Square Foot Gardening Forum

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.


Search
 
 

Display results as :
 

 


Rechercher Advanced Search

Latest topics
» N&C Midwest: December 2016
by GardenGal Today at 6:38 pm

» Garlic: Freeze, thaw, and heave
by donnainzone5 Today at 6:11 pm

» Mychorrhizae Fungi
by jimmy cee Today at 5:35 pm

» New Member
by trolleydriver Today at 4:14 pm

» TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
by trolleydriver Today at 1:32 pm

» New England, December 2016
by sanderson Today at 12:57 pm

» December 2016 Avatar: Show your Winter Season Colors!
by sanderson Today at 12:40 pm

» Mid-Atl - Dec 2016 - Seed Catalog ?
by CapeCoddess Today at 12:32 pm

» Live and learn
by jimmy cee Today at 10:56 am

» First season SFG results / lessons learned
by countrynaturals Today at 10:36 am

» CANADIAN REGION: What are you doing December 2016
by Kelejan Today at 9:46 am

» Mid-South: December 2016
by sanderson Today at 3:39 am

» 1st Seed Catalog Arrived :)
by sanderson Today at 3:30 am

» Eat Broccoli Leaves? Brussels Sprouts? Cauliflower?
by sanderson Today at 2:55 am

» Winter's Coming!
by sanderson Today at 2:53 am

» Dry versus fresh spices to infuse vinegar
by sanderson Today at 2:50 am

» 2016 SFG in Brooks, Ga
by sanderson Today at 1:28 am

» Holy snow Batman!
by sanderson Yesterday at 5:46 pm

» Senseless Banter...
by MrBooker Yesterday at 5:17 pm

» Blanching and Freezing Vegetables
by sanderson Yesterday at 4:59 pm

» Your Christmas wish list?
by sanderson Yesterday at 4:29 pm

» SFG Adventure of a first time gardener in ND
by sanderson Yesterday at 4:14 pm

» Second Year SFG in Canada
by trolleydriver Yesterday at 2:59 pm

» Fusion Life Brands Power XL pressure cooker
by CapeCoddess Yesterday at 2:39 pm

» Asia Region -Showcase of Gardens - Show Us Yours
by sanderson Yesterday at 2:14 pm

» December: What to plant in Northern California and Central Valley areas
by countrynaturals Yesterday at 1:13 pm

» Gardening in Central Pennsylvania
by countrynaturals Yesterday at 12:52 pm

» Winter Gardens - Photos
by sanderson Yesterday at 3:55 am

» Log In
by trolleydriver 12/1/2016, 5:23 pm

» Gnome Pumpkin Pie
by countrynaturals 12/1/2016, 1:22 pm

Google

Search SFG Forum

Amending good soil already in place?

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Compost chopping

Post  jmsmall on 3/15/2016, 9:47 pm

I've read over the years that composting goes a lot faster when it's chopped, which makes a lot of sense. My composting includes kitchen scraps, leaves, and various weeds/trimmings from the garden. I'm allergic to grass so I hire out the grass cutting, and frankly am not sure yet if grass clippings have too much herbicide. So I'm reluctant to compost that for use in my garden.

So I've got a variety of things to chop!  Leek leaves, egg shells, avocado rinds from the kitchen all mixed in with coffee grounds. How do I chop that mess up? (we have one of those nice steel cans with the activated charcoal lid and accumulate all winter.) I put those in a rotating bin composter, and have a "pile" out back for bigger stuff.

Thistles, bindweed, etc from our "back 40" that we have to keep down; how do I chop THOSE things?

Leaves in the fall--I've seen these "fan choppers" for leaves; do they work?

Jim

jmsmall

Male Posts : 10
Join date : 2016-03-15
Location : Denver CO, zone 5-6

View user profile http://paleopathologist.com

Back to top Go down

Amending good soil already in place?

Post  jmsmall on 3/15/2016, 10:00 pm

Too late to this forum!  Last year we built some nice raised beds, put in drip irrigation, and had a pretty good first year. We of course bought soil. (My wife who hails from North Carolina thinks buying dirt is just weird.)  

My question is, what about getting vermiculite and mixing it in along with some compost? It's really pretty nice soft dirt we got!

Jim

jmsmall

Male Posts : 10
Join date : 2016-03-15
Location : Denver CO, zone 5-6

View user profile http://paleopathologist.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Amending good soil already in place?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 3/15/2016, 10:21 pm

Hey, Jim! Welcome from Ohio! Do you have boxes filled with Mel's Mix? It depends on what you are doing...have your read All New Square Foot Gardening? If so, did you say actual soil? Mel's Mix is soilless; peat, compost and vermiculite in equal parts.

Can you post some pics? That would help greatly!

glad you\'re here

Scorpio Rising

Female Posts : 3774
Join date : 2015-06-12
Age : 54
Location : Ada, Ohio

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Amending good soil already in place?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 3/15/2016, 10:24 pm

On the heels of that, I just worked a whole bunch of vermiculite into my existing SFG.  Needed lightend up, ya know?  Lots of nutrients, just needed a bit of loft.


Last edited by Scorpio Rising on 3/15/2016, 10:25 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Typo)

Scorpio Rising

Female Posts : 3774
Join date : 2015-06-12
Age : 54
Location : Ada, Ohio

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Amending good soil already in place?

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 3/15/2016, 11:28 pm

I have a homeowner type chipper/shredder that I pull out when there's a lot to chop.  The reason chopping things up makes them break down more quickly is the increased surface area from chopping means more of the material is exposed to bacterial and fungal activity.

For tender items like leaves, weeds and garden remains, a weed whacker in a deep trash can can work.  Sometimes I just hand chop with pruning sheers - usually into 4-6 inch sections.

audrey.jeanne.roberts

Posts : 1865
Join date : 2012-12-07
Location : Central Calif Mtns.

View user profile http://audreyjeanne-roberts.artistwebsites.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Amending good soil already in place?

Post  sanderson on 3/16/2016, 2:35 am

Jim,  Welcome to the Forum from California! glad you\'re here

It's never too late to join to join this Forum.  Have you had a chance to read All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew?  Strongly recommend the book.  It's an easy read and filled with everything you need to know about SFG in contained boxes.

So you bought "dirt", like as in real dirt?  Or was it a blend of dirt and humus?  Anyway, you have the beds and you had a good first year.  Over time, the plants will use up the nutrients in the dirt/soil.  So you have to feed.  Most people use fertilizer but in Square Foot Gardening, we use compost to "feed" the plants.  Actually, we are feeding the soil which feeds the micro-and macro- organisms in the soil which in turn release the nutrients in usable form to the plant. [See our current topic "Microbes...you gotta see this one !!!"]

There are 3 parts to Mel's Mix: equal parts of vermiculite, fluffed peat moss and multi-blend compost, at least 5 sources of compost.  Adding vermiculite makes it lighter but it also holds and releases water, air and nutrients to the plants.  Peat moss makes it lighter and friable and aids in water retention.  Compost is the 3rd and the most important part of the mix.  So you added some vermiculite and that is a good thing.  Now, compost.  If you can add 50% more in volume to the dirt and vermiculite, you should get some great results.  One of the five equal parts should be a composted barn manure (I like horse manure).

You can make your own blended compost with leaves, Starbucks coffee grounds, dried grass (you are allergic to grass), chopped alfalfa hay or spent bedding straw, small wood chips or board sawdust, seaweed (Razz ), kitchen scraps, some weeds and garden trimmings (I think bindweed is a no-no but maybe someone will comment on it).  I get wilted produce and fruits from the vendors at the Farmers Market at the end of the event).  There are different ways to "chop" up some of the ingredients.  Gardening pruners, lawnmower, Weed whackers, chippers.

Please use our Search Box for 'compost.'  There are 300 threads on compost.

____________________________

Find more about Weather in Fresno, CA
Click for weather forecast

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 12249
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 68
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Thanks for the comments.

Post  jmsmall on 3/16/2016, 8:51 am

We have several raised beds about 18" to two feet high, three feet wide by ten to twenty feet long. The "dirt" was a gardening mix, don't exactly know what's in it but it's nice and light in my hands so I suspect it has a lot of good organic stuff in it. Doubt any vermiculite, it doesn't have the spots in it that I see on pictures.

I just finished skimming SFG and like the concept. We did three foot "rows" last year and got a lot of good greens, some interesting scarlet runner beans, cucumbers, cabbages, etc. None of my friends had much luck with tomatoes last year around here, and ours weren't great either. Kept splitting. DW thought it might be uneven watering?

Radishes were terrific but didn't get too many (I think we need to learn to replant and the SFG looks like a good way to make that happen.) Wife and I think planting a denser, closer together garden makes sense (as does my daughter.) They got a nice indoor "sprouting" rack and I'm pretty sure seeds are pushing their way skyward at her house.

Also DW wants some flowers in some of the squares like marigolds etc.

Denver can be very dry and hot, or cool and wet; weird mountain weather. The vermiculite actually sounds like a great idea to hold water.

Last year was our first year of really getting hammered by Japanese beetles!  Can't tell you how many thousand beetles I picked off of vines and roses and tossed into soapy water, then on into the compost to increase the nitrogen "naturally."

On the compost chopper, I have a small-branch shredder that I guess I'll give a shot. The main issue is shredding real damp stuff, and leaves. The lawn mower thing sounds reasonable too.

Thanks again for all your discussions. It's 6 AM and daylight savings took my sun away in the morning; maybe I can post some pictures.

Jim

jmsmall

Male Posts : 10
Join date : 2016-03-15
Location : Denver CO, zone 5-6

View user profile http://paleopathologist.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Amending good soil already in place?

Post  donnainzone5 on 3/16/2016, 12:29 pm

For small amounts of compost material, I sometimes haul out my Chinese cleaver and whack away on a plastic cutting board. 

Likewise, my eggshell technique is simple.  I collect rinsed shells in a large baggie, let them dry out, and use an empty wine bottle or rolling pin to crush them.  Some people use a blender, but that didn't work well for me.

I don't think I'd risk composting bindweed, or any other invasive weed.  I did toss some purslane into the compost last year and will have to see what happens.

donnainzone5

Certified SFG Instructor

Female Posts : 1916
Join date : 2010-03-02
Age : 69
Location : Bend, OR (Zone 5-6)

View user profile http://www.amway.com/DonnaKBecker

Back to top Go down

Re: Amending good soil already in place?

Post  sanderson on 3/16/2016, 1:42 pm

Donna, thanks for commenting on bindweed. I couldn't remember for sure.

____________________________

Find more about Weather in Fresno, CA
Click for weather forecast

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 12249
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 68
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Amending good soil already in place?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 3/16/2016, 6:58 pm

Wow, I wasted all those dead Japanese Beetle corpses.. Mad Not this year!  They were all over my pole beans, it was disgusting.  I hate them!  And they do not even belong here!  I can tolerate some of the native pests, but not the introduced mega-pests with no natural predators to keep them in check!

Thanks, Jim!


Last edited by Scorpio Rising on 3/16/2016, 6:59 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Forgot to say thanks!)

Scorpio Rising

Female Posts : 3774
Join date : 2015-06-12
Age : 54
Location : Ada, Ohio

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Japanese beetles compost or chickenfeed?

Post  jmsmall on 3/16/2016, 7:33 pm

My daughter is getting chickens this week, an urban Paleo gardener in training. She tells me chickens love love love japanese beetles.

jmsmall

Male Posts : 10
Join date : 2016-03-15
Location : Denver CO, zone 5-6

View user profile http://paleopathologist.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Amending good soil already in place?

Post  Scorpio Rising on 3/16/2016, 7:52 pm

Hmmm, interesting. Eliot Coleman in "Four Season Harvest" talks about the joys and benefits of duck ownership. Wonder if ducks like 'em? thinking I live in a suburban setting. Not sure how the neighbors would take poultry...lol

Scorpio Rising

Female Posts : 3774
Join date : 2015-06-12
Age : 54
Location : Ada, Ohio

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Amending good soil already in place?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/16/2016, 7:58 pm

Hi Jim. Don't think we've met yet.... I've been out of touch quite a bit the last few days... Welcome from Atlanta, GA!

AtlantaMarie

Certified SFG Instructor

Female Posts : 3764
Join date : 2014-03-18
Age : 53
Location : Buford, GA - Zones 7B/8A

View user profile http://www.defensivespecialties.com

Back to top Go down

Hi back, I've been on this board for 24 hours

Post  jmsmall on 3/16/2016, 11:52 pm

so it wouldn't be surprising...

jmsmall

Male Posts : 10
Join date : 2016-03-15
Location : Denver CO, zone 5-6

View user profile http://paleopathologist.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Amending good soil already in place?

Post  Sponsored content Today at 6:54 pm


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum