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I did underground composting, need some help

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I did underground composting, need some help

Post  newstart on 2/3/2012, 7:52 am

Ok before I found the all great SFG, I read about underground composting. Basically you dig a hole/ trench where you plan to have a garden in the future. Then you add your compost materials and cover back with dirt. This will compost underground and will also bring worms to that area. When ready to start just mix up soil area and plant.

Well my question is now with the raised beds I do to need to do that? I would still like to take advantage of this great soil. It is beautiful nice and loose with lots of worms. Should I just leave and build on top like normal or should I mix with Mel's mix? any thought comments or ideas would be great

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Re: I did underground composting, need some help

Post  llama momma on 2/3/2012, 9:02 am

Hi Newstart -
Let me first say that this website respectfully encourages the square foot gardening method and the use of Mel's Mix. Welcome to this rewarding system, you will always find lots of experienced people here to help you out.

Having said that, you also have what I believe is called a grow heap, or compost in the ground and covered with some soil. I can only share the little that I know from reading. It sounds like it is quite ready for gardening. Plants that use an extra rich growing medium should do well. You could try pumpkins, tomatoes, whatever you want of course and see what happens.
But I also recall grow heaps are prone to lots of weeds, so this may end up being labor intensive till you see exactly what is happening in yours. You may want to google grow heaps or find compost books for more info.

Finally I would not mix your grow heap contents with soil and your Mel's Mix together. Mel's Mix has a precise formula and again this site supports its use. If you change the formula then Mel himself I assume would no longer recognize it as square foot gardening. Hope I worded this politely and correctly.

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Best of both worlds?

Post  tomperrin on 2/3/2012, 9:17 am

You have to put your squares somewhere. I think you might have the best of both worlds. Just put your Mel's Mix on top of your underground compost. Don't mix in Mel's Mix, just lay it on top. Lay down a short-lived weed barrier cloth. Toward the end of your first season, the weed barrier cloth will have rotted out, but you won't have any weed seeds popping up. Some veggies are deep rooted. Corn, for example. There are others. But Mel's Mix makes for wonderful root growth just by itself.

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Re: I did underground composting, need some help

Post  llama momma on 2/3/2012, 9:33 am

While TomP is suggesting you put your sfg on top of your compost area, I want to clarify I was suggesting you keep 2 separate growing areas and make good use of all the growing surfaces.

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Best of Both Worlds

Post  deriter on 2/3/2012, 11:40 am

Instead of the weed barrier fabric, I would wondering if a layer or two of cardboard would work?

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Re: I did underground composting, need some help

Post  camprn on 2/3/2012, 11:52 am

@tomperrin wrote:You have to put your squares somewhere. I think you might have the best of both worlds. Just put your Mel's Mix on top of your underground compost. Don't mix in Mel's Mix, just lay it on top. Lay down a short-lived weed barrier cloth. Toward the end of your first season, the weed barrier cloth will have rotted out, but you won't have any weed seeds popping up. Some veggies are deep rooted. Corn, for example. There are others. But Mel's Mix makes for wonderful root growth just by itself.
+1. If it was me, I would instead of using the weed barrier cloth, just lay some cardboard down and then go ahead with the boxes! By the way, this was a great question!! What a Face

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Re: I did underground composting, need some help

Post  gwennifer on 2/3/2012, 1:59 pm

It is a great question, and you've got some great answers already! It all depends on how much space you have for your gardening. My ideal would be as llama mamma suggested, to save that newly prepared area for the crops that most people just find easier to keep separate from their SFG's (corn patch, potatoes, determinate tomatoes, for instance). Second best would be as the others have suggested, build your squares right on top with a temporary weed barrier. Either way, I would absolutely not recommend that you mix your Mel's mix in with what you've got going on in your pit. Keep us posted! Pictures too! bounce

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Re: I did underground composting, need some help

Post  newstart on 2/3/2012, 2:06 pm

Thanks everyone. I like everyones imput. I think just because of where this bed is and what I have planned for it I am going to put my box on top of it and add Mel's mix on top. I will put a light weed barrier just to stop any weeds from breaking through. and hopefully in the future the deep root plants well get down there and get all that great stuff. also I hope the wroms will make their way up into the new box.

I found about this before the discovery of SFG, So may still use this idea in places where I will not have raised beds. It really worked well. The soil went from very hard and dry and no worms to nice and fluffy stuff and just packed with worms and other little good bugs.

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I like this idea/method

Post  tomperrin on 2/3/2012, 2:56 pm

[quote="camprn]I would instead of using the weed barrier cloth, just lay some cardboard down and then go ahead with the boxes! [/quote]

I'll put cardboard down in the new long bed I have planned for corn. By the time the seeds come up the cardboard should have melted.

And......it's cheaper than buying weed barrier.

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Re: I did underground composting, need some help

Post  quiltbea on 2/3/2012, 3:42 pm

In the 1930s when my dad was gardening, they called that sheet composting. The 2-ft wide pathways between the growing rows were used to bury kitchen scraps, chicken waste, spent plants, cut grass, etc all during the growing season and the following year the crop rows were moved over 2 ft to grow over that burried treasure. Last year's 2' wide rows were now the new sheet composting area already started with roots, spent plants and mulch after the harvest. By the way, my dad was often told he had the most productive garden in the neighborhood.

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Re: I did underground composting, need some help

Post  newstart on 2/3/2012, 5:14 pm

well sounds great. I hope that it will help. I also did thi in the back of my flower bed and things are looking great there

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Re:Underground composting

Post  minervalong on 2/3/2012, 7:30 pm

I too remember my granmother doing this in her garden, she would take her kitchen things out in the evening, take her trowel from where she had stuck it the night before to mark her spot, do a bit of a dig, and in they went. Covered it over and stuck the trowel back to mark tomorrow's spot. This of course was in the day of every dinner made from scratch, nothing going to waste. Boy oh boy, I can taste those butter beans now.

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Composting loser; "in-ground goodies" winner

Post  peoriagrammy on 1/24/2013, 8:49 pm

I have failed repeatedly at composting...just rotting, so this has been an interesting thread to read. I am a believer, also, of putting the "goodies" right in the ground. I don't use yard waste...only kitchen waste. Tom, I have wonderful soil also. BTW I still use a mixture of composts each planting season (purchased), in addition to my in-ground goodies. If it was good enough for grandma and grandpa, it's good enough for me. Laughing

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Re: I did underground composting, need some help

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 1/24/2013, 11:48 pm

I lived with my grandmother when I was little (my mother divorced and my sister and I moved in with "Nanny"). She had a small house but a large city lot in San Diego. I remember her swearing a blue streak at her terrible clay and rock soil.

My job was to be the compost can digger. Every night, off to the garden, find a spot dig it in. She had her yard absolutely filled with everything you could imagine to grow: Bananas, oranges, lemons, peaches, nectarines, apricots, strawberries, tomatoes, popping corn and more.

I like the more organized sounding way of doing it with the rows etc. It was pretty disgusting to accidentally dig up a spot you had recently dug the compost into, LOL!

It took me almost 50 years to finally start growing my own food - over reacting to being forced to work long hours in the garden as a child. Boy, she would have loved Square foot gardening if it had been around when she was alive.

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Re: I did underground composting, need some help

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