wunderlong88

Raised beds/soil question

We built raised beds last year and amended the soil according to Howard Garrett's book for Texas vegetable gardening. We also added a large quantity of llama beans (manure, which doesn't have to be composted) and seaweed from our local creek. We have truck loads of mulch from the local county tree trimming that we use on top of the soil. This is my second season to grow veggies and I feel like everything is doing really well. I am trying to garden organically.

Between the fall garden and the current spring/summer garden we just lightly loosened and turned the dirt with a 4 pronged pitchfork of sorts. From reading I decided against roto tilling (except when we initially mixed all of our soil and amendments). I replanted and put a new layer of mulch.

I have a compost bin and a lot of llama beans and seaweed that can be added periodically but I am not sure how to go about this. I didn't try to do it in between the fall and spring gardens but I will want to I would think before the next plantings. My problem is the level of dirt in the raised beds is really about as full as it needs to be and I don't know if I am supposed to remove some of the soil and add new composting materials/manure etc? I don't want to overly disrupt the beneficial life that is hopefully maturing in the dirt.

How do you add compost without being overfull in a raised bed? What is the best technique for this?

Thank you,


Linda

Comentarios (12)

  • theforgottenone1013 (SE MI zone 5b/6a)
    hace 3 años
    Última modificación: hace 3 años

    If you find any worms in your soil then you are already set. Don't waste your money buying any. As I said above, if the conditions are right the native worms will multiply. And worms don't stay in one spot. They migrate according to the conditions. Adding more worms to "speed things up" isn't likely to do anything. My guess is that they will just migrate out of the beds.

    Oh, and organic matter breaks down just fine by itself. Worms help but are not needed.

    Rodney

    Featured Answer
  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)
    hace 3 años
    Última modificación: hace 3 años

    Understand that organic material doesn't increase the height of a bed permanently. As it degrades, and the organics mostly turn into carbon dioxide and ammonia, it pretty much disappears. That is, as you keep adding compost to a bed yearly, it doesn't keep getting higher! And a well amended bed will keep getting lower.

    To the extent that you simply can't add more compost to your bed because it is already overflowing, and to the extent the bed was built properly with a large fraction of organics, maybe you just don't have to add anything.

    I didn't realize that llama poop doesn't need to be composted. Why is that? Maybe it doesn't have as much urea as other manures? If so, then, by the same token, it won't help a compost pile that much.

  • rgreen48
    hace 3 años
    Última modificación: hace 3 años

    I would suggest that it depends on what goals you are using the manure and water plant material to help achieve.

    If the goal of the manure is nutrients and biology, then make a manure tea and apply it as a liquid.

    The plant material can be top dressed as a mulch. Although, I would scrape back the wood chip material first if any of that is left, then replace it back on top.

    If you're hoping to use the materials to improve tithe and soil structure, you'll need to make your beds deeper - adding another run of board height - or wait until you get a bit more decomposition in the bed.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)
    hace 3 años
    Última modificación: hace 3 años

    Ruminants that produce manure in the form of dry pellets are generally safe to apply directly to a garden without composting. These include llamas, alpacas, goats and rabbits. By 'safe' I mean the manures can be applied fresh from the field or pen without concerns about 'burning' the plants from high urea concentrations. However, it is always advised to compost any manures thoroughly - or at least age them at least 6 months - if applied to an edible garden to avoid the transmission of any pathogens.

    I used to have a couple of bunnies as pets for my daughter when she was growing up and considered them my little fertilizer factories :-) I would apply their pellets directly as a top dressing or mulch to various plants in my garden (no edibles however) with rather amazing results. Since their diet was heavily focused on alfalfa, this was nearly a case of applying barely digested alfalfa pellets or meal to the plants. And since alfalfa contains a natural plant growth hormone, triacontanol, which encourages strong root development and basal stem growth, bunny poop applied directly to ornamentals like roses, clematis and lilies produced some prodigious growth!! Llama poop is just as good but a tad harder to come by ;-)) By all means I would include it mixed into the raised bed soil.

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)
    hace 3 años

    Thank you. Very interesting. So I interpret that to mean that dry poop is low in urea? That would mean that such dry poop is not really as much an "energizer" for compost activity as is wet poop. The wetness is largely urine, and the urine contains urea. It's the high urea in the latter, and the rapid production of ammonia that is produced by urea that will burn plants AND which kicks composting activity into high gear.


  • linda_8a_westofdfw_tx
    Autor original
    hace 3 años

    You might find this interesting about llama beans - https://paradisefoundfiber.com/resources/the-wonders-of-llama-poop/

    I have nine llamas right now so now shortage of llama beans! They are totally pasture fed and their manure has done wonders when we pour buckets full directly into holes before planting trees or shrubs. I put about 1/3 llama beans in my soil when we made our garden beds originally. It breaks down very quickly. I have llama tea made all the time also and pour it on my veggies from time to time.

    I planted tomatoes from seed last July and had tomatoes through Christmas (I covered them the first couple of freezes). I had some that the slices were the size of corn tortillas.

    We put in soil, llama beans, seaweed and the amendments listed in Howard Garrett's book in the amounts he says too for about 14" deep in our raised beds. They aren't overfull yet I was just thinking they would become that way. Didn't realize that wouldn't happen.

    My compost (which is mainly vegetable/fruit scraps from the kitchen) wasn't ready between the fall and spring garden but it will be before I plant again so I just didn't realize how to do it or how it worked. I was concerned about disturbing the dirt or removing any since I read not to till and that you don't want to disturb the earthworms and the beneficial life too much.


  • theforgottenone1013 (SE MI zone 5b/6a)
    hace 3 años
    Última modificación: hace 3 años

    To till or not is a personal preference. And even then how much "damage" is done to the soil depends on your definition of tilling. Using a garden fork isn't the same as a rototiller.

    In my opinion any disturbance to the soil will be offset by the addition of organic matter. Worms are worms. Don't worry about disturbing them. They multiply readily if conditions are right.

    Rodney

  • PRO
    H.E.D.E Gardens and landscaping
    hace 3 años
    Última modificación: hace 3 años

    Hi linda great job on soil and compost ! I asure you no more compost is needed for now. What i woukd like to suggest is a bucket of worms :]. Since your beds are full, then the decomposition rate is not fast enough. And the nutrition isnt being added by the compost but by the byproduct of the biolife and worms in the soil. Worms will make more natural nitrogen available for the plants. Worms reproduce pretty well in raised beds so its a long term solution as well.

  • linda_8a_westofdfw_tx
    Autor original
    hace 3 años

    Ok...I'll check into worms!

  • Richard Brennan
    hace 3 años
    Última modificación: hace 3 años

    It sounds like you are off to a great start. But your soil may have a bit of organic indigestion trying to incorporate all of that material. You may want to take a year off of the compost. If you are doing a lot of vegetable production, maybe add only a complete organic fertilizer to replenish the minerals that deplete.

    Regarding the height of the beds - do you have enough room for mulch? When I am building beds I always have to remember to put in those extra few inches to hold summer mulch (straw, usually) and winter mulch (shredded leaves).

  • susanzone5 (NY)
    hace 3 años

    You're from Texas...I interpreted "llama beans" as "lima beans" with a southern accent (!), wondering what the heck they did for the garden. Thanks for the laugh!

  • daninthedirt (USDA 8a, HZ10, Cent TX, Sunset z30)
    hace 3 años

    Those llama's. they're just fulla' beans!

    I agree that no more compost is needed for now. Worms sound like fun.

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