October 29, 2006

My little compost bin

I'm not too handy, which is why my homemade "city" compost bin has some very ugly looking holes in the top. I can't believe this is really going to work but, its worth a shot. I didn't really think that sticking tiny specks into the ground would result in the carrots and beans and lettuce that I've grown from them either though and things decomposing seems much more logical.

I followed the instructions I had pretty closely but, I am still not sure I got the right type and quantity of "greens." Here's what I did:

1) I cut holes in the top of the lid of my big plastic tub. The knife was crappy and kept folding a little so its a miracle that I didn't get a bad cut. This part took about 45 minutes if you can believe it.

2) I cut 8 slits (2 in each corner) in the bottom of the tub for drainage.

3) I filled the tub with 1 ripped up egg carton, a few inches of newspaper that I ripped into strips and 1 and 1/2 shopping bags of my out-of-state dried leaves. Once it was about 3/4 full I added some weeds and other fresh plant material from the garden (mostly kale that had too many dead aphids to be appetizing and weeds) plus some eggshells and an apple core and some tea leaves.

4) I watered the whole thing until the top layer seemed pretty wet.

I think I'll add more "browns" and "greens" in a few days since after all the water went in everything shrunk down a bit and the bin is not yet completely full. Plus, I still need to go leaf hunting so I'll have a good supply of dried leaves through the winter.

I know I'll never be able to just throw my kitchen waste into the compost bin like some people do simply because I won't have the room but, its still exciting to try this.

I probably have enough space for one more bin on the back porch if I really wanted it so, we'll see how this goes and play it by ear.

October 26, 2006

"Leaving" the City

I've been wanting to try composting in a plastic bin on my backporch since I read about it here.
The trouble is, I didn't have any dried leaves or "browns" to get started. So, I was very excited for fall although........ I knew there would be challenges given my urban environment.

My street is paved and I don't have a backyard so I wasn't quite sure how to go about picking up the leaves that I do see on the street. Plus, I don't really trust the "cleanliness" of the gutter if you know what I mean. My apartment is near a highschool and a gas station and a few bars and there are plenty of people around who never pick up after their dogs. I can only imagine what is down there with the leaves. Ew.

So, I was planning to pick a weekend day to go to a nearby park and just fill a few trash bags with dried leaves. I was prepared to feel a little self conscious about it because, heck, it probably looks weird for a non-employee to be picking up bagfuls of dried leaves at the park right? But I'm ok with that. Its all for a good cause.

Anyway, this past weekend I went on vacation to a rural area of New York State and although I hadn't planned on it I realized that this was the perfect spot to start collecting. I had hit the fall leaf jackpot! On the day I was leaving I filled 3 shopping bags ( sadly, I hadn't come prepared with big trash bags.) I know its a little bizarre and I felt a little silly doing it but, my friend didn't seem to mind (the one who actually owns the car.) and I was really excited about it. Who would have thought that out-of-state leaves in the trunk of the car could make a person so happy?

I also bought a pocket knife to cut the holes in the plastic tub so, I'm hoping to start my first batch of compost this weekend!!

October 17, 2006


I refuse to be sad about the Fall and the end of gardening for the year. Fall is actually my favorite season because the sunny days are so sparkly and I actually hate when it's too hot out. If fall wasn't followed by Winter I would like it even better.

My Nippon Daisies are finally blooming (in fact, they are out of control, does anyone want some?) and this past Sunday I planted garlic!!

Garlic was one of those things that I was really jealous of in other people's garden plots during the spring and summer because it looks so amazing while it's growing. Plus, who doesn't love garlic?!

I pledged to grow garlic this year and, while I'm at it, here is a list of 11 new things I want in my garden for next year. I'll never have the room or the energy since I don't really plan to stop growing much of what I had this year but......a girl can dream.

1.Bee Balm (the butterflies seem to love it and it reminds me of Animal from the Muppet Show) 2.Beets - golden is my hope because the red ones are tasty but very very messy
3.Potatoes (maybe)
4.Different kinds of lettuce - to be determined
5.Some other kind of peppers (that will actually grow!)
6.White eggplant
7. Chard
8. Cucumbers (but they take up a lot of room so we'll see)
9. Squash (this is mostly for my brother who wants to cook the blossoms)
10.Some kind of purple flower that I know grows with California Poppies but I don't yet know the name of.
11. Maybe one more flower that blooms in early spring although I'm not sure I'm willing to give up the veggie space.

Special thanks to the Gardener/Chef who helped me with the beginnings of a garden plan and held the garlic for the photo above.

October 10, 2006

October Clean Up

I was embarrassed about how much time I spent ignoring the garden over the past two weeks but, after just a couple hours of work I feel a lot better about the state of things in the garden.

It's getting colder which means I had to pull out a lot of plants and cut things back. We no longer have a compost pile which is a major pain in the butt. I had to bag up all the plant material and then on Wedensday night I'll put it out in the trash because 1) I don't have my own compost bin and 2) even if I did it probably wouldn't be hot enough to deal with the various diseases that are likely on the plant remains that I have.

I probably have another 1-2 clean up days to do before it gets too cold and I need to start thinking about layout for next year and planting bulbs which I've never done. I really want to try garlic but, since I am not sure how I want to lay out the garden for next spring I am not sure where to plant it.

I was actually surprised to see that the basil is still alive (I made 2 jars of pesto with it in addition to 4 bottles of rosemary oil that should be ready in time for gift giving in December.)
The biggest surprise of this past Saturday was the carrots! I really thought I had failed with those because they seemed to be too shaded and to be taking way too long. I'm like a proud mama. They're pretty and "garden-y" and taste good too. I left a few in for another week or so and I've still got some kale and perhaps even more basil.

I do love the fall but, I'm sad to see it all wrapping up. The garden still looks really nice but, I know the days of brown scraggly sadness are just around the corner.