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Compost and Organic Gardening

Post in 'The Green Room' started by Eric Johnson, Jun 24, 2008.

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  1. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Thanks for the tip, Pants. I like the idea of getting rid of the middle man--or bunny, in this case.

    Here's a question I've always wondered about: Can you produce specialty worm castings based on what you feed the worms? If you wanted P & K-rich ferts, in other words, what would you feed the worms to produce it? Since I typically feed mine coffee grounds, stale beer and aged horse manure, I'm assuming that the castings are rich in N, but I'd like to produce something to feed the pepper plants.

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  2. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I don't see why you couldn't. The worms aren't making the P and K. They are just processing what goes in the front end. Control what goes in the front end of the worms and they'll make the product you want.


    Matt
  3. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Or you can throw in some hardwood ash after the fact when you make your tea, or spread it sparingly directly- it's high in K, contains P... but it also raises pH (good in my area with acidic soil).

    People tell you not to put much wood ash into a compost pile, but I've composted lots of it with little effect on the pile. The bugs control the final pH of the compost so that acidic or basic components end up near pH7 anyway in "finished" product like you produce (looks almost good enough to eat in those pics). One interesting aspect of compost is that it breaks down into humus, which can hold a lot of nutrient so that it regulates release of K and P to some degree.

    I should start a thread on what people do with wood ash. I've used it in tanning a deer hide, composted it, spread it directly, used it in pottery glazes, washed dishes while camping with it, killed weeds with it, and gave it to a friend that cotrols his cucumber beetles with it.
  4. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Lets not forget soap.
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Like my grandmother used to make.

    Cucumber beetles? Pray tell. I've been using rotenone, but I don't like it one bit. Those beetles play hell with my cukes and zukes. Japanese beetles go after the pole beans, but some reason, they leave the bush beans alone.
  6. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    I'd have to ask him exactly how he did it, but if you get them when they're squishy it seems to desicate them. IIRC he used a fair bit- I thought it would have killed the plants.
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Here's a few shots taken today.

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  8. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I don't know if my broccoli plants will produce all summer, or if they're about ready to bolt. Hope not. I start lettuce by shaking seeds into a pile, covering with soil and then transplanting into rows after they sprout. Anal, I guess, but I think it's easier than thinning.

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  9. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Same deal with the arugula.

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  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Bunny poop is the best. We had them for about 5 years. It's the mildest fertilizer, no burning of plants even if placed directly around them and makes great manure teas. I miss our bunnies.

    We have a kitchen scraps compost bin seeded with red worms that produces the richest worm castings. It takes up very little space and the worm compost is like black gold.

    Eric, looks great! We don't even have peas yet! This is the latest we've ever seen. And you are harvesting green beans?! Crazy year here! If you can partially shade the broccoli you may be able to get sprouts all summer.
  11. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I got an early start by starting out the broccoli, bush beans tomatoes, cukes, etc. in the greenhouse this spring. But timing is everything. I set some of the beans out earlier than the others, and the later batch grew faster and produced beans sooner because they hadn't been exposed to as much cold.

    I have a Can-O-Worms in the basement. You're right--best ferts you can make. I've been using a lot more worm casting tea this season to fertilize, and I think it's paying off. The beans have been producing for a few days now. We've already had one harvest of the broccoli, but as you can see, they're coming back pretty well. Bugs are always a challenge.

    It's amazing how much light and ambient temps affect a garden's progress. I'm always anxious to get out there and start the garden up during the first nice weather in April, but you lose nothing by waiting a month or two until the weather settles in. The key, I've found, it to have it all hardened off and firmly rooted in the ground by this time of the year, because that's when the stuff really starts to grow. The challenge after that (not counting weeds), is babying the producing plants so they don't burn out too soon.

    Sorry to hear about your late season, BG. Gardening is great fun, but I'm glad I don't have to depend on it for food because, as you say, things don't always work out the way you expect. Now if we could eat firewood......
  12. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

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    Then there's us guys that do this stuff for some reason. Hey Craig, I posted pictures (I think, I'll work on the rotate pict now)! Pumpkin pie for 27 weeks.....

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  13. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Pretty cool pumpkin there, Gotz!
  14. jpl1nh

    jpl1nh Minister of Fire

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    Eric, years ago I had a neighbor who was an old timer. I had my garden planned to a T, what replaced what on which date, last avg frost, etc. This one year I had each and every crop in at the earliest point possible and mother nature co-operated with no unplanned frosts. Charlie (the neighbor) matter of factly said ya didn't plant til Memorial Day which is when he planted his garden that year. By 4th of July virtually every crop he planted was ahead of mine even though I had as much as a three week head start in some cases. Granted he had a slight slope to the SW and my garden was in a somewhat low spot with an ever so slight NE slope. But the difference was only accentuated by the slope not just because of it. It was then I realized how a cold start could slow the whole development of the early stages of a plant's growth and probably it's entire life cycle. Good thread guys, nice info from obviously long term and comitted organic gardeners. Poop and compost is where it's at but never had any experience with bunny poo. Interesting information! I don't have rabbits so I was wondering how's about deer poo? Lots of it to be had in the woods around here and it could be a nice form of sweet revenge Eric. Would seem to be relatively mild like rabbit poop. Any deer poo experience out there?
  15. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    The backyard of our old house in the Adirondacks would become some kind of deeryard in the fall, probably milling around lusting after my garden. Anyway, there were piles of deer droppings all over the place. My wife started calling it "Deer Poop Acres." One year I collected about 7 gallons of the stuff with a rake and a shovel, and dumped it into the compost bin. I assume it did its thing there, but I wish I'd thought to feed it to the worms in my bin, instead of the fishheads that I put in there and managed to stink up the whole house. I suspect it would be pretty similar to rabbit droppings--basically just a bigger version of the same critter.

    BTW, we had a Blue Dutch rabbit at the same time. I'd pull carrots and feed them to her, but all she ever ate was the tops. I just got an email from my sister in Wisconsin who said that the bunnies killed all her carrots this year by polishing off the tops. No surprise here.
  16. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Ahhh, haaa, haa. I would have liked to been a fly on the wall for THAT discussion in the Johnson house hold. :lol:
  17. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Well, let's just say that I took a 3-year hiatus from worm farming after that.

    Unfortunately, I put the fish in the bin right before going on vacation, so when we got back home (late at night), it was an interesting olfactory experience. The worms really hadn't become established in the (new) bin, so there weren't enough of them in the right frame of mind to tackle something as delicious as raw salmon heads.
  18. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

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    Eric, let me know if you want seeds, but I warn you it is much more obsessive than hand planting lettuce! Two plants a year, one punk per plant, many hours, every year I'm ready to quit. Then my kids say 'hey dad, that 555lb're was small, can't you do better?' Then come Feb I'm digging out seeds again.....
  19. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Eric, do you process some of the veggies for winter? Canning, freezing, etc?

    I've often thought about canning, but I'm afraid that I'd mess it up :-(

    And I'm a pretty good cook . LOL !!
  20. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    No, but with the price of groceries, I'm thinking about it. I should probably get into things like potatoes and yams and other stuff that can be stored in a root cellar, instead of sticking with veggies and herbs. We have a big greenhouse that's heated with wood, but I think you need supplemental light to have much success in the winter months. A couple of 1,000 watt high pressure sodium grow lights will run up the old electric bill, so I'd like to know what I'm doing before making that kind of a commitment. A pressure cooker and jars would probably be a better investment.
  21. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Ya, slow spring this year. If you plant early- they seem to just sulk for a while and you do actually lose some growth as opposed to waiting. On the other hand- with lots of compost (my garden is now over 60% compost I'd guess) the plants seem to be really cold resistant in the fall.
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