Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
Is this for a home garden or commercial production?
I have no idea what the Big3 make-up is of my compost, but I know that I've been gardening in the same space for 9 consecutive seasons, and the crops just grow better every year. This past year, I got the bright idea to put a shovel-full of compost in every tomato hole when we planted it (instead of just top dressing as usual), and we had seven foot tall tomato plants that produced fruit bigger than ever. I won't do that again because it was a jungle. We have our compost pile in the garden, and we move it around from year to year so that in addition to having the compost available, we are also directly fertilizing the place where the pile was last year.
For starting seeds, I use vermicompost, which grows beautiful seedlings. I have my own vermicompost bins. You can easily make one with a plastic bin, and you can buy the worms online.
The very first thing I'd do is go harvest some of this fall"s leaves(there are probably some leaves still in your area parks or in some woods if they are close). Spread them as thick as you can over the garden. Then if you have access to some compost, sprinkle it on top of the leaves. I'd also sprinkle your rabbit manure on top of the leaves also.
Next spring when the ground is first thawed... dig (not till, hand dig if you can) them into the garden (always standing on the leaves to dig other wise you'll compact the soil so hard you will be doing more damage than the leaves will help). You'll still have to dig/till the garden the normal time, but by digging the leaves into the garden as soon as you can, you'll get a big step in the leaves composting and being able to provide for the garden's needs.
If you traditional garden (hill and furrow), this spring, I'd lay newspaper down between the rows, and harvest your neighbor's yard clippings. Put the clippings down on top the paper to keep it down. (again, just like with digging the leaves into the garden, you'll be composting the grass clippings into the garden, and keeping the weeds down inbetween the rows ((as well as providing you a walking area that's not compacting the soil)).
If you havn't started a compost pile... do it now.
I think with the leaves and the rqbbit manure you'll probably get about equal what you harvested last year... be sure and plant some beans this year (for next year's nitrogren fix) too.
I use a combo of poultry (chicken, duck, turkey, & goose) manure mixed with wood shavings, rabbit manure mixed with shavings & straw, cow manure, horse manure, as I have any ready compost, and once a month I mix up a batch of fish emulsion & seaweed emulsion in a hose end sprayer plus I keep a 5 gallon pail of Alfalfa tea that I pour on the base of each plant. I always get enough veggies for our use, share with the neighbors, plus plenty left over to freeze & can. I have a 30 X 26 garden.
This will be our first year doing a CSA. I may use both Chemical and Non Chemical this year. I want to make sure I have enough veggies. We have a compost bin we made from some old tin. The place I plant the BIG garden is down the road a piece. I guess the area excluding the corn is about an 1.5 acres and I plant around 3 acres of corn. It's hard finding non chemical fertilizers here. There was a place north of me that made pelletized poulty fertilizer but I don't know if they are still around. Do any of you use mycorrhizal inoculates?
If you think you need chemical fertilizers, you just haven't done enough reading yet. I didn't realize you were going to be planting such a big area, but I know people with a market garden two or three times that big, and they do it organically. There are lots of sources for natural or organic fertilizers. Fertrell is a good source for market gardeners, and they're available in most areas: http://www.fertrell.com/
Thank You Deborah... when he said he already had a CSA going, I didn't want to say it's still better to go natural. I had thought ask him to compare the 2. I know without doubt in the long run, the natural will do much better. I'm just not sure going from totally Chemical to non chemical with already CSA they'll be able to supply what they've already sold. (One of the reason's I suggested gathering leaves was to recover some of the "normal" microbes that the chemical fertilizers have killed off.
Looks good! I've been leaning toward organic for a while now but this will be the first year of actually doing it. I had hoped to be able to get a few tons of compost but I'm running out of time, still cleaning terrace rows and fence lines.
About once a month thru my growing season I mix up in a hose end sprayer fish emulsion and liquid seaweed and give the garden a good soaking, I also mix a 5 gallon bucket of Alfalfa tea and use that in a watering can.
When hubby tills in the chicken manure & shavings we add a lot of cow manure to off set it, this spring we'd like to go down to the beach and get a truck load of seaweed to add too. That's the one big advantage to living within a couple miles of the ocean.
I sprinkle my strawberry bed with DE and I have several hanging strawberry bags that hang around my patio area all summer.
I would consider using a chemical fertilizer always a step backwards. Everytime you ad it you are looking at a longer recovery. There are plenty organic fertilizers until you have amended your soil......I use fish emulsion and compost tea. Maybe you could put together a little pamplet to help educate your CSA members and ask for their support? Maybe they can become involved and bring you their kitchen scraps? I read somewhere, sometime that compost was a 1-1-1....but it was delivered at an equal rate and that made all the difference. Chemicals give a jolt and then disapear leaving the soil worse than before. There are crops, like corn, who have a harder time on poor soil. I open the row, spread compost and then seed. Go organic and Good Luck!