I like to decompose the chips with wine cap mushrooms
Nc Pfister wrote:Alright, so we covered the 45x20' section with cardboard, and then about 3" of wood chips (pear, maple and some pine - from an arborist friend). When we planted, we pulled wood chips back, and placed (Black Kow) compost (probably 8" diameter around the plant). We've planted tomatoes, peppers, basil, carrots, spinach, corn, potatoes, leeks, cucumbers and melon. Most everything seems to be doing really poorly, with maybe the exception of our potatoes (6-8" plants look healthy). Our peppers and corn are growing (and peppers producing some fruit), but pretty much everything else seems like its trying to die.
We thought we may have a nitrogen deficiency, and so added some coffee grounds. Now we're thinking phosphorous deficiency (tomato plants are gray, and corn turning purple). We knew this would be a challenge, and are mostly happy that we have given it a go, and think this year's efforts will likely pay off next year. The spot we chose was obviously used as a garden by previous owners, and thinking they were conventional diggers, who probably just used chemical fertilizers, and stripped the soil of its vitality. So, maybe we're just rehabilitating now? We are also composting, and have wood chips left in a pile. I'm thinking there isn't much to do to save what we have (but please correct me if I'm wrong, and let me know if more info, pics are needed!), but I was thinking that come fall, I will lay down more cardboard where we left gaps and have weeds coming through, through some more wood chips, compost, and any other organics on top, and let it sit until next planting season. I also plan on building a simple hoop house over a portion of the garden next spring.
I can upload pics, but thought I'd wait for responses, so I could make the pics more specific. Thanks in advance!
Nc Pfister wrote:No, we left the cardboard, as it was in the ground, rained on, and under wood chips for quite a while before planting. But maybe the roots couldn't get through well?
Nc Pfister wrote:So, I just found manure for $35 for a skid steer bucketfull. Thinking of getting a couple of buckets. Any thoughts on how I'd best put that to use, integrating it into my current setup?
Nc Pfister wrote:I see all of these conventional gardens around me growing so well, and feel like I'll never make a garden work. Not trying to throw a pity party, but just wanting to find a simple approach. I watched Charles Dowding's no-dig vids on YT, and thought what I was doing should work. It hasn't. Not at all.
Nc Pfister wrote:Okay, I've gathered my thoughts, and this is where I'm at:
+We have 45x20' to work with
+It was probably over-worked in the past. Was lighter in color than the rest of our lawn, and only covered in weeds (no grass to speak of)
+We have a lot of wood chips, and some cardboard, covering this area. I have a pile of wood chips left, and also a compost bin that I built, and have some compost cooking in (not ready to spread)
+We need to re-lay some of the cardboard, as I skimped in certain areas, and have serious crab grass growing
+I roast my own coffee, and can cheaply grind and brew leftovers to add to compost/garden
We really, really want simple. I am an engineer, and understand the benefits of nuance, but getting too much in the weeds (no pun intended) is a tendency of mine. I need to focus on simplicity, and the big picture. I really just want someone to tell me that I can mix a bunch of compost into my wood chip-covered garden and all will be well. Or, if that will deplete nitrogen too much (as wood chips decompose), maybe I just need to lay down more compost (while pulling back the wood chips, and cutting through the cardboard), and use the same method I did initially. Are wood chips part of the issue? Should I remove them? Should I just purchase a bunch of compost to get started? I really do appreciate all of the posts thus far, and am confident this can be a success!
Nc Pfister wrote:I also have a roughly 15' x 3' "hump" of soil with growth on it behind my garage. The soil seems to have some good organics in it. Could I scalp the top of it (to eliminate weeds), and use some of this in some form or fashion?
Nc Pfister wrote:One thing I'm trying to figure out is if the nutrient deficiency is from poor soil quality (underneath my cardboard/compost/wood chips) or the roots not being able to get through the cardboard to the soil beneath. My cardboard is single-layer, and has received a lot of water, so I felt like roots breaking through shouldn't be an issue, but my entire garden seems like it's struggling for nutrients, even when planted in a good amount of Black Kow compost/aged manure.
Nc Pfister wrote:Trace, do you mean 3' of organic material over the garden area? That seems like a lot!
Nc Pfister wrote:Some encouragement, it seems: I planted two rows of corn, and noticed the one doing substantially better than the other. Now, they were planted in two (somewhat different) composts, but that doesn't seem to be the issue. The row doing better has weeds in it, while the row doing worse does not. Made me realize that this corn was likely doing better because it was planted on the outside of the garden, in a place where I ran out of cardboard, and so didn't cover very thoroughly. I.e. It seems likely that the plants doing poorly weren't able to get through the cardboard layer!
The kids and I carefully dug around each plant, pulled them out, dug through the cardboard and broke up the first couple of inches below the cardboard, and replanted. Who knows, it may be too late for some of the plants, but I feel like we're really learning! And we have some beautiful purple potatoes growing, and mounded them with more compost last night. Now thinking ahead to planting for a fall harvest, and feeling excited. Thank you, thank you!