Second try and want to do it right this time!

Discussion in 'Fruit and Veg Gardening' started by Beeker, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. Beeker

    Beeker In Flower

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    Hi all!
    I've made a drastic leap.
    I've been keeping live planted aquariums, or ornamental indoor potted plants and have a mega-green thumb.
    Outdoors, I'm not so good.
    I took the leap last spring and started an outdoor veggie garden. Yes, it is a huge difference. I did tons of research on the plants I wanted, how much sun they need, and trying to get the timing right, but I didn't do a bit of research on prepping the soil, hence, it was just dirt. Surprisingly enough, it did ok.
    Well, this year I want to do it right. I'm off to a bad start already because I realize I should have started prepping the soil last autumn, but I was told I can make up for it.
    Any advice?
    I have a 12x12 plot. I was told to buy a bale of sphagnum moss and rake that in.
    Until I looked online, I was convinced that that would do the trick. Now, I see that the person meant to say peat moss, not sphagnum moss. I will switch my notes, both on paper and mentally, to peat moss, but should I still do anything with sphagnum moss? My mental note is only adding peat moss, but is having trouble erasing sphagnum moss. Please help!
     
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  3. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    Organic Gardening Magazine and other environmentalist do not recommend using peat moss http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-a ... -peat-moss

    Even just dirt will have some nutrients in it but those will soon be depleted making adding amendments necessary.
    Turn in lots of compost before you plant and you can use compost as a top dressing. I get mine by the bag since I have no room for a truckload, but a few of our members have truckloads delivered every year or so to build new beds and add to existing ones.
     
  4. marlingardener

    marlingardener Happy

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    Definitely neither peat nor sphagnum moss! Both are difficult to hydrate, and once wet, tend to compact.
    Compost is much better, especially if you can get it from a reliable source.
    If you want to start your own compost pile (highly recommended) just pick a site and start piling kitchen scraps (not dairy, not meat, but vegetable parings, egg shells, etc.) and leaves, grass clippings, and even small branches and twigs.
    Amending soil isn't a one-time project. It takes several seasons to get where you want to be, and then every season after that to keep your soil friable and happy.
     
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  5. Beeker

    Beeker In Flower

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    Thank you!
    Sounds like you guys saved me from a load of trouble!
    I'll have to see where I can get some compost. I don't have enough veggie scraps to make compost of my own. I did start to grow some comfrey last season.
    I am planning on watering with my fishtank water when I do water changes. I did that a little bit last year.
    Any other ideas for organic soil amendment?
     



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  6. mart

    mart Strong Ash

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    Do you know anyone that has a horse or a stable nearby? Horse manure is excellent and if it has a bit of hay in it,,even better. Just dump it on top and turn it into the garden soil. As long as its dry you can add it any time. It will not burn larger plants but keep it about 6 inches away from the little seedlings. You might ask if you do use it if the owner feeds his horses whole oats. They will germinate and grow from the manure. Crimped oats, sweet feed, and pelleted feed will not. Cow manure is also good but it needs to be composted as does chicken manure.
     
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  7. marlingardener

    marlingardener Happy

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    Mart's post reminded me of another source of goodies for the soil--rabbit poop! If you can find someone who raises rabbits you can put their manure directly into the garden without worrying about it burning plants, being too strong, or doing any damage whatever.
    Four-H kids often grow rabbits, which might be a source for you.
    Whatever you have is potential compost. Use leaves, shredded newspaper (not slick like magazines and inserts but just plain newspaper), coffee grounds, and of course, any source of manure you can lay your hands on. Oops, that was bad :oops: . Any source of manure that you can access!
     
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  8. Jewell

    Jewell Incorrigible Gardener Plants Contributor

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    Leaves are great, great, great! Any kind of seed free mulch is great (straw). Here is a short YouTube video http://youtu.be/eYfvwVVXvZQ by Patrick Whitehouse that talks about compost. You might enjoy some of his short videos.
     
  9. Beeker

    Beeker In Flower

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    Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!

    There is a horse stable up the road. I am planning on using that this autumn, so the manure has time to settle and won't harm my seedlings. (I do start from seed)

    I will have to check around for rabbits! That sounds great!

    I heard that there are types of leaves that don't break down that quickly. I have a lot of trees around, though. Any info on that?
    As for my own compost, I have one hard boiled egg per day as a snack at work. I don't drink coffee or get the newspaper. Right now, I mostly eat frozen veggies, so there aren't any scraps. I do save my dryer lint for birds. That is it.

    Last spring, my brother in-law and I made it a point to have shrimp often throughout Lent and saved the tails. We put those in our gardens, mostly around our tomato plants. That was the extent of our fertilizing. (Well, I have the added benefit of watering with my fishtank water.)

    Any additional ideas, information, advice is greatly appreciated!
     
  10. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    Instead of worrying over covering the whole area for the first season or two use the compost to fill the hole as you plant the plants and then side dress through out the season with what you have. I would happily supply you with few rabbits if you could come get them. They are making a lot of bunny poop right now. They are getting big now. There are 9 babies growing fast in the cage and they eat and poop and eat and poop....

    You can always get a few bags of alfalfa pellets at a farm store (buy the store brand) and sprinkle them over your garden and work them in a few weeks before you plant to plant.
     
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  11. marlingardener

    marlingardener Happy

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    Usually the larger leaves, like maple and some oaks, break down slower. If you can run a lawn mower over them (especially if your mower has a bag) it helps chop them into smaller bits that compost more quickly. You can also use evergreen needles, but with moderation because they are pretty acidic.
    Save that egg shell and crush it up to use in the compost. Let nothing go to waste!
     
  12. jbest123

    jbest123 In Flower

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    I agree with what's been said above you will need compost and lots of it(forget the moss). I would start with a soil test before I would add any amendments to the soil. The very best advice I can give you is to make your garden a resort for the red worms and night crawlers, everything else will follow.
     
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  13. Beeker

    Beeker In Flower

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    Last year, I bought alfalfa and clover seeds. I wanted to use them as green manure, but I didn't get to plant them in time. When should I plant the seeds so I can till the growth in in the spring?
    I do have comfrey growing on the other end of the yard. When it is better established, I will start using the leaves.
    Thank you for the offer, Carolyn. For now, I'll do that pellet idea. I know alfalfa is great stuff.
    I can't remember where I found it, but something gave me the idea to crush my empty snail shells from the fishtanks and sprinkle that around some of my plants. I don't remember very well what that was about though. Any thoughts?
     
  14. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    Is there a coffee shop in your town? You could ask them to save you some coffee grounds. Starbucks usually bags theirs up and gives them away freely when you ask them about it.

    Shredded paper grocery bags, the cores from toilet paper and paper towels, paper towels that have only been used to wipe up water, hair from your brush, paper napkins, any sort of paper cut if it doesn't have a wax coating, paper plates if they are uncoated and don't have not soaked up sauces or meat juice, shredded junk mail. We all make lots of things to put in the compost pile that we really don't think about.
     
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  15. mart

    mart Strong Ash

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    You can add the horse manure now and turn it into the soil. It will not hurt seedlings if mixed in with the soil. But if you top dress the seedlings, you might keep it away from the tender stalks. I have grown tomato seedlings in straight horse manure with no problems. Just make sure it is dry. Not straight from the horse. Those toilet paper and paper towel tubes are good to cut in about 2 inch sections to put around the seedling stems in case there is a cutworm around. They will eventually fall apart and you can just turn them under too.
     
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  16. Beeker

    Beeker In Flower

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    The ground is still frozen here. I can at least make an appearance now and ask if I can have some manure when the time is right. I'll turn it in as soon as the ground thaws.
    Maybe I can buy a shredder and grab the newspapers at work when everybody is done with them, shred them and throw them in.
    There is a coffee shop nearby. I'll have to stop and ask. That is a great idea.
    And I love the idea for the toilet paper tubes!
    Hair? More info please. I've never heard of that.
     

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