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Posts Tagged ‘soil’

Last weekend we did some basic garden clean up — removing the leftover leaves, turning the soil and moving some of the perennial herbs like chives, oregano and thyme.

The herbs are in temporary pots until I decide where to put them, either back in the beds or in other containers. Also, the garlic is doing very well! I can’t wait to harvest our own, and our limited success so far this year means we’ll definitely be trying it again next year.

Also, I’m happy to report the in-bed composting worked fantastically! We weren’t sure if it would, but except for a stray peanut shell or flower stem, everything broke down during winter. This is also something we’ll continue each year. It’s a great way to add more nutrients directly to the soil.

Finally, our planting schedule is getting thrown off a bit again because of the weather. We’re officially in spring, but there is supposed to be another round of snow this week with lows below freezing for most days.

To me, it’s not worth it to buy the broccoli transplants or seed lettuce/spinach/peas when they could just die in the cold.

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With all of the issues we had the past two summers, something had to give in our garden. In an earlier post I wrote that we’re going to switch focus from disease/pest management to creating good soil and growing conditions.

From all my research the obvious place to start was compost, commonly referred to as black gold.

So where do we begin? We needed a bin of some sort to store all the organic material because our property is a small city lot without much extra space. But after that, was it really as easy as throwing in food scraps and dried leaves? For the most part, it actually is.

Our kitchen collector is filled with everything from banana and onion peels to tea bags and vegetable scraps.

Our kitchen collector is filled with everything from banana peels and tea bags to vegetable scraps.

We’re lucky that our county offers free composting classes for beginners and has a great website to answer any questions. I attended a class last spring and walked away with a good amount of information on what makes a successful compost pile.

As an added bonus, we got a free countertop container for our kitchen scraps and a coupon to buy a discounted bin.

The basics are easy: mix nitrogen-rich material with carbon-based material and let the microbes or earthworms do the dirty work. I’ve read a few conflicting “recipes” on what ratio makes the best compost. We’ve generally been following 2:1 – two parts carbon and one part nitrogen.

Though different ingredients have different carbon or nitrogen ratios, we don’t worry about that. It’s basically one bucket of fruit or vegetable scraps to two buckets of leaves or shredded newspaper.

Nitrogen-based: grass clippings, fruit or vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, plant trimmings, etc.

Carbon-based: dried leaves, shredded paper, wood chips, etc.

So far it seems to be working. When we started our compost bin it was filled to the brim with food scraps, dead plants from the garden and shredded leaves. Now it’s roughly half the size, and more and more of it looks like finished compost.

We’re considering getting another bin to make more compost and let the other one keep cooking for the spring.

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