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Deep compost mulch no till system direct seeding

 
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Hello all,

I'm a 5-year-old Market Gardner, lol.. as in I've been into it for 5 years with a relative degree of success.  We have learned a ton on the farm, but we are looking to convert many of our beds into no-till beds.  I would love to use a Richard Perkins's style no-till method that uses a deep mulch consisting of pure compost as a way of eliminating weeds and increasing fertility.  My main concern though is direct sewing seeds into compost.  I have a outfit that can supply me with a cow manure compost and a tree bark style compost.  They tell me that direct seating into the cow manure is not as good because it is too "hot"... Does anyone have any suggestions or experience with this deep mulch no dig method when it comes to direct sewing seeds?  Are there particular issues with doing it this way?  The reason why I am asking is because the cow manure would probably provide the right balance of fertility compared to the tree bark compost.. which would probably very low fertility even if it was very bioavailable.  I'm just curious what would be the best way of going about this.  Any input would be greatly appreciated

-thanks!
 
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I filled some beds about 8 inches with just cow manure late last winter, and it wasn't even that well composted. I direct seeded cucurbits, beets, basil and coriander in it, and transplanted broccoli into it, and all of them are doing great. My best garden yet, by far.

Some of the beds I mixed some of the underlying soil up into the manure, but the broccoli and cucurbit beds are really mostly just manure the top several inches. The medium feels spongy! The only problem I've had so far is hundreds of alfalfa seedlings because of how the alfalfa hay is done here. I'm already scheming on how I'll do more beds like this next year but then also top with a deep mulch of dried plant matter.
 
matthew boersma
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Rebecca Norman wrote:I filled some beds about 8 inches with just cow manure late last winter, and it wasn't even that well composted. I direct seeded cucurbits, beets, basil and coriander in it, and transplanted broccoli into it, and all of them are doing great. My best garden yet, by far.

Some of the beds I mixed some of the underlying soil up into the manure, but the broccoli and cucurbit beds are really mostly just manure the top several inches. The medium feels spongy! The only problem I've had so far is hundreds of alfalfa seedlings because of how the alfalfa hay is done here. I'm already scheming on how I'll do more beds like this next year but then also top with a deep mulch of dried plant matter.



All in all this was my gut feeling, but the outfit that is making the compost claims that thier wood bark compost would direct seed better.  My issue with that is then i would need to then amend again to get the fertility i would need.  Seem like cow would be great out the box, right?  So a quick few questions back your way.. are these raise beds?  Also i imagine you overwintered the beds before planting or do you live in a southern region?  Ever tried lettuce seed, other brassicas, or beans?
 
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Just some thought.

“Hot”  manure generally means new; green; like right out of the cow’s tail.  Fresh.  Aged manure of different types is plantable but hot manure is not.

Manure is like home brew.  You need to age it to use it.

If they are telling you their manure is too “ hot” to plant in I’d listen.  

 
matthew boersma
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Janet Reed wrote:Just some thought.

“Hot”  manure generally means new; green; like right out of the cow’s tail.  Fresh.  Aged manure of different types is plantable but hot manure is not.

Manure is like home brew.  You need to age it to use it.

If they are telling you their manure is too “ hot” to plant in I’d listen.  



Thr odd part is i know this compost they have is well brocke down and aged.  its probably 99% wee free as well.  Maybe i should talk to them more about it.
 
Janet Reed
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I would…when a farmer says it’s to hot to plant in i would ask.  Also make absolutely sure that he is not feeding any forage that has been treated with a pre emergent for weeds.

J
 
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I always thought that when compost is hot is has not finished composting yet.
bed of pure compost does work very well. ive done it.  about 8" of compost over basically a field  of barren rocks and sand, glacial till. everything grew great.
 
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I would either reserve the manure to age/cool and use for top dressing after plants are going, or layer it under the woody debris compost for the plants’ roots to access when they are able to use it. Burying the manure can also be used to heat beds for seed starting in cooler periods, but judging by the past couple months I don’t think it’s ever getting cold again
 
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If it’s hot it hasn’t finished composting, plain and simple. Is it straight manure or are they adding a carbon source?  If this is the only place you can source bulk compost and the route you desire to take you may have to get both the manure and the cow and mix it up and make a real finished compost...
 
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I don't mean to cause more concern, but make sure you ask questions about the hay the cows eat.  A lot of herbicides/weed killers used can pass through the cow/ horse, and remain active even in composted manure.  Using this kind of manure is death to a veggie garden.
Sorry I don't mean to make it harder. Unfortunately to many very bad chemicals are used in regular growing processes these days.  I hope it's not the case.   Good luck.
 
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A touch of background: I have very clayey soil, slightly improved with organic matter. I am working towrd not watering my garden except once a week or less during my two month seasonal drought.

I had to build up some of my beds this year to get them out of the spring soggy earth. On one bed, I forgot to properly level it off. The low end was 6 inches shorter. I sort of leveled it off by piling up well composted horse manure. Everything in the "low" end of the bed died of thirst. The other end with just an inch of compost did just fine.

So, just be aware you may need to increase your watering schedual. Significantly.
 
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