Win a copy of Permaculture Playing Cards this week in the Permaculture forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • James Freyr
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
  • r ranson
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Joseph Lofthouse
garden masters:
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Dan Boone
  • Carla Burke
  • Kate Downham

Veganic (vegan + organic) raised bed soil

 
Posts: 11
Location: Japan
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi! I’m new around here and I wonder if you could help. We are a vegan family and we live in Japan. We are buying some land to build a house and will only have a very small garden (yard), probably will be able to fit around 5 potted fruit trees and 10 1x2m raised beds (the soil in the land is very stony, very dry and sandy and not very good quality) + a larger raised bed for raspberries and blackberries oh and maybe a small greenhouse. We are hoping to build and move in spring just when the growing season begins. Right now we live in an apartment. I’ve read a lot about vegan permaculture but i’m stuck when it comes to starting off with filling the beds. In Japan all commercial compost contains animal products so i’d have to make my own but can’t until we have the garden and even if I could I doubt i could make enough to fill all the beds.

We do have commercial leaf mould available using trees grown in Japan (no chemicals used) and organic rice husks (again grown in Japan). I thought both of these would be good substitutes for peat moss and vermiculite. We also have kelp meal available (will find a Japan grown source).

Is there anything I could do with these to create a soil I can grow food in or will I need to wait a season and compost and use a green manure?  
 
gardener
Posts: 1523
Location: Los Angeles, CA
373
hugelkultur forest garden books urban chicken food preservation
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not clear about all the ins and outs of veganism so a bit more information might be helpful.  You state that commercial compost contains "animal products.  Do you mean manure from animals or actual bodies/guts/blood/etc. from slaughtered livestock?  Is animal manure a vegan no-no, even if the animals only ate grass and other plants?  I'm assuming that blood and bone meal would be a huge no-no for you.  

Are worms a problem?  Worm castings?  If that's OK, you could start a worm bin now and transport those castings to your new location when you're ready to build your raised beds.

What about manures from chickens or other birds (if they were fed organic food)?  Chicken manure is a wonderful green to heat up a compost pile.

My short answer would be gather any and every bit of carbon that you can get your hands on and make your own compost.  That includes rice husks, leaves, and whatever other carbon source you feel OK about.  But you're going to need greens to heat up and break down all those browns, so if animal manures are out of the question, you'll need stuff like coffee grounds or lots of green grass.

What about human urine on your compost?  That's a wonderful green for composting.  Is human urine OK, particularly if it's from a vegan?

Best of luck.  Let us know what you end up doing.
 
pollinator
Posts: 588
Location: Denmark 57N
129
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Can you get hold of some topsoil? I would mix your leafmold/husks with some topsoil and some of the seaweed meal or if you can get it some actual seaweed (rinse well to remove salt) It probably won't be the best thing ever but you will be able to grow in it, and you can improve it each year by adding your own compost.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 11468
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
774
cat forest garden fish trees chicken fiber arts wood heat greening the desert
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What I would do is try to find a bunch of rotten hardwood logs and put them in the bottom of the bed, and cover them with layers of organic materials such as leaves and grass clippings, and cover with a few inches of your poor soil, sifted of the larger rocks and gravel.  Plant seeds directly in the poor soil.  As the seeds sprout and grow, the organic materials below will decay and become compost.  As the plants mature, they can be watered with compost tea made by wet composting weeds and other plant material.

Creating a New Batch of Fermented Plant Juice AKA "Dave's Fetid Swamp Water (TM)"  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4pMkLGWes0&t=399s

The bed will settle a lot as the material composts, but each season you can rebuild the bed with new material on top of the old until you have a raised bed full of wonderful composty soil.

 
pollinator
Posts: 368
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
56
forest garden tiny house books
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
FYI, Marco, manure is not vegan because it comes from animals created and kept for human purposes. Human urine is fine cause humans are free creatures choosing to pee on their own gardens :)

Nicole, i garden veganically on an old river bed of sand and rock. My nearest neighbour is a gravel pit, to give you an idea of what my "soil" is like.

I like what Skandi and Tyler say. I mostly garden like Tyler suggested: rotten wood + toppings, added to yearly.

When I want to use a new garden bed right away, I have also done a lasagna style kinda deal, layering whatever organic material I can get my hands on, then top it with 18-25cm of soil. The soil I use is usually silty sand subsoil. Almost no organic material and it is very bad at absorbing and holding water.  If you've got topsoil you'll be way ahead of me. Then I mulch on top. The layers underneath are made up things like shredded office paper, leaves, kitchen scraps, grass clippings, tree prunings, unwanted windfall fruit people discard, etc.  The lower layers break down over the growing season so the plants can grow into them a bit. Some things, like squash, are actually perfectly happy growing in a not totally broken down compost heap. I've had surprisingly good results in beds like this. Not as good as other beds with better soil, obviously, and I think the base of logs works better too, especially for holding water.
 
steward
Posts: 4732
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1598
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jan White wrote:FYI, Marco, manure is not vegan because it comes from animals created and kept for human purposes. Human urine is fine cause humans are free creatures choosing to pee on their own gardens :)



Would animal feces be acceptable, if they were gathered in the wilderness from wild creatures?
 
Nicole Anzai
Posts: 11
Location: Japan
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The log idea sounds amazing but I don’t know where i’d get that many logs if I could even get any at all to be honest. I will have some sort of soil though very sandy and rocky. I’m sure I can use some of that plus leaf mould plus rice husks and that first season add some neem meal and then any foraged seaweed. I’m thinking about growing a neem tree here (we are 9a) and although it may not fruit I can still use it for the leaves. If I keep it in a pot I could potentially bring it in during the winter at least whilst its small.

I’ll definitely keep you updated with what we do and I’ll probably be back here several times for advice!
 
Jan White
pollinator
Posts: 368
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
56
forest garden tiny house books
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

Jan White wrote:FYI, Marco, manure is not vegan because it comes from animals created and kept for human purposes. Human urine is fine cause humans are free creatures choosing to pee on their own gardens :)



Would animal feces be acceptable, if they were gathered in the wilderness from wild creatures?



This may be a grey area with differing opinions depending on who you ask. I'd want to think about the impact I was having on the ecosystem before removing anything from it. I would have those concerns vegan or not, though.
 
Jan White
pollinator
Posts: 368
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
56
forest garden tiny house books
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Nicole Anzai wrote:The log idea sounds amazing but I don’t know where i’d get that many logs if I could even get any at all to be honest. I will have some sort of soil though very sandy and rocky. I’m sure I can use some of that plus leaf mould plus rice husks and that first season add some neem meal and then any foraged seaweed. I’m thinking about growing a neem tree here (we are 9a) and although it may not fruit I can still use it for the leaves. If I keep it in a pot I could potentially bring it in during the winter at least whilst its small.

I’ll definitely keep you updated with what we do and I’ll probably be back here several times for advice!



I think your plan sounds good, Nicole. Some plants will do better than others in your conditions. I've found it's easier to just grow stuff that works well for me and my conditions and not try to force something that hates what I have.
 
Nicole Anzai
Posts: 11
Location: Japan
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I do have a compost bin that was originally for worms (in my pre-vegan days). Unfortunately I was terrible at keeping the balance correct for our climate and all the worms died. Vegan or not i’d never have worms again because I couldn’t do that to any more creatures :( but I can remove the wire to make a regular compost bin and I just inspected it and found I did actually have a bit of very very dry compost in the bottom, so that will help  get the rest started. I’ll gather leaves that fall in pavement and then use my kitchen scraps and hopefully even if it takes a long time I might get a tiiiny bit of compost before spring.  Fingers crossed. I’ll add that in where I can but probably only enough for one bed.
 
gardener
Posts: 708
Location: South of Capricorn
201
dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey Nicole!
Think about bokashi. I have a bucket and that is really apartment-friendly. You can search here and find some info, I make my own bokashi starter (since here in Brazil I can't get it to purchase) and it is not impossible at all. The "exudate" from the bokashi that you drain off makes a good fertilizer and the bucket contents eventually can be buried or aged with soil in a plastic box on your balcony. the only creatures involved are bacteria.

(and yay Japan! I had my own balcony gardens and this time of year I look back fondly on drying persimmons. <3)
 
Nicole Anzai
Posts: 11
Location: Japan
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes!!! Hoshigaki <3 The season is soon so i’ll be doing that in the very near future (November) 😁
 
gardener
Posts: 6351
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1086
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Nicole Anzai wrote:Hi! I’m new around here and I wonder if you could help. We are a vegan family and we live in Japan. We are buying some land to build a house and will only have a very small garden (yard), probably will be able to fit around 5 potted fruit trees and 10 1x2m raised beds (the soil in the land is very stony, very dry and sandy and not very good quality) + a larger raised bed for raspberries and blackberries oh and maybe a small greenhouse. We are hoping to build and move in spring just when the growing season begins. Right now we live in an apartment. I’ve read a lot about vegan permaculture but i’m stuck when it comes to starting off with filling the beds. In Japan all commercial compost contains animal products so i’d have to make my own but can’t until we have the garden and even if I could I doubt i could make enough to fill all the beds.

We do have commercial leaf mould available using trees grown in Japan (no chemicals used) and organic rice husks (again grown in Japan). I thought both of these would be good substitutes for peat moss and vermiculite. We also have kelp meal available (will find a Japan grown source).

Is there anything I could do with these to create a soil I can grow food in or will I need to wait a season and compost and use a green manure?  



My  understanding of the Vegan diet is that you aren't supposed to eat anything animal, growing vegetables is not eating animal.

Compost that had any animal as one of the "ingredients" should not be against the Vegan diet protocols, since the animal has been completely decomposed and therefore no animal is being eaten when the compost is used in gardens.
There is a bonus however, animals contain some particular amino acids that the human body needs for proper functioning and those amino acids are not found in any plant materials, anywhere.
What results is extra work for the human body to try and create those particular amino acids, or they simply aren't provided to the organism,
a situation that might seem fine for several years but eventually the human body will suffer by not having access to all the nutrients it needs to function properly.


Redhawk
 
Nicole Anzai
Posts: 11
Location: Japan
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Veganism isn’t just a diet. Its a way of life. We vegans don’t wear wool or leather or wear pearls. Anything that comes from an animal is off limits.
 
Posts: 48
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Nicole Anzai wrote:I do have a compost bin that was originally for worms (in my pre-vegan days). Unfortunately I was terrible at keeping the balance correct for our climate and all the worms died. Vegan or not i’d never have worms again because I couldn’t do that to any more creatures :(  



I felt the same way about my foray into worm-composting years back in and apartment!  They kept reproducing, but I had no way to accommodate that number of worms, so I ended up with a binful of sickly worms in stinky, slimy refuse. it was like an icky worm concentration camp.  I set them "free" in the yard as soon as weather allowed.
 
Nicole Anzai
Posts: 11
Location: Japan
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So I found a source of logs for hugelkultur, but they might be a bit dry and cracked. They are old logs from shiitake culturing. The shiitake only grow for around 3-5 years on a log and then don’t grow anymore. In any case Japan seems to have an abundance of these old logs. I thought I could buy some for the bottom of the bed, would it still work or do they have to be rotting logs?
 
gardener
Posts: 1135
Location: Southern Illinois
210
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole,

I would think that the old shiitake logs would make a great bedding material for your garden beds.  Personally I am having great luck using woodchips and wine cap mushrooms.  The old mushroom logs should be chocked full of biology to kickstart the fertility of your new garden. And in some kelp and I think you will have a great start to your garden.

Eric
 
Nicole Anzai
Posts: 11
Location: Japan
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was intending to use kelp meal but on further reflection, I’m not so keen on all the added heavy metals it would add. Seaweed is known to accumulate heavy metals from the sea and therefore if I spread it on the soil where i’m going to grow food, the plants will also accumulate heavy metal and then i’m going to be eating that...unless I can find a source that wasn’t grown in the sea...so that would rule out foraging, but kelp meal targetted for garden use probably isn’t even suitable for eating...therefore i’m thinking neem meal is going to be better here. I can’t get my hands on certified organically grown neem but I suppose since neem tends to repel pests there is going to be little need to add pesticides to the tree on top of it’s natural properties. Therefore will be using neem and not kelp.
 
pollinator
Posts: 518
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9-10, 60" rain/yr,
86
hugelkultur dog duck
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Is it a problem that millions of animals live in garden soil, and are necessary to break down organic matter and provide nutrients in any organic system? In this process many of the animals and other soil organisms have to die for the system to work and produce healthy vegetation. We also kill them ourselves whenever we disturb the soil, even by walking on it, however careful we are. We also kill inadvertently when we walk on soil as we pick, or dig up roots, and we do this to those animals and other organisms equally deserving of respect in the soil that worked so hard their whole lives to help grow our food. Maybe I am just rationalizing because I tried to be vegan for awhile, and I love vegans' intentions (Jainism may be the most consistent ethical system I know of), so I am in no place to criticize. However, we could not live without other animals' participation in the ecosystems we depend upon. Therefore, I do think giving all our fellow living things a good life with as much freedom as possible is important, and I hope my animals are the luckiest ones in the litter/clutch I got them from. I would keep ducks for their manure and entertainment value alone, and my ducks and chickens can fly away if they want to. I just give them a safer, more comfortable place to live, water, and food. In exchange I get eggs and fertilizer. This is also true of the worms I keep, as well the microarthropods and other soil invertebrates I try to provide habitat for in my garden. I don't mean to criticize anyone, I just think this is something to consider.
 
Nicole Anzai
Posts: 11
Location: Japan
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Ben Zumeta wrote:Is it a problem that millions of animals live in garden soil, and are necessary to break down organic matter and provide nutrients in any organic system? In this process many of the animals and other soil organisms have to die for the system to work and produce healthy vegetation. We also kill them ourselves whenever we disturb the soil, even by walking on it, however careful we are. We also kill inadvertently when we walk on soil as we pick, or dig up roots, and we do this to those animals and other organisms equally deserving of respect in the soil that worked so hard their whole lives to help grow our food. Maybe I am just rationalizing because I tried to be vegan for awhile, and I love vegans' intentions (Jainism may be the most consistent ethical system I know of), so I am in no place to criticize. However, we could not live without other animals' participation in the ecosystems we depend upon. Therefore, I do think giving all our fellow living things a good life with as much freedom as possible is important, and I hope my animals are the luckiest ones in the litter/clutch I got them from. I would keep ducks for their manure and entertainment value alone, and my ducks and chickens can fly away if they want to. I just give them a safer, more comfortable place to live, water, and food. In exchange I get eggs and fertilizer. This is also true of the worms I keep, as well the microarthropods and other soil invertebrates I try to provide habitat for in my garden. I don't mean to criticize anyone, I just think this is something to consider.



Not a problem for me and there has been many a debate on keeping animals as pets and using their products (such as eggs or manure). Its a gray area of veganism. I’d not criticise anyone that looks after their animals. What I will say is that probably you’d have to provide them with a meat/insect source which may well be unethical but thats not really for me to decide. I welcome wild animals and creatures into my garden as they are free beings under noones control and they are able to do as they please.

I’m thinking I wont till my garden and even when using green cover/green manure i’ll use it living (just plant between it) rather than tilling it under. Veg will mostly be perennial and when I first plant I suspect there wont be much living there creature wise as the soil is terrible quality.

If I had a vegan companion animal (so I don’t have to buy food contributing to the meat, egg or dairy industry), i’d not mind its manure on the garden. Thats just my personal views. Some vegans think we shouldn’t even keep pets.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 1135
Location: Southern Illinois
210
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole,

Just as a thought, have you considered growing some comfrey?  It could potentially fulfill many of your requirements that otherwise would be filled by kelp. It is a perennial that does mind being chopped down frequently.  After a couple of years it will produce copious amounts of green material and is a great source of nutrients.  It is easy to grow and indeed thrives on neglect.  I could go on and on about the merits of comfrey, but to suffice, it is a plant that many organic gardeners use as a sort of cornerstone species to add/enhance the fertility of their gardens. A bonus for you is that the only animals involved want to be there in the first place, mostly being pollinators.

Just a thought,

Eric
 
Nicole Anzai
Posts: 11
Location: Japan
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Eric, yes thats my plan, nettle and comfrey for the years after :) just wondered what to do to get it started, I think the old shiitake logs, some topsoil with leafmould and organic rice husks mixed in with the addition of neem meal as a fertiliser this year (I decided against soy or cotton as potentially GMO and doused with pesticides/herbicides) and then following years it will be my own compost made from organic veg scraps and fallen leaves as well as comfrey and nettle teas :) hopefully that should do the trick 🤞
 
Tereza Okava
gardener
Posts: 708
Location: South of Capricorn
201
dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Nicole, I`ve used pretty much every kind of old log I can find in hugelbeds, as well as some nasty old stumps. I would think that since the logs were already used for fungus they should break down easily.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3210
Location: Toronto, Ontario
393
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi trees rabbit urban wofati cooking bee homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Nicole.

My favourite vegan is my rabbit, Mizzou. She's a Flemish Giant that lives with us. She gets full access to our kitchen 24/7, and when we're home, she gets the rest of the house, too.

We chose to get a rabbit over a cat or dog for a number of reasons. My much better half and I are both allergic to most cats, for starters, so we had a narrow window of acceptability with those, basically Russian Blues, and those inbred hairless ones, which are a non-starter for me (don't get me started on the misuse of animal husbandry over the centuries). We are also somewhat less allergic to dogs, though even there we'd be looking for hypoallergenic traits. Unfortunately, while I need to have a dog in my life, and relatively soon, my schedule and our living quarters won't allow for it. I won't have a small dog again after my chihuahua mixes; I want to have land to have a working LGD or three, not have one cooped up, alone in our apartment all day, except for walkies and hanging around with us.

The clincher for me was the poop. Cat poop is vile stuff, hazmat suit worthy. Dog poop is an inconvenience, but about as appealing as human poop.

Our rabbit poops and pees in a litter box, like a cat, but we use raw wadded paper bedding, so it's essentially ready-made worm bedding. Just add kitchen scraps.

I do vermicomposting, but I do it outside, and with plenty of rabbit bedding. The container I use is just a standard ground-connected plastic bin, so the worms can escape and travel up and down the soil column for their comfort and safety. I have had terrific results in large containers and planters, heavily mulched, with worm living in them, where I just tuck small quantities of kitchen scraps under the mulch, a la Ruth Stout.

I would be concerned about using so much neem leaf as your primary source of leaf biomass. It is used as a mulch to control certain crop pests and diseases, but because of the fact that it's toxic to pests, it may also prove to be inedible by the microbiota that decompose leaves into leaf mould or soil. It may be an excellent mulch, but that may be because it may kill the things that break it down.

If you haven't as yet, please peruse Dr. Redhawk's Epic Wiki of all things soil. There is so much there on the microbiology of soil that you might find useful. Also, bokashi was mentioned, but you might want to check the Korean Natural Farming threads (I think they might have their own forum). There's a lot of information originating from your neck of the woods having to do with utilising ambient microbiology to speed decomposition and foster healthy soil biomes.

But let us know how you proceed, and please provide pictures if you're comfortable with that, as we'd all love to see. But keep up the good work, and good luck!

-CK
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 1135
Location: Southern Illinois
210
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole,

Sounds like a great plan.  Personally I like to use manure to kick-start things, but I realize this is a no-go for you.  

For the last two years I have been embarking on a project to convert all of my garden beds into raised beds composed mostly of mushroom compost.  I have a virtually inexhaustible supply of weed trees that need to be cleared every year and this yields me mountains of woodchips.  Originally I planned to use excess 10-10-10 (from pre-Permies days) to quickly rot down the chips.  This site inspired me to use fungi instead and I am glad I did and have never looked back.  

I now have two of three beds converted or in the process of converting to fungi enhanced woodchips.  Personally I start growing in the beds while they are still being colonized by fungi (wine cap mushrooms) by planting tomatoes in fertile holes filled with manure.  This does a couple of things for me.  Firstly, it gives me a crop the first year while the chips are being colonized and breaking down.  Secondly, it provides some plant roots which interact with the fungi for mutual benefit.  The fungi thrives around roots and the plants get fertilized by the fungi.  It is a true mutualistic relationship.

Nicole, I realize that the manure is a show stopper for you, but you can probably accomplish the same effect without manure.  My gardening goal is similar but slightly different from yours.  I am aspiring to make my garden completely independent of outside inputs and fertility.  Comfrey and fungi are a part of the process, but I am also trying to phase out manure, not because it comes from animals, but because I have to buy it in bags (I don’t keep any livestock).  I put in manure as a kickstart for fertility, but this last summer I started a 3rd chip bed and used my own urine in place of manure simply because it is free, simple and available on site.  I am thinking that you could make a sort of manure substitute by mixing soil/sand, sawdust, etc. and add in some of your own urine and have a good fertility boost to kickstart your garden.

Though I am personally not a vegan, I admire the challenge you are undertaking and it parallels my own.  These are all just some of my thoughts that may help you.  Take them for whatever you think they are worth and please keep us updated as to your progress.

Eric
 
Nicole Anzai
Posts: 11
Location: Japan
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you Chris and Eric.

Chris, i’ll be using leaf mould mostly with only enough neem to act as a fertiliser rather than as a pest deterrent. I’m also right now starting my own compost but its not going to be nearly enough.

In any-case, I want to try get to the stage where I don’t have to buy anything in, similar to you Eric. This is mostly because I don’t want to create more wastage (i’m aspiring zero waste). If all goes to plan, we’ll be living near a small park (tiny really, just a small area for children’s climbing apparatus ) but there are trees there and the leaves fall and are collected and disposed of every year so I’ll try get to those before the city gardener does and use them for home made leaf mould and the carbon for my compost pile (along with own leaves from trees planted).

Anyway thank you guys for being a sound board for my ideas and ramblings. I think I have a plan and i’ll let you know how it goes in spring. For now, i’ll try to make as much compost as I can on my balcony until we move.

I forgot to say that i’d love a rabbit but I wonder if it would be a compatible pet for us. We are hoping to build our house with lots of solid wood flooring, ceiling, accents etc and I’d be worried about the chewing. I had considered rats and building a large enclosure but it will have to be in the future. I have young children right now and looking after them and a garden seems plenty enough to be getting on with.  
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
Posts: 518
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9-10, 60" rain/yr,
86
hugelkultur dog duck
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sounds like a reasonable perspective Nicole.  I agree with Chris that a pet rabbit would be the manure source I’d go to in your situation. I also think raising a vegan dog is just about as cruel as killing it. Most “veganic” fertilizers I know of are bean meal based, so coffee grounds would be a great as a free amendment. I still don’t see a difference in my birds’ freedom and that of worms in my bins or other organisms in “my” soil. They can literally all leave if they want, but I set things up so they have what they need and are safer where I can easily harvest their fertility. Also, if you don’t have a male, the eggs are not viable future chickens, so I don’t see an ethical problem with eating them. I do keep a male duck because they perform a protective service and the dominant females would just act like males in their absence. Regardless, we cannot sustainably extract ourselves from the ecosystem, and animals living, pooping and dying is an inextricable part of that ecosystem. I even subscribe to the theory that plants allowed for and encouraged the evolution of fungus and animals to facilitate nutrient cycling and transport. The more polar ones ecosystem, the more important animals are to carrying over energy and nutrients harvested in the previous growing season through the winter. I also agree with Bill Mollison that any vegan farm is only sustainable without outside inputs that depend on animals if the humanure is being utilized on site. Even then, we depend on animals in our soil helping break that down. Every bird consumes insects when raising young, including humming birds, and every animal in the Pacific NW coastal ecosystem consumes salmon directly except Elk and tree voles. This includes deer who nibble bones for calcium. And all the animals consume salmon indirectly, as it is what composes most of the vegetation.i am not telling anyone to eat meat, I understand it could be seen as objectively gross and it is cruelly produced en masse by industry. However, we are animals, and we all depend on other animals at some point. I think this is a reason to treat them all with respect, not exclude them from our landscapes.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 1135
Location: Southern Illinois
210
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole,

Yes, by all means scavenge as many of those leaves as you can.  They are a great source of nutrients and carbon for your future garden soil.  Unfortunately, you may be surprised by how far the leaves don’t go regarding building up bulk in the soil.  For many years I raked my neighbors roughly 1 acre yard populated by large oak trees.  I would rake the leaves into piles, then vacuum them up with a leave shredder/vacuum.  I would dump the now shredded leaves into a 4’x8’ trailer with 2’ high sides.  I could haul several of these trailer loads over to my garden beds that are about 5’-6’ feet wide by 20’ long.

At first the bed was mounded tall with leaf shredding.  These would be wetted down and covered with some dirt or some twiggy branches to weigh them down and not blow away.  Over the winter and early spring the leaves would reduce in volume and by the time I planted in spring, the leaves were barely enough to make a thin mulch.  By the end of summer, the garden looked like no additional material had been added at all, though the soil was much looser and more friable (I have terribly dense clay soil).

I repeated this for many years but I never got an appreciable degree of bulk.  I expected that I would eventually build up some rotted material to use as bedding.  I never saw this bulk, but my soil improved dramatically.  I am finally getting bulk material by way of rotting wood chips.  

Please don’t be dissuaded by the apparent inability of leaves to build new soil.  They make a great soil amendment and put lots of organic matter into the soil.  They condition the soil quite well, they just don’t create new soil where none existed before.

Please let us know how things work out for you.

Eric
 
Tereza Okava
gardener
Posts: 708
Location: South of Capricorn
201
dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole, as your kids are young and there may be daycare or schools involved, it may be worth investigating if any classrooms have guinea pigs or rabbits. You could conceivably make an arrangement to use that excellent manure and have no additional responsibilities on your hands (when I lived in Japan the daycare around the corner had chickens, believe it or not. In the middle of Tokyo, in Nakano Ward. Which admittedly was like a little time warp in the concrete jungle.... )
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
Posts: 518
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9-10, 60" rain/yr,
86
hugelkultur dog duck
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
After thinking about it more, I have to admit I was thinking inside the box too much.  In your situation I would keep a lot of bird feeders, bird houses, bat boxes  and brush piles either directly above your beds or where you can easily direct the fertility the animals that can freely come and go leave you in exchange for the food or shelter you provide.
 
Nicole Anzai
Posts: 11
Location: Japan
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Ben Zumeta wrote:After thinking about it more, I have to admit I was thinking inside the box too much.  In your situation I would keep a lot of bird feeders, bird houses, bat boxes  and brush piles either directly above your beds or where you can easily direct the fertility the animals that can freely come and go leave you in exchange for the food or shelter you provide.



Yes! This is exactly my intentions. Just inviting as many wild animals into the garden as possible. I’m hoping to grow lots of berries so i’m sure that will attract the birds (hope they leave some for me!)

As for the bats, I have young children and i’m scared of rabies...am I worrying over nothing? I read a newspaper article of a young boy getting a tiny scratch from an injured bat and eventually dying of rabies and it scared me.
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
Posts: 518
Location: Redwood Country, Zone 9-10, 60" rain/yr,
86
hugelkultur dog duck
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bats are incredibly diverse (only rodentia has more species among mammalian families), but have been widely vilified without good reason. I’d research your local species, and focus on solidly researched, peer reviewed and vetted sources rather than the hyperbolic ignorance at the base of many stories that leads to urban legends and the unfair eradication of beneficial species. In my area, bats have never recorded a transmission of rabies, and farmers in the US save billions of dollars in crops saved from moths and other pests insects that bats control. I would also bet my life that many more people are harmed by insecticides and chemical fertilizers that attempt to replace bats’ ecosystem functions than by bats themselves. I always make sure to use hand protection when I have to move a bat for its own safety (from indoors where they get stuck), but it’s a good excuse to get out the old baseball mitt.
 
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I live in Japan too. In my area at least once a week there is a lot of green garden waste thrown out, eg. tree cuttings, grass clippings etc. Perhaps you could collect them. Although, maybe not strictly legal as rubbish becomes property of the city once it hits the gomi  station ( i.e. trash collection area). You could then compost it or chip it if it's too big. Which area are you in?
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 1135
Location: Southern Illinois
210
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicole,

Probably I should have mentioned this earlier.  You said that you have access to ample supplies of leaf mold and rice husks.  I would think that mixing these two ingredients would be excellent bedding to start off your garden beds.  This may sound a bit gross, but could you possibly make a batch of leaf mold/rice husks and fertilize with your own urine?  Urine is quite safe and an excellent fertilizer.  Possibly you could build your beds, dig fertile holes and fill with the husk/leaf mixture fertilized with urine substituting for manure.

I find fertile holes a great way to start off a bed, and urine should make a fine fertilizer.  The only animal product would be your own.

It has been a while since I have seen you on this thread and just wondering how your project is going.

Eric
 
What a show! What atmosphere! What fun! What a tiny ad!
A rocket mass heater heats your home with one tenth the wood of a conventional wood stove
http://woodheat.net
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!