Permaculture forum: Conversion of Established Beds

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Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
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Oberon46
Feb 27, 2012 10:11 AM CST
I have established flower beds. How can I convert them to use mulch and such without digging up all my plants. I bought six bags of fish mulch (made in Alaska) and was going to scatter it on the beds before things began to come up as a start. Composting doesn't seem like a good idea here because it is so cold on average (60F) that I didn't think stuff would work up a good rot. But would do it if I knew it would work. Confused
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Feb 27, 2012 12:12 PM CST
As long as the ambient air temp is tolerable for you, you can compost. There are different methods of composting, including hot and cold composting. Hot compost requires more attention but happens at a faster rate, cold composting is fine too, it just takes longer to reach a final state. The heat in hot compost is the result of bacterial action, not surrounding air temp. That said, if your temp is 30 below zero, achieving and maintaining hot compost through winter would be a bit of a challenge. But once the temp is reasonable, maybe 40°, you should be able to hot compost too. I'm referring to actual compost piles, not a couple of inches of mulch. A couple of inches of mulch isn't likely to heat up.

I don't know what fish mulch is, not a common thing in Ohio. But generally any organic matter can be used as mulch. You might want to keep it a couple of inches away from existing plant stems to avoid damage.

What is fish mulch? Does it stink like fish? Drawing critters with fish smell could be a problem, those critters might be anything from rats to bears....

Karen

Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Feb 27, 2012 2:13 PM CST
Not too likely. Worse would be my chihuaha. I live in town, not that it keeps the moose away, but my backyard is fenced enough to keep them out.

Whitefish, salmon, alaskan peat, seaweed, lime. PH is 6.5-7.0. No smell. Has not been heated to make sure that beneficial bacteria remain alive.

I may get a small composter and give it a try when it turns 40 degrees. I think you layer it: kitchen vegies, egg shells, brown stuff, green stuff, no meat or dairy (except eggs) and maybe shouldn't I add some of that compost starter that the greenhouses cell. We have one that is heavy into compost and worms.

"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
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kqcrna
Feb 27, 2012 2:42 PM CST
No, you don't need compost starter. Just greens and browns, a little water, flip to aerate occasionally, etc. And 40° isn't a magic number, just something off the top of my head that I thought you (not the compost) might find tolerable. My compost is out there all winter, often in subzero temps. It just doesn't break down much then, resumes when temps start to rise and I actually tend it.

Composting tutorial
http://sarasota.ifas.ufl.edu/compost-info/tutorial/index.sht...

Karen
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
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Oberon46
Feb 27, 2012 4:01 PM CST
Okay. I will give it a try. Thanks
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Cut Flowers Winter Sowing Charter ATP Member Seed Starter
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kqcrna
Feb 27, 2012 4:06 PM CST
Mary Stella, if compost wackos could pick a favorite saying it would most likely be "compost happens". It really does, with little to no human intervention. If you actively manage it, balance the greens and brown and water well, flip occasionally, it breaks down pretty fast. But if you just throw everything in a pile and let it rot, it will still be compost someday.

Karen
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Feb 27, 2012 4:56 PM CST
I like that approach "compost happens." But since our summer is pretty short and cool I would probably keep turning it to keep it working. Would like to have some compost before 2015. lol. I might try the three bin method also. Looks very practical.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Chris Powell
Glendale, AZ (Zone 9b)
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milkmood
Feb 27, 2012 8:41 PM CST
In the context of permaculture, mulching/composting ends up being a natural result to an assembled systemic environment. Mulching and composting is less of a forced procedure, which it tends to be in "traditional" gardening, and more of a result of the whole ecosystem within permaculture.

I, myself, am having to completely rearrange my thought process of gardening for food production. I want to get away from thinking of just gardening, into something more complete, which permaculture is.

I'd like to write an article on what permaculture is, and what it isn't. Bill Mollison, who is widely know as the father of modern permaculture, has some very specific elements that permaculture must contain in order for it to be called permaculture.

Exciting stuff to come!

C
[Last edited by milkmood - Feb 27, 2012 9:52 PM (+)]
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Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
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Trish
Feb 28, 2012 3:00 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Great idea for an article, Chris!
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Name: Chris Powell
Glendale, AZ (Zone 9b)
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milkmood
Feb 28, 2012 3:59 PM CST
I did a blog entry with a simple scenario describing permaculture. Until I get more time to do an (probably 2 part) article on what Permaculture is and what it isn't, check out the blog. http://garden.org/blogs/view/milkmood/

Enjoy!
C

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hazelnut
Feb 28, 2012 7:30 PM CST
Bring it on, Milkweed! I would like to see that article. I think getting into layers is a basic step toward permaculture and thinking vertically you can even do it in a whiskey barrel.

But I think, unless all you have is a 10th floor balcony, that you can get into all kinds of horizontal complexities, too. One thing I noticed growing up in the a Northern Michigan maple-beech forest, is that a naturally growing woods is far from homogeneous. There are the edges, the meadows, the wet areas, the conifers, the deciduous trees, and the fruiting srubs and trees, not to mention the wildlife that is part and parcel of a natural ecosystem.

I think the food forest concept and Bill Mollisons idea of zones takes this horizontal dimension into account.
[Last edited by hazelnut - Feb 29, 2012 8:46 AM (+)]
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Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Mar 2, 2012 6:05 PM CST
My husband read an article on deep digging, not tilling per se. He was all excited about it as it said you could grow prodigous crops that way. I guess I should go back and read your blog and the article to figure out how to explain why you shouldn't just churn up the ground. (durn "c" key keeps sticking Crying
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)

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hazelnut
Mar 3, 2012 11:58 AM CST
Oberon. The link to my no-till article was in the lasagna forum.

I hope its o.k. to replicate it here.

http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/208/

At the time we had a friend in Alaska who used potato barrels. There is a photo of them in the article. Also, some arguments for keeping soil right side up in gardens.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
Peonies Ponds Dahlias Canning and food preservation Lilies Permaculture
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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Oberon46
Mar 5, 2012 2:25 PM CST
Thanks hazelnut. I will print it off and have D read it. Could use a re-read myself since I couldn't seem to explain it very well
Mary Smiling
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Sherry
Northern California
Sunset Zone 17
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wcgypsy
Mar 5, 2012 2:30 PM CST
Those interested in permaculture may also want to read the writings of Masanobu Fukuoka, the author of The One Straw Revolution.
I could be wrong...
and.....
"maybe I should have kept my mouth shut....."

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hazelnut
Mar 5, 2012 4:11 PM CST
You can download a free copy of One Straw Revolution here

http://www.soilandhealth.org/copyform.aspx?bookcode=010140.f...

If it is for the purpose of study and research. Thanks to The Health and Science Library.
Name: Sherry
Northern California
Sunset Zone 17
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Pacific Northwest Seed Starter Region: California Plant Identifier
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wcgypsy
Mar 5, 2012 4:44 PM CST
Good idea...thanks for that.
I could be wrong...
and.....
"maybe I should have kept my mouth shut....."
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
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fiwit
Mar 5, 2012 6:43 PM CST
hazelnut said:You can download a free copy of One Straw Revolution here

http://www.soilandhealth.org/copyform.aspx?bookcode=010140.f...

If it is for the purpose of study and research. Thanks to The Health and Science Library.


I got all the way to clicking the "do not join" button, and after I did that, it gave me a server error. I copied/pasted the error msg and sent it to the librarian.
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Name: Stephanie Gonzales
Texas (Zone 8a)
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StephGTx
Mar 9, 2012 9:25 AM CST
I got the same error msg
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

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hazelnut
Mar 9, 2012 11:27 AM CST
thanks fiwit. Let us know if the problem is corrected. On Straw is an important book. You can probably find it around University used bookstores if you are near one.

You can buy it Amazon for around 10 bucks.

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dst...
[Last edited by hazelnut - Mar 9, 2012 11:30 AM (+)]
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