Planting in compost

ceresone(missouri ozarks)January 7, 2008

If you just spread your compost on the garden, and never till or dig it in, arent you planting IN compost?Dont you need soil? and in raised beds, just spreading compost on the bed, not digging in, do you no longer plant in soil?Because of years of just putting on compost? Just questioning?

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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

You are correct, you need to plant in the soil. You spread the mulch all over in a thick layer, but you pull it back and plant into the soil with the mulch piled all around it.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 1:24AM
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Some people will advocate planting in compost. In fact, I've heard that melons like to be grown in pure compost.

It won't be long until you hear from the ones who advocate planting in compost. :)

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 4:40AM
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If you spread compost on top of the soil in your garden when you plant things there you will be planting in soil, not compost. To be able to plant in compost you would need to pile on anout 8 to 12 inches of compost and no one I know makes enough compost to do that. The inch, or maybe two, that you would spread is not enough for plants roots to root in so they will go to the soil under the compost and the soil bacteria will, eventually, work that compost into the top 6 to 8 inches of your soil.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 6:56AM
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Last summer, I grew a wonderful garden in 15" deep lasagna beds. I doubt many of the plant roots went 15" down to find soil. I can't explain it. I only know it worked beautifully.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 8:17AM
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whip1 Zone 5 NE Ohio

I'm not advocating planting in compost, but last year I grew a canna in a sealed pot with nothing but almost finished compost.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2008 at 9:13AM
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Mommy, you would be surprised how far a plants roots extend. While it may somewhat depend on the plant I have seen vegetable plant roots extend way beyond 15 inches.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2008 at 6:58AM
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For one specialty crop that I grow in the greenhouse (certain peppers), I sometimes plant in pure vermicompost. The peppers grow fine in the pots full of the mature vermicompost, and often perform better than seeds of the same type planted at the same time in a more traditional potting mix.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 1:27PM
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Here's an example of people growing vegetables in compost without soil (see link and scroll down). Their crops look amazingly healthy and productive.

When you see those warm-weather veggies in the pics (melons, squash, cucumber, and others, keep in mind that Lund, the City in Sweden where these folk say they are located, is on Latitude 55. To give you an idea of how far North they are at: the Southern tip of Alaska is also 55 Latitude.

That they can grow these warm-weather veggies to maturity is truly an accomplishment. The power of (unfinished) compost!!!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 1:31PM
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Here's the link that was omitted above. Hope Ceresone in the Ozarks finds the information he/she's looking for and comes back. Hint, hint..... ;-)

Another comment to the hotbed method: it really extends the season several months. I'd love to try it but need a way to transport the manure from there to here.......

Here is a link that might be useful: Swedish hotbed: composting and veggie cultivation

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 6:19PM
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I have a lovely little hill in partial shade in my garden that was the last resident's compost pile. It is crying out for plants & flowers. I was thinking of hydrangeas, astilbes, hechuras, maybe some other shade plants that would turn that corner into a spectacular addition to my sunny garden areas. However, I don't know how the depth of the compost would affect these plants. Anything I should add to it? Will this work? Any ideas out there?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 12:00PM
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Oops! I forgot to mention in my above note that the compost hill is overrun with nettles that will have to be removed first. Any suggestions about how to go about how to do that permanently?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 12:06PM
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I am now in my fourth year of growing totally in compost. Our town picks up our lawn clippings etc and makes compost, which we can then pick up. There is a local landscaper who will deliver yards of compost to me from the town facility, so I made raised beds and filled them with compost, no soil at all, 10" deep. Great cukes, lettuce and tomatoes, also radishes, green beans and bell peppers, best I've ever gotten.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 3:48PM
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Your opinion needed: I have two 6x6 foot raised garden beds approx 22" high. We had so many dried leaves in our yard that I created a couple of layers of the following at the bottom of each bed: 8" of leaves, 1 inch of cow manure compost and 1 inch of topsoil. This is my attempt to "compost" but I also want to grow veggies. I have about 8 inches of space left in each bed that I plan to fill (right on top of the layers) with a garden mix (1/3 compost, 1/3 soil from down east, and 1/3 topsoil). Am I crazy to believe I can successfully grow vegetables on top of this, essentially active compost heap? Is there anything I should do at this point to improve my chances of success?

First time gardener.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 1:56AM
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mustard_seeds(4 -Onalaska Wisconsin)

wow slee! those are some mighty deep beds Is it simply piled up this high or is there an actual 22 inch enclosure aound beds? The leaves, manure, and compost will shrink quite a bit over the season. I just wonder about you having to reach down into them or smaller plantings next year being "shaded" by the enclosure of your bed. Tell us about your beds and the enclosure - do they have to stay this deep for a reason (accessability)? Reaching into the center of 6 foot bed is a bit hard, depending on the crop too - some advocate for 4 foot deep beds. If you have simply "piled" this stuff without an enclosure, you could still shorten the depth - let us know! Sounds like you have been working hard and I know that folks who have made raised beds too deep will not want you getting too frustrated come harvest time.

Wishing the best - Rachel

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 7:57AM
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Hi Slee,
Some pictures of what you are doing would be nice, but to allay some fears....
Most of my raised beds are 24"deep, and 5'4" wide and because of the height,the width is no problem,when someone says the 4' wide beds are essential ,it is true only if they have no height......

Now as far as planting in fresh compost (uncured/working), it won't work,you will burn your roots,if I were you ,I would fill the beds up the rest of the way,mix it in real good ,keep it moist (perhaps covered) and plan on a glorious next spring planting season (you may even be able to pull off a fall harvest ;-)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 11:35AM
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I just love the raised beds with concrete blocks. I have never seen that before. But I am going to check the price of those first to see if it is feasible for me. That is so neat, really!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 6:57PM
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I've started using full but undecomposed compost bins as elevated planting beds ... make a shallow saucer in the material, cover it with newspaper, fill it with dirt or finished compost, then plant tomatoes or squash in the saucer with a drip line for watering.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2010 at 11:58AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Wow that lettuce looks scrumptious Jonhuges!

I take the old potatoes that have shriveled up and grown green shoots and bury them in the compost pile each Spring, and get some nice potato plants with a crop of little potatoes in the fall. They would probably produce more if the pile were in sun instead of almost full shade.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 7:38PM
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What holds your blocks together? I see your planting in the block cells except for the corners. How did you tie these together AND did you put a footing under he blocks?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 3:12AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Lazy gardens, I love that picture. Creates an entirely new definition of raised beds. :-)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 12:11PM
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Those tomatoes look really happy, and the lettuces are so pretty it would be hard to harvest them! I've grown potatoes in a similar set-up, and had good luck growing peas in "comforter compost". It seems to work best if there are some almost-rotted leaves and some good soil layered in.

Here is a link that might be useful: more growing in compost pictures

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 8:52PM
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I am finishing up a similar retaining wall that is doubling as a raised bed. The blocks are joined with mortar. I have the first two of 6 bed sections done, one of them planted. All of them will be back filled with loose native soil up to one block below the top and topped with planting soil for the remaining block (blocks are 8" high). The first bed that is planted in compost only. The issues I've had are with the lack of water retention (it gets wet but is dry down to an inch or so within hours of sun exposure), it has settled a lot during watering, and based off the few emerging seedlings, there has been some drifting. The second bed has been laid, but not planted yet. It is a compost, peat, perlite mix.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 5:58PM
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Check out my video's on how I built the raised beds (9 of them /one minute apiece) and if you have any more questions ,please ask ;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Raised Beds by Jon (see all 9 short videos ;-)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2010 at 8:02PM
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Well I've got my cabbages and onions,pepper,carrots,tomatos,melons in a raised compost bed about four to five inches deep and all except the tomatos are doing great.The tomatos look real bad don't know why.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 10:32PM
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When you talk of planting in compost......Doesn't it matter what is the source of the compost? For example, I assume that compost made predominately from leaves and crass clippings, is going to be very different from composted cow manure? I am about to fill some new raised beds for planting and was planning on using a lot of aged, fully composted cow manure (I had 5 yards delivered this year).

Any advice on the percentage of the composted manure I can put in the beds without burning the seedlings/young plants ?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 7:05AM
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Mandolls I just had 12 tons brought to my house today I had it dumped over my older compost pile.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 1:13AM
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Twelve tons? I think I could bury my entire house in 12 tons of the stuff!!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 5:44AM
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True if I had the room he could deliver this four times a week at twenty dollers a load.My worms are going to be sooooooooooo happy.LOL!!!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 9:56AM
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Thats really not fair! I paid $25 a cubic yard + $30 for delivery - and I thought it a good deal.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 6:16PM
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Mandolls During the fall&winter he puts it in his corn fields but after the corn is planted he has no way to get rid of it.He has old piles 15to20 feet high around his barn of old cowmanure.I almost told him that was the pure black gold.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2010 at 12:10PM
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