1. Announcing the new awards/recognition feature - medals!
    Read MORE!
    (if you are logged in, this notice can be dismissed using the "x" to the top right of the notice)

  2. TEG Featured Thread: What did YOU do in your garden today
    Click HERE!
    (if you are logged in, this notice can be dismissed using the "x" to the top right of the notice)

  3. TEG Picture of the Week (POW) - Submit your Pics Now !!
    Click HERE!
    (if you are logged in, this notice can be dismissed using the "x" to the top right of the notice)

  4. Caption Contest Submissions - Pictures Needed
    Click HERE!
    (if you are logged in, this notice can be dismissed using the "x" to the top right of the notice)

peat moss substitute?

Discussion in 'Composting & Soil Building' started by Ariel72, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. Feb 21, 2011
    Ariel72

    Ariel72 Leafing Out

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    22
    The plan for the garden this year (after a lackluster year last year) is to take sort of a square foot gardening/ lasagna gardening approach by building up the soil rather than tilling it. I wish I would have thought of it in the fall so I could have started it then...but there ya go:/.

    I see lots of recommendations to mix or layer peat moss into it. Since peat moss is an expensive and non renewable resource are there any alternatives to it that will make my soil light and friable. Right now I have horse manure, rotted leaves, chicken manure mixed with seedy hay, corrugated cardboard, newspaper, and thought about buying a bale of alfalfa hay to compost in with everything else. When mowing season starts I'll be mulching with grass clippings.

    I should mention that my budget is pretty much zero and even finding $4 for a bale of alfalfa will be a bit challenging but thought it would be great for adding bulk and green matter. Everything else is donated or produced on farm.

    One more question...if I mix the "seedy" chicken litter with everything else and turn it everyday can I use it this year? This is an ambitious project. Finances are so low and jobs scarce that going hungry is a serious possibility, and something we're on the brink of already. It's a little scary but definitely motivating:). Thanx in advance. It's so comforting to know there is somewhere to come for advice. Sorry this is such a looooong post.
  2. Feb 21, 2011
    HunkieDorie23

    HunkieDorie23 Deeply Rooted

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    125
    Location:
    Georgia Bound
    I think the idea is to layer it to help absorb water and provide nutrients. I would not spend money to buy alfalfa if money is a issue. If you have rotting leaves and compost use those instead. Cardboard and newspaper at the bottom will keep the weeds down. Hay will bring more weed seeds into the mix and there is no need to pay for that. I use hay in my compost because that is what I put on the floor of the chicken coop and I got it for free. I figure the chickens get a lot of the seeds out of it before it goes into the compost pile. If you have a lot of manure take this time to layer the leaves, manure. and paper product into a awesome compost pile and then use compost for your garden soil. They don't call it black gold for nothing.

    There are some great threads for compost on this site. Worth taking a look.
  3. Feb 21, 2011
    Ariel72

    Ariel72 Leafing Out

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    22
    I use free hay for chicken bedding too. I'll bet the chickens have eaten a lot of those weed seeds. Chickens can be great garden helpers...until there are strawberries or tomatoes.
  4. Feb 21, 2011
    HunkieDorie23

    HunkieDorie23 Deeply Rooted

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2009
    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    125
    Location:
    Georgia Bound
    I had one that was really good in the garden. But last year the stupid things would go aroung pulling my onions up. I would let them in especially if we had just tilled because they ate the grubs and critters, but I had 2 they would go down the row and pull up the onions. I've got garlic planted this year so they are not allowed in, period.
  5. Feb 21, 2011
    April Manier

    April Manier Garden Ornament

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2010
    Messages:
    588
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    84
    Location:
    Eugene, Oregon
    It sounds like you have the makings of soil amendments already. I wouldn't till it every day, but maybe every week. Leaving it undisturbed will actually promote microbial action, which is what you are after. If you have a spot with lots of worms you could move them too. Throw your compost bucket on the bed and till that in once a week. Within a week or so, you'll have red wigglers in there working hard for you. Good luck on your noble project!
  6. Feb 21, 2011
    wifezilla

    wifezilla Deeply Rooted

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2009
    Messages:
    2,253
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    134
    Location:
    Colorado Springs - Zone 4ish
    Yes. Same with the ducks. Always let them at the straw first. If I use poopy duck bedding, I do not get weeds. Fresh straw = weeds every time.
  7. Feb 21, 2011
    lesa

    lesa Garden Addicted

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Messages:
    6,207
    Likes Received:
    206
    Trophy Points:
    277
    Location:
    ZONE 4 UPSTATE NY
    Remind me what zone you are in... Is it getting close to planting time for you? I still have enough snow on the ground that I am putting my chicken coop stuff right on the garden. That might not work for you, if you are in the South.
    Sounds like you have good plans. Keep us posted on your progress!!
  8. Feb 21, 2011
    hoodat

    hoodat Deeply Rooted

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2010
    Messages:
    3,527
    Likes Received:
    98
    Trophy Points:
    190
    Location:
    San Diego CA
    Guineas are less destructive in a garden because they don't scratch and prefer bugs to plants. They are also Hell on snails and slugs. Noisy dang things though.
  9. Feb 21, 2011
    Ariel72

    Ariel72 Leafing Out

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    15
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    22
    I'm not in the south now but I was raised in Tennessee. Now I'm in Indiana in zone 5b...so no, its not going to be planting time for a while:rolleyes:...but it will take me a while to gather additional material for this size garden, in order to build it up. I don't want to till it at all, but i can borrow a tiller for this first year if I need to.

    I have the horse manure pile started in a big old stall in the barn so it doesn't get all the nutrients leached out (we have an old horse whose only "work" is manure production). Wanted to be able to work on it without ice, snow, and deep mud slowing me down so much. I guess I'll start hauling all the other material there in buckets as soon as the ice storm stops...hehe.

    The goal is to have finished compost by the time its dry enough to plant. I'll have the chickens scratch through it and I'll pile it back up...over and over...til its done. There's even a bunch of 50 year old straw in the loft to push down and add. Unless you think I should leave the straw as is and use it for layering between the layers of compost to increase air circulation. This is my job right now so I have some time to devote to it.

    Everyone, including my husband, thinks I'm nuts, but having too much fun to care :lol:. Your encouragement is greatly appreciated and I'll be sure to let you know how it's coming along.

    P.S. To keep the chickens out of the garden when I don't want them in there (and can't babysit them) I have plans to build them a large portable chicken coop out of cattle panels and a tarp. I'm not sure if it will work, but those girls got into way too much trouble last year. They'll still be able to eat grass and bugs but I don't have to let them loose unless its the right time.

    Thanx for all your help.
  10. Mar 3, 2011
    Organics North

    Organics North Leafing Out

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    Wisconsin North Woods zone 3
    I just put the fence around the garden instead of around the chickens..;)

    IMO it is OK to till while you are still building the soil. Double digging organic matter deep in. Once you have the bed established then avoid deep digging, as to not harm the worms and micro life.

    Free ammendments? Do you burn wood? Sift out the char coal chunks add it to the garden, matter of fact burn a pile of brush part way and wash off the char coal and add it to the garden. Pick up rotted logs and break them up and add them to the garden, also bark from where someone was splitting wood or where a dead tree shed it.

    I use lots and lots of bark and rotted wood to build soil, just be sure to compensate with plenty of manure.

    Peat is good if your soil is too alkaline and you need to acidify it a bit. (I like it for that as my PH is neutral 7.0 and most garden plants like a bit more acidic, like 6.5) Then again you can use pine needles for that too.
    ON

Share This Page