entire thread...I'm smiling all the way through. I've always gardened that way, it just seemed natural. I never pick up the fall leaves out of the back garden, and I never realized it until a DG friend was here a couple years ago...and his eyes got big while touring the back garden..he stooped down, pinched some soil of the ground..and said...smell that...it was that rich sweet -you know it's nummy for the plants smell!
When spring comes along, I do pick up some of the areas to prevent the spread of any type of disease and fungus.
Cathy and PlanoLinda-- not so crazy! In fact Susan I think I was chatting with you when I expanded the front garden beds (time to do it again...soon the evil grass will be gone). Part of that expansion included dumping bags of leaves in the bed...layering cow manure and soil for a couple of weeks.. Having run out of leaves, I was driving home and noticed all these neatly bagged leaves from the lawn services politely set out on the curb ---How did they know!? LOL, so I just tossed bags of leaves in the SUV and drove the entire 2 blocks home. I'm on a leaf collecting expedition this weekend. That first year my next door neighbor came out and said..what in the world are you putting in your flower beds?? I've never seen Zinnias as big as they are in your garden. Well, it was my first year planting Zinnias, so I shrugged and said "leaves, manure and alfalfa.
Linda, If the white grubs are causing problems eating on your roots there is one fine product out there to literally end it. Milky Spore Disease protects my property. While at first glance it seems costly it really is not. One application can last fifteen years. Each time a white grub comes into contact with a spore the grub dies and creates a ga-zillion more Milky Spores. The only way it can wear out on you is to for it to do a 100% kill and no more would fly in. In both instances this is unlikely. It does not attract the neighbors beetle to your property. It does not harm non-white grub beetle populations or any other beneficials.
Thanks cat5.. this garden is a baby actually :) Just started when my youngest started walking and he will be 5 in March. I'm just a full throttle personality type. :)
PlanoLinda yes.. I've had the bags sitting on an area before I needed them.. went to move them and the bottoms were gone :) They do decompose. You, Cathy and Rj have found a kindred spirit here casue I too take bags of leaves off the curb! It doesn't make you feel as crazy when you come here and find others doing the same things.. even though it really is kinda crazy to take bags of leaves off someones curb...but I've never been turned down when they've been there and I've asked, so I don't guess anyone really minds it. You and Cathy are both much nicer to return the bags.. I figure if I'm taking your "yard waste trash", I get to keep the bags in trade :) Lots of people around here use the large plastic bags to put their leaves in :( ?? One day I was in the truck driving slow.. looking for bags around the neighborhood trash and a guy thought I was "casing" the neighborhood.. I could tell by his body language.. So of course I rolled down the window and asked him where his bagged leaves were :)
Gym Linda..I haven't got the slightest idea what they are.. but we already know that they are composters and like beneficial worms, love coffee grounds.. so make sure of what they are before you take them out and squash them.. I've had the unfortunate experience of learning that something was desirable after it was too late :( The bug forum has some excellent people that really know their stuff. I'd post a pic there :)
Hey Rj! :) When I get my leaf mold in the spring, It gets piled up on the side of my driveway and it smells so sweet.. Like a rich sweet tobacco pipe smell.. Glad to hear your an in place composter too! Sometimes less really is more and it certainly applies to this method :)
Docgripe, thanks and yes..old habits ARE hard to break.. Especially when that's the way someone has been doing it all their life and that's the way their people did it and so on.. I must put milky spore on my list of things to do this season.. I've known about it, just haven't done it yet.
Yes..just like that. I do have a big mulch bin behind the garage too. I wish I had a wood chipper. that's where I throw all the trimmed stuff.
Is that less is more on already planted gardens? Yes...when I'm building beds..I layer it thick and let it go for a couple weeks..LOL, Less is more...I have a garden rule that nature has taught be, and use it frequently...In the plant world, a little, is alot!!
i am really enjoying this site---my husband tells me one day i will open a bag and someone will have thrown a dead squirrel in there and that will be the end of my leaf scrounging! and i do sometimes wonder if i will one day empty a bag and something gross will be in it--but it just hasn't happened--one time someone had cleaned out their flower garden and so it had begonia stuff in it but that works too--in fact in my mind i just thought-oh new stuff entering the site!!
oh wait Rj... did i say that?? When it comes to plants less is never more.. more is always better.. I meant as we all know, doing less work in the case of composting is more and better for the soil! :) I like it crowded with more more more!! :)
Linda.. i haven't found anything like that yet! I enjoy this site too :)
LESS work for MORE plants. A fabulous gardening philosophy.
I can certainly understand why people are in a rush to create improved conditions in which to plant their prized plants. I found out by default that the soil will improve with the previously described methods. I have used both methods, depending on what I was trying to achieve. I have never worn patience well. But in trying a variety of ways, i found out what works best for me, in this region, with this climate & the available materials. I would rather spend time performing other gardening tasks, than turning compost. I also have enjoyed the learning process & observing the outcome over time.
Since I am a staff of 1 for my 1 1/2 acres, and work full-time, I must use my time wisely. Otherwise, nothing gets accomplished.
Thanks for the link to the pictures of your garden, it is absolutly beautiful. I garden in the same way as you~just pile on the clippings, leaves, etc. I've been "lasagna" gardening for a little more than a year now and love it. My garden has never looked better and the best part is less weeds. I also shread whatever paper there is to throw out and add that under the leaves/grass or whatever happens to be on top at the time. I still use a compost bin for my kitchen scraps but I have been rethinking that too.
I have a fenced veggie garden since we live in the country with lots of critters. I was thinking of using one half for summer and one half for the winter and then just throwing my scraps under mulch on the side I'm not using. yeah, I'm a lazy gardener. Could this be bad to do?
Thanks Pie, and yes that is exactly what we do.. I didn't do any winter veggies and we just cover all veggie scraps in our raised veggie beds while they are fallow. They compost in place and improve the soil condition.
Why do more work than you need to when the end result is better anyway??
If you research where to buy Milky Spore, will you post a link, for us? Like you, I've known about it forever, but this year is THE YEAR I'm going to do it!
I need to know if you do the whole property, or just the lawn? I also wondered if it kills Tobacco Hornworm larvae because I don't know if those have a white grub. It's a hard question to answer because it isn't a google search. LOL!
One place to purchase Milky Spore is ARBICO ORGANICS. www.arbico-organics.com. On this specific item they also had the best pricing last spring when I re-innoculated my property. Here in the Northeast most Ace Hardware stores are limited garden centers that carry the product. That likely means they could all order it.
I like Arbico because they have real live staff that have been a help to me in other areas too.
I treat my whole property...good for up to fifteen years for the cost of one Mr. Green Thumbs visit. This will not stop fly ins but it will get the grubs that fly ins place in your soil.
I believe it may have been Ruth Stoudt's book, "The No Work Garden Book" that contained her comment. "I just tramp down unwanted plant growth and cover it with more hay".
..."if it will rot the heavies simply remain mulch longer until they become compost following the rotting process".
I have lived at the same place for forty years. All of my flower beds and foundation plantings have been under a continous single ground rough wood
mulch four to six inches deep. All of my beds are a mix of traditional foundation plantings. Where I differ from most is that I mix in apples, blue berries, peaches, pears, gourds, grapes, goose berrys and sea berries of two types.
The birds bring me 99% of the weeds that appear. I have been known to use Round-up and a four inch paint roller to stop over run or over spray in spot application.
I have dozens of peonys and iris too that have gone the years under heavy ground wood bark. If it is of any concern I am unaware of any difficulty. When I said all beds that is the way it is. I am aware of nothing that ever failed because of the heavy ground wood mulch.
I have been told by many this can not be done. My plants seem to disagree.
Over those many years all have been raised and divided at least three or four times. Hundreds of mixed bulbs also call that home.
Any trouble I have that I am aware of comes with four feet and a bushy or cotton tail.
I don't think any reasonable amount of water will cause and problem with a leaf mulch. God knows your under soil can alway use the result of the rotting process. Those leaves have to rot to go into the following stages of decomposition leading to leaf mold, compost, humis, humic acid and finally something your soil can hold and the plants can use. Every step of the above is carried out by your bacteria, fungi and other living critters in your soil. I have added a foot or more of leaves to my beds and garden patch every year for over forty years.
For the interest of all who would build the soil first or continued over many years.
The last five world record pumpkins now approaching 1700 lbs. have been grown on soil built up by the grower to very high levels of organic content, the use of organic fertilizers, mycorrhiza, humic acids, various plant meals, kelp meal, fish oils and trace minerals.
Anything will improve in size, measuable quality meat or plant parts and ability to resist problems in accordance with the quality of the soil. Fish that live in ponds that catch the filtered run off will likewise be bigger and better.
Now to CMA...yes you can go nuts and do bad things with to much good stuff but you really have to work at it to get into any serious trouble.
For anyone who hasn't seen this page before, it's another way of looking at Soulgardenlove's idea-
YARD WORK - AS VIEWED FROM HEAVEN
(overheard in a conversation between God and St. Francis):
God: Francis, you know all about gardens and nature; what in the World
is going on down there in the U.S. ? What happened to the dandelions,
violets, thistles and the stuff I started eons ago?
I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow In any
type of soil, withstand drought, and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the
long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honeybees, and flocks of
songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of color by now. All I see are patches of
St. Francis: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. They are called
the 'Suburbanites'. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to
great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.
God: Grass? But it is so boring, it's not colorful. It doesn't
attract butterflies, bees or birds, only grubs and sod worms. It's
temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want grass
St. Francis: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it has grown a
Little, they cut it...sometimes two times a week.
God: They cut it? Do they bale it like hay?
St. Francis: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in
God: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
St. Francis: No sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
God: Now let me get this straight...they fertilize it to make it grow
and when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?
St. Francis: Yes, sir.
God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back
on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves
them a lot of work.
St. Francis: You aren't going to believe this Lord, but when the grass
stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so
they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.
God: What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees.
That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself.
The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the
summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket
to keep the moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they
rot, the leaves become compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of
St. Francis: You'd better sit down, Lord. As soon as the leaves fall,
the Suburbanites rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled
God: No way! What do they do to protect the shrubs and tree roots in the
winter to keep the soil moist and loose?
St Francis: After throwing the leaves away, they go out and buy
something called mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the
God: And where do they get this mulch?
St. Francis: They cut down trees and grind them up to make mulch.
God: Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore.
Saint Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you
scheduled for us tonight?
St. Catherine: "Dumb and Dumber," Lord. It's a really stupid movie
God: Never mind--I think I just heard the whole story from Saint
Suzy Thanks! I too thought you were supposed to treat the whole property with milky spore. I didn't think those grubs just liked grassy areas... have you ever dug in a bed and found them? I think I have.
Doc, Thanks for the link.. I need to just do it already.
I also do something everyone that knows anything about soil and gardening says not too... I spread fresh horse manure over planted beds. I don't try to get it right up on the plant, but I put it all over where there is no plant. I've also planted in newly created beds that had high amounts of recently added horse manure/shavings and I've never had burn, but quite a great result.. Someone else would do the same thing and burn their garden up.. Maybe the stuff I get is low burn! :)
Linda, decomposition is a nice word for rotting. Same thing.. However, I think rotting denotes a smell.. and I've never had a bad smell only a great earthy one :) (Except for the time I put down already rotted, anaerobic beer grain- ewww!!)
I know it's hard to believe you don't have to do anything like water, and you can if you want to, but seriously..if you lay them down and walk away, it will work. As far as places where decomp takes longer, I'd venture to guess the native plants of that area require less from the soil.. Not that I grow just GA natives here.. but just a thought about how things work. :) But being that your in TX.. you all are getting plenty of rain, right?? :)
I tried to find some of Ruth Stoudt's books, and they are out of print and the sellers want the big bucks for them!
Maypop I've read that before and it's very timely :) Yesterday was the perfect day to go leaf hunting..the weather was great.. and I got two truckloads full of bagged leaves. As I was taking them off the curb, I was visually assessing the owners property and thinking of where they could use them if they knew better and where I'd plant a garden!! :) It really is like getting free bags of mulch that feed your soil.. My kids were with me and my 4 year old asked me all these questions.. Mommy.. why do you want them? Then why don't they want them then?.. They just don't hon. and they bagged them for me :)
I'm glad to see this thread has generated as much interest.. I just wanted to save those of you that want to be saved from doing more work then necessary :)
This type of gardening as well as any other method of soil building requires a bit of common sense. There seems to be a lot of knee jerking, quick changes and dissapointment when a fix is not seen in about two weeks.
I'm an old timer who believes in the basics including manures, compost, organic fertilizer like 4-2-4 and leaves with modest organic other treatments as deemed a specific need. I always suggest remineralization for at least two years with the use of humic acids and a cover crop in the fall. In the spring use mycorrhizae when planting. This requires tilling fall and spring but it builds a stronger healthier soil faster. Soil testing is most important to measure organic content and PH. We are shooting for an organic content from 5% to 10% or more and a PH of 5.6 - 7.0. for average garden plants. The other factors are of little value to organic improvement. They will improve also but generally we do nothing about them unless there is a specific one garden imballance created by very unusual circumstances.
My rationality includes the fact that we do in fact take up to 1500 pounds of produce produced by plants on 700 - 1000 sq. ft. patches. We have no way to return our own manure within the law therefor my consistant belief that we need manures as a part of our gardening ballance including its presence in the compost process. Yes this costs some bucks. Give that 1500 lbs of produce a value of a dollar a pound or even fifty cents a pound. Would it not make sense to return a couple hundred bucks of goodness for that production. After all that same produce would cost you three or four times more at the green grocers and not have near the real value of you good garden produce. My average return to my garden in dollars and cents is about three to four hundred bucks per each 1000 sq. ft. of surface soil. That includes cost of delivery and some help to apply the products and heavy work assistance.
When anyone follows these practices the excellent healthy soil will be achieved faster. Other methods like permanent mulch may follow and actually work better because of the better soil under the mulch.
How long does it take? I have helped many do this. The answer is about four years. More or less depending on the condition of the soil when begining a serious desire to improve.
I like open soil to catch the sun and bring it up to fifty degrees faster than it will warm up under mulch. Mulch in my case gets applied after the soil warms up to fifty degrees. The biology of the soil gets a little better start and starts really expanding from fifty degrees up. Please understand I am looking for the ultimate growing conditions as a competitive giant garden produce items grower. The difference is about three weeks of good growing days most years.
I have been able to make a post like this at DG without major angry response. There seems to be a more open minded associate group here. This makes it fun. This enables you to see and consider different ways to view your soils basic needs.
I am very much aware that a person with acres and acres can not do all of the things that we with a 1000 sq. ft of garden can get done. I also am aware of many smaller farms that are in fact doing most of what I preach because my message is as old as time itself. There are no tricks, magic in a bag or new principles.
OT: If anyone is interested, there are VERY EARLY plans in the works for a Dave's Garden Party sometime in 2009. Right now they are just asking if you'd be interested in attending if the location and price was right for you, to get an idea if they should continue. Here's the thread: http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/802625/#new
Strange as this may seem to you I never thought I was doing anything worthy of mention or photographic record until I became a competitive grower several years ago. I grew up with gardening of the type I speak as a very common occurance in South Eastern Pa. Even there I was just a good gardener down the road with lots of good neighbors gardening to emulate.
Yes I have hundreds of shots of the Pumpkin Patch. It was so amazing to me and others to see a single plant grow a monster pumpkin. I have a few shots in around and about the pumpkin patch of other interesting things I grow.
I know how to post here. Is this what you would like to see? I'm so new here I know of no other way. If there is another way I need someone to take me by the hand and lead me there. As another option I posted nearly a daily record of my first year pumpkin grow on another site. That may still be a possible link.
In my humblest words: "now I need a little help and further feel for what you would like to see".
This is my water tower delivering gravity fed water to the pumpkin patch's under ground T-Tape watering system. Around the edges you may be able to see Asian Pears, a butterfly garden an old apple tree and such. The plant showing is actually two one growing North and one growing South. The one growing to your left from center produced my first really nice 710 lb. pumpkin. The black plastic wind guard is still in place in this photo.
Not to long later this is what the patch looked like. You may be able to see the huge compost pile of to the far right in this pix. By this time all vines are underground and terminated while the plant is producing the first female blooms. We permit only one of three germinated to run for the gold. Hee Hee. It is a real craps shoot. Big boys grow four or five in hopes of finishing one.
I only have space for two if I am very carefull. This patch is 25' X 45' aprox.
They started in my ice cream pots about April 28 in side my house. They germinate and emerge in about four days. Four days more and they are ready to be put in a temporary greenhouse in the garden. From about May fifth to our last frost about May 20th. they need the temporary green house.
These plants are just about ready to go out or just six days from being seed planted in those pots.
Here is one of my baby plants with a shop light heater turned on for a projected cold night. The comforters and blankets would have been over the top. Shown this way makes a better shot. There is a low temperature alarm that sounds off right beside my bed in the house.
Big Pumpkin is all relative to whom! The world record established in RI last year was just seventeen pounds short of 1700 pounds.
You bet I am proud of my big pumpkins but there are many things for me to learn if I ever can join the boys at the head of the class. I'm just happy I can grow any 'ole giant at my age and health conditions considered.
WOW Doc! Your serious!! :) ... Gee, I'll think of you with your temperature alarm by your bedside the next time someone tries to make me feel like I put too much effort into my garden. Must be hard work going through all that ice cream to get those germination containers! :)
Your pumpkins are amazing and huge! I saw a CBS Sunday morning segment on the pumpkin competition and I know it is fierce and those guys are serious! Interesting that most of the growers I saw were men..HMM??? Why is that and what does that mean?? Ha.. the pumpkins I've grown have never reached more than say maybe..10 pounds max! :) Oh well.. gotta start somewhere and I don't know if I could be convinced to rig a temperature alarm warning system to my bedside.. Maybe thats why women don't do it..once the diapers and nighttime feedings are over, never unnecessarily wake me up at night again. I always wonder if any collapse on their own weight when they are being lifted?? You must have a system to lift too?? We LOVE Halloween and we carve our pumpkins here the night of :)
Tir, yes I have read it and it's a very easy and simple read.. if you don't have it, i do think you could very easily get the gist by hanging out here :) This thread has grown fast, but there might be some other info that would be good for you to know if you had a chance to read it. If not jsut ask and I will help in any way I can :)
Doc.. I'd love to know more about your compost tea set up.. I made alfalfa tea once and I strained it through women's hosiery and it still clogged my sprayer.. it was a pain.. Got a better system?? Looks like you do.. I'm trying to figure it out from the picture.
The secret to living with the difficulties of delivering tea to the patch is solved one of two ways. The contractor rent-all centers can rebuild your two gallon sprayer wand with a 35% nozzle. That means it will pass 35% solids as used to place curing materials on concrete. The other and easier method is to make forty gallon baches, in a plastic drum, throw in a simple inexpensive sump pump, hitch up a garden hose and go scientific by placing thumb over the other open end of the hose. The least expensive sump pump will deliver forty gallons to the patch in seventeen minutes. The left overs can go all over your other beds, compost piles and grass areas. I have done it both ways but much prefer the sump pump route. Yet if you want to go for under leaf application to establish living biology as a pathegon prevent practice the wand does that job best.
I agree with you that straining even down to sprinkling can is a hoot. Upgrade to handle the slurry if you can.
Shoot I missed the good part. To see one of the best presentations on aerobic compost tea go to the site of North Country Organics and find the Bobolator brewer data. I have the Biti Bobolator which is no longer available but all of the data on the larger unit is all the same just a bit larger. This is the only site I know of that has tested and posted the biological content of the compost tea made from their tea quality compost.
After reading this thread last week I went out and got ~40 bags of leaves and grass from around the neighborhood and sheet mulched the side of my house. I loosely followed the plan from a book I am reading- Gaia's Garden. Someone recommended it here on some thread. Anyway, I had read it but this thread inspired me to do it.
David...welcome to the Lay Z Club. You will enjoy your membership. Next thing you will be noticing is the return of the worm. When the worm poops all life begins to pulsate and move towards your better soil. Mercy this gets exciting. :)
I've just raked up my mulching leaves...signs of spring are starting everywhere.
My experience is if they are left while spring is in progress, the new leaves and buds pick up fungus, rust and other things..so the key is to get them out of the beds by the time new leaves and buds come out too far.
I saw a pink magnolia full of buds on the way to work today.
This past Sunday, the weather was nice enough to cut off all the remaining leftovers from last year off my irises and sure enough they were resprouting. I leave dead daylilly leaves in place as I think they are a great mulch and removing them would expose more bare soil to weed seeds. They disappear nicely once they resprout.
My camelias are blooming :)
However, we might be in store for "winterty precipitation" this afternoon.. so spring will have to wait some. Rj, I mulch with shredded leaves (leaf mold) after I've left the leaves from winter in my beds and haven't seen any disease from it on my plants. Maybe it matters as to how much and what type of leaves you have in your beds?? What plants?? Hmm?? What plants of yours get rust and the other things?? :) It's sad when plants are putting their buds out to bloom and a hard frost comes and nips them.. Oh well, makes the blooms that much sweeter if they make it I guess. :)
Texas may be different...however I have raked or blown all my leaves into or onto my various beds and gardens for over forty years.
I go to the township leaf piles and haul in trailer loads to add to my own gold mine.
After the leaves have settled down from snow pressure we place a lite sifting of course ground or single ground bark mulch to pretty up the place and hold those leaves in place.
Mother Nature drops hers to earth where they fall. She may blow them around a bit and make some spots deeper than others, pee off a few neighbors but she never rakes them or removes them except by rot where in they drop into and nuture the soil.
You know, funny you mentioned that..because I was just thinking about that yesterday..wondering how a layer of bark mulch on top of the leaves would work. I usually don't experience any problems until the weather starts warming up, and that's when I take off the leaves.
Susan, yes..your right it does matter on the leaves... the leaves not so good is from the water oak tree and the darn million marble rolling nuts it throws out.. ultimately it become good mulch, but the break down process seems to leave a bit to be desired.
The other leaves that the garden loves, is yet from another oak tree- the big oak trees. That gets the aft part of the garden and seems to present little issues. Keep in mind that my garden is of a jungle variety and there is alot of close quarters, so ventilation might be a contributing factor.
Mixed leaves when composted or rotted in place to feed where they fell or collected have roughly the same nutrient value as fresh cow manure. Part of the reason is that the plant material leaf or blades of grass have not been run through the animal. When it goes trough the animal quite a bit of the value is extracted to grow the animal.
Now, about the Double Digging--I wonder how many gardeners use that method? It would be worth a new thread just to hear different opinions...I do know it's loads of work and I used to do it eons ago...but I can't remember what the results were--I know we didn't get any 710 pound pumpkins!
Thanks Tabasco :) Actually... a very similar article was just put up! Be sure and check out another like minded composters methods in a newly written article on DG..by Summerkid.. Confessions of a crude composter http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/497/
She's actually wilder than me.. Summer does animal products too!
We all have to find what works best for us individually in our garden, but I think it helps to lean as much as possible from the folks that have been doing it for a while and found better ways for themselves along the way.
Tabasco, I hope the no fuss method works out for you. I bet if you asked how many people did the double digging method on a new thread and they had been gardening for any reasonable amount of time, it would be a very quite thread! :) It's just a crazy amount of work. When I pick up a gardening book that contains that information and recommendation at the bookstore, it's automatically passed over in favor of one written by someone that still has their back intact.
Snow on the ground this morning, but spring is around the corner...
Quoting:I bet if you asked how many people did the double digging method on a new thread and they had been gardening for any reasonable amount of time, it would be a very quite thread! :) It's just a crazy amount of work.
Soulgarden, I was surprised this year to read in the Royal Horticultural Society magazine, that the RHS no longer recommends double-digging! I always thought that it was one of the "rules" of gardening in Britain.
And thank goodness for that. It is a massive amount of work. My garden wouldn't know what happened to it if I double-dug. Single digging is tough enough. I always thought it was my quiet little dirty secret. I love the fact that it is now viewed as old-fashioned and unnecessary. I love the idea of lasagna gardening!!! And composting in place (though isn't that a little unsightly???).
I've lived in this house since 1979 and read the White Flower Farm book advocating double digging, so I went out there and double dug. I didn't really notice anything really jaw dropping, probably because I didn''t add anything organic at the bottom of the trench. (In my defense, I don't think they said anything about that, probably you were just supposed to "know".)
Time passes, oh, about 20 years LOL! and my daffodils are just not doing what you'd think they should be doing with that great drainage. So, this time, I start really digging, DEEP and I run into a piece of concrete. No Matter when I put the shovel, I literally run into concrete...so I dg and I dig and I finally find all the outline edges, but I can NOT get that sucker up and out of where I dug. It was freeform, but roughly 48" diam. with a long tail.
Mr. Clean (mah hero!) comes home after a hard day at work and sees me down in a hole about 36 inches deep with a big piece of conrete and he thought I put it in there for a rock garden! But when I tell him what happened, and with herculean strength, he gets it up and out. (It was almost shell thin on the edges, and about 2 or 3 inches thick at the thickest, but that was enough to prevent water from perking through, and it was thick enough that a shovel didn't break it apart.)
Apparently on new construction, when the truck comes to pour cement for the garage, sidewalks, porch, steps, they clean the cement out of the truck and chutes right there on the spot and just cover up all the junk with soil. My house was built in 1949 and that concrete slab had been there for 50 years!
My drainage is really good now, and the daffodils are growing and multiplying...but I never would have known if I hadn't dug waaaay down.
Other than that I can't think of a reason to do it ;))
That might have been overstated - I was knee deep, or maybe a little seeper, so probably 20-24 inches. LOL! It just seemed like 3 feet down when you're doing it!
Hi Happy, Long time so see. I lost your seeds! (But I didn't forget) Did I tell you how bad the seed set was on the impatiens last year? I had a pack of 7 seeds for you, but I wanted to keep adding to as I could catch them, but after the middle of June, I didn't have any seeds at all, and then I lost (misplaced) the original 7 seeds! It was really sad, and I kept going out to look but there was nothing. It was especially sad because I got some fancy impatiens from Annie$ Annual$ and they didn't set one seed, either, even though they practically wrote in the catalog, "THIS IS A WEED!!!"
Suzy: I have exactly zero recollection of expecting any seeds from you. And it's a tragedy narrowly averted, in my view. It's an awfully good thing you didn't send me anything, because despite huge and magnificent intentions, I grew just about nothing from seed last year -- and it isn't looking good for this year either. I bit off way more than I could chew last year, and I'm really trying to be a little more disciplined next year. But (and with your sage advice) I did plant a lot of bulbs -- I hope not too late in the season. I still have more to plant -- I hope they'll get enough of a chill period this late in the season. It'll be a noble experiment!
Your late planted bulbs may come up and even bloom for it is last year's stores that produces this year's bloom. Your plant leaves will then attempt to produce from possibly less roots that desirable the bulbs for next year. Therefore you may have bulbs and their roots that will have difficulty getting the job done not for this year but next. They usually however do recover and show proper bloom the third year. If you can live with this there should be no other loss. Bulbs are pretty forgiving. Chevy Chase has a relatively mild winter. When I lived in Waynesboro, Pa. near Hagerstown, Md. I planted bulbs late and got away with it on several occasions.
That is very reassuring. I googled the chill period requirement, and was appalled to see that at least 14 weeks was considered necessary, and my poor bulbs won't get anything like that. I don't mind at all losing a year of bloom, if that is the price I have to pay. I was afraid I'd lose them altogether. I want them to perennialize, so I am in this for the long haul.
Happy...when we moved to this location my wife's dad died in late spring. MIL had to go to a home. The closure included selling the homestead.
Right there in late spring I moved some of their bulbs. That would likely be the worst possible time to disturb them. The were really pouting when I replanted them around the first of June. It took them three years to recover but recover the did. We have them to this day. That was an emotional based chance I took. My wife remembers picking that specific flower as a little girl for her mom.
Docgipe -- that is very reassuring. I appreciate you post!
What a wonderful thing you did to move those bulbs. I'm sure it gives enormous comfort to your wife. When my mother sold her house many years ago and moved in with me, we moved some of as many of her plants as we could to my yard. We had to do it under the stealth of darkness, because the new owners would not allow us to move any plants, even before the closing. (Silly of me to have asked, I suppose.) Of course, they then tore up the years and destroyed everything -- totally ridiculous, but that's another story. But I still love the plants I can identify as coming from my mom's yard.
Happy and docpipe, I love your stories about all those beautiful living remembrances in your gardens of your DM and DMIL. How lovely.
I've been doing something a little different. My own mother was not really a gardener when we grew up in Southern California, so I have nothing from her garden. But now that DH and I live in a cold-winter climate (two years so far) I've been planting things in her honor that Mom always told me she missed from her childhood in North Dakota--plants that like a winter-chill, like lilac, forsythia, and tulips. (Yep, they get a HECK of a winter chill in ND.)
And just to bring this back to the original topic of this thread---last fall, I planted some Darwin and species tulips in honor of Mom in my first real lasagna-bed. The layer of compost ended up being only about 4 inches deep over our good ol' Cape Cod sand. I threw in bulb food at the bottom of each bulb -hole. Hope the bulbs get enough "nutrition" to keep coming up again--I plan on top-dressing with more compost every year.
Happy, Your daffies will be fine if the bulbs were hard and firm when you planted them (not soft, or mushy). I routinely import bulbs from NZ and AUS and plant them when they get here in Feb-Mar-April. They usually bloom in July or August (the flowers lasting but a day or two in the hot, hot weather). Then they go on to ripen, and then come up the following spring as if they had beenborn and raised north of the equator.
Suzy: Bless you! What a relief! I have been planting daffodils for years in my perennial beds that I periodically over water, and finally caught on that daffs need a dryer summer (not that they had been doing so poorly, but still. . .. ) so I planted a ton -- late -- in front of my house, and was so hoping they'd be happy there forever. Come to think of it, I think you've given me this advice in prior years, and the daffs did ok, but I started to panic this year for some unknown reason. I guess it was all that random googling!
Double Digging is what the mean, experienced gardener tells the newbie to do in order to break them into the world of dirt by paying their dues upfront for future flowers. No one in their right mind does that and it's about time the British gardening horticultural aristocrats came to their senses as well. (rolling eyes and shaking head!)
Happy.. Okay, I'll admit it.. The garden outside my back door and nearest to my kitchen door looks very trashy right now. I've got broccoli stems, orange peels, banana peels, spinach, apple cores... all types of vegetative waste laying right on top of the soil.. However, soon enough it will be covered with either fresh compost which I'm waiting for the weather to warm some so I can work outside or leaf mold... I wont do the lazy back door toss during spring and summer and when I have guests coming over.. But yes, it can look quite "funny" if you leave it on top. During warmer months, I will take it to a fallow veggie bed and lightly cover.
Suzy, glad you got the concrete out and I have a similar tale.. This home was designed by my father in law and built in 1970. Right before we completely redid the entire front yard and took out many weak and dangerous pines and had a grader come though, there was a large depressed area that kept sinking down more and more every year. Turns out that back when the house was built, it was legal to cover the building waste trash in the yard and cover with soil...so that area obviously had stuff that had slowly decomposed over the years and a sink hole was formed!
Good story, Illoquin! Though I thought you were going to tell me you dug down and then pulled the cement lid off the septic tank! Now that would be double digging!
I first double dug in 1976 when I watched 'Jim Crocket's Victory Garden' (I think) on PBS and he explained the strategy. So I had my DH double dig our garden patch at the grad students garden field at Univ. of Wisc. That was a glorious garden, if I do say so myself. So much great manure from their dairy cows (very contented). And all the grad students were from all over the world so there was such a huge range of veggies planted and strange gardening methods for each 20 x 40 plot. I remember I sent to Paris for 'les haricot vert' seeds--such a thrill. We hauled a lot of manure that summer but the beans were delish! I always loved Jim Crockett even though he recommended double digging and almost caused divorce that summer!
Yes, I think double digging could very well cause a divorce! :) Those pictures remind me of someone digging a grave!! And that's what you'll eventually do if that's your method..Dig your own grave! Feed the worms and let them take it down for you!!
Well, after a winter of weathering, the leaves, mulch, newspapers, and whatever disintegrate and it makes a planting medium that is quite nice. I planted perennials the following spring and they did quite well. In your TX climate you may have to judge for yourself how to proceed...
If you go to the Amazon Lasagna book link and click on 'search inside' you can read several pages that will give a good explanation...
The Brits continue to be big proponents of Double Digging and I see quite a few references on the French gardening sites, too. They are known to be great gardeners, so I don't think we can just toss out the concept; but, for me I would have to have a really compelling reason to do it these days in our soil here...
Am doing my 'Wintersowing' this weekend. Another 'E-Z Does It' gardening technique and fun, too.
What I like about double digging is being able to remove the rocks, and there are plenty here. And you can plant stuff right away. Which reminds me, soulgardenlove, did you grow your roses in lasagna beds? How soon did you plant them? I live on a busy street and I wanted to get my bed out front planted as quickly as possible, but I'm lasagna-ing some in the side and back this winter.
Illoquin, the White Flower Farm book does mention adding humus and cow manure.
French intensive gardening has been around since the 1800's - it uses double digging, but double digging has been around as long as there have been shovels.
p.s. I'm not dead or crazy and I'm not getting divorced, even though She won't help in the garden at all, let alone wield a pick axe!
Maybe I added stuff, it was a long time ago, but as I recall, there wasn't a lot of money to be spent on bagged ammendments. I was mostly trying to say I didn't notice any difference, but then I had a 48" diam (plus the tail) concrete slab underneath where I dug, so my results cannot be valid anyway. On the otherhand, it is mightly fine now, so maybe I did do some good.
I was young, oh, so young, and though it was hard work, it was oddly sort of fun. I could not begin to do that double digging today.
Claypa, wow.. maybe I wouldn't have been so strongly worded and opinionated had i realized anyone still did that!! OPPS!! I go for vast quantity in my garden and I still think the quality of my plants are great due specifically to what is contained in the top 12 inches of soil. I try to put down horse manure and abundant amounts of leaf mold on top of my clay. I mulch with the leaf mold too. When I'm digging, if I reach past the black and hit orange clay, I just mix it on the spot and plant... the easy way :) Oh, and just because i don't double dig, doesn't mean I'm not somewhat crazy still.. I am. Anyone who's pulled weeds in the rain and by light of a lantern is a little crazy I think :)
Suzy, I still refuse to buy bagged amendments full price when I can get all this great organic matter.. It would take a bank loan to buy all the bags worth I've used of free organic materials I've spread.
Yar preaching to the choir, but the first few years we lived here I didn't get that compost pile going because I needed the leaves for another project.
We didn't bag the leaves, but I needed them desperately to build a little woods off to the side of the house. I think for 3 or 4 years, every single leaf got blown into that area to kill the grass and make a woods. You'd never in a million years guess that 28 years ago it was pristine lawn, well, after 28 years, I guess yo uwould, but 6 or 7 years after I thin you would havebee amwazed. :)) My neighbors weren't too happy, but the last of them who remember the beautiful green lawn have moved away.
Now, leaves in my neighborhood are a nightmare. The trees are all gigantic and leaves are ankle deep or deeper everywhere. Several neighbors saw Mr. Clean getting rid of leaves by blowing them off to the side and have done similar things in their back yards. Or they have seen us take the leaves to the back, and have started their own compost (technically leaf mold) piles.
Compare this to when we moved in and every neighbor blew or raked the leaves to the street and burned them at the curb!!! Huge long piles of them! I am dead serious. We moved in in late Oct and met most of the neighbors while they were burning leaves on/near the street.
Now said neighbors are getting older and they have their leaves done...they get taken away in a truck and no one knows what happenes to them. We do have people come down from the burbs looking for leaf bags in our trash, and we have to send them 2 doors down to one of the few people who still bags them.
My sons bought me a chipper/shredder last year. At first I couldn't figure out what to do with it. The slot is only ~ 2 by 8 inches, maybe less. Sticks kept jamming the blades. But I have a tendency to wait things out until my little brain can figure out to make use of something.
This year my good husband made me a fenced garden at the side of his shop. The heavy wire fence (hog wire?) forms a half circle or oval at the far end. I don't like straight lines. About 5 feet outside the perimeter he made set posts and a rebar strand for muscadine grapes that I transplanted from other places. I know I'm not explaining this well. It's kind of a half-oval outside another half-oval.
Inside the garden we piled horse manure and rotted hay. I forked it into rows, more or less a spiral shape (like I've seen in permaculture books). I raked up several big loads of oak leaves, then filled a 5 gallon bucket with them, crushing them slightly with my hands, then fed them into the shredder to make a well-chopped and more compact mixture that I spread onto my garden rows. I'm going to put landscape fabric (nursery grade) between the rows and in front of the grapesvines. I also use cardboard and whole leaves as a kill mulch to cut down on weeding around fruit plants.
Long story short, no double digging for my soil's microbes. I'm building up soil like soulgardenlove.
I double dug my entire vegetable garden (40 X 60) a very long time ago.
That's what was recommended at the time. And after I did all this, I decided to install raised beds (!). If I only knew then what I know now...
What I can recommend for those that have to deal with CLAY, is to get ahold of a spading fork, & push it into the soil - in other words, break open the top layer by piercing, but DON'T dig!
On top of this, layer all your leaves, manure, whatever, & proceed as in the Lasagna method. This has speeded the process up where I have heavy clay - as in Blue clay that has a super-fine tight structure. I usually plunge a shovel in just out of curiousity: I like to see what's going on underground! Other than that, I layer & exercise patience: it works well.
The only reason to turn soil is to fluff it up. When the OM content is 10% or greater the native worms will maintain excellent soil conditions for you. Permanent mulches by any name help maintain nice tilth. All systems can do better at maintaing excellent tilth when the compression from us walking in our gardens is decreased or eliminated.
What I have not seen here is any discussion of using pieces of planking to establish walkways and reduce compression. Home gardeners can do this. Larger growers may not go to this extreme because of the equipment used in farming. Think of your planks or board pieces as very long term mulch. They will not reduce the effect of any other form of permanent mulch. Of course I would not use treated lumber. If you pick slugs they will be found under your walkway boards.
Native worms? I think there is no such critter. The earthworms we call the gardener's friends are actually European stowaways from colonial times.
In fact, they are not good for forests, especially in the Northeast. They eat the leaf mulch too fast and rob natural soil habitats of nutrients. The roly-polies, which everyone thinks are bad, are a natural part of forest duff, as are microorganisms such as fungi that many plants depend on. And if these plants are starved out of existence, the insects and other wildlife that use them also go away.
Sara Stein wrote a wonderful book--Noah's Garden--years ago about the complicated connections between soil and plants and animals. It is definitely not a science book. It is very readable and helped me understand the importance of keeping nature alive on my own property. One more reason I try not to tip over the soil any more than I have to.
I suppose one can find support for any position concerning the presence of earthworms which populate the soils of the whole world.
It would be difficult for me to believe that the worms of the world and all the wonderfull good they provide would be eliminated or cited in any one instance as not good for that portion of the living world.
I wonder from which soils the rest of the world was populated because the worms of one area are not at all necessarily related to the worms of any other area.
I wonder why the American soils would have been been denied this step within evolution or the hands of the Creator.
I wonder why any living plant would be worse off because of the presence of worms whose casts are of a much higher fertilizer value than if what they have eaten in the first place just rots in place.
There are a whole bunch of questions one would have to confront the originator of an aledged worm problem in the forests anywhere. I suspect it may take us back to baloney being spread at the suggestion of those who would like to sell a chemical fix to the forestry departments. The problems created by man are the demise of our great forests not the lowly earthworm which will be a part of the rebuilding if we can correct some of our "Man damage".
All are right when they say our living trees do not seem as healthy and strong as they once were.
Some are right when they say more and more disease and insect damage seems to pop up. Few acknowledge that nature wipes out the weak and frail first in order to find a stronger species.
Would you believe that do-gooders stopped a Pennsylvania State University controlled use of midnight soil to the coal stripping areas where it is very difficult to grow anything. I guess they would rather accept mine acid run off as compaired to biologically charged healthy soil run off to make downsteam waysides even more healthy. Yes indeed that did actually happen. What a shame.
Doc, what is midnight soil? I've never heard that term. And why would anyone stop an effort to rehab the mess made by strip mining? We have natural gas in Louisiana, but people are complaining about the high prices, so the electric company wants to convert power plants here from gas to coal! I'd rather have nuclear--it's less damaging to the planet than coal. Coal is the biggest polluter in the world.
Dean, you're right--National Georgraphis is where I read about earthworms, in an article about Jamestown. A great article, if someone wants to read about the history of agriculture in the US. The colonists were so pig-headed about doing things the European way. The Indians lived close to nature in a nomadic life style, using slash-and-burn agriculture that opened the forest to grasslands and shrubs for wildlife. After a while, they moved on and let the land recover naturally. But the English insisted on doing things the old way (and some of them starved to death).
Here is one of many articles about earthworms.
"Scientists believe that earthworms were once native to North America, but most died off when the northern half of the continent was buried under glaciers.
Small populations lingered in pockets of warmer soils, in the southeastern United States and along the Pacific Coast. Now most earthworms in the country are descended from immigrants.
When the worms first arrived is hard to say, but scientists think they may have followed Europeans. Wherever humans have worked the soil, Dr. Hendrix said, exotic earthworms have been introduced."
Midnight Soil is a term I maybe should not have used. I think it goes back to the war and early knowlege of oriental nations that gathered human waste and placed it on their crop lands after most were in bed sleeping...thus Midnight Soil.
We have cities making and selling the same from their treatment plants. Yet other cities and areas in our country leagally prohibit such action. Such was the case with the university strip mining soils placement of their human waste plant compost.
I frankly am not concerned just how those fine earthworms pervailed or arrived. They are a blessing to any soil they inhibit. They have become native over the years. I live just below the southern edge of the ice flows in Pennsylvania. By now the native worms could have gone north or the imported could have been moved north and eastward. Science is only guessing in this instance. Some may have crossed lines and created new lines of worms. They all do us a great favor. I know there have been differing opinions. However the worm hurting mountains theory is just plain wrong. All those worms make casts and cause the conditions to be better in all cases. We can not always trust what a single or few individuals come up with. We never quite know for sure who is paying for such hogwash or why. Sometimes it may be that the professor needs to be published. Every one needs at least one book. Science has been wrong so many times we observe from a distance. Science can fix rockets and build smart bombs. Beyond a shadow of a doubt they should leave soil matters to the field of bilology. Only biological recovery will restore the damage that has been done. Hopefully we have not gone to far in the wrong direction.
I hold a bit of stock in a few well known chemical companies. It scares me to know just a few of the recent human medicine errors. Some pretty serious stuff happening there. Fewer eyes have been or continue to be on the soil additives and amendments. It really bothers me that Merk is running the last boo boo into the statute of limitations using the power of emense company legal skills to avoid paying damages to anyone. Nothing new here...I just thought they might be big and strong enough to help those that have been hurt.
The conversation is really interesting. I have just returned from a day out with my kids in Atlanta and we saw the IMAX "Sea Monsters, A Prehistoric Adventure". It relates to the earthworm conversation in that all living species past and present have had to adapt to their ever changing physical environment or they have died. It could be said that enormous 25 foot long fish were once native to Kansas, as their skeletal remains have been found there, but of course it was covered by an ocean at the time. Sure, earthworms weren't below the surface when there was ice all over the northern part of this continent, but neither were the plants and animals those states now call native. As those habitats have changed, so have the flora and fauna, including earthworms.
I too am suspect that earth worms are causing the demise of forests as I believe earthworms promote growth and life. I would have to see the article and the logical reasoning behind their theory that the worms are a detriment to the forests and be convinced that it is truly a cause-effect relationship. Does anyone have a link or can you tell me where to find it?
I schlep through beds where I know I should place the occasional stepping stone, but I pretend I weigh less and think I'm just keeping my worms in business when I delicately compact the soil :) I know better though..
This is a great article about worms and why they are so great :) Personally, I can't get enough of them.. in my garden that is :)
Building Your Soil
The Role of Earthworms in Healthy Soils
The earthworm has all but been forgotten in modern agriculture. Many common practices like frequent tillage, fertilizing with anhydrous ammonia, heavy pesticide use, and weed-free farming have led to its demise. So much of what the earthworm used to do for free, we now have to do with tractors and chemicals. Here is a summary of some of the many benefits derived from healthy earthworm populations, along with a list of suggestions and a few tips on what you can do to bring them back
Earthworms Churn the Soil and Make it Porous
They improve the soil mix by helping it achieve the proper air, water, and solids ratio for maximum plant growth. Without them, we find it necessary to continually rip, disc, and springtooth the ground. Unknowingly, we further compact the soil while trying to "uncompact" it.
Earthworms Improve Water Infiltration Rates
Its maze of tunnels increases the soils ability to absorb water. Without their activity, we are left to apply expensive materials to improve permeability, such as gypsum or some form of calcium. While these are good materials to apply to most soils and can do much good, they would be much less necessary if earthworms were present.
Earthworms Neutralize Soil pH
Analysis of earthworm castings, or earthworm manure, shows that the soil that comes out of the back end of an earthworm is closer to a neutral pH (7) than what goes in the front end, regardless of whether the existing soil is above or below pH (7). This is achieved by the action of the worms calciferous gland and the buffering action of carbonic acid. Think of all the limestone applications we have had to make to do what the earthworm used to do naturally.
Earthworms Bring Up Minerals and Make Plant Nutrients More Available
Soil which has passed through the gut of an earthworm shows much more available phosphorus and potassium than the same soil which has not passed through the worm. Without the worms, you might as well enter your chemical supplier's phone number into your phone's memory for rapid dialing.
Earthworms Stimulate Microbial Populations
Free living nitrogen fixing bacteria are more numerous around the sides of the earthworm burrows. The mucous lining of the burrows are excellent sources of nutrients and ideal rooting environments. By contrast, we must till and fertilize to create good root growth. While tilling to create looser soil for easier root growth, we destroy many roots and root hairs.
Earthworms Compost Plant Residues
The activity of the earthworm gut is like a miniature composting tube that mixes, conditions, and inoculates plant residues. The earthworm removes plant litter from the soil surface, turning it into free manure. Farms without many earthworms must buy more off-farm fertilizers and often end up buying compost "starting" agents called field sprays, which are wholly unnecessary in soils with high earthworm counts.
Higher Earthworm Populations Go Hand in Hand with Reduced Harmful Nematode Counts
As yet, the exact reasons are unclear, but soil with earthworms invariably has less parasitic nematodes than soil without earthworms. Earthworms are the best indicator yet of healthy soils. Good soils contain a wide range of beneficial organisms which are directly stimulated by the activities of earthworms. These organisms trap, strangle, eat, and simply crowd out the plant-eating nematodes. By contrast, soils without earthworms and a healthy microbiology must be fumigated prior to planting. This fumigation kills both good and bad organisms indiscriminately. While fumigation may guarantee a "clean" start for a young plant, its protective action is fairly short-lived. When the nematodes return, and they always do, there will be little there to deter their proliferation.
Encouraging Earthworm Return
Check your soils to see how well they are doing. If your soils don't have high earthworm counts, begin to encourage their return by:
Planting cover crops.
Administering manures and compost.
Trying to keep the soil "covered" with a layer of mulch such as shreddings and mowing as often as possible.
Earthworms will definitely increase as conditions improve.
A Few Tips on Cultivation and Cover Crops
Earthworm activities are deeply affected by cultivation, pesticide and fertilizer applications and by cultural practices. Ploughing decreases the abundance of earthworm communities. A study in England found that after 25 years of cultivation, earthworm populations decreased by roughly 85 percent. It was found that each cultivation killed approximately one percent of the population. But this was deep ploughing. Light cultivation had little direct effect on populations. However, one indirect effect of any form of cultivation is increased soil compaction, which does adversely affect earthworms. Although the top five inches of ground has been loosened, below is ploughpan which hardens with each repeated pass.
The negative effects of cultivation can be offset by the use of cover crops and organic fertilizers. These practices improve the microclimatic condition in the topsoil and provide nutritive resources. The effects of inorganic fertilizers on earthworms is variable. We do know, however, that fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate can be damaging because they increasing soil acidity. In some incidences, whole populations have been wiped out. Liming acid soils generally increases earthworm populations.
The effects of pesticides on earthworm populations are just as variable. Organochlorides, such as Chlordane, certain organophosphates, and carbamates are especially harmful. On the other hand, most herbicides seem to be harmless, except where their use has greatly decreased the worm's food supply.
When considering earthworms, you may want to think of the things that the $500 per acre fumigation doesn't provide: No improved mineral content, no improved permeability, no improved beneficial organism count, and no improved fertility. On top of that, it kills all your earthworms.
Earthworms are always working to make the soil better, not only for their own survival and reproduction, but also for the healthy survival of their primary food source, the residues from your crops. Earthworms are truly the farmer's best friend. And one last added benefit: they provide free fishing bait.
im soooo glad i found this thread !!!
ok so i have some acreage and it is woods and 9 acres of old soy bean fields and corn.
So i got my work cut out for me getting this old field to once again be a fertile ,rich soil.
So i got leaves coming out my wazooo and was thinking of using them as mulch for the garden.
We are also digging a basement . Thinking i might use that soil in the garden. It is from the woods.
I will absolutley get that book on lasagna gardening
No more digging . Can it be .
I read the online Athens link and I'm not convinced by this article.. It's not enough for me. To say that they hopped over from Japan and are destroying the trees..when Japan has the most amazing forests and trees and gardens and some of what is in my garden originally came from Japan.. I need more to believe these guys are bad! :)
Great link Claypa
Yes i too have a hard time wondering how a worm hijacked to America ?
i am learining alot from this :)
eehehehehe Doccat Godzilla, i love them old movies
maybe they hijacked on Motheria the giant moth
Here is part of one article about earthworms. If you're interested in the topic, please check out the site. There are many others that say the same thing. Just type in "earthworms forest" and you'll see 10,000 sites expressing essentially the same view on the subject, very few disagreements.
"Görres said that while earthworms do an excellent job of recycling nutrients, "when they eat away the duff layer, all the plant seeds that germinate there, like trillium and mayflowers and wood anemone, may disappear or may not have any place to germinate. Other creatures that live in the duff and forest litter like salamanders and ground-nesting birds may be affected as well. Within a decade or two, the worms can essentially change the soil profile into something like the black mineral-rich soils that are found in many European forests."
"All this is not to say that earthworms aren't beneficial. In fact, Amador believes that worms could be used in place of some of the fertilizers used in agriculture."
Well now...in Northcentral Pensylvania's mountains the trees have matured. The canopy literally eliminates sunlight reaching the forest floors. The forest floor is covered by fern and rodadendron so thick one can not walk through in many many acres. The brambles and other previously valued floor plants are non existant. There is no brouse in a normal sense.The deer population is to high. They eat literally everything that germinates including trillium and all of the mushrooms. The PH is about 5.5 and worsening as the wind from the west brings us more acids.
Over the last five years we have diminished the deer herd by a very large percentage. Still there is no recovery worth mentioning. By fencing and complete elimination of the deer recovery is very factual within four years. This certainly can not be done to prove anything but the facts concerning deer in our acreage. The recovery does not show us anything that can not live and grow at a PH 6. or lower.
There are literally no worms in the mountain soils which were historically under the deep freeze during the ice age. The top soil hardly exists yet the trees grow nicely but very slow. We are in what is called the second growth cutting. It took a hundred years to produce a marketable second growth. There were few if any earthworms to eat anything in these forests. I have a second home (translated hunting camp) right in the middle of all this. It is a sad sight to see and a difficult situation to ponder.
Without major management changes concerning all of the regeneration needs there will not be a following crop outside of trash ferns and a weed called rotadendron following the harvest of our second growth.
I know deer are terrible nuisances, but part of the problem is that human housing and agriculture and industry have shrunk wildlife habitats drastically. I am surrounded by pine plantations, which don't provide much food for anything except squirrels maybe. So my land is their dining hall. Deer, rabbits, possums, raccoons. They hit my blueberries, grapes, purt'near anything we grow. Peas are the favorite of deer.
As for real forests with earthworms, we don't have many of them. Loggers clearcut right up to streams. The only time we let loggers on our land was to take out some naturallly occurring big pines that had become infested from pine bark beetles--a result of monoculture on neighbors' properties.
Hey Maypop...try snow peas. Two years I grew them and the deer left them alone. They may have been on a pea diet but I doubt that very much. We like snow peas better than shelled peas anyway. That being said just watch. This year they will like snow peas. :)
Sorry to hear you have critter problems. I think to one degree or another most of us surburbies have critter problems. Our state has extended hunting seasons in our area which has helped some. The birds of prey seem to handle the smaller critters. My major headache is groundhogs. Eleven whistle pigs (ground hogs) were put down on my small property alone last summer. One snuck in and burrowed in right under my nose. We smoked that one in the den. I can do literally nothing but shoot because of neighborhood burrows I can not get to with the smoke bombs.
What? What? What? Worms are bad? Good Grief! Big or small I welcome them all. So, they were wiped out by glaciation? Hogwash! Even in Alaska, we have big ones (not the nightcrawler size, but, 6 inchers when the summer is in high gear, 60-70F) and smaller ones all the time. Eats too much forest duff? We have to scrape 5 feet down to find real dirt under trees! No Lasagna layering up here either. In 3 years we would still have the layers unless we added something to heat it up, Like manure, fishmeal, grass clippings, coffee grounds and a little last year's compost to give it the microbiology network for a start. I don't turn, but I do compost all at once to get some heat and keep the heat up by adding the layers and keeping it moist. The ground freezes in Sept and thaws in June/July, including the compost pile. The layers have insulating value in that the compost pile is frozen to the ground, all 5 feet of it and requires me raking it as it thaws each sunny day to claim my 'black gold.'
I have to vote for worms being good, no matter where they came from.
And between Carol and I are a lot of mixed mountain and mountain farms. As far as I know the farm lands and mixed farm and woodlot lands all have nightcrawlers and other varieties too.
I have read articles making bad worm claims. I write them all off as very poorly organized baloney most likely written by one with little or no experience of what he professes to write about.
Then that professor tags one of his academic buddys and agrees to make the buddys book his book for next semesters students and his book gets ordered by the buddy for the same purpose. In this case when it happens several hundred students have mostly wasted their time in those classes. I suspect all students have had this experience. I know for sure I did on several occasions.
Doc...like the academic that invented double digging! :)
Hi Carol! Yes, I guess in Alaska all bets are off using this method and you probably do need some heat generation if your ever going to make soil out of it :)
More urban areas, ours included are seeing coyotes encroaching.. and it's not because their natural areas are being destroyed, its because the food sources are greater and easier in more populated areas.. and we've never ever seen them before and they are here to stay... Things change.. habitats change..it's the only constant.
I guess all I have to say about the worm "problem" is that again, ...the only constant is change and there is no use worrying about change that is inevitable. Habitats change over time and nobody is going to stop an underground army of worms no matter where they are from. I got a real good chuckle reading the part of that article that said the methane released from worms adds to greenhouse gasses? I didn't realize worms had such a bad gas problem. Worms and my kids.. who knew?
Susan...worms, your kids and the horrible beagle resting at your feet during morning coffee.
Now that is a red necker way to start the day! I'll tell 'em Susan...Folks if you don't have a dog you can not possibly know what you are missing. :)
Having experienced all of the above I do not understand why worms, kids and dogs have not been accused of causing the global warming problems. Do not overlook old folks. I think I shall ask Hilleroischus what her position is on this important issue. I'll bet anyone a hundred bucks she has never swallowed a live worm. Maybe I won't waste my time. :)
soulgardenlove: Thanks for this thread. Ive just finished an article for Dave's Garden on No-Dig Gardening: Sustainable Alternative to the Rototiller. Its an overview to the method of gardening that you have just presented here, so now I can link to what you have just said here.
I think you should distinguish between roto tilling and plowing, the latter is more likely to cause compaction issues than a rototiller in a home garden. I use both methods, since I would like these new beds sometime this year. Ruth Stout's method of straw bale appeals to me, but the neighbor's would probably show up on the front porch with guns. We live on a corner lot with all the "fun" that entails. I use lasanga in small areas and am actually building a bigger rose bed with one, but it won't be ready until spring. Btw, I use a Horse Troybilt, weighing in at about 800lbs. We're on our 2nd one and have been gardening organically off and on for over 25 years in VA red clay, which I have little of anymore. I can go down about 4 ft and still get black loam. Long term investment in time and energy and well worth every moment. :)
Doccat: The techniques for managing red clay are described in my No-Dig Article. The article is ready to go except for linking in this thread. I am not changing the title. I understand No Dig to mean 'No Digging'
digging soil destroys its integrity and all of the microbial life within the rhizosphere, whether by plow or by rototiller or by razorback shovel.
Somepeople feel better if they turn the soil upside down and destroy all the life within it. That doesn't make it better for the soil or for the earth.
No-till, No-dig gardening is a permaculture concept advocated in Australia and 3d world countries facing a crisis due to the loss of topsoil because of cultivation. Permaculturists advocate non cultivation to conserve the upper part of the soil which is called the rhizosphere. This is the upper 10 to 30 cm of soil which contains microbial soil building activity which is destroyed by cultivation. It also includes soil animals such as earthworms which are also destroyed by cultivation.
Cultivation destroys natural soil fertility which is replaced by chemical fertilizers. These erode into groundwater, and other waterways causing overfertilization to weeds and wildlife creating havens for invasive plants and death to animals in swamps, ponds, and streams.
No-till techniques are now being developed for commercial agriculture in this country.
I should hope so, since they have striped a lot of the topsoil from poor farming techniques. Mainly the over use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, leaving huge areas of bare ground, therefore losing enormous amonts of top soil to erosion, not to mention all the great things that was doing to are water sheds, not using good conservation practices.
Erosion causes hard pan!
And no commercial ag outfit I know of uses tillers. There's a BIG, BIG difference in the techniques used. Don't know what they've done to their soil in Australia or some 3rd world countries, but I do understand soil conservation as an old farm gal from Nebraska. I have a cousin who runs an organic farm and dairy herd and they're been telling him he's nuts for years. That's 3000 acres worth. Can you farm organically, on a big acreage, yep, but it's a lot more labor intensive and not as much profit! And profit is the bottom line with big ag. Some of Monsanto's favorite people.
Do you think the worms that are eating the earth are part of that permaculture group too? Not to mention the dude who was advocating double digging. Little too far fetched for me. There should be balance, big ag is not the same as a home garden and the same rationals should not be applied. I don't think any one technique is right for all situations and especially in home gardening, just not the same bowl of taters.
Soulgardenlove has done an excellent job of explaining it. You don't need to dig. You don't need an 800 lb rototiller. You don't need to haul away whatever your contractor has left in your yard. You don't need cultivation at all. You don't need to double dig. In fact it harms the soil, garden or field. If you leave your soil uncultivated and just add organic matter you will have what you need to build healthy soil.
Not buying into that one. Personal experience tells me different. And there is no one right way! As I said, it's about choices. Each one had to make their choice based on their on particular situation.
gloria --i took a first grade class to our recylcling plant --a woman used and apple to demonstrate our loss of soil--she cut away first of all 3/4 for oceans and other water--then cut away for mountains and desserts--next for concrete and cities and i am sure i am leaving something out but it ended up being a very small peice of apple (like a sliver)------it was such a good visual to remind us how we really need to protect that small ammount of soil (growing soil)---
oh and i think it is too funny how defensive everyone is of worms!! i like them too but still it is kind of funny--i think maybe they are not helping the forest but do help our gardens
Isn't there a little bit of irony that their can even be dissent about dirt? I think so :) And it is kinda funny how much we love our worms..
Docgipe.. oh yes, we have the dog too.. as you know they can clear a room..
I don't believe one size fits all.. When I first started out I decided I was going to go strictly organic and not ever use any Monsanto products in my garden or property. I was clearing out poison ivy coming off a neighbors trees to my property and thought I was clever and not touching it against my bare skin. In the interest of humor I'll even tell you that I carefully stripped off all my clothes at the back door, bagged them and double washed them separately. What I didn't realize was that the poison ivy resins were all over the clothes I was wearing and my bare skin touched and rubbed all over the clothes as I worked and as I disrobed... I looked like a modern day leper. It got all over my arms..legs, belly and thank goodness I could sit ;) I had to comfort visibly worried mothers in line behind me at the grocery store by telling them "poison ivy" and I could see the look of relief come over their face as they realized they weren't going to catch Ebola. (Nice!) The dermatologist that treated me had been in practice for many many years and said he'd never seen someone do such a job on themselves and it was while he was putting the second shot in my backside that I figured a little roundup might not be such a bad thing after all. :) I now own it and use it as I feel it is needed to quite literally save my backside.
My cousins are local organic farmers with a real working organic farm http://www.ajc.com/living/content/living/stories/0711LVfarmbook.html While I learn from them, and have been greatly influenced by them, and appreciate them, I probably don't do everything they do. I do what works for me, what I've learned works best for my garden and soil and what I can manage to do.
I'm always learning and the older I get the more humble I become as i think back to when I knew it all and realize how silly I was.. like I was the perfect parent with all the answers before I became one .. ha! But the thought of 30 years passing and me thinking the same of myself now keeps me in a constant state of learning with a beginners mindset. I don't know it all.. just know I don't want to work any harder than I have to in order to have a bang up garden :)
Gloria, I'll read your article. Let us know where to find it when it gets put up :)
Exactly, the problem with worms as you will learn from Equilibriums thread, is that exotic worms were introduced into areas where they don't belong. Worms eat garbage, but in forests they destroy essential litter and kill the trees. Worms are not the only way to make soil. We need to preserve the full range of ways to replenish soil.
The sad thing is probably most people don't even know what healthy soil looks like, there is so little of it left.
In fact, in one soil conservation article I read, the author said most of the undisturbed soil left in the world is in cemeteries. As an archeologist I know that we routinely discard the plowzone of sites before excavation can even begin. Cultivation not only destroys the integrity of soil, it destroys the scientific information in soil which we need to figure out how soil works.
Like global warming, it is not a matter of choice. We will either do something to save the earth or we will not survive as a species. If we don't do something to conserve soil, there will be none that can provide the food that we need to support us as a species. We are using more and more land to produce less and less food. That is the issue.
Soulgardenlove, I've never gotten as bad a case of poison ivy as yours. So, even though I'm a big critic of herbicides, I now and then use Roundup on poison ivy and my Great Enemy, Japanese Climbing Fern. I'm one of those weird people who read directions and warnings, so I try to apply it properly. I don't mind getting it on me. You have to die of something, dontcha know.
But I'd never apply it where it could works its poisonous way into our already compromised groundwater. To me it's a time bomb ticking to go off when future generations come of age. I still feel like a hypocrite when I use it. Other than that, I don't use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
Gloria, thanks for defending the soil's right to exist as it was created, without turning it upside down and killing the good microbes.
I like stirring contorversy, so here goes. The book Ishmael (can't think of the author right now) is an environmental treatise disguised as a novel. The main character, a talking gorilla named Ishmael, says something that always intrigued me. Why did God favor Abel over Cain? Cain was a hard-working farm boy whose sacrifice was spurned while his brother's animal offering was accepted. How come? Another how come--why was Adam expelled from Eden? I'm not talking religion, DG administrators. I'm talking about the rise of "civilization" based on agriculture that turned the MIddle East into a desert.
I'm not sure to what extent the world's deserts were "caused" by cultivation but we do know that huge areas of the earths surface that were grasslands and forests have been impacted and the result is a high disturbance in the climatological patterns we see today.
More and more of the earths surface is being turned into cultivated land which destroys the original structure of the soil, the native vegetation, and the habitats of animals adapted to those habitats. Cultivated land is LESS productive than it was originally, so that it takes more and more land to produce the food that human populations need to survive.
The situation is now critical. By that I mean that we either are approaching or have approached a point of no return. Planet earth has been seriously damaged by our presence on it.
We are the only animal with the potential intelligence to figure out what we have done and turn it around.
We need to re-think how we are using the earths resources that we have at our disposal and restore what we can.
Quoting: Equillibrum has a good article on his thead called Attack of the killer worms .
who would have thunk that worms could be the cause of so much controvesy :) lol
I would agree. Slowly but surely public awareness is being heightened as decades of research is hitting the Internet and just like anything else, it takes time and doesn't happen overnight. For me, earthworms are taking a devastating toll but... I garden in an area where no earthworms have existed since the glacial retreat of well over 12,000 years ago. I did not author that article. Not my thread, a woman named greenbrain started it and asked some tough questions. Psst, I'm a her not a him but I still like to play in the dirt ;)
Quoting: But I'd never apply it where it could works its poisonous way into our already compromised groundwater. To me it's a time bomb ticking to go off when future generations come of age.
Maypop, the active ingredient in RoundUp is the same active ingredient in Rodeo and AquaMaster. So what's different? The surfactant. The surfactant in Rodeo and AquaMaster does not build up in the fatty tissues of animals. I have begun to use the more expensive products... sparingly, very sparingly and according to the labels.
I am not a Christian but I certainly enjoy gardening. I do appreciate the thought process behind the questions though.
Allegedly, Abel brought the best of his flock which was stated to have been the firstborns. Cain did not bring the best of his vegetables choosing to set them aside for himself.
Quoting: We are the only animal with the potential intelligence to figure out what we have done and turn it around. [quote] Very good comment. To this I would like to add one of my favorite quotes.
Excerpt from here- http://www.brown.edu/Research/EnvStudies_Theses/full9900/mhall/IPlants/Discussion.html
As Faith Thompson Campbell (1997) puts it,
[quote] 'We should be humble; we may never fully understand the invasion process, particularly for each of the hundreds of potentially invasive species in each of our many ecosystems. One truth is clear: as time passes, many species will spread to new areas or increase in density if controlling actions are delayed.'(Parker and Reichard 1998; see Results for the industry's desire for scientific proof)."
I know that surfactants make a difference in the way toxins are delivered to target organisms. I've seen some studies that look at risk management features of herbicides used separately compared to those used in concert with other ingredients. The EPA's fact sheets are informative, but hardly user-friendly. My objection is this--how can we trust ecotoxicity studies by the very companies that produce the pesticides? The EPA regulates the levels of contaminants that can be mitigated by sewer systems and requires label warnings that are rarely heeded. No studies examine effects on human test subjects, duh. So how much pesticide accumulation can a person tolerate over a lifetime of ingesting compromised water and GM food that's been peppered with pesticides? We'll find out. I predict courtrooms full of class action suits like we have now with RX, tobacco, toys made in China.
Gloria, you caught me exaggerating. I should not have blamed agriculture alone for desertification. Ancient people chopped down forests for firewood and building homes and palaces. Trees hold moisture close to the surface, as others have pointed out in other forums. No trees=no rainfall.
The biggest problem is the humongous population which grows by more than 200,000 extra souls a day. And fewer and fewer people are making food for more and more people.
Equilibriums thread is so full of holes, questions and half-truths I choose to not waste my time there. It seems to be a breeding ground for type A professors with all sorts of unrealistic warped opinion and possibly questionable facts.
I acknowlege that this is a country of free speach. Free Speach is for anyone to any extent and as much or as little as one chooses to use it. By permitting free speach the others in this world can see and hear just exacty where most are coming from. If they where shunned and forced into underground type organizations is when I would begin to worry.
What I do wish would happen is that any individual or group professing any position such as this worm subject would pool assets, buy a chunk of this worm ruined mountain and prove by action not theory what they profess similar in effect to what the Rocky Mountain Elk Association has done.
Until it is done in that manor and fashion I consider much of the ranting and raving as emotional hogwash. In other words perhaps more pleasing just take one little thing you can do and do it then hipe the good, build a following into a positive mode to then increase the good being done.
Maypop: What I meant about deserts is that Im not sure to what extent deserts are a natural habitat or biome. Ive recently seen a s tudy that classifies the earths vegetative zones into grasslands, forests/woodlands (not sure of the distinction there), tundras, and deserts. According to that study, cultivation has displaced large areas of grasslands (savannahs) and forests, but has had a neglible effect on tundras and deserts.
Possibly desertification is a different process. I think it has to do with the exposure of deep salts on the surface due to erosion or cultivation.
As Ive said earlier Ive seen land destroyed by cultivation that was confiscated by the U.S. government for reclamation. (Archaeological surveys in Sumter National Forest South Carolina). That land looked like a desert --- miles and miles of unconsolidated red blow sand. The original 20 ft of soil had been removed by erosion.
Very interesting thread. I did take the time to read all of it.
I am pretty much an organic gardener , do have compost piles, also a shredder and use shreds on top of garden whenever available. My garden is just beginning 13th year here. Lived and gardened at my other place for 50 years after marriage. I am also pretty much no till now. Used BCS rear tined tiller for several years after moving to this location that had never been cultivated before. I have a little electric Mantis, but use it rarely, depend on compost and mulch now.
Quoting: Equilibriums thread is so full of holes, questions and half-truths I choose to not waste my time there. It seems to be a breeding ground for type A professors with all sorts of unrealistic warped opinion and possibly questionable facts.
Again, not my thread. docgipe, I'd like to take a moment to say I am so very sorry you feel the way you do.
I'd like to suggest that those who subscribe to docgipe's beliefs please read "Forest Dynamics and Disturbance Regimes" by Lee Frelich. At the back of Dr. Frelich's publication, one will find page after page of references to just the type of formal research docgipe is demanding. Unfortunately, this book has been out for a while so current and ongoing research is not cited however one can go to the invasive species site maintained by the Feds for current and ongoing research. Exotic earthworms are irrefutably doing some damage and the science to back it up is most certainly out there for the taking just as it is for stray cats decimating songbird populations. I own indoor only cats, it was real hard for me to accept that my sweet innocent peaceful looking fluffies curled up by my heat registers could wreak such havoc in the environment and be the source of so much controversy... but they can... and do and the science is out there to back it up for those who are interested. Same deal for me with exotic earthworms in the area where I garden. It was real hard for me to swallow that the wonderful wormies of my childhood, although great for many gardens, might not exactly be in the best interests of quite a few ecosystems. Looks as if we're all down to emotion v. logic.
I can't answer your questions maypop. I've wanted surfactants listed on labels for a long time.
Here's what I do know. I canceled my lawn service a few years ago. Wasn't all that comfortable contracting with a company named ChemLawn. My kids roll around and play in the areas we were having treating and then there was the issue of what I was allowing to leach down into the water supply. I had repeatedly been asking ChemLawn to share with me what chemicals they were using on my property and the technician claimed he didn't know. I called the main office, they repeatedly claimed they'd get data sheets to me. Didn't happen. I am so careful with chemicals myself and truly had issues with them spraying on windy days and coming out to apply their herbicides when air temps weren't optimal and had long been asking them to time their applications more appropriately and consistently with what ever labeling was on their products. I was told this wasn't possible because I wasn't the only customer they had. I ditched them. I began taking care of the small portion of my property that was lawn myself. Marked improvement but then again I began using more natural products such as corn gluten meal and the few chemicals I did use were applied properly. I have a wetlands here so I was familiar with which products were approved for use in a wetlands and why. Surfactants are really a big deal I've come to learn. I simply began using those products upland. That was 4 years ago. It was the deformed frogs I kept running into from time to time that really concerned me. Presto, no deformed frogs for 2 years now and I additionally have a phenomenal insect and salamander population on my property again. At any given point in time, there are at least 10 species of birds at my husband's feeders. Possibly more if I was better at identification. He's the birder, not me.
Gloria125, I'm in my infancy regarding a working understanding of deep salts. I have a friend working with them who was sent to Australia to research same. I think I'll ask him create a deep salts for dummies just for me when he returns next year... unless you want to create a deep salts 101 for me and anyone else who might be interested. Might be worthy of its own thread though.
As a point of information, I am Gloria125, not Gloria123. my birthday is tomorrow not yesterday. I had to use my birthday because gloriag was already taken. gloriag is another worthy and very intelligent DG member from Virginia.
I would not like to become something other than what I already am. Worked hard to get this far.
OOh, Equil, you are going to get some flak for mentioning "stray cats decimating songbird populations." It's one of those inconvenient truths that cat people don't want to hear. I love cats, but my old house puttytats have died off and I won't ever have another--for that reason. They are natural predators of songbirds and ground-nesting birds like quail. When my neighbor moved in with her cats, the bobwhites disappeared, even though they had been like fleas on the hundreds of acres around here. Yes, fire ants do kill chicks, but they never hurt the bird populations like the cats. I don't mind bobcats. They're part of nature, just like deer and wolves and black bear. I accept losses to wild animals as recompensation for the destruction we've done to their habitats.
I'm also glad your frogs aren't deformed any more. Do you know the metabolic half life of the pesticides that were used on your lawn for years? They can persist in soil for a long time. Have you ever thought about replacing your turf with a different ground cover? or a fruit orchard? You may be in one of those homeowners covenants that require a sod front lawn.
As for the allusion to Cain and Abel, I was not making any religious connection. I was referring to the ape called Ishmael (not the one in the Bible or the guy in Moby Dick). The book suggests that Cain and Abel represent 2 groups or tribes of people who lived in ancient Mesopotamia--the farmers supplanted the nomadic herders (in effect, "killing" the good guys). The book is in libraries everywhere. You may want to read it. I think it was written in the 70's or 80's??
docgipe, excuse my opening another "can of worms," but I haven't seen anyone ranting or raving or spouting emotional hogwash. We're just looking at scientific data from universities all around the country.
soil building question==does anyone use shredded newspaper for composting? I'm good at shredding leaves--and lasagna gardening with sheets of newsprint. I don't vermicompost, not that I have anything against worms.
Oh, I believe te reason t Abel's sacrifice was more pleasing to God was that Abel had a revelation of the price to cover sin...the shedding of the innocent blood of a lamb...a type of the Lamb to come.
My two cents on till verses no-till...If a gardener has a smaller group of beds, perhaps the no-till works fairly well on those beds by pulling back the covering and setting out some plants or sowing some seeds. If one has a ¼ acre, acre, or several acres, power equipment comes in handy to sow, break up cover crops, work in some manure, and some weeding that mulches would be prohibitive to cover well.
On amended beds I mix in some horse manure in the fall and add mulched leaves on top. The soil is very loose and might till 5 inches with a fast ground speed pass.
On regular flat areas I like to lightly stir residue and manure in the fall and in the spring till where the rows or hills are to be to make a nice seed bed. If I have a winter cover crop, I want to stir it enough to kill it well before planting time..
On another garden I wamt to shallowly plow under cover and residue in the fall after chopping up green crops to wilt a day or two before incorpprating into the soil...[per either Cato or Plato...I don't remember which]. Then in the spring I till where the row is to be and ridge a bit because of sometimes heavy spring rains.
Hey maypop, I can't answer your question because ChemLawn never did share with me what they were using over here. Over the years I've been slowly but surely decreasing the lawn. Goal is to have all but a very small area out back around the patio gone at some point in time. Even in that area I won't have traditional turf in favor of planting Buchloe dactyloides (Buffalo Grass) which only would have to be moved once maybe twice a year if that and it doesn't require water. For the other areas of the existing lawn; I'm going to add more raised beds, more landscape islands, and permeable paths before wiping out the remaining turf and planting it with other native grasses. Currently, my husband spends about 2 hours a week mowing and trimming, I'd like to free him of that task and if I time this propely... we won't have to replace our 20 some year old riding lawn mower or the gas push mower he uses around trees and such. Yes, we have a very picky HO Association but there's not much they can do about my gardening style any longer and others are now following suit so we're not the only home leaving areas natural to the curb. I have a small hobby orchard here but lost a few prunus spp. to black knot last year. A neighbor has infected trees and it made its way over here. Dibotryon morbosum is an airborn pathogen. I took down the ones I had that were infected and will replace them with resistant varities or other fruiting trees that aren't susceptible to black knot fungus. Neighbor still hasn't gotten around to removing and burning his in favor of trying to treat them so they're out there spreading the fungus to all the fruiting and ornamental cherries/plums in the neighborhood.
Forgot to mention that once they stopped treating my lawn, we began enjoying fireflies again. Hadn't seen but a handful since we first moved in and now our night skies are loaded with their soft glow. And, my husband described perfectly to me a Star-nosed mole that he saw last year. He claimed he'd never seen anything like that before in his life and told me about this pink flower looking thing on its nose that looked like it was a part of the animal. I about flipped out when I realized what he had seen and pulled up an image on line that he said was definitely what he had seen. How come him and not me! Boo hoo! http://personal.der-bantam.de/works/features/images/t_star-nosed-mole.jpg
The elimination of my lawn is one of the reasons why I lurk back in this forum. I'll probably be smothering my grass and planting plugs through layers of newspaper. Have to finish the hardscape and paths first though.
I love studying the history and prehistory of Mosopotamia with whatever Books we have, possessing any info on the agrarian/pastoral aspect of man's continued presence in the area and I'm not sure if the matches I have to burn to override my dogs flatulance as a significant addition to the problem in relation to all the belching volcanos and forest fires each year. (We have thousands of lightning strike forest fires in Alaska each year) (yes thousands!)
"Yes, we have a very picky HO Association but there's not much they can do about my gardening style any longer and others are now following suit so we're not the only home leaving areas natural to the curb."
Equil, hooray for you. Sounds like you are leading by example. Fireflies and buffalo grass and a starry nosed mole! I hate to think that there are those who would want to kill the little guy, who's just doing what he was designed to do--aerate the soil and add a little fertilizer. Isn't it fun to play in the yard?
And not have to worry about kids and dogs and frogs getting sick from it?
Indy, your tilling comment is Greek to me-- "Cato and Plato"?
My only regrets are that my husband is the one who saw the mole. I can tell you I was having some pretty nasty "Life's Not Fair" thoughts after I realized he was the one who saw it not me and I'm the one who is out there all the time not him and he didn't even have a clue what he had seen. Have you any idea how few people there are out there who have ever even seen one of those?
Naa, all my friends were excited too. We're out and about all the time and none of us have ever seen one but my husband walks out back to chase after something that blew off the patio and out into the woods and he sees one??? They're certainly not common. Many people whack them with shovels while others poison them.
I used Milky Spore once[JBs]...on another yard my daughter had at that time. Still she had the fruits and flowers that most other yards did not have...not so many fruit and veggie gardeners around here.
It would take kadoodles to treat my place and the road sides for 3/8 mile each way.
Yes that would be a project and at a respectable expense. I'm sure a quanity like that could be purchased at a much reduced price if you get to the maker. It's all on the boxes. Remember it holds up for fifteen years in my case. I have just finished applying the third application in fifty years.
Quoting: I am doing the building up of my beds with compost type matter--my question is i have thick piles of leaves, grounds, shredded paper etc which is composting slowly in place--so far so good--i want to try planting seeds in little pots and then putting them into the beds--if i grow little tomato sprouts do i then just lift them out of their little pots and just place that into the pile of compost matter?
you have the right idea, but no, your tomato plants will need material to sink it's roots into and get nutrients from.. So... what I sometimes do in this situation where I have lots of material that is still breaking down, but I want to plant is I dig the area and add the amount of soil that will sustain the plant till the other organic material breaks down into a rich loamy soil.. Does that make sense??.. Now for the flip side.. there is an entire forum devoted to straw bale gardening veggies.. you plant right into the straw bales and the results are amazing. However, the bales are tight, slightly composted and give the roots a place to hold onto and I believe there are additional items added for food. With loose leaves and material where there is a large amount of air passing through, you need to give the roots a place to grow. Whether or not you can directly plant into your in place compost really depends on how close to soil your material resembles the texture of soil! I hope that makes sense! :)
what a thread to read!!!!!!!!!!!
DH is just gonna love me to death when I explain to him what we are going to do in the veggie garden and the flower beds...hehehehehe...I think he already has learned trying to rake up all the pine needles and leaves just isn't' going to work like it did in the yard back in Illinois...2 acres is too much to worry about and besides as we all know it helps everything continue to grow better with the "mulch" already there.
Now just to get a tiller so we can finish getting the bamboo roots out of the veggie area then I am starting the new no till compost way ...have 2 big piles I can toss in there to get things started for this year.
thanks for all the super info everyone
docgipe Love the picutres!
I don't know if anything smothers bamboo. May a couple layers of concrete?
I have heard, though, that if you cut it to the ground, let it grow back to its full height, then cut it to the ground again, it will kill it deader than a hammer. No, I haven't done this myself. No bamboo on the place, except the wispy native stuff (Giant Cane) by the road, which is not a problem. For some reason, it doesn't spread like the imported bamboo.
Mibus, when I saw you saying bamboo, my heart sunk for you :( Do you have lots? You must get all the roots completely out and you know the runners can spread like wildfire right?? If you build a bed and plant it out and bamboo shoots up, you will have no choice but to rip it out and possibly damage your plants in the process.. No, cardboard will not smother it. It will give it a nice mulch to pop up through. Yes, maypop beat me too it.. I was thinking concrete too. Please don't add unrooted fresh bamboo to a pile of earth. It can root and make more babies for you in gratitude.
My worst nightmare neighbor scenario includes them planting uncontained bamboo!
Well there was at one time a fairly good size area of it I found a website called bamboocrafts.com the guy that runs it lives in Austin and found out it is a running type and the name of it but would have to look that part back up...BUT we cut some down and I made some wind chimes then I tried drowning it as they say ti doesn't like wet feet and I also poured 2 gallons of vinegar around it to bring up the acid level as they don't like that either. last weekend we rented a backhoe and dug the whole area up after DH cut all the poles down (they are laying next to the house in case we want to make something ...wind chimes, headboard for a bed, use them for stalking veggies...etc).
I just called home depot today to see about renting a tiller to go in and work more and tilling the area up to get the rest of the roots up.
Now cardboard is a no it won't help ...cement yeah it would but then what do I do for my veggies LOL
other reading I did says taking a black tarp to block out the sun and such will kill it off a sit has no place to get its energy from then.
the only true way to get rid of it when not planted correctly is backhoe.
Mowing it over does keep it under control though too for those that want to have it and not contain it
I also go out and break off any shoots coming up before they get to 25" in height that is suppose to keep them from growing out more so far it works.
Hubby has taken 3 big piles of roots that we made from backhoe to the burn pile so when it is dry enough he will burn it up...wanna hear something that sounds like a shot gun going off burn bamboo without breaking a hole in the nodes LOL
I've told him IF he wants any bamboo for a privacy type thing then we will get clumping bamboo and contain it properly.
Milbus, I can relate!! Our neighbors had bamboo that had run into our septic system. What a mess that was. The originial neighbors who where not happy with us hacking up the bamboo, (which was on our property) sold the house. The new neighbors were not thrilled to find it crumbling the edges of the house foundation and buckling their patio, so we ended up with partners in murder of the bamboo. It took us almost 5 years in all to get rid of all of it. A back hoe along the septic system was not an option, but they ended up using a little on their property to dig up the main clumps of the stuff. Nasty thug is bamboo and tough.
ohhhh then I see you've already been introduced to your bamboo! :) Yes, backhoe sounds right!!
When I hear folks say they want to grow bamboo for privacy, all kinds of better options come to my mind, but it's a personal preference I guess.. I've just seen what it can do and it's bad..
Some folks don't care or don't know how big or how much space a plant/tree will eventually take up.. I thought it was funny to hear a gardener when he was told his Dawn Redwood was planted too close to the house and he replied that he didn't care.. by the time it was a problem he would be taking a dirt nap!! I've got a live oak from FL planted in the way back of my property and evey time I see it, I think, I know your not supposed to be here... but I planted it anyway! Hopefully, it will be a good 60 years before it's a problem and I wont have to deal with my inability to plant properly for my zone.
hi susan I have greatly enjoyed and learned for your thread and everyone's input. My sympathies to those having to fight bamboo. I think that if I were property shopping and I saw bamboo in or anywhere near the property I would pass it up!
susan. what's wrong w/ planting a live oak in back of property?
I think I read somewhere that there are rules against planting bamboo in more progressive areas. I wouldn't want it on my property.
We have the occasional ice storm and live oaks don't lose their leaves during the winter.. They grow in FL, south GA and coastal areas. It will grow until we have an ice storm and the weight of the ice will bring it down.. Just talking about it makes me second guess my decision.. It's planted by my well and I'd really be a mess without that well... I'll let it go a few years and it'll give me time to think on it!
There are a lot of invasive plants still in the catalogs. It took me three years of digging by two men a couple days a year to clear out Japanese or Oriental Bittersweet. After it was hand dug three times I resorted to multiple treatments with Roundup for two years after the best digging we could do. Now five years later we are applying good compost in hopes of getting grass to grow where we literally ruined the soil to get rid of our beast.
I am sure this is not as bad a bamboo but it is a mess of the highest order. I have a friend that had a bamboo run off the property only to appear right up through the city street in front of their house. The city fathers were not happy scouts when that happened. They got lucky and sold that house to some poor souls who then carried on the fight.
if bamboo is done properly it is okay to have but the ones that planted it here didn't know what they were doing ..there is no THICK( credit card thickness) black plastic or cement to contain it I think it was done as a way to hide the back area since no one has done anything there in over 12 yrs. (luckily the neighbor behind us to the north has talked to DH and given him some info) The last major thing done was 12 yrs ago when the 3 neighbors went together and had someone come in and take out some of the pine trees.
As for the wisteria going wild here I took and pulled up as much of it as I could find and stripped the leaves off and cut any roots off of the vines running the ground and used them to make baskets...I'm sure I didn't get it all but that is okay I will find it and do the same again this year if DH didn't get it all LOL
Soulgarden, why is the live oak a problem?
I've seen them all over cities in my state, on small strips of soil by streets and in people's front yards where the branches have been cut away from power lines. Sometimes they grow only 10 feet from buildings without doing damage. Maybe they uproot sidewalks--not a problem in my book, considering their usefulness and beauty. It may be my favorite tree (that and American beech). Doesn't drop branches like water oak. Takes a lot of wind, stands up to hurricanes. Good bird habitat and makes mast for deer. That last thing may not be a selling point, though.
When I was very young almost all the houses had out buildings like wash houses or equipment sheds and honest to goodness real out houses. Wisteria was a cherished plant that crawled all over those out buildings. It stayed under control by mowing over the shoots that came up in the grass. We had one that was a tree made from three or four woven vines. Yes I understand it can be a problem but we did not know that. At that time folks bragged about their huge wisteria plantings. I guess in todays small property situations it would be a real problem.
Well I do know that IF DH didn't' get it all I am going to try and dig it up and re plant all that I find together and try weaving them together as they grow to make it into more of a tree. I love the blooms and smell of them.
My property is 2.5 acres - not small. The wisteria throws underground shoots and is coming up the entire width of the property. Not much of it gets mowed, and wherevr it is not mowed the wisteria is coming up forming dense matts of roots that even trip you if you walk over it.
I understand the native wisteria does not do this. chinese wisteria might be o.k. for a few years in a well tended yard, but after 100 years it is a major invasive here in Alabama. Not good.
Love this forum. Love this thread. I've been on here for hours and I'm only half the way through. I feel like I'm getting a PhD in soil restoration. I am a new subscriber and wondered if I would get my $20 worth. What a deal! Who knew dirt cold be so exciting. If there's a worm forum on here, I'm going there next.
Leaves will blow on windy days, but in a no-till garden the soil will stay put. No-till is designed to maintain the natural cohesiveness of soil, rather than incourage wind-blown erosion that is characteristic of cultivated soil.
dean how about that wind today!!! i need to go check my yard and see if my leaves all left the no till garden!! maybe dumping a little garden soil on top will help them stay in place and help to break them up faster?
As far as the leaves blowing away with high winds...mulch them first and I would say 98% of the blowing problem is fixed. I have about 30 - 40 mph winds today and with any moisture in them, they stay put.
It's interesting to read about what folks south of us have to deal with - around here (Indiana) there are few bamboos that will make it through the winter - and if you find one it's unbelievably expensive. I've never seen a wisteria here that got out of control...guess I have "zone envy"...huh?
there was some very bad blood over two former neighbors in dallas area who got into it over the bamboo one planted--got really ugly with death threats or some such thing recorded on the phone and taken to police!! after that i knew better than to plant bamboo in texas!
I can't believe I'm recommending machines for gardeners, but I admit that I like my little chipper/shredder. It has turned a mountain of leaves into nice crumbly bits that stay put in strong wind, like what I'm getting right now.
To shred my leaves I used my riding lawnmower. I mow the leaves inward into a winrow and then drive BACKWARDS over the leaves...just try it once and see for yourself. Some may need a couple more passes and I then blow them back into a winrow for raking up.
For bagged leaves... dump them out in an area and have at it with the backward moving mower. The small pieces are nearly blow away proof.
well looks like dean answered the bamboo question as to looks & growing fast ..running bamboo does grow fast and the runners go everywhere unless contained.
Maypop nothing wrong with a machine to do some work we used to have one back in Illinois and I sure miss it now. worked great for leaves and small branches/trees.
DH does the wind row thing with the leaves and the mower though then off to the compost pile or around plants
My little chipper is a Chicago 2 1/2 horsepower. It's OK, but I've seen a better type with a big hopper on top for leaf shredding. None of them are cheap. I'd love to have one that can handle branches, up to, say, 3 or 4 inches. Those start at $2000, though.
I've also mulched leaves with the lawnmower by riding in rows. Never backwards. Does that do something different, Indy?
Some parts of the property have lots of native broomsedge grass that we don't get around to cutting much, maybe once or twice a year. It makes giant heaps of cuttings that are easy to pick up and add to compost. It needs to rot a while to keep the root pieces and seeds from growing in it. Also, black plastic works great as a way to cover and cook the pile.
Such a good thread as are many. I have gardened for more than 70 years, and still much to learn.
I have 5 1/2 acres but only irrigate and grow on 2 1/2 acres, not enough water and the rest is all fairly steep hillside. I have lived here in Tonasket area all my almost 82 years. It is a very dry windy area. I don't rake leaves except for the ones on my small lawn areas. The raked leaves go into large leaf bags to be stored out back by compost so as to be handy to use in making my lazy-mans compost. The rest of the leaves lodge among my shrubs, perennials and trees and pretty much stay in place to slowly decompose.
Going backwards over the leaves rather than forwards is kinda like the difference between night and day . As far as dulling the mower blades, I haven't noticed that from several years of this. Anyway I am nearly done with grass mowing by then and the blades will be sharpened at the end of the season.
Hey!, I'm going to try to shoot down any resonable doubt about leaf mulching with a ridng mower.
Years before DW bought me a 5hp Sears shreder/bagger, I used to use the mower on everything - hedge clippings, leaves, small tree limbs, etc. But then I had to rake the remains to move them.
Now, I do have to pick up and stack the limbs and brush, but use an electric blower to gather the leaves.
Takes about 4 hours to reduce a pile 6 ft high and 20 ft long. Great mulch, and dog-hole filler. Got a pooch that digs out the voles - yard looks like someone got carried away with a ditch-witch sometimes.
I got a question. I've put down newspaper and leaves on my aisles. Do I need to put down some type of green on top or use an organic fertlizer to ease the nitrogen defficiency? I don't want my garden to be depleted nutritionally.
i save mine for the compost pile too but when you asked the question i started wondering about my own beds that are newspaper covered with leaves--never thought about a nitrogen depletion! just when i thought i was doing so good!!
You are not planting anything in the aisles. Do you intend to later? If so it probably is a good idea to compensate with the alfalfa.
Most people I know who use raised beds, throw weeds and extra produce into the paths. Then next year they can use some of that soil to replenish the beds. You wouldn't want to do that if the soil was of lower fertility. It depends on what you want to do.
Dean, if you are just using those isles as a passageway this year, I wouldn't spend too much time building up with more than you already have done. My veggie bed isles get a healthy dose of pine straw once or twice a year to keep the mud off our feet when wet and keep weeds down.. But I never plan to plant there and don't want to build up the soil..
But if you do want to plant there eventually, then yes, put down organic matter..
There are many beds of mine that have never seen more than leaf mold and they are not nutritionally depleted of anything that I can tell... I have thrown down alfa alfa pellets in beds.. not just to feed the plants, but the worms love it. Worm farms feed it to them and so it will turn to black gold once through your worms :) It's a good thing, but just remember, there are other things worms will eat that wont cost you anything! :)
I would imagine that a garden that is mulched and not cultivated is not going to undergo nutritional deficiencies. Nutrients are lost when soil is cultivated, they are retained when the soil is kept intact.
I often use alfalfa over my paper mulch, paper won't stay in place here when dry because of wind. But that was when alfalfa bales were cheaper, now at more than $8.00 per bale not sure I want to buy it for putting on top of paper to keep in place. Dirt is cheaper LOL
The reason you don't add nutrients to the aisles this year, is so you are not encouraging the growth of more weed seeds. What ever material you're using in the pathway helps slow down the germination of new weed seeds, besides helping define the space( I get testy when people want to stroll in/on my beds), and generally makes it easier to get around. My raised beds have no boards etc for sides. It's just mounded soil and I normally use annual rye grass between the rows, just mow it off periodically, it's cheap, it holds the weed germination to almost zip and looks pretty good.
doc, have you ever used clover in walkways. I planted some in a walkway between tom. and cucumber trellis last year. I think it was red clover, not sure. Only mowed it once the space got over grown . With all the cold and snow we've had don't know what it will have done over winter.
I don't normally plant clover in my walkways, Donna. I hate dodging bees when I'm trying to pick veggies or work in the garden. I do however plant white clover under all my fruit trees. Bees and wasps love it and I get great fruit set.
This thread is very informative-glad I found it. My husband and I are going to do raised beds this year for our veggie garden. He keeps saying we need a tiller I keep telling him no we don't for one my back can't handle one. I have read the book on las. gardening and have used it for my flower beds. I like the no weed aspect. I also use thin cardboard and newspaper before puttting down a bed. My question is if I put straw in the bed does it need to be aged or can I use straw that was put up 2007 fall? Then can I put the alfalfa pellets over that? Husband thinks we need to put our compost on top of the soil-can't I just leave it where it is and put the soil and other things such as the straw and manure over it? What about using goat manure is it any good for gardening? Thanks for any help!
No reason you can't use lasanga gardening for your veggies. Do not use raw manure on the bed, it needs to be composted, but you can add you compost directly to bed. My raised beds are mounded dirt about 4-6" high.
Clerkie welcome :) I'd say yes to all you want to put down... I put some extra hay down as mulch around some plants and it looks like someone threw some grass seed down on it .. guess it had seeds in the bale?? But not a huge deal.. You can put down anything organic.
I USE ALFALFA HAY...as a mulch any time I can get it. I stock pile spoiled hay for mulching and adding into my compost pile. Alfalfa has aproximately the same value and types of content as kelp which may be very expensive for some gardeners to get. We occasionally can get alfalfa for fifty cents a bale if it has been spoiled or aged beyond cattle food quality. Alfalfa Meal available from organic suppliers is quite expensive because all seed has been ground beyond the ability of it to germinate. From a nitrogen aspect is is roughly as good as blood meal in any form.
All hay and straw comes with some weed and plant seed. Just add some more hay or straw when they appear or note that they hoe or pull easily from the loose damp soil they provide.
Neither hay or straw is pretty to some eyes in which case I top it off with some wood bark in my flower gardens and foundation plantings. I use bunches of hay and straw as mulch in my garden patch. Unless begining a new bed I only use rough or single ground bark as a mulch in my flower beds and foundation planting areas. Why...because it's free or inexpensive here.
"My veggie bed isles get a healthy dose of pine straw once or twice a year to keep the mud off our feet when wet and keep weeds down."
Like Soulgarden, I use pine straw for mulch. It's available everywhere and is a renewable resource, like oak leaves. Since I try to adhere to sustainable practices, I can't justify using wood mulch for my land. It does acidify the soil, but that's OK for me.
I was at WalMart yesterday and saw giant stacks of bagged wood mulch --mostlly cypress and eucalyptus. Entire trees were ground up, possibly from wild stands.Sometimes lumber companies strip the bark off trees they process for wood products. But the bags don't tell you how the mulch was obtained.
Eucalyptus is not native to the US. It was imported from Australia years ago and is invasive in the West. Californians, isn't that true?
Anything that was once a living plant in any form or texture will remain mulch when on the soil untill it rots and becomes compost then humus then humic acid that helps the plants get food in a form they can use. Heavier and oily wood mulches just take longer to break down.
Nothing in its natural state and untreated unless mixed into the top soil will do any harm because when going through the process of rotting and into compost it will arrive at a PH of 7.0. Newsprint is a form of wood. It will rot. Pine straw, pine needles, and ground pine bark will rot. If a bird falls into the mulch it will rot and be used by your soil as well. All this rotting takes place in a mini compost pile about a half inch...more or less...between the soil and the unrotted mass it rotted off of.
The rule of thumb is to keep something growing in the soil or something covering the soil at all times. Never let it lay in a way that renders it subject to drying out and blowing away.
Compaction is your enemy too. The use of boards or heavy cover crops serves to prevent compaction. If the boards are touching the soil they are also a form of mulch. They will eventually rot unless they were synthetic plastic boards.
Might be best to bag freshly pulled weeds because they certainly can come back to haunt you. Just toss them out with your regular garbage. We burn them around here, just not anything like Poison Ivy or Wild Parsnip. Those vaporize and you don't want any of that in your lungs or on your body because of drift.
I have used this to some extent and say I love it. I put the newspaper under my mulch everytime I remulch and it really does do a great job of holding the weeds down. Best part is that my friend at work brings me her newspapers, so I don't even have to pay for those and I get to recycle them. I also save coffee grounds and pour the excess coffee from the pot onto my roses.
Of course, I get some strange looks and have to go through and explain to people why I am dumping all the coffee grounds into a bag or have 6 months worth of newspapers in my office. Who knows, maybe I will convert a couple of people in the process.
Seeds will only sprout if they are on top of the soil and see light and get moisture. If they are down under and will never see the light of day, they will never sprout. I have stopped burning for two reasons...1. I almost blew myself up after impatiently learning firsthand about the creeping properties of gas fumes and 2. I can't stand the smoke when I burn or working outside when others do... So whatever wont decompose goes into the yard waste refuse bags for my trash company or for a big amount I use the county green waste dump.
I found a variation on the same concept in the Spring 2008 Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest publications, "Perennials" page 77- "Lessons Learned", "They began by piling mounds of composting leaves over the bed areas to kill the grass. Then they tilled the dead grass and leaves into the beds. Afterward, they brought in a truckload of commercial garden soil to further improve the mix."
ok susan--got my beds with maybe 8 inches of still decomposing compost--not crumbly yet but getting there--i turn it all over each weekend bringing up the wet rotting stuff to the top and burrying the dry top stuff underneath --it will be planting time not to long from now and i do not think it will be completed compost but i will cover it with mulch and plant in it while it continues to do its work--so i think this is what you advocate and that i am doing it right --
I have 4 big yard bags full of weeds, I think I will try using them in the bed I am building (its a raised bed) and just bury them under several inches of other composting stuff. Seems a waste to just throw them out, they are still green-not dry yet, so I dont think that they have gone to seed yet.
I have another really dumb question. Last fall, to keep the weeds out of my beds, I put about a 2 inch layer of bark mulch on the beds. It worked, as I dont have any weeds in the beds. Now, I want to plant seeds in those beds. What do I do with the mulch? do I have to remove it completely? I cant put it back on the beds once I sow them, (seeds wont get any light). Or can I just till the bark into the soil? I have heavy clay soil and added a bunch of compost to these beds last year, but the soil there still isnt great. I want to add more compost, but I think the big bark pieces might be too big? what do you think?
I suppose I could just bag the stuff up and store it in my shed until I need it again, but now that I've read this thread... I think in the future I would be better off putting many layers of leaves and newspaper on the beds instead. I just dont want to waste all that commercial bark I bought last year :)
Not my place to give advice from Alaska, but if I were you I would bag up the bark mulch and whatever weeds that edged their way in there and let them rot over summer and use it for top dressing in the Fall, as it is a really fine top dressing that really could be tilled in after this seaon. I would'nt want those large bark chips in my nice fine fall mulch. And I would seal that bag of weeds, leave it out in the sjn allllll summer, just to be sure all the weeds and their seed were completely out of business. Are you selling your compost yet? When I finally got the hang of it, I had plenty left over and nice clean chicken feed sacks, so I screened some compost, filled each feed sack and sold each one for $10! I said to myself: "Nice little circle of life,with a dollar sign at the end" , and moved accordingly with the flow. hehehehehehe
LOl! No not selling it yet, I need more of it! I have an entire yard full of clay soil... Nothing has been done to correct it yet, except in the flower bed I put in last year and the raised veggie garden. The rest of the yard needs LOTS of compost. At least I now have worms this year, 2 years ago, there were NO worms in site! LOL!
My neighbors are all bringing me their yard waste ~ I give them my leftover bulbs and seeds in return :) so hopefully I will soon have soil that I can at least work with this year.
I think I will bag up the bark and stick it in the shed, see what happens with it over the summer. Will it break down while in a bag?
Stupid question - we don't get the paper (too depressing) but we get tons of junk mail we send off to recycling. Is colored newsprint ok to use for lasagna beds or whatever? Glossy colored flyers? Junk mail without clear plastic return envelopes? It doesn't seem like it would be as nice to use - not uniform heavy layers, just a hodgepodge of this and that, a Burpee catalog mixed in with "please be sure return address is showing through plastic window". On the other hand, I could just borrow my mother's paper for a few weeks.
Carrie, in Alaska, newspaper lasts for years, even one layer at times, just too cold. It works in a hot fast mix, but you waste time (we only have 3 months of ground unfrozen) and don't get the benifit up here as you would in the 'real' world, so, I'm not your answer guru for that one.
I think I'd better let the town take away my gallons of junk mail for free and borrow my mother's used newspaper! Carol, I'll bet your newspaper lasts for years, hmmm. Then again, we have to buy ice most of the year. :>) Gloria, that's kinda sorta what I thought someone was going to say. If only I had a bunny for the bunny poop, lol! (Both my kids get severe asthma from anything fuzzy like that. Hay, too, would probably be an allergen.) Kids - gotta love 'em. Also, DH is against all pets. (Cruel and humiliating? Please don't ask me to defend his point of view - I don't get it myself.)
Cruel and humiliating to the human or the pet?
kids need to have pets so that they learn empathy -- that other people and animals have feelings and get hurt the same way they do.
There was a lady here who had goats because she was allergic to everything. She milked the goats because she was not allergic to goats milk. She also had her husband build her a brand new house that had plaster instead of drywall, because the plaster is less of an allergen than drywall.
I happen to agree with you, but I'm not going to argue with him via you, or you on his behalf, or whatever. If I were ablebodied and could do it myself when they didn't, I would, but as it is, DH must. Plus, as I said, they are allergic to everything with fur, so our only pet choices are lizards, snakes, etc. And they are often away visiting biodad, which leaves even more responsibility with you're-not-my-real-father.
I think he thinks it's cruel and humiliating to the pet, and I think it has to do with years of servitude of taking care of his ex-wife's dogs, but it's sort of irrelevant because we don't have a household set up for a pet.
Yes Linda.. your doing it, but the breaking down process does take some time. 8 inches is wonderful :) If the soil you have underneath your leaves it really tough stuff.. like pure red clay, you might want to make a judgement call about whether you would like to add some ready made compost or other soil amendment to your mix, as the biggest gardeners regret is not having made sure the soil was as great as possible before planting... The soil makes all the difference! Also, you could take a pitchfork and mix in the soil with the leaves before planting. I prefer the easier method of making sure the soil for my particular hole is really good and mixed in and I let the other unplanted areas of the bed take their time as the process happens naturally. Just remember that if you plant directly into the decomposing compost/leaves.. that if they have much more to go, they will settle and break down more leaving your root systems "up" out of the ground.. That's why this takes a good look at what you have and making good judgement calls!
One, that is exactly where I am right now.. I have some limited front walkway beds with the bark as there is no way I can do that all over and I'm about to direct sow in there. So yes, you clean up the bark and rake it to the side and put it wherever you want it. I tried to "save" it in a tarp and gave it too much time as the heat broke it down lots, so I wont do that again, but your right.. your seeds wont come up through it. I will just rake it to cover my evergreens in the bed, then I will spread my compost... I just got a huge truckload of municipal compost delivered... and I will spread that and then I will direct sow my seeds on it and keep moist till I get germination :) And of course if you do keep your mulch in a protected place, give your plants time to put on some healthy stems before reapplying bark mulch or you'll hurt them!... worms are good and yes, it will break down in a bag! Organic material that is no longer living is in a constant state of decay.
Carol, your the smart one.. I too have a circle of life going on here, but I insist on putting any potential profit back into the ground! :)
My husband didn't want any more animals for all the ones he dealt with growing up. I couldn't have animals growing up, but it was part of the vision I'd mapped out for myself as an adult. We went back and forth about it before marriage and after... and one day eight years ago he came home and Chloe was here! :) He did like her and ironically, after I rescued her from the pound, she cries for him at the door and window if she can't be with him outside, and it makes her day when he comes home from work. Too bad I can't go out and get a little girl as easily and have him come home and meet his new daughter! :) I would!!
Say Gloria, you're 100% correct but you left out something...
Pets are really great for seniors too! Have you read any of the research on that? I know of one nursing home around here that has a resident pygmy goat that is allowed to wander the halls visiting rooms of residents. They have one community room that has many birds in it and a Bearded Dragon. They've got very friendly rabbits in their enclosed courtyard and another community room for visiting cats and dogs. The public is encouraged to bring vetted pets in that have purrrrrrrrrrsonality for visits.
Hey Carol! Looks as if you're up and at em again! Good to see you posting! Nice photos at your website. Love em! Love em! Love em!
Thanks Equil, as you can see I still have that basic need to care for and make more dirt for the 'precious' ones to grow on... not quite done, yet, am I. I may even do some gardening this summer... Carol
Got the garden/seed/ looking ahead/ fever as the days get longer...