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This is a two part question: 1. How should I be caring for my unused beds during the summer? Do I keep watering them? 2. How do I amend a bed that was used by a neighborhood cat?
Thank you!
Joanna

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Replies to This Discussion

1.  Water them.  Plus, toss out a bag or three of black eye peas (cow peas), keep watering, when they begin to flower, cut 'em down and turn in.  Legume roots add nitrogen to the soil.  That's a very simplistic answer.  Maybe Powell will stop by and give you all the detes.

2.  Water it.  Water it.  Water it.  Water it.  Water it.  Water it.  Water it.  Water it....err, you get the idea.  We cover our horseshoe pits with shade cloth, as in laid right on top of the sand.  That won't work for a working garden but until fall, you can keep them out.  Are the cats still accessing?

Thanks for your reply. No the cats are no longer able to access the beds. I was hoping to get the cat soiled bed ready for an august planting. Do you think that will be feasible?

I really don't know how important 'sterilizing' the soil is.  I think I've heard of folks who actually use dog and cat droppings as part of the composting process but if there is a process to 'sterilize' the soil, I'm not sure about that.

Joanna, check our Bokashi composting.  It's the fastest way I know to get good compost.   It takes two weeks from when your bucket is filled and air sealed.  Then you can dig a trench down the middle of your bed and add the compost.  (Inhale and hold when you open the bucket.  You'll learn to be quick.  Have shovel handy to backfill.  Bokashi is best for people with little or no olfactory sense.  :-)))

I like to make 3 trenches in my beds: center of the bed, left side, right side.  My raised beds are 4'wide x 6' long.  The trenches are each about 6' long.  I did not have all three trenches ready at the same time.  The trenches were filled a few weeks apart from each other.

Hope this helps.  (What are you planting in August?)

Mary

You can also spray your beds with EM1.  Bokashi is bran inoculated with EM1 and molasses.  A bottle of EM1 goes a long way when you extend it by fermenting it with water and molasses.  It took me 5 days to get the pH down to 3 and it now can be diluted at 1:100 ratio and sprayed on plants and soil.  You can also dig your trench, put your browns and or greens or whatever you would put in your Bokashi bucket in the trench, spray with EM1 then cover up the trench.  No olfactory problems with this method.

Ditto, Ditto what Mary recommended.

For my fallow beds.  I go REALLY simple:

- Turn them a little to open the soil (drag a hoe back and forth)

- Pile on compost or yard debris, like lawn mower stuff (about 4"-6"inches higher that soil level)

- Hand water regularly (3-4 times / week)

I wouldn't be concerned with the cat manure.  It'll neutralize in the composting. 

I have nothing to add to MaryMcP or Vynnie's suggestions.  If you follow Mary's advice it should not take that much to keep your soil's microbial populations healthy and its nutrient levels back up by the time you want to use the beds and now that you have eliminated the cat surprises I wouldn't worry about what will break down by then. 

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