howto

In the Garden :: Compost How To

As I was pulling all the grass clumps out of the freshly tilled soil I was thinking “oh great, what am I going to do with all this sod? good for nothing grass!” And then I read that you can actually compost it no problem, you just need plenty of diversified matter in your compost, turn it regularly and the right ratio of carbon to nitrogen- duh, exactly like any compost!

My friend Mike has two basset hounds have great noses and would totally dig up and chow down on any food scraps they might find in the compost pile. Thankfully they are short though so a simple chicken wire fence will keep them out no problem. Since we already had chicken wire and stakes on hand I decided just to use those to build the bin for my compost pile. Super easy to build and maintain. I made the front so it would just wrap around one post and hold it tight.

Here is is opened up before I added the “gate”:
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Then I simply took another stake, stapled chicken wire to it (without pounding it into the ground) and placed it behind the stake next to the garden, then I pulled the chicken wire tight and stapled it to the other post that already had the chicken wire on it – like this:

I forgot to snap a photo after I had added a gate of the compost bin, but you can kind of see it here:

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I’ve actually been doing this for my container garden and this spring I was happy to find a huge pot of lush organic matter to use in the small herb garden outside my apartment door. I just had this one huge empty pot, so I tossed all my dead annuals, some grass clippings, extra “dead” potting soil, and dead leaves in there. It takes the winter to break down because it’s so small, but it’s worth it I think.

I found this really great guide on the university of maine extension site that has a nice overview of how composting works, easy things to compost, hard things to compost, ratios, what’s nitrogen and carbon matter and general compost care. I actually printed out two copies of it – one for me and one for mike so we are both on the same page on what can go into the compost pile and how to stir it up. Since it’s in his yard I think it’s only fair that he gets to toss his kitchen waste in there too.

I actually pulled all the sod out of the compost area and built it up in layers of hay/sod/dried leaves/greens/dirt in that order and was able to build up 3 layers like that. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t all sod on the bottom and all hay and dead leaves on the top. I’m going to give it a good stir at the end of the week so it’s more like a “tossed salad than a cake” as this Q&A on compost over at Organic Gardening puts it.

And they also have a quick tip on using a compost dip stick. I find it so neat that a compost will actually get hot from decomp. So if you stick a stake in to the bottom through the center, leave it in for a little bit, pull it out and it’s moist and warm then the compost is doing just great.

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I’m not going to say for sure that this week is going to be a “week of gardening” but it’s kind of looking that way, haha. I did a test canning today and I’m going to do another tomorrow – maybe some strawberry jam in a small batch and some spighetti sauce (today I did pizza sauce). I’ll take pictures and post about it tomorrow night. I think today’s batch was successful, but we will see in a week or so when we go to make pizza how it actually turned out. Jason had the good idea of putting one of the jars somewhere warm to see if anything grows – a sure sign that it wasn’t sealed right. It’s the first time I’ve every grown food for preserving for the winter months and so when I get those huge batches of fresh tomatoes and strawberries I will know exactly what I’m doing and feel confident that I’m not wasting a ton of yummy garden produce.

Oh and another random thing, so I ordered a set of strawberries and some raspberry canes from this website and they just happened to be having a mother’s day sale yesterday – $25 off an order of $50 or more. The strawberries and raspberries were going to be $20 so I went for it an got blackberry canes, a bunch of herb seeds and this great dwarf blueberry bush (that in theory can be grown in a container! sweet!).

You can see my full growing list over on Thrift Kitchen. I’m so excited about how much I was able to fit into the space!

See you tomorrow!
++Kristin++

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