Skip Smith wrote:Hi Redhawk.
My garden is recently cleared oak forest with stumps intact. There is sc orange clay soil that drains well. Last year the potatos grew to half an inch instead of full sized. It has earthworms and snails ladybugs stink bugs and big black ants. It's all on a 1:6 n facing slope.
I need to grow food fast. I broke up the mat of roots and decayed leaves on the surface and mixed it with the orange clay soil beneath and added lime and some wood ash. It needs more nitrogen. I bought some ca nitrate. Can I put a very small amount in to get things jumpstarted without hurting the worms and good bacteria too much? Nothing wants to grow but I have grown about 5 huge daikon after scattering hundred of seeds. My radishes and turnips only grew to one inch but my dads are three in high. Similar weather. Temperature max 65 F and min 35.
Also I want to make use of all the leaves and urine but don't want to smell it at all. How can I make a completely inoffensive smellin leaf compost pile that has lots of microbes? I got molasses hoRse salt lick and can chop the leaves with a weedwaker. Thanks
At this point I would spread that leaf heap over the soil as Hans suggested. Then I would start building wood chips on top of that to a thickness of 3 to 6 inches. Then I would make mushroom sluries and pour those over the wood chips. When you are ready to plant again, just plant inches wood chips, the roots will go down into the soil through the chips and composting leaf mulch.
ian labo wrote:Hello Dr Redhawk. Do you think your super soil can equal the amount of harvest in a chemically fertilize farm. And how about the amount of work invested. I have concerns over the prohibitive price of chemical fertelizer in the near future due to many things but primarily due to the cost of petrol.
When your soil is in a state of good quantities of bioactivity the yield will be equal to or surpass the "modern fertilized farm". There will also be higher nutritional values in the bioactive farm product. Chemicals tend to remain in the soil or wash away to contaminate the hydrological area. That's why many ground water and channels and streams/rivers are contaminated by field run off. The artificial nutrients, by lack of proper soil biology, simply can't be used by the plants.
What species of conifer? And were any of the chips from walnut or eucalyptus species. Try some turned milk poured on the chip pile. It sounds like the decomposition isn't very far along. Mushrooms won't appear until the whole chip pile is occupied by the spawn.
hau Jen, the way I have handled gum balls is turn to cha r the ones you can separate easily. The rest needs to be heaped in a cone shape. Once again we want to get the heap hot enough (160)) to kill the germ of those gum seeds. It might take 2 turns and repeats to get the majority of the gum seeds. Hope that helps.
In your situation the bokashi method would work better and you will end up with a better garden production. The method has been used in Korea and Japan for centuries. You just have to dump it back and forth in buckets to add o2 before you spread it on the soil or trench it in. You could, as an option trench the left over veg directly into the garden in the off season, should you have one.
Emilie McVey wrote:Don't know if this question is in the correct thread, but...
I have a compost pile, of sorts, in the back of my yard. Originally I dumped all my veggie scraps on it, for about four years, as well as dead/dying plants and twigs I picked up. It never really looked like the rich, developed compost I've seen pictures of, and I can't say it really helped my garden beds.
Now, during the warm months, I toss my food scraps into covered five gallon buckets, and after it's full and has marinated a few weeks, I get DH to dig a hole and pour it in. Lots of stinky liquid, chunks of carrots, orange peels, apple cores, etc. (I used to run the marinated scraps thru an old food processor so it would break down faster, but it was a time-consuming and very smelly process, so I gave it up.) Do you all think burying that gross stuff, as my family calls it, is actually doing my gardens good, or are the big pieces of peppers, potatoes, lettuce, apple cores, etc. taking so long to break down that it's not enriching the beds all that much?
Clay needs to be under the composting materials so leachate can percolate through and change the structure (by fungal clumping) of the superfine particles (clay). Burying fermenting veg. Is along the thinking of the Korean method, which works well. It also is similar to first people's corn planting method. Kudos to you.
Excellent question. Fresh wood chips perhaps more uniformly than already decaying wood. Nutrients that have been already consumed by bacteria aren't lost but will remain in the soil surrounding the laying wood. Chipping such wood will speed the continuation of decay and inoculate the soil you spread the new chips. I would not hesitate to chip wood that is already breaking down, think of those chips as a cross of wood chips and fungi slurry, that is the effect you should experience.
I did NOT know that coffee grounds will repel termites!!! Since I also have a termite issue (they are living in the garden soil and (I'm sure) the untreated sides of the raised beds) and they eat the stems of my plants and entire radishes, I guess I will increase the amount of coffee I drink!!!
Can you tell me if the flying termites are white? I know the ones who I find chewing my garden plants are white. But the flying insects I discovered several seasons ago (in May) had black bodies. I thought they were ants but maybe they were termites?
Do you have any idea how much coffee grounds I need to apply? A rough estimate would be helpful!
I do drench the soil with Neem oil and water mixed. It's a job to do it, but I think it has helped with the ants & termites. But the termites come back.
I do love the information I find on this site!
Flying termites are black bodied, ants are brown. I too use untreated boards for beds, I use a 3" wide x 2.5" deep ring against the inside of the beds boards to keep termites from getting into the garden as much as possible.
The fruit farmers I know use posts at the row corners and at each tree. They then have lines. Not only down. The side posts but also connect from side to side. This supports the frost cloth so it doesn't last on the trees. Hope that helps you.
Ian Kris wrote: Our soil is clay sand. It stays wet in our Seattle climate, so things tend to rot instead of grow.
My fix is to plant above ground, but without the bales. I use rabbit fence, which is about 2 feet tall. A 10 foot section makes a 3 foot ring, approx. I fill the rings with brush and garden residue on bottom, then leaves, straw, grass hay.
Potatoes, bulbs, bareroot trees, banana roots go right in the leaves. I put in a top layer of potting soil for seeds and smaller things. This is kind of a mini hugelculture pile. Decomposition of lower layers adds warmth and nutrienrts, and holds moisture. In the fall I reload the rings with fresh leaves
That is a brilliant way to substitute materials to fit the conditions. The rain forest environment requires that sort of outside the box thinking. Kudos to you and thank you for sharing that method.
Lila Stevens wrote:Would this work well with grass-hay bales, and if so, is there anything in the process you would do differently?
I did pick up 10 bales of wheat straw to start with, because I just happened to be near the only place in my area (an hour and a half away) that carries unsprayed straw. Since it is wheat straw, and I am near Austin, Texas, I am sure it was trucked in from some distance. It costs $8/ bale.
I buy organically-grown grass-hay for my goats for $8/ bale from about 45 minutes away. It's actually not much out of my way when I run errands in that direction a few times a month, so the drive is not much of an issue. It is grown and baled right there, and a by-product of them mowing their huge, organic pecan orchard. I can get non-feed-quality bales from the bottom layer of their storage barn for $6/ bale. The only thing that makes them non-feed-quality is that they've been in contact with the ground, insulating the other bales against moisture.
There are a lot of weed seeds in the hay bales, but there are a lot of wheat seeds in the straw bales too. I figure any seeds close enough to the edges to sprout, I can pull out easily and give to the chickens.
I'm thinking hay is going to be higher in nitrogen than straw, right? So perhaps might need less nitrogen added? Also, the hollow "straws" in the grass are thinner and there are lots of flat blades of grass and weed leaves, etc in there too, so maybe it would not work quite as well? I did check out the original straw bale gardening book from my library and read it before asking this question, but he never really explains why to use straw and not hay, unless I missed that part. But he does mention that the hollow structure of straw is what makes it work so well.
It is perfectly acceptable to substitute hay bales. You just treat them the same as straw.bales, the N hay contains can be thought of as negligible since it is dried, you still have to get the interior heating (decomposing). You might find that hay needs more watering at first and hay will decompose faster so you might need to replace yearly.
hau Loretta, Swales are a shallow trench that are typically set at a 1 degree angle down slope so gathered water moves slowly to a shallow gathering pond before moving into another swale down slope. On contour would be a line along a hill that is at the same elevation from one end to the other. Swales on contour are designed to sheet flow water down slope to help prevent erosion.
Improving clay soil is not the same as killing "weeds", which is what a cardboard layer is designed to do. Clay soil improvement is what deep mulching was designed for. Deep mulch starts at the 6 inch depth up to a.foot of depth or deeper. Straw or hay bales are recommended for growing a crop or crops while you are "conditioning" the soil below. I hope this helps, you can read more about soil improving in my soil series.
Murphy Terrell wrote:Please use latin names of mushrooms instead of common and I object to the use of slurs.
"... jew's ear, lion's mane, true turkey tail and boulet's."
Since the purveyors of spawn use the common vernacular names of the mushrooms, I think it would be confusing to most folks to use scientific naming.
And this forum is about soil improvement, not mushrooms.
Wayne Stoner wrote:I have a stand of black bamboo that produces lots of dead leaves. I have used these for years as mulch around beds with hawthorn (rhaphiolepsis) hedges. Very effective mulch—rarely see any weeds growing through it, and easily absorbs water and gradually breaks down. And the hedge is doing just fine. So don’t know if the allopathic poisons affect all plants.
Allopathic tendencies rarely affect established plants, the do prevent germination of seeds.
Gina Watson wrote:I know your discussion was quite a while ago, but I'm intrigued. I'm in Southern Missouri (nearly Arkansas) and have rocky red clay. I saw your suggestion about wood chips and wondered if your saying to mix the wood chips into the clay soil (kind of a task) and what type of wood chips your suggesting (hard wood, pine, or a mixture)? I have plenty of pine wood chips, but wonder if they would be too acidic. Pine would break down faster than hard wood tree chips. Also, as they break down should I replenish the area on top with more or is that over doing it. I was thinking of using a creeping moss or low ground cover around the tree to keep weeds down, any success in something like this? Planting about 15-20 feet apart, I have an full sun area where water runs off a hillside to a lower point, so if I plant them on the hillside and the root spread towards the low area would that cause root issues later? So much to consider, but websites mention planting Harbelle, Harken, and Reliance types in Missouri...anyone know if these types taste good? Hope to hear from someone Thanks!!
Hau Gina. I recommend using hard wood chips if you are also wanting mushrooms. Pine chips, when inoculated with spawn , spores or slurries will break down in a year. If you can get a mix that would be better, but use what you can get. You will want to top up the mulch every year at least. The deeper the mulch, the better the soil below will become.
I'm trying to start a garden in an area formerly used as a cow pasture that is planted with bermuda.
Would this method work on clay soil currently planted with bermuda? Should I put a layer of cardboard under the bales?
Or in the case of bermuda, would it be better to till then cover with black plastic for a few months?
Yes, in fact I would go for 2 layers of cardboard under the bales. Tilling would make more Bermuda risomes and we want to kill them instead.. plastic, while good for solarization tends to shed micro plastic particles into the soil.
Your welcome, I have a.second septic test site now. This one is deemed a dry system even though the interior is pretty damp most of the time. The bacteria are supplemented. With fungi since there is soil in this system, the hard part with this system is keeping the soil dry enough that it can't turn anaerobic.
Your soil falls into the mollisol type in my list. The information you found is great, the geological survey has moved their classification method to the most recent methodology over the last 10 years. Now they list particle sizes and depths for each horizon. The Loess region of China consists of the same type(s) of soils, very fertile land when properly managed, highly erosive when not properly managed. The soil came from eroded basalt.
Jacket silt soil generally is found on slopes of up to 50% grades, plateues and in the USA is generally used for pasture land.
I now use a compound bow to hunt with, while I have ! Sight on it, I use the instinct method usually, even when shooting for fun. My aimed shots are almost as accurate but I've been hunting with a long bow since I was 5 years old. I only got the compound bow when my lemon wood long bow became 80 years old and I want to pass it to my grand daughter.
This is one of those subjects where your results may vary, applies. In conifer forests acidity will be higher. But! Most ash will add a base component as rains leach the ash into the soil, it will not change the acidity because the root systems won't have burned completely which allows for a dying release of acidic exudes. Hard wood forests produce highly basic ash (soap producing lye) if it's a mixed forest then expect patches of alkaline soil and patches of acidic soil.
While fungi do a good job of gathering contaminants, bacteria are what make those contaminants un accessible to plants. The enzymes of bacteria allow recombination into stable compounds. Soils that have both, large hyphae counts and species as well as large numbers of beneficial bacteria will remediate soil contamination faster and better for our needs.
Benji brought up many great points about this subject/ process.
Hau Jay, as you said atoms normally are the base. Compounds are made of multiple atoms bound together by electrical bonds, the stronger the bonding the more stable the compound, water is a fine example of this property. In soil remediation we are looking to get rid of contaminants, not just gather them to respread them for food plants to take in. Lead is able to replace other, beneficial atoms in the hu.an or other organisms, in humans the most affected area is the brain, nothing good will happen when lead takes the place of the intended atom our bodies need. Hope that helps.
I would simply use the Chips, as they decay they will build you soil. They are great for Potatoes since the chips can be the growing medium and weigh less than any soil covering, which makes harvest easier.