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Old October 9, 2019   #16
tryno12
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Thanks SQWIBB, a lot of good info and pictures there - appreciated
Pete
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Old June 2, 2020   #17
greenthumbomaha
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Squibb, how do you keep animals from digging in your buried garbage? I have all sorts of animals in my urban backyard; squirrels, racoons, probably mice, and now moles (have to look closer tomorrow and make sure they aren't voles). Those creepies are a new addition because I got the bright idea to grow corn in pots last year grrrr. I have two new raised beds that are filled with heavy clay soil from a fence replacement, and there is just so many compost bags I can haul. Thanks!

- Lisa
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Old June 3, 2020   #18
kr222
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Years ago I tried square foot gardening. I found that when I added peat moss to my beds, it crusted over, cracked, and water would run right off. It just didn't want to stay hydrated. Lesson learned. Years later I've been amending with homemade compost for organic matter and peat humus for structure. It no longer cracks, water absorbs, my plants are healthier, and my harvests are dramatically better. To expand my garden space beyond the raised beds, I've been planting in heavy clay soil filled with rocks. It also cracks and gets hard as a brick in dry weather. Adding some compost and peat humus Makes a world of difference. I mulch in the Spring with compost and with chopped leaves in the fall. I haven't had cracking since.
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Old June 4, 2020   #19
Father'sDaughter
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I went completely "no till" with my two raised beds and started mulching every fall with shredded dry leaves/grass, then leaving this in place and planting through it in the spring. I had read about it here after getting frustrated with straw mulch that was supposedly seedless, but wasn't... so no more buying straw, no more pulling most of it off so it didn't turn my beds into a grass patch, and no more "turning the beds."

Leaving the leaf mulch to slowly break down over the season drastically cuts down weeds, the soil never dries out between waterings, and the worms absolutely love it. My husband came out to check on me when I was planting out my tomatoes last weekend and was shocked at how black and rich the soil had become (it's always hidden under the leaf mulch so he hasn't seen it in a few years).

I forget who first mentioned it on here, but I am so glad I tried it.
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Old June 7, 2020   #20
JRinPA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tryno12 View Post
Why is the soil under my black plastic mulch covering the raised bed so darn hard w/ large cracks and fissures?? I water at holes near plant stem daily but it is hard to even get a trowel to penetrate the soil? The plants do great - production fair to very good. The soil is a raised bed mix w/ mushroom compost. Getting ready to order more black plastic to get ready for spring but wondering about the darn hard soil??
tryno, did you change anything this year?

Sounds to me it is just the peat and compost absorbing water and expanding, then heating up and shrinking as that water burns off quickly with heat of the black mulch. Enough of that and you'll get cracks, just like leather. If anything it probably helps get a lot of oxygen to the roots.

Here in PA we know all about the temperature cycles...we probably have more potholes in our roads than the next 5 states combined! And that bagged mushroom soil might well have come from a mushroom house near here. Giorgio foods has a big op just north on 222 from Reading and houses all over the place around here. SE PA is the perfect climate for mushrooms. Last time I bought a scoop it was $20 to fill my bed. Our comm garden gets a big pile that I think is only $40 or $50.
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Old June 8, 2020   #21
tryno12
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Good job Squibb
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Old June 8, 2020   #22
tryno12
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Jr, all I did this year was to turn the top 9" of soil over with a shovel - we"ll see if it helps, I certainly hope so. I will post as I see how this year goes, no cracking yet.
Jr we got plenty of potholes here also - are you anywhere near Lebanon Valley College, last I knew my Grandmothers Grandfather Clock was there, she lived near Greble.
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Old June 8, 2020   #23
tryno12
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The delivered soil/compost was from a farm store near by, it was not a bagged product.
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Old June 8, 2020   #24
SQWIBB
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I too have, possums, raccoons, Groundhogs, cats, mice, etc... I think the raccoons are more interested in the pond (fish) than the rasied beds.
They all love my yard, why, because its the only yard in the neighborhood with unlimited, food and water. Seems like I live in an area where grass is more important than food... boggles the mind

To be honest, so far the only issue has been my German Shepherd, I just make sure she leaves it alone.
I do have mice but they're everywhere anyhow, I keep a Tom Cat bait in each bed.
I do still bury meat, eggs and other frowned upon items and it doesn't seem to be a problem, I actually get more activity in my compost bin.
I actually just buried a hard boiled egg yesterday between two plants, they seem to like it.



YMMV but Don't be afraid to in-situ compost something like a bagel with cream cheese or a hard boiled egg, half eaten chicken breast, chicken bones, ribs, peanut butter jelly sandwich, spoiled milk, pies, ice cream, cake etc...


Just be mindful, don't over do it, keep an eye out for wildlife and if becomes an issue, stop adding it or dig it in deep. Wet Stuff especially fatty dairy, like milk and ice cream, pies, dig a hole fill it with a high carbon item like dried leaves and mix in your dairy.

Dairy items may put off an odor.

I can only get mine in about 10-12" because they are Hugelkultur beds.


Don't listen to those websites that say stuff like "Things you should never compost", while some of the stuff I agree with like Oils, Diseased plants etc... I''m mainly talking about composting food items.


Just use common sense, we all know not to compost batteries and motor oil, lol.
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Old June 8, 2020   #25
DonDuck
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My native soil is Texas clay with a high coefficient for expansion and contraction. I've found bags and bags of sand worked into the clay with a lot of organics including alfalfa pellets and compost solved the cracking problem in dry weather. The sand changes the structure of the clay and the alfalfa pellets attract and feed earth worms which help keep the soil friable.
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Old June 8, 2020   #26
DonDuck
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"Just use common sense, we all know not to compost batteries and motor oil, lol"


Many years ago, I was working with a group wanting to determine the long term effect of crude oil on soil. We covered two acres with thick, black crude oil similar to road tar and left it alone for one year. The second year, we lightly tilled the soil about three inches deep. After two years, the crude oil was barely detectable. It had been consumed by bacteria. In the beginning, most of us thought the soil would be sterile for generations. After four years, the plot was the most lush with native plants and grasses of all the surrounding acreage.


A show on PBS focused on a guy who grew fruit trees and vines in compost he produced. His philosophy is anything with organic origins like blue jeans and cotton shirts and leather shoes and belts and hats can be composted. He dug the remains of a pair of blue jeans and walking shoes out of his compost pile. Both had been almost totally reduced to the inorganics like rubber and metal. He screens his compost before he uses it. Metal and rubber will decompose if your willing to wait a few years.


I read that normal 3 volt cell batteries compost well in land fills with no harm to the environment. They were making the point that its okay to throw old flashlight and radio batteries in the trash. I don't think it would be smart to throw lithium ion batteries in the trash. Lithium is a toxic metal which ignites when exposed to oxygen.

Last edited by DonDuck; June 8, 2020 at 05:27 PM.
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Old June 8, 2020   #27
SQWIBB
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@DonDuck, that's very interesting.
I have read somewhere something similar about bacteria consuming the motor oil.

Quote online;
. Used oil contains high concentrations of lead, zinc, calcium, barium, and magnesium.

I have also seen other things like arsenic, potassium.

Most research I have seen says it will kill soil microbes and earthworms and harmful elements will stay in the soil for years and the best way to deal with it is Bioremediation.

But then again I'm sure we won't be pouring motor oil in our vegetable gardens.
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Old June 9, 2020   #28
JRinPA
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I've heard of it, just checked and it is in Annville, about an hour away. My second springer came from a nice family just south of Annville, and I have passed through a few other times, but I'm back east of Reading.

I don't recognize Greble, either. Is that a town near there? Was your grandmother Methodist?

Do you have a picture of the clock?

Last edited by JRinPA; June 9, 2020 at 12:17 AM.
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Old June 11, 2020   #29
DonDuck
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"@DonDuck, that's very interesting.
I have read somewhere something similar about bacteria consuming the motor oil".


Used motor oil does contain a lot of hazardous contaminates as a result of metal friction and wear of engine components like bearings as well as the combustion process itself.


Bio-remediation does work to clean up spills of crude oil. Remember the deep water horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago. It was the major headline on the news for weeks. Crude oil was washing up on beaches from Florida. to South Padre Island in Texas. It really was a disaster for wildlife, both aquatic and terrestrial Good luck finding any evidence it ever happened either in the water or on land today. Bacteria cleaned it up pretty quickly. The same thing happened with the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. It took longer in Alaska because bacteria are not as active in cold climate and colder water.
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