Tag Archives: Compost

By July 1, 2017, The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation assures that waste haulers and drop-off centers must provide food scrap collection. I am more interested in managing my food scraps at home, it is simple and low-cost, and I can make wonderful compost, which is like black gold for my garden.gardening, composting, prudent living

 

The benefits of composting are many. It is a great soil amendment for my garden. Compost helps promote root development, enhances retention of water and nutrients and makes the soil easier to cultivate.What To do With Food Scraps

 

How to go about making compost from your food scraps? One simple method is to use a compost bin made of recycled plastic. Here in Vermont I can actually purchase these bins from the Solid Waste Management District. They are also available at our local hardware store. Once the snow has melted find a suitable site that’s convenient but also out of the way. It should be shaded and out of the wind. We have ours tucked in the corner of the yard. Our compost bin is within easy walking distance from the house yet not really visible when you drive in the driveway.What To Do With Food Scraps?

 

I also have a small compost container, which sits on my counter and is filled almost daily. When the container is filled it is brought outside and emptied into our larger bin.What To Do With Food Scraps?

 

When collecting materials to compost you want them to be in small enough pieces so that they will compost quickly. It is a good idea to layer your compost using one part of green material to 3 parts brown. Green materials are food scraps, manure, freshly cut grass, coffee grounds, and vegetable and fruit scraps. Brown materials are dry leaves, sawdust, shredded egg cartons, ground up eggshells, hair and wood ash.

 

Do not add meat scraps, diary products, oils or bones as they will attract pests. Do not use grass clippings that have been treated with pesticides or pet manure. Remember you will be putting your compost into your garden and you want it to be beneficial to your plants.

 

As the compost pile builds up you can either stir it with a shovel or remove the fresh compost from the bottom. We usually empty our compost bin each spring and dig it into our garden.What To Do With Food Scraps?

 

There are also other compost bins that you can build using pallets or wire. The bottom line is that composting is easy. Compost will take your food scraps and give you a supply of dark, crumbly hummus that will enhance your garden.What To Do With Food Scraps?

 

Is autumn really the end of the gardening year?

Fall is not the end of the gardening year; it is the start of next year’s growing season.”
Thalassa Cruso

Autumn in Vermont is one of my favorite times of year. The days are clear and sunny and the nights are cold! The leaves begin to change color and you know winter is just around the corner. Is it really the end of another gardening year?The colors of fall.

My goal each year is to get all my gardens cut back and cleaned up for the winter. Sometimes this happens, sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on how busy our fall is.fall, garden, gardening year

First step in preparing for the winter is to remove all the decaying plant material to our compost pile. This means the random tomatoes that have fallen to the ground, the old tomato vines and the dying flower stalks. I like to leave my raised beds free of any weeds. If I have time I like to plant a cover crop in my raised beds as well. This will add nutrients to the soil while at the same time keep the weeds at bay.

If our compost bin is full we will also top off the raised beds with some compost and dig it into the raised beds. By spring it will be well composted and the beds will be ready for the spring planting.

There are also my flowerbeds to be cut back. Cutting back my numerous hosta plants is always a chore, but I don’t want to leave decaying leaves on the beds.

Once the gardens are cut back and cleaned up we are ready for winter. Now the snows can come, my garden is wonderfully cleaned up and ready to face the winter.The way time goes by it won’t be long before the seed catalogs begin arriving in the mail. It will be time to sit by the wood stove and plan next year’s garden!gardening-year

May is such a busy time of year. I am itching to get my hands in the vegetable garden yet our weather is still too unpredictable to do much planting. Instead it is time to get my raised beds ready for planting! I’m also working on getting all the flowers beds presentable just in case someone decides to come look at our house!Mulched Flower Beds

In the fall, before we left for our cross-country trip, I planted a cover crop in the raised beds. Doing this accomplished two things, weeds were crowded out and not allowed to grow and the cover crop provided nutrients to the beds.Cover Crop Ideally I would have tilled the cover crop under but my raised beds are four feet by eight feet and too small for our large rototiller! Instead I am hand pulling the cover crop, shaking out all the dirt from the roots before placing in our compost pile.Cover Crop

The beds usually settle somewhat over the growing season so before planting I will top the beds off with some of our beautiful compost! I love creating compost that in turn adds nutrients to our garden bed.gardening, composting, prudent living

Once the beds have been weeded and compost has been added they will be ready to plant. I have already planted peas, spinach and lettuce. Those three vegetables don’t mind the cool nights. I have also planted one bed with strawberry plants; they are runners from our old strawberry bed so we’ll see how they do!Baby Strawberries

Ever since we moved into our house 16 years ago I have been working in this garden space. I started with a small garden, which kept expanding over the years. With four growing children we easily consumed everything I grew in the garden plus I was able to can what we didn’t eat. Now that our children are grown and have all moved away I have been slowly decreasing the size of our garden! With a move in the future I just don’t need to have such a large garden anymore. I am now down to just the eight raised beds plus a large blueberry patch and a newer raspberry patch plus my rhubarb plants!Rhubarb Plants

It will be hard to leave my garden and I just hope that whoever does purchase our home loves to garden as much as I do!

 

 

In case you’re new to composting, composting involves working with the natural breakdown of organic matter to produce nutrient-rich soil. Compost is a valuable resource to have in your garden, not only because it can help reduce waste, but also because it can improve the health of plants in your garden significantly. It can even offer unique advantages over soil and mulch for your garden, making it a valuable asset for any serious gardener. (To learn more about the differences between compost, soil, and mulch, check out this article.) Here is a look at the basics of starting a compost pile at your home.Compost bins

Find the right container.

Most people choose to invest in a bin made specifically for composting because it keeps the compost pile neat, prevents rain from oversaturating the pile, and holds in the heat that the composting process produces. Investing in a composting bin is really the easiest way to get started with composting. There are, however, many different types of compost bins to choose from, and the bin that you choose largely depends on which conveniences you want and what space you can afford for composting. Here are some common compost bin types:

    • Enclosed bin. A standard, enclosed bin is the most basic type of compost bin for keeping outdoors. It features holes in the sides for proper aeration, and it has a lid to keep rain and animals out. There are also slatted wood bins, which can make the composting process very simple with removeable slats. One downside with using a stationary bin, however, is that you’ll need to aerate your compost manually (more on this later) if you want decomposition to occur more quickly. Otherwise, it could take anywhere from six months to two years for your waste to decompose.
    • Rolling bin. A rolling compost bin allows you to roll your bin to a place in your yard where you might want to collect yard waste. It also makes mixing and aerating your compost a cinch—with just a tumble or two of the bin every couple days.

 

  • Tumbler bin. Alternatively, you could go with a cylindrical compost tumbler, which allows you to mix and aerate your compost easily with a simple lever.
  • Worm bin. Worm bins are designed specifically for vermicomposting, which involves adding tiger worms to your compost to help break down kitchen table scraps. One thing to keep in mind with worm bins is that they need to be kept away from extreme temperatures, which means that you could be bringing your bin indoors during snowy winter months or hot and humid summer months.

 

  • Indoor bin. Compost bins are available in smaller sizes as well. This grants you the freedom of keeping one in a kitchen or small apartment for easy, convenient composting.

You can, of course, create your own container for composting as well by taking a large plastic container with a lid and drilling holes in the sides (including the top and bottom).

Know what you can add to your compost.

Remember: the goal here is to add organic matter to your compost. Ultimately you want to add a variety of materials to your compost, including fast-rotting green materials, which have high nitrogen content, and slower-rotting brown materials, which have high carbon content. Some examples of green, nitrogen-rich materials are green leafy waste, grass trimmings, flowers, young weeds, tea leaves (without the bags), herbivore manure, and scraps from your kitchen, such as citrus peels, potato skins, apple cores, and banana peels. Some examples of brown, carbon-rich materials are small amounts of dead leaves, shredded paper, coffee grounds, woody hedge clippings and twigs (ideally shredded first), sawdust, and herbivore bedding (such as hay and straw). You’ll also want to keep some of the materials you add, such as hedge clippings, coarser and more fibrous because this will introduce air into your compost mixture. These techniques together will enhance the composting process.Compost with composted soil

Other materials that you can add in small quantities include vacuum bag contents, human and animal hair, washed and crushed egg shells, and 100% wool or cotton. Keep in mind that the smaller the materials are when you add them to your compost, the faster they will decompose. Be sure not to add meat, bones, cat or dog feces, or other greasy materials to your compost. These materials have potential to attract disease and vermin. Inorganic materials such as aluminum cans also won’t work.

Build your pile like you would a tossed salad.

Starting your compost pile is much like creating a tossed salad. You’ll want to start your compost with a variety of materials as mentioned above, with coarser brown materials, such as dry leaves and small twigs, serving as your base. Top these brown materials with green materials, such as grass clippings, herbivore manure, and fruit and vegetable scraps. Add a shovelful or two of garden soil on top of this, and then add some more brown material. Moisten this with a sprinkling of water, and continue alternating adding brown and green material until you have a ratio of about three parts brown to one part green, and a pile that is about three feet high. Then turn your pile with a pitchfork. Repeat this turning process with your pitchfork once every one or two weeks, moving materials from the outside of the pile to the center. Keep the pile moist but not soggy.

Within a few months, the center and bottom portions of the pile should begin to become crumbly and a rich, dark brown (almost black) color. This is your nutrient-rich, completed compost. Once your pile has produced enough rich compost for your gardening needs, shovel out the compost and use what remains as the foundation for your next compost pile.Garden fork turning compost

Guest post By: Maurine Anderson

I have mixed feelings when it comes around to preparing the garden for winter. It signifies a change of seasons and moving into a quieter time of the year.

Heading into fall.

Heading into fall.

Soon the snows will come and I won’t be spending as much time outside in the garden. I will miss being outside working in the garden, but I do enjoy the slower pace of winter.

Winter ahead

Winter ahead

I have more time to get caught up on reading and spending more time in the kitchen. However, winters are long here in Vermont, so I know it will be many months before I am outside in the dirt!

Leaving the gardens in good shape is my goal. I pull up all the old vegetable plants and clean up any fallen tomatoes or other over ripe fruit that has been left behind. I also pull the weeds that continue to grow no matter what the weather.

Leaving the garden in good shape.

Leaving the garden in good shape.

This year I am also planting a cover crop. Planting a cover crop can serve two purposes, it can help to smother out weedy garden patches and provide nutrients for the soil when it is tilled under in the spring.

Several of the raised beds have had compost added to them at the end of the growing season. I will use a pitchfork to turn the compost over in the garden bed. This will insure that it will be well decomposed by the spring.

The fall is also a good time to check over your tools. Check and see if anything needs repairing or sharpening. Rub your tools lightly with vegetable oil. This will help prevent rust and recondition the wooden parts too. Drain your power equipment of gasoline. We usually try to run the mowers until the tanks are dry. Sort through your garden tools as well. Do you have tools that you never use? Perhaps they should be passed along.

weeding tools

Small gardening hand tools.

If we weren’t planning a trip this fall I would be growing some kale, spinach and lettuce using row covers. Nothing like enjoying fresh produce in November.

row covers, lettuce, garden, prudent living

Row covers extend the season.

It’s always kind of sad to say good-bye to the gardening season. However, this winter when we’re enjoying our well stocked pantry we will remember the garden. When the seed catalogs start arriving this winter it will once again be time to plan next year’s garden!Dream garden

 

Deciding whether or not to tackle a gardening job yourself will depend on many things. How much strength you have, your level of knowledge, your time, and your degree of interest in taking on the project. It’s never wise to take on something you can’t finish, or you can’t do properly, because unfinished projects cost you most in the long run.

There are many good DIY projects for example:

Planting a GardenGarden all planted!
Building Raised Beds

Transitioning to raised beds.

Transitioning to raised beds.

Transplanting small scrubs and trees.
Amending the soil with compost.

gardening, composting, prudent living

Compost

Making compost bins

composting, prudent living

Three Bin Composter


Creating new garden space.hostas, perennials
Drawing Up a Landscape Plan.

gardening, plan

Sample garden plot


Building a cover for your blueberry bushes

berries, protecting, prudent living

Blueberry Cage

Tasks For a Pro:
Major grading and terracing
Correcting major drainage issues
Felling trees
Digging out large tree stumps
Removing large boulders
Building Retaining walls.
Pruning and cabling large trees

What sort of tasks do you handle yourself? What tasks do you leave for others.?

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