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expanding and adding more MM

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expanding and adding more MM

Post  jazzymaddy on 8/18/2011, 9:44 pm

Hi friends. The time has come to expand my garden. I had so much fun with the first box, I have to get more. I know that's a familiar story to many of you. Couple of questions. I want to top off my current box. I think it needs about another 3 inches all over, so should I add a full amount of MM, or just blended compost? It's been through (part of) one growing season.

Next question is this: I was only able to find 4 composts, but also found a bag of worm castings. I cannot afford to get the same amount of worm casting as the other stuff, so how should I mix this? Would equal parts of the other 4, plus whatever I have of the castings work okay? Or should I add something else to the castings to make it equal the other 4 parts? Does that make any sense?

Since it's fun to share, I thought I'd include my most current picture. I love the way it looks with all the green in it. I just wish the summer hadn't been so hot, and that I'd seen more fruit. But there's still time. If I can stay ahead of the squash bugs...



Thanks y'all.

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Re: expanding and adding more MM

Post  Dunkinjean on 8/19/2011, 12:12 am

Jazzymaddy:

By all means definitely expand your garden by adding more boxes!

1) I would probrably add two scoops of compost in each square and mix in. Since you need 3" more of soil, I would add MM mixture.

2) I have never used warm castings so I cannot answer that question.

Love the pic of your garden! Laughing

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Re: expanding and adding more MM

Post  camprn on 8/19/2011, 7:53 am

@jazzymaddy wrote:Hi friends. The time has come to expand my garden. I had so much fun with the first box, I have to get more. I know that's a familiar story to many of you. Couple of questions. I want to top off my current box. I think it needs about another 3 inches all over, so should I add a full amount of MM, or just blended compost? It's been through (part of) one growing season.
Congrats on the forthcoming expansion!. I would just add more blended compost. no need to make more MM as it will most likely fluff up when you pull everything out and begin mixing in the compost.
@jazzymaddy wrote:
Next question is this: I was only able to find 4 composts, but also found a bag of worm castings. I cannot afford to get the same amount of worm casting as the other stuff, so how should I mix this? Would equal parts of the other 4, plus whatever I have of the castings work okay? Or should I add something else to the castings to make it equal the other 4 parts? Does that make any sense?
If you have the 5 but one less than the rest, I would suggest that should work fine. affraid Are you going to build this autumn so you can plant early in the spring?

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Re: expanding and adding more MM

Post  littlesapphire on 8/19/2011, 8:34 am

I would suggest just adding compost instead of more MM, like Camprn said. I added the right amount of MM to my boxes, but right now it's down to about three inches deep. I think it's a combination of needing more compost and simply getting compacted over the season.

Good luck with the new boxes! I'm going to add some as well, though I haven't decided if Iwant to do it in the fall or in the spring. Hmm...

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Re: expanding and adding more MM

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/19/2011, 8:42 am

jazzy,

It kind of depends on where you were at the beginning of the season. It's hard for me to believe the 3 inches you lack from being completely full are all nutrient/compost loss. How full were you? If 1 inch, I would add an inch of MM after I added a couple of compost. Either way, I would be rather compost heavy on my addition. I certainly would not add all MM to top up.

As for the composts, try and find a fifth. However, it won't kill you to keep growing with four. Five is just better.

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Re: expanding and adding more MM

Post  jazzymaddy on 8/19/2011, 9:27 am

You guys are so great. I started out in the spring with less than a full box, so I'm topping off rather than filling in from the loss over the season. I probably need a total of 3 inches to take it up to the level. I used some filler in the "shallow end" of my box, so it ended up with about 4 inches total. I left a "deep end" for root veggies, and it probably has 8 inches. I know that you can grow fine in those amounts, but I also want to bring the level up higher because it gives easier clearance of my box seat. I don't know if that makes any sense.

Anyhow, I'm planning to plant in the fall, but it may just be in the current box. We'll see how ambitious my hubby and I feel.

I may have found a 5th compost just now, so I'll use the castings as a 6th.

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Re: expanding and adding more MM

Post  jazzymaddy on 8/19/2011, 11:43 am

Okay, I just got back from our recycling center/dump with a gorgeous load of yard waste black gold. Verified #5, with a bit of castings to mix in as 5 and a half. It looks very well broken down. But it was pretty hot. What do I do with that? I'm afraid that it would burn my stuff if I mixed it into my MM or compost mix that I'm troweling in to my existing squares.

Tell me what you think.

Thanks,
Tracy

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Re: expanding and adding more MM

Post  Furbalsmom on 8/19/2011, 12:29 pm

Jazzymaddy - if the compost from the recycling center is still hot, that means it is not completely composted yet. It is still working.

I would set it aside to cure for a bit, because if it is not done, it could either burn your plants or take more nitrogen out of the soil while it finishes. When it is done, compost is at ambient temperature and none of the ingredients are recognizable, they have decomposed to "black gold"

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Re: expanding and adding more MM

Post  jazzymaddy on 8/19/2011, 12:50 pm

So how long do I have to wait? How will I know when it's ready?

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Re: expanding and adding more MM

Post  camprn on 8/19/2011, 1:22 pm

@jazzymaddy wrote:So how long do I have to wait? How will I know when it's ready?
It may have been hot from just sitting in a big pile in the sun. If you cannot ID most anything in the compost it is probably close to ready. Did you dump it in a pile in your yard for later use? My suggestion, let it sit for a few days then check back, if the temp in above 100F in the middle of the pile you may want to wait a bit, if its just kind of warm and black and doesn't smell yucky, it may be ready to use. But this is just my opinion. Congrats on the new compost! Very Happy

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Re: expanding and adding more MM

Post  jazzymaddy on 8/19/2011, 4:03 pm

It is fairly unrecognizable. Looks pretty much like the stuff I buy from the stores. I actually put it in doubled white garbage bags, because I got way more than I need, and some friends are going to come take some for themselves. They only sold it in cubic yards...

Anyhoo, I went back out about 3 hours later, and there are water droplets in the bags. I'm guessing it's pretty warm still, not just from being in the sun. Should I take it out of the bags to let it finish/cure, or do you think it's okay to keep in there?

While I'm on the topic of my composts, another one of mine is rabbit droppings from a local farm, and I was not prepared to find it mixed with straw and twigs and stuff. I know that the droppings themselves are okay to put right on a garden, but do I need to be concerned with the extras? Should I mix the whole lot together with this yard waste stuff and let it sit for the winter? I don't have a compost heap, and don't plan to have one anytime soon because of HOA concerns.

And in the meantime, would I be okay with adding just the commercial composts I have to my existing squares before replanting? I have mushroom, cow, chicken and some worm castings, plus some Espoma Garden Tone. I could possibly just amend the squares with that, then add the 3" layer and whatever new box(es) I build after the winter?

Thoughts? (And thanks for your recommendations so far. I'm feeling so much more confident. You guys are the BEST!)

Tracy

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Re: expanding and adding more MM

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 8/19/2011, 5:18 pm

Tracy, I deal with "black gold" all the time when I deliver mulch to clients. It's awesome stuff. It should look a little chunky, but mostly look like soil with small bits of wood in it.

What you are looking for is steam. If you see it steaming while you are scooping it, it's "hot." If not, it's done. Warm to the touch really doesn't say much because, like was said, it could have been in the sun. Also, the moisture in the bags is just because the pile was moist. That isn't really much of an indicator of curing or composting, either. It's good stuff, you'll be happy with it as a 5th source.

I usually add it in right away, even if still steaming. But, I am mulching beds, not veggies. If you want to let it cool off a bit, just spread it out in a shallow layer on a tarp or concrete. If you spread it in your yard, you will never recover most of it. Spreading it out will stop/slow the composting process...until it gets back into your garden where it will start decomposing again. My line of thinking is to get it in the garden as fresh as possible because you know it's full of microbes and all the beneficial stuff you want and need to prevent disease/pests....steaming soil is healthy soil once it cools off. I don't think it's a big deal, but I will defer to the experts on that one.

Back to your garden filling needs. Since you know you were short, just make batches of MM and top it up. I would still go a bit compost-heavy, though, because you have been using your garden and some of the nutrients from the original batch are gone. So, instead of third/third/third, I would likely make a straight batch, but toss in a couple buckets extra of compost if you are using the "bucket method" to mix it. Basically, I am aiming for 50/25/25 or 40/30/30. It won't matter much because you likely can't be that precise without driving yourself nuts.....just a little compost-heavy will be fine.

If you have any other questions, feel free to keep asking.

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Re: expanding and adding more MM

Post  jazzymaddy on 8/19/2011, 7:46 pm

Great info BYBG, after some amazing stuff from Camprn. You guys are amazing. The stuff I have definitely looks "gold", and smells like soil. It's so pretty. I think I'll use it.

So what do you guys think I should do with the bunny doo? Like I said, it's mixed with some straw and twigs - just litter stuff basically. I found a few rocks here and there. I'll do my best to get rocks and big sticks out before I do anything.

Thanks!
T

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