sozobe
 
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 07:19 pm
I have a native wildflower garden, planted it two years ago, did pretty well last year (TONS o' black-eyed-susans), plan to let it do its thing again this year though I hope to carve out a section for vegetables.

Here's my question -- we have a compost pile but it's full, and we had put yard debris (twigs, etc) in the compost pile but when it filled up E.G. started throwing it on the garden (fall.) With the dried-up wildflowers and leaves from the fall/ winter, the garden now has about maybe 10 inches of just STUFF on top of it.

What he wants to do is mow it. :-? He says this will break it up into tiny pieces and will be nice and, ya know, organic. I say there are bound to be rocks and evil things lurking in there that are hazardous to the mower itself as well as the person wielding it, and that while the organic bits biz sounds nice I don't want to dig it in, because the wildflower garden is getting more and more established, and I don't want this stuff to just sit on top of the soil and block out the light.

I want to rake it up, put it in yard waste bags, and get rid of it, leaving nice exposed soil for wildflowers to grow out of (and weeds, but will try to get 'em -- didn't do a great job last year [although the wildflowers still won out.])

Any ideas/ suggestions appreciated.

Thanks.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,301 • Replies: 22
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 07:30 pm
hmmmm.....Get a pitchfork or garden rake (the hard tine type) and pull the undigested stuff out? s that what you're suggesting you do? Sounds like it could work. Then rake out the dirt so it's 2 or less inches at any one spot.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 07:32 pm
Roto-tiller would be a better idea, and they can be rented. Make him wear gloves and goggles, too.
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Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 07:34 pm
You could build or buy a compost bin. Put the stuff inside, add water, mix it around every so often, and then you will have the richest dirt ever.
To build one on the cheap, get an old pallet, most places give them away. Take it apart, use the wood to build a box with no top or bottom, easily tipped with wide enough spaces for the compost to breath.
or...
Dig it straight into the dirt in the areas where you want to grow the vegetable garden. It will take longer to break down but it will still fertilize the dirt, and break up the soil for better drainage.

edited to say pallet.........
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 07:39 pm
Bossman, I think she said it was on an existing garden - wouldn't want to rototill that.
0 Replies
 
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 08:39 pm
Soz...You are right and he is wrong but. of course, that has to broken to him diplomatically.
As I recall you live in the Boston area (?).
"Honey, it was very smart of you to shelter the bed with ten inches of crap, I mean mulch. But now it is time for Spring cleaning. I need a fresh palette."
Seriously, it was not a bad idea to heavily cover the bed but now you should get all of that stuff out and put it back in your compost pile or get rid of it.
-rjb-
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 08:40 pm
She's in or near chicago - same nasty winters though....
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 08:45 pm
I like that rjb... ;-)

Actually, Chicago. But same concept of sheltering the bed from a harsh winter.

littlek, right. (Don't want to mess up the existing garden.)

And I have a compost pile, too, not about starting one -- we may add another level on, though.

I'll use the existing compost we have for the vegetable section.

E.G. called his dad, (that was the deal, I ask you guys, he calls his dad Very Happy) and was told that mowing would be fine, as long as it leaves only a thin layer of mulch -- too much and we need to rake up the extra and get rid of it.

That sounds reasonable to me. Still worry about the mower (machine) and mower (person), but E.G. says he's gone through it several times and taken out the rocks and such.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 08:50 pm
So if it hasn't entirely composted yet, won't there be seeds spread throughout the garden?
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 08:50 pm
delete
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 09:08 pm
Clarification:

1.) I have a compost pile -- chicken wire, about a yard high and about 5 feet in diameter -- that was started almost 4 years ago and has lots of good compost on the bottom.

2.) It's full. We had, previously, been putting all of our compostables (including twigs and yard debris) in the compost pile, but it's well and truly full.

3.) Starting last fall, as my wildflower garden was dying off, E.G. started putting twigs, leaves, etc. on the garden rather than in the compost pile, since the compost pile is totally full.

4.) I'm trying to figure out what to do with the hardly-composted-at-all STUFF that is all over the garden -- dried-up wildflowers and weeds from last year, leaves, twigs, etc. It's already been pulled up -- the dried-up wildflowers and weeds are no longer attached, they were just pulled up and then put back on top of everything. Since the compost pile is full.

5.) I think what we'll do is go ahead and mow it -- the point there is not cutting things down, but grinding them up into little bits. My objection was that I thought it would be messy and would impair growth for the wildflowers, but E.G.'s dad says you can leave just a thin layer as mulch, which I hadn't thought of, and which is good because it helps keep the soil moist.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 09:10 pm
(I think the seeds being spread over the garden would be good, since it's mostly wildflowers, but that's one of the things I wanted feedback on.)
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 09:16 pm
aaaaaahhhhh, yep, I'd rake it up and bag it for pick up.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 09:35 pm
Oh, you would!

And you would know...

Can you tell me why you'd rather do that than mow it? (Grind it up into mulch...)
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 10:38 pm
I guess I think it'd be easier for one. I dunno what kind of leaves, but some aren't too friendly to plants. And 10 inches is too much even if it's mulched. Either bag it or put it in a new pile to add to your compost later.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 10:41 pm
Thanks!

Leaves are mostly from our giant elm, I think, but also a lot of miscellaneous neighborhood leaves.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 07:19 am
i see nothing wrong with adding a mulch bar to the discharge of the mower, set the blade heighth a bit higher for the first pass, then mow, and lower the blade (or raise the wheels) removing mulch is like removing fertile soil. If the black eyed susans are the perennial Rudbeckia type, tilling would tear them up and maybe set them back. Id rather move perennials by carefully digging them up and splitting.

If you mow and then work in a good BALANCED slow release fertilizer, this will be real nice.

The only times I actually remove duff (the last years plant crap), is when Ive had infestations of some fungus . Rudbeckias are pretty tough dudes and Ive had beds of just black eyed susans , coreopsis , and chrysanthemum gold and each of these plants produce a big amount of duff and, most importantly, the chrysanthemums and coreopsis have lots of preying mantid nests. SO , before he mows, check all thhe bushes and duff to see whethher there arent any mantid nests, just break these off and plunk them into the soil somewhhere where thhey wonmt get chewed up

I just read your last post. youve pulled up the plants so a mulching mower is the same as grinding it up. BUT dont ever pull the black eye susan again. Most are perennial and will come back after a hard freeze. They get better and bigger each year. AND it sounds like youve killed the preying mantids by dumping their nests on the ground exposing them to moisture .
SAVE THE PREYING MANTIS
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 07:56 am
Hehehe. Amazing how many different ways there are to attack something like this!

10" is way to much mulch for anything. Nothing will growth through that so you do have to do something.

Personally, I'd rake it all out of the flower beds, clean the branches/rocks out of the leaves and then mulch 'em with the mower and spread a THIN (an inch or so..) layer of mulch back around the flowerbed.

I've always done this in the fall and tried to rototill the mulched leaves into the ground in the spring but that was with a veggie garden and I could do it before I planted anything for the season.
0 Replies
 
gustavratzenhofer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 08:30 am
I think you need to find a better understanding of compost, Soz. What you have is simply yard waste. It didn't go through the proper process, e.g. worms, heat, turning, etc..

Bag it up and get rid of it. Then, study up a bit on composting and try it again.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 09:19 am
I think you don't have a very good understanding of this thread, Gus ol' boy. Read my long post with numbers in it, the one where most sentences end with "....since the compost pile is full".

Didn't know that about preying mantis nests!! :-( Hmph. Will keep that in mind for the future.

Fishin', that sounds really good, thanks.
0 Replies
 
 

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