Friday, January 9, 2009

Compost-o-rama and 1 retraction

Well folks, the wonder plant borage, which sounded too good to be true, was. Yes, yes, tis true. Last night while I was reading an herb book from the library I discovered that the plant should not be eaten because it has high levels of a toxin which causes liver cancer. (Liver cancer you say? Delightful.) It's nice that I'm finding this out now, after reading several things on the plant, not one of them mentioning liver cancer. So sorry to disappoint. Nobody could be more heartbroken than I. Supposedly it's a very good plant for composting, so it's not a total loss. And there's still lovage for a celery back up.

And now we're on to composting. Another book I perused last night, The Complete Compost Gardening Guide by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah L. Martin was very inspiring. So inspiring in fact that I spent the day cleaning up the yard, trimming bushes, raking and ultimately forming a second compost heap almost as large as the first. I've decided to make the old compost pile into a grow heap come spring. I'll have to layer it with some soil, but that shouldn't be too rough. Our yard is so established and filled with bushes that I could probably collect enough for several more compost piles! Plus our neighbor's umpteen gigantic pine trees that constantly drop needles into our yard (and their pool) are a big help. Blessing to us, vexation to them. The needles will make a nice mulch for the berries this year. I would suggest checking out this compost book if you get a chance. Very cool, lots of pictures and neat ideas. There are also graphs showing helpful things like, the ratio of carbon to nitrogen in many commonly composted materials. I'm unbelievably excited for my grow heap! I'd really love to do an herb spiral but think I'll end up growing winter squashes and maybe some tomatoes in it.

Wondering what a grow heap is? It's basically a compost pile, layered with soil. You plant things in it and they grow. Pretty simple huh? The reason you layer it with soil is so that the roots have something more to anchor in than just spongy, selfish compost. I say selfish because it's sponge-like qualities cause it to soak up most of the available water. As wet as a compost pile is plants grown strictly in it tend to show signs of severe dehydration. Winter squashes (and probably any member of the cucurbit family) do well in grow heaps. And it's ideal because the trailing vines can trail their way down the heap. I am worried about powdery mildew. Last year all of my cucurbits succumbed to it. Some produced before dying, others just died. I still have a half green pumpkin on my sideboard, proof that the plant died of mildew before it could fully orange-up. Jonas got into a fight with it the other day. But thats another story.

I'm newly jazzed about composting, which helps take some of the sting out of the borage let down. I'm excited about my new pile and all of the potential things around the yard still waiting to be added. And the lawn needs to be cut again. HEE HEE! Nothing like a good lawn cutting to kick off the compost! I've been considering asking our neighbors Tim and Sharon if they'll give us their lawn clippings. They, especially Sharon, are very diligent in the upkeep of their yard. Every week I watch them drag their yard waste bins out to the curb. I salivate a little. I need to just bring them a loaf of bread and ask. Bread always helps. There's that bartering system again. Boo ya!

And now I'm off to watch 30 rock. Night all.


Amanda said...

You are awesome! That's the truth! Thanks for posting what could be very dry info in such a delightful manner! I have been putting it to good use!

Clong said...

No, YOU'RE awesome:) So sweet of you to say that. I'm glad you enjoyed the info and are using it. With all of your land I'm sure you'll be able to find compost fodder. Lucky duck.