Cool fall mornings are here and its time to get some of the garden clean up done before frost arrives. I always start in the greenhouse and this week I pulled out the nine tomato plants as they were finished. We have decided that the tomato plants do much better outside so we won’t be using the greenhouse in the heat of summer. It gets too hot for them to be productive. Maybe I will grow peppers instead. Since we have ten raised beds of vegetables I know there will be lots of composting to do. Its time to check out the four compost bins to see how they are doing. Will they be full of great organic goodness? I hope so.
I had placed the containers of soil from the greenhouse back by the compost bins. Farmer Jim doesn’t like the way I compost but I have my method. So what do I do with all the containers of soil? There will be a few more containers from annual plantings over the next month. Some of this soil will be dumped on areas of the garden that can use a topdressing. After all, the soil was new in the spring so why not use it in the garden? I opened the compost bins to see they needed emptying. They were full and I wasn’t surprised. They kind of get forgotten during the busy garden season. It’s easy to toss our clippings to the green waste pickup and forget to compost. But think about it, the green waste goes to be composted at a big composting company and we buy it back as soil from the local garden centres. There is something wrong with this picture. So the wheelbarrow and shovel were in use this morning as I dug out finished compost from two of the bins. I was able to top dress the raised bed where the garlic will be planted and spread some compost on the fall vegetable beds where turnips and broccoli are growing.
It’s okay to add your container soil to the compost bin. Be sure to break up the root ball so it decomposes quickly. I added two containers of soil to the compost bins after I removed my gardeners gold to a wheelbarrow.
Farmer Jim had added a layer of grass clippings to each the bins creating a green layer. It’s important to alternate both green and brown layers. You cannot make compost from a bin of all grass clippings. You need to add leaves or soil from plant debris to make your compost work. It doesn’t have to be perfect but that’s why I save my container soil. Its often hard to find brown material for the compost.
Remember as we clean out our gardens to add any garden waste to the compost bins. Here you can see I have dropped in some split tomatoes and a cucumber plant. Warm weather plants are pretty well done this month so its time to pull them out. Plants like basil are feeling the cold nights and you can see the browning of leaves beginning. Use a shovel or clippers to chop up your green waste so it breaks down faster. It’s so hard to say goodbye to the garden at this time of year.
I was a bad composter this summer and forgot to water the bins. This week we have removed the lids so they get some rain inside. It’s good to aerate your bins when you get a chance. Its kind of like stirring the soup. I had this broken hockey stick handle laying nearby so I used that to poke holes in the compost and give it a stir. This allows air to get into the pile and help it decompose faster.
I have more soil than I need so the rest of the containers will sit near the compost bins and gradually they will be added as green waste is brought from the gardens. It’s all about the layers. Green and brown, green and brown. Okay, Farmer Jim thought it was funny to leave that creepy face in a pot near the compost. It was found in our attic years ago and he seems to be fond of it. It’s about as creepy as a clown. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been back there.
So now that some of the raised beds have compost on them I will add some leaf mold to the beds. With almost fifty trees in the garden there is no lack of leaves in the fall. This leaf compost was made from mulched leaves that we bagged last fall. A year later its a nice crumbly mix that the garden will love. Are you composting your garden waste or saving your leaves? For me its about being sustainable and using what mother nature provides to grow the best that I can.