Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Started Over Again and... I22gcj10Started Over Again and... 14dhcg10

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Join the forum, it's quick and easy

Square Foot Gardening Forum
[table bgcolor=#000000 height=275][tr][td]
Started Over Again and... Toplef10Started Over Again and... 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Started Over Again and... I22gcj10Started Over Again and... 14dhcg10

[/td][/tr][/table]
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Started Over Again and...

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plantoid
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marasella
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Post  marasella 4/1/2019, 11:07 pm

Hi - I'm in Valley Village, north of Los Angeles. 

 
I'm an avid, but off-and-on, 30-year organic gardener with some successes, many failures. I bought Mel's book 5 or 6 years ago and immediately ignored depth advice thinking more is better. FAIL. I let it lay for a year or two and enriched my local Whole Foods Market instead, bah.  I tried again and then, this past season I had the best results I've ever had - a winter garden of all things!  Lots of broccoli, cauliflower, chard, beets, kale, bok choy, etc. I can't explain this phenomenon but now I am very pleased and confident and have started planting spring stuff.
 
No, I didn't change the depth, I just couldn't manage it. Instead, I just ignored the depth issue and carried on. I didn't consciously change the mix but I might have gotten closer to Mel's recommendations. I know I watered more than he recommends and I think that is a key issue for So Cal. 
 
I did start composting (again) and was able to actually produce enough to thinly top-dress that winter garden so that might have helped. I've also had many composting failures, don't laugh, but I might be the only person who couldn't manage a simple Back Porch tumbler, right? I finally found the compost tower guy who uses milk crates. I liked it because it's sort of a microcosm and I thought I might get a better idea of how it all works, percentages and stuff. Being a mature single lady, I got nervous just looking at all your compost corrals and pitchforks, let alone the guy with the machete! I now have 6 lined milk crates in 2 stacks and they are really cooking the good stuff super-fast! I gathered a big bag of leaves last autumn, got coffee grounds from a cafe, a box of organic straw from some guy on Amazon, and used the leftover stuff in the tumbler along with all kitchen scraps, blended with a handful of leaves or straw. It's much easier to understand the percentage of green/brown on this scope.
 
So I have lurked around this website for a few years without posting much but taking it all in. For a while, I had an anxiety attack every time I came here thinking I'll never be able to achieve what these people have. 
(Bow to the goddess, sanderson). Now, well, maybe I can!
 
So – a couple of questions; I bought a bucket of red worms, 300 the guy said. I put half in my 3' x 4' bed, the rest divided among 3 of the compost crates. I see the worms in the bed but not in the crates. I asked the guy if the compost might get too hot for the worms and he said no problem. What's the deal? And, Mel's new book says OK to compost vegetable and fruit peels but not kitchen scraps. I'm confused.
But I'm very happy to be here, at last.   
 
Best, Mara
marasella
marasella

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Join date : 2014-04-16
Location : so ca

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Post  countrynaturals 4/2/2019, 12:31 am

Welcome, Mara. I'm in Nor Cal and definitely do better with a winter garden here, too. Our summers are too hot to grow anything. What doesn't die, just sits and waits for fall. Rolling Eyes  

I can't help with the worms, but I'm sure one of the experts will be here, soon. Again, glad you\'re here
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Post  plantoid 4/2/2019, 4:17 am

Hi Mara,
 I suspect when Mel said don't compost kitchen scraps he was referring to factory  processed foods left on the plates ,  cooked meat & cooked veg  incase  it goes sour or more likely attracts vermin .

  You can use all raw vegetable & fruit waste from your kitchen as well as fish guts , fish skins & shrimp ,prawn, lobster, waste .

Now you have some experience under your belt you can expand on what you've learnt .

If you wander into the"  Berkely 18 day hot composting " website they have  some interesting lists of what you can successfully compost in you home composting bins . It gives lists of green and browns as well as percentages to use

https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t18500-compost-berkeley-18-day-hot-method?highlight=Berkeley
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Post  AtlantaMarie 4/2/2019, 7:34 am

Hi Mara. Welcome (again) from Atlanta, GA. Glad you've decided to come forward... :-)

I do know that worms really don't like light. It physically hurts them apparently. So do your crates have openings in the sides where light can get in? They may have migrated or escaped. (Or the birds may have gotten them. I catch them digging through my planters.)
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Post  OhioGardener 4/2/2019, 9:40 am

marasella wrote:So – a couple of questions; I bought a bucket of red worms, 300 the guy said. I put half in my 3' x 4' bed, the rest divided among 3 of the compost crates. I see the worms in the bed but not in the crates. I asked the guy if the compost might get too hot for the worms and he said no problem. What's the deal? And, Mel's new book says OK to compost vegetable and fruit peels but not kitchen scraps. I'm confused.
But I'm very happy to be here, at last.  

Hi, Mara!  Redworms won't stay in garden beds for long unless there is a lot of organic material for them to eat, but regular earthworms will normally move into the garden beds.  If your compost is hot, the worms will move out because they cannot survive the heat. But, if it is finished compost, and no longer heating, they will stay there if there is anything for them to eat. The problem with finished compost is that most of the food redworms prefer has already been broken down by all of the microbes. In general, adding redworms to a compost bin is not necessary nor beneficial to producing the compost, unless you are doing "vermicomposting", which is a totally different process.

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"In short, the soil food web feeds everything you eat and helps keep your favorite planet from getting too hot. Be nice to it."  ~ Diane Miessler, "Grow Your Soil"
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Post  sanderson 4/3/2019, 3:53 am

Red Wigglers used for vermicomposting are different from earthworms.  Build a bed and fill with Mel's Mix and the earthworms will move in.  Since you are adding more compost with each planting or topping-off with compost in mid summer, they will be happy.

Red Wigglers are very small worms with small mouths.  They eat the microbes like bacteria and fungus that grows on and breaks down the moist veggie scraps and shredded paper in their bin.  My winters are mild so the little Red Wigglers can survive year around.  I used 3" PVC "worm tubes" directly in the bed and fed them weekly or so with produce scraps, coffee grounds, corn meal, whole grain bread pieces, etc.  Every year I moved the tubes to new locations within the beds and they found them rather quickly.

The tubes had 1/2" holes and caps.  The holes were all below 5 1/2" so the holes would always be covered with Mel's Mix. Started Over Again and... Worm_t11
Started Over Again and... Womr_t10

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Post  mrschc 6/27/2019, 12:24 am

I love my red wigglers and they take a ton of work outside SOooo I have two bins in the house. A shoebox and a shirt box. I started them in the shoe box and when that gets full, I dump them into a shirt box. I do harvest castings periodically before dumping and when the shirt box gets full it goes into the compost pile after I pull new worms for the shoe box. >^,,^<
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Post  sanderson 7/3/2019, 9:00 pm

Glad you are having a positive experience with the red wigglers. How long have you working with this set-up? Very Happy

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