Thursday, May 05, 2005

Finally, Out in the Garden, and Ready to Compost

Yesterday my stars were finally in line and I could get out into the garden to do some bona fide WORK!
I do not spend NEARLY as much time there as I used to. My creaking body limits me. There's the back, the hip and now the neck that keep me from staying out there any longer than about an hour each time, so I need to prioritize what I feel is the most critical.
Critical now is getting the perennial beds cleaned up and cleaned OUT! When I do that, I pull out a lot of debris that collected over the winter, like leaves and stuff. However, that has to go into the compost bin, and before that can happen I need to remove all that "black gold" that has been generated since LAST spring! So, that is always my first order of business.
I have three bins set up, side by side. There's the biggest one (#1) that is the ACTIVE one. Then there is the one right next to it (#2), and the third (#3) one. As I begin in the spring, I transfer the top stuff from the #1 bin into the #2 bin where it can continue to break down. More importantly I use a shovel full (or 2 or 3) of that to cover any new additions into #1. It puts that partially broken down stuff back into the active compost bin (#1). It also serves to inject any new plant material (or kitchen scraps) with all the necessary bacteria to help it begin to "work".
When that is removed, what is under it is the true BLACK GOLD! It looks wonderful, and it IS wonderful! All of that I put into bin #3, which is ready to use whenever I need it. However, there is more compost ready than will fit into bin #3. So, I begin to load up wheelbarrows full of this wonderful stuff and begin to spread it around where needed. If I need to clear out the intended beds, I rake them and just leave the pile of debris there for addition to the #1 compost bin.
My main targets yesterday were blueberries, rhodies, mountain laurel, and my rock garden, right in front of the house. The rock garden needed raking, but the others just got 3-4 shovel fulls of compost, right on top of the ground around their main stem.
Now that the compost is OUT of the working, or active (#1) bin, it's time to collect the debris I removed from the rock garden, etc. and put it in the bin...remembering to broadcast some of the working compost from bin #2.
Are you TOTALLY, and hopelessly confused? If so, e-mail me here, or make a comment below. I'd love to hear how the rest of you make use of all that stuff you clear out of your gardens. Do you compost it? Or do you throw it away?


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