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Welcome to another randomly posted installment of Organic Gardening From Beginners. It's been well over a month since my last post on this topic and if you were a follower, I apologize for the delay.

It's been an eventful month.

But not particularly so in my garden.

On the up side, we've gotten a lot of rain this year. Lake levels are up and our trees are happy. On the down side, it hasn't been particularly warm and tomato gardens all around the city are sleeping. Shhhhhhhhhh. Don't wake them.

Today I'm going to talk a little about Composting and a little about Children and their relationship to gardening.

Which reminds me...two things have attacked my garden so far this year: Deer and Children.

Several days ago a friend of mine asked after my garden adventure.

"And by the way...how does your garden grow?" she asked over the cell phone. I wandered out to the garden bragging all the way about how while my yield was small, at LEAST I had managed to keep the deer out this year. And this is why I try not to brag too much, because as soon as I uttered the words the Universe punished my vanity, plunging me into an alternate reality with deer tracks in my garden and nibbled down tomato plants, beets, and carrots from the night before.  I immediately resprayed with liquid fence and wired shut the little ad-hoc gateway I designed into my fence. The attack could have been worse...this was just a warning shot.

And, frankly, the destruction was not much more than the children visit upon my garden. While I weed, the one year old comes in and tramples the beet seedlings and mimics my "tearing up plants" action by tearing up any plants that happen to be nearby. The five year old and his friends get so much joy from picking any harvest I might have, I let them do it. They give the produce a mighty heave and often yank off half the plant along with it. I had a very productive hot pepper plant, given to me as a gift, and it met an early "setback" as most of the plant got "harvested" by a little hand determined to pluck a pepper. They always hold up the produce proudly as the rest of the plant dangles helplessly from the stem and I wince and offer a weak smile "Nice...job. You picked a big......plant."

I try to help them with hand over hand picking but they get so excited about harvesting they dive right in for the kill the second I open the garden gate.

I had my small calypso bean harvest drying outside on Friday and later found them gone. All of them. My son said proudly "I planted them. They were magic beans. Want to see?"

Also the hoeing is particularly attractive to my kids. They watch me hoe and the older one begs to help. I show him exactly where he has to hoe, and he...he tries so hard to stay in the lines, but my seedlings suffer hard casualties.

Ah well.

I find, in the presence of children, subterranean plants do well. Tubers are nice and hidden from view and manage to mature to some degree before an eager primate spots a bit of red and some ancient foraging instinct drives them insane with the desire to pick it.

Though for some reason my beets just aren't very lively this year. My garden delivered one beet so far. However it produced a respectable number of turnips and radishes

Which brings me to yet another tangential thread, which seems to be the meandering way of this particular diary anyway...

...Children as a general rule, aren't terribly excited about or adventurous with vegetables. My oldest will eat beets until he pees red. But radishes and turnips...not so much.

When planting a garden intended to supplement the family's food supply, I suppose it's a wise idea to grow things the family will actually eat. We do hide turnips in things like mashed potatoes though. And that's helped with the turnip consumption.

But...lesson learned. More beets and potatoes. Maybe a little lighter on the turnips.

Potatoes...now there's a plant I was luke warm about, but now love them. Even with my crappy soil and modest growing conditions and my vast patches of ignorance, and the onslaught of children and deer the potatoes seem to be running the gauntlet and growing reliably. And one potato plant grows a ton of potatoes. Very cool.

Now....on to the topic of composting...

As I constantly mention, my soil sucks. We're close enough to the lake that our soil is sand if you dig down more than a few inches:

Note the sandy bits near the cabbages and my son's strawberry patch, which are are both doing okay.

My long term goal is to make this garden the only fertile place in the yard, which I'll accomplish through manure, bone meal, and compost.

I've read a lot about compost and there are all sorts of ways to do it. You can buy some composting bin things that make turning the compost easier. You can build a gigantic wooden, three sectioned composting...

Some schematics can be found here:

http://www.bluegrassgardens.com/...

I spent quite a bit of time trying to decide which type I would make and where I would put it in the yard for easy access in the winter. I started amassing wood scraps found around the house and from friends' houses to build the bin with.

But in the end, I opted to use the "bury it in the ground" method of composting.

There's a part of my garden where the sprinkler doesn't reach, so the plants just dry out. I've reserved that part of the garden for composting.

I save up my vegetable and plant waste (and egg shells or clam/oyster shells) in a coffee can until I've maxed out the capacity of my coffee can. Then I take it out to the garden, dig a hole about a foot deep, dump the slop in, and bury it. Make sure to bury it at least 8 inches down to keep animals from digging down to get it. Then, I let worms and bacteria and nature work its magic.

I'll dig it up some time next year and tell you how it works.

In theory, it will be largely composted by next year. I'll be able to dig it up and spread it around my garden.

The advantage to this is, it's easy and it doesn't require turning. Easy. That's what I'm looking for. I'm in no hurry to compost. I'm in this for the long haul. Plus, I'll come right out and admit that composting is a bit intimidating to me as another task I need to perform and another living thing I need to look after. Burying the vegetable waste makes it much more accessible for me.

The disadvantage is, I'm not sure what I'll do in the winter with the ground is frozen, and I'll miss out on some of the cool things you can do with fresh, easily accessible compost such as Winter Sowing.

So that's it for today. As always you'll learn a lot more from the commentary below. I'm particularly interested in hearing peoples' comments about composting.

In the next few weeks I'm going to learn a bit about cover crops to try to prepare my garden for next year and get my nitrogen fixed right up with nitrogen fixing crops. Next time I might talk about those cover crops, such as buckwheat...now I just need to find out where I can buy buckwheat.

Originally posted to Muskegon Critic on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 09:59 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If it's good enough for Michele Obama (12+ / 0-)

    it's good enough for me.

    Of course, I haven't heard anything about the White House compost yet. That would rock!

    The best way to save the planet is to keep laughing!

    by LaughingPlanet on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 10:07:30 AM PDT

  •  top dressing with a bit of good compost (14+ / 0-)

    around the base of the plants (but not potatoes) will hold in the moisture, keep down the weeds, and feed the plant nicely...we will be producing about 125 cubic yards of organic compost here for next spring.

    I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

    by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 10:07:30 AM PDT

  •  I had a long gardening hiatus (10+ / 0-)

    I planted some veg when my first son was about 18 months.  That was it.  Then I was pregnant, then I had a 2 year old and a nursing infant, then I had kids who needed not just leashes but a fenced run.  I was lucky to keep the lawn mowed.

    Now they are almost eight and six and we can garden without too many mishaps.  I made a late garden or early fall garden.  Only six tomato plants got put in, but we have three rows of peas.  I totally cheated on soil prep.  Weeds were leveled, rows hacked into the soil (friable clay), presoaked peas sowed and compost shoveled to cover them.  Then it rained and rained and rained some more.

    Now - the peas are sprouting and if I don't get the fence up pronto, the rabbits will eat them.  

    I recommend presoaking large seeds - but only if you KNOW you will plant them within 24-48 hours.  They may rot otherwise.

    Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

    by Fabian on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 10:16:35 AM PDT

    •  Fence is accomplished. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose

      When the autistic spectrum six year old realized that I was fencing him out and not making him a playground, he made with the loud boo-boo noises for ten minutes.  

      Had to remind the eight year old to watch where he was putting his feet.  After about four reminders he caught on.  I can't remember when I first started weeding the family garden. I remember having my first 4H garden in fifth grade.  Maybe earlier?  I've had successes and failures for decades.  No internet, just my mother and Organic Gardening magazine to guide me.

      Kids (and adults) these days have it easy!

      Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

      by Fabian on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 01:53:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  composting is cool (11+ / 0-)

    I do the long slow cook in a pile. I generate an enormous amount of organic material out of the kitchen and as a matter of course in my job.
    I do this for a living. Title is staff horticulturist. Whatever. I am just as likely to be in some ditch repairing plumbing or helping someone with welding. But, I have learned a few things about composting.
    There is really only one big rule that should be observed. The closer it is to wood the more nitrogen it takes to decompose it back into dirt. The profs call it a C/N ratio or carbon to nitrogen ratio. Stuff like wood chips take more nitrogen to break down than does something like a broccoli stalk. Grass clippings decompose rapidly and can even release N back into the soil and therefore can be used as a mulch/fertilizer right after they have been cut.
    I compost a lot of crazy stuff. I ignore most of their rules about fat and protein. So what if the cats dig it out of there? Maybe I can draw up a raccoon or a possum. The cats don't mind the occasional skunk either. And what about the old story of our Native American hosts showing us the technique of burying a fish carcass in the soil below where they were going to sew corn? Yeah, the dog dug up mine, but it woulda worked I tell ya!
    I recycle newspaper and cardboard, but sometimes I use paper as a mulch. If I am trying to protect an area because it is getting a lot of traffic I will sometimes put cardboard down and then some looser mulch to dress it up. Thick layer of mulch, thin layer of cardboard.

    I have a pile over to one side of the backyard, recycled some old chunks of concrete for walls. I don't stir it. I cook it all summer and in the fall I rip off the uncooked top part and spread out the worked stuff on the garden or wherever it needs it. Then I stack it back up again and start another batch.

    Yeah, teach them to twist the pepper off. That helped with my daughter.

    "These Super DeLux Brand Christian Congressjerks have a bible in one hand and a boob in the other." KissmyBigBlueButt

    by cactusflinthead on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 10:28:44 AM PDT

  •  Hooray for compost! (11+ / 0-)

    I remember trying to grow stuff in our sandy yard in Muskegon - blueberries, strawberries and esparagus did well, the rest - not so much. Now I have access to massive quantities of horse manure mixed with wood chips (my daughter has a horse farm) and my plants are doing super. I swear by huge amounts of shit to make things grow.

    "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK

    by moose67 on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 10:29:45 AM PDT

    •  Horse manure is so good (8+ / 0-)

      that they use it to grow mushrooms!

      Horse manure has a much higher amount of organic bedding than other manures.  It makes it milder and easier to use in gardening.  Other farmyard manures tend to be much richer and can cause nitrogen burns or just too much nitrogen.  One year my tomato plants were huge and lush and green - I think they did produce a few tomatoes.  I had fertilized them with fresh cow manure.  Too much, too fresh, and way too much nitrogen!

      Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

      by Fabian on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 10:51:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In the spring ... (5+ / 0-)

      I pile 6 to 12 inches of horse stable stuff on top of the beds that I'm going to use for summer crops (tomatoes, squash, etc.).

      By the time the soil is warm enough for the seedlings worms have done an excellent job of working through the poop.  

      If it's not quite ready I'll dig a "one gallon" hole in the new poop, shovel in some decent soil, and plant in the middle.  

      In the late summer/fall I haul in 2+ pickup loads, soak it down really, really well, and cover.  By the spring I've got some great compost.  Covering keeps rain from washing out the nutrients.

      My grandfather was an organic farmer.  Back before there were many non-organic farmer.

      He had a big poop pile outside the barn.  When he cleaned out the cattle/horse stalls or chicken house all that went on the pile.  He also threw on corn stalks, tobacco stalks, ruined hay, anything organic.

      In the spring he spread the pile on his garden and plowed it in.

      My grandparents ate well out of their garden.  All of the vegetables that they ate came from there - fresh, canned, dried, pickled and frozen.

      They very seldom had an insect problem.  Healthy plants just don't seem to attract as many bugs as do weak ones.

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 11:24:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We have (9+ / 0-)

    a tiny yard.  I've been trying to figure out where I could put a compost bin so that it wouldn't stink up the whole yard.  Now I think I've decided upon a spot, but have no money to buy one of those fancy barrel/turnable compost bins to put there.  I'm considering giving up and just making a chicken wire enclosure..
      My two y.o. has been relatively easy on the crop so far this year, though.  Except for trying to mow down one of my tomato plants with his bubble mower.  Fortunately it was fairly big, and I was able to intervene.  
     I just got back from a quick camping trip, and was gratified to find that my zucchini plants are thriving.  One of them has a huge fruit.  I swear, it's almost a foot long!  

    "War can be likened to an erectile penis: an excellent assurance of domestic tranquility, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure." -unknown

    by Super Grover on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 10:34:13 AM PDT

    •  HA (7+ / 0-)

      Our little guy loves his bubble mower. Those and tomato plants don't mix :D

      I've really liked the ease of just burying the compost so far. We're on a corner lot, our back yard is as visible as a fish bowl, and I want something that won't push my neighbors over the edge...they've tolerated my wood cutting quite well...and the growing real estate devoted to my garden, and my lax lawn mowing ways...and the toys in the yard...(most of my neighbors are retirees with pristine lawns). I don't want to shove them over the edge with a pile of rotting veggies right in plain view.

      So I hear ya on the "where to put it" thing.

      What is this? Are you some kind of hypnotist? Waving your powers around...

      by Muskegon Critic on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 10:43:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tumblers - meh. (9+ / 0-)

      My mother has two black plastic bins, with lids.  She got a tumbler too.

      The problem with a tumbler is that you are supposed to load it up, then tumble it for X weeks without adding any fresh material.  It's hardly convenient have your only composter unavailable for weeks at a time.  Tumblers don't hold all that much either.

      Multiple stationary bins are easiest.  Start one, add until it is full, then start filling the other one.  Harvest the first bin after a few months, or at the start of the next gardening season.  

      Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

      by Fabian on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 10:59:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm thinking (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RunawayRose, Fabian

        I will end up doing something along those lines.  Thanks!

        "War can be likened to an erectile penis: an excellent assurance of domestic tranquility, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure." -unknown

        by Super Grover on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 11:42:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  For the truly lazy (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose

          Put the bin that will be "closed" for the winter directly in your beds or garden.  In the spring, dismantle the bin and spread the compost.

          BTW - always look for a modular bin that you can take apart and put together again.  I got a cedar composter from Johnny's (Selected) Seeds, but it was a pain to put back together again.  The well built plastic ones are very durable.  I just use a wire bin with a plastic liner because I wanted a lot more volume than I could get with a more durable model.

          Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

          by Fabian on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 01:38:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  If you have the right mix (9+ / 0-)

      you do not have to worry about stinkage. You want to have about equal proportions of "green" vs. "brown". Green = everything that comes out of your kitchen & green grass clippings. Brown = dried grass clippings & weeds, dead leaves, & paper (that's why I use the shredded junk mail).

      All my peeves are my pets.

      by yinn on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 10:59:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Consider vermiculture... (5+ / 0-)

      Worms.

      You can make worm bins for zero money.  

      Here, bakeries in grocery stores give away the 5 gallon buckets in which they get frosting, fillings.

      Take one bucket.  Put some pieces of wood (say, 2x4, whatever in the bottom to hold up the second bucket.

      The second bucket.  Drill some holes in the bottom to let the juices drip through.

      The juice? That's very valuable worm tea.

      Rather than get into a lot of detail here, just google.  There's tons of info.  Look into what to include (coffee grounds) and not include (onions).  Learn about moisture and heat.

      I know people who keep their worm farms under their kitchen sink.  There's no odor if done correctly.

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 11:30:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I should (5+ / 0-)

        look into vermiculture.  Actually, I'm pretty damn near Growing Power, and could get all the info I need to get started from them.  It's a great place.

        "War can be likened to an erectile penis: an excellent assurance of domestic tranquility, but a dangerous temptation to foreign adventure." -unknown

        by Super Grover on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 11:41:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds great! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Muskegon Critic

          If you want a heavy dose of irony, economically depressed Cleveland whined and moaned and fought a commercial vermiculture operation.  It survived worries about the "smell" and whether it would attract "vermin".  

          Hello?  You need jobs, you need economic activity - this is as green a business as you can get, almost waste free, and you complain about it?

          ::headdesk::

          Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

          by Fabian on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 05:35:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Muskegon Critic

        I had ours in a similar setup, with rubbermaid bins as the container. It doesn't smell, really.

        First lesson: Our worms didn't do well with rabbit droppings. I think the urine was too strong or something.

        Second lesson: Fruit flies.

        Third lesson: Don't put the bin outdoors in the heat and forget about it, with intentions to release them soon. Cooked worms don't process waste anymore.

    •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Muskegon Critic

      You don't need to get an expensive composter.

      First off, you can make gorgeous compost by just piling it in an open heap in an unused back corner of the yard. Tuck food waste in under the yard waste to avoid vermin.

      Otherwise, you could get a black trash can with a lid, slice off the bottom, set it in place, and there you go- a sealed composter for under twenty bucks.

      I've never had any bad smell by my compost, even kitchen scraps and hen and rabbit poo. Sometimes there's an earthiness, like the dusty smell you notice at the beginning of a summer rain. But nothing unpleasant.

  •  Composting (9+ / 0-)

    does not have to be a big chore. We are very lazy composters! We use a 5-gallon bucket with a couple inches of shredded junk mail in the bottom to catch kitchen scraps, and when it's full we throw the contents into our Rubbermaid composter, which is the minimum size for generating heat at 3'x3'x3'. After we throw the scraps in we put another layer of shredding on top to prevent odor. Pulled weeds, the odd small pile of leaves and, occasionally, raked grass clippings go in, too.

    If it seems dry we pull the lid off to catch the rain, and if it seems to be getting a little too compacted we fork it some. Maybe about once a year I pick up the composter, place it next to the pile and fork the contents back in, adding water if necessary.

    The Rubbermaid composter has a side panel that you can pull out to access compost that has formed on the bottom of the box. Every spring I have enough to at least top-dress all the beds.

    Another project I have going is the ongoing replacement of sod with mulched pathways and 18" high garden boxes. I pile up the sod and have found that the bottom and center of the sod pile compost very nicely over the winter.  

    All my peeves are my pets.

    by yinn on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 10:48:26 AM PDT

  •  Burying compost.... (6+ / 0-)

    I'd never heard of it but it sounds like a good idea.  My friend bought a house where some genius had decided to store grass clippings and leaves in black garbage bags.  The idea was to fill in a low spot made by a dog that had been tethered to a tree.  We ripped open the bags, which were quite "fragrant" by then, but many of them had been completely composted in that anaerobic environment.  It was really amazing to see that marvelous black stuff come out of those stinky bags.  Good luck with your experiment.

    BTW - Have you tried a little ranch dressing to dip the radishes in?  The kids at schools will eat damned near anything if they can add ranch.  Chop up the turnips to put in soup.  The kids will think they're potatoes.  I don't know if you can freeze them, but I'll bet you can if you're going to cook them later.  They will just mush up a little bit quicker in the pot.

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 11:08:34 AM PDT

  •  This is your special garden... (8+ / 0-)

    (And the rest is mine.  Keep your lousy hands off!  ;o)

    How about making a small raised bed garden for each child?  

    Give it a very distinctive boarder such as 2x6s so that it's very easy to tell where it starts and stops.

    Put it close to the gate, along with some toys.  Maybe they won't wander further.

    Make a big deal out of "your garden", plant things that mature very quickly such as radishes along with whatever else the owner wants to plant.  

    The owner wants to plant a banana?  Sure.  It might be a learning experience, at worst compost.

    It's much, much easier to get a little one to do what they want to do in a place where you want them to do it than to get them not to do....

    15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

    by BobTrips on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 11:09:10 AM PDT

  •  You get a tip from me just for the potatoes, (6+ / 0-)

    I've tried to grow them and have met with absolutely NO success.

    "As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression..." William O. Douglas

    by Patricia Bruner on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 11:12:29 AM PDT

    •  Are you planting whole small potatoes (6+ / 0-)

      or just the eyes?

      I planted the whole small potato about 8 inches down.

      What is this? Are you some kind of hypnotist? Waving your powers around...

      by Muskegon Critic on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 11:28:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Start with small "seed" potatoes... (5+ / 0-)

      Or cut sections, each with an "eye".  Let the sections dry for a day or so so that the cut area gets a tough "skin".

      Put them on top of the ground and cover with a nice thick layer of straw.  Put down some compost with the taters if you can get your hands on some.  

      As they come up through the straw, toss on some more straw.  Watch to see if any leaves look a bit limp.  If so, it's time to water.

      At the end of the season rake back the straw and pick up your potatoes.

      Couldn't be any easier gardening for little ones.  Potato plants are impressive.  Straw is easy to manage.  

      You can peek under to see how things are doing without causing any real damage.  

      And picking up the potatoes off the ground without having to dig....

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 11:56:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the only drawback, here (5+ / 0-)

        is the price. we used to use this method, but straw is topping $8.00/bail around here.

        I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

        by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 12:09:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  One bale goes a long way... (5+ / 0-)

          For some people a bale might be more than enough.  And straw (especially if you can get rice straw) is good for more than one year.

          Also, check farms in your area.  Lots of time there is ruined hay that can be had for the hauling.  

          Seeds in the hay really aren't a problem as it's really easy to dis-root the small seedings with a pass of the hoe.  Weeds = compost.

          15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

          by BobTrips on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 12:18:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I planted 600 lbs of seed potato (5+ / 0-)

            this year...I might need more than a bail. I am one of those local farms.

            I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

            by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 12:28:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah. You're not a "home gardener"... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              RunawayRose, Fabian, farmerchuck

              You're operating at a different scale.

              BTW, for those who just want to grow a few taters for their own use, another way to grow 'em is 'taters in a barrel'.

              Take a 55 gallon steel drum, or something like one, drill/punch some drain holes in the bottom.  

              Put a layer of dirt a foot or so in the bottom.  Good rich compost-laden dirt.

              Put the seed or cut potatoes on top of the dirt and then put on a layer of straw, something like six inches.

              When the green shoots start to show cover them with another layer of straw.  Keep doing that until the barrel is full.

              I've done that before and at the end of the dumped over the barrel and picked up an amazing number of potatoes.

              Got to watch the moisture level in the barrel.  The steel can get hot in the summer sun and the plants can boil off a lot of water keeping cool.

              (~90% of water used by plants goes not for growth, but for cooling.  I've heard....)

              15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

              by BobTrips on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 01:51:46 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I like an above ground pile (5+ / 0-)

    with a turn every month or so...underground piles, or piles with too many leaves don't tend to get hot enough to kill all the weed seeds. generally speaking in the pile, woody material will soak up a lot of nitrogen, but will release it very slowly in the wild. you want to reserve the highest nitrogen release rate stuff for your green leafies, and reserve the lower slower release stuff for the fruit producers. the lowest slowest release of nitrogen should be used with potatoes. I don't use any compost on the potatoes here, just rotted straw and hay. reserve the high phosphate stuff (bone meal, ocean derived substrates, and composted sunflower stalks for feeding the asparagus and strawberries...phosphate depletion is a real issue with them.

    I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

    by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 11:45:16 AM PDT

    •  I use 3' x 3' x 3' compost bins... (5+ / 0-)

      In the summer I can flip my compost from one bin to another every few days and produce finished compost in 2-3 weeks.

      One needs a decent "green to brown" nitrogen/carbon balance and needs to keep the pile very moist.

      Flipping moves the not-yet-composted stuff into the middle and gives the little microbes which are eating the compost some air.  After the first flip the pile is smaller and lighter.

      Flip a little, water some, flip a little, ....

      Covering the working pile with plastic/whatever helps keep the temperature up and the moisture in.

      15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

      by BobTrips on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 12:01:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I like your system (4+ / 0-)

        but I would need about 300 bins...I'll have to stick with my multiple pile system.

        I was once a treehouse, I lived in a cake, but I never saw the way the orange slayed the rake... The Llama Song.

        by farmerchuck on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 12:07:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, that's for the grass clippings... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RunawayRose, bronte17, Fabian, farmerchuck

          kitchen waste, leaves, etc.

          Then there are my two multi-pickup loads piles of serious over-winter composting....  ;o)

          I'm in the set-up phase with my gardens and orchard.  I'm making a lot of compost to give my poor soil a "boot camp" shape up.

          Down the road three one cubic foot bins will probably be enough.  

          One is for collection.  The other two are 'flippers'.  

          At the end of the growing season I fill all three bins with something, wet, and cover.  That gives me about a yard of compost in the spring for getting started.

          15 to 6. Pulled ahead as soon as the gate opened and never looked back....

          by BobTrips on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 12:14:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Muskegon Critic

    Fwiw, my kids like parsnips a whole lot better than turnips. Less bit, more carroty flavor.

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