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Hello Everyone! I'm in the process of building a raised garden out of cement blocks 3 ft tall by 20 long and 3-7 wide. It's going to be HUGE and I'm so excited!! I've bought a little dirt to get me started from the big box store but I need SOOO much more.... Anybody have any ideas or recommendations for where I can get good quality dirt/soil for not much money?? With that, any suggestions on different soil additives, i.e. coffee grounds or eggshells, that would help make the soil a bit richer? Thank you!!! I look forward to everyones thoughts. Kelly

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No recipe to follow ... Often these processes are 'cold', there for not critical to bacterial colony development ... Surely the more carbon you can throw into the system the greater amount of nitrogen you will fix / trap, there by not losing it to gaseous amonia or leaching away to lower soil profiles ... You are correct that at this scale of soil building there is no one right pre-scriptive method ... For instance: we found a rescue rabbit operation that was liquidating its pile of bedding and manure - that resulted in a multiple pickup load mid summer transfer to our front yard in order to create a 'bed' 30' x 8' ... For instance: We collect and have neighbors bring us deciduous leaves during the 'fall' months - that results in an annual collection of carbon material that balances all the greens we collect from a local 3 meal a day coffee shop ... Any way you get the picture ... You take advantage of all that is free and available to you ...

I have a friend who keeps chickens and I was thinking of asking her for some chicken manure. I'll have to investigate how long it needs to age for safe and effective planting. I don't think I want to use cow or horse manure because of the weed seed problems that go along with it. I did find an organic dairy in Queen Creek that will give you all the manure you want if you come and get it. They'll even load it in your pickup for you. It's not aged, although if you want to wander around and find some that is older, they are glad to let you do that. We purchased some raw mild from them and it was delicious! I do need to check our local coffee shops. We save our own, but more is better and free is best!

We run our hot chicken manure (6 hens) through 4 weeks of a 7 week hot composting system and have not had any issues ... distributing this over our .5 acre for 3 years now ... It's all about the percentages of a good thing ... Less worry over dairy than horse manure re: seeds ...

That sounds great. I'm going to see if I can get some chicken manure from my friend.

The other thing is, I wouldn't use horse or cow manure unless it was organically fed. That GMO/Roundup resistant grain going through the digestive tract comes out even more toxic than it is when it gets eaten. The more I learn about that stuff the scarier it gets! If you're interested in learning more about GMOs, I have some links from scientists (as opposed to scare mongers) that will make your hair stand on end.

I say all that then admit that I'm going to use Roundup to kill my grass. Sigh.

Becky, if you are still unsure about the decision to spray the bermuda, I would like to show you some of the things that we are doing at our house re: living with the bermuda, if you are interested ... please feel free to set up a time to check out our place ... 602 317 8402

Thanks, Bryan, but we really do want to get rid of the bermuda. I don't want to live with it and have to continually battle it.

Okay, Bryan. I've been thinking about this. In your opinion, if we mulch aggressively (multiple layers of newspaper topped by 6" of mulch), do you think that we can really kill the bermuda without chemicals? I don't want to put Roundup into the soil but I also don't want to battle the bermuda either. There really isn't going to be a place in our yard for grass so it all has to go - one way or another. The yard is slightly larger than the average back yard but nowhere near 1/4 acre. We're going to have to plan very carefully to get what we want out of the space that we have.

I've put together a yard plan that I think will give us the maximum amount of organic fruit/citrus/vegetables using permaculture principals to stack functions and create micro-climates. We plan to compost and mulch and water as wisely as we can. I'm plagued with a bad back which is why I'm concerned about having to get out and pull grass all the time.

Given all of this, do you really think we can get rid of the grass without chemicals? If so, I really would like appreciate the chance to see your place and talk to you. Thanks for offering!

There's someone on our Laveen and other South Phoenix Gardeners FB page that has organic horse manure if you'd like the info, let me know. Not sure if they're near you. If you're in the valley it might be worth the drive. Especially if you're gardening a larger area.

Our yard is larger than the average small yard but not huge by any means. We live out in Maricopa and have friends with chickens so I'm hoping that they will share some of their chicken manure. I also have my eye on a couple of other mulch sources. I'm hoping that some of them will work out. It's always better to use stuff that would otherwise go to the landfill than have to pay for it.

For anyone who lives out that way, there is an organic dairy in Queen Creek that will load your pickup with free (fresh) manure if you want it. 

If you bring your own bags, you can load up your own organic compost/soil mix from the soil place across from the Recylcing place where they sell old recycling containers to be used as compost bins. I have the information in my phone with specific streets and names, as well as a place that has straw and chickens LOL but my phone died and is charging in the other room. Will look it up for you tomorrow if no one else gets back to you with more details before then ;)

Please do post the info! Free organic anything is difficult to find!

Not free, just low cost. Western Ranchman is at 16028 N 32nd St, take the 51 to Greenway, turn left & go to 32nd St, turn right, the store is about 3/4 mile up the left hand side. Be sure to get STRAW bales, not hay bales. Western Organics is at 2807 S 27th Ave just south of Lower Buckeye on the left, the landfill is just south of there about a half block further.


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