Friday, March 23, 2012

Compost/Garden Update

As we roll into Spring, I figured that we could take a look at my little apartment set-up.

About a year ago, I started a vermicompost.  It was really easy to set up and surprisingly effective.  In fact, I am contemplating getting another bin for my worms.  I think that I might have too many of them now as, apparently, all they have been doing for 12 months is eating, pooping and making worm love.  That being said, since there are a lot of them, the compost is going very well.  I will admit that I have probably been overloading it a bit too much, but so far it seems to be holding up.  Here it is:

Compost Bin almost a year after starting

The one danger that I have had to battle is the lack of brown foliage to add to the greens.   The greens are easy; we have more than enough vegetable peelings.  Coffee grounds and egg shells are also regular visitors to the compost.  Though, I must add that a good thing to do is let your egg shells dry out and crack them up a lot before you throw them in.

What I do for brown stuff is I go out to the field behind our apartment and a pack a bag full of dead leaves.  The back field is basically a garbage dump and public bathroom so I need to tread lightly and with caution.  So many people poop behind our apartment.  Yesterday, while whisking some eggs I looked out just in time to see a man's crack appear out from under his pants into a full moon.  I was careful not to look out again for a good amount of time.  What makes people think that they are pooping in privacy when a 28 story building stands right next to them... with all of the kitchen windows facing them... at breakfast time?  They think that they are sneaky but they are not.  Anyways, going out, dodging the "landmines" and scouring the ground for useful compost products has turned these little endeavors into my own little private Hunger Games.

Back inside, I load up the bin.  After a few days, the browns moisten and mix with the greens and the worms.  If I leave it for a week then what I am left with is sludge.  Those little worms work fast and back out I go for more browns.

A second bin would be for the more advanced product.  I have a hard time keeping things separate in one bin.  Though, a second bin takes up a lot of room, so I will have to think about it.

As far as the garden, it stands at about 1.5 feet by 2.5 feet.  Last year I lugged the pot and the dirt home in a taxi.  That was a miracle in itself since most taxi drivers will never let you put dirt into their cars.


Last year I mainly grew basil, peas, mint and cilantro.  This year, I am going back to the peas and basil. Even though everything in the pot seemed to die over the winter, I am seeing little sprouts of mint make a comeback.  From the grave they will rise!

Resurrected Mint!

I am also trying to grow some flowers, which for some reason is very difficult to do.  I have some California Poppies in there right now but so far not much, if any, growth.  I also have some sort of purple flower but nothing there as well.  I am wondering if the seeds are bad or something.  Do seeds expire?  I thought that laying dormant was what they did well?  I don't know.

In any event, the peas are growing and I hope that they produce more than the 6 pods we got last year.  Maybe there will be enough for some sort of salad.  Wouldn't that be nice?

For the dirt, I mix in some of the compost product with the existing dirt.  I think that it's working well.  The peas are growing faster than before, and there are less weeds for some reason.  I'm not sure if my methods are wise, right or foolish, but they are my methods until further research and notice.

A great book to read with your eyes, brain, heart and kidneys

If you would like to get inspired to compost and garden, then read a book.  The book you should read is called "Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community" and it is written by the American Farmer Writer Wendell Berry.  I know that the title may sound a little scandalous but it's really not that kind of book.  I had bought it a few years ago and finally got down to it.  I read it in a week.  It's a very enlightening, interesting and educational collection of works that attempt to explain why the world is the way it is, and how it could be a whole lot better if the world still held high the values of community.  Along with that, it is a great overall encouragement for composting.  I highly recommend it, and if you live in Xining, for a limited time only, you can borrow it from me for zero dollars!

Too many mint photos?  impossible.

And finally, I got a little glimpse of the article I wrote for my vermicompost in Geez Magazine.  The glimpse is here:

Thanks to sister Becky for the photo

So, if you are in Canada and can get your mitts on a copy then please do.  After reading and enjoying, write them and tell them how awesome my little blurb is and that you want more, more, more from this Brett Gitzel character.  You like the cut of his jib, etc.

Seriously, I was also surprised to see all 4 photos I sent them made the grade.  I didn't even know if they were going to include them or not.  Maybe I should take up hand modelling.  Becky, too!

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