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What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

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What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  hhdang on 4/8/2014, 7:30 pm

In Mel's new SFG book, he mentioned that the Vermiculite and Peat Moss will never have to repurchase again once you got the soil mix ready for you SFG. I was wondering, when you mix the Vermiculite, Peat Moss, and compost together, once the compost nutrients are all used up, wouldn't you have to mix in new compost and take out the old one? If that is the case, wouldn't the previous vermiculite and peat moss that gotten mix up with the old compost be thrown out too? which mean eventually you will need to buy new vermiculite and peat moss? Thank you answering my question.

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 4/8/2014, 7:40 pm

Hi hhdang.  Welcome to the forum.  You'll find lots of great info & people here!

Nope!  You WILL mix in new compost, but not take any out.  Worms, etc. will eat it and it will break down over time.

If you happen to have a copy of the SFG Answer Book, look on page 111, top question.  If you don't have a copy, let me know and I'll find a way to get that question/answer to you.

In the ANSFG2, page 37, #5 towards the bottom, Mel says, "The only thing we ever add to our soil is a little more compost."  When he says a little, he means about a trowel full whenever the plant(s) in that spot gets pulled.

That's it.  What a great system!

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  walshevak on 4/8/2014, 11:23 pm

You may have to replenish vermiculite and peat in about 10 years according to an email I got from Mel.

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  sanderson on 4/8/2014, 11:26 pm

Nice reply, Marie!

Kay, I was wondering about that 10 year statement. I'm thinking that after pulling plants out fr 10 years, some of the vermiculite and peat moss may have gotten tossed. I was thinking, okay, I'll add a small trowel of each in each square in 10 years!  Very Happy 

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  jimmy cee on 4/8/2014, 11:28 pm

10 years....I sure hope so.... Very Happy 

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  sanderson on 4/9/2014, 12:56 am

Jimmy, somewhere I read that "to garden, is to believe in the future."  At least for the current growing season!

I figured I will not be gardening when I'm 75, so only 9 years left of gardening.  Maybe my kids will be nice and build me an awesome TT garden at the rest home!

Jimmy, here's to both of us still on the Forum in 10 years   

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 4/9/2014, 7:29 am

Sanderson & Jimmy Cee, you are SO funny!  I'm sure you will TOO be gardening in 10 years.  And still going strong on this forum!  I'm a bit younger than either of you and already planning some of Gwennifer's TT's to keep me going for a long, LONG time.

Think positive, my dears!  And thanks for the compliment on earlier post, Sanderson.  I've got good teachers!   I love you

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 4/9/2014, 1:39 pm

HHDang - you might also look on page 40 of ANSFG2 under "Grids."  At the end of the 2nd paragraph, Mel talks about replanting one square and adding compost.

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  Turan on 4/9/2014, 2:02 pm

As the compost is part of a continuum, on one end is the fresh organic matter and on the other end is humus and lignin. Compost towards the fresh end of the scale is nutrient rich and a fertilizer for our plant growth. Peat is a special compost of spagnum moss that has finished it composting and all nutrients have been used out of it. As the compost in your MM ages and loses its nutrients it is joining the peat/humus/lignin portion of your mix. In ten years or so your MM will feel too dense and heavy and you will want to add vermiculite to lighten it.

How that worked in my garden, being as I am still of the original SFG, is that I ended up taking out about a quarter of the soil in one box and mixing it with sand and fresh compost. It had gotten just too full and too dense after 10+ years. Plantoid gave me some good advice for next time I do this. He suggested I build the frames up higher and put fresh MM over the top of the good old beds, thus raising the bed higher as my back and knees bend less.

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 4/9/2014, 2:04 pm

Oh, THAT'S a great idea!  I'll have to remember that as my garden (and I) age.

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  ETNRedClay on 4/9/2014, 6:08 pm

I lost about 25% volume in my beds from the first year to the second -- between compression and soil lost from pulling old plants...? wind? whatever.  So early this spring I turned the beds with a shovel to stir everything up -- it was not heavy work.  Most times, shove shovel in, twist, flip and done.  Added compost and stirred again.  Sometimes I did this square by square, but it was easier to remove grids and do the whole bed at once.  Then add a shovel full of mixed compost each square or just level the bed and stir.

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  camprn on 4/9/2014, 10:01 pm

@ETNRedClay wrote:I lost about 25% volume in my beds from the first year to the second -- between compression and soil lost from pulling old plants...? wind? whatever.  So early this spring I turned the beds with a shovel to stir everything up -- it was not heavy work.  Most times, shove shovel in, twist, flip and done.  Added compost and stirred again.  Sometimes I did this square by square, but it was easier to remove grids and do the whole bed at once.  Then add a shovel full of mixed compost each square or just level the bed and stir.
That's much like what I do, but I'm lazy and just remove the grid and dump a wheelbarrow full of compost onto the bed, spread it out then fluff with a garden fork. Next I take a thin board and scrape the edge across the top of the box to make the MM  level, add the grid and plant. Easy peasy!  What a Face

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  Marc Iverson on 4/10/2014, 3:50 am

@sanderson wrote:Jimmy, somewhere I read that "to garden, is to believe in the future."   

One of the things that most struck me from Mel's book is that he said that most gardeners reported that it took about seven years to get their soil right. Seven years! Keeping on working on it that long must be a sign of faith in the future.

He also noted that's about how long most people stay in any house, so that by the time they get their soil right, they've moved anyway. LOL! Sometimes you just can't win ...

But isn't that the glory of the human race anyway? We just keep on trying.

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  Marc Iverson on 4/10/2014, 3:52 am

@Turan wrote:
How that worked in my garden, being as I am still of the original SFG, is that I ended up taking out about a quarter of the soil in one box and mixing it with sand and fresh compost. It had gotten just too full and too dense after 10+ years. Plantoid gave me some good advice for next time I do this. He suggested I build the frames up higher and put fresh MM over the top of the good old beds, thus raising the bed higher as my back and knees bend less.

What a good idea.

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  llama momma on 4/10/2014, 6:48 am

Plantoids depth of knowledge is a wonderful gift to this forum  

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  plantoid on 4/10/2014, 10:26 am

Re :-
Replenishing the peat & vermiculite after 10 years.

 I gave it a lot of thought, hope I'm around to do it after 20 years as well .

My experiment will be just adding more vermiculite at once  2 gallon buckets per 9 square feet ( the size of my beds )  . At present ( I'm open to any forms of proof that show other wise ) I do not consider that adding more almost inert material will be beneficial at the 10 yr. point. I hope to work it in to about 20 inches deep & let the worms do the hard work .

Should there be any excess bed fill I'll spread it over the lawns as a decent lawn feed/ tonic for it will soon be taken in by the grass & worms  therein .

Food for Thought .

In 1982 when I had two garden allotments 90 feet by 30 feet each , I took a lot of notice of my neighbours two allotments & what he did.  I also pick his brains clean almost everytime we talked ( according to him ) .

 He or his father had had possession of them since 1928 , despite continuous cultivation for 60 years  plus massive amounts of composted veg matter and manures , the allotments were barely 10 inches higher than mine which had been fallow for over 8 years .
After my first rototilling & manuring session ( five tons of 4 yr old stable muck & beddings) my beds had raised up a mere three inches or so . By the end of my five year occupancy my beds were still just about three inches higher than the paths I'd initially made .
I too had put many truck loads of compost and manures into the beds .
I was  using an annual  five bed crop rotation cycle of a bed of  roots ,one of  brassica, one for all others & a  fallow bed .  The top fruit beds were permanent well manured & top dressed locations .

 One day I asked Bill how deep did his beds go .. " Dunno Dave , go & dig a hole & tell me " ,was his reply .  At almost 40 inchers deep the soil of the beds had turned to the fine sand & clay of the area .
" Bugger me " , said Bill laughing like a drain .  " Them bloody worms a been stealin me manure agin , I ain't dug no deep'r un two foot, when I fust dun the trench digging fer me Dad ,  just afore the last war". 

 This sort of worm enhanced & regularly manured  deep bed is often referred to as  , " A bed that been built over time " .

 
My  reasoning for only trying vermiculite at the  ten year period is that the composts we add will always have a good fibre component that will never fully  rot down so long as you keep adding new compost every time you pull crops out . The compost is in part a substitute for the peat in the beds once the beds are up & running .

 I noticed that if I got some vermiculite very sloppy and stirred it into wet peat & added more water till it was all a thin soup   then whizzed it up with the paint mixer attachment I put on my electric drill , the vermiculite broke up into microscopic bits .
 
These microscopic particles attached themselves itself to the tiny fibres on the broken up peat .

 My thoughts are that yes this microscopic vermiculite attached to decayed peat will settle but as the  worms follow the food source of decaying plants and humus they will make air & water passages in the settled components. .

 The 18 inches or so layer of 30 yr. old leaf mould I put in my beds when I set them up , above the neat horse muck bottom fill but below the 9 inches of quality MM has settled but has not formed a solid pancake as I thought it would , the worms have taken fine vermiculite down into & through it .

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  hhdang on 4/15/2014, 1:09 pm

Thank you all for answering my question!

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 4/15/2014, 1:49 pm

We talked a little about this in the SFG Instructor class last week.  And I'm about to talk to Belinda in a few minutes.  But the feeling I got from her was there's really no need.  In parts of the world where vermiculite isn't available, Mel says go with all compost.

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Re: What to do with old Compost after used in your SFG?

Post  camprn on 4/15/2014, 2:01 pm

@AtlantaMarie wrote:... there's really no need.  In parts of the world where vermiculite isn't available, Mel says go with all compost.
+1

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