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using sand as a topping

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using sand as a topping

Post  jazzycat on 4/1/2013, 4:06 pm

I have another question. I know we aren't supposed to put sand into our mix, but because I'm having problems with fungal gnats, would it be acceptable to put a small layer of sand over the beds once they're filled, before I add the mulch? Or even over the mulch?

Another question. Ever since reading the "Back to Eden" and watching the film thread I've been fascinated with using wood chips as a way to improve the soil in my yard where I'm not actually building beds. Last night I learned about a method of permaculture where they dig a trench and bury some rotting logs and tree limbs and then cover with a light layer of compost. Over time, as the wood breaks down, you can plant there, and you never have to water, because the wood holds the water. This apparently works even in drought conditions/areas. Does anyone here know much about this? I'm also wondering if putting cardboard and wood chips UNDER a raised bed would help with the watering issue, without stealing nitrogen from the growing plants.

Thanks bunches!

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Re: using sand as a topping

Post  camprn on 4/1/2013, 4:27 pm

Sand is not a component of Mel's mix, offers no nutritive value and is inadvisable to be added to the SFG. All the other methods of gardening you are asking about may have value as garden space but are not part of Mel Bartholomew's SFG method.

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Re: using sand as a topping

Post  jazzycat on 4/1/2013, 4:34 pm

camprn, I wasn't asking about adding sand into the mix, but to use as a deterrent on top, so the gnats won't be tempted to lay eggs in the composted mix. I suppose it could settle down over time into the mix, and that might be a problem. Oh well. I look for some other solution. Thanks bunches.

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Re: using sand as a topping

Post  camprn on 4/1/2013, 4:47 pm

It may be advisable to start a soy dialog in the 'Food Business' section of the forum. This thread is about sand and other components in the garden.

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Re: using sand as a topping

Post  H_TX_2 on 4/1/2013, 4:49 pm

I would try to find some other solution besides the sand for the gnats. It will be awfully difficult to remove the sand after you put it down.

I take it you are talking about hugelkultur composting. I have never tried it but it sounds like a neat idea. Several people ask about making their beds deeper than 6 inches and this might make a great filler for the bottom portion of the bed below the Mel's Mix. If it does actually give off some heat then you might be able to plant a bit sooner in the spring time.
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Re: using sand as a topping

Post  southern gardener on 4/1/2013, 5:31 pm

I don't think I'd chance messing up your mix with sand. Even if you only intend to put it on top, it may mix in with your mix. Mel's orginal recipe called for sand in the mix, and that's how we made ours. It drained too fast, and we ended up re-doing all of our beds...
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using sand as a topping

Post  johnp on 4/1/2013, 5:40 pm

About two years ago when I was expanding my SFG I had stucco installed on our house which provided some left over sand. I built my boxes with 2x6's two high. I used that sand for the bottom and it works well. When you dig your beds up to renew the square or pull plants at the end of the season it is really easy to dig up the sand into the MM.
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Re: using sand as a topping

Post  RoOsTeR on 4/1/2013, 5:47 pm

Post removed. This is NOT the forum to state your opinions on the use of soy. Take it to the FB forum.
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Re: using sand as a topping

Post  littlejo on 4/1/2013, 5:57 pm

What kind of gnats are they? If they are regular ole gnats, a few days of sun and wind should get rid of them. If they are gnats from your compost pile, fungus gnats, they will go away, but usually stick around while there is food. I'd water well, maybe put down a mulch, even some newspaper or cardboard will work. If they are sand gnats, sand is the last thing you would want to add, besides messing up your mm. I don't think gnats will hurt your veggies. I had a few on my seedlings after I watered with worm tea. They are just bothersome to the gardener.
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Re: using sand as a topping

Post  happycamper on 4/1/2013, 6:10 pm

@jazzycat wrote:
I'm also wondering if putting cardboard and wood chips UNDER a raised bed would help with the watering issue, without stealing nitrogen from the growing plants.
I did use cardboard and then a 4 inch layer of wood chips when I made two of my beds. I watered it well and then placed approx 7 inches of Mel's Mix on top of that. I was careful not to dig too deep with the trowel when harvesting or planting because I didn't want to blend MM with the wood chips. It took approx two years but the wood chips did break down. I planted tomatoes in one of those beds last year and they did fine. NOTE: I only planted salad greens, kale, green beans and peas the first year just in case there was a nitrogen issue as you mentioned.
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Re: using sand as a topping

Post  jazzycat on 4/1/2013, 10:20 pm

Thanks everyone. I just love Love LOVE this place! What a Face

I've decided against using sand on top. I'm going to get some beneficial nematodes tomorrow when I get my vermiculite, azomite, etc. and that should take care of the problem. Now I just have to figure out how MUCH to get (ingredients, not nematodes).

Jo, at first I thought they were sand gnats, but now I'm pretty sure (almost positive) they're fungus gnats.

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Re: using sand as a topping

Post  littlejo on 4/1/2013, 11:11 pm

jazzycat, I sometimes get them in my worm bins, and just a sheet of newspaper on top usually stops them.
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Re: using sand as a topping

Post  jazzycat on 4/1/2013, 11:27 pm

Now why didn't I think of that? Thanks Jo!

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