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Composting Garden paths  RSS feed

 
klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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So I have been creating a garden for the last couple of summers. Very slowly.

I decided to go with semi raised beds with small paths between them. I tilled part of the garden and raked the beds up into tall mounds. Then I layed a 6" layer of partially rotted hay between each bed where the paths are. In the spring I plan to lay a bunch of straw on top of the hay. The idea is that all of the weeds will be layed on the paths along with other green and brown materials over the growing season and then covered with straw each spring or fall. As it all rots it should help to fertilize the raised beds from the bottom up.

Quick and easy. Minimal work... Etc.

Does this make sense? Am I on the right track?

I would love to hear what some experienced composters think.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I put everything that is compostable as a base for paths.  I cover it all with hedge clippings,  since they are easy to walk on.

The finished product has a nice neat appearance.
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klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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Dale, I like the hedge clippings idea. You have a nice mix of wood and leaves mixed in there. Almost a mini hugelkultur path.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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The leaves eventually filter down, leaving relatively clean sticks in the path. Winters are muddy here. It's like a giant mat that never needs to be shaken. A layer of the stuff leading to a hard walkway, would go a long way toward keeping mud out of the house.
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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klorinth McCoy wrote:So I have been creating a garden for the last couple of summers. Very slowly.

I decided to go with semi raised beds with small paths between them. I tilled part of the garden and raked the beds up into tall mounds. Then I layed a 6" layer of partially rotted hay between each bed where the paths are. In the spring I plan to lay a bunch of straw on top of the hay. The idea is that all of the weeds will be layed on the paths along with other green and brown materials over the growing season and then covered with straw each spring or fall. As it all rots it should help to fertilize the raised beds from the bottom up.

Quick and easy. Minimal work... Etc.

Does this make sense? Am I on the right track?

I would love to hear what some experienced composters think.


We do this! Our beds are similar and are shaped with a shovel though as we don't till........I use a broadfork occasionally to avoid compaction. We fill the paths with mostly oak leaves, although this year we had extra wood shavings from my husband's woodworking, so we added those also........I like to add anything I can to the path, small sticks, sometimes rotten boards and old stakes and any green stuff that I don't need for mulch, and then spend the summer walking on it. A lot of times, if I am feeling energetic in the spring, I will dig out the decomposed material and add it to the top of the bed...this also helps keep it a 'raised' bed....great stuff.
 
klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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Judith, I like your idea of digging some out and putting it into the beds. Great idea!

So, we have hay, straw, grass, leaves, sticks, branches, boards, and weeds. A nice list of easy stuff laying around the property already. Nice.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3343
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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I am doing the same. I also put down a lot of sawdust on the paths and beds that are growing peppers and sweet potatoes to suck up some of the nitrogen if they are growing too many leaves and not enough fruit. It puts the nitrogen back for the next crop.

I am working on a raised bed machine that will throw the compost from the path up onto the raised beds quickly for a market garden.
 
klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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R Scott,
I would love to see that machine in action. Great idea!

I'm wondering about adding a thin layer of chicken manure in the spring. I have about 3 cubic yards of it right now. The coops haven't been emptied out in a couple years so there is lots. I layer bedding slowly into the coops and turn it a couple times each year so that it slowly composts. It still needs a year outside before going directly into a garden bed though. It's too hot. But if I put some on the paths I'm wondering if that would work to finish the composting.
 
Alex Ames
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Location: Georgia
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klorinth McCoy wrote:R Scott,
I would love to see that machine in action. Great idea!

I'm wondering about adding a thin layer of chicken manure in the spring. I have about 3 cubic yards of it right now. The coops haven't been emptied out in a couple years so there is lots. I layer bedding slowly into the coops and turn it a couple times each year so that it slowly composts. It still needs a year outside before going directly into a garden bed though. It's too hot. But if I put some on the paths I'm wondering if that would work to finish the composting.




Sure that will work for the purpose of building compost in your paths.
However, if you are like me I don't always have the right shoes on when
I go to the garden. I put my crop residue in the paths but cover that with
a thick layer of pine needles so I can come and go as I please without getting
muddy.
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Landon Sunrich
pollinator
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Location: Western Washington
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For paths, at least around here where I have a fair bit of clay stuff, I prefer to use something like storm fall hemlock limbs. The smallish one that always come down. A green mud free mat which decomposed slowly.
 
klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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To keep paths in good walking shape I will have to keep a good layer of straw on top at all times. Our soil isn't called Gumbo for nothing. The moment it rains it gets really sticky and can add 10-15 pounds to each boot. Lots of fun to walk in.
 
Justin Hitt
Posts: 34
Location: Martinsville, VA (Zone 7)
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Klorinth,

The right paths in your garden can be a great win, however, be careful about mulching in paths for both your comfort and to reduce disease vectors. Since 2012 I’ve used shredded wood chips as mulch paths in the garden.

Anything that could be chop-n-drop stayed on the raised beds, all else went through composting cycles. Large amounts of woody mass, ideal for walking paths, don’t always play nice with nitrogen as touched on previously.

Here’s a recent post on the topic of “Mulch path magic” (just because you inspire me.

Best,

Justin
 
klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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Justin Hitt wrote:Klorinth,
Here’s a recent post on the topic of “Mulch path magic” (just because you inspire me.

Best,
Justin


Thanks Justin!!
I like the idea of the deep paths. Water storage and drainage all in one, plus the benefits of nutrients and clean paths.
Well done.
 
Lorenzo Costa
steward
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Location: Italy, Siena, Gaiole in Chianti zone 9
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your idea is simply perfect. I've put the photo of my friends garden. his name is Massimiliano Petrini and he lives in Bolsena, Italy. he doe's exactly what you want to do, and every year he actually gets more than 20 cm of great brown compost, alla coming from the cuttings, or other parts of plants he takes out of the garden. he does'nt touch the roots but only cuts the aerial part of the plant that is outside of the earth. this is called sinergic or sinergistic agriculture created by Emilia Hazelip, look it up if you want. anyway the idea of composting by walking in the organic matter to crush it up is great!

in the photo i'm posting you see he's cleaning the walk way through the raised beds, and it's just one year old!
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Massimiliano Petrini
 
klorinth McCoy
Posts: 101
Location: Southern Manitoba, Canada, Zone 3B
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Thank you Lorenzo! Very nice picture. That does look like it will be good for the garden beds. I can only hope to get something that nice.
 
Lorenzo Costa
steward
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Location: Italy, Siena, Gaiole in Chianti zone 9
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Klorinth if you have Facebook look for Massimiliano Petrini he has a profile and you'll see all his photo's breath taking!
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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klorinth McCoy wrote:R Scott,
I would love to see that machine in action. Great idea!

I'm wondering about adding a thin layer of chicken manure in the spring. I have about 3 cubic yards of it right now. The coops haven't been emptied out in a couple years so there is lots. I layer bedding slowly into the coops and turn it a couple times each year so that it slowly composts. It still needs a year outside before going directly into a garden bed though. It's too hot. But if I put some on the paths I'm wondering if that would work to finish the composting.


Here's somebody else's video where I got some of my ideas:


But in permanent raised beds and minimum till. Hopefully the only tillage is the row builder throwing the composted path onto the bed and planting.
 
Fiona Martin
Posts: 30
Location: UK, Newcastle Upon Tyne
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That's pretty much what I was thinking of doing for my paths, long term anyway! Great to hear that it works before I dig out the paths. Still working on a source of free woodchip though.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3343
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Okay, the warm weather let me run a few test runs last week. I redid existing needs and cut new beds out of sod.

I spread an inch of compost with the loader before making the new beds, so the dirt and compost mixed.

Last picture is the few pieces of tape I found, all that was left of the cardboard layer in the paths from last year.
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