Saturday, August 11, 2012

What Comes of the Compost

Since we still are not 100% at home yet, we haven't had a good way to add to the compost piles that usually collect our kitchen trimmings, and we still seem to be generating plenty of odd little brown spots and stem ends. The good parts are going into either the crockpot (on loan from a co-worker - Thank you, Louise!) or the dehydrator.

Our compost is still collecting little bits of yard trimmings/weeds, but not nearly as much as usual, and the contents of our bunnies' litter boxes aren't going there either, because our bunnies are still with a friend. Right now, instead of having one compost pile that's growing while the other, more finished pile gets moved out to the garden, we have two dwindling piles. By the end of this weekend, there won't be any compost left in the backyard - just a little stack of wilting weeds.

We have become so accustomed to always adding to the compost piles that it seems a little weird, and very wasteful, to run veggie trimmings down the disposal at the hotel where we currently are being housed (not for much longer!).

I know, though, that there are plenty of people for whom saving organic material for the compost pile is a foreign concept. I forget sometimes that other people's lives aren't centered around gardening and all the daily behaviors that make gardening work.

However, it is great to hear about other people who not only are doing similar things but also working to educate still more people about using leftover/waste material in the garden. Not long ago at work I heard from a guy who is educating others about the usefulness of coffee grounds in gardening. He has put together an informational webpage and a little project to collect, dry, and distribute coffee grounds for use in gardens. It's a local Greenbean Project. I am hoping that his project becomes wildly successful.

A great thing about coffee grounds, especially as the season for collecting fallen leaves is almost here, is that coffee grounds are a good nitrogen source, which helps balance out the high carbon content of the dried leaves that we will all be dumping into our compost piles.

Meanwhile, the multiple seasons' worth of compost that have been added to my vegetable garden have been working their magic on the red clay, helping the soil produce good food for us, even though I haven't been out there tending to the watering and weeds every day like I would normally be doing.

The trombocino squash are beginning to produce for us:

The dwarf butternut has made several squashes, too. In a comic-twist, the squash fruits themselves are "dwarf," but the vines have sprawled ten-to-twelve feet. I was kind of expecting a reverse version of that outcome, where the vines were more dwarfed and the fruits more normal, but I am not exactly surprised by the reality. It's the kind of thing that sometimes happens with seeds and plants.

The buckwheat that had been acting as a place-holder for the last few weeks has already flowered, and I've turned that cover-crop under to get the area ready for the carrots. If all goes well, those seeds will be in the ground tomorrow.

Tomato plants are still producing, and the remaining plants look surprisingly healthy for this late in the season. These are Akers Plum tomatoes:

These are Wuhib, another plum/paste tomato:

We have a week of cooler weather coming up, and it will be a good time to plant some of the cooler weather crops. Germination will be a lot more successful than it would have been a week or so ago - the highs are forecast to be below 90 degrees F for the next few days. It won't hurt to have dug in the last of the compost.


  1. I have gotten so accustomed to composting that I feel guilty when I have to put kitchen scraps or veggies scraps in the trash. Thanks for the tip about the coffee grounds. I make plenty each day but not enough to make a significant difference in our compost bin. A trip to Starbucks is in order. We started fall seeds this past week. The kids were delighted.

    Here's hoping you get moved back into your garden and home soon!

  2. Hi Mia - We'll be back in the house reasonably soon, stepping around the guys who will be working to get it all finished up. In the meantime, I have been out planting seeds for the fall garden. The cool weather forecast for the next several days should be a big help in getting everything to germinate! Hope your seeds all work, too.

    (If you call a Starbucks in the morning, to let them know you want to come by later in the day for coffee grounds for your garden, you might end up with more. At least, that's what I worked out a couple of years a go with my nearest Starbucks. They saved grounds for me all day long instead of taking them out to the dumpster when the container was full.)

  3. Thanks for the tip! I'll make sure to call my local one.


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