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Veganic (vegan + organic) raised bed soil

 
Posts: 5
Location: Japan
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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
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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
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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.
 
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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
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Location: Japan
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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
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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
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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
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Location: Japan
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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.
 
pollinator
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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
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Yes!!! Hoshigaki <3 The season is soon so i’ll be doing that in the very near future (November) 😁
 
gardener
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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
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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.
 
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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.
 
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