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Making Hot Compost

July 10th, 2020

This spring we started experimenting with making hot compost. I saved this article from Deep Green Permaculture years ago with plans to give it a try. Our first batch was 100% litter from the duck/turkey/chicken coop, which means it was manure and various dry garden material I add with lots of manure. We piled it up, turned it, then watered it well because it was super dry, and started turning it regularly (per article instructions). The results were AMAZING! Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos with my real camera, but I did create an Instagram highlight of our efforts since I started documenting the process, head on over and check it out.

We were blown away by the results from our first batch. In 28 days, we had a big slightly steamy pile of brown lovely compost. As a comparison, here’s a photo of the same material (duck room litter) that was composted using the cold compost method. Which means it was piled in the garden last fall and left to compost on its own with no turning. You can see the difference!

We tested the temperature of our compost pile after 15 days or so, it was 150 degrees, definitely hot enough to kill weed seeds and pathogens. I even added weed seeds to the pile to see if they’d be killed. So far nothing is germinating in the compost. Our final amount was probably about 3 yards of compost.

As the first batch was composting away, I started collecting things for our second pile. There were loads of grass clippings, garden weeds, and other organic matter produced in the kitchen and around the farm. We mixed it up, watered it, and left it to sit for the initial five days.

After the first turn it was already steaming and registering 125 degrees. Today we are on turn number 5. This pile is a bit cooler than our other pile, no doubt because it doesn’t contain any manure at all. I did add all of the comfrey from the garden to heat it up a bit (comfrey is a great plant to have to heat up compost piles and add lots of nutrients). It’s been a fun thing to do this summer, we are relishing having tons of compost for the gardens. We will never go back to cold composting! We are lucky to have a tractor to make big piles, but it can be done on a smaller scale. The smallest recommended size is 1 meter squared.

The New Pollinator Bed

June 12th, 2020

Three years ago I started developing a garden on a slope by the driveway that was difficult to mow. The soil is very sandy and dry, with no organic matter to speak of. It was also infested with quack grass. I laid down cardboard and covered it with mulch, then I let it sit over winter.


This garden bed is filled with things just for the pollinators, I’ve working hard to plan for blooms throughout the season.

Currently, there are sages, spiderwort, persicaria, spurge, cushion plants, scabiosa, iris, veronica, and geranium,

I recently added a few shrubs as well, ‘Miss Kim’ lilac, a ‘Coppertina’ ninebark, and a ‘Quick Fire’ panicle hydrangea that came with us from Ohio and has been living in the potager. I also added a Kousa Dogwood that I scored at the home improvement store last fall for $7. It overwintered in the basement and was planted in this bed in the spring.

A friend made me this lovely sculpture from old tools, it was a birthday gift last summer. I’ve been looking for just the right spot for it in the garden. After finding two large black rocks that were nicely square, it is gracing the pollinator bed.

There’ still more to add to this bed, I have plants in the nursery area that need moved. I also have plans to add a few more clematis to grow up the shrubs and fill in with even more blooms. Stay tuned for photos of this new garden as the year progresses. If you have any great pollinator plants to recommend let me know in the comments.

What’s your favorite pollinator plant?

Dahlia Break Out

September 23rd, 2019

I purchased a small tuber for ‘Break Out’ Dahlia at the farmers market last year. It grew well and multiplied into a huge tuber, which I dug in the fall and overwintered in the basement. This year, it’s a HUGE plant producing mass amounts of large blush and yellow blooms.


I’ve been cutting masses of them and enjoying them in the house. There’s always one in the bathroom and usually a big vase full on the dining room table. This year the dahlias have been a bit late, but now that they’re blooming they’re making up for lost time.

Do you grow dahlias? Do you have a favorite variety?

A Fall/Winter Planter

September 17th, 2019

Flowering kale has always been a favorite fall plant. They look magnificent when most other things are fading, breathing fresh life into an otherwise waning season. They can be difficult to source, at least I haven’t found them easy to find when needed. A few years ago I bought seeds and started my own. This year I got lucky and found a few on sale at a local greenhouse.

I decided to cut down a birch sapling that was encroaching on a trail and use that as well. As the season progressing into winter, I’ll add some red twig dogwood stems and probably some pine boughs as well.

Do you make seasonal containers? What are some of your favorite plants to use?

Every Year…

September 12th, 2019

Every year I think my hardy hibiscus didn’t make it through the winter. Then, in late June I start to notice that it’s putting up some growth. In late August it starts to bloom and continues through frost. It’s a short sweet season, made sweeter because it blooms in that late season when many perennials are winding down for winter.

The tropical look can almost make you believe summer is still around, especially when the afternoon sun still retains some warmth. This beauty is the perfect plant to end the season!

Do you have a favorite end of season flower?

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Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!

About

This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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