When I tested our soil, N was OK, P was depleted, and K was low.
For the N and some P, I’ve decided to go with aged chicken manure as we’re looking to start planting right away and it seems to contain good amounts of N and P.
For the Potash I’ll buy some kelp meal.
I also am working at a coffee shop and have access to several pounds of coffee grounds per week.
I’m kind of curious how you all would proceed. My local nursery sells G&B aged chicken manure but when I called and asked for the fertilizer ratio the numbers sounded lower than what I’d read about chicken manure online (I can’t find the specs for the G&B chicken manure online). I’ve also read some nasty commentary about G&B products but it’s what’s available to me and the nursery guys like it.
Our plot is about 200 square feet. From what I read online this would require 80 lbs manure and about 4 lbs kelp meal. Do I really need this much? I’m also considering just buying way less and using it where I plant. Anyone have suggestions on how to proceed? We already have some Kale in, will probably start other leafy greens soon, then move on into more flowering plants a bit later.
Also I’m hesitant about direct application of the grounds. We did this last year without thinking about it at the same time we put in the worms. What are your thoughts on this? Better to age the grounds a bit, or compost? I read your guys thread about coffee grounds and it seems like most of you are either composting it first or letting it sit a while before use.
Any other simple amendment suggestions to get started right away? By the way, PH is at 6.5. Thanks!
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
Daniel, I till coffee grounds right into my soil. No composting or fermenting first. I apply 1/2"-1" of grounds, then till it into the top 6" of garden soil. I usually also till in an inch or two of compost at the same time. My compost has all the soil amendments added to it while it is being made -- manures, burnt bones, coral sand, lava sand, ocean water, biochar if I have it, urine, wood ash, plus healthy garden soil that has active soil microbes. I use what I have access to. Rather than putting the coffee grounds into the compost, I apply it separately only because I can target specific garden beds that way.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Su Ba gave some great method advice. Coffee grounds can be used just about any way you want to use them.
Put them straight into the soil and you will have fungal blooms occur in the soil that they were added to. Worms feed on bacteria and some fungi and they love coffee grounds mixed into the soil they are filtering.
Su Ba also gives the soil anything that might be needed through those applications of what ever is on hand, great stuff there.
Daniel I have no doubt that you will end up with thriving soil from your efforts.
Welcome to permies Daniel. Sounds like you're on the right track. Su & Bryant have already provided excellent answers. Basically, use what you have & don't be afraid. Composting is fairly forgiving. It can be as simple or as complicated a process as one chooses. I would be cautious about commercially raised animal manures though. They often contain antibiotics & chemicals I would prefer not be in soil. Your mileage may vary.
We have very rocky soil so use hay bales as raised beds. We amend these with composted goat manure, fireplace ashes and soil the gophers mound up for us. I haven't tested our soil but the garden is very productive. the ground squirrels really appreciate what I have planted. We have an electric mesh fence to keep the goats out but what do others do to combat rodents eating the veggies before they are ripe? it happens also on what I have planted in pots on our deck. Thanks for any suggestions. Brian
I have a very dense clay soil, we used lime and a rotary hoe then forked in a mass of compost this started the break up of the clay and I had 2-3 inches of good top soil. The next winter I put a trailer load of Cow Manure on and threw in some tiger worms from my worm farm, it took about 6 months but I know have some of the best soil I have ever grown in.
Another amendment/mulch additive I like is nut shells we have a friend with walnut trees and my kids love opening peanuts, the shells make a good addition to your compost and aid with moisture retention like a mini hugel!
We also have rocky soil. I mean...huge rocks and a thin layer soil on top. Our solution was to build raised beds. Buy bagged soil and some manure and...wait to see what will grow.
However, not much success in that department. Have to make some changes to soil (I added too much peat moss).
Chicken manure did absolutely nothing (it was expensive!).
But, I do dry out egg shells, then powder them. This gives a lot of usable calcium that seemed to help in growing tomatoes. This is the very first time none of the fruit split.
I don't have access to many things you guys have (I'm so jealous! But, gently mind you!)
And I do smoothies from kitchen waste as I mentioned this elsewhere.
I just smash up my egg shells and throw them in the worm bin, it means my vermicast has alot of eggshell but it makes a great amendment to the soil and the worms need the calcium so healthier worms too.
I live in BC 🇨🇦, on an island so I have access to oceans. I can see the massive kelp beds now & when the storms come, it breaks & washes in the seaweeds.
I collect this + llama/alpaca manure ( also free); throw it down layer by layer.
Our winter rains wash away the salts.
Come spring, I go in once in awhile w a spade/shovel & break up larger pieces, as things dry I turn it over.
Planting time, it's perfect.
Add some companion comfrey & use nettle-tea in summer if plants show their lacking something.
Below is a post from used coffee ground thread, I agree with Su Ba & B. Redhawk.
To split hairs coffee beans are not beans, " It is the pip inside the red or purple fruit often referred to as a cherry. Just like ordinary cherries, the coffee fruit is also a so-called stone fruit."
I worked in one of two coffee process plants in South Carolina for 37.5 years. I have composted dry green coffee beans, roasted coffee beans, ground roasted coffee that has not been used & is five days old(most store bought coffee is 30-270 days old). But the best is the coffee chaff, we ran water over the chaff, to lower it's flesh point to zero. The chaff is dry & hot then wet & it goes though a heat as it is put in supersacks, supersack is a brand name for a 4 feet cube sack for shipping product, in this case green coffee beans, then recycled for waste coffee chaff.
So when you haul the 1500 pounds of chaff away, it has already started to break down, it is the consistency of onion skins, paper thin, hot & wet. The compost stay in the soil longer than any other plant matter I have used IMHO. Leaves & grass is good, but not like chaff.
All coffee products are good for composting or turning into garden, I have done both in the past. I put chaff on surface of the garden as a mulch & it cracked in hot weather & mud in wet weather, so it acted like clay until it broke down. If you covered it with wood chips, it may not be the problem I had, but composting it will do the trick.
In the 'daily-ish' I saw the question here is: what do you use as soil amendment?
My answer: what I use most is 'chop & drop'. I use fast-growing plants like comfrey, cut them short and then drop those cut leaves at places where I need them (to cover and/or feed the soil). Also 'unwanted weeds', pulled out, can be used this way. This method is cheap (for free) and lazy ... So I like it most!
"Also, just as you want men to do to you, do the same way to them" (Luke 6:31)
Location: Zone 9b, northern California, 2500 ft elevation
Brian, don't know if you have access to 1/4" galvanized hardware cloth or 1/2" chicken wire but making a cage out of that underneath and around the bales could work - may need to extend up above the top of the bales a bit for best results. Can also put wood or metal around the sides and hardware cloth on the bottom and then a layer of wire mesh around the top which is how I reworked a few of my beds this year. (Having the wire mesh extend 18" above the soil level has kept out our young cats who love playing in soft dirt and are careless with baby plants.)
If you put your straw bales in series you could do a longer run of wire mesh, which come in 25', 50' and 100' lengths and 2', 3' and 4' widths, and maybe group some of your potted plants that way too.
Brian to combat ground squirrels I have laid hardware cloth under the entirety of my raised bed area without that we would only have a few things that would survive them. And we have cats, they have been invaluable to our ground squirrel reduction campaign.
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