Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Composting in My Garden

I decided last year that I need to compost. When I lived in Michigan, we built a compost bin with two compartments. I had the best vegetable garden ever.

Moving to California, we got a much smaller backyard. I love my smaller backyard, as I do not spend a lot of time cutting grass.

When we move to our current house, the soil was bad, really bad. I did not see a single worm for two years!!!! The day I decided to plant my first rose in this yard, I decided to follow the book: did a 3 by 3 by 3 hole, and analyse the drainage. Let me tell you.... After a whole month, yes you read right, a whole month, the hole was pretty much full of water. The only water that "left" the hole was by evaporation. I planted the rose anyway, and the rose survived!

Going back to composting. As I mentioned, the soil was bad, and there is still parts of the yard that the soil is not that great. So, I decided that it was time to compost in a "more serious way". I was already composting, but in a more loose way. For instance, when I cut the grass, I spread the grass in my garden. I make a layer of 3-4 inches to prevent weeds, instead of damping the grass on the street to be collected my the city service.

You can see in the picture above some grass already dried up, and another pile of grass drying up.

Last year when the fall arrived, I saw all the leaves. Leaves and grass makes a great compost pile. Oh... and the ground coffee that we throw away everyday: the acidity might be great for the azaleas, and blueberries!

I went to Costco and could not resist buying the compost bin. It looked perfect: black to retain the heat, easier to turn then the "traditional" compost bin. I got home and my children helped me put it together. That was a project that I could not do by myself at all.

Here  is the compost bin. Great buy. Now, you might be asking: why she is still damping grass around the yard. Answer: the bin can only fit a limited amount of stuff :-) I also wanted to have a batch done before putting more stuff in the batch. Here is the batch all ready to be used:

Really great stuff. The "big pile" shrinks quite a bit. I can't wait to use it around my garden. So, go ahead, and start composting. Get all the leaves that are available now. Put in bags, build a pile, etc... but keep them so you can use it with some grass. Carbon + Nitrogen = Black gold. I do not pay too much attention to the proportion of carbon-nitrogen. I do pay attention to the pile: not hot enough means I put too much carbon, or I am not turning it very often. Oh, by the way, the leaves need to be "cut" into smaller pieces: I use the lawn mower for that.

I also keep a small pail close to my sink. I collect coffee, egg shells, potato peel, orange peel, etc. Anything that goes in my compost bin.

Composting is great for your garden, and for this planet.


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