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Is it wrong to import compost and vermiculture?  RSS feed

 
Gregory Silling
Posts: 86
Location: Northeast - 5B
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being a noob I have read that everything should be created in situ but my green matter out weighs my brown matter right now about 100 to one....

we want to get seeds in the grown for fall veggies and I just dont have the compost to ammend my soil available....

there ia a farm Certified organic (if that means anything) about a half hour from here that sells organic compost (mixed manure/ wood shavings) and organic vermicompost . 50lbs of compost for $8 and 12 lb of vermicompost for $10

what is the downside ?

I will be able to gain traction with brown in the fall so I anticipate next year to be better.

this may sound pathetic but I always get great answers for my stupid questions

Thanks

Greg
 
raven ranson
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Location: Left Coast Canada
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This is a GREAT question, and one I suspect will start a lively discussion.

My personal feelings are to shy away from telling people the "right" and "wrong" way to do something. There are lots of different ways of doing something and most of them have both advantages and drawbacks. It depends very much on what your values are and how you wish to interact with the world.

That said, here are my thoughts on importing compost and other organic matter to the garden.

There is a very tempting to having instant results. Importing compost et al, to the garden means that you can grow the nutrient heavy crops instantly. Some sources of compost are actually eco-friendly, in that they use organic matter that would otherwise be sent to the dump.

One of the biggest down sides of importing organic matter, is that you have no control as to what's in it and how it was processed. Unless the soil/compost is sterilized (which can slow plant growth), there are many pathogens and pests that can live in compost. Importing any organic matter is a fast and easy way to acquire plant problems that can take decades to eradicate.

I have bought soil & compost in the past with both good and very bad results. Although, now I know more about what I'm doing in the garden, I doubt I'll import compost again. It feels like I'm paying money for something that is easy to create myself. If I were to import compost again, I wouldn't use it on my main garden, for fear of disease or pest problems, but use it for a temporary garden instead.

Nowadays when I start a new garden area on poor soil, I like to grow crops that aren't heavy feeders. The first few seasons I'll grow things like favas or something that will add to the soil. If it is slow to grow, I may make some compost or manure tea and spot-fertilize the individual plants.


I don't know what it's like where you are, but do you have enough time to plant and dig under something like buckwheat to improve your soil? Growing your fall veg in pots for the month or so while the buckwheat grows, then plant out your veg once it's dug under?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I have made the decision to not import organic material onto my farm. Two main reasons inform my decision. 1) I don't trust compost made by other people to actually be healthy for my garden: There are too many opportunities for it to be poisoned or contaminated before it gets to me. I don't want other people's -cides, bugs, diseases, heavy metals, or weeds. I've seen too many gardens damaged by 'bad' compost. 2) The cost is prohibitively expensive to make any difference on a large farm....

I make an exception for potted plants in the greenhouse. A bit of vermiculite, peat, perlite, or coconut coir really helps with the structure, weight, and longevity of my potting soil. I could use plain old sand/soil and compost: Though that is heavier to carry back and forth to the farmer's market, and I either have to weed, or pasteurize the soil.

I'm very content if someone else wants to import organic material. We are living in an age of prosperity. Might as well build up soil fertility while we can via whatever means are available to us. I recommend testing any organic material as it arrives. My strategy is to take a sample and plant some radishes in it to make sure they grow properly... And just cause a bag has a label on the outside, doesn't mean that it has the same composition as the bag next to it that carries the same label...
 
Gregory Silling
Posts: 86
Location: Northeast - 5B
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I spoke with my local seed guy and he stated that in our area your looking at 8-10 weeks for buckwheat to flower.... that being said you can grow it a shorter time, there will only be less biomass... so i chose lighter feeders and planted turnips carrots radishes cilantro parsnips mustard greens, as succession crops and then compost with the leaf fall...I gotta stop pushing and start pulling... old saying... go slow to go fast!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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While it is acceptable, it is not really practical except on small scale. As Joseph Lofthouse has so sagely stated; you don't really know what is in that store bought compost, or mulch for that matter. There are certain crops that can still be certified Organic even though they have had "cides" applied under the Organic guidelines. Organic certification is not overseen by the USDA it is done by independent contractors, who just may be inclined to take a bribe to look the other way, I'm not stating this as fact, but the opportunity for corruption is always there.

If you find out, by asking the questions, that the "Organic compost" is truly organic "with out chemical additions or materials that have had chemical additions" then you can use it with out worry.
If you can't get that answer that satisfies you, then it might be better to pass and wait till you have your own.

In the end it is up to your own sensibilities and judgment as to what you use as well as how much and how often.

The things I would ask before I gave good money for something like compost;

how hot did the compost get?
how long did it achieve these temperatures?
was raw manure one of the ingredients?
was the pasture the manure animal ate treated with anything like herbicide or pesticide?
You may think of other pertinent questions you would like answers to for your own peace of mind.


 
Gregory Silling
Posts: 86
Location: Northeast - 5B
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I guess my biggest challenge is my property... i purchased it 9 years ago... the house was built in 1960.... I have no idea what was used before me. I know that we were never happy with the landscaping so we have never added any ammendments excep for lime and that was 7 or 8 years ago.

I am obviously new to permaculture and in the past have bought organic fertilizer from "gardens alive" and haven't purchased any in the past four years.... i have relied on leaves. which although work great it is definitely a limiting factor.

I am retired and still have 5 kids living at home. I need to expand my garden and really make it a viable, consistent, large food source for my family...I just feel the pressure to expand... year s of ther american mantra of Growth growth, growth ,.. talk me off the ledge.
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Then you should do what is necessary to get on the path you need to be on. For the safety of your family, ask those hard questions so you know or at least have a good idea of where the products came from.

A house site that was built in the 1960's almost assuredly saw poisons used on the lawn and gardens, it was "expected". Thankfully time does heal somewhat, remediation will fix those issues, seen or unseen. I can offer help with that, as can others here.

There is nothing wrong with bringing in healthy amendments when you have none from your site, just know as much as you can about what might be lurking in them.
Start thinking about using the Lasagna method of mulching, this allows you to build soil through composting in location at the same time it keeps moisture in the soil for your plants.
Look into things like straw bales, when properly seasoned before planting, using enough "soil" when planting in them, you can have wonderful food this year and next, then wonderful soil afterwards.
There are some good articles on gardening in straw bales to be found here and on Mother Earth News.
You might want to think about using several different methods at the same time to see which ones will work best for your situation. Things like: raised beds, strawbale beds, container plantings, traditional in the ground planting.
All these can work together to get you producing the amounts of food you need.

Knowledge is key, but only by sharing it do we use it to its fullest extent.

If you have other questions, please ask, I am sure many of the people here will give you their answers, I certainly will share what I know, that is what brought me here in the first place.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1275
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I suck at composting so we went next door and took all the neighbors aged horse poop. I'm thankful for it or we wouldn't be growing much. Don't stress it!
 
Gregory Silling
Posts: 86
Location: Northeast - 5B
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Well we are looking into a dozen female ducks this year for the eggs and the poop.

I don't know if I am up for butchering.. I need to get this garden thing down before I tackle that and I am not able to find somone to butcher for me... yet.
Nor are we generating ducks now soon maybe just not yet.

I have been reading ruth stout a Connecticut Yankee...I am not, I am a city boy via DC, Chicago, LA, San Francisco. She took to Spoiled Hay for her ammendment... Ive been thinking the same.. I can create green but my real challenge is Brown. Im not ready to strip the wooded area of soil and leaf. It is needed where it is. I am starting to identify lots of volunteer wineberry canes now that I was educated by others on another posting forum.

What are some of the key questions for Hay that I should ask.

As usual nothing but great info to be culled from the people on Permies

thank you all....

I would do the horse manure but am concerned about medication of the horses and I dont have a neighbor with horses. Im, sure you know and trust your neighbors elle. I will probably keep the manure green then duck poop when it gets here.

Ill keep learning.

Greg
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Gregory Silling wrote:What are some of the key questions for Hay that I should ask.


Where was it grown? By whom? (That helps clarify whether the seller actually knows anything about the provenance of the hay.)
Grass or Alfalfa?
What weed seeds does it contain?
What -cides were applied?

Around here, 'Straw' is typically less expensive than 'hay'. Straw is likely to contain lots of wheat/rye/barley and annual weeds. Alfalfa is likely to contain fewer total seeds, but more perennial weeds.

I know a farmer that raises "Certified Weed Free" organic hay. He weeds the hay field by hand. While he is cutting hay, he'll stop the tractor and dig out any weeds that he finds. He puts them in a barrel on the tractor.
 
Gregory Silling
Posts: 86
Location: Northeast - 5B
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That is important to know who the growers are, pesticides are of course a big issue and as I suppose any fertilizer or any manure spread on the field as well

Now reading ruth...she adamantly contends that if you have hay 8" deep that weeds wont grow under but only on top and you can just turn them under and they will just be more geen manure...

I guess back in the day spoiled hay (that which was no longer fit for animal consumption) was free...I have put in some want ads for spoiled hay and I will see where that gets me. there is a lot of drivers for organic hay as grass fed cows, some buffalo are gaining traction here in CT. I will see what I find hopefully from the ads... if not I'll hit the road and meet some growers. thank you
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Everyone used to have horses, so stable bedding was a real problem to get rid of in the city. Equivalent to grass clippings today, but year round. Not hard to find for free.
 
Jason Silberschneider
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If you ask if the hay has any -cides in it, the seller will reply, "No, of course not!" even if it does.

If you ask if they can guarantee the hay won't have any weed seeds in it, they'll be more likely to tell the truth about using -cides to eliminate the weeds.
 
Michael Bushman
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Location: Sacramento, CA
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Why not just spread the green matter you do have over the fields and then till it in, just as if you had grown a summer cover crop? Then do your fall plantings...
 
Dale Hodgins
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My favorite additives are coffee grounds and tree waste. The spraying of trees is rare here, especially among my customers. The coffee is of mixed origin. No weeds, but there could be some minute residue. I trust that critters will break it down.
 
Blake Wheeler
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Location: Kentucky 6b
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To get right at the heart of the question, no, it isn't wrong to import compost. Expensive, sure. It's really only feasible on a small scale. You'll realize just how quick a 50 lb bag of compost disappears when you start using it.

If it's just to get you started, it may be worth it. If it's something you plan to do every year it's a bad plan. I know it's been mentioned, but cover-crop the heck out of everything, chop it down or till it in, then wash rinse repeat. You can buy a whole heck of a lot of seed for a fraction of the cost of compost.

I know lasagna mulching has been mentioned, but I don't really think it addresses your problem. If you're having issues getting the materials to compost that same issue will magnify using the lasagna method.

If you're having an issue with "Browns" consider newspaper. Plentiful, easy to get your hands on, and serves the purpose well.
 
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