July 18 Weekly Garden Update:

Inspired by the excellent post on composting 101 by Engineered Garden, I decided to include a blurb on our own composting set up.

I’m going to try not to repeat anything he said.  There are a variety of compost piles you can make, and not all of them need to be “efficient”, if you don’t need them to be.   I’ll even go so far as to say that when it comes to composting we are downright lazy.

Hardwire cloth compost

First I cut a length of 4’ hardware cloth fencing, and wired it into a circle.  Put that on the ground at the edge of the woods.  We fill this with grass cuttings, leaves, leafy branches, dead lawn and forest stuff, and rip-outs of pea vines, etc.  We never turn it, but it still cuts its own volume in half every 3rd of a year or so and I just keep packing stuff on top.

Earth Machina

We got an “earth machine” plastic composter from our county services cheap.  The thing itself was made of recycled this and that.  It has a little door at the bottom and a twist off lid on the top.  Dump kitchen compost garbage, and/or other dead or dying things whenever you please.  Shovel compost out of the bottom door.   We mostly use this as overflow for the worm farm now.

Early Picture of the Wormfarm

I built us a worm farm out of concrete blocks and a plywood sheet.   We are on very hard clay here in the piedmont of North Carolina, so I just dug a wee bit down to level the site and then I placed the concrete blocks in a rectangle the size I wanted it.  Our friendly county worm-farmer has something like this about 100’ long – we decided we’d start smaller (laughs).  You can feed the worms all the kitchen compostable stuff, wet newspaper, cardboard, leaf and grass cuttings – whatever you have.  They don’t like too much citrus, but they love your coffee grounds.  You never have to worry about ratios, they do all the work, and you don’t need one of those multi-level fruit-fly generators in your kitchen either.  I hinged the plywood lid in the middle so that I can open either half, and when one half gets full we dump stuff in the other half for a few months.  About once a quarter she harvests parts of it that are ready, checks on the worms, and that’s it.  If you want more volume of compost you can put in more worms, make it deeper or cover more area.  There is no mortar and the blocks are loosely jointed – it has plenty of ventilation and drainage.  The only thing I’d like to do at this point is paint the cover so it looks nice and lasts longer.  We get enough compost at this point to feed  our boxes, and that’s all we really need.

HARVEST update –

Haricot Verts

This week we were engulfed by haricot verts, and I canned 5 pints of same while we ate others.  I canned 6 pints of tomato sauce and we are eating tomatoes daily.  We got more cucumbers, in fact I’m in the process of canning 4 more pints of pickles at this moment.  Yellow squash, anaheims, Italian sweet rellenos, cayennes, jalapenos are plentiful.

More harvest

We have pimentos, bell peppers, and several others making rapidly now.  And we have an actual purple eggplant – something that evaded us last year.

Cayennes

Pimento

Bell

There is a charentais melon growing along with our moon and starts watermelons.

Melons

Melons

The kennebecs are definitely ready to harvest now, and the new Yukon golds and russests are springing up nicely.

Yukons

New russets

Our seedlings in the basement germinated this week and are happy under their lights – fall broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.

We sprayed fish emulsion this morning.

Blue Lakes

The blue lakes and the dutch half-runner beans are making — we should be harvesting both this week.

This week we lost our 2 zucchini plants and the rest of our acorn squash plants.  One of our farmer friends told us that he starts his squash early inside, then sets them out by April 20th in order to get production before the plants are gone, so we will try this next year.  And we’ll be picking up that kaolin clay this next week and will report on results when we have them.

Eggplant!

As I write this it is 94 degrees and 98% humidity outside.  We’ve gotten enough thunder storms in the past couple of weeks to keep us from having to irrigate from the well, which is very nice.

Field Peas

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4 Responses to “July 18 Weekly Garden Update:”

  1. kitsapFG Says:

    I do a mostly lazy composting too – much the same as you but I do turn it periodically with a pitchfork and sprinkle it with water periodically to keep it moist. Your worm bin has me intrigued. I like the hinged half doors on it.

  2. thyme2garden Says:

    That’s funny you wrote this post, because I was also inspired by EG’s post about composting and wrote my own post. Well, “inspired” may not be the right word, more like “devastated” 🙂 but who’s splitting hairs here.

    Your haricot verts and tomatoes look great!

  3. foodgardenkitchen Says:

    kitsapFG: I used 4 heavy hinges that will lay back all the way. I just ripped the 30″ x 60″ piece I had twice across the middle — the hinges are actually affixed to a narrow strip which are both affixed to the two “doors”. Next time I will spray paint the whole with some rustoleum or its ilk before I put it down.

    thyme2garden: I just saw that, lol! My only suggestion is that in a suburban environment like you are in, worm composting might allow you to take advantage of some of the imbalances in materials you have. It’s not as quick as a well balanced pile though.

    A heavy thunderstorm last night bent a bunch of our garden, I was out early this morning retraining on trellises, and propping up some plants that were heavily buffeted.

  4. meemsnyc Says:

    Your Earth Machine looks very cool! I have 1 composter, and a garbage can that we use as a composter. The Earth Machine looks cool because it has that little door at the bottom, I like that! Thanks for the tip on HeirloomSeeds.com, I’ll check it out. I tried to germinate mint seeds indoors, and was unsuccessful twice. But I finally got it to germinate, will post about it later.

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