Hmm, thank you for the link! I will be checking that out.
I had decided years ago that I didn't want to till (back breaking doing it w/ shovels/hoes & didn't have a rototiller or tractor/plow/disk etc). So I've started, here in this new place, putting together raised beds and containers for gardening. Next spring, I want to be able to plant (means I have a lot more work to do!). The raised beds will be/are being set up with landscaping timbers, other logs that are on our property and tires. Also, plan on making some long "run" type covers that I can put chickens in - should work great with bantams (don't have yet) and some of the smaller barnyard mixes that I have now. Several areas that I plan on doing the raised beds are in 8' increments along our backyard fence (4 increments is 32' long by 3' wide). In the bottoms of those raised beds, I'm starting with pony manure/hay from our pastures (a lot of it with 26 head in different paddock/pasture considerations), then for planting this spring (before I have amendments from the DLM), will be purchasing good seed starting soil/fertilizer from Home Depot/Lowes - maybe directly from garden nurseries (have a few in the area - haven't really been to any yet).
Now that I know I can add leaves directly to these areas over the winter, WOW!! SOOOO cool. Just NEVER thought about that!
And the reasoning behind not planting directly into the pony manure/hay mix? Because everyone in this area of the Carolina's uses some type of herbicide on that hay. Takes up to , sometimes more than, 2 years of composting w/o adding new to break that herbicide down to where it won't stunt or outright kill broad leafed plants in the garden (tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons etc). :( I was so UPSET when I couldn't get anything to grow or kept killing off plants I'd purchased and planted! When I was growing up in VA and in CO/MT, horse manure directly from our pastures (put in the gardens like your leaves & tilled in in the spring before planting) grew the BEST gardens!
Then I started doing research on the hay when someone else said something... And I've asked everyone I've purchased hay from - no one uses "nothing". The "prettier" their hay, the more expensive it is AND the more herbicide they've used to keep up with the weeds that grow like mad in our areas. Everyone that I have purchased from DOES get soil testing done every few years and will work to balance out their fields (lime, different mixes of fertilizer, etc). A lot of the hay growers either have commercial chicken houses of their own or have access to the litter from neighboring ones that they then use the litter to spread on their fields. Most seem to know that it has to be done early in the hay growing cycle, so there is no actual heavy nitrogen "right there" when the hay is cut/baled (there have been farms/individual owners who've lost horses due to drought when no rain helped to disburse the litter into the ground)... The last 15 years have been interesting learning and it took a long time for me to put some things "together" to understand. I now believe in and hopefully take better care of our own property.
We even compost both dog (from the yard - 6 dogs) and cat "manure" (un-medicated chick starter or pine pellets used for litter now - only 1 cat "full time" in the house, but 3 that come in now and then & will use the box) and in my "barn" set ups I have composting "humanure" bucket toilets (w/ mostly just me & two young grand daughters using them, 1/2 mile to the house is TOO FAR when the body says must go now, may take a while to do that composting, LOL). Right now, none of that is used/or will be used directly on plants that have fruit/veggies in the ground, but would be used on flowers and to mulch around the trees in the front/side yards (still don't know what all these trees are). I figure that I have a few years, yet, to learn all of this and apply it to what I want to grow...