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Bedford Ramblings
Steve Mills

April 10th. Garden club meeting! UT Ag Extension Bldg, Shelbyville TN

Posted Thursday, April 2, 2015, at 12:41 PM
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  • The name Weed'em and Reap by the way was thought of by our dear friend Cindy who has been missing from the last few meetings. She promises to be scheduling two weeks a month for us so maybe we will see her soon.

    Regarding the dirt-less gardening, I am talking about straw bale gardening and I say almost because yesterday I added compost that some might call dirt to the top of my straw bales. Why? To add little critters, and microbes that have been happily decomposing my wood chips for several years now.

    Besides regular water, goldfish pond water, cottonseed meal, liquid fish emulsion, coffee grounds, some powdered eggshell and some hardwood ashes from my wood furnace, I added the rotted wood chips on top to wash down with the rain that is being forecast for today and tomorrow.

    After the rain I will cover them back up with black plastic to hold the moisture in the bale and cheer as it rots, rots, rots! Now I don't enclose them in plastic to the point of no air.

    That would be anaerobic composting and not only become a noxious smelling pile, but could also be detrimental for plants until it "airs" back out again.

    I will pull the plastic back up but leave the top open so rain and more watering can continue. Without plastic I would be watering much more. I may not find this to be the best way, but I love to experiment.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Apr 2, 2015, at 12:41 PM
  • Speaking of lovin' it, I pulled back the row cover I have on top of the cabbages, broccoli, lettuces, etc. to gibe me access to add some composted chips and to let the rain get direct access to wash it in.

    Who is waiting for me on top but a blister beetle (bad guy). Guess the fabric has been helping. I did not notice any cutworm activity but I have not taken time to check it out closely.

    Also put a 2" layer of compost on those bales. Originally it was just a "salting" to introduce the organisms but I finally cleared the tree that had fallen in front of my trailer so I loaded it up with compost and am now distributing it with more freedom.

    The 2" layer should also insulate the bale from the sun so more moisture is maintained. I may not pull the plastic back up.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Apr 3, 2015, at 8:16 AM
  • That's the 10th, next Friday, yes?......I can't wait!

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Fri, Apr 3, 2015, at 12:00 PM
  • I'm headed to get the last layer of dirt today...maybe I'll get it all down before it rains.....then stick a few seeds in it....come on sun we need ya...after a good soaking first though!

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Fri, Apr 3, 2015, at 12:03 PM
  • Yup, the tenth. I did not mention Friday earlier because someone might be looking for it tonight, but it is NOT tonight.

    My clay soil is starting to crack from lack of rain. It's OK though since it is in the lawn and I'm not too concerned about the lawn. It is mainly made up of native plants (weeds) and as we know, they seem to survive anything!

    The breeze makes it a nice day to work outside, but I ran out of steam after shoveling one garden bed with compost. Besides, I had to get back to work.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Apr 3, 2015, at 2:14 PM
  • How are we looking on frost Steve? After hibernating all winter I am getting anxious to plant.

    -- Posted by cherokee2 on Sat, Apr 4, 2015, at 3:50 AM
  • HEY! Great to hear from you cherokee2. I was starting to get worried about you.

    With the weatherman's lack of accuracy lately, I would be worried about tonight, especially if your property is prone to early or late frosts.

    Either way it is going to be cooler than I want for my sensitive plants so I'm bringing them back in today. Slight aggravation but after bringing them through this winter, losing them to a chill would be even more annoying.

    I've resisted planting any of those in the actual ground but my other direct seeded plants should be fine. They can handle a light frost anyway.

    Any chance you can come to our weed'em & reap meeting? I want to talk about straw bale gardening and you are the one who really convinced me Of its value. Bring some of your digital pictures so I can put them up?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Apr 4, 2015, at 6:55 AM
  • I wouldn't have started straw bale planters either if it wasn't for Cherokee2!

    I did a lot of work on my Mom's straw bale planter Saturday. Basically dug out all of the dirt that had accumulated over the years, did some repairs, and added new straw bales with dirt on top. It's a long one, so it took some time, but should be good for a while...

    -- Posted by espoontoon on Mon, Apr 6, 2015, at 7:49 AM
  • How many bales are you working for her?

    Was the "recycled" straw/soil, good for general mulch?

    I remember you told us about the container you constructed. If you are able to make it Friday, maybe you can share with us?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Apr 6, 2015, at 11:09 AM
  • Steve I'm probably gonna sleep in Friday. Went to specialist and I have a bad infection. but you asked about the recycled dirt. It is as good as any you will work with. On my 3rd year on some of mine. I just built another plywood box, as one had pretty well rotted on me but that makes good dirt too. And my old trashcans make excellent planters also since city furnishes cans now for my garbage. Also made a composter and that works super well.

    -- Posted by cherokee2 on Thu, Apr 9, 2015, at 9:47 AM
  • Sorry to read that we will miss you my friend. I fully understand the health issues so.... My prayers are with you.

    I was hoping and counting on the soil be better than average garden soil.

    Probably another week or two before I plant in them. The brain has been good for keeping them wet but I probably need to add some More nitrogen to speed things up. Maybe some straight chicken poop.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Apr 9, 2015, at 11:35 AM
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