On Sunday, after I trimmed the grasses, I got around to doing a little gardening. I’m behind on my timeline for my fall garden, but better late than never! I’ve been excited to prep the soil with some of my precious chicken manure, thanks to the Snowflakes. I’ve had a few bins in the corner of the garden, aging for months, in preparation for fall planting. I sifted the compost which came through in a beautiful dusting on the planter beds, making it a snap to mix into the soil.
Since the chicken manure was raked from the coop, there was a lot of gravel mixed in. The sifting separated it out and this detritus is what was left.
I planted a couple six-packs of kale for color in the raised bed by my front walk, using a little artistic license by creating a pyramid shape.
The rain started falling about 15 hours later and the plants got a good, fresh soaking, hopefully setting the chicken manure into action.
Grow, grow, grow!
The Snowflakes are doing great in the front yard despite the fact that I’m a clueless city girl. I’m learning more and more which means more and more questions but mostly I’ve been operating under the premise that Ignorance is Bliss.
I bought another composter last month to handle all the chicken coop poop. 1. Chicken poop definitely piles up. 2. Chicken poop is stinky. 3. Chicken poop is stinkier when it’s been in the pile for a while. 4. Chicken poop makes a compost pile really “hot.”
This is where the ignorance part comes in. I was stirring the compost pile around and realized that the pile was REALLY hot in the middle. And I mean REALLLLLY hot. Then I started to worry. How hot is too hot? Could a fire start spontaneously? There goes my bliss!
After Googling ‘Compost Fire’ and reading about spontaneous combustion, I decided that I needed to deal with the compost pile out there with the girls. I emptied out the compost bin and found a pile of ash from the middle! No wonder the pile was hot – it had been smoldering in there! Oooopsie!
I filled up five recycle tubs that I placed together in a square. Once I filled them up I moved the chicken cage over on top of them so they can age for a while. I read that it takes about 90 days to mellow out the chicken manure and kill the bacteria so I’ll just leave those piles alone until at least July 1st. Hopefully, smaller piles translates into less combustible.
The girls seem to be thriving despite me!
All's well that ends well....
I was wandering around in the yard today, checking on my seedlings, and realized we’re heading into the quiet time of the year in the garden. I’ve got garden greens growing, but the garden doesn’t look very vibrant right now. That’s not a bad thing, just an observation. I found myself clipping away at rangy plants, raking or picking up fallen leaves, throwing away tired plants, and generally just cleaning up. I did get to eat five perfect blueberries off of one of my bushes and found a strawberry hiding, so I snacked a little, too!
This weekend I need to rake out from under my roses and gardenias and replace with the worm castings I ordered. My blueberries probably need a dose of an acid fertilizer and I’ll layer some worm castings over them, too. I’ll spread the worm castings around on most everything. A general clean-up out in the yard will spruce things up and the worm castings will add a nice layer of mulch to protect and feed.
Worm Castings - Pure Gold!
It’s been awhile since we talked about composting. I don’t think much about it, it just seems to be incorporated in my daily life. I’ve got two big bins in the front yard, and a little composter just outside the kitchen door. The word “composting” seems to be a scary thing for lots of people. Basically, it’s not a big deal if you follow a few basic rules. You need green products (kitchen scraps like rinds, tops, cores, grass clippings, green leaves -anything that breaks down and doesn’t contain meat or fat products.) To offset the green products, you need to add brown products (dried leaves, paper, cardboard, straw and wood chips). Too much green and you’ll end up with a stinky mess. Too much brown and it won’t break down as quickly. Eggshells and coffee grinds are excellent things to add to your pile. Common sense dictates that the smaller your pieces are, the faster the breakdown.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to compost plant material that has been sprayed with herbicides. It will remain in the compost and kill plants if you spread it around the garden. Also, weeds can be composted, BUT only if they have dried out and have not gone to seed.
I practice vermiculture, which means I cultivate worms which, in turn, compost my kitchen waste products. My end product isn’t just compost, it’s worm castings. Gold for the garden. Remember, too, if you are raising worms, their mouths are small, so crushing eggshells and chopping their food into small pieces is a courtesy they will appreciate. Aren’t they cute?!
I have been composting shredded paper mixed into my bins for awhile. My latest success story is a by-product of my bird feeders. The birdseed I use is black sunflower seed and I am going through a bag a day, so that translates into a lot of hulls I rake up weekly. With a layer of sunflower hulls in the compost bins, the worms have multiplied exponentially, which means they are really chomping through the stuff I through in; i.e. faster turnaround. Is it wrong to be so excited about that?
Busy time in the garden. I’ve been piddling along out there lately, doing little jobs and thinking strategy for the fall. This past week I had some time, the weather cooled down, and I was on a roll.
I have lots of potted plants, mostly succulents, that are tired and need to be repotted or pitched out. I consolidated some of them into bigger pots and I think I might have a little plant sale with the plants I’m not in love with anymore.
I’m trying to make a space so I can get a couple of chickens, but I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me before that’s going to happen. The big cedar tree in the front will provide one perimeter of the chicken enclosure, but right now the tree is surrounded by bicycles so I have to move some things around out there. I bought a bamboo fence and Mi Esposo helped me get it placed today. I filled in a big space with more gravel which cleaned up the area tremendously. I love crushed gravel! Instant fix.
Last weekend I got a lot of flowerbed cleanup and fertilizing done. The climbing rose beds got raked out and I applied Ada Perry’s Rose Fertilizer. I think Ada Perry’s fertilizer has been the secret to the big difference I see in the health of the rose bushes since I’ve started applying it. Walter Andersen’s Nursery is the exclusive nursery to buy Ada Perry’s if you are in the market for it. Anyway, I finished off the beds with worm castings from my own compost bins! Nice!
I still have things to move around out there but it was a good start. I’m loving the cool weather because I know it’s not going to last. It stayed cool like this last year until mid-August, then the heat hit with a vengeance for a few months. Threw my whole gardening calendar out of whack. Keeps things interesting, that’s for sure!
Did you see this article about Worm Gold in the Union-Tribune yesterday? The Department of Pesticide Regulation said George Hahn, owner of Worm-Gold, Worm-Gold Plus, and Tree Rescue Solution, was selling an unregistered pesticide, in violation of state and federal law because he claims that his products repel insects. I read the article a couple of times thinking I’d missed something, but I’ve concluded that this is a case of non-communicative bureacracy. This guy has been fined $100,000 already, and the next step is a lawsuit. Are you sh*tt*ng me??!!! People, people, people……IT’S WORM POOP! I happen to use Worm Gold, love it, and believe that it really helps keep the pest population in check. If Mr. Hahn changes the name to “επίστεγο σκουλήκι” (translation below), his marketing would be more exotic and, maybe, he could work around the whole lawsuit thing.
* translated from Greek = “Worm poop” People, people, people………
I opened up my compost bin the other day to dump some stuff in and this is what I found.
I raked up all the loose black sunflower seeds hulls under my bird feeders and dumped them in the compost a couple of weeks ago. I know there were some undisturbed seeds in all those hulls and apparently they’ve all sprouted! I stirred the top of the pile around a bit and discovered that the worms LOVE it! Sunflower seed mulch. Who knew?!