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Cheap Compost heap and Garden update March 09

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Published on Mar 22, 2009

I built my garden last year based upon the design of Patti Moreno, who has a channel here on youtube called Gardengirltv.

This winter I planted cover crops of Rye, Wheat and Clover. These till my soil for me and the clover adds nitrogen to the soil through it's symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria.

I have several plants coming up for which I intend to use for seed saving purposes, swiss chard, collards, Kale, and turnips. These varieties are biennials. Meaning you plant them the first year and they give you leaves, the second year they give you flowers and seeds. They don't come up again.

I'm using the no-till method on my garden. I've mulched and I plan to simply cover the mulch with a 2 inch layer of compost and plant directly into that. I will add gypsum and bone meal to my compost before spreading it into each bed and will continue to amend the soil with fish emulsion and actively aerated compost tea and unsulphured molasses. This will feed the microbes in the soil and they will in turn feed my plants.

My vermicompost bin has gotten too full, so I've made a second bin to which I plan to add my biodegradable kitchen waste. I dug a square hole about 1.5 feet deep, and alternated layers of straw and carbon rich matter with vegetables and nitrogen rich matter. In between each layer, I dusted with some dirt and some of the other compost from my first bin. This inoculates my compost with the appropriate microbes so they can get to work.

My first compost bin turned into a worm bin when I messed up my indoor worm bin and threw it's contents into my outdoor bin. (They multiplied! And others migrated from throughout the yard into my bin as well.) I also stopped turning the compost heap which effectively made it cool down, and they then took residence there. I plan to supplement my chickens diets with these worms and if worst came to worst, I could even eat them myself! I also add these worms to my garden beds, they do a good job of tilling the soil and eat the mulch. They love straw I've found from experience. Newspaper is good, but straw is better!

Composting is a great way to reduce waste in your home and it will be helpful in your garden uses. I made this one out of chicken wire and posts. You can even use sticks if you want to save money! I plan to line the inside of the bin with cardboard, to keep the content inside. I also dug a hole beneath the compost bin, so as to reduce the amount of space needed, I find that I'm constantly throwing stuff in there and the pile can get unmanageable. It will also encourage worm migration through the contents of the pile and retain the moisture. I place a tarp over the compost so the moisture stays inside and it is nice and dark for all the little creepy crawlies that turn my waste into black gold!

+Correction! -If you put organic matter over the area you plan to garden in to soften the soil, there is no need to till it. However, it is a good idea to do this JUST the first year, double dig the bed and take that organic matter and mix it in with the soil to increase it's nutrition and is softer. The following years, it will not be necessary to till the soil, this will lower your weeds and if you mulch, the soil should stay in good condition!
Good luck and I will be keeping you updated!

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