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vegetable soils Steve Solomon style or not?

11 years ago

In our rainy climate what are your views about organic matter? Compost? Organic fertilizer? Manure quantity & types? What works for you? Raised beds (wood or no wood)? Mulch or no mulch? Do you use a complete organic fertilizer (COF) and skip the manure or use both?

I’ve read Steve Solomon’s books and it still puzzles me what he recommends as it’s so different from others, so I want to know what works for your vegetable gardening and your specific location.

I’m still trying to figure all this out to grow nutritious vegetables for my family in east Auburn near Black Diamond at around 500’ elevation without using chemicals. I read books & try new methods, but still don’t think I have it “right”.

My dad has always had great gardens in different yards with huge vegetables and though he now has reduced his garden space. In the past he used manure regularly not necessarily composted. He didn't mulch, but now he does for blueberries, raspberries, and grapes. With his open garden he tilled with a small John Deer tractor as well as cultivated regularly with tractor when could, but also with a hoe. In spring after tilling, he’d spray roundup and then wait a few weeks before planting and if bugs because a problem he sprayed with pesticides. Now his vegs are in large containers and no more tilling or hoeing.

In my location compared to my dad's only 15 minutes closer to the Puget Sound -- we have

-more rain (probably about 10' or more)

-cooler temps (both winter and summer)

-of course with tall fir trees less sunshine. I know sunshine is what plants eat, but I still think it should be possible to grow good vegetables except for the summer tropicals (tomatoes, peppers, & cukes).

Our current methods:

Open garden beds for tomatoes (peppers, & potatoes), rhubarb, strawberries, onions, pole beans, spring peas, raspberries, cucumbers, & zucchini. We hand turn organic matter into the soil, but no tiller.

Herbs are in their own in ground bed as well as containers and in squares of concrete blocks.

Wooded sided square foot gardens for other vegetables, green onions from sets, and occasionally rotating in bush beans, peas, tomatoes (peppers or potatoes) planted potager style with parsley, chives, and flowers (calendula, pansies, dwarf dahlias, etc.) as edging.

We began adding horse manure (no weed free hay, horses fed oats, beet pulp, alfalfa hay and have urine absorbed pelleted sawdust bedding) a few years ago in addition to poultry and rabbit manures with bedding as that's how it works out in my kids' set-up. Our compost piles always include wood shavings and often alfalfa hay, grass clippings, and food wastes, which aren't what Steve Solomon recommends for medium or high quality compost.

In 2009 we began using granulated organic fertilizer in the SFG beds and in tomato holes when planting along with our compost of manure, bedding, etc.

We mulch using poultry manure with bedding in the off season as well as straw and shredded leaves near strawberries, rhubarb, fruit trees, & lettuces. More heavily after soil warmed in summer and again after it's cold in fall again. I will pull back or remove in spring to help soil heat up & remove slug hiding places.

I have notes from reading Steve Solomon's books, but didn't want to overwhelm this post with that. I want to hear from you what works in your vegetable gardening.

Here is a link that might be useful: Steve Solomon's books

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