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Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

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Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  NHGardener on 11/27/2011, 7:13 am

Time for bed, and I'm not seeing a lot of posts here about what to do with your summer plant leftovers. I'm thinking I'm just turning everything over, chopping it up into smaller pieces, and letting the old plants provide nutrients for next year's garden. Is that about right?

Once I turn them over, I'm adding some chicken manure laying around here, and then some chopped leaves on top of that. I noticed the soil levels have really decreased in the boxes and could use another 2-3" inches to fill them back up. Between the garden debris, the manure, and the ground leaves, I'm thinking they'll be full again.

Does that sound reasonable?
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Re: Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  camprn on 11/27/2011, 10:43 am

I pull everything out and chop it up and it all goes into the compost pile. Then I loosen up the compacted Mel's Mix with a garden fork. Then I add about compost, 2 wheel barrows ful for a 4x4 and 3 wheelbarrows full to the 4x6 beds, then with the same garden fork I stir it around and mix it a bit. That's it. All done for the season. All this seasons debris is composting more rapidly in the compost pile than it would just laying fallow in the garden beds.

By the way, nice to see you NHG!

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Re: Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  boffer on 11/27/2011, 11:05 am

The SFG way is to pull everything and throw in the compost pile. When a square is empty, add a trowel of finished 5 way compost. That's the only way to be sure that we are replenishing our MM properly.

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Re: Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  NHGardener on 11/27/2011, 11:22 am

Hi camprn! How are those bees doing? I need to get to ordering my hives soon, bee orders go in by January I hear.

Yeah, I think it's going to take more than a trowel full to replenish what seems to be disappearing MM tho. And my compost pile keeps getting eaten by tree roots. But I will stay as true to Mel as I can.

By the way, when I was chopping up stalks, etc., and pulling out the yick styrofoam sheets I had lined the beds with so soil wouldn't fall out the box bottoms (on hills) (now I'm replacing with cheapo cedar shingle surplus), I saw tons of earthworms. yay! I have a hunch the earthworms will make next summer's garden more productive, since this spring everything was new out of the bag.
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Re: Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  littlejo on 11/27/2011, 12:45 pm

I think adding all plants/stalks etc to compost pile gets the garden clean and ready for planting. Adding chicken manure directly to garden is dangerous unless it's been composted for it will burn the plants and harmful diseases could be transferred to veggies.

I could not find in the book about adding the compost to squares.

camprn: Do you really add wheelbarrows full of compost for each bed? About how many 'trowls ful' would fit in your wheelbarrow? I've been adding a trowl ful as I replant and my beds will not hold that much more compost.
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Re: Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  Lindacol on 11/27/2011, 1:15 pm

I too add compost in much larger amounts . I use 5 gallon buckets and if I had to guess it is around half a bucket per square. I add til the bed is filled to the level I want it (usually the level I started with). I have added compost at least 3 times this year, as I clean out a group of several squares.

My beds will be in use just about all year, so I don't put them to bed in the winter. Just refill and plant again.
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Re: Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  camprn on 11/27/2011, 1:25 pm

@littlejo wrote:camprn: Do you really add wheelbarrows full of compost for each bed? About how many 'trowls ful' would fit in your wheelbarrow? I've been adding a trowl ful as I replant and my beds will not hold that much more compost.
LOL, Yes I really do add that much, by the wheel barrow full... I aint a'scared of adding a lot of compost, makes for jucier plants come the growing season! Very Happy flower

I don't know how many trowels full... quite a few... I would have to guesstimate a gallon or more per square...

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Re: Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  boffer on 11/27/2011, 1:40 pm

If I have an empty 4x4 box (16 squares), I take the grid off and add 1 five gallon bucket of 5 way compost into the box. That's the same as one real big trowel full of compost per square.

I'll add extra compost sometimes to raise the level of MM, or I have extra, or 'just because'.

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Re: Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  fiddleman on 11/27/2011, 1:52 pm

@camprn wrote:
I don't know how many trowels full... quite a few... I would have to guesstimate a gallon or more per square...

Wow, I have NEVER needed that much compost for anything I grew in the garden affraid . Not that the compost would be a problem (unless it hasn't completed composting), but that much compost would really throw off the Mel's Mix ratio. To each his (or her) own I guess, but the original mixture of 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 works for me just fine allowing me to have a highly productive, well draining garden that doesn't require too much water.

The rest of the compost goes under the mulch around the flowers in the yard... to give a wonderful blossoming next year. Worms come in and help the flowers too that way when they come after the new compost. Next year, the strawberries are being moved out front too, there will be a bunch of compost being mixed into the soil to supply their needs for the next three years. I might even toss in the rest of the vermiculite and peat moss to balance it out.

Mark
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Re: Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  fiddleman on 11/27/2011, 2:26 pm

Sorry I got off topic here, but to the original poster, Mel recommends adding compost, not putting in that which will need to compost in the garden itself. The reason, I believe, is sometimes depending on how much decomposition needs to be done on the plant material, the decomposition may rob the soil of nutrients while it is turning into "black gold". If you place these things into a composting situation there is no danger the plant will be robbed of nutrients.

I try to remember this is a "system" of gardening quite unlike the old row style of gardening and you need to do things the new way and not the "old" way. Much less work to throw it into a compost bin and let it decompose there than to turn things into garden soil. Less work, more productive.

Peat moss, vermiculite, and compost is what Mel recommends, not Peat moss, compost, vermiculite and some plant material thrown into the garden... why make more work for yourself? One of the great things about Mel's system it's only 20% of the work!

Mark
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Re: Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  camprn on 11/27/2011, 2:44 pm

@fiddleman wrote: the original mixture of 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 works for me just fine allowing me to have a highly productive, well draining garden that doesn't require too much water.


I might even toss in the rest of the vermiculite and peat moss to balance it out.

Mark
The recipe of Mel's Mix is the starting point of the soilless mix and after the first season there is really no reason for me to keep adding more peat, but there may be a reason to add more vermiculite; as of yet, just adding the compost works for me.

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books



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Re: Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  walshevak on 11/27/2011, 4:58 pm

I moved one of my garbage can composters out by the beds and just threw the weeds and old plants into it for the winter. Added a bit of horse manure and moved it back to near the back door. Will add kitchen scraps all winter. Come spring I'll trowel out as I plant.



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Re: Are you just turning the plants over for the winter?

Post  Josh on 11/27/2011, 5:04 pm

What i do is pull everything up, put it in the compost pile, then in spring I add the compost to the SFGs. In the spring I just fluff the Mels Mix in the gardens up and then fill them back up with the compost.
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