Friday, June 24, 2011

Harvest Update!

Here are a few photos of what we have been collecting of the last few weeks. We LOVE eating the fresh and tasty vegetables.

Yellow, Purple and Green Bush beans. We get a good size harvest every week. These are a hearty and bountiful plant that we would highly recommend.

Summer Squash. We get about 1 a day. Our favorite way to have them right now is to slice them, brush them with EVOO, season them with a few spices and throw them on the grill. I will be experimenting with stuffed Zucchini in a few days.  

The last of our winter lettuce. We have planted some summer varieties and excited to give them a try.

Okra. We tried fried okra for the first time last night and it was very good(thanks, aunt Kathy).

Lemon Cucumber, odd looking but very tasty!

Bush Sugar Baby Watermelon, doing really good so far.

Fresno Chili Peppers.

Black Beauty Egg plant. We are still waiting to harvest our first one.

Sungold tomatoes, by far our favorite thing in the garden. Only a few have made it into the house not because of the quantity but because they are soooo good!

Strawberries. We only get a few a day, we wished we had planted more but they do make a good snack for the girls.

6.5 ft trellis will disappear soon behind the tomatoes and cucumber plant(s).

Winter Squash; 2 Butternut and a Salmon River. A bush bean a 2 Thai Chillies for fun.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Compost Challenge: Complete!

A few days ago, the 2-week compost challenge came to and end.  We set out to see if in 2 weeks our pile of decomposing garden trimmings and kitchen waste would become usable compost that could be used in our garden to plant more vegetables. Well, it was a success. Check it out....

Day 14, complete.

There are a few larger items that we found that did not decompose all the way, mostly because of the size they were when we started. Top left, Swiss Chard Stalk. Top right, what is left of a small cardboard box. Bottom left, what is left of an 18-pack carton of eggs. Bottom right, tops of pineapples.

The larger items would have had more success if we had chopped them into smaller pieces. I am still really surprised how much the 18pack of eggs decomposed. Some of the larger items that we put in the pile like whole oranges and potatoes were nowhere to be found. We just threw the above items in the next compost pile we are working on.
You may have noticed that there were a few larger sticks and such in the pile. What you might find more beneficial (especially if you are planning seed) is to sift the dirt to remove these larger items. Below is a picture of a type of sifter.

As I said in a previous post, what we believe the key to success in having this ready in 2 weeks was the daily turning. All of the stuff in the pile was naturally decomposing and would have continued to do so, we just sped up the natural process by making sure the pile was getting enough air and had the right amount of moisture. Our goal was to turn the pile every day but with the weather and our sometimes busy schedule we only turned it 10 out of the 14 days. We are very happy with these results as it will save us a ton of money on purchasing dirt. We are adding great quality and organic matter into our soil for FREE, all it cost was about 20 mins a day. We hope that this encourages you to start your own pile. It is really easy, cheap and the benefits your plants with will receive from the nutrient rich compost are great!

If you are look for a cheap and easy way to have a compost pile check out the pictures below from our friends, Jon and Susan Menton. The captions in the pictures are descriptions from Jon and Susan. Thanks guys for sharing your pics!!
Composter is 3 feet high and 3 feet in diameter. We took some 3 feet tall fencing and wrapped into a circle. You attach it together in just a couple of places and it has no bottom. You fill it with compost material and when you are ready to turn it,  just open it up and move it close by, reattach it in a circle shape, and throw the material into it from your pile. This will effectively flip the pile each time you do it.
The pile you see is reduced from a completely filled composter.

The mesh we used is 2 inches by 3 inches. It works fine, but we would not recommend getting any larger of a mesh.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Update on the Compost Challenge!

We are 9 days into the "Compost Challenge" and things are looking great! We have turned the pile every day with the exception of 1 day when it was non-stop rain. A few days into the challenge the pile got very hot, so hot that it is steaming and it has remained that way. This is a good sign and it means that it is working. If you are interested in the science behind the compost process I encourage you to check out CORNELL Composting.

I believe that they key to making our compost successful is turning of the pile everyday. Not only is this allowing air to reach the center of the pile but it provides a good opportunity to check the vitals of the compost. Is it too wet, to dry, does it smell?

So far, so good. Other then the 20mins it takes to turn the pile it has been very low maintenance.

As we are staying faithful to turning the compost the process is really taking care of it's self.

In our next post on compost we want to provide some ideas on composting bins. If you are composting and would like to share a picture of your bin email it to us and will post it!

Below you can see the difference between Day 1 and today, Day 9. The pile is "smaller" today, which is another good sign.

Day 1

Day 9

Friday, June 3, 2011

Composting 101

In order to have successful compost pile you need 4 things: Nitrogen, Carbon, Air and Water
Carbon: This is found in things like Leaves, shrub pruning, wood ash and news paper.
Nitrogen: This comes from adding fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings and coffee grounds.  
Hint: Do not put meat, dairy products, fats or oils in your compost. These items will not decompose properly, smell and attract unwanted pest.
Air: The compost will need to get oxygen. This is why turning the pile is so important. When you turn the pile it helps to loosen it allowing air to get to the pile.  You can also get air by adding bulky items such as twigs and sticks. This will keep the pile from compressing and restricting airflow.  Whatever you are using to house your compost pile should also provide for a good flow of air.
Water: For successful compost your pile it will need to be kept moist but not so wet that you can squeeze water from it. A good time to check the moisture level of the compost is when you are turning the pile.  If it is a little dry add some water t. If it is too moist give it a few extra turns and turn it a few days in a row to help it dry out.
Last night when Jeremy turned the compost, he noticed that it was a little dry and added some water.
Carbon + Nitrogen + Air + Water = Successful Compost
That’s it…. pretty simple!
Update on our compost challenge, Day 3.
Below is a picture of our pile after turning it today. Things seem to decomposing pretty quickly and the temperature of the pile is really heating up which is a good sign. If you look closely you will see part of a cardboard 18pack egg container that was in one piece on the first day.  

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Compost Challenge

Ok here we go....Lets see how long it takes for this stuff to decompose. We will be turning the pile everyday to see how long it takes to become compost that we can use in our garden.

The pile is made up of yard trimmings and variety of uncooked fruit and vegetable scraps.

Some experts say that if we turn the pile everyday it will be ready in about two weeks. I am a little skeptical of this as we have some rather larger pieces of kitchen waste that need to decompose.

Check back frequently because during this two week challenge we will give updates as well as helpful information for you to start and maintain your own compost pile.

Let the composting begin!

Day 1, Before turning the pile

Day 1, After turning the pile