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what's your best ideas for filling beds for free?

 
Posts: 295
Location: On the plateau in TN
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Currently it's red clover growing in beds, plus weeds, and a lot of cut grass from lawn.
 
pollinator
Posts: 406
Location: Vermont, USA
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Sounds like a good start!  I would chop and drop before winter, then bury the whole think in shredded leaves.  Great start for next spring!

Add manure if you have some.
 
Posts: 20
Location: Pensacola, Fla zone 8b
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I know several people who have horses. They clean the stalls regularly and they can’t give it away fast enough. It’s a mixture of straw saw dust and of course horse manure. They only bad thing is if they feed the horses oat in their stalls, then oats will sprout. If you know anyone with horses it’s a good way to fil your bed quickly and free.
 
pollinator
Posts: 415
Location: Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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Thomas Black wrote:I know several people who have horses. They clean the stalls regularly and they can’t give it away fast enough. It’s a mixture of straw saw dust and of course horse manure. They only bad thing is if they feed the horses oat in their stalls, then oats will sprout. If you know anyone with horses it’s a good way to fil your bed quickly and free.



Good post.  A craigslist search for manure will usually get a few hits for locals offering free horse 'compost' for free.
 
Michael Moreken
Posts: 295
Location: On the plateau in TN
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we are doing quite well with cut lawn grass, and input from my trash can 'composting'?
 
Posts: 62
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Alas, there are plenty of horses here but they're all pumped full of drugs and such for the racing industry so I've avoided horse manure. Additionally, I've avoided anything directly with or processed straw/hay largely due to the commonality and persistence of aminopyralid &/or clopyralid residues...even that which passes through animals.

I do bring in ridiculous amounts of leaves in the fall. This forms the backbone of composting efforts, protective winter mulch, and bedding for worms.

I used to get a LOT of coffee from nearby Starbucks but that dried up when the local university formed a composting effort. I am still searching for a replacement. I just got a tip on a source of spent beer brew grains. Will know more soon.

BTW, I learned something yesterday. Called a local smoothie place to see if I might ask about the spent vegetable/fruit pulp. There isn't any. They are all powders and liquids. I must have a mistaken impression about what is in a smoothie!
 
pollinator
Posts: 129
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, Zone 8b
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I used dirt from my yard mixed with some horse manure and whatever else was around (wood chips, biochar, leaves, fish heads, etc...). It's only been mounded for a single season. It's a work in progress.

The manure was sweet. We have a website to help local ranchers unload their extra animal poo in my county. The guy I got mine from is one of those fabled horse whisperer guys and he raises just a few "extra special" horses (sorry I don't know what to call them) at a time. Basically he just fleeces rich people, he's a hillarious dude. Anyway, he uses no drugs. "All shit, no bull", was how he described his product. Plus he loaded my pickup with a tractor so minimal effort.

EDIT: I forgot to add: I paid 30 bucks for some compost worms and they are really pumping it out lately. Built a bin for free from scrap and I fill it with leaves and shredded office paper. And of course veggie scraps and coffee grounds. Not free but VERY economical.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3590
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Rabbits and wadded paper bedding.

I have a pet Flemish Giant, and we've turned our outdoor, city-provided black composter into a thriving worm bin because her contributions are composted with the raw paper bedding we use. Between that and the coffee grounds I add every day, the red wigglers love it. If they didn't somehow know that I was the Provider of Food, I would be afraid of going too near that writhing, steaming black bin.

Anyways, I emptied the composter in preparation for our first whole winter with her. It was full by Christmas. I then started dumping her contributions and our kitchen scraps under the snow ontop of the frozen raised bed I use. I got a container of red wigglers as soon as I could sink a fork into both composter and raised bed (at the end of a particularly frigid February, about a month earlier than I had thought to even check, except on one excursion to empty the litter, I saw the composter billowing steam so hard I thought it had been set ablaze) and divided one container of about 250 worms between the two.

A month later, except for a semi-frozen crust atop the bed, there was no trace of the paper, and the composter had reduced in volume by a quarter. I did not need to buy soil that year.

I don't know exactly how to put this into practice, but I might have to soon. My ideas involve a large outdoor kon-tiki charcoal pyrolyser and as much arborist-donated woodchip as I can get. I would get around the problem of invasives by turning the whole lot, potential trees-of-heaven, any salixes, and anything carrying anything that I don't want, into activated charcoal. It all burns, and I could have parties, maybe work-themed, maybe not, where perhaps people make great use of new barrel and woodchip outhouse systems. These might also be fitted for pyrolysis, which would be a great use of the heat of the kon-tiki.

Then collect any biomass available and fix your carbon to nitrogen ratio. I have seen it done with grocery store food waste in windrows.

In any case, be careful what you get for free. Let us know how it goes, and good luck.

-CK
 
Posts: 618
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
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i fill my raised beds halfway with old branches then fill in between with coffee grounds /chic manure. i then fill in the rest with potting soil and mulch with 3in. of wood chips. i then make rows in the wood chips and plant in the soil. wood chips help keep the moisture in. in fall i till it all in with some blood and bonemeal. next spring its ready to plant again.
 
Posts: 113
Location: Saskatchewan
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I fill my raised beds which are actually wicking beds (as it holds water until 3/4 full) with 1/2 way with logs and sticks, then 1/4 way with what ever manure infested bedding i have on hand ( ive done horse, pig, and chicken and no not composted or aged) then the top 1/4 is just the native soil from beneath the bed.

I have some 2 years old now and I will not change a thing when I make more.
 
pollinator
Posts: 251
Location: Portland, OR
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Dan Fish wrote:

"All shit, no bull"



Oh, that is so cool. I’m so gonna steal that, ha ha.
 
master gardener
Posts: 2109
Location: southern Illinois.
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Although I have not done this lately, now is the time to chase down all those Halloween displays...  you know...the ones with the pumpkins on the bales of straw.  This is especially true if they have been outdoors getting rained on.  One year I got 3 pickup truck  loads of straw bales.  Warning ...wet straw can be heavy.  Anyway, I set them in raised beds so that, when they did fall apart, they would be contained. There is a lot of time between now and spring for the rain  and snow to help them decompose.
 
echo minarosa
Posts: 62
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I may have landed a long-term replacement for coffee grounds that I can no longer get nearby in any quantity. I spoke to a local brew pub owner. She allowed me to come get spent grains. The grains are cracked and steeped in hot water. Liquid then removed and grains rinsed to get all the sugars possible. The remainder is what she dumps. Mainly barley though could have wheat or oats depending on the brew. No hops (too early in stage). I arrived to shovel from the grain bin and nothing in there was more than 48 hrs old. After removing the first few inches it was already steaming. The small particle size and the sugars start decomp readily. I took home a few hundred pounds. I put them on the layered trench, in all compost areas, and the remainder went directly into a bed. Mourning doves were keenly interested in that bed. I covered over all of the composting areas, layered trench, etc and I'm awaiting leaves to start the next grain layer. If left to sit, open piles of grain can have an off smell...think broccoli in a microwave. :) But covered, it is really workable. I am still on the front end but it looks promising. This might also be double gold if I had chickens.
 
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