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December 1, 2008

Composting Naturally

Putting my beds to rest for the winter the natural way while composting the remains of what was growing in the beds.   By putting back part of the plant you grew in that location , you are putting back the nutrients the plant took from the soil to grow.  I try to mimic what nature would do naturally.   I am able to speed the decomposing process with a little extra work and help from my little friends...

But first lets take a look at November 30th harvest from the Greenhouse.  My garden beds have been put to rest, but the greenhouse plants are still going strong.

Peppers, Jalapeno, Tomatoes, Eggplant           PB240029

September 14th I slowing began my progress of putting my bed to rest...The 1st bed I was working with are my potato beds.  Any remains of the upper plants are laid on the beds and then hand turned over with a wide tooth type fork, mixing the upper plant in the soil.  I leave the potato beds exposed for a while to get some hard frosts and kill some of the organism that can cause scab or worms that may go in the potatoes.  Robins and other birds like picking at this bed while it is exposed.  The white covers you see in the background are a light material row cover that helps extend my growing season on my more frost tender plants.             P9140023

When any plant is harvested its remains are laid back on the location the vegetable was removed from.  Here I have turnip tops and carrots tops.  I had been eating the turnip tops thru out the summer.  But what remains at harvest I like to give back to the soil.

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  I then turn the whole bed by hand, breaking it up and mixing the plants into the soil.  All the plant does not have to be buried as later it will be mulched.        P9080051

Below I have prepared my bed for planting of my garlic bulbs.  Garlic should be planted in the fall for harvest the following late summer.  I use bulbs left over from last years harvest.  I have put a light layer of leaves on this bed as there is not any vegetation in this bed needing composting.  Also I want the garlic to start growing early in the spring.  If I have to thick a layer of hay it will hold growth back in the spring.  This way the leaves can just be left to slowly decompose back into the soil next summer.

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October 8th my sunflowers, all my beans and squash had to finally be put to rest.

There's my buddy Buster...Darn I should have buried him in the garden that was his favourite spot to lay around.   He is of spirit now where his body lies is of no relevance really.             PA080054 

I pulled out all the sunflower stocks after harvesting the heads and laid them to the side.  All the remaining plants, beans, squashes and flowers are hand dug into the soil breaking it up.  Then I lay all the bigger stocks over the top of the turned soil.  After I put about 3 inches of hay over the top of the bed.

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I now have an abundance of leaves to use for mulching in the winter.  Every leave and fruit tree that is in our yard and gardens was all planted by my husband.  We had only evergreen trees in the yard when we bought it.  I still always leave some leaves on the ground to decompose, as under all that lush green grass and vegetation is only about 1/2 of top soil on what is mostly  gravel.  I mulch lots in the summer and water, water, water.  I am blessed with a spring above our property.            PA080009 

 My potato beds I have now covered lightly with leafs.  My Rhubarb I have covered lightly with hay.

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What you see below is seeds pods from last years Kale that I allowed to grow this year to go to seed.  I harvested some seeds but mostly I take the seed heads and crumple them around to reseed naturally in an area I want to grow Kale next year.  There will be lots of plants coming up early in spring.  Later I will thin and transplant some.  This is a Siberian Kale that is very hardy.   The other seed heads are Parsley.  This is a looser leaf parsley that is also hardier then curly.  I will just let these reseed on their own and transplant later in the spring where needed.  By doing this the next generation seeds slowing become hardier to my climate and growing conditions. 

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October 19th  all I have left under the covers are lettuce, leeks and beets and Kale.            PA190056

Here is the remains of a lettuce bed after harvesting the last of the lettuce here.  Then I turned the bed working in the remaining plants.  Then covered the bed with a good layer of hay.

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Now here are my composting buddies.  Now that I have prepared the beds with lots of plant remains and covered them to help insulate the soil for the winter, these guys can work thru most of the winter eating the plants I worked into the soil.  In the spring when I uncover the beds normally only the thick stocks from plants 1 inch or more in thickness are not composted.  All the vegetation will be composted and lots of worm castings have been added to the soil.  Note the use of machine cultivators can cut these worms up killing them.

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 Here is another bed that I just hand turn to break up and partially bury the vegetation.

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Oct 26th preparing my Raspberry beds for next year.  I like to wait late so I can be sure what is last years stock and what is this year.  Last years will be dead by now..

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My Raspberries are bi-annual variety that bears fruit on next years stock.  While this years stock that bore fruit dies.  So I must cut off at ground level all stocks that bore fruit this year and are basically dead.  I burn all the old stock.  I restring all the new stocks for support over the winter and next year.  Then I add just a little chicken manure from cleaning out the chicken coup.  A very thin layer of leaves are added on top. 

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Raspberry bed all ready for next year..       PA270030

November 19 I uncovered my Kale to harvest the last of it.  At this point I still have some leeks under the row cover and are heavily protected with hay to keep the ground from freezing.  Later I will be able to dig them out of the ground.  I have harvested as late a Christmas as long as I can get thru the snow to them.  Now I have allowed the chickens into the garden as they can clean up around the kale bed.  They love the fresh greens this time of the year.  They also leave some natural nitrogen all over the garden.

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November 22 I am finally done in the garden except a small patch of leaks.  The metal contraption you see in the middle now is a smoker my husband built out of this and that around the property.     PB220062

I asked why he had to put that ugly thing in my garden.He said he hoped the fencing would help keep anything out that might pick up the smell of what's smoking.  He has only done one salmon so far.  He has never smoked before but it turn out pretty good.  A little salty but he will make the necessary adjustments next time.  PA310002

  If not ignored, nature will cultivate in the gardener a sense of well being and peace.  The gardener may find deeper meaning in life by paying attention to the parables of the garden. Nature teaches quiet lessons to the gardener who chooses to live with in the paradigm of the garden.
Author -Norman H. Hansen-

So ends one of my blogs on Gardening Naturally... 

Natural Knowledge learned thru watching nature closely...

 

  Good Morning...Good Afternoon...Good Night..

Whatever it is to you..

Photos & Words
except where Authored
by

Here I Am/Carrie

2 comments:

GreatGranny said...

So interesting and represents hard work and love of gardening.And it's so exciting to watch a garden grow that is gonna be preserved in the freezer or jar.My husband also dehydrated fruit and meat, so good and it went on a trip out west with us, such good snacks.

Rocket Man said...

It's an awful lot of work but the results make it all worthwhile, don't they? There's nothing like vegetables from your own garden.