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Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

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Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  QuercyGarden on 4/30/2013, 3:55 pm

I don't know if anyone is going to be able to help me with this because I seem to be the only one on this forum who is gardening in France. This will be my first square garden, and I want to have it ready so I can start planting on May 15. I have found sources for vermiculite and peat moss. However, my own compost pile is far from ready. I can obtain compost from a professional organic farmer whom I greatly respect. His compost is a mixture of 70 percent cow manure and 30 percent bark. He told me that this by itself would not provide sufficient nutrients. He suggested that I add Flor Biodix, made by a company called Germiflor, and Patentkali. Patentkali appears to contain sulphate of potassium and salt of magnesium. I cannot find out on Google what Biodix contains, but the company Germiflor produces organic fertilizers. My contact also suggested that I add 10 percent clay soil to the mixture. Does anyone have any information about these products? Do you recommend that I add any/all of them to the cow manure/bark mixture? I really doubt that I will be able to find any other types of compost which I would trust. I figure that when my compost is finished, I can gradually add it to my beds. By the way, the vegetable plants which my contact is growing in this mix are absolutely beautiful.

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  Unmutual on 4/30/2013, 6:00 pm

I hope I can help. Finding information about these products was difficult. Flor Biodix and Patentkali seem to be fertilizers, not composts. You need the volume from compost to be 1/3rd of your Mel's Mix or it isn't going to act right. I would consider your friend's compost to be from 2 sources(cow and trees). You should try to find 3 more composts. Mushroom compost should be relatively easy to find(it's a popular one even internationally), but I'm not sure about the other 2 composts. I know finding the perfect bag of commercial compost is a real problem, but try every garden center and every big box store. Just watch out for the peat based products.

Your friend probably doesn't know about Mel's Mix and what he uses may be perfectly fine for him; but if you follow his method, then it will not be Mel's Mix and it may not work well.

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  plantoid on 4/30/2013, 8:34 pm

QuercyGarden
Click on the home page look on the main index and have a look in the area of introduce your self and again in the Europe section there are several French ANSFG'ers who you can PM for info .

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  QuercyGarden on 5/1/2013, 4:07 pm

Happy May Day. Today is a holiday in France. We went to a flower market in a nearby village and bought a good number of flowers. I am going to plant them in a modified Mel's Mix, using a combination of the cow manure/bark compost described above plus compost from recycled green material made available by our village (I would not use this for vegetables) along with vermiculite and peat moss.

Unmutual and Plantoid, I greatly appreciate your responses to my question and others I have recently posted. I tried several weeks ago to locate other people on this forum who are in France but was able to find only two. I sent PMs to them. One has moved back to the US, and the other didn't respond. So I feel that I am on my own in figuring this out along with any help that others can give me.

I not sure that I understand what constitutes a fertilizer. Does this mean that chemicals are added? I checked the Germiflor website (available in both French and English). It says that composted organic materials are the base of its fertilizers. I plan to go to a farm cooperative store tomorrow and will try to check the ingredients in Biodix. If it appears that chemicals have not been added, do you think that I can use it as my third compost? I have already been to several garden stores in various towns and have not found anything suitable. If you recommend that I not use the Biodix, will it be ok to start out with just the cow manure/wood mixture, then gradually add my own compost, once it is finished?

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  plantoid on 5/1/2013, 8:31 pm

The wood bark takes a long time to break down and start producing its own nitrogen , till that process happens it will rob the garden of nitrogen .

Does the cow manure have straw in it ?
Are you in a village , town or city environment ?

When a company says , "Composted organic materials " that can mean absolutly any thing that has ever grown . Whether if is any good is quite a different matter . You need to try and find the ratios of things used .
Some sort of detailed list of what is used to make the compost would also help so we can give a reasoned judgement ..

Can you get any composted /well rotted waste that has straw in it from riding stables , chicken farms , goose farms or waste from vinyard pressings or spent materials from local breweries ?

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  QuercyGarden on 5/2/2013, 1:50 am

The wood bark seems to be almost entirely decomposed, and I didn't see any straw in the cow manure. I used that mixture yesterday along with the compost made from recycled green materials to make Mel's Mix to fill our flower pots.

I will try to find out today the ingredients in Biodix.

We are in a village of 700 people in a rural area. There are goose farms nearby as well as horses kept in pastures. I could see if I can get composted manure from these farms. However, isn't this just another form of manure and, therefore, would not count as one of the five types of compost? Vineyard pressings is a good idea, but I don't think that it would be available until fall.

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  donnainzone5 on 5/2/2013, 11:22 am

Is mint grown in your area? Here in Central Oregon, mint compost is available here and there.

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  Lemonie on 5/2/2013, 11:43 am

Bonjor!
You may also find rabbit pellets and pond scum or algae available from the geese farms. If you MUST amend your soil, this might be a good exception to check back into the very first square foot garden book on how to mix in bloodmeal, lime, eggshells, ect. But, if at ALL possible, do try to get the 5 different types of compost. My first year boxes I could only find 3 types and the box I added the 2nd year had complete Mel's Mix...entering my 3rd season with amending the soil from my first boxes each year, and my box with the complete MM is still out-producing the others. Bottom line, working to hunt down all ingredients now will save you time and energy for years to come. Would also be a good time to start up your own compost pile for all of the things you do find on your hunt that aren't fully composted yet. Good luck in your search!!!

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  QuercyGarden on 5/2/2013, 5:27 pm

Thanks very much for the good advice. I have spent the day hunting down and researching products. It turns out that the Biodix is sold out. Another product was recommended to me called 4-8-10, made by the same company. This stands for 4% nitrogen, 8% phosphorus and 10% potassium. The description on the bag says that the nitrogen comes from composted organic materials (grape and olive pulps, etc) and from sterilized meat powder. The phosphorus comes from these organic products as well as finely ground natural phosphate. The potassium is oxide of potassium. There is also 3% oxide of magnesium and 14.1 percent of sulfuric anhydride. The directions say that this product can burn plant roots if is comes in direct contact. Other than this information, I doubt that I can find much more about the product or the company. I will ask my organic farmer contact if this product can be substituted for the Biodix which he recommended.

I also found another product which sounds interesting. It is made by Or-Brun, another producer for organic gardening. The product contains composted chicken and horse manure and algae. This product can also burn plant roots. The company has an elaborate web page which stresses its experience in organic products and its commitment. I am going to make a small amount of Mel's Mix, using this product, and plant some basil in it to see how it does

If I make a mix of the cow/bark compost with the two products above, the final product would contain a lot of cow manure, some horse and chicken manure, bark, algae and greens. What do you think?

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  plantoid on 5/2/2013, 7:36 pm

There are big differences in the horse , cow , duck & chicken manures etc .because of their different diets , mastication and digestion .

My first MM was made entirely by home composting something like ten different animal manures including all sorts of beddings .
The only prob was it was a bit too rich for root crops such as carrots and parsnips as most of them turned out like cows udders ( multi rooted )
Look in the " gallery " section and at the big stuff to see if it works .

Just don't go too over the top with cow and steer manures as they can be a bit acidic

If memory serves me well , I used milk cow parlor cleanings , cow shed manure with straw , pig sty stuff with straw bedding , sheep stuff from lambing sheds with straw inc blood and placenta etc , Turkey shed muck with wood shavings , chicken house clean out with straw , neat chicken muck , duck house muck neat , goose shed droppings and straw , caged neat meat rabbit muck , pet rabbit cage clean outs wwuth shavings , saw dust or straw ( no hay ) , horse muck neat & with straw , shavings or wood pulp , goat shed clean out with straw , finally a couple of hamster cage clean outs on shavings & saw dust .

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  walshevak on 5/2/2013, 7:42 pm

My first MM was all commercial bagged products and consisted of 4 manures and 1 forest fines product. I didn't have any root veggies but everything else grew like weeds. I would rather have my 5 consist of various manures than not have enough variety at all.

Kay

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  QuercyGarden on 5/12/2013, 8:56 am

With regard to the compost, I have decided to make a mixture of the composted cow manure/bark with the composted horse manure, chicken manure and algae. I am thinking of using an equal amount of both products. I have been able to find the 4-8-10 product only in pellet form. It is a very concentrated form of composted vegetation. My organic gardener friend says that he adds a handful of these pellets for each square meter of cow manure/bark. I would like to know if I add this concentrated product to my compost mixture, will it do anything to offset the balance between the compost and the peat moss in Mel's Mix or have any other deleterious effects? It would obviously have much more oomph (for lack of a better word) than an equivalent amount of normal compost.

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  plantoid on 5/12/2013, 7:39 pm

If that is all you can lay your hands on then go for it.
Bring the volume of peat a bit us as it is almost inert and it should help " dilute the concentrations of pelleted stuff.

The only two problems of using concentrated stuff is that you plants might find it too strong and suffer because of it , getting what is referred to as " fertilizer burn " this makes the plants out grow their correct cell structure and turn light in colour and sometimes die off or go all droopy , they then suffer insect attack or plant diseases usually more than a healthy plant would .

The second problem is that the pelleted fertilizer may only last for a short time whereas compost made of rotting vegetation and dung will take years to fully rot away thus giving you a long slow useful fertilizing effect that the plants do well in .


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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  QuercyGarden on 5/13/2013, 2:10 am

Thanks, Plantoid. Great advice. I am going to go for it.

Changing topics, I don't know if your weather forecast for Wales is similar to ours in SW France, but after tomorrow, we are supposed to have a week of rainy, cool weather with the highs not exceeding 17 degrees Centigrade and the lows between 6 and 9 degrees. I have not planted tomatoes, eggplants, etc. Do you recommend waiting at least another week until it gets warmer?

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  plantoid on 5/13/2013, 5:15 am

It's that wet here and cold that I feel all my tomatoes will be grown in nmy glasshouse this year . I also have loads of other plants germinated inthe office under Uv lamps and on a hot bed now out in the greenhouse trying to grow to a bigger size ready for planting out or potting on.

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  QuercyGarden on 5/13/2013, 5:31 am

At what point do you think that it will be safe to plant them outside?

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  plantoid on 5/13/2013, 3:22 pm

After your average last frost date if the plants are tender ones needing 10 oC or above during the day and no less than 7 oC at night .
Put " European Hardiness Zones " into the site search and see if you can find one for your area .
There are several threads to explore .

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  QuercyGarden on 5/13/2013, 3:37 pm

It looks as if I will have to wait at least until Friday. Thursday the high and low are predicted to be 14 degrees and 6 degrees C. It is going to be only slightly warmer than that all the way through a week from Wednesday. Brrr!

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  plantoid on 5/13/2013, 3:42 pm

What is your normal last frost date ?

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  QuercyGarden on 5/13/2013, 3:49 pm

There are a set of feast days called the Saints of Ice. Once these are over (I believe that the last is on May 14), there should be no more risk of frost.

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  plantoid on 5/13/2013, 4:01 pm

Plant out when you can and have some garden fleece handy to cover things if the temps are forcast to drop
At 5 oC most of the tenderplants start to suffer cell damage after a few hours of exposure to it .
Covering with a fleece over the plant and in contact with the ground will help hold the warmth of the ground around the plants .
Taller plants tend to suffer most from a " nip in the air " .

I've run outside more than once in my life and covered outdoor tomatoes & runner beans with old bed sheets wrapped round three tall canes wigwam style when a night air frost has been forecast .


Last edited by plantoid on 5/13/2013, 4:13 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Advice on some compost additives for my garden in France

Post  QuercyGarden on 5/13/2013, 4:06 pm

Thanks, Plantoid. I might hold off planting for a few days still. It is supposed to be quite rainy, and I don't fancy getting both cold and wet.

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