Thursday, December 11, 2008

Looks like I picked the wrong week to tell my coworkers about my blog

'cause this shit looks kind of crazy to the untrained eye:

That's the sight of 14 bags of dead leaves that fell in other people's yards and made it as far as the curb the night before trash day before being stealthily loaded into the back of my Jimmy. Well, stealthily, with the exception of those that fell in the yard of Evelyn, the sweet little old lady who was finishing up her yardwork in the dark and just pleased as punch for me to have them.

Hopefully sooner than later, these will all make a run through my recently acquired leaf shredder. Then they'll sit in an inconspicuous heap in the backyard awaiting a slow feeding to the compost pile, or thick layering as mulch around the spring plantings.

With luck, they'll hold out until about this time next year when the circle of carbon sequestration will begin again.

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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?


Saturday, October 4, 2008

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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