Garden Update - 5/15/22

cloxchulanthevegginator

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So Questions this week:
1. If the goal is to sustain 1/4 to 1/2 acre homestead, would you go with vermicomposting or Hot Composting.
2. If I got a lawn mower and then mixed the green grass (nitrogen) with the brown (carbon) in a layered pile, would that make compost / compost worth having? I believe it would but...you know, I also don't know.
3. What should I do with my potato? :/
4. What is suplly availablility like where you're at? I'm noticing that the things you actually need to grow/operate a meaningful garden aren't in-store and instead have to be purchased online. this kinda concerns me because it seems logicial that, especially when you're going to a HARDWARE STORE, that what you need to operate and sustain a homestead / garden should be in the store, but it seems it's landscaping supplies and hobby stuff.
4a. This has me considering purchasing a gross of rasied beds and supplies up front and storing them until my skill has caught up with everything.

I own up to my utter failing with composting
And then follow up on some conversation between @Mandy Onderwater and @KathrynJN


also, it's weird how much gardening is like motorycles. once you get the hang of it you always want more.
 
Hi

1. I'm only hot composting, but that's me, and I'm on quarter acre. I think it might depend on how much stuff you have to put on it. For example, when clearing vines or corn plants from the garden, you will have to have a place to put them all. My compost pile is a chicken-wire frame about 1x1x1 meter cube, and I can dump everything in there. I don't know how much you can feed worms at one time though. Someone else will have to answer that.
2. I'm curious, can't your lawn mower man leave the clippings with you? The advantage to doing it yourself would be that you can do a different area each week and you won't get stuck with all the fresh clippings at once. I can image that mixing dry and fresh clipping would be fine but don't make the fresh layer too thick. Turning it occasionally will help. It rots and stinks when you leave the fresh cuttings in one place a long time.
3. With the potato being so big you could cut it into two or three pieces and plant them separately. I have learnt recently that if you leave lots of eyes on your seed potato then you will grow small potatoes, and so, if you pick off the small eyes and only have one big eye then you will grow bigger potatoes. I only got small potatoes last year so there might be some truth to it. Most of my potatoes this year rotted because of so much rain.
4. I have Birdies beds that I ordered directly from them. The local big hardware shop (Bunnings) sell some Birdies, but would probably have to order any specific sizes, so I thought ordering direct was better. But I can buy a majority of the other things from Bunnings. Soil I get from a landscaping business a couple of suburbs away. They do deliver but we go there and buy a trailer load at a time. If you do decide to have it delivered, just make sure you're set-up and prepared for it.
4a. I bought 5 Birdies beds initially and have now got them set up. I recently received another 6 beds but I only set them up one at a time. With all the rain here (Queensland, Aus) it's been a bit pointless working on them yet.

Just remember, you only fail when you give up. Keep reading and watching to learn, you'll get there.
 
Your potato: If you have or can get a 12-13 gallon plastic rubbish bin or similar container, drill some drainage holes in the bottom of it. Get enough potting soil, compost or good loose fertile soil to fill it with, half fill the bin with your soil, put your potato in it, then cover the potato with more soil. Give it a bit of water, and wait for it to grow. As it grows, keep topping up the bin to cover the stem as it gets longer until the bin is full. Then just keep watering it and let it grow. Keeping it in the bin will stop it taking over your garden and all the potatoes it grows will be contained within the bin, no need for digging around to find them all. Being grown in a bin also has the advantage that if it turns out your potato is carrying a blight disease, it won't spread to anything else.

Local garden supplies: try specialist garden stores, and if you have no luck there or if there's none in your area, look at agriculture/farm supply stores. You'd be surprised at the things agriculture supply stores will sometimes stock. Also, if there's a local garden, hardware, or agriculture store that isn't a typical big corporation franchise chain in your area, they might be much more willing and able to order in and regularly stock the things you need and even hold stock for you if you ask them to and become a regular customer. Supporting local small independent businesses by shopping from them more will encourage them to support you more by stocking what you need.

Seeds: The reason seeds don't need fertile soil to get them started is because they come packed with their own food supply that will last them until they've established some good roots. This is why you can sprout seeds to quite a surprising size on a tray of paper towel and water. How soon a baby plant needs to be put into soil and how rich that soil needs to be is entirely dependent upon the type of plant. Some plants need the richest soil available, some will grow in a crack in concrete if given a chance!

Composting: the reason why there are composting "recipes" out there that insist on x amount of green + x amount of dry brown + x amount of animal dung + x amount of compost starter chemicals and the like, is because a lot of people want such a recipe because they want to be able to fill their compost bin/pile and know when it'll be useable without any real research and learning into what compost is, what it does and how it works. In reality, you can compost literally any natural organic matter in any combination, and it'll end up good to use... so long as you understand what's going on with it and what you ended up with and use it right. If you composted pure cow manure, it's going to go from being too fresh and would burn your plants to being really good and very nutritious for them, but if you leave it too long, it'll break down further and eventually become pretty much useless for anything other than fill. It's less about the contents and more about the timing suitable for those contents. Although green matter will add nitrogen to the compost, eventually that'll break down and cease to exist as well. The more green it is, the faster it'll rot in a warm humid compost bin or pile, but it'll also clump and go slimy and smell bad for a while until it's broken down fully and dried out a bit. Dry brown stuff will take longer to break down in the same conditions and will stay more dry as it'll absorb more moisture and thus make the compost bin less humid. Combine the two, the conditions for both are better and they both break down better together. Adding some animal manure will increase the nutrient content, but you have to be a bit careful with how much of what animal manure you add. For example, chicken manure is extremely potent and can quickly overwhelm a compost pile with too much nutrient, but that's fine if your plan is to use it as a fertiliser top up compost that's used sparingly rather than a dig in a lot of it to refresh your soil type of compost. So long as you have some idea how long it'll take to make good compost with what you've got, and you have some idea what you'll end up with, by having some idea how each thing you put in there is going to break down and react with the other things in there, and you use the compost appropriately according to what you've ended up with, there's no such thing as bad compost. Just make sure to keep it damp, not soggy wet, if it dries out that's okay, just add a bit more moisture to get it started again. Aerate regularly by turning it over. And be aware that the more animal manure and greens you put into it, the richer it'll be and the less of it you'll need for the sake of nutrients; not adding much if any of that stuff will still create a good compost but it'll be a compost that's better for filling garden beds and refreshing spent soil. So, yes, add your grass cuttings to your compost, just be aware of what effect it will have and how it'll all turn out in the end and how to use that. Add in shredded paper, cardboard, food scraps, even 100% natural fibre cloth that doesn't have any synthetic coatings can be composted. As for hot composting vs vermicompost, really doesn't make much of a difference to the end result, they both have their pros and cons and you just have to figure out whether those pros and cons will benefit you or cause a problem.
 
I don't know how much you can feed worms at one time though. Someone else will have to answer that.
I believe half their weight a day, 1lb of worms COULD eat .5 lbs of waste food a day. I don't have a source on that yet as I've just been taking in all the youtube videos on the subject haven't made a plan yet :p
I'm curious, can't your lawn mower man leave the clippings with you?
I can definitely ask. I guess I'm thinking in terms of also saving money.
Lawn Costs = 40$x26 =1040ish
Lawn Mower, Edger, Bush Trimmer Bundle = 681.98 with tax (https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-40-...20-in-Cordless-Electric-Lawn-Mower/1000192703 - see the better together section)
First year I come out ahead 358.02 AND walk away with compost for the garden which itself is a stack on savings because I would be saving on store bought amendments.

And to put that savings into perspective. Second year savings would be about 1300 (with what's left over from first year savings) and could be re-invested into the garden to purchase a "Love on the Ground" set from vego garden which would be a MASSIVE expansion in growing ability. I'm also thinking about putting herbs in that center section so It could be used as a seating area :p https://vegogarden.com/collections/on-sale

With the potato being so big you could cut it into two or three pieces and plant them separately.
but how do you plat it? Do the green parts need to be exposed or do they go in the soil? and based off the condition it's in now, is it ready to plat after I cut it up?

The local big hardware shop (Bunnings) sell some Birdies, but would probably have to order any specific sizes, so I thought ordering direct was better.
I think I'm starting to realize this myself, that it's better to buy direct. Looking at whats available from local hardware stores v. manufacturer direct, there is a lot more selection at the same or lower price. Vego Garden is my brand of raised bed for example and their rasied beds cost the same as purchasing it through a big box store that ships to store, so might as well cut out the middle man.

ATTN: @KathrynJN
 
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Your potato: If you have or can get a 12-13 gallon plastic rubbish bin or similar container, drill some drainage holes in the bottom of it. Get enough potting soil, compost or good loose fertile soil to fill it with, half fill the bin with your soil, put your potato in it, then cover the potato with more soil. Give it a bit of water, and wait for it to grow. As it grows, keep topping up the bin to cover the stem as it gets longer until the bin is full. Then just keep watering it and let it grow. Keeping it in the bin will stop it taking over your garden and all the potatoes it grows will be contained within the bin, no need for digging around to find them all. Being grown in a bin also has the advantage that if it turns out your potato is carrying a blight disease, it won't spread to anything else.
this is really helpful information, thank you for this! I'm saving up to buy a gross of planters an soil so it's nice to have some intention with it now.

Everything you said about local gardening is gold. We have a tractor supply near my house, I think it's time to pay them a visit as I believe they're the kind of store you're talking about

This is why you can sprout seeds to quite a surprising size on a tray of paper towel and water.
hmmm, then i think I'm going to give this a try with another batch of tomato seeds. My starts got destroyed in a storm last night

In reality, you can compost literally any natural organic matter in any combination, and it'll end up good to use... so long as you understand what's going on with it and what you ended up with and use it right.
Have you seen Mark's latest video on composting? () Not exactly asking if you would recommend it, but does the dude he's promoting seem legit? I'm thinking about purchasing that book as a first step in not being a **** about composting.


Okay so RE Composting. I guess my main struggle right now is not having ingredients. What I have is a lot of dead grass, a source of green glass clippings and food waste. I'm thinking with that being my availabile ingredient list I probably wouldn't get quick, good compost unless I'm vermicomposting. Do i seem to be on the right track with that line of thinking? sorry i can't be more articulate. I just don't know enough yet to really speak on anything.


ATTN: @Grandmother Goose
 
this is really helpful information, thank you for this! I'm saving up to buy a gross of planters an soil so it's nice to have some intention with it now.

Everything you said about local gardening is gold. We have a tractor supply near my house, I think it's time to pay them a visit as I believe they're the kind of store you're talking about


hmmm, then i think I'm going to give this a try with another batch of tomato seeds. My starts got destroyed in a storm last night


Have you seen Mark's latest video on composting? () Not exactly asking if you would recommend it, but does the dude he's promoting seem legit? I'm thinking about purchasing that book as a first step in not being a **** about composting.


Okay so RE Composting. I guess my main struggle right now is not having ingredients. What I have is a lot of dead grass, a source of green glass clippings and food waste. I'm thinking with that being my availabile ingredient list I probably wouldn't get quick, good compost unless I'm vermicomposting. Do i seem to be on the right track with that line of thinking? sorry i can't be more articulate. I just don't know enough yet to really speak on anything.


ATTN: @Grandmother Goose

Knowing Mark, I'd say the guy is legit. AS far as I have sene he will not promote what he doesn't genuinely enjoy. On top of that I noticed comments saying "my favourite garden YouTubers mixed together" so I'm guessing he's at least known to some. :)
 
this is really helpful information, thank you for this! I'm saving up to buy a gross of planters an soil so it's nice to have some intention with it now.

Everything you said about local gardening is gold. We have a tractor supply near my house, I think it's time to pay them a visit as I believe they're the kind of store you're talking about


hmmm, then i think I'm going to give this a try with another batch of tomato seeds. My starts got destroyed in a storm last night


Have you seen Mark's latest video on composting? () Not exactly asking if you would recommend it, but does the dude he's promoting seem legit? I'm thinking about purchasing that book as a first step in not being a **** about composting.


Okay so RE Composting. I guess my main struggle right now is not having ingredients. What I have is a lot of dead grass, a source of green glass clippings and food waste. I'm thinking with that being my availabile ingredient list I probably wouldn't get quick, good compost unless I'm vermicomposting. Do i seem to be on the right track with that line of thinking? sorry i can't be more articulate. I just don't know enough yet to really speak on anything.


ATTN: @Grandmother Goose

Tractor supply... yeah, they might have a range of useful things or at the very least know more about where to get the stuff you're looking for locally seeing as they mostly work with farmers. I was thinking more along the lines of agricultural stores like where people would buy bales of hay, bulk crop planting seeds, bulk lots of fertiliser, big bags of dog and chicken food, various chemicals like sheep dips and stuff like that. But there are all sorts of ag-stores around, in my town I have one that does some bagged bulk feed supplies for things like dogs and chickens, and they also some equipment supplies like water tanks, feed troughs, chemical supplies like sheep dips, as well as things like sheep shears, etc. One that is all animal feed supplies including hay bales, grain mixes, and the like, and also does some gardening stuff and they have a monthly visit from a chicken farm selling laying chickens. One that is big farm equipment stuff, full on fencing stuff including gates, safety gear, tractors, all the farm machinery, things like that - except wood chippers much to my annoyance. :facepalm: They all know each other and if one doesn't have what you're looking for they'll know the store in town that does stock it.

I couldn't help but laugh today when I found Mark's composting video pop up on my YT feed, would have saved me a lot of typing had I seen that before replying to you! :ROFL: Oh for sure that guy is legit. He worded it much more succinctly than I did - pile it up and walk away. Yep, that's pretty much how it's done in the most simple terms, but of course there's methods for speeding up the composting such as turning it over, wetting it down, storing it in a way to encourage heat... that's where his book will come in useful, you can get more compost faster the more you know about it. You have grass clippings, leaf matter, and food scraps - you have compost waiting to be made! Find some way of keeping it together so it won't blow around the yard, maybe compost bays like Mark has, a compost bin, or something. I've seen some pretty creating things people have used over the years, from rings of old car tyres to old pallets, rubbish bins with the bottom cut out of them, old cupboards, even raised garden beds that aren't in use. I only recently got my big compost bin set up, it's a big old rusted out and full of holes farm style galvanised metal water tank that was in the yard being useless and in the way when I bought the house. I got one of my son's friends to help cut the top off it, cut the bottom off it, and cut out a section on the side at the top to make it accessible - I'll have to get a photo in the morning to show you - and I've filled it 4 times so far. Thanks to a lot of rain this year I had a LOT of weeds take over the yard and a huge unwanted tree I'd previously cut down had started growing back again, so I've had enough material to fill the large tank to the top first with weeds, then a week later they'd broken down to half their size, so I had half the tank space back which I topped up with more weeds, which broke down to half the size as well, a week later I was able to fill it back up again with tree branches, then a week later more tree branches, and then a few more weeds on top, and it's been a week since and I've got more space on top again for more weeds which I'm yet to dig up. I've also thrown in cardboard boxes, scrap paper, newspaper covered in chicken poop from my chickens, pet bedding from my snake houses, egg shells, veggie scraps, egg cartons, tissues, all sorts of things are in there. Once all the new weeds are gone I'll be gathering up the remains of my first huge compost pile which was just a pile of dug up weeds, bushes and the original huge branches of the tree I cut down that was just a pile in the yard and throwing that on top. I have a huge old torn tarp that I plan to cut to size to fit on the top of it all to keep the moisture in and increase the heat later, but I want to get it filled to the point where it's not going to break down so fast without a bit of extra encouragement. Then my plan is to buy a large tumbler composter so I can throw into that things like bulk amounts of yuckier stuff I'd rather not dig around in like chicken poop, dog poop, meat and fruit scraps that I don't want flies and fruit flies getting into.
 
With the potato being so big you could cut it into two or three pieces and plant them separately.
but how do you plat it? Do the green parts need to be exposed or do they go in the soil? and based off the condition it's in now, is it ready to plat after I cut it up?



 
One way of growing potatoes is in pots. I have sweet potatoes in pots at the moment so I might try the others next year. Huw Richards did a video on trying pots out the first time. He showed the advantages and disadvantages of both in I personally wouldn't put fresh grass clipping on top as a mulch, but it would be interesting to see how it goes. He referenced Tony at Simplify Gardening in the video as well.
 
I'll add my two cents' worth. I haven't watched your video (I have flaky internet access) but I've seen your questions and had a look at the replies.

I have been living in rental accommodation and moving a lot for over a decade (including long distance moves) and I've managed to maintain some form of garden with very little money and relatively little access to supplies.

You don't need much to garden. Have an imaginary conversation with your ancestors. I'm sure they weren't down the garden centre every five minutes stocking up on supplies! It's very easy to get suckered in to purchasing a lot of stuff when we really can make do with very little. And, try not to overthink it. Part of the joy of gardening for me is to work out what works for me as what works for me might not work for you. Develop your own style. That's where the joy is.

As @Grandmother Goose has said: if you have something compostable, you have compost. For several years I composted my household waste (kitchen scraps, stuff out of the vacuum cleaner, cat fluff, shredded paper, cardboard, junk mail, whatever) in large pots and planted something on top of it. Need to activate it? Pee on it. The only thing you need to do is make sure animals can't have a great time in it (or it doesn't blow all over the yard). Again, you don't need anything fancy and you can salvage all kinds of things to do the job. If it's too dry, add moisture. If it's too wet, add something like shredded paper, leaves etc. Just make sure you have 'brown' and 'green' stuff. A good way of doing this is lining whatever container you collect your kitchen scraps with paper. Not only does it make getting the scraps out easier but this balances out your compost. If you want to get fancy (and you have a regular supply of paper), invest in a cross-cut paper shredder. This makes magnificent compost and mulch (and animal bedding if you have rodent pets/feathered friends).

I had a lovely crop of potatoes one year after burying my kitchen scraps (which contained a pile of potato peelings and bits of potatoes where I had cut off the 'eyes'). I did nothing. They just grew, I left them, and then I eventually harvested them when I realised they were big enough to eat.

I think the biggest investment you can make in your garden is your time. Time to observe the seasons, time to observe how things grow, time to work out a method of gardening that suits you, and time to gain the skills and knowledge you need to have a good harvest. And, the greatest skill you can develop is patience :)
 
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