Ugh. Exhuming the food compost

potatWe’ve hit the peak of summer food production. Every meal is centered around apples, green beans, lettuce or kale and I am investigating new and exciting ways to sneak zucchini into most recipes. I’ve been making a variation of Szechuan green beans; instead of sauteing the beans, I have been coating them with olive oil and roasting at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes until they are wilted and starting to brown, and then tossing them in a sauce from the Inquiring Chef.  This recipe tastes great and uses up pounds and pounds of green beans.

This weekend Small Guy was especially productive in the garden and dug out all of the remaining Kennebec potatoes (above). We’ve been eating potatoes for the last two weeks, mostly chopped up and roasted as pan fries. This variety produces very large smooth potatoes with very few blemishes.We will be planting this variety again next year.

Small Guy also has a special affinity for compost, and every year he volunteers to dig out and sieve the garden waste compost (note that he is well compensated for this task). In the last month he produced six large garbage cans full of compost which we’ve been using in the garden boxes. Today he tried to dig out the bottom section of the food compost bin as it was almost full. Our City of Vancouver issued round black compost bin is one of those that you assemble in situ, fill from the top and are supposed to empty from the sliding door near the bottom. The compost bin had sunk below the level of the rest of the yard, so Small Guy had to dig down to access the sliding door. When he tried to dig out the compost, he ended up bending the compost bin and it snapped apart along the middle and the half-rotted food spilled everywhere.

Okay, that paragraph doesn’t really describe how unpleasant the situation was. I don’t think I have the right balance of “green” and “brown” compost materials in the food compost. Although the stuff near the bottom contained lots of worms, it was also very wet, putrid and dense. It was hard work to dig up. I layered the material in the newly emptied compost bin with branches, leaves and other stuff from the unfinished garden compost bin.

The good news was that there was very little garbage mixed in with the food waste (in previous years I found lots of corks and spoons and other small items), very few fruit stickers (my nemesis!) and no massive undigested items like avocado shells and  pits.  In the end I covered it all with a tarp and bricks so hopefully it will be “done” by next summer.

Other garden activities this week:

  • The little sorrel that I planted last fall has taken over about a quarter of one raised bed. I dug it up this weekend and replaced it with a bay laurel and two tarragon plants.
  • We added two bags of manure and two bins of compost to raised bed #4, and covered it with a tarp for the winter. This bed will be used for favas and peas early next spring.
  • The winter garden was planted. From east to west, one row each of cabbage (providence savoy), red russian kale, vates blue curled scots kale, lacinato kale. Two rows each of silvia lettuce and rouge d’hiver lettuce. And one row of wild arugula.
  • The poppies and sweetpeas from the front garden are almost finished and I am trying to pull out the dried plants without damaging the cosmos which have grown up around them. Next year I might try to pull up the poppies early as they were the plants that interfered most with the sweetpeas, and pulled everything over when they fell over.

About Chrystal

This blog is my online journal to keep track of what is going on in different parts of the garden, different times of the year.
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