New Composter

I went to Sam’s and bought a composter for less than $40 American dollars. I want to find out if I can fulfill all my compost needs on my own without resorting to store-bought compost. If I can, I will be one step closer to my goal of affordable produce. Yes, I am of the mind that the vegetables I grow are more expensive, albeit freer of nasty stuff, than the vegetables I get from the supermarket. But I am intent on changing that. In fact, I want to grow vegetables and produce them at the same price as the big agribusiness farms. Call me crazy but I have a tiny itty bitty sense deep inside of me that this can be done even if I lack agribusiness’ economies of scale.
THE CAGE
Another new thing in my vegetable garden is The Cage. Below is a picture of the almost completed cage that will contain some of my Sub-Irrigated Planters (SIPs). I took this idea from the Inside Urban Green blog. I don’t know why they use these cages in their roof gardens but I know why I will use mine:
  1. My 1 yr old puppy Lexie.
  2. The murderously hot slab of cement that covers the sunniest part of my yard.

There will be wooden slats across the bottom of the cage that will keep the buckets from touching the hot cement and overheating from below and I will surround the cage with chicken wire to keep my dog from snacking on the plastic five gallon buckets. I needed to build additional holding places for my buckets because this year I have too many and they won’t all fit inside the protected garden area.

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
I planted the Kennebec potatoes today. As planned, I used the empty potting soil bag as a grow bag. I was also going to use a five gallon bucket to grow potatoes this year but I changed my mind at the last minute because I want to use all my buckets for tomatoes. Instead of a bucket, I reused the tops of the 18 gallon totes I made SIPs out of two years ago. Last year I used these tops as mini-raised beds that held cherry tomato plants. They worked great for that. This year, however, I decided to try them as potato containers. This is how they will stack by the end of the season:
Right now however, I only need the bottom part:
Last, I put together the 8×4 bed that I bought at Sam’s and filled it with compost-amended soil. I planted Apache salad onions, Arugula, red cabbage, spinach, broccoli, and mesclun.
Next, tackle the fruit trees.
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First Day Of Spring

HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SPRING!

The first day of Spring is mostly symbolic when it comes to gardening. Most gardeners do it all year long for gardening is comprised of many activities. Yet, I rejoice all the same.

A friend who read my post about the Composter 2000 asked what was the “peeing in the composter” all about. I think I read somewhere that if you pee in the compost you add Nitrogen to the mix. Urine has a component called Blood Urea Nitrogen. This component, if I remember right, comes from the breakdown of muscle in the body and it gets flushed out by the kidneys. Apparently, in the compost, the Nitrogen gets extracted by the compost goblins and voila! Nitrogen in the compost, which is good for the plants. We’ll see how I do with my bucket.

Also, I have been reading more and more blogs from gardeners, farmers, and others who have embraced the growing of plants and I am more and more excited about growing flowers.
When I started growing plants, I concentrated on growing things I could eat. I don’t know why.
Last year, I planted the first flowers ever. These were Marygolds that I planted because I heard that they kept some bug away from my tomatoes; and also, I planted them becacuse I got a free packet of Marygold seeds with my order of vegetable seeds. I guess I also planted a few giant Sunflowers to provide seed for the birds (they loved them and ate every little seed out of the heads)
This year, I am growing Lavender, Pestemons, and Irish Eyes Sunflowers.
I think it may be too late to plant any other flowers from seed this year but next year…

The Composter 2000

Ok, so it more like The Composter 1896.
I am going to try to compost some leaves and stuff using this old metal trash can. I started two days ago and I have been faithfully turning the leaves and grass and weeds plus some not so fresh produce I found in the refrigerator.
I am quite sure I am doing this wrong already and the very funny thing is that there are a quadrazillion web sites out there with every bit of information I need. I told myself I will read them all this weekend. Meanwhile, I can’t wait to sneak out in the middle of the night and pee in the composter…he he he…

Recharging the beds

It finally was nice enough on a weekend to do some gardening outside. My boys and I had breakfast at McDonalds and then went around town looking for 5 different types of compost. When we got home I had:

Humus and Cow Manure
Earthworm castings
Mushroom compost
Cotton Bur compost


I tried mixing compost like this after reading about it in the New Square Foot Gardening book. The theory behind it is that by mixing five different types of compost you get a better mix of nutrients for your plants. It worked really well for me last year.

Here is my compost all mixed and ready to go into the beds.


In the picture, you see my new gardening nemesis. A curious puppy who is only too happy to dig out anything I put in the ground.

I have three raised beds, two of which are truly square foot gardening beds –Mel says that it is not square foot gardening until you have a grid. The grids for the two 4×4 beds are made out of aluminum and I will put them on once I recharge the beds with the compost mix.

The third bed is a plastic one that I bought out of a catalog a couple of years ago. It is 3 feet by 3 feet and 12 inches deep. It has worked great for tomatoes, peppers, and even cantaloupes but this year, it will be my carrot box. Oh, I may put a pepper of two in there.

This year I decided to move the boxes and also I decided to put river rock around them to keep weeds away and to make it easier comes harvest time.

The problem with the river rock is that it is expensive and I did not buy enough to complete the job. I am secretly considering going to the Arkansas river nearby and get my own river rock.

The weather was great though a bit windy. The tomatoes in the self-watering containers (SWC) are still alive after three days of being outside. They look a little beat up but there is new growth on them.

Market Miracle

Brandywine
I wasn’t the only one who thought it was time to work on the garden. My help came ready to work hard but unfortunately I found their attention span wanting.

fickle work force
I noticed that my fruit trees are budding and that my pear tree actually has leaves. I feel bad for my fruit trees because I know that we will probably have at least one more hard freeze before Spring is firmly here and many of the buds and leaves will fall off.

pear tree leaves