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Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

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Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  Lizlo_FL on 11/3/2016, 12:50 pm

Hi Everyone! I have been reading your forum for the past year and have learned a lot from the wonderful members here. I have been searching for an answer to this question for weeks and thought this would be the best place to ask.

I have been doing SFG since the early 1980's in Rhode Island. My beds were in the ground and designed from the original SFG book. My soil was unbelievably rich, it was black gold from years of "direct" composting my vegetable scraps, egg shells, cut up dried leaves & grass clippings, etc. My method was to cut up into small pieces my vegetable scraps, then go out into the garden and find the hand shovel (which marked the spot of the next hole) and dig a small hole, dump in the cut up scraps, then move the shovel over another 6 inches. 

I moved to Florida 14 years ago and a year ago built (2) 4x4 SFG beds 8 inches high following Mel's Mix instructions exactly. My beds do fantastic. But I don't have the room for a compost bin nor enough materials for composting. I will add worm casings & bone meal annually along with compost, vermiculite & peat.

So does anyone know of any reason why I cannot direct compost as I did in RI by burying my little piles of veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and eggs shells into the raised beds in FL?
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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  trolleydriver on 11/3/2016, 1:09 pm

Hi Lizlo_FL ... Allow me to offer you a warm welcome to the forum. So glad you have decided to join us and take part in the conversation.





I'm located way up north in Ottawa, Canada. My parents enjoyed many years vacationing in beautiful Naples, Florida. 


I'll let others more knowledgeable than myself answer your question. If it is a viable option to put the scraps directly in the garden bed, I expect it would be best to chop them into very small pieces so that they decompose/compost quickly. Also watch out for critters who may want a quick snack.

You also mentioned "I will add worm casings & bone meal annually along with compost, vermiculite & peat."  I don't think you should add more vermiculite or peat.  The All New SFG only requires vermiculite and peat on initial setup.  After that you add compost (from 5 different sources) to each square as you replant them. Some add compost to all squares at the end of the season.

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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  Lizlo_FL on 11/3/2016, 1:35 pm

Nice to meet you trolleydriver! Thank you for the warm welcome.

I will chop the veggies into small pieces, it is an old habit to chop my veggies for dinner then keep chopping the scraps into small little bits and put them in a bowl. I also rinse my egg shells and break them up. I add coffee grounds too but in moderation. I am a 1 person household with my Boxer who likes veggies, so I have to bury them good so the dog doesn't dig up the beds.

I didn't know about not adding more peat & vermiculite after the initial setup, good to know! I actually just moved and moved my beds, dirt and all! What a job and I can see my beds lost some soil in the move hence the reason I was going to add more right now. I am getting ready for my fall planting and I am sure you northerners are jealous! This is south Florida's planting time.
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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  sfg4uKim on 11/3/2016, 2:31 pm

Yep, there's no need to add more vermiculite or peat on a regular basis. However, when the soil level gets low after a few seasons I do add more Mel's Mix to the bed.

I too use the "chop and drop" method instead of a regular compost pile.

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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  Kelejan on 11/3/2016, 3:36 pm

glad you\'re here  Lislo happy hi 
from Kelejan :canada: in British Columbia.

You are doing everything right, and I agree completely with what TD and Scorpio have advised you to not do.

That makes a change from telling people what to do, doesn't it? Very Happy 

Look forward to hearing of your progress.  We here in Canada can only read and watch what your do in Florida during our winter. Love pictures with any green and colopur on it as we get a bit starved of green/colour at time. 

PS If you find any funny spellings in my posts, my excuse is that I am English born and bred and although I like to think myself bi-lingual (British/American spelling) I find it hard to keep to one or the other all the time.
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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  Lizlo_FL on 11/3/2016, 3:59 pm

Thank you sfg4uKim for your response and nice to meet you. It is great to know my method has a name "chop and drop". I am also happy to know I won't spoil my soil by doing this. 

Kelejan, very nice to meet you, we couldn't be further away from each other. I will post pictures on my progress. I just went outside and my Boxer dog took a walk through my beds, grrrr. I haven't installed new string squares yet after my move. The string squares do a good job of keeping the dog out of the beds, I guess they scare him away after he gets snagged on his first attempt. I bought yellow braided line this time, so they should last longer than the jute I used in the past.

I guess I can't post pictures being a new user. I will try in a week or so.
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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  plantoid on 11/3/2016, 5:18 pm

Hi Lizlo, welcome to the site.

 I see that there could be a problem doing your chop & drop  in a bed especially a shallow ..... less than a foot deep bed where there is plenty of moisture .

 I think of it like this ... if you want to grow any crop in the square foot that has also been used for the chop & drop  you may be giving pests that feed on the same decaying plant species a head start to get strong enough to take on the crop you hope to grow .

 It's one vector for how brassica end up getting  club root ,  onion wilt gets the onions  & carrots go slimy ,   as the small bucket of decaying matter will not gain sufficient heat to kill off bugs & viruses .
Slugs  just love  newly cut & buried veg matter ....they appear to lay their eggs in it  & thrive..

 The safest way is to hot compost away from the  intended place of compost use so that the first couple of stages of rot and pest insect inhabitation/ feeding  have ended long before you use the compost as a source of nutrition . .

 Really deep beds would be much lees of a problem so long as the top of the material is a good two feet below the surface

 Using a simple worm composting bucket set up would be much better for a bucket can sit almost anywhere  in your garden or garage , including it being moved around & placed on a board over an unused square foot of it's in your way for a few hours  .

 I'm a tad disabled .. lots of my stuff in & out my man cupboard is set on fully lockable 360 swiveling 4 " nylon wheeled  castors .. I can & do move it all over the place on my concrete paths as I'm very restricted in space .

 Such a bin would give you very valuable worm casts and a  liquid fertilizer of the highest quality around .


 Now if you liquidize your green /kitchen waste , adding a bit more water and pour that in a  hole it will break down very very quickly and the pest problem does not seem to appear before the worms get stuck in and eat the mush .
 Lots of guys on site use this as a worm hotel by putting a 2 or so inch tube in a corner of a bed and feeding the bed via that way . There will still be fine hair  fibres left in the beds from plant roots but as they are so fine they rarely are able to support any disease or pest problem ... so long as you grow a different plant in the square to the previous plant  .
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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  Lizlo_FL on 11/3/2016, 7:25 pm

plantoid, thank you for the detailed response. I actually just finished doing some more research and stumbled on an article about a worm hotel using a piece of PVC with 1" holes drilled in it on the bottom to place in the garden. It is on this site http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1603-worm-tube-for-the-sfg

Now my thought is "do I really need the PVC?" can't I just add worms and put in my very small cut up scraps around the garden after I add worms?

I just ordered 500 Red Composting worms from Uncle Jim's for $23 delivered. Probably too many worms for my 2 4x4x8" beds but it was the smallest quantity I could order. I also have a 1x3 herb bed with 3 plants in it that are perennials (parsley, chives, oregano).

So I will add them to the beds and add my scraps and pray it all works. Unless you think the PVC tube is better for the worms. I honestly don't see why the worms can't find my goodies, the beds aren't that big. Unless I'm wrong.

Yes, in Florida you have so many bugs and unknown creatures that show up, I was worried about putting my scraps directly in the raised beds hence the start of this post. Up north in Rhode Island when I did this chop and drop composting, the beds were turned at least 3 feet down and were in the ground. I am learning to garden in Florida, it is a whole new animal down here. It took me 13 years to even try as there is no soil here, just sand.
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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  AtlantaMarie on 11/3/2016, 7:35 pm

Hi Lizlo_FL. If you've been watching us, then you know this is a warm welcome from Atlanta, GA! Glad you've decided to officially join our party!!
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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  Roseinarosecity on 11/3/2016, 9:47 pm

Welcome, Lizlo!
I too am trying to dig my kitchen scraps in my non-square foot garden raised bed.  I am trying a similar method.  I am digging 8 inch trench and adding 4 inches of defrosted kitchen scrap, then replacing the soil back.  After two weeks, I took a peak, and found lots of earthworm in the ground!  I decided not plant in that area because I read somewhere that you should wait 6 weeks before planting.  So I planted six inches away.  My plants look good but it's too early to decide if this method is going to improve my soil.  After reading about your method, I am encouraged.

This is not "chop & drop" because "chop & drop" is trimming your plants and leaving them on the surface of the ground.  This is more "dig & drop."  What I am doing is called trench composting.  My kitchen scraps are first frozen as I collect more scraps.  After defrosting, the kitchen scrap fibers are broken down making them easier for the earthworm to use.  In my area, "chop & drop" encourages pill bugs.  I know, I tried it.

As mentioned here, this is not a SFG method.  My other beds created with Mel's method rarely give me problems.  I say rarely, because the Peat Moss dries up if I don't keep up the watering in between plantings.

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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  Kelejan on 11/3/2016, 9:57 pm

There are so many different ways of gardening that we are bound to have differences of opinion.  That is what makes it so interesting. Naturally there are some ways that are definitely wrong.

Sometimes we think we are right and along  comes some one like Plantoid, who is very experienced, to point out things that we may have missed.  Thanks, Plantoid.
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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  sanderson on 11/4/2016, 4:01 am

Lizo,  Welcome to the Forum from California!  glad you\'re here  I'm glad I waited until tonight before I welcomed you.  I was going to say that burying fine chopped veggies in little spots is fine.  Sometimes I freeze scraps, then thaw (microwave or in a covered bowl in the sun, making everything mushy and faster breaking down.  But, it would be good if you could also add some bagged composted manure to the beds.  That would be 2 sources.  Maybe a little kelp or crab meal?  Now 3 sources.  Now I know you have worms, and worm castings are good and can be considered a 4th source!!  Mel wanted compost from 5 different sources so that a variety of nutrients would be available.  Just do the best you can.

I have 3" white PVC worm tubes to feed the worms in 10 beds.  It's perfect for veggie scraps, used coffee grounds, corn meal, etc.  I found that 1" holes allowed too much Mel's Mix to be washed into the tubes so the holes are 1/2" or smaller.  But with only 2 beds, chop and bury is fine.  I love your method of feeding the worms by placing the spade/trowel in the next bury site.  Great way to keep track.

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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  yolos on 11/4/2016, 10:38 am

I tried trench composting a few summers ago.  I dug a trench, buried the kitchen waste and then put some composting worms in the top layer and covered it with chicken wire to keep rodents out.  The ants loved the trench so I never did it again.  I think this spring I may try a worm bucket like Haas uses.
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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  Scorpio Rising on 11/4/2016, 11:47 pm

glad you\'re here Welcome, Lizo. As far as I am conerned, that sounds just fine.  Do it!  What have you got to lose?  It is all an experiment in actuality....

I have a ridiculously long acting, old style Rodale type compost pile.  But glad you are here!


Last edited by Scorpio Rising on 11/4/2016, 11:54 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : total content)
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Garden is Planted

Post  Lizlo_FL on 11/13/2016, 11:55 am

November 12, 2016 My garden is planted! Thank you everyone for your advice.

I put in Red Wiggler Worms from Uncle Jim's. I brought the soil depth up with 5 kinds of compost and just a small amount more of peat & vermiculite. The strings are braided line. Most seeds came from Bakers Creek. The poles are there to keep the dog out of the beds. I made small cages to hold in the bush beans. The boxes are a year old and made the move to this new house fine.




The plant labels were made on my computer using waterproof labels on my Zebra 420 thermal printer that has a ribbon. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make the labels so the ink doesn't fade. I tried all kinds of pens in the past, all faded or washed off in no time. I'm hoping these labels last. Florida sun and weather is brutal year round.


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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  Kelejan on 11/13/2016, 6:00 pm

Everything looks so neat, Lizlo, I do hope your labels survive and that you can read them come rain or snow.

I think your photos of the labels may turn out handy as you can read them.
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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  sanderson on 11/14/2016, 1:33 am

Kelejan wrote:Everything looks so neat, Lizlo,
+1 PS: If you find they are fading or peeling, a #2 pencil (and eraser) on the rough side of the plastic labels works great in the sun.

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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  countrynaturals on 11/14/2016, 10:45 am

One section of my "salad bar" is now empty. The soil had sunk several inches, so I filled it up with dead leaves (about 5"). Now I'm sprinkling on chopped kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, ashes from the wood stove, and dried, crushed egg shells. I think I'll ask Santa for one of those mini-food processors so I can get a finer mix and also use it for chopping herbs.  geek
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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  plantoid on 11/14/2016, 5:35 pm

Sorry I missed your earlier post Lizlo.
  I guess the reason for using a section of 4 " /3 " plastic rain pipe is that it is easy to get hold of , is light and keeps the light out & does not rot . A couple of tubes will last for thirty years or more  .

 You don't really need to put holes in the sides . two  simple saw cuts across the end  in the vertical about 1/4 " wide by three inches long , cutting the two tongues off is ample for the worms to get in & out .  As I was using my bandsaw to cut my rain pipe I angled the cut to help me push it a bit deeper .

My beds are 36 inches deep , initially filled with MM and then adjusted every time something has been harvested with quality home made composted manures & veg matter .

 Now I've got my composting down to a fine art I have about three cubic years of finished compost bagged up ready to use when ever needed .  There is another five x 310 cubic litres of stuff in the act of becoming compost  on my lidded plastic composting bins  ( aka Daleks ) .
Every time I lift the lids on the two newest bins it looks like someone has tipped a 20 ounce can of pink spaghetti in the top of each of them  .

 When you get to that stage you don't really need worm tubes in the beds any mor4e as the worms will be putting lots of casts in the bins that are composting  .

 In the beds I now have a totally different type of worm , it's not striped & only a few inches long when extended like the ones in the composting bins but is a pinkish/purple slimy creature with a large waist band of a lighter colour ...
They are not as common as the striped worms , they can reach 13 inches or more when fully extended ...

These worms are the tunnelers that help put air deep down in the beds and also keep th drainage in tip top condition in the deep beds , they also east a diet of further matter that is decayed further than the striped worms  food .
  The casts from these big beasties  is just as valuable for fertilizer as the striped worm casts are  & they also make fantastic freshwater fishing baits  .
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Re: Vegetable scraps directly into garden bed

Post  has55 on 11/15/2016, 8:02 pm

excellent answer plantoid
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