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Two composting enclosures.

Two composting enclosures (well, sorta enclosed!).

O.K., I’ll admit that pictures of my composting area aren’t the prettiest.  I do think it is worth having that area though, even if  isn’t as picturesque as I’d like it to be.  It’s been a year since my last post on composting, and I just think it’s time to talk about it again.  If you don’t yet compost, I want to encourage you to give it a shot.  It’s not complicated, takes minimal work, and it is really good for your garden!  And there are ways you can compost that look neat and tidy, too.

Oldest picture of compost from end of February/beginning of March.

Winter picture of compost from end of February/beginning of March.

The above photo is from late winter.  I had added a bunch of straw into my second  compost pile as my main pile seemed too wet.  It’s still trial and error for me, to get that perfect mix.

Before adding straw.

Very manure-like!

I think my general nature would be to recycle and reuse whatever I can.  I tend to keep items with the thought that they can be used again, even if for some unknown future purpose! I just don’t like the idea of waste.  As for composting,  I really like that I can use all of my vegetable and fruit scraps, egg shells, toilet rolls, egg cartons, grass cuttings, and leaves.  Put them all together, turn them when you can, and in time, you will have good stuff for your garden!

After some drying out, in March.

After some drying out of my main pile, in March.

You can still see the straw. Taking a bit of time to break down.

You can see the straw. It is taking a bit of time to break down, but I’m happier with less wetness.

I have to say that when I read in Monty Don’s book The Complete Gardener, that compost should smell “good”, I was seriously skeptical.  (Do you know of him?  He is awesome, isn’t he?)   In his words: “Well-made garden compost is the best possible addition to the soil. It will nourish both the long-term micro-ecology and the growing plants.  And if it is properly made, it should smell positively good.”

Now it was back to my compost pile after reading that.  Up until now, I would have said Pee-U!  But I discovered that the dried bits around the outside didn’t smell. It was the inside, not completely broken down compost that was not smelling so nice.  I can see so many worms when I turn the pile, which is a great thing.  So for me, I’ve learned that I have to turn it more often than I was.  Once a month isn’t good enough! I’d rather speed that process up.  Generally speaking though, a slow compost will take a full season to be useful in the garden.

There are tidy options, like large barrels that you can rotate with the spin of a wheel.  Certainly not challenging enough for me! 🙂

Close-up look today (May) from starting in  February.

Close-up look today (May) from starting in February.

View of the compost pile in May (started in February).

View of the compost pile in May (started in February).

Starting a new pile on the left while the "main" pile ages.

Starting a new pile on the left while the “main” pile ages.

I talked about what items are good to compost in my post from last year. You can have a look here: https://mominthegarden.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/valentines-day-love-your-family-and-your-compost/

I’m still learning. While on vacation I bought a great book; it’s called “The Complete Compost Gardening Guide” by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah L. Martin.  It is chock full of helpful information! They have a website, too: http://compostgardening.com/ 

There are so many different things you can add to compost.  A local family, whose daughter I coach swimming, have a mushroom farm.  It didn’t take too much nerve for me to ask about getting some mushroom compost from them!  I’ve learned that it is very good for asparagus.  We’ve expanded our asparagus bed, and worked the mushroom compost into the soil before planting our new spears.  It was perfect timing to get the compost!

A bag of mushroom compost.

A bag of mushroom compost.

My next goal is to attempt hot composting.  I’d like to get the temperature higher to kill annoying weeds that I pull.  I’ll start a third pile for this experiment! 🙂

Dwarf daffodils finally coming in to bloom.

Dwarf daffodils (sweetness) finally coming in to bloom.

In the meantime, it’s always nice to look at what is blooming in the garden in May!

Dwarf daffodils in May.

Dwarf daffodils (Sweetness & Jetfire) in May.

These dwarf daffodils were given to me very late this winter.  They were promptly thrown into some containers. I didn’t think they’d do well, as they were leftover from last fall, but it looks like I’m wrong!

Dwarf daffodil Jetfire.

Dwarf daffodil Jetfire.

Now I need to think where I’m going to plant them in the fall. They are my first dwarf daffodils, and I really like them.

Dwarf daffodils Jetfire.

Dwarf daffodils Jetfire.

My rose garden is really waking up with tulips.  I’ve discovered that I’m a “group ’em” kinda gal!  I hadn’t realized before how I always group my flowers!  I should really try some different methods and maybe spread them out a bit.

Tulip Foxtrot in May.

Tulip Foxtrot in May.

Tulip Innuendo.

Tulip Innuendo.

The tulips are doing much better this year than last.  I’m attributing this 100% to less slugs.  Last year the slugs took over and destroyed everything!  This year, so far, I’ve seen a fairly normal amount of slug damage.  I have done a few happy dances in the garden, in seeing plants that I wasn’t able to enjoy last year!

Tulip Blueberry Ripple.

Tulip Blueberry Ripple.

Tulip Blueberry Ripple.

Tulip Blueberry Ripple.

Another clustering!

Another clustering!

Oops! What's this color doing here?

Oops! What’s this color doing here? It’s a lily flowered tulip called “ballerina”. 

Hmm, I’m going to have to go back and check my notes. I’m sure this orange tulip was supposed to go up against the stone wall with some daffodils and yellow/orange tulips, and not in my pink themed rose garden!

Narcissi Blazing Starlet.

Narcissi Blazing Starlet at the stone wall.

Narcissi Blazing Starlet.

Narcissi Blazing Starlet.

I’m still not tired of daffodils yet.  There are so many different varieties, and I’m still seeing new ones!

Tulipa Triumph Purple.

Tulip Triumph Purple.

The Tulip Triumph Purple flowers have a little more added color around them this year.  I mistakenly “weeded” the area last year, inadvertently taking out flowers!  This year, I left it alone, and I’m delighted with the results.

I wanted to end with pretty flowers instead of my less than pretty compost area!  I hope you’ve been inspired to try composting.  Your garden will thank you for it!

Good Luck and Happy composting!
Dana

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