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Need Compost Advice for Sandy Soils

January 19, 2015

I live in Corrales and plan to put in a home vegetable garden in sandy soil this year. It took me about 3 years to increase the organic matter of a smaller garden plot (in similar soil) to 2% but this year I’ll be starting from scratch because I have to move the location. I’ve gotten lots of good advice on composting from attending several of your talks but feel unprepared on how to enrich a larger area in such a short period of time. The new space will be 30 x 30 feet and I’d like to begin planting in late March or April. Hence I would appreciate some pointers from you. I read your article on sheet-composting and cover crops but unfortunately I'll have to wait till the Fall to do this. In the past each spring I have added a truckload of compost from Soilutions and rototilled it, and supplemented it with home-made compost (plant-based). I can do this again, but how much would I need for a 30x30 ft garden? And should I water and cover it?  I also have at my disposal 7 bags of fairly fresh chicken manure. I haven't used manure before so what’s the best way to apply it: add to my compost bins and wait a month before adding to the garden or add it directly to the sandy soil or at the same time I add the truckload(s) of compost? Any advice you can offer is appreciated.

Starting to Compost at the Prison

January 23, 2015

I currently work for Corrections Industries. Many inmates have expressed interest in starting a compost pile. The only issue is that we are not aware of what is needed to make these piles. We want to use the the leftover vegetables and fruits from the cafeteria. Can anyone please indicate what materials we may need to start up a project like this. I look forward to hearing from you!

Top-Dressing Soil with Manuare

February 12, 2015

When I dress the top of the garden with hot manure, should I water it in and turn it under as well? I was told that adding hot manure would "heat up" the soil, chemically speaking, and kill off some viruses that have been plaguing my tomatoes sooner and sooner in the season. Thanks.

Composting in a Bucket. What to Do When It Gets Full.

April 6, 2015

I recently heard a talk by JZ about composting. He mentioned that we could compost in a barrel by constructing a pile according (Easy (cold)) of your Composting in the Desert booklet. We have started this by using an old plastic garbage barrel, punching holes along the bottom to allow for drainage and air inflow. We cover with plastic sheeting. Question---we are almost up to the top and have only been doing this for a couple of weeks! What do we do now?

I wanted to use one of those Juwel bins so that we could remove the compost as it forms from the these really work this way?

Please get back to me ASAP. Thank you very much!!

Roaches in My Compost

May 3, 2015

I am cold composting in a wire bin that I’ve lined with cardboard. I quit turning it when I learned at a composting workshop that it wasn’t necessary. While adding more kitchen scraps today, I saw a lot of roaches in the bin. I live in the north valley and have seen them outside, but lately I’ve seen them in the house too.

Is it normal to have a lot of roaches in a cold compost?

Where to Get Soil Tested and Soil PH After Putting Down Pine Needles

August 9, 2015

I am preparing my yard to re-do my landscaping. I started out wanting to create a barrier between my neighbors yard which is full of weeds that spread to mine a couple years ago to the point I jus gave up. I started to prep to just put in rock and crusher fines... yet I saw that it would not accomplish the desired affect.... my neighbors weeds would still migrate into my yard.... I decided recently to put in some revellie sod (special drought tolerant grass developed by UT) .... many of my neighbors have rock all over the place and have built block walls etc... it generates a lot of heat.... and I have full sun in front and back...

Anyway I wanted to get my soil tested to insure I prep the ground before laying the sod... the neighbors’ lot has a huge evergreen tree right along the property line ....  it has lots of roots extending into my yard just below the surface....

I was planning to use evergreen needles to create a “margin” to hopefully keep the weeds in check from migrating to my yard as they did a few years ago and wiped me out... I plan to plant 3-4 lavendar plants and to use the needles to keep the weeds at bay.

Do you know who does soil testing locally in Albuquerque? Also, will the needles change the soil so much that the lavendar plants will be harmed and not flourish?

How to Keep Wild Animals Out of My Compost

October 20, 2015

I live in a rural area and have concerns about wild animals, bears included, getting into my compost pile. How do I best protect the wild animals from my compost pile?

Can I Compost Bamboo?

November 7, 2015

I'm cutting down tons of the local "bamboo" (really a phragmites or something?) in my ABQ yard - some dead, some green.  I have a compost pile.  I'm wondering:  how well does the bamboo compost?  - should I use just the leaves, small shoots, dead root "burls", or chopped-up stems?  Does it take forever?  Is it good for my garden?  Do I have to worry about the green bits sprouting or taking root?  Any other thoughts?  I hate to throw out all this organic material if I can compost it successfully.  Thanks for any advice you can provide!

Sandy Soil

December 18, 2015

I’d like to know when the next class on composting will be held.  If as I suspect they won’t be scheduled now until Spring would you please flag my name to be notified when one is scheduled?  We recently moved into this house on the west side of Corrales and the whole acre is nothing but sand.  How do I compost in sand?

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