Paul Gurnsey wrote:
My soil would go as such
1. 12" clay mixed with leaf mold and used coffee grounds
2. 4" leaf mold
3. 2" 1 year old leaves MULCH
4. 2" green sawdust. MULCH
5. 2" green woodchips MULCH
Will my soil still breathe?
I do this for my potting mix. It is great high quality nutrient dense albeit fungal dominated compost/soil. Good intuition going for that stuff! Right on. Now, when contemplating building your garden, think about what was happening in the forest: If you think about how a forest floor is, there is always a transition from new material that is not broken down proceeding downwards to stuff that is partially broken down and then to things that are fully broken down; and this will correspond with an increase in moisture as you get into the more broken down material. While there is a lot of nutrient potential in the dry leaves on top, it is the leaves below that that are more consistently moist that begin to make those nutrients available through fungal interaction. If you follow this pattern with building your mulch up, then you should get the right activity out of the fungi and other microbes in the soil.
My free compost is from a deciduous forest. I scraped back the fresh leaves and gathered the top 1/2 inch of soil and will use that as compost.
seems excessive to me. This has taken all the pore spaces out of your soil, and forced your water to compact your bed. You have eliminated the oxygen from your soil matrix, and probably made mud. The way I see it, the soil life doesn't like mud as much as just the right amount of moisture. When you ask:
I added some loose dirt on top and then flooded it with water so the dirt would settle down and between the rocks and repeated many times so as not to have an insane depression in my garden the next year when it rains heavy.
I might think that it is struggling from the over-watering situation more than your potential mulch plan.
Will my soil still breathe?
Can I layer my mulch with 1 year old leaves, then some sawdust?
Is this better than just straight sawdust? I can find "some" woodchips but they are all green.
I want to have a break from the fresh sawdust and am thinking leaves would be a good candidate.
If you have access to worms, get some in your bed. They will help to move the carbon into the soil in usable forms; they also make everything in your BTE system work better. One way to collect worms fast is to get an old sheet or towel, and get it wet. Place it on the forest floor in the evening, and go out in the morning and lift the towel. There should be worms underneath it, working in the leaves.
It has some worms so that is a good sign i think.
Oh good. Sorry I misinterpreted what you wrote. I wish you success, Paul. Good luck with your garden!
I only flooded a few inches of dirt that i put over the rocks i burried.there were many different sizes of rocks and so much empty space that it was needed. I didnt do this to the material i put over the rocks because i dont want my clay to compact together again.
I believe that you can accelerate patterns and functions which already exist in nature, or help them along, which is a lot of what horticulture is. So when Marco wrote the following quote, I have to also respectfully disagree.
Go slow,be patient and let the worms and fungi do their thing. You can't hurry mother nature.
You can accelerate the decomposition of wood chips. Simply by soaking the wood chips, you accelerate the process, for instance. Anything that you can do to keep them moist (not soaking wet, thereafter), will also help accelerate the process. Also, inoculation is an accepted and proven technique for accelerating the process of breaking down woody material. While fungi will naturally gain purchase on wood that is in touch with soil, over time, it is not working against nature to add some of your own, or try to get a desired fungi to dominate. In fact, if you were so inclined to spend a bit of money to order some spores, you could have an additional harvest of edible fungi in the process, stacking the functions. This is not working against nature, particularly if you are using self made, locally gathered inoculations, but even if you decided to order oyster mushrooms from Fungi Perferti, you wouldn't be doing any harm to natural processes any more than growing tomatoes in Korea. It seems from what you posted so far in this thread that you don't mind doing a bit of work, Paul, so I mentioned a few things that might help to boost your system.
There are some things that simply cannot be hurried -- fungi, most significantly.
In fact, if fast is your value, you'll find yourself working against the natural systems that will (in the long run) make your garden fertile and productive. You just can't hurry the decomposition of wood chips. It is helpful (as you have done) to spread compost and manure, as these provide nitrogen and more importantly, the microbes needed to colonize your chips.
, it does not mean that you should not go beyond the minimum needs to boost the system, to kick it into gear as it were.
You don't need to import worms. You don't need to create fancy fungal innoculants. You just need time.
All you really need now is a planting plan, some seeds, or some transplants. The more plants that you get growing in your beds, the more the microbes will thrive. Everything else is cake.
I have woodchips and kitchen scraps burried a foot under the initial grade. I self nitrogenized it after soaking the chips in water. I filled it back up with native soil and added sand and forest mulch and mixed it in.....the top 10 inches only. I am gonna add compost then leaves then chips on top of that.
It might be a good idea to place little pockets of that rich forest soil in little openings or pockets in your mulch in order to give the plants more of what the want. You can put a light amount of chips over the soil, and after the plants get established you can bring more of your chips over to cover the pockets of compost/soil deeper to keep weeds out and hold moisture in.
I also dug out my entire garden because it had so many rocks. It was definitely worth the effort. My personal belief is that your method will work if you can provide some pockets of good soil to plant in while the layers decompose. Thing might not grow too well the first year because the organic material will be in the process of decomposing. But it should improve after that.