Compost “heap” mid-summer underneath blooming Elder trees
Hello! This post is about the funny thing I “found” in my compost this past weekend. It made me laugh, so I hope you’ll enjoy my story!
Compost from our garden
First, though, I have to talk about Compost, because you could say that I am a tiny bit “obsessed” about my compost. I have written about it here and here, which you can reference for any “how to” questions you might have. It’s just that compost is sooooo good for the garden, and fairly “easy” to make that it makes sense to do so.
enclosed compost tumblers for veggies and fruit
My time in the garden over the past 8 years has been one learning experience after another. Compost is no exception! We started by throwing together some pallets to store the compost. Then we began heaping on all of our kitchen scraps (uncooked vegetables, fruit, coffee grounds, tea) and everything gathered from the garden (grass, leaves, weeds). What.A.Mess. But we now have two enclosed “tumblers” for our kitchen scraps. The idea is that I don’t want to attract unwanted animals, so I try to keep food off of the open heap. Also, we still have the pallet set-up, but we no longer throw nasty weeds on it.
We built our first pallet compost enclosure back in 2012
Wow, that was really neat and tidy back in the beginning!
Different sections of the compost are at different stages of break-down
O.K., so I used quotation marks around the word “easy” earlier, when I described making compost, because although heaping on the garden materials is indeed easy, I have found that the compost breaks down best when “turned”. “Turning” the pile, basically just digging and mixing it up, can be a bit of work. It’s not the most glamorous of garden jobs and quite honestly, I don’t do it often enough. I do turn our “tumblers” every week, which really helps with that breakdown. The goal is to get dark brown, crumbly consistency, broken down compost material.
compost breaking down into a crumbly consistency and of a dark brown color
This leads me to my story of what happened this past weekend. I went out into the garden to get my couple of hours of “garden time” and decided that the compost needed some attention. One section is breaking down really well, and is full of worms and is turning a lovely dark brown color. I worked on that pile first, because it was easy to turn! Then I started to tackle the MESS!
The left side is well broken down compost while the right side is a huge mess that hasn’t been turned
I started on the right side of the heap, but almost immediately, my garden fork went through something and got stuck. When I pulled it up, I found a huge potato on the fork!
Potatoes in the compost heap!
I put the fork down, and used my trowel to gently clear some of the top layers of compost away. Then I just used my (gloved) hands to dig in the soil and I found potato after potato after potato! The soil under the compost was amazing! Of course it was, it was broken down compost.
A huge Sarpo Mira organic potato!
So, what’s the story here? Well, we planted organic Sarpo Mira, main crop potatoes last year. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, it was a disaster, and we ended up digging up the entire bed, without harvesting any edible potatoes. We cleared out the bed and heaped it on …have you guessed? … the compost pile! Those “seed” potatoes, must have enjoyed the amazing organic compost because they grew HUGE!
Most of the potatoes from the compost pile were huge!
A close-up look at the soil the potatoes were growing in
Of course, after my discovery I remembered seeing potato plants and flowers in the compost this past summer, but I didn’t really pay them any attention as I didn’t think they’d really grow. Boy was I wrong!
That’s a lot of potatoes dug up from our compost pile!
It was just the funniest thing for me to find all of those potatoes. We’ve grown potatoes a few different years, and we’ve never had them grow this big. Just goes to show that my garden bed needed a lot more compost than I was putting in it!
The red bowl is filled with extra large potatoes, the strainer is filled with normal sized potatoes, with the compost pile in the background.
It wasn’t enough to just find the spuds in the compost, though. I had to see if they were actually edible!
The potatoes peeled just fine and were perfectly firm!
Organic Sarpo Mira potatoes are known to be blight and slug resistant, so it wasn’t too surprising that the spuds were in really good shape. The funny markings on the outside also appeared when I grew them in my beds, and doesn’t affect the taste. I’m happy to say that we ate two big potatoes today, and they tasted delicious!
The bottom line is, of course, that compost is amazing!
Do you compost? 🙂