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Regarding Compost and the forest

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Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  jimmy cee on 3/11/2016, 8:47 am

A thought has been in my mind for a while,
Does anyone ever consider going into the woods / forest close to them to pick up some of the mixture that has over the years become a perfect natural compost ?
Many folk who are paying for so called compost that could be questionable might have this at their finger tips not being aware of it.
I have worked many years ago in these forests, tearing up with giant machines to get at minerals below.
While doing this, I now recall the fertile black earth that seemed to be everywhere once machines became active..
I don't have or own any such areas, however to my way of thinking this could be a fantastic find, may take a bit of work to dig it up and move it, to me it would be worth it..
I've thought about this ever since I saw the Back To Eden film..
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  trolleydriver on 3/11/2016, 10:20 am

Jimmy, thanks for posting this.  I was about to ask the very same thing!!!

I have a small wooded area at the end of my street that is easily accessible. I've been thinking about going in there (after the snow melts and ground thaws out) and getting some of the good stuff below the deciduous trees. I was thinking of bringing some home and using it in my compost heaps. The problem I have is that the area is city property adjacent to some soccer fields. It's probably not legal for me to do it. I also wonder if there is a danger of bringing home some bad seeds (e.g., from poison ivy).
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 3/11/2016, 10:26 am

Absolutely... but be careful to only remove small portions spread over an area so that you do not disturb the forest's ability to nurture itself!  There are fungal and bacterial elements that you can bring home with you that will inoculate your compost.  

Also, just study what makes up that rich material and duplicate it at home:  leaves, wood chips, loose layers of stuff that has fallen, animal dung, worms and mushrooms.  It isn't turned other than birds or animals digging through it and leaving their droppings.  It just breaks down right in place.

This is what I've started doing with my in-ground gardens.  Instead of turning huge compost piles I'm layering and letting it compost in place.  Helps my shoulders and my back and the garden likes it even better than the compost I make.  On my SFG gardens I do the same but use finely chopped materials and partially composted mulch on top.
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  CapeCoddess on 3/11/2016, 11:48 am

Back decades ago I brought a bucket full home to start my new compost pile.  Haven't needed any since.  I agree with Audry...be gentle.

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:
... just study what makes up that rich material and duplicate it at home:  leaves, wood chips, loose layers of stuff that has fallen, animal dung, worms and mushrooms.  It isn't turned other than birds or animals digging through it and leaving their droppings.  It just breaks down right in place.

This is what I've started doing with my in-ground gardens.  Instead of turning huge compost piles I'm layering and letting it compost in place.  Helps my shoulders and my back and the garden likes it even better than the compost I make.  On my SFG gardens I do the same but use finely chopped materials and partially composted mulch on top.

Fabulous post, Audrey.  I'm doing the same laying of the compost pile now also.  Works just fine.  

CC


Last edited by CapeCoddess on 3/11/2016, 12:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  Zmoore on 3/11/2016, 11:57 am

My 2 cents, I'm generally opposed to the idea or at the very least as audrey says "be careful".

I think it's a good idea if coordinated with already planned/happening clearing and grading for various construction reasons.  Currently the value of the existing humus or compost in those situations is not understood and/or the value of preserving and reusing on site is not considered economically feasible.  In a lot of cases it's treated more like a waste product rather than a commodity.  So, in those cases where it us going to go to waste anyway, sure get all you can.  Lot being cleared in your neighborhood?  ask if they could push some of the first few inches of stripped material off into a pile for you or ask if you can go in before they start and " scavenge" whatever you can.

If it's a pristine forest like in your picture, leave it alone.  The forest is already using it and has a fairly delicate system for replenishing and keeping it going.  You could upset that balance if you're not careful.  BUT, like a lot of stuff there is a "line".  I don't think you'll hurt anything if you're careful and/or not "greedy".

I know our focus in this forum is our gardens, but in a way that's natures garden, leave it alone.  Yes, it is good stuff, it's so good it's exactly what we're trying to replicate in the first place.  Replicate it, don't take it.

It's kind of like the old adage "give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a life time".  Don' take nature's "fish", make your "fish" instead.

That being said from a person that uses Peat in his soil mix Smile  Limited natural commodity.
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  trolleydriver on 3/11/2016, 12:06 pm

I'm thinking a small amount taken carefully would not hurt the woods. I would use it only for inoculating my compost bins. In addition to this small wooded area, we live on the edge of a whole greenbelt of forests and fields that separates our older part of the city from the outlying newer suburbs. However, if everyone in my neighbourhood did the same thing in that small wooded area it would be a real disaster.
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  Kelejan on 3/11/2016, 1:13 pm

Two years ago when I first laid down my wood-chips I took some bucketfuls of wood soil from my own land that form the north hillside that I am unable to cultivate due to the steep  incline and where the trees  anchor the hillside that consists of layers of rocks that could slide down if the worst happened.

I used the bucketfuls to layer on top of my woods, even before I had read the book, "Teaming with Microbes", but that was a one-time effort.

I would not be a proponent of taking it wholesale.

I learned a lesson from when I scraped up the leaves falling from my trees that lined the road, and collected the grass that I mowed from my lawn for thirteen years and put them on the compost heap, and wondered why my lawn looked sparse and of course spread on lawn fertilizer.

Two years ago I started mowing and leaving everything where it dropped and did not rake it up. Now I no longer work at raking or fertilizing and my lawn is thick and green all summer. I mow often and I mow high, it does not take long.
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  jimmy cee on 3/11/2016, 5:45 pm

Endomycorrhizal fungi is great for lawns also....just a bit in your tea, get it down to the rhizosphere where in takes up the exudate ( carbon ) from plants roots and in turn  adds nitrogen to the plant for growth.
Did you know that phosphorous in required for plant growth ? when added chemically, very little is picked up by the plants root system... With proper compost tea the plant absorbs just about what is needed at the time.

My wife goes shopping, I sit at the table in the food court and read my Teaming with Microbes book..
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  yolos on 3/11/2016, 5:59 pm

When I start a new compost pile, I add some of my old compost to the new pile to help inoculate the new pile.  BUT, I also go out into the woods and get a 5 gallon bucket of material off the forest floor to add to the new pile to help give it diversity in microbes.
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  trolleydriver on 3/11/2016, 6:13 pm

yolos ... that's what I'm talking about.
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/11/2016, 8:50 pm

Oh, yes, Jimmy. I have a couple of places I can probably get some. Just haven't taken the time to do it yet...
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  floyd1440 on 3/13/2016, 7:17 am

I am fortunate and have a neighbor who collects leaves in the fall and puts them in a pile about 40' from my yard and they let me collect enough for my composting needs.
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/13/2016, 4:30 pm

Floyd! Good to see you!

Lucky you. That's very nice of them...
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Re: Regarding Compost and the forest

Post  floyd1440 on 3/13/2016, 4:34 pm

@AtlantaMarie wrote:Floyd!  Good to see you!

Lucky you.  That's very nice of them...
I am back and will have more time to dedicate to gardening.
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