Tag Archives: compost

Making Sweet Garden Compost

 

Ahhh, the sweet smell of compost!…..

“Sweet??”, you say?

Yes, actually. A healthy compost pile should never smell bad, but should have a nice earthy smell- and when it does, I and many of my garden zealot friends can often be found running our fingers through the finely aged compost. (I’m not kidding!) Anyway, eccentricities aside, a compost pile can be not only a recycling facility for your kitchen and your garden waste, but also a highly efficient processing plant- ran by earth worms and other critters- that produces a first rate soil improver- compost.

No garden should be without it!

worms4sale

If you are one of the many people that are intimidated by composting, fear not. It really is easy. There are a few basics everyone need to have, like a space for the bin or pile- usually out of plain site, but not so much that it’s out of mind, some time (not very much) to tend it, and some simple ingredients. The main ingredients will likely be fallen leaves, weed and grass clippings, other garden waste and fruit and veggie scraps from the kitchen. You can also compost paper (without dye), egg cartons and bread (without butter, etc.)

The part about composting that usually stops people from actually doing it, is fear of not “adding the right ingredients”. The solution to that can be broken down into one simple statement:

If the contents of your pile tends to be wet and smelly, mix in more browns; if they are dry, mix in more greens.

“What”, you say, “the heck are greens and browns??” Well…

Greens

– Comfrey leaves

– Grass clippings

– Soft garden cuttings

– Nettles

– Kitchen scraps, incl. coffee grounds, tea bags, spent cut flowers (cut up small)

– Fresh (herbivore)animal manures

Browns

– Old straw

– Tough vegetable stems

– Herbaceous stems

– Cardbord tubes, egg cartons, paper bags – all crumpled up

– Dry fallen leaves

– Aged (herbivore) animal manures

If you’re interested in more info on composting and/or help in creating a composting system for your garden, contact me here, or at carla.lazzarini@gmail.com. I don’t mind at all getting my hands dirty!

 

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Getcher Earthworms Here!

Yes, I know one can buy ladybugs, lacewings, earthworms and the like from hundreds of different catalogues and websites, but seeing a tub of them in the store got me to thinking.

I was standing in line at my local Ace Hardware store, looking at the display near the register of ladybugs and earthworms, and thought, “Have we come to this? Our soil is so dead that we have to buy worms and put them in the ground?? Right after that, I thought that  even if your soil wasn’t void of all life, if you were starting a compost pile that tub of worms just might come in handy…

After listening to my ranty ramblings, my husband had a little fun with me and I found this in my compost bin!

But seriously, when we use pesticides to kill garden pests, the good guys go away too! When I dig in my garden, in which I don’t ever use pesticides, I’m constantly trying to not decapitate (which end is the head??) all the worms that turn up. I’m always reminded of that movie, Seven Years in Tibet, where they relocate each and every worm discovered during a construction project. I’m afraid I’m not that patient or diligent and once in a while I think I get one. (and no, it’s not true that each piece can continue to live- if you chop a worm in half, it dies)

So, if your soil could use some life, go ahead and purchase a tub or two of worms at our friendly, local hardware store, but make sure you don’t use anything in your garden that could kill them- and if you’re lucky enough to have lots of worms in residence, yay for you…. just watch that shovel!

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Growing Tomatoes in Half Moon Bay

For the first time, I have successfully grown tomatoes (besides cherry tomatoes) in my garden in Half Moon Bay! They’re not in a hot house and we didn’t even have much sun this summer. (to say the least!) I just put them in the warmest, most protected part of the garden, fed them with compost and fish emulsion and watered them a lot. I planted three plants- Juliette F1 (60days), Oregon Spring (58days) and Stupice Early Tomato (52days)- in a black, plastic 15gal pot and placed it against a south-facing fence next to my compost bin. Voila!

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The Great Pretender

This past Spring I spread my home-made compost all over my garden and after about three weeks, the soil was thick with tomato seedlings. I then made a mental note to not put tomato seeds into my kitchen waste container. I guess my compost doesn’t get hot enough to kill them, but I’m ok with that… For every 100 tomato seedlings, there appeared one zucchini seedling. “How sweet!”, I thought. “How useful!”, I thought next. I took three of the more robust specimens and planted them on a little hill, watered them lots, and waited. While I was away on vacation, my husband  sent me pictures of the garden and THIS is what the “zucchini” looks like! Hmmm… I was fooled. I think it’s baby acorn squash. Can anyone confirm this? (We ate some of them green and they were creamy and delicious!)

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