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use what I have?

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use what I have?

Post  ceresone on 5/31/2015, 10:38 am

I'm a widow, on a fixed income--so that puts a limit on what I buy. This fall, I'm putting in 18 new beds-24" high-no more bending over-which I cant do. However, I have 40 acres of dirt/soil-if I can hire something to dig it. I have plenty of horse manure-and old hay. I can collect grass clippings/oak, maple leaves by the load. Plus scraps from canning this summer. What more do I need to make a good mixture? The beds will be on top of this years garden, so-no bottoms in them.


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Re: use what I have?

Post  Razed Bed on 5/31/2015, 10:53 am

Just an opinion here, of which it is probably unique (screwy)-----

I know many farmers in our area that grow in pure compost--no actual soil or the other two components of Mel's Mix.

I am sure you can grow many wonderful crops in what you will have at your disposal.  Vermiculite and peat can be expensive, and nobody is going to hold a gun to your head demanding that you must go by "the book." 

I believe that somewhere either in the book or on this site, it is detailed how in areas where there are no resources to collect vermiculite and peat, or the funds are not available, it is recommended to use 100% compost.

I can attest that you can grow a lot of thriving crops in compost, because our cold compost piles have frequently given us free vegetables when the seeds were not destroyed by heat.

I say do what you are able to do.  The key is to grow as much nutritionally-rich food you can grow so that you can stay healthy.  I highly advise growing as many greens as you can, because you can benefit with more nutrition per square yard than any other way.

We have enough greens here to eat something green from our garden any day we want between early March and the first time it gets below 20 degrees.  Actually, we had kale that wintered over and still tasted great.

Have fun and be well.

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Re: use what I have?

Post  quiltbea on 5/31/2015, 11:07 am

1+  Ditto Razed Bed's comments.
Even Mel suggests using compost if you can't get the other sources.
Good luck.


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Re: use what I have?

Post  CapeCoddess on 5/31/2015, 11:50 am

ceresine, that sounds like an excellent compost mix! I grow a lot of things and straight compost, especially in pots. One time when I built a new box I only had enough vermiculite and peat moss to fill half of it with MM so the other half was straight compost. I grew the best tomatoes I've ever grown in that compost.



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Re: use what I have?

Post  Turan on 5/31/2015, 12:36 pm

It should work a charm, especially if your native soil is a bit on the sandy side. That is what I do, but I have added sand over time, it makes the mix more friable. In the beds you really want a mix that does not pack down and need spade digging. I would suggest beds 3 foot wide if longer than 4 feet. I like my 3 x 8 beds, others have 3x6 beds.

Basically what you are suggesting is what is described in the original SFG book.

We will be curious to read and see (post pics please) your updates Very Happy


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Re: use what I have?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 6/1/2015, 7:44 am

Hi Ceresone.  Welcome from Atlanta, GA.

Looks like you've already gotten advice!  And I agree - use what you have.  Many people around the world use only compost.

Glad you've joined us!


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Re: use what I have?

Post  plantoid on 6/1/2015, 12:52 pm

I'm now into my sixth year ( ??? ) with ANSFG 7 have been making my own composts since day one .
 During this time I've come to realize that I need a lot more browns  .  Hay has a lot of seeds in it that come out in the composts .. composted cow muck & plenty of their straw bedding is good as one of the 1 /5 ths of the compost components as they digestive system kills all weed seeds  unlike horses.

 I still have some 8 or more black rubble bags of high content animal based dung and bedding manure that was composted five years ago . It has gone a bit doughy but soon crumbles if left to dry for 1/2 an hour.
 each year the worms have managed to get access and work their way though it .

My current thinking is
I'll still go with Mel's compost making suggestions but will add quite a lot of extra clean straw when making up the composts bins this year .


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Re: use what I have?

Post  boffer on 6/1/2015, 12:59 pm

@plantoid wrote:... During this time I've come to realize that I need a lot more browns...

What were the indicators that led to this conclusion?

Was it the compost-making process itself, or the quality of your plants/harvest?


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Re: use what I have?

Post  sanderson on 6/1/2015, 1:55 pm

Ceresone, I'm late welcoming you, so Welcome to the Forum from California! glad you\'re here

You have already received some good advice about box sizes. I love my 2' high table top boxes. Boxes for pole beans and other plants needing trellises are only 12-15" high so I can reach the beans, etc., without falling off a tall ladder! Very Happy

If you already have a row garden area that has been tilled/hoed in the past, then adding boxes to that area and partially filling with that soil and lots of fast compostable materials in the fall, then, come spring, when you mix the soil and compost as best you can, you should be able to grow great crops. Good friable "dirt" and compost. I think oak leaves take a while to break down, but horse manure, bedding straw, veggie scraps, leaves, grass, coffee grounds (attract worms which will make worm castings Very Happy ), and anything else that was alive should be ready enough by spring. You can start a compost pile right now and get a start on the process by letting them slowly break down over the summer. Add that to the top of the bed plus anything else you can get hold of in the fall.

Please keep us posted with your journey. We love photos!

PS I just thought of something else. If you can get free wood chips from tree trimming companies, they would be great to place in the isles between boxes. You should be able to walk around during the rain without getting muddy. Some folks use wood chips as mulch on top of the bed soil to slow down water evaporation.


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