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No-till Gardening Question  RSS feed

 
Jared Gardener
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Hi all,
      I'm starting a no-till garden this year. I plan to put down cardboard boxes and compost and I also have access to horse manure and hopefully hay as well. However, I heard that if you use manure too soon to your plant date, it can harm your seeds.

If I wanted to use manure how many days/weeks before planting would I have to setup the mulch?

I plant to start planting soon after my spring frost day in mid-April.

Thanks in advance.
 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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Im not positive about this, but I believe you should wait for a full composting cycle for manure so it is safe, and more balanced. If you throw that on without composting it will be too high in nitrogen I believe. Someone else with more experience should weigh in on this.
 
Mary James
Posts: 145
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
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First as Rob brought up the manure .
  My personal preference is to not use any manure that has not set at least a year when putting into my soil mixes. Fresh manures add  heat during break down and the high nitrogen  and can fry your plants.The hot nitrogen coming off the fresh stuff is usually way to much for most plants even as a top dressing..Horse manure itself is not a favorite either.If using it I usually compost for 2 or so years because it seems to become the most weedy of the manures usually available.Unless I have it in a hot pile that I know is reaching temps that will kill weed seeds.
Next I have to ask are we looking at hay or straw? Hay is also a hot product.There are different types of hays available out there alfalfa hay when breaking down generates heat similar to say green lawn clippings.Timothy is a bit less hot.Most hay also comes with a mix of weed seeds unless it is certified.For me this comes down to know your farmer as well since I am picky about what is used with hay or straw in the line of chemicals in the fields.LOL,, that is me I know many people who use do not think about it.
  If I am reading correctly you are wanting to use this as a mulch.Myself I would not go there with it unless it is all aged.I use fresh manures for heat to push my seasons in cold frames and have used it in my greenhouse before.But I separate it from my plants so they never touch it.I have also done hot mixes of fresh manures with sawdust or chips which is supposed to balance out using the excess nitrogen but found form my experience this messed my plant growth and food production up..
  If it was me, I would take the manure and hay do up a compost pile this spring with it ,, allow it to compost part of the summer and see if it is cool enough for a mulch about august.If you do this however make sure that it does not touch any of your plant bases in case it may still be hot and burn them.
  When I have put together the no til gardens if I use fresh ingredients I usually let them sit for a year.Putting them in in the spring and sitting through until the next spring.I have done these in the fall as well and used a little more aged products or mixed more brown with my greens to temper them so I could do spring planting.This also allows them to run they cycle as well as get the good bacteria, worms and such going.This also allows them to collapse as they break down.
  But that is my personal preferences their may be others here with more info to share
 
                              
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Hi,

I don’t use manure because I only use on-site materials and I don’t keep farm animals.  But I think horse manure is very good if you can get it.  Supposing you live in a cold climate, I would spread a thin layer of horse manure and cover with a thick layer of hay in autumn; let it sit during the winter and plant in the spring.  If you can only apply the manure now, make sure it is not in direct contact with the seeds.  You could rake back the mulch then make furrows with a hoe for sowing.  Or if you plant seedlings through the mulch, make sure the manure doesn’t touch the seedlings.  If at all possible, I always apply all materials directly to the soil without heap composting.  In-field-composting is a better use of nutrients.  There are a lot of losses with heap composting.  There is no problem with excessive N if you only apply a thin layer.  And if your soil is rich in N already, you shouldn’t apply any manure anyways.

Dieter

PS: I never use card board.  The soil needs to breath.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9691
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I use uncomposted sheep manure as a layer under soil on top of hugel wood.  But it IS sheep manure, not horse, so it is sort of "pre-composted."   
 
Jared Gardener
Posts: 40
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Thanks for all your help.

So would simply laying down cardboard and then some compost work as a no-till garden or do I need other layers?
 
Mekka Pakanohida
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
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My no till garden used the exact same thing you did with composted horse manure, not fresh, and was fine last year, and still is.

I did use cardboard, make sure the plastic is off.  You do NOT need to worry about dyes unless they are fluorescent or metallic. ((same goes for paper)).  Manure over that, and a lot of straw.  Plant seedlings in the straw, they do not need to be in the dirt, they are fine in the straw. (watch all 3 videos and you will see Madam Hazlip agrees about the straw).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSKilNcmoVE

You can find a pdf out there on exactly how she did it, and her planting cycle.  Once it is set up, you never have to till it or take it down again.

She is / was (RIP) a great inspiration as is Holzer & Fukuoka for their research in this direction.

 
Chris Fitt
Posts: 115
Location: Eastern Shore VA
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We did no till gardening with horse manure that was somewhat fresh.  It was not fully composted.  I purposely scooped older piles.  We did a layer of unfinished compost, a layer of the horse manure, a layer of paper feed sacks, a layer of finished compost, and finally a layer of straw.  We let this sit about 1 and 1/2 months.  Then planted onions in the straw.  When the straw started sprouting and the onions started coming up, we pulled that layer and left the onions.  This was about 2 months ago.  The onions look really good so far, so I don't know if the heat factor with the manure was acceptable or if we will have trouble down the line.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
Posts: 383
Location: Zone 9 - Coastal Oregon
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misfit wrote:
We did no till gardening with horse manure that was somewhat fresh.  It was not fully composted.  I purposely scooped older piles.  We did a layer of unfinished compost, a layer of the horse manure, a layer of paper feed sacks, a layer of finished compost, and finally a layer of straw.  We let this sit about 1 and 1/2 months.  Then planted onions in the straw.  When the straw started sprouting and the onions started coming up, we pulled that layer and left the onions.  This was about 2 months ago.  The onions look really good so far, so I don't know if the heat factor with the manure was acceptable or if we will have trouble down the line.


Keep going! 
 
Maddie Bern
Posts: 28
Location: Sierra Nevada foothills, zone 7
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Hey Mekka, I just watched those videos of Emilia Hazelip, and she is pulling back the mulch and planting seedlings in the ground, not in the straw. I'm sure those lettuces were going right into the soil in the third video, but maybe I missed something earlier.

I am really trying to figure this out because I have been frustrated with my no till beds.

Last year, I made no-till beds, using cardboard, wood chips, manure, and straw. I did a final thin layer of compost over all. When planting my starts, I pulled back the straw to make a coffee can sized hole, filled the hole with compost, and planted in that (as my PDC instructor had described). I used drip irrigation, and overall, things worked well. The compost was moist, even the straw was moist.

This year, I (perhaps mistakenly) thought I needed to repeat some of those layers again. So I added more manure (llama, so it is not so "hot", and another layer of straw. I did not add a thin layer of compost, but did plant the starts in a pocket of compost as before. What is happening is that the drip irrigation is not even getting the entire pocket of compost wet, let alone the straw around it. Things are not growing as well, and my watering seems very uneven. Lots of dry areas, even very close to the plants. I did switch several garden areas to 1/4" soaker hose, thinking my drippers were clogged, but no improvement in soil soakage. I think I did use different straw this year, I believe it is rice straw, and it does have a different texture. So maybe that explains the dry straw, at least. Also, I did not top off the whole bed with a thin layer of compost.

Now I am thinking that I really need to just pull the mulch back and plant down in the dirt, so the water will soak the soil more evenly. But I do have lots of questions,if anyone has answers or ideas for me.

Should I just keep adding manure every year (pref. in Fall) until it looks like healthy soil?

Does anyone have preferences in straw type for the no-till beds? My husband likes the rice straw for his archery targets, and he gives it to me when the bales start to compost from the rains.

What watering systems do others use in their no-till beds? I have dry summers here in N. Calif.  I can overhead water, and may resort to that this week, but don't want to do that next year.

Why is the water not soaking outward into the coffee-can sized lump of compost

Mekka or anyone, where can I find the pdf from Emilia Hazelip online? Her gardens look great! I really enjoyed the videos.

Thanks!
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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As Paul would say, "It depends".

Manure (a politically correct term for shit) varies from species to species.  Some are 'hotter' than others.  Generally, rabbit can be used right away, and goat, soon thereafter.  Horses and cows are not terribly efficient digesters, and pass a lot of the seeds 'unharmed'.
 
Birds are another story.  Probably, 80% of the wild plants on earth passed through a bird before they grew.  Chickens are different ...their manure (once dried) is very hot, and needs to be aged, or else it can kill most seeds.

Most pathogens cannot transfer from species to species, which is a primary reason that humanure needs special treatment if used on food crops.

"Shit Happens", and with a little forethought, it can all be put to good use.
 
                            
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if you want to start now and use your manure, heres what i would do:
i would first cut grass if there is any and let it dry. than i would dig out 10-15 cm top layer of soil and just turn it over (you can cut in in cubes its easier). than i would put manure as first layer, than top soil upside-down. this would prevent weeds to grow, also young plants will i think not be harmed by manure, at least if manure layer is not so thick. manure can produce heat more than 70 degrees c expecialy horse, but if its in thin layer its not so much. than i would make loose few cm on top and mix with humus , put seed or young plants and add grass or straw as mulch. maybe also cardboard for potatoes or pumkins or something (plants that need space).
if you choose this way im not sure what will happen in first year but i can guarantee you that in next year you will have enourmous yield... i made this once, planted peppers, oubergenes and okra in second year and got tones of it....
maybe even better idea to make similar thing like this but as raised bed... but i dont have experience with those....
 
Peter Ingot
Posts: 129
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madronewood wrote:


What watering systems do others use in their no-till beds? I have dry summers here in N. Calif.  I can overhead water, and may resort to that this week, but don't want to do that next year.

Why is the water not soaking outward into the coffee-can sized lump of compost





I stick a hose under  any undecomposed  mulch and let it soak the ground below morning or evening.I have water shortages, and found it is best to soak the plants for a few days after transplanting, then drought them a bit to make the roots grow deep and thereafter soak them heavily periodically.  I have heard that watering on  top of mulch just wets the mulch and makes the plant roots  grow up making them vulnerable to drought (some dispute this though). I have also heard that you should water the soil not the plants. I have seen how regular light watering seems to make plants addicted to water. I've tried watering when it  rains. Seems counter intuitive but light rain barely damps the soil and at peak summer plants don't seem preparedfor water somehow

I'm in drought season now, but while the pumpkins in the garden wilt a self seeded pumpkin is growing huge green and lush next to the animal house. I have not watered it once! I' m guessing that the manure from the animals is increasing the waterholding capacity of the soil there
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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i put down some cardboard under some bark mulch to just try to keep the weeds down around my food forest garden this spring, and checked it out a few weeks ago and all the cardboard had completely rotted away and the ground is very nice, I probably will plant in it in the spring instead of just using it to keep weeds down..i was impressed with the way it worked so quickly to prepare the ground for planting..probably less than 3 months
 
220 hours of permaculture video, freaky cheap! http://kck.st/2q6Ycay.
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