Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Prime Growing Season is Upon Us.

Today I want to address composting and getting ready for a winter/fall garden.

As any gardener knows rich organic soil is the perfect place to grow tasty veggies. In this new more aware green era I think even more folks are trying to grow their own "Victory Gardens". To make it sustainable and prolific for years to come you should most defiantly have a nice compost heap. The added nutrients you will be putting in the soil will replenish what your garden took and save you money next season from having to buy additives.

It is not hard to find materials to start a heap, we use all our kitchen wast, dog hair clippings, some grass clippings, coffee grounds.. just about anything except meat products, NO BONES!

I use two metal garbage cans both are drilled on the bottom with holes to allow for drainage and ventilation.

I began my first compost can in the beginning of the summer. The first thing I added was a bowl of kitchen scraps, some newspaper, some grass clipping, a bit of doggie poo ( activates your compost very well) a container of night crawlers leftover from a fishing adventure and a scoop of garden dirt.

Let the rotting begin! It is now three months later, I have a lovely black and rotted matter that I can now add into the soil around my plants.

My first can turned to compost so quickly I wanted a second can to add new fresh scraps too. You can see the sort of stuff that goes in. In this second can I used a large shovel of the compost I had already made. Instantly it became active with the creepy crawly bug life that a healthy compost will have.

See the grubs below? They are in paradise.

I love the garbage cans as a composter, first off they are affordable I think I paid $17 each. They have lids that aid in heating up the cans, they also keep the smells contained. Trust me compost has a very prolific odor... kind of gross and kind of good in a deep earthy way. They are also clean and you don't have some giant rotting pile of food waste bugging your neighbors or cluttering the scenery.

I use a pitch fork to turn the pile about once a week, or I roll the can around on its side. Rolling is not to easy if the can is full and heavy though. My first can filled up really fast before the rotting began, but after the rotting began it is reduced to 1/3 of the original volume. There is plenty of books to buy in regards to composting, but really you don't need one. Just throw all your organic materials in if your pile is to wet and soupy, remove the lid add some dry leaves or dry materials.. even paper waste will work. If it is dry add more wet materials or even a bit of water.

Nature knows what to do, so let nature take it's course.. be happy if you see grubs and bug life they aid in the decomposition.

I wanted to share this photo of my winter squash, I grow mine in the ground but I string it up in the air. I love this little trick, my plant id huge and is not taking up almost any space. The fruits are very strong and they don't need any sort of support as they grow heavy and ripe. This method also helps shade my house, and I can see the plant from my office window.

Summer is quickly passing and It is nearing the fall growing season.

The average date of my first yearly frost is November 14th. Luckily I was able to plan ahead and I have began my winter veggies in little homemade pots.

The pots are newspaper that I cut into about
4 1/2" x 7" strips. I glue them into tubes, then pinch the bottoms as I fill with dirt. Wa-La a growing pot for nothing more that a few min of cutting gluing and recycling.

I have my starts in a wagon so I can move then to and from the sun. It gets so blasted hot here I cannot start the seedling in the garden directly they would just burn up.

So far following the planting guide listed below I have begun growing artichokes, swiss chard, cauliflower, turnips, cabbage, and broccoli .
While the page below is for my growing season, and zone those of you in other cooler zones should adjust the plant dates.

I found lots of good garden info online, but so far my favorite page is : http://www.sacramentogardening.com/edible_gardening.html

Happy gardening, my your plants grow large and your compost rot fast!