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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Avoiding Last Year's Mistakes

I made 2 really silly mistakes last year and I am pleased to say that I remembered them well enough to avoid them this year.

The first mistake was my compost.   I have a tumbler compost bin.  I add all my kitchen scraps and shredded paper to it.  It doesn't work like they advertise.  It never heats up, but it breaks down eventually.  Most important to me, the fresh high-quality kitchen scraps are not available to scavengers like raccoons.  I use the tumbler only for that reason.  As soon as the stuff is beyond scavenging, I move it to my real (normal") compost bins which work very well.

Well, last Spring my real compost bins were all full of cornstalks, flower canes and other stuff which was slow to break down.  So I used the material directly from the compost tumbler and dug it into the soil in my long trellis bed.  I know about sheet-composting, where you just bury all the fresh scraps straight into the soil.  So, no problem, right?

The second mistake was my fertilizer.  I have 2 kinds of organic fertilizers.  One is "W.O.W." (8-2-4) which is a corn gluten product.  It is great for lawns because on the nitrogen and because the corn gluten inhibits seeds from growing the initial root.  That really cuts down on the dandelions and other weeds if you time the application properly.  The corn gluten doesn't harm established plants at all and it is a fine source of nitrogen.  The other is "N Lite" (2-5-6).  I like having the 2 of them because I can use either separately or blended (10-7-10), according to what the plants want.

OK, so here's what happened last year.  First, I got a 1,000 melon and cuke seedlings sprouting from the lousy compost tumbler material!  I couldn't distinguish MY melon and cuke seedlings from the ocean of hybrid melon and cuke seedlings.  I tried to guess which ones were mine for a month, but finally pulled them all out.  I replanted.

That's where the second mistake came into play.  After scuffle-hoeing the whole area several times to make sure all the scrap melon seeds were spent, I carefully added a blend of the fertilizers to the soil and planted all my regular small crops.  Most of my good crops are seedlings grown indoors and transplanted out.  But I also have all those radishes, carrots, beets etc that are direct-seeded.

The fertilizer included the corn gluten.  That stuff that inhibits seeds from sprouting...  It was a month before I realized why nothing was growing!  ARGGHH!

Things are growing better this year...


Jacqueline said...

It's always nice when we remember to learn from our mistakes!...Good for you Mark; I'm sure your yard/garden is looking wonderful this year.

Verdant Wilds said...

At least it was only two mistakes!! I was making two a week when we first moved here!

We just have a compost heap and one year I got a canteloup melon grow from a discarded seed. If I would have tried to actually grow one, I would have failed probably.

AFSS said...

I think we made a mistake using metal buckets for out upside down tomatoes. I think they are getting to hot. Never thought of that when I suggested getting the metal instead of the plastic because it would last longer. ~Alasandra