Becoming a Composter.

A couple days ago my brother informed me that to be a real gardener you have to compost.  I knew this, but was trying to convince myself I could get by with the $10.99 bags of compost from Plantworld.  Only thing is they only cover 3 cubic feet, and the fact is… I’ve got a big yard and it needs a LOT of love.

Turning the compost

Since last Tuesday, when I joined the ranks of the 8.9% of Americans that count themselves among the unemployed I’ve decided to pursue my one true love.  Gardening. Problem is that also means I’ve got to do it on a budget. A tight budget. Which brings us to compost!

The big boys and I were doing some yard work this morning (Daddy had Gadzuki at the Gun Show) and I was trying to figure out what to do with these large desk sorta things that were in the backyard when we bought the place.

The Compost Box

Thats when my GENIUS kid suggest turning one on its side for my coveted Compost Box! We had just dug out all of this fantastic decomposing matter from between the bricks and after a few minutes of heavy lifting we were in business.

My lover showed up later with Gadzuki & Hank so we picked up a bag of worm castings and some soil w/ 20% chicken manure from the nursery to add to our “brown matter” i.e. dried up leaves, dirt, ivy, palms and pit. After that we added our “green matter” which according to Bubbie (my super smart brother) can just be the rotting old head of lettuce that everybody should have in their refrigerator.

And today we became Composters!

Honestly good soil was the only thing standing between me and the yard of my dreams. The fact is I can grow just about anything from seeds and the plants aren’t really the expensive part. My house was built in 1969 so the hard part has already been done – there are planters everywhere.

Next we’ll see how the clean up is going on the yard and explore my wacky plan of attack on the tomato garden.

How to Compost:

1 Bin, Box, Pile or Bucket
2 parts Brown Matter
1 part Green Matter
a liberal amount of good soil

Add together, mix up and put a lid on it. Add Green matter through the week from your kitchen and keep stirring. In about 2 months you should have some fine compost at the bottom.

Here’s a link to some real directions: How to make Compost

compost box

our re-purposed compost box.

Hooking up my friends…

Or How to propagate Ivy.

This project was one I started for Hank and Tony at the Poplar Center for Cultural Excellence.  They want to spruce that bitchin’ bachelor pad up… and green things are always a good way to go.

Step 1.  Choose a healthy plant.  Survival of the fittest people… we only want to clone the plants that are the strongest, prettiest and most likely to succeed. (not to get all Hitler on you…)  and Cut sections that are 6-8 inches long.

Step 2. Some people swear by commercial rooting hormone powders.  I’ve tried them before, back in my teens when I spent a lot of time in a Hydroponic shop on Western & Oakey. No longer my thing.  If its yours, dip the tip of your cutting as quickly as possible.  These days I throw caution to the wind and do it Old School – snip off any of the leaves in the area you’re going to submerge (or they will get squishy and rot) then put them in water right away.

Step 3. How much water?  Well currently I’m using a couple gallon Milk jugs cut in half, filled up about 5 or 6 inches with water.

Step 4. Wait and wait and then add more water.  Oh, and they like a sunny spot.  Indirect sunlight if you can.  This time I’ve placed mine in the garage under My Sweet Husbands florescent light and they LOVE it!

Step 5. Eventually you’ll see some little white nubs growing on the sides of the submerged stems.  This should take 2 or 3 weeks.  You’ll want to let these get 3 or 4 inches long before you move on…

Step 6. Depending on whether you’ll be keeping them indoors or out, choose your location or pot.  Fill your container or amend the soil with 1 part soil, 1 part moss, one part sand and PLANT!!

Step 7. To help your new plant grow nice and full, pinch off the ends of each new vine.  Also, spray often with a fine mist if indoors… they’ll thank you for it!

Other Interesting Ivy facts (A.K.A.  if you’re planting outside… you’ve been warned):

– in the NASA clean air study, they showed that Ivy removed formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air.

– “First year it sleeps, seconds year it creeps, third year it leaps” was a cute quote I found regarding Ivy.

– From the National Park Service: “English ivy is a vigorous growing vine that impacts all levels of disturbed and undisturbed forested areas, growing both as a ground cover and a climbing vine. As the ivy climbs in search of increased light, it engulfs and kills branches by blocking light from reaching the host tree’s leaves. Branch dieback proceeds from the lower to upper branches, often leaving the tree with just a small green “broccoli head.” The host tree eventually succumbs entirely from this insidious and steady weakening. In addition, the added weight of the vines makes infested trees much more susceptible to blow-over during high rain and wind events and heavy snowfalls. Trees heavily draped with ivy can be hazardous if near roads, walkways, homes and other peopled areas. On the ground, English ivy forms dense and extensive monocultures that exclude native plants. English ivy also serves as a reservoir for Bacterial Leaf Scorch (Xylella fastidiosa), a plant pathogen that is harmful to elms, oaks, maples and other native plants.”

Next: we’re going to take a journey through my yard… checking in on all of the gardens.