In an area i dropped multiple times,leaves and chipped branches that i formed with the hand pruners.
I see that in the lower layers the soil is brown instead of black.I don't think it is the mineral base since this brown layer is raised and it indicated it is composted stuff.
Does this indicate lack of microbial life?Prolonged drought that we have?What could be a cause for this?Has anyone experienced the same thing?
How does this material smell?
What did you use for the "green portion of the heap" and how much did you use?
On the question of microbial life, the answer is somewhat, compost color is dependent upon 1. materials used, 2. heat acquired in the heap, 3. non fungal organisms present, 4. fungal organisms present.
If you didn't add any manures to the heap it will be less fungal which can lead to a lighter color, type of wood (the clipped branches) can also have some effect on color as can turning the heap. (a heap that is turned to keep the whole thing heating will turn darker than one that isn't turned)
Lack of moisture inside the heap can literally shut down the processes of decomposition and cause any microbes to go dormant, this will lead to a compost look but isn't really compost it is more of a mulch then.
Am I wrong in thinking that "mulch" produced in this fashion with compost in place if used as is? In my location mulch can be as important in a garden as compost and this sounds like a potential two for one deal to me.
Yes Casie it can be a great twofer.
Mulch that was made by composting does very well as a shade for the soil then as it decomposes it passes microbes into the soil as well as mycelium, conditioning that soil beneath it and adding to the concentrations of microorganisms.
I do this on Buzzard's Roost with the Donkey manure. I have a test area going right now that is a manure berm that is added to once a week.
It is incredible how much manure one donkey can create in just 7 days, the great thing is she made one spot her "bathroom" so the manure is confined to this area (easy to collect).
I had a spot that was showing early signs of erosion so I started building a berm/ swale on the contour to stop the runoff when it rains with nothing but the manure I have to move anyway.
This test has been going for only 2 weeks and I already have a 75 foot long and 1.5 foot high berm going. The manure already has mycelium growing in it and that means the hyphae will get down into the soil, conditioning it to soak up more water rather than having it run off down the mountain top.
It also lets the nutrients soak into that soil beneath the manure berm and then migrate down hill to the flower gardens below the berm.
This area will become a winter squash bed in the next couple of months and that means the butternuts will be growing very large (I hope).
Next spring I'll be able to use the space for sweet potatoes, the berm will continue to grow larger so that I'll be able to grow some great blueberries past the rock terrace wall.
Another great way to get composting mulch is with wood chips, heap them up and add a mushroom slurry then add materials to make this pile a compost heap.
If you let it go to half way to compost, you have a great mulch that will nourish the soil, plants and that means better soil is on the way.
You can also get mushrooms if the slurry you add at the start happens to be edible mushroom slurry (oyster or others).
quick question.... you often mention a slurry of mushrooms. How thick is this slurry to be ? My understanding is it can be anything from virtually a coloured water with some particles of solid matter in it (as in vitamised sized particles) to a thick, cement like consistency.
and where does mushroom compost fit into this equation or doesn't it?
hau Susan, I make my slurries about the consistency of milk or thinner, thick slurries should be diluted to that consistency so they can penetrate the soil and find the root systems of the plants.
Musrhoom compost has unfortunately been heated enough that I've never been able to get any hyphae to grow from a bag of it.
The Government requires this so no pathogens are in the compost from the mushrooms (I don't really understand their thinking since the spawn/hyphae would not allow many pathogens to survive but that's our government thinking).