Archive: Compost Happens

I suddenly realized today I wanted to keep a ‘blog devoted to my gardening discoveries, progress and happenings. It was just over two years ago that Jenna and I purchased this house with a veritable blank slate of a yard. In that time, I’ve made a lot of progress toward landscaping the place, but since my “underemployment” began, I’ve really gotten serious about making it into a dreamland garden oasis.

Some of the work that has gone into the transformation has gone completely undocumented. No photos and certainly no text. But some of it has some images to record what’s happened, and starting now, I want to share my experiences in writing as best I can. I want to remember what it takes to make a garden happen, and to be able to look back on the work, know when I did things and what worked, what didn’t.

Maybe some of it will be interesting to a wider audience, but maybe not. I don’t know. I just know I want to be able to look back and know what I’ve done.

Earlier this week I wrote something about… composting.

Here it is, edited for ‘blog format.

So, the last few days I’ve run around collecting yard stuff — leaves and grass in those big brown yard bags — left out for city collection. Drive up, nab as many as I can, and leave before anyone gets too suspicious. It probably feels more covert than it needs to be, but people get funny about their “trash” sometimes.

I’ve now scored just under 30 bags. A lot of them have a melange of leaves… elm, non-native oaks, sycamore, etc. But some had some good native trees… pecan and live oak. A few had some crap in them I couldn’t really identify, but since it was organic matter I didn’t worry toooo much (that is, unless it was obvious someone had been clearing out their poison ivy patch, as was evident in one bag!) A number of the bags had a lot of non-organic trash… bubblegum wrappers, tinfoil, plastic bits… mixed in. Stuff sucked up by the lawnmower or whatever.

In all cases the stuff was really dry, which I thought was good. Last night it rained heavily, so I’m happy I got a lot of this done yesterday.

So yesterday I hauled out the chipper-shredder and started inventorying my prizes. A few bags of nothing but elm. Some (actually about 10) of grass mixed with live oak — good for helping produce a more native soil, hopefully. Some bags (3) had viney, red, damp crap with a lot of seeds, and some bags were pure live oak. I decided (after a little experimenting) to grab handfuls from each and let the shredder mix it all. And I layered the bags with green grass as I refilled them to give the stuff more “fuel”. After about four hours of work I had 11 bags of ground, mixed organic stuff with enough moisture to compost in the bags, I think. And some of the oak leaves had a lot of sand mixed in (like they used a snow shovel or something to pick up piles they swept into dry sandy areas of the yard), so there’s even a headstart on making it more sandy soil.

All in all, it was a pretty good day for the gardening efforts. And it’s far more material than my two little heaps can absorb, so I think I’ll have to let them do their thing in the bags. But I’m excited because the mixing technique yielded some good rich mulch that might break down faster and isn’t dominated by one type of leaf.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: