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I have accumulated compost for two years covering large area along fence line. If I cover with straw, would I be able to plant potatoes or--? as did Ruth Stout. This is rocky ground and I find it very hard to cultivate. Do I have to actually work the soil under all that compost or will it in time allow me to grow things within the compost itself?
-- Dorothy A. Welch (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 25, 2000
I planted potatoes under alot of mulch this year, didnt do to bad, considering the weather I had
-- STAN (email@example.com), October 25, 2000.
Dorothy, this is exactly how we started our raised beds, with composted manure, hay, leaves etc from the dairy goat barn. In fact other than the small amount of soil-less mix that comes around a tomatoe plant, none of my beds have ever had dirt added to them. Even now when they compost down in the beds I just simply add more manure to them, around the plants as mulch. The "soil" is rich and thick and full of worms. In newer beds you may have to only grow prestarted plants, but as the compost becomes soil, you can eaisly start seeds directly in the ground. I grow more in my raised beds because plants can be planted so much closer together than anyone I know who plants in long rows. So much so that we are selling our Troy Built Tiller, which only got used twice last year (my husbands toy) Vicki
-- Vicki McGaugh TX (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 25, 2000.
It sounds like we have a similar problem ie lousy soil. Here its all sand with misc junk left over from a junk yard that was here many years ago. Rather than trying to deal with the junk (misc nuts, bolts, washers, broken glass etc.) we've been building soil on top of the sand with many loads of leaves hauled in by the city. We winrow them a couple feet deep, 4-10' wide and however long and apply blood meal heavily for the winter composting. The following year we plant larger seeds directly into the beds and the year after that we plant the smaller seeds. So far, so good.
-- john leake (email@example.com), October 26, 2000.
We use the potatoes to help work the 'post down. Help the worms out alot.
-- Jay Blair (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 26, 2000.
Dorothy: For the benefit of others I'll answer your e-mail here. I use the blood meal as a nitrogen supplement to hasten and activate the compost. Carbonacous materials need nitrogen to break down. Thats why saw dust and wood chips are not recommended as a soil ammendment unless you're willing to wait a season for it to break down or ad nitrogen. You might also want to ad some lime to balance the ph---too acidic otherwise.
-- john leake (email@example.com), October 27, 2000.