What to put in a garden box

Gardening with Rabbits

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I have a box 10 x 4 that I usually plant lettuce and Swiss chard in. This spring I added some composted cow manure bought from Walmart. The lettuce does not look that good and I planted radishes, parsnips, carrots and turnips in a row. I have plenty of leaves but no root crops. I am pulling it all up and I want to refill this box. I might even take the box itself to the edge of the garden because over the years the maple tree has gotten bigger and I think getting too shady there. If you had to go buy everything to put in a box, what would you buy to fill it?
 

digitS'

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Mary, you don't say how deep this box is.

Delivered by the truckload, I don't know what the cost of topsoil is. I mix a potting soil every year for perennial transplants. Since I have dahlia roots stored in peat moss each winter, that leftover peat moss accounts for 1/3 of the mix.

Another 1/3 is either my garden soil or bagged topsoil. The final 1/3 is my compost.

One needs to be careful about buying "topsoil." Often, it is a mix of wood chips and soil. Something we may want to be careful of is sand content, especially if the soil is coming by the yard. I don't want too much sand or wood and will snoop around the pallets of soil looking for a bag leaking some of its contents. Nearly always, there is at least one.

My compost isn't the best. Often, it includes garden soil to seal the pile in the fall. Even if I have it for over a year, I won't be turning it and it will likely be quite rough. I screen everything for the pots but, you know, at some point organic material will be dust. We aren't really stopping the decomposition by filling a pot or planter. Counting it as 1/3 is discretionary ;) but, it can be pretty good stuff.

If I was to substitute a commercial compost, I would want that to be a "composted" cow or chicken manure. A combination would be good. If the N-P-K is listed, it would likely be especially quality stuff. Something from a farm would be variable. The horse manure that I have gotten by the pickup loads has mostly been a mistake. In my experience, owners of horses make too much use of wood shavings, which is good for the horse and stable but not for garden soil.

Peat moss is dang near dust. Kind of a petrified organic material ...

Steve
 

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Mary, you don't say how deep this box is.

Delivered by the truckload, I don't know what the cost of topsoil is. I mix a potting soil every year for perennial transplants. Since I have dahlia roots stored in peat moss each winter, that leftover peat moss accounts for 1/3 of the mix.

Another 1/3 is either my garden soil or bagged topsoil. The final 1/3 is my compost.

One needs to be careful about buying "topsoil." Often, it is a mix of wood chips and soil. Something we may want to be careful of is sand content, especially if the soil is coming by the yard. I don't want too much sand or wood and will snoop around the pallets of soil looking for a bag leaking some of its contents. Nearly always, there is at least one.

My compost isn't the best. Often, it includes garden soil to seal the pile in the fall. Even if I have it for over a year, I won't be turning it and it will likely be quite rough. I screen everything for the pots but, you know, at some point organic material will be dust. We aren't really stopping the decomposition by filling a pot or planter. Counting it as 1/3 is discretionary ;) but, it can be pretty good stuff.

If I was to substitute a commercial compost, I would want that to be a "composted" cow or chicken manure. A combination would be good. If the N-P-K is listed, it would likely be especially quality stuff. Something from a farm would be variable. The horse manure that I have gotten by the pickup loads has mostly been a mistake. In my experience, owners of horses make too much use of wood shavings, which is good for the horse and stable but not for garden soil.

Peat moss is dang near dust. Kind of a petrified organic material ...

Steve
When we first made our garden we had a truck deliver topsoil and we were lucky it worked out. My truck has not been running and one of the reasons I did not get a load of manure this spring, but it is running now. I will look for some organic compost or some topsoil. I have not been doing a very good job in the last few years with making compost, but this year I am on the mend and I may try to get a small compost bin to cook and do it right. The box is only a foot deep. I also have a really, really, really, really bad weed problem of I think it is creeping buttercup. It was bad but this year I am shocked because it is everywhere. I am thinking of putting tarps down in different areas on the outside of the garden or putting cardboard down and covering it with half composted material. I am just going to move the box and there is another box with strawberries just overrun with weeds and I am going to eat the strawberries. They are all June bearing and then take that box up and have DS mow and turn it all back into yard. I have big plans, but I need compost and soil. Would bagged chicken manure from places like Walmart be good?
 

ducks4you

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@digitS' , you may be right about the amount of wood shavings that most horse owners use. I buy/use most of the 50 bales of straw that I buy every year. I used a LOT of straw this last year for warmth and bc 2 of my horse poo directly on it, so easy clean up.
I would give up on the stuff you got from the stable. Where I dump from stalls will break down and grow plants. I see it happen every year. Plus it makes GREAT side dressing material for plants that need help with weeds. You may have to separate the manure from the rest of it, but that IS the gardener's workout, right?
@Gardening with Rabbits STRAW would really help amend your soil. You already know that people are planting directly into straw bales and it breaks down very nicely.
Guess if I ever retire, I will create compost just from horse manure and sell it. I know what goes into it, at least.
 

digitS'

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I bought some of the Wal-Mart chicken compost last year and was disappointed. The better material was from North 40. You may have Stutzman brand available but it may take some phone calls to find it. They are an Oregon company.

My intention years ago was to make compost from what I could have loaded on the pickup at a nearby horse farm. I decided that I had to add ammonium nitrate to it on the 18 month composting process. That worked but I was really trying to do the compost as organic, however, too little nitrogen really hampered decomposition.

Steve
 

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I bought some of the Wal-Mart chicken compost last year and was disappointed. The better material was from North 40. You may have Stutzman brand available but it may take some phone calls to find it. They are an Oregon company.

My intention years ago was to make compost from what I could have loaded on the pickup at a nearby horse farm. I decided that I had to add ammonium nitrate to it on the 18 month composting process. That worked but I was really trying to do the compost as organic, however, too little nitrogen really hampered decomposition.

Steve
I used to have the rabbit boxes that had the wood chips and the urine, but I only have 3 rabbits left. I am just not sure what I can do and what I want to do. When DH was here we would go get a truckload of the horse manure and put a lot of that on the compost bins and we would have hot, hot compost. I bought some chicken manure a couple of years ago from Walmart and it was disappointing to me too, but I was not sure if all sacked manure was like that. I will look for the Stutzman brand.
 

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STRAW would really help amend your soil.
This is what I have been wondering about. How do you use the straw? When I use straw it sprouts. I have put it on the garden in fall mixed with rabbit manure and it does break down and I know it helps the soil, but is there something I should be doing with it now? I guess it would be easier to use the straw and let it sprout and then turn it over so it does not take root and use it to choke out weeds.
 

ducks4you

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All straw will sprout some seeds. Farmers who harvest straw from wheat or oats try to keep that at a minimum. They plant tall varieties with the idea of 2 crops, and the wheat/oat seeds bring in much more $ than the straw. The sprouts are very easy to pull out, like thin grass, and they don't put down hard to pull out weed roots. One panel member on Mid American Gardener said recently that she puts flakes down whole to keep weeds out. What straw will do NOW is break up clay and make it easier for the roots of your vegetables when you till it into your bed. Then, it breaks down to make excellent compost and your bed with be more fertile next year.
I like it for animal bedding bc it turns out to be cheaper than shavings and I can easily store over 50 bales for my winter stall use. I believe it makes my soiled bedding compost better bc it breaks down faster than shavings. I use fine pine shavings for my horses winter stall use, and when I get back to chickens, I use medium pine shavings for them, but I was only stripping the chicken house every 2 months, instead of spot cleaning the horse's stalls every day. I have considered studying up on creating compost for sale, but I first have to win the burdock and the curly dock war.
 
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