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Comfrey Kick in the Compost

posted by: inchworminjersey on 10.03.2011 at 12:28 pm in Soil Forum

I recently read that comfrey facilitates quicker composting. Does anyone know anything about this, how and why. I have comfrey that I am never sure what to do with, and I have a plastic compost bin. Any instructions would be appreciated.

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 01:06 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 01:06 am

The old fashioned plastic weed barrier

posted by: lori_ny on 10.31.2011 at 01:34 pm in Soil Forum

Is there anything wrong with the old style kind of plastic? (The kind that has no holes for light and water to get through.)

I laid some modern plastic down in the walkways in the garden. I was surprised this Fall to see my dirt under them is dry, rock-hard, pale pink clay still. I had laid down solid plastic many years ago in a flower bed. The earth underneath turned dark brown and became rich from worm activity in 1 season.

I am wondering if it would be okay to use the solid plastic next year on the walkways so that the worms have a better place to live. (where the veggies are grown, there is no plastic. It's only between the rows in my 125 foot garden.)

Thank you,
Lori

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 01:05 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 01:05 am

composting with squash

posted by: Banjonique on 11.21.2011 at 05:27 am in Soil Forum

Our 15 horse boarding stable creates tons of manure, sawdust, straw, old hay and peat moss from the stalls and paddocks. I put it in windrows and wait for a year to two for it to break down into compost. This year I planted buttercup squash very close together (every 6") on these piles that were only 6 months old and had astounding squash production from the still warm windrows, but what was amazing to me was that the squash plantation in one short season (June to October) turned the pile into compost. Was it the closely sown roots working through the soil or the heavy leaf canopy shading the windrow or both? The piles were so broken down that I could plant garlic in the windrows in October. I had 4 150 foot rows and they all composted under the squash while my control windrow ( no squash, no turning)is still full of formed manure, hay and wood shavings. Squash composting works for me........

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 01:02 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 01:03 am

Would you weed first before putting down 3' compost?

posted by: ginnyginny on 01.05.2012 at 06:07 pm in Soil Forum

What do you think about putting a 2-3" layer of city compost on top of existing weeds? The "winter" weeds are all over my garden now. I'd prefer to get all the weeds out before doing my annual layer of compost, but I have compost arriving tomorrow and helpers to spread it and I can't get the weeds gone by then.

Some of the weeds are mallow, poa annua, euphorbia, oxalis stricta.

Thanks for your opinion.

Ginny

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 01:01 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 01:01 am

Clay soil

posted by: ifraser25 on 01.18.2012 at 08:36 am in Soil Forum

I get a little fed up with garden experts telling me how to improve my clay soil. It's all good advice but if you knew how big my garden was, you would realize it's not really a practical proposition except in the very long term and at the age of 64...well, I never liked digging much anyway.. What I would like to know is what kind of plants, apart from trees, which I have enough of, I CAN grow in a clay soil, especially annuals and flowering plants. It's not water-logged but does bake hard in the dry season. PH is slightly acid. We have a very mild, frost-free climate.

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:59 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:59 am

RE: Repopulating new garden with worms? (Follow-Up #10)

posted by: phytolacca on 11.03.2011 at 10:01 pm in Soil Forum

Anyone planning to add earthworms to their garden should bear in mind that earthworms are not all ecologically equivalent. There are three loose categories of earthworms: epigeic, endogeic, and anecic.

1) Epigeic worms spend their lives above the soil surface, in the humus layer. They will not till your soil for you but they will break down your mulch if they can keep from dehydrating (doubtful in most full-sun gardens). These critters are of limited usefulness in the garden but are extremely prized by vermicomposters and fishermen because they can be easily farmed. Almost every worm sold at bait stores will be of an epigeic species. There are some wild-caught, non-epigeic bait worms out there (especially around Sopchoppy FL) but the vast majority are farmed.

2) Endogeic worms live in the soil and rarely or never surface. They're great for improving soil tilth and nutrient cycling but they are not encountered very frequently because they don't come up to the surface.

3) Anecic worms dig permanent burrows that go from the surface to as deep as 6 feet. They pull leaves and other food from the surface and consume it deeper in the burrow. Some even have middens that they stock with leaves. They deposit castings on the surface that contain mineral soil and broken down organic matter. These are the critters you want to have-- they are the biggest mixers in the soil. Unless you buy Diplocardia mississippiensis harvested around Sopchoppy FL, chances are your bait-shop worms are NOT anecic worms. The most commonly encountered anecic worm for most of us in N. America is the non-native Common Nightcrawler (see note below), Lumbricus terrestris. It's pink on bottom, darker on top (yes, worms have a top and bottom), and can be seen at night under damp cardboard or on the sidewalk after a heavy rain.
You can collect them by putting out wet cardboard in a forest or old field and checking it at night. Or get more active about it by using a car battery and two long electrodes driven into the soil to coax them up, or go grunting like the folks at my link below.

Note--Some bait stores sell "European Nightcrawlers"-- these are NOT L. terrestris! They are Eisenia hortensis and are an epigeic species.

Here is a link that might be useful: worm grunting

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:56 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:56 am

lavender and rosemary

posted by: kawaiineko_gardener on 11.07.2011 at 06:59 pm in Soil Forum

Please don't tell me to go to the herb gardening forum, this is preemptive. I realize the title is about herbs, but it's more about the type of soil to use for them, which is why I posted it here.

I just know they are very finicky to grow as far as herbs grow. I know they hate wet feet, and prefer a 'dry soil'.

I'm wondering if Al's Gritty Mix, would be the best soil mixture for them or is it not suitable? It's not an actual, real soil (as in dirt you find on the ground) but rather a 'soilless' mixture.

Below is the recipe for it...

Pine or fir bark in 1/8 - 3/8" size (no fines)
Screened Turface MVP
Crushed granite (Gran-I-Grit, in grower size) or #2 cherrystone
gypsum

If Al's gritty mix isn't a suitable 'soil' for lavender and rosemary, can anybody give any suggestions, advice, and/or a 'soil recipe' for them?

Since they prefer a specific moisture level and a specific type of soil, I'd just like to give them what they prefer, rather than use a type of soil that wouldn't be suitable for them, and cause them to become waterlogged.

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:54 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:54 am

Preferred Vegetable Garden Mulch

posted by: rckowal on 07.30.2011 at 10:08 pm in Soil Forum

Which is the better/preferred mulch that you use in your vegetable garden?

I have a small garden with cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers & zucchini. As an experiment to control weeds, I have portions of it mulched with landscape fabric covered with commercial (Scotts) wood chip mulch while only wood chips over the bare soil is used in other areas.

Although the fabric has reduced weed growth, I am beginning to think that it may also be reducing the growth & vitality of the veggie plants surrounded by it. As a result, I intend to remove the fabric & replace it with organic mulch.

Since my garden is small, it is a lot more convenient for me to just buy bagged mulch. Are there better commercial mulches than Scotts wood (dyed pallet) chips? If so, which ones?

Best regards, Richard

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:53 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:53 am

What would you use to fill 10' of shrunk soil level?

posted by: kristimama on 01.18.2012 at 12:13 pm in Soil Forum

Hi everyone,
While it's freezing here in the Bay Area, I'm spending my time indoors thinking about how best to prep my raised beds for this Spring... and asking for your advice.

I have 2ft deep raised beds which I built and filled a few years ago with a premixed bulk soil from American Soil---for those of you familiar with AS it is their "Local Hero" mix, which is basically a sandy loam well mixed with composted plant, chicken manure, and grape seed hulls. Pretty awesome stuff compared to the monumental task of trying to work with our compacted native clay. Each year I have topped the boxes off with 2-4 inches of compost. It's been a very prolific garden for me. This winter I let the soil sit and rest, and didn't plant anything.

As soil does, it has compacted a little each year. But this year I'm finally realizing that the total shrinkage over the years has been almost 10 inches, and I would like to top the boxes up before this next growing season.

So I have a few choices and I'm really unsure which direction to go with this.

1) Just compost. I love compost, but it seems like I read somewhere that when you only amend with compost year after year, after a few years you need to add some mineral/soil content back in. But I know a lot of people just garden in straight compost.

So... if I go with just adding 10" of compost, I then need to decide:

a) No dig, and just put the compost on top. But I'm worried 10 inches of compost will end up being a little too friable and dry out fast, and then acting more like a mulch than the growing medium. I get lots of 90+ days here in the east bay.

b) Work it in, but now that I've learned more about the no dig method, it seems like heresy to want to till in 10" of compost and risk breaking all the great soil food web process going on. Especially after allowing the soil to sit this winter with no cultivation.

So then the alternative to compost would be to

2) Just top it off with more Local Hero, or some other bulk mixed sandy loam/compost mix that has a similar texture to the rest of the boxes. This would have a slightly denser texture than straight compost and seems to keep the entire surface of the raised beds at a more consistent moisture level, especially in the hot summer days.

And for those of you here in the Bay Area that know the soil providers, feel free to share your favorites. I have always used American Soil, but my mom swears by Acapulco and they can mix in Z-Best which is OMRI certified.

Anyway, much appreciate any help or advice. I don't know any other veggie gardeners here in the 'burbs. I know it's hard to reach a consensus on this topic, but I enjoy hearing what other gardeners do so I can make up my mind.

Thanks!
-kmama

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:48 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:48 am

What to Put In Wet Area of Garden Near House

posted by: organic_rosefaerie on 01.21.2012 at 09:20 pm in Soil Forum

Hi,
I am in a new house as of August 2011 and looking forward to my first spring here.

I had last fall to look at the yard and gardens and see the good, the bad and the ugly.

Part of the ugly is an area against the house that seems to always stay damp. It doesn't get any direct sun and has been over-mulched for years. It was also the area our inspector thought may have had termites. Makes sense b/c they like moisture.

I'm planning to remove the mulch but need to know what to put down instead that will keep the area drier. Stones/pebbles? Sand?

There is an Azalea and Rhododendron planted there.

Any ideas would be welcome.

TIA,
Rose

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:48 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:48 am

Permanent paths in intensively-gardened space

posted by: ralleia on 01.30.2012 at 11:16 am in Soil Forum

It's forecast to get over 60 degrees today and I want to spend every possible minute of the warm-up OUTSIDE working on the garden.

The 20' x 24' hoophouse is going to have the paths re-organized to use a 30' wide row (a la Eliot Coleman and the six-row Johnnys Seeds seeder) versus the four foot wide bed method (a la Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening).

I would like to make the right decision regarding what to use for permanent paths, path widths, and whether to sink the paths a little lower than the surrounding beds/rows.

A major goal is to encourage the whole soil food web--fungi, earthworms, everything except voles, moles, mice and shrews to help dig pores in my clayey loam.

Since it's a hoophouse, "rain" is human-controlled, of course!

Should I--

1) use just dirt (which gets quite compacted of course, and muddy/slippery when wet)

2) move and reset the 6" wide concrete sections that I have in place now, salvaged from a concrete curb tear-out? I've found I probably need to go a bit wider on the paths--it's not a lot of fun to weed or harvest while squatting precariously on a 6" wide space. Isn't fun to trot along either, especially when the plants' leaves are all draping over the path.
A disadvantage with this has been *if* I try to run the Mantis tiller, the fear of hitting the edge of the concrete.

3) Use 1x??? lumber, or some version of an elevated walkway like nature centers use to keep foot traffic off the ground?

4) seed low-growing perennial clover, or even high-growing and mow it down periodically? It would need to be edged routinely in a while, too, to prevent it from growing into the beds. Probably wouldn't want anything too vigorous, either. Though I live in zone 5, the hoophouse should be able to support up to zone 6 hardiness.

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:46 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:47 am

The 'Perfect' Gardening Soil Structure?

posted by: ssmdgardener on 02.06.2012 at 06:53 am in Soil Forum

I'm really interested in learning more about the science behind soils. I'd like to start a discussion about the best way to amend any ordinary yard dirt to make it the perfect growing medium.

Please let me know if I have the basics correct:

* There are inorganic and organic matter in soil.
* Inorganic matter consists of sand, silt, and clay.
* Sand is the largest in particle size, then silt, with clay being the smallest.
* There is an optimal ratio of the 3 inorganic materials.
* Organic matter, such as compost, leaf mold, or bark can be added to the inorganic matter.
* Some organic matter are preferred over others as an amendment.
* There is an optimal ratio of inorganic to organic matter.
* The ratio of amendments differs in the ground vs in a raised bed.
* The method of amending is important, as you don't want to disturb the creatures in the soil food web.

Please add any information that is missing, or if you disagree with something. I'm particularly interested in the best method for adding amendments.

FYI, this all started because I started out with not enough organic matter (rocky clay) and now I think some of my beds have too much organic matter, which I didn't realize could be a bad thing. I'm sick of trial and error, as that has only cost me money and time, so I'd like to learn the science behind it first.

TIA!

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:45 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:45 am

Using cardboard for weed control

posted by: bookjunky4life on 01.26.2012 at 01:02 pm in Soil Forum

I am collecting cardboard boxes to use for weed control under straw in my veggie garden. I have one 60'x100' garden which is my main veggie garden and an additional 38'x91' veggie garden. As you can imagine this may require a lot of cardboard. I tend to plant rows as close together as possible because although I have lots of garden space, I also plant a LOT of veggies. I usually plant things like green beans and corn in rows about two feet apart. I like more space between my tomatoes, so like 3 feet between plants in the row. The boxes my MIL saves for me at her job are broken down already but tape, stickers, etc. are not peeled off. I plan on prepping my cardboard by each batch I get from her once a week. Would it be wise to go ahead and start cutting boxes down to 2 or 3 foot widths so they will be precut and ready to lay down in between the rows? If I try to do this all at once, its going to be overwhelming. I realize I may not get enough cardboard to do 100% of my gardens but if I could even do half, then I can lay just straw on the rest or at least keep up by hand weeding it. I weeded sometimes 6 or more hours a day, even on a work day where I am gone 9 hours, last summer and still it was overgrown with weeds. I made myself crazy trying to keep up. I do have some newspaper that I plan on using but it won't go very far in my huge gardens.

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:44 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:44 am

RE: new gardener - help with soil recipe? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: tn_gardening on 02.21.2012 at 03:52 pm in Soil Forum

the square foot folks swear by 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat & 1/3 compost

Maybe it's me and my dealings with clay, but I remember my days at 4-H camp where we'd make pottery out of sand n clay.
I'd be reluctant to add any sand if you have clay soil.

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:44 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:44 am

VLC Media Player

posted by: esteban_2009 on 02.22.2012 at 01:16 pm in Computer Help Forum

Hi folks,
Yester day I upgraded to the latest (2.0.0) VLC Media Player, all was working before the upgrade. Now I can receive YouTube video's but not .WAV files.
I am running X-P, SP-3.
Any and all ideas welcome.
Thanks,
Steve

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:40 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:40 am

RE: Avast blocking something with same message again and again (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: zep516 on 02.24.2012 at 03:26 pm in Computer Help Forum

Please download Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware to your desktop click Here
Double Click mbam-setup.exe to install the application.
•Make sure a checkmark is placed next to Update Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware and Launch Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware, then click Finish.
•If an update is found, it will download and install the latest version.
•Once the program has loaded, select "Quick Scan", then click Scan
•The scan may take some time to finish,so please be patient.
•When the scan is complete, click OK, then Show Results to view the results.
•Make sure that everything is checked, and click Remove Selected.
•When disinfection is completed, a log will open in Notepad and you may be prompted to Restart.(See Extra Note)
•The log is automatically saved by MBAM and can be viewed by clicking the Logs tab in MBAM.
•Copy&Paste the entire report in your next reply.

Extra Note:
If MBAM encounters a file that is difficult to remove,you will be presented with 1 of 2 prompts,click OK to either and let MBAM proceed with the disinfection process,if asked to restart the computer,please do so immediately.

click Here

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:26 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:37 am

RE: System Restore doesn't work even in Safe Mode??? (Follow-Up #4)

posted by: zep516 on 02.23.2012 at 09:11 am in Computer Help Forum

Here is the skinny, Get yourself to the site raven suggested.

If you are infected with System Check it is important that you do not delete any files from your Temp folder or use any temp file cleaners. This is because when the infection is installed it will delete shortcuts found in various locations and store backups of them in the %Temp%\smtmp folder. It does this so that you when try to launch a program from your start menu, none of your shortcuts will appear and thus making you think that your computer has a serious problem. Therefore, you do not want to delete any of the files in your Temp folder as it will remove the backups that we will use later in the guide to restore your Windows Start Menu.

To make matters worse, recent variants of this family have been know to install the TDSS or ZeroAccess rootkits as well. These rootkits will attempt to stop you from using security programs that may help you to remove this infection.

Good luck.

Joe

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:28 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:36 am

RE: Laptop Webcam (Follow-Up #20)

posted by: zep516 on 02.19.2012 at 12:28 pm in Computer Help Forum

Can you do this for me,

Please download MiniToolBox See link click on it and save it to your desktop . Then:
Checkmark following boxes:

List last 10 Event Viewer log
List Installed Programs
List Users, Partitions and Memory size
Click Go and post the results in your next reply.

Here is a link that might be useful: MiniToolBox.exe

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:36 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:36 am

more (Follow-Up #11)

posted by: zep516 on 02.18.2012 at 08:47 pm in Computer Help Forum

Try it again, restart the computer, during restart keep tapping the F8 Key, wait for the Advanced Boot Options Menu to appear Black screen with white letters. Once you see that screen use the arrow keys to select the option you want in this case I want you to Select Repair Your Computer once you select it it will be highlighted, hit enter. Then see if System restore works in either regular mode or Boot back to the safe mode and try it there.

If none of this works I want you to go to a thread--See link. It's my thread at Help 2 go. Scroll down to where I give instructions for using System file checker and follow them, here's the link to that thread below"

Here is a link that might be useful: Help 2 go thread System file checker instructions

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clipped on: 02.25.2012 at 12:26 am    last updated on: 02.25.2012 at 12:32 am