Well, I am back, I did say that there would be several in November, but alas, this is the final one for November. This one is sort of for the advanced gardeners. But many novices might be able to glean some good ideas to apply or to use as a goal to work towards. So let's go...
In working with the various gardening ideas, we are looking at several points that are of interest to people nowadays. One is water conservation. Another one is how do you take advantage of adding nutrients to the growing medium and even the growing medium itself. Yet another one is the politically correct one, but in reality, a very good idea aside form the politically correct propagandists is Carbon sequestration. This is actually a vitally important fertilizer and the only cost is to maybe, just alter how you do things, usually just a tiny bit. In reality, many of the things we talk about doing here are just altering many of the good practices that you already are trying to implement. But I feel the most important idea that I am trying to present is what is called, "The Removal of Limiting Factors" to your whole gardening experience.
In the previous two November gardening tips discussions, I talked about the various methods that are associated with the straw bale concept. I also discussed the various methods and ingredients for feeding your plants and the soil mediums used for the garden plant nutrition. Now in this last discussion for November, we will talk about moving beyond those simple ideas and touch on some more ideas that require some serious physical type work and planning.
One idea that works very good in this day and age of soil nutrient depletion is the method of trench gardening. No this does not require you to do your garden deep down in a trench. Although the idea isn't a bad idea in some aspects, as the do a type of greenhouse that is placed into a dugout area. But as it applies to a garden we do use a trench, but a shallow one. So what this method calls for is to dig a trench from say 6 inches deep to maybe 2 feet deep at the most. You can make it narrow to wide, anywhere from 6 inches wide to even four feet wide. Anything more than 6 inches deep and 6 inches wide will likely require some serious mechanical work. Serious as in a backhoe serious. However, there is a slight chance that in areas where they do a lot of surface irrigation, you might find someone with a V-ditcher. They use those to clean out and make ditches to carry water into the fields. I have one, so I could use that, but it would make a trench about as wide as it would be deep, depending on how the machine is set up and adjusted. It would be more rounded than a traditional trench dug by a backhoe, but it would work.
So once we make the trench, we would fill it in with the plant growing medium. If you have a huge compost pile, you could use that, but maybe mix in some of the soil that came out of the trench. In some areas, a person would have access to chopped material. In agricultural areas, you can find most crops are chopped. This can be straw, hay, and the most popular is corn silage. Corn silage works real good. It is usually high in moisture, has been fermented and is already in the composting process. If you have huge amounts of leaves, they will work. However, the good thing about this method is that you don't have to have the bales. You just place the stuff in the trench, compact it a little bit, then add the nitrogen source, let it do it's 10 days to 2-week thing and then plant. The advantage to this is that the heat will be preserved or in another way to look at it, the soil will help as an insulating factor to take advantage of the heat for plant growth. You can then do whatever you were going to do with the above-ground bales, to take care of the getting-er-done gardening process. This type of system works real well for root crops as you can preserve some of these crops for an extended time by covering them with say a blanket over the trench. In cases where you need to keep the plant in for longer than an annual, such as carrots if you want to let them go to seed and collect the seed, they require overwintering and they seed the 2nd. season. It is also an easy way for you to assist the electromagnetic process to work as this will affect the highest level of transmission, if you have the proper levels of mineralization, within reason of course. However, this is more or less for the people that are going to have their garden in the same spot for an on going a number of years. Once you have a good bed of a plant growing medium taking place, it is easier to add nutrients as time goes by and to avoid the typical compaction issues that typically come along with a solid soil medium. You might also expect a few more weeds as it will collect wind blow weed seeds a lot easier than some of the other methods.
In doing the trench method you would not want to haul off the soil that is not used. You would just want to push it to the side, maybe make a slight windbreak along the side of your garden. You will likely end up using this soil over time anyway. This method will require you to do some good planning as it becomes a touch more of a long term commitment due to the effort to do the trenching. I guess in simple terms, it just replaces or adds to the typical way that you have always done things. But the simple thing is that it removes some of those limiting factors. It will also allow for a less frequency on watering and once you get things soaked, take less water from then on out. To help on the areas between the trenches, you can plant clover as the clover will fixate nitrogen into the soil and the nitrogen fixed there will migrate over to the trench area, thus giving you more no cost nutrients. Another nice thing is that it doesn't matter what you grow between the rows, if it is a plant, it will fixate carbon into the soil. Then as it grows, you can run the lawnmower over it, blow the mowed material onto the bales or over the trenches and then you have "green manure" being added throughout the year. It would be nice to mow your weeds than to pull them, would it not?
In my opinion, using the trench method with a small square bale is a very good option. In this method, you would dig the trench about a foot deep, and a little over 14 inches wide. Then roll the bale in on its side. just like you would in the typical bale method. Push some soil up to the sides of the bale, remove the excess soil to the side of the garden. You would then have the bale about 8 inches or so above the ground level. As the bale material composts down, it won't be long until it is at ground level, no cleanup mess and then you have an excellent soil medium to work with for years to come. All you have to do is add the nutrients, composted material or whatever you need for your plants. Perhaps one of the best ideas that I love about this method, the bale method is that you can fashion a simple greenhouse over the plants for when they need it, remove it when the frost danger is gone. Then where warranted, like with cucumbers, beans, tomatoes,etc., you can place a system for plants to climb. A real good tresses system that works great is a cattle panel. These are usually 54 inches tall and 16 feet long. You can usually get the economy panels at agricultural supply places, feed stores, etc., for 20 to 24 dollars each. Sometimes a little less when on sale. These are much stiffer than net wire fencing. I am sure than if you get creative, you can come up with ideas that would serve just as well or come up with options that would allow for repurposing some items that would be very economically viable to serve this purpose.
In the last discussion I said the next discussion I would focus on seeds, but that is for December. I figured that the last discussion was too long to include the material from this discussion as it was, but after giving it some thought I felt that this material would be of benefit and necessary for the whole discussion to be more complete. As always, you are free to ask questions if you need to. I will do what I can for you to get the answers you need. I hope these gardening ideas help you to be motivated about doing a garden and if you are already doing one, help you to have some ideas to work with to help you do even better. Thank you for your time and your interest. Next time.. seed selection, I promise. LOL>