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Seeding into mulch

 
master pollinator
Posts: 11652
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I have planted sunchokes a few times and they have never done well for me, this last batch didn't even come up.

 
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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I'd love to have some bamboo here. If nothing else to use it for garden stakes, they are ridiculously expensive to buy. I have some bamboo twisty plants that I transplanted outside (after the cats got into them and got very sick) but they died almost immediately. The only moist place on our property is in the toilet. There are several different varieties of bamboo and some are more tolerant to this climate than others. I spent a few hours a month ago researching to see if I could have some here. I think it could be done, but I'm afraid of the water bill it would take. It's high on my list of things to try in the future though. If not here, then when we get some large acreage elsewhere.
 
Posts: 415
Location: Georgia
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I have planted sunchokes a few times and they have never done well for me, this last batch didn't even come up.






I don't have a good place for them where I am. I had them back in Mississippi and as Brenda says they are
fantastic growers get thick and tall. They would make a perfect wind screen due to the rampant nature of their
growth. Some of your critters ate yours but unless it is hogs I would say sunchokes would out grow most anything.
Try again, I predict success.

 
Posts: 1141
Location: Central Wyoming -zone 4
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not that i really know what im talking about but i dont think that those twisty bamboo houseplants are SUPPOSED to survive outside, i think they're supposed to grow super slow and what not, i just am not certain

for the water bill i would personally just dig down 6 ft, stack logs up to 3 ft tops(due to your dry climate) and then bury the logs and stack some rocks around the outside of the mound to help maintain moisture and temps, then i would plant a bunch of nitrogen fixers on it hte first year and buy and platn the bamboo the second year, i would ASSUME that this would do the trick of watering them for ya, 9 ft of wood should hold quite a bit of moisture lol
but i haven't yet planted bamboo so im not sure if that would entirely do the trick, just assumptions for me atm at least until next year:)
 
Lori Crouch
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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I found out I'm not capable of digging in this dirt more than a foot. Well maybe I could dig down two, but that requires a pick. Six feet....I'll just stay in the hole when I'm done. I should be dead by then LOL!
 
Tyler Ludens
master pollinator
Posts: 11652
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
866
cat forest garden fish trees chicken fiber arts wood heat greening the desert
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Cactus is more appropriate for our climate than bamboo, in my experience! I have one small bamboo Phyllostachys dulcis plant in my greywater bed, which has never gotten much taller than a few feet.

A tallish bushy plant which is doing well for me is native Elderberry Sambucus canadensis. It seems to like a good bit of water initially but this year has taken off to over 6 feet. I have it planted in a buried wood bed. I'm thrilled to finally find a fruiting plant which grows well for me, now if it will actually set fruit, I'll be even happier.
 
Posts: 87
Location: Croatia
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Do you have opportunity to buy or get old roofing tiles? They last forever, will keep organic mulch and compost on it's place, will protect soil from the sun and wind, and you can walk on them wihout compacting soil too much.
 
Lori Crouch
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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I did what I like to call "frugelkulture" and took some elderberry seeds from the local botanical gardens. I only took 3 and none of them have come up yet. I'm not sure what the specific genus is, but they were doing quite well in partial to full sun at the gardens and were about 4-5' tall. I heard that the elderberry like a fair bit of water, so I placed them near downspouts as I have yet to find some rain barrels for that area.

I'm not sure how the rest of this summer will go, but it's not looking too good right now for my plants. Several seeds that haven't come up. I am going to replant the ones that didn't come in and then sow the rest of my stock with a few exceptions. I have to keep reminding myself that this is why I'm doing it. Not only to have my own food, but also to learn and fail small scale before we buy a good size property and fail big-scale. Hopefully I can take some pictures in a few months with actual plants in them!
 
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
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some seeds need periods of cold to germinate so be patient
 
Lori Crouch
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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Yeah, I noticed that with my hardy kiwi. I read the part about it needing a few months at warm temperatures, then when I went to plant I read the other section for the germination. Guess that one will have to wait until a late fall planting. I thought the lettuces and cabbages would have come up by now. I planted them in several different locations, but nothing. I'm going to try again with those by sprouting them in potting soil, then transplanting them to see if it works better.

Our cold weather is definitely gone for the year. We haven't been below 45 at night and 70 during the day since the beginning of the month and the last few days have been in the upper 90's. But the last frost date is still listed as 4/30, I thought that was a bit late for this area. I guess there's always that crazy chance of snow or freezing rain.
 
Posts: 239
Location: west central Florida
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Lori, As for the problem of wind blowing away your mulch, I would suggest laying logs and/or sticks down on top of the mulch, being sure to orient them in all different directions. If you have access to logs or sticks, this is pretty easy to do. They will keep at least some of the mulch from blowing away. You can start growing stuff in those little protected spots. Once your plants get bigger, you can either remove the wood or leave it to rot. By then some of it will have already rotted anyway. I like easy so if it was me I'd leave it to rot. Anyway, this approach is easier than digging and burying the wood. Also, I have found that grass clippings tend to resist getting blown away better than most mulches, but I agree you don't want to use Bermuda because it will sprout. If anyone in your area sets out grass clippings from other types of non-sprouting turf, it usually works well. The same property that makes it a poor compost ingredient if you add it in too thick a layer, also makes it resist the wind - that is, it binds together and forms a hard-to-penetrate mat. Whatever method or methods you go with, once you get stuff growing your wind problem should decrease. Best of luck. You are grabbing the bull by the horns in your location, but you can do it!
 
Lori Crouch
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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I just noticed today that some of the sproutings in the yard are oaks due to some free soil that we got. So far I've found 5 and they are about 4" high. I saved the plastic pots from the fruit trees and bushes we bought so I am going to transplant these seeds from some vegetable beds into the pots. I figure I'll keep them on the sidewalk in the backyard and see how many live over the next few years. Either we'll take them with us if we find property, or I'll sell the ones that live. Should go for a decent price around here since the sad looking ones from Walmart are about about $70 when 4-5' tall. This free dirt just might end up paying off!



 
Posts: 146
Location: Southern Appalachia
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FYI Ludi
Elderberry is not self-fertile, so you'll need two to get fruit. They're also very easy to grow from hardwood cuttings, so once you have two cultivars you can plant out pairs of cuttings. Also the flower clusters are edible. We made some delicious fritters with them.

peace
 
Posts: 67
Location: north texas 7b now 8a
fish fungi trees
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I haven't had much luck growing quinoa in the spring, but your at a higher elevation. Same with amaranth, they grow but no seed then the summer heat kills it out. South American grains grow best fall planted (august-sept) in my experience. Seems when planted in the spring our light gets too long by the time they are old enough to seed. That being said I am about to underseed some rye with amaranth right before I harvest the rye, but it is on irrigation so will last the texas summer. To my knowledge quinoa likes cool weather which is a short window in a texas spring, but a longer window in fall.
 
Lori Crouch
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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Oh, I thought the quinoa was good for the summer here. I guess I'll save that one for later and plant the teff (African grain) out in it's place instead. I have no irrigation set up here and don't really plant to as it would be beyond my budget. I go out nightly or every other night to water. If quinoa can't stand our heat it will need to wait until a different time. Thank you so much for the tip it will really save me a bunch of headache and seed!

I was watching a video on Amaranth where a woman had it growing in various places in her yard in California. I thought that based on that it would do okay here. Maybe I'll throw a bit of it in places where it will get full day sun and some where it will be half day sun to see which one survives better. I bought two packages of it, so I definitely have extra to play around with.

On another note. I transplanted some spaghetti squash seedlings into my hugel bed and they are doing great. While planting-after two days of rain- into the bed I noticed that it is dry as a bone. I think this is why none of my seeds took there; they just didn't get any of the water. I think I am going to flatten the tops a bit and pull off the compost to mix in with some more soil. Then I'll put the new mixture on top with a more flattened head and put thicker wood chips on top. I think I'll also leave a little groove down the center to help collect the water a bit better. I'm going to do one of the three rows all in squash so there is a lot of biomass that can be chopped and dropped there.

A lot of little seeds are starting to come up in the garden beds, but all the berry bushes I bought from Lowe's and Home Depot have died. They didn't make it very long at all. One of the plum trees we got from there is struggling bad as well. If anyone is in an area where that is their only resource for getting fruiting plants; I would just save the money and plant from seeds or drive far away for young trees. Their stock is obviously from somewhere that is not compatible with our climate and/or soil.
 
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
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Lori Evans wrote:I've been reading past posts trying to find an answer to my dilemma and I feel I may have come to a dead end. I am in a very dry area and need to cover the ground that I have prepared in my yard. I have been buying (about 35 bags now) organic compost to cover the dirt and thanks to our horrible weather; the wind has blown nearly all of it away.
Some things to keep in mind:
1. There is no local source for organic hay or straw :0(
2. If I do wood chips it would need to be purchased at Lowe's or Home Depot (only local stores)
3. The wind ranges from 15-50 mph every day (more in storms)
6. All the leaves in the city are gone (they blow away during the winter)
I appreciate any and all help!!!




I live in an area that is dry and gets high winds often, and I'm too poor to buy hay or other mulch, though I have been buying bagged compost when I find it within my budget. However, I dig the compost into the existing dirt to prevent loss to high winds (we get 70-90mph seasonal winds at irregular intervals during the year, off and on for weeks.)
I collect leaves in the fall in leaf bags, and then burying them in the spring, along with fresh household compost, and layer dirt in between layers of leaves and/or compost. By burying them in our heavier soil, I get a 'mulch' that doesn't blow away. It's not ideal, of course, but it does work. Is your soil heavy enough for this to work for you?
I also leave the last low layer of rooted garden detritus over the winter to hold the soil until weeds start sprouting in the spring.
Hope this helps.
 
Lori Crouch
Posts: 104
Location: Amarillo, TX.
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Thank you, Varina. Yes, my soil is HEAVY clay so it would hold it down most definitely. I think as you say that mixing in kitchen waste, compost, and such into the soil for beginning systems is the key.

I have a lot of things coming up in the garden, but on a whole I'd say that only 40% (at best) of my seeds have come up. The bagged compost that I bought seems to be forming an impenetrable layer where ever it was laid down and not mixed into the soil. I think that when this season is done I'm going to do like you say and mix up my beds really good to ensure that the soil is getting the nutrients it needs. I have a few beds that I have put in the past few days and I have put some kitchen waste in with the soil, mixed it up good, put a layer of dirt on top, seeded into that, then put the wood chips down. I'm curious to see if these sections work out better than the rest.

The wind has not blown any of the wood chips away and the soil is retaining moisture underneath, which is what I was needing most. As you know with the wind any bare soil go dry almost in a matter of minutes. A little side note to anyone using wood chips in their garden. I found two spots as I was planting that had mites or tick looking larvae. I think after listening to one of Paul's podcasts that it's wood mites from having so much chipped up wood. Perhaps this is the reason for my low success rate with the seeds. In any case I'm sure next year will be better as I will have more organic matter and won't be using fresh wood chips.
 
Posts: 296
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Lori Evans wrote:I found out I'm not capable of digging in this dirt more than a foot. Well maybe I could dig down two, but that requires a pick. Six feet....I'll just stay in the hole when I'm done. I should be dead by then LOL!



Lori, have faith that it can be done, just not in one go. I had a section of garden with really heavy clay (more than normal for me is intense), I dug down one foot and couldn't for the life of me continue. I left it disheartened, threw some mulch on it because I felt bad leaving bare soil. I came back to it a month later and the soil under the mulch had loosened significantly (thank you earthworms). This method took some time but I know how 4 feet of trees buried 6 feet under, my family thought I was digging a grave but luckily since I did it over the length of a year, I didn't die digging it. Basically I turned it into a giant hugelkultur bed and compost pit. It took an entire season's trimmings and brush cleanup along with an entire year of kitchen scraps but last year it grew 1 bushel of sweet potatoes per 40 sq/ft. Not too bad for what was once 3 inch topsoil if you could have called it that, sitting on 4 feet of clay subsoil sitting on a world's worth of limestone.
 
David Miller
Posts: 296
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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btw I mulch areas that have either high wind or traffic with sticks and stones (can't stand to see organics blow away), soft tissue organics just can't take the beating that my trimmings can. It helps keep the squirrels from digging in too (sometimes).
 
Posts: 36
Location: Charlestown, IN
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Please don't buy cypress mulch. In the interest of the natural habitats of FL and the fact that I know cypress mulch harvesting is severely devastating to the natural habitats in much of the FL coasts, it would be benefit my environment here if you didn't buy cypress mulch there. Try to get as much local from yard waste as you can. One county over we get mulch that the county processes from yard waste. We are lucky enough that they give it away for free and only charge the people that need to dispose of it, but even for a price, it would be a more sustainable system than the packaged mulch that is coming from torn down forests and habitats rather than from wasteful grass clippings and trimmings that will exist anyway.
 
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