Sunday, October 12, 2008

Updated: Carnival of the green and brown

I notice Anthony at The Compost Bin wrote a post today about the state of his eponymous bin. I'd totally accuse him of stealing my idea, if he wasn't already the Internet's leading compost enthusiast.

However, it does remind me of an idea I've been kicking around -- I think it would be really interesting to see how other folks out there in the garden blogosphere handle their composting.

So if you're reading this, how about taking some pics and writing a few words about the current state of your bin? Come on, you know your real-life friends don't want to hear about it.

If you comment here, I'll add links to the post, or you can link to others in your post ... or something, I'm not sure how that should work.


And so it begins ...

Linda puts some big culvert pipes to good use in Australia

Anthony the compost man explains just how little effort composting requires.

Dean and his junior composter army dig a shallow grave.

What horrors lurk in the East-Side-Patch bins?


Monday, October 6, 2008

The plantening continues

New seeds planted this past weekend:

Spinach, Bloomsdale Long-Standing and Catalina baby leaf

Chinese Kale (I think this is the same as Chinese broccoli)

Broccoli Raab




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Saturday, October 4, 2008

A couple of bugs

Pardon the terrible photo, but I came into the kitchen one morning a couple of weeks ago and found this fat walking stick sitting on the floor. When I went to scoop him up with a piece of junk mail, I suddenly felt a fine spray of liquid on my hand. Some Internet searching reveals that walking sticks (the Phasmida order of insects) do spit as a defense mechanism. Conventional wisdom that the spit is acidic and can blind you if it gets in your eyes seems to be untrue.

I was a little disappointed not to have seen any mantises in the garden this year, but this giant showed up in the carport recently. Crazy, isn't it? I relocated her to the herb patch in hopes she might enjoy some of the leaf-footed bugs that are still hanging around hoping the tomatoes are coming back.

The Compost Report

If I was prone to poetic overstatement, I'd tell you that the compost pile is the beating heart of the organic garden -- the living organ that pumps the very life force into the soil and thus the plants which, when finally spent, return to the pile to begin again the cycle of life.

Wait, maybe that would make it the lungs then. Regardless, I want to talk about compost.

Here's my pile, which got a long-awaited turning last weekend.

It's been an especially hot and dry summer, and I've been especially stingy with the water, so the pile has been very dry since the spring and therefore, not very active. Composting, as I'm sure you know, has 3 basic ingredients:

Browns -- dry leaves, straw, twigs, etc.
Greens -- grass clippings, garden cuttings, kitchen waste, etc.
Water -- enough that everything is damp, but not so much that there's no air in the pile.

Mix them together in some some magic proportion and a menagerie of bacteria, fungii and bugs go crazy eating it and each other until it's all broken down into a pretty fundamental mass of organic material. Put that in your garden and it improves the texture and water-holding ability of your soil. And all that bacteria keeps eating any organic material it can find, breaking it down to the basic molecules that feed your plants.

The magic proportion can take a lot of fussing to find, but fortunately, even if you never manage to come anywhere close, it's all going to end up as compost anyway. It may just take longer and get kind of stinky at times.

Or you might find that 6 months of stocking a 40 cubic-foot pile gets you about $6 worth of compost.

But then it's all about the journey, isn't it?

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