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chorusguy

think I made another gardening mistake

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So what I did was I bought enough leaf compost to cover my garden with about 4 inches of compost.  Then I spread it all out and tilled it and it got real tall and fluffy.  Looked really nice.  The idea was that I would then turn it over and mix it into my existing soil which has some clay in it.  Much to my chagrin, sitting up so nice and high on my new compost the plow didn't dig far enough down to grab any of the native soil.  I adjusted the point down and it dug a little deeper but still no soil.  Adjusted it again and it started digging less deep.  I figured it was a function of the lift chain being too short, so I added a link but then the plow wouldn't lift off the ground for transport.  So, what to do?  My first question is can I just grow my garden in mostly compost?  The concern is that it will dry out too quickly.  And that there won't be enough mineral content in the compost.  Can I just pack it down with a roller or drive over it a lot and then re-turn the compost?  Or should I thin out the layer of compost and re-turn it.  I have another plot I could apply the extra compost to.  Any ideas would be greatly welcomed.

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Two separate items.  Yes, you can grow your garden in compost.  But it needs to be well composted.  Leaves (especially Oak) can be acidic.  Make sure you add lots of lime and turn it in. 

 

Second, when you turn the plow point down, yes it is difficult to transport without digging up you whole lawn.  My solution was to keep the plow point up so I could transport it.  When I got to the garden, I would turn it down.  When I reached the end of a furrow, I would raise the plow as far as I could, move the tractor to the left until I could get the right tire into the most recent furrow then back up to the beginning of the furrow and start again.  Mind you my garden was not huge and if you are plowing a 1/4 acre, this is not practical, but it does work.  BTW, after plowing, I always had to go back and fix the lawn around the garden.  Another solution that I use with the tiller is to till in one direction, then again at 90 degrees and one last time at 90 degrees to the second pass.  Things get mixed real well.

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I grew half my garden in pure composted horse manure this year. I was disappointed at the yield, but I also had afternoon shade where I planted, so I don't know which was to blame. This year I am moving the garden to the middle of the yard to miss the shade

 

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2 hours ago, WNYPCRepair said:

I grew half my garden in pure composted horse manure this year. I was disappointed at the yield, but I also had afternoon shade where I planted, so I don't know which was to blame. This year I am moving the garden to the middle of the yard to miss the shade

 

Several years ago I had a bumper crop garden and each year it grew less and less.  Took me several years to realize the trees were growing taller and shading the garden.  Afternoon shade.  I dropped a bunch of trees and now I can grow tomatoes again.

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11 hours ago, chorusguy said:

enough leaf compost to cover my garden with about 4 inches of compost.  Then I spread it all out and tilled it and it got real tall and fluffy.

From what I am reading it seems that this has not completely broken down to compost (Brown Gold). I too have heavy clay content and have been developing a garden spot for several years by adding organic matter such as leaves and plainer chips from my wood shop and turning them into the soil in the fall. When I plant row crops like peas and beans I use a row buster plow to form the row and fill the furrow with aged ( three year) compost which has been enhanced with 10-10-10. I have also used aged horse manure on the garden, but the next year I had so many weeds that I gave that up.

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I think it's pretty well broken down.  Nice and dark and looks like dirt.

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Use cow manure.  They have 3 stomachs and the weed seeds get digested (at least more of them)  Horses only have one stomach and all the weed seeds get passed through.   Chicken or turkey manure is the best, but it is so strong it has to age for a year or the plants will get burned.  Years ago when manure was more readily available, we would make manure "tea" (a couple of shovelfuls in a 55 gallon drum) and pour a coffee can full around each plant.  Now I just make a barrel of miracle grow and pour that around each plant.  Dennis is right about the trees, tomatos need full sun-learned that the hard way

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6 hours ago, chorusguy said:

I think it's pretty well broken down.  Nice and dark and looks like dirt.

Sounds like you're off to a good start. Don't forget to check with your local state extension service. They can give go good local info. on a variety of porblems you may have.  Good luck.

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You can plant directly into what you have done. Because it is leaf compost you are using? And you have no real way of knowing what kind(since you got it elswhere)of leaves or material is in it? I would take a spreader and put some lime on the gardens. I just use barn lime from fleet farm . 50# does about 1/2 acre. BTW it won't hurt your grass either. And, as far as plowing? Let the tilled ground settle for a week or so. Especially if you have rain in the forcast.  Then you will be able to plow it better. I do that if I am working in non-composted or "fresh" manure. I will have it it tilled after application, let it sit a week or 2. Plow it, disc and field cultivate it, apply lime if necessary and plant. Seems like alot of extra steps, I know. Some of the clay ground if have made into gardens needed to be loosened up and this process works well with that type of ground. I call it "Putting the good dirt deep, bringing the bad dirt up to fix" I also build in alot decaying matter that builds good bacteria and enzymes for good plant structure. Good Luck

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a good thing about heavy leaf compost on top is it will act like mulch does to keep weeds at bay for quite some time.  keep it moist and you'll be pleased with the outcome I bet!

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Without repeating my post from just a few minutes ago in the Fertilizer from a Non-Wheel(ed) Horse, please everyone do be careful and try to prevent getting and animal manure, compost or grass clippings from any of the herbicides made from a class of chemicals known as Pyridine Carboxylic Acids.  These herbicides are used in a lot of lawns, road right-of ways, pastures and hay meadows.  The grass does not harm the animals but, they remain in the manure or plant clippings and when used as organic enrichment for the soil, those herbicide chemicals will wreck havoc on your garden area for anywhere from a couple of years to many years, depending on which specific herbicide was in use and what kind of concentration it had attained in the organic matter used.

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I use corn stalks from corn stalk bales and straw and leaves if I have them for mulch to keep the weeds down. Hay works good if its a clean hay with out all the grass and weed seed. The following year I plow it all under and start again. I used to use cow manure, but there is not hardly any dairy farms around as there was.

When I had chickens I would take the manure and use a old milk can and mix the chicken manure with water and feed the nitrogen loving plants, tomatoes, squash. Have to me careful with that as chicken manure is so high in nitrogen.

I have read wood chips, sawdust (theres more just cant think of it) will use nitrogen from the soil before actually providing it.

Tim O

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Posted (edited)
On 6/3/2017 at 1:17 AM, Tim.0 said:

I use corn stalks from corn stalk bales and straw and leaves if I have them for mulch to keep the weeds down. Hay works good if its a clean hay with out all the grass and weed seed. The following year I plow it all under and start again. I used to use cow manure, but there is not hardly any dairy farms around as there was.

When I had chickens I would take the manure and use a old milk can and mix the chicken manure with water and feed the nitrogen loving plants, tomatoes, squash. Have to me careful with that as chicken manure is so high in nitrogen.

I have read wood chips, sawdust (theres more just cant think of it) will use nitrogen from the soil before actually providing it.

Tim O



If you till it in, yes, it will rob nitrogen from the soil. If you just pile it up, and don't disturb it, it will not, as there is only a small layer touching the soil. If you use hay, you need 6 to 8 inches to keep weed seed and hay seed from growing. If anything does grow up through, it is usually easy to pull them, or just toss more hay or mulch on to kill it.

 

Edited by WNYPCRepair

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The best compost material that I have ever used was elephant poo. I worked setting up the Circus when it came to town. I did that for about ten years. Every night after the show I would load up my truck and take it home. Did not make the neighbors very happy but it sure made my garden happy!  I sure wish I could get another load of it now!

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