Monday, May 02, 2016

How To Make Compost And Other Spring GardenTasks

Now that the snow is over (oh, I hope so) the rain has begun.  Thankfully, I managed to get the garden beds fertilized yesterday and the (finally) carrot and beet seeds into the ground. A few lettuce seeds and arugula made it in as well.  The onion seedlings got clipped but they are on the deck waiting to be be planted.

The results of the Winter Milk Jug experiment are not so good.  A few things did germinate and start to grow but then, too much heat and sunshine, did them in, followed by below 32 nights and snow..  Batchelor Buttons are the best so far but they are growing in a plastic jar that once held restaurant cherries (not a milk jug).  In far stranger fashion, the perennial grass Elijah Blue has germinated and is growing little spikes in it's milk jug.  It will take years and years before those tiny spikes turn into plants, but I will give it a go.

My garden beds are looking quite charming with the white daffodils with yellow centers.  These daffodils were a house warming gift from G's brother when we moved here in 1991.  I have dug the original 20 bulbs up and divided them several times.  I think there are more than 100 now. They are everywhere.  There are also large yellow daffodils that I save from the dumpsters after open house. They are also everywhere and I try and give away as many bulbs as possible.  Some rebloom and others simply evolve into compost.

Yesterday, I also wanted to start emptying the compost bin that is "ready" to use ( I have three bins in various stages of composting).  Easier said than done.  But the compost is exceptionally lovely.  Deeply black brown.  Friable.  My tomato seedlings got repotted into straight, screened, compost and they seem quite jolly.  I also gave them a watering with Plant Starter.  A b-vitamin smelling product that helps transplants take up nutrients.  The rhubarb plants got a good weeding, a super large dose of fertilizer with a high middle number and I dug out around them since they seemed to have sunk into the ground.  I don't think they like being "low riders".

My compost is made up of all the coffee grounds we use plus the filters and tea bags.  All the Kleenex and paper towels we use.  Every scrap of peel and waste from salads, onions, carrots, eggs and fruit.  I also regularly add the flowers I like to have on the table.  They get old and in they go.  The lint from the clothes dryer also goes into the compost pot (I purchased an inexpensive soup pot at Big Lots--which has a lid).  I line the bottom of the pot with newspaper (to catch drips) and then insert a plastic grocery bag which can be carried out to the compost bin when filled--usually at least once or twice a week but daily in summer or when I am making pickles etc. In the bin I layer the "wet" compost with the "dry" compost---shredded junk mail and, at the end of the year, all the past years bills etc that I no longer need to keep filed.  I supplement with a bale of straw that sits next to the bin.  I also add pine chips which I have in abundance due to the removal of trees this year and last. Dry leaves also go in since we are raking them out of the garden beds.  After a year--free compost.

I even composted all the expired seed packages with the seeds. Riley's winter coat also gets added to the compost when he gets brushed. And I have been known to shred the daily newspapers in order to make more "dry" for the compost mix during the winter months.  Newsprint is soy based these days. No heavy metals and inks are being used anymore.  Magazines with glossy pictures--just say no. One famous composter actually adds his old worn out clothing to the mix.  Not polyester.  I scored a car trunk full of old used burlap bags and those are being composted this season as an experiment. Cardboard cereal and cracker boxes compost very quickly if torn into strips. The local Starbucks will save coffee grounds for you--ask and make an appointment for pickup.  If you don't pick up--they won't save for you.  The bags they give you are heavy and leak--so plan ahead.  But those bags are full (20 pounds or more) of great quality coffee grounds.  Compost the filters as well.

If it looks like it will "decompose" then in it goes.  Always----always---equal weights of wet and dry.
So many forget this and end up with a wet, and very stinky sewer instead of compost.  Dry weighs less so you need more of it by volume.

If we could all just start a little compost bin--what a wonderful, wonderful thing that would be for the Earth. Next month I talk about bees.

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