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A bell rang in my head

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A bell rang in my head

Post  plantoid on 5/8/2012, 3:47 pm

Old Elizabethan high society joke ..

Whats brown and sounds like a bell ...... Dung! Wink



I've spent most of the last three days emptying my seven compost bins that initially were full of composting animal dung and associated beddings. They have reduced in volume after three vigourous turnings and repackings and now only fill four ( 330 litre ) 11.5 cubic feet bins.

Whilst I was doing this this afternoon I mused about what I've learnt about the commercially available prebagged composted manures in the USA. The best of the bunch gives an animal manure figure of not less than 10 % for the whole of the USA except for Texas where , as we all know everything is bigger there Wink & the requirement is 20 % per bag .

I looked at a prebagged UK 100 % farmyard manure( inc beddings ) bag that was stood by my office wall and realized that one tenth or one fifth or a bag was not very much so I scratched out on paper what this would mean against a complete volume made to the formula of MM at the best rate using prebagged USA stuff ?

10% manure in a prebagged lot of five bags of the same equates to 3% overall in MM and of course for the Texans it would mean 6% thats just over 1/2 a three gallon bucket for the 10% one and just over a full bucket for the Texans

Thinking back , I think only one of the composts mentioned had this rate of animal manures in it all the otheres seem to have far less or none at all . That is a very small amount when you realise that in the olden day gardening books they talked of three barrow loads of well rotted mixed / blended manures per square yard for marrows, cucumbers, melons and celery or a 6 foot long climbing bean trench .

They suggested to use two barrows for french dwarf beans , and brassicas per sqy yard . One barrow per yard run for potatoes and none for carrots .

If ever you need a reason for making your own animal dung and bedding based compost this little revelation of differences should help you get started .

I also did a bit of " light " reading about COMFREY earlier today ( part of my home work ) from a book printed around 1965 and found that anaerobic made compost using animal dung and beddings that just rots down with out air and turning has far less nutirents in it than aerobically composted manure .

The difference being that the simple rotted down manure has about 1/3 the nutrients of the aerobic compost, it also has about two thirds less the volume of the aerobically produced compost .

Thinking this through a bit more I came to the conclusion that you'd need three times the amount of plain old rotted manure to make your MM , not only will it cost more it is also rather heavy and still not as good nutrient wise as the aerobically made stuff.

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  camprn on 5/8/2012, 6:32 pm

NICE! Thanks for that pondering and summary, and of course the maths... I hate math... Shocked

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  plantoid on 5/11/2012, 4:04 pm

So do I , I'm dyslexic so till somebody who knows checks them out shall we take it as gospel ??? Laughing

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  Daniel9999 on 5/11/2012, 6:13 pm

@plantoid wrote:So do I , I'm dyslexic so till somebody who knows checks them out shall we take it as gospel ??? Laughing


Your math is right on.

However from what I can see those figures your using only apply to a specific product that we were discussing recently....the Earthgro Humus and Manure Blend...which is hardly representative of the best stuff available manure wise in the US.

You can buy prebagged 100% manure composts in the US just like you can in the UK.

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  UnderTheBlackWalnut on 5/11/2012, 6:30 pm

I agree that we do also have 100% manure products. I think the big difference is the size of the country. There are many products, including Mel's Mix itself, that aren't distributed nationwide. That makes for some pretty big disparity on what can be obtained where. Smile That's why it's so tough to recommend products to each other sometimes... Smile But overall, we do a pretty bang-up job! Smile

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  Daniel9999 on 5/11/2012, 9:00 pm

@UnderTheBlackWalnut wrote:I agree that we do also have 100% manure products. I think the big difference is the size of the country. There are many products, including Mel's Mix itself, that aren't distributed nationwide. That makes for some pretty big disparity on what can be obtained where. Smile That's why it's so tough to recommend products to each other sometimes... Smile But overall, we do a pretty bang-up job! Smile

Lately I been wondering if we been a wee bit picky lately about compost recommendations after being involved in some of the discussions here.

I been researching the bagged composts found on pages 90-91 of the All New Square Foot Gardening book.

Posy Power has peat as a listed ingredient.....

http://www.posypower.net/history.htm

The Nature Needs Organic Humus is a made from recycled yard trimmings

http://www.naturesneeds.com/

The very mix of composts Mel uses in the book would not likely pass muster on the forum.

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  givvmistamps on 5/12/2012, 11:33 am

I agree with Daniel. I became quite particular about which brands of compost I wanted, simply because of all the problems I've seen others posted about having here. I only feel happier now that I've found my (admittedly expensive) source of compost at the hydroponics store I found. Good crops in a new bed are well worth the investment.

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  Daniel9999 on 5/12/2012, 12:48 pm

@givvmistamps wrote:I agree with Daniel. I became quite particular about which brands of compost I wanted, simply because of all the problems I've seen others posted about having here. I only feel happier now that I've found my (admittedly expensive) source of compost at the hydroponics store I found. Good crops in a new bed are well worth the investment.

I recommend that anyone who buys the All New Square Foot Gardening book also purchase The Wealthy Earth ....that book can definitely help you from having problems later....

http://www.squarefootgardening.com/new/the-wealthy-earth-ebook/

The real trick to making a the best blend you can out of purchased composts is to make sure you not only have different "kinds" of compost but "types" (if that makes sense).

For example just don't throw five different kinds of manures in your mix and call it good....make sure you have non-manure based composts in the mix too.

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  RoOsTeR on 5/12/2012, 1:04 pm

In our "hover topics". Suggested reading:
Mel's Mix. How strong is your backbone

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  Turan on 5/12/2012, 1:16 pm

@Daniel9999 wrote:

The real trick to making a the best blend you can out of purchased composts is to make sure you not only have different "kinds" of compost but "types" (if that makes sense).

For example just don't throw five different kinds of manures in your mix and call it good....make sure you have non-manure based composts in the mix too.

Ahhh, good way to put it. From reading here I have been reaching the conclusion that the composts tend to not be mineral rich enough, which would be true of most manures.

With reflection I guess I see this in my own garden. My soil is mostly composted manure/alfalfa/straw. Every few years it tells me to add something mineral rich like bone meal/kelp/greensand. I try to rotate through those and what ever else I think up.

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  plantoid on 5/13/2012, 3:38 pm

With respect to the post about different materials other than dung and urine soaked beddings for making composts .

Back in 1982 I got the use of two large city council owned allotments for free as they were over run with weeds , brambles and asorted scrub. For weeks and weeks I cut & dug things out and burnt their dried corpses in small bonfires , saved the cold ashes for later . Everything was then weed killed one calm warm afternoon for there was so much couch grass , docks and thistles I'd still be there trying to clear things .

Three weeks later having rotovated the whole area to see if there was any old cycle frames etc there I borrowed the firms 2 ton truck and laid a three inch thick layer of sawdust and shavings from the local joinery firm over the whole double allotment area , then over the next three months laid a four inch thing mulch of 7 yr old well rotted stable muck over everything .

Once done I hired a massive geared Honda power tiller that did a yard strip at a time and worked the lot in using several gallons of juice over a full day.

Loads of people came over to spin yarns and find out what I was doing as no one had done this sort of thing before .



I ended up meeting the old boy( 83yrs old and going strong ) who had double allotments adjacent to me , he was fair chuffed that someone had taken over the jungle next to his 60 years worth of hard work . He'd been working his plots so much and so well that over the years instead of having a four foot slope along his beds he'd dug and manured them level to a depth of over four feet with the help of millions of worms.

While I was doing my work and prep I'd noticed that his beds had a massive compost arrangement right across the bottom of one of the areas . It consisted of three bays , made out of thick ancient corrugated iron to a depth of 4 feet high , each bay was 12 foot by 12 ,with a removeable two foot high front .

He took me through his routine . Each year he'd use one bay to put all his greens etc but no soil and come spring he'd cover it with a good six inches of rotted farm manures then cover it all in a tarp over a plastic sheet and weight it down and leave it alone for a year , the next bay was currently in use and from this he was taking his allotment made composts that was as fine as peat but a better richer more natural darker colour and slightly damp . The other bay had had the tarp etc taken off and was exposed to the elelmets for a year .

What he 'd been doing all these years was growing more veg than he needed and if it was not perfect it went into his composts heap. All spaces in his beds were always under cultivation one way or another at some point of the gardening year.

Everything out his house flower gardens & kitchen green waste also got added in

His greens were massive .. no artificial fertilizers ever apparently , I saw him take a cauli a good two feet wide in leaf & end up with a 10 inch head once he'd pruned of the waste. It had massive roots that he had to work hard at getting out.

He only ever added four year old farmyard manures once every four years ..... that he'd had in his possession for three years in his garden ( it backed onto the alotments he had ). He used to lime a bit of his allotments each year.

I often watched him working his plots and it's only tonight that I realised he only ever used a fork & a swan necked hoe to do it . There weren't any obvious stones viewable and everything looked like MM without the vermiculite.



I would love to have had a full soil analysis of his beds .. I bet it was what a good five year old ANSFG bed should contain .

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  GWN on 5/13/2012, 7:34 pm

WOW that sounds great, do you still work on the allotment?
BTW, what is an allotment?

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  plantoid on 5/14/2012, 3:50 am

No that was 28 years ago " Bill " decided he wanted , "An allotment son " out of nappies so I obliged and learnt well everything he was willing to pass on to me before he turned his toes up.

I still don't know where he got his giant carrot seeds from ..perhaps like anther old timer I knew he had the strain passed on to him off his grandad and carried on the family tradition of having his own seed strain out of his own back garden .

An allotment is/was an area of land owned usually by the local authority and allotted to someone to cultivate for the sole urpose of their immediate family. Often these areas were land benevolently given to the town or city for sole use as allotments. Most councils charge a nominal fee for the rental but certain social groups get the use free.

Here in the Uk there has been a massive resurgence of growing your own and due to modern housing having the absloute legal minium of attached land there is usually a shortage of free plots to use.

No selling the surplus ours were about 120 feet long by 36 feet wide and each plot was calculated from some esoteric formu;la to be able to provide a family of four with all their veg needs for a year .. few ever managed this .

I think it dates back to pre Victiorian times when it was recognised city folk were not as healthy as us countrybumkins due to their poor diet.



Some of the allotments have a list of what livestock can be on them including geese , ducks , pigs , chickens , rabbits and sheep but not usually cows or horses or ponies or donkeys and mules.

Some allow the planting of fruit trees but hardly any allow hedges and no Leylandi growing whatsoever.

You can often errect a small portable building to store you site gear in .. I've noticed recently that quite a few areas seem to have a standardized precast concrete 8x6 shed on them. So it may be that the councils have really got going and are giving something back to the gardeners by giving them a service that is charged for instead of always taking the rentals and doing nothing.

The allotments really came to the fore just after the first world war when those that survived found release in the honourable persiut of gardening and nature. The victory gardens of the second world war also gave things a big boost for a lot of manicured parkland was turned over to them as was almost any free land .

One place I lived in had allotments of church land that had been in use since about the 1750's these were for farm workers families for the church also owned and rented out thousands of the surouinding acres that also included church housing .

Poor beggers not only worked their butts of for the farmers , they also had to cultivate the mandatory allotted land that went with their home and go to church three times on a Sunday , then they had to pay church rentals & taxes ( tithes @ 1/10 of earnt income ) and government taxes .

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  kbb964 on 5/14/2012, 10:01 am

Good reading. Smile

What annoys me is that I know there is a waiting list for allotments back in my hubby's home town and we have family friends that don't use theirs! grrrr.

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Re: A bell rang in my head

Post  GWN on 5/14/2012, 10:41 am

thanks they DO sound like a good idea, it is always hard to see vast spaces of land gone to weed, knowing that there are hungry people out there.

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I've been reading your posts about compost and have a ?

Post  jdepce on 5/19/2012, 9:51 pm

I bought dirt for my SFG's. When I accidentily found SFG on the web, I purchased both the old and new books and now I'm starting to train myself in the "proper" way to have a garden.
Now to my question: If the dirt I bought is the most fantastic garden soil I have ever seen, had, or heard of, when do I start adding compost? Everyone in this community is amazed that I'm having such success. I live in central Florida. We have only occasional rain until mid-June and this year, the temps are hitting mid 90's every day. Yet, my cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, herbs, and winter flowers are huge and producing well. I water from rain barrels, if possible.
I know you're thinking, so why worry about what's not broke? Well, I'm thinking ahead and today, I planted carrots, lettuce, fennel and bean seeds adding no compost. I don't want them to starve for food or burn from too much, so is there a test ahead of time?

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Re: A bell rang in my head

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