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July 5, 2011

Double-digging garden beds Part Two

Now that we have our first linear foot of the bed dug out, we should start filling it with organic matter. What constitutes an organic matter? If you have prepared compost, that would be ideal. I am one of these people who do not have ample compost at all times, so I have to improvise. Keep in mind that vegetation, dry or green, will decompose in the soil, so it does not have to be perfect compost that we put into the garden at all times. I have some "forest" on the property, so I go and rake up some fallen leaves, including oak and pine needles as some of my layers:

If you have something like that, put a six-inch layer of it into the dug hole. Then, cover with dirt. The rule of thumb for compost, which includes a compost pile or composting in place, is to mix roughly fifty-fifty proportion of dry and green matter. Fallen leaves will constitute dry matter. For a green matter the best things are grass clippings and kitchen waste. We eat a lot of vegetables in our family, so a 34 ounce coffee can fills up every two or three days. This is perfect green matter for a compost:

Again, just layer this green stuff on the top of the other sprinkled layer and cover with dirt:

The idea behind the double-dug beds is to loosen the soil and enrich it at the same time. There are no hard rules on how to do that. I know an old man in Cape Coral who only layers his new beds with dry and green palmetto leaves, and he grows some awesome produce, in fact he grows for the market as well. Work with what you have and have at least three layers of vegetable matter per the height of the bed.


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