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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 9/13/2014, 2:36 pm

You can use that straw as mulch on your beds if you don't want to put it back into the compost.  It will turn into deep black compost right on the ground within a couple months.  My straw bale soil/compost is really rich and black by the end of the season.  It's also great for growing potatoes in (though we're at the end of that season right now).
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Post  sanderson 9/13/2014, 4:08 pm

I've been waffling. I still have new straw that I can use as mulch for the beds. I think what finally tipped the scale is that I don't have storage room. Storing finished compost for spring use tops everything. I told DH that this (#6) batch would have been wonderful for just top dressing flower beds and shrubs for the winter. It would have finished breaking down on the dirt and there would be worms and everything!!

I finished chopping all the produce from the Clovis FM last night. DH got the horse poop this morning AND surprised me with 3 bags of Starbucks! I had called and reserved at 3 Starbucks last night and by the time we got to them, 2 had given away the grounds!

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Post  Yardslave 9/14/2014, 4:19 pm

I've had to give all that bulky composted straw that didn't the pass screening the "Cuisinert" treatment with my power mower. It's messy but it really chops it to bits. It's best to let it dry out first before "processing" it or else the mower will be caked with gooey straw that looks like something that dropped out of the south end of a northbound elephant!
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Post  sanderson 9/14/2014, 4:35 pm

Very Happy Yes, it does!

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Post  sanderson 9/15/2014, 2:59 am

I finished building compost #7 last night. It's up from base temp of 80*f to 125*F, but this time I am home to watch it. One of the newer squash beds has been raised and is ready to install the PVC holders and re-fill. All that is left is the newer 2 x 2 that has 2 Canada long necked butternuts, and one of the original 2 x 4 that has beans right now.

When I removed the Mix from the current raised beds, I carefully saved the worms and set the pan in the shade. The next morning, it was crawling with ants and the worms were dead. I feel so bad about it. Sad

I still haven't seeded the winter crops. Hope I'm not too late. The first corn tassel peeped up today. bounce

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Post  Marc Iverson 9/15/2014, 3:57 am

Ack! Sounds like the forgetfulness of exhaustion set in?

If nothing else, I don't see why you couldn't seed some very short-maturity crops like baby bok choi?

And, though I favor them less and less because of pest concerns, there is always ... transplants?
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Post  sanderson 9/15/2014, 7:46 pm

Finished raising another bed.  The posts and PVC holders were built to accommodate a third layer of 2 x 4s for a max depth of 10 1/2".  It's not that MM needs to be that deep but rather that the deeper the mix in this dry heat, the longer there is moisture in the mix.  There are 2 long neck butternuts on the 2 x 2 in the back ground.  It will be the next box.
California - What are you doing this month? - Page 19 Raised11

101*F and the compost is 160*F, ready to turn tonight. pale

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Post  Marc Iverson 9/15/2014, 8:41 pm

sanderson wrote: It's not that MM needs to be that deep but rather that the deeper the mix in this dry heat, the longer there is moisture in the mix.  

I've found the same goes for pots. Even if the root balls don't outgrow the pot, the bigger pots dry out more slowly. My smaller pots dry out very quickly.
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Post  sanderson 9/16/2014, 5:04 pm

I'm done with the summer crops, except the corn which has tassels popping up, and the Wonder beans.  Picked the last 2 Canada long-neck butternuts.  That means the 2 x 2 squash box is reading to be raised.  Only one left after that!  All of the plants should be in the green waste by tonight.
California - What are you doing this month? - Page 19 Squash14
I turned the compost last night and it's up from 100*F last night to 120*F now.  I'm going to stay right on top of it.

I'm tired of building/rebuilding/remodeling this year.  Next year should be a lot more enjoyable just gardening, fighting pests and saving surpluses.  I'm sure optimistic, aren't I?  I have 81.5 good sq ft in place.  13.0 sq feet are in bad places so unless I move them, they can't be planted.  Plus, lots of moveable pots and buckets (40?)  Plus a 3 x 3 x 3' compost bin.  Plus a good storage area for dried leaves, hay, and most of the 33 gallon storage bins.  Two bins will have to sit under the orange trees.  I want to clean up all the materials and hose/wash off everything in the backyard.  Stain the boxes, paint the Gwennifer TT for strawberries. I have plenty of compost to start the spring and finish topping off the last tall, raised 2 x 4.  Typing all this makes me feel like the summer was not a waste, just focused in a different direction.

We rehabbed one rental and got it sold.  The second one is slated for the same in a month when the renters find another rental.  Went to Missouri, a week in San Diego, and a cruise on top of everything.  I'm ready for winter. And pray for rain!!

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Post  Marc Iverson 9/16/2014, 5:16 pm

Wow those really are long-necked. I've never heard of Canadian long-necked butternuts. They look almost like fat trombocinos!

What made you decide it was time to pull the dragon beans? I have the tendency to leave things in hoping for the very last bean or tomato ....
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 9/16/2014, 8:05 pm

Sanderson;
What if you were to convert the bad garden areas into a double compost bin for easier compost processing? It is so much easier to simply toss the pile from one side to the next for the turning than the time and energy consuming process you have to do right now. Just an idea :-)

You have done amazing things this season, you should pat yourself on the back before going back out to turn your compost Laughing
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Post  sanderson 9/16/2014, 9:23 pm

Audrey,  thanks.  The bad squares are 1 x 4, 1 x 3, and 6 single sq ft boxes spread around, so I can't "consolidate" them for a second bin area. Very Happy The yard is what it is, a modern tiny backyard. Everything is tucked here and there.

Marc, the long necks are the original Iroquois Indian stock of today's butternecks.  Hope I said that right.  See Baker Creek's catalog. DT are still on the chopping block. I'm pulling the 8" tall red noodle beans on the east side right now. I fussed around with the DT to untangle them and weave trellises and dividers and I think I hurt them. Plus the corn is on their south side. Next year I will have the dividers and supports in place before planting them. Yes, I'm burned out right now from the construction, etc., but full of hope for next spring. Believe me.

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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 9/16/2014, 10:42 pm

sanderson wrote:Audrey,  thanks.  The bad squares are 1 x 4, 1 x 3, and 6 single sq ft boxes spread around, so I can't "consolidate" them for a second bin area. Very Happy The yard is what it is, a modern tiny backyard.  Everything is tucked here and there.
.
Very Happy
DRATS! I thought you had a great solution to your compost. I really am spoiled with the size of our property!
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Post  Marc Iverson 9/16/2014, 11:03 pm

This is a lady who really earned her compost. And her tabletops. Things should be so much easier for you next year. I predict: You'll be lovin' it.

Re 40 pots, wow. That's a lot. Are you finding yourself mostly successful growing in pots? It's so different from growing in beds ...
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Post  sanderson 9/17/2014, 1:28 am

I'm having great success with 14 peppers, 3 eggplants, 2 tomatillos, onions from seeds, basil and other herbs in pots. Some of the peppers were over-wintered and all will go into the green house this winter along with the 3 eggplants. Borage and herbs in small pots didn't do well. I will probably get rid of the smallest pots due to the heat and dryness leading to fast drying of the Mix. Lesson learned.

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Post  sanderson 9/19/2014, 2:16 am

Was today a taste of Fall to come? 90*F Smile Took a day off. What is everyone else up to?

Berkeley compost #7 is cooking away. Turned the evenings of Day 3 and 5. Tomorrow, day 7, I will turn again.


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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 9/19/2014, 11:58 am

I'm going through my garden and culling the small fruit that won't make it to maturity on my melons.  I'm going to look at what I should pull to plant fall/winter crops outside my greenhouse.  Next week I'll be starting to wheelbarrow load my wood chip mulch and replenish the outside gardens.  

Time to gather the leaves that are falling in my front yard and collect them along with horse manure from the pasture to start a large compost load when I pull everything from the yard.  

I can do it as soon as the temps drop into the 80s, which is supposed to be next week.
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Post  sanderson 9/22/2014, 2:39 am

Progress is slowly being made on cleaning the backyard with this beautiful weather in the 90's. Raised beds: all, but one, have been raised, amended, and additional MM made and added to bring up the levels for the new box heights of 10 1/2". Only the corn and wonder beans get a reprieve from being ripped out right now. I hated to chop down the 5' high by 3' wide pink Zinnia. One square of 6" MM. I've never had Zinnias get taller than 3'!

Peppers and eggplants still doing great in the pots. Audrey, I will put them in the green house, and I was wondering if you top the eggplants. ??

I still haven't sowed any of the winter green seeds. Embarassed If I have to, I guess I can buy some 6-packs. Somehow it isn't quite the same, huh?

Day 9, turned the Berkeley pile tonight. I think it is doing great this time.

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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 9/22/2014, 11:38 am

I didn't top my eggplants last year, but I think you certainly could.  They won't really produce much if any fruit over the winter, just finish up what they already have started growing. I didn't get nearly as many eggplant off of the second year plants as the fresh ones last year so when they are done I'm going to pull them out and will simply grow new ones in the spring.  They shaded the beds too much in the winter sun.

Constantly learning!  

I am hoping to start gathering my horse manure this week and getting things ready to start my compost piles for the fall.  I'm sooooo ready for some sweater weather!
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Post  sanderson 9/22/2014, 1:38 pm

Audrey, thanks for your take on over wintering the eggplants. They are rather large and would take up a lot of room. I would rather OW the 1st and 2nd year peppers and save room for spring seedling trays.

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Post  sanderson 9/22/2014, 5:19 pm

audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:
I am hoping to start gathering my horse manure this week and getting things ready to start my compost piles for the fall.  I'm sooooo ready for some sweater weather!

Sweater Weather ditto.  Although, the current temps allow me to work outside longer before having to come in.

Can you describe how you are going to construct your compost pile?  Horse manure, yes, but what else?  In a cage or "free range pile?" For over-wintering? How many times do you turn it? Do you cover during the 3 days of rain? rofl

Thanks

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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 9/22/2014, 9:03 pm

sanderson wrote:
audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:
I am hoping to start gathering my horse manure this week and getting things ready to start my compost piles for the fall.  I'm sooooo ready for some sweater weather!

Sweater Weather ditto.  Although, the current temps allow me to work outside longer before having to come in.

Can you describe how you are going to construct your compost pile?  Horse manure, yes, but what else?  In a cage or "free range pile?"  For over-wintering?  How many times do you turn it?  Do you cover during the 3 days of rain? rofl

Thanks
LOL on the 3 days of rain :-)

It depends on how motivated I am on what I do with the compost pile.  I have one I've been turning every week or so this summer that's ready to be sifted so I can refill my trash can I store compost in in my greenhouse.  

If I have a LOT of greens I can use some deeply broken down wood chips and it will compost pretty well.  Since I try not to disturb my soil by digging down into it except to plant, I let my worms, watering and nature work it down into the soil.  So if the compost is almost all the way broken down the left over chips will simply be fresh mulch on the top of my beds.  

Also, two beds I developed last year were built simply by putting all of my garden waste from our first freeze on top of the ground I wanted to plant in this year along with fresh cow manure and letting it break down over the winter.  It was about 18" to 24" high when it started as I didn't take the time to use my chipper shredder on the tomatoes etc.  During the winter I would take the kitchen waste out there and mix it in and cover it with the garden debris.  By spring I had about four to six inches of loose compost on top of the soil.  I planted in it and then topped with 4 inches of wood chips for mulch.  That broke down really quickly and so in the heat of the summer I spread a deep layer of straw which is almost composted as well now.  An interesting part of that process is I don't have to cover the compost to prevent "leaching" as it's simply going down into the soil I want to improve like compost tea.  Those gardens were my most productive this year.  My table top SFG were just slightly behind them.

I just cleaned out my worm tubes in the SFG beds and scattered the castings over each of the table tops and raised beds.  Everything is still productive so I'm not tearing them up just yet - the luxury of having space to let things keep growing past their prime.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 9/22/2014, 11:14 pm

alright, you inspired me to get my pile going again this afternoon. I shoveled a large wheelbarrow load of horse manure from our pasture and layered it with the 75% composted pile. We'll see how well it heats up, I may need to add more when I turn it!
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Post  Marc Iverson 9/22/2014, 11:55 pm

I think I may be starting to get the inspiration I need. It's called "the weather finally cooling down a little." Sure, we'll still be getting some days in the 90's, but this summer has been ridiculous. I turned my compost pile exactly once.
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Post  sanderson 9/23/2014, 1:46 pm

audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:

I just cleaned out my worm tubes in the SFG beds and scattered the castings over each of the table tops and raised beds.  
Do you have 4" or 3" tubes? How do you harvest?

I had to empty the beds as we raised them. I pulled the tubes, filled with material and worms, and screened everything with coarse fabric netting. The netting is coarse enough that some of the worms could actually squeeze through the holes. A lot of MM had fallen into the tubes through the drilled holes so I really don't know how much was just worm castings. The material that fell through looked like fine coffee grounds.

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