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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.

Babies

June 25th, 2020

This is the season of babies, baby birds in particular. You can hear them in almost every tree. This year we had a nest of woodpeckers in the big ash tree out front. We heard the babies for a few days before finally being able to locate the nest.

We watched and watched to see the babies, after a week or two of them being super loud, we were able to spot them.

A week later, they fledged and it’s been quiet in the ash tree again.

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?

Summer…

June 1st, 2020

The frost is thawing from the vegetable garden as I sit and write this post, on the morning of June 1. It was a bit of a surprise, but not really. The predicted low was 37 degrees, at 2 am it was 32.

This will be a welcome change in other ways. I’ve long since starting using my phone to take photos instead of my good camera. I take way more photos on my phone and that’s where they stay. The result is that the photographic account of my garden last year is less than stellar, well, it’s on my phone, but I don’t look through those like I do my photo catalog.

So, here we are again, I look forward to hearing from you here.

The Midway Museum

February 28th, 2020

When we were in San Diego a few weeks ago we spent a day at the USS Midway Museum, it was a day well spent. We had no idea that you could go through most of the ship, learning about what life was like on an aircraft carrier as you go.

We were so glad we went to this museum, it was well worth it and we enjoyed seeing the ship and all the airplanes. If you’re even in San Diego I highly recommend it!

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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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