It’s been almost 1 full month since everything was transplanted outside and we are finally getting some consistent sun. Everything that is growing is mostly green. Green veggies (kale, lettuce and spinach) are full enough to eat daily, the broccoli is almost ready, and everything else is just green leaves/branches with no veggies growing yet.
It seems like the corn grows a few inches everyday.
We have chosen to have a 100% organic garden without the use of fertilizers so composting is our natural alternative. Although it can take some time, it is one of the most nutrient rich ways to cultivate your garden. You can start to compost in the kitchen by saving common kitchen scraps. You are making healthy compost and reducing your waste at the same time. It’s a win win.
In the winter months, when there is no produce to harvest, we buy organic lettuce from the store. An organic spring mix (pic above) normally comes in a plastic bag inside of a plastic box. Once you take out the lettuce, this box becomes the perfect spot to store your kitchen compost scraps. I normally go through one box of lettuce a week during the colder months and stockpile the containers for when our current one gets gross. I keep this under the kitchen sink or on a shelf in the pantry until it is full and ready to be emptied (usually twice a week).
Common kitchen scraps you can use for compost (cutting/crushing first will help them to breakdown faster):
- All your vegetable and fruit waste, (including rinds and cores) even if they are gross and moldy. Corn cobs and husks. All leftover pulp from juicing.
- Coffee grinds, tea bags and paper filters
- Egg shells, crushed well
- Most anything made with flour. Stale bread, cookies, crackers, pasta as long as they haven’t been mixed with meat, oils or dairy.
Things to leave out:
- Meat, fish and bones
So our sweet little angel pup, Henley, decided he didn’t like our tomato plants and ran through them until they looked like weeds.
Sadly our tomato’s won’t be from seed this year, we had to go out and buy some organic plants.
Over the past week we have been moving our seeds started indoors, to the garden outside. Up until late April/early May, we were still getting frost overnight so we are hoping these fragile plants do ok.
The soil we initially put in the boxes had settled well and turned a nice, rich black color.
Greg uses small strips of wood to make a temporary layout. This ensures that each plant will have enough room to grow without taking over the one next to it.
The process takes a while because each plant is still so young and delicate. Since they are still so tiny, using a shovel can damage the adjacent plants. In the picture above, Greg uses an alternative by digging the small holes with a teaspoon.
You can buy compost bins from your local home improvement store. They range in cost from $50-$300. Or you can build them and they’re completely free…woohoo! This is the first of many things Greg made from used palettes. Most commercial businesses will have a pile of these every week after receiving deliveries. They may keep a few, but the majority get thrown away. All we do is ask and most times they are happy that we are helping them get rid of their garbage.
To make this bin he took three standard palettes and assembled them in a “U” shape using standard screws. The slots that are already built in to the palettes are perfect for holding the rake you’ll need to turn your compost.
The pic above shows two bins side by side. We started with one and now we have four across. Greg will keep one bin empty to make it easier to rotate the compost from one bin to another. If you don’t have the space for that many bins, you can simply use one and rotate the soil within the bin.
We initially set these up in the far corner of the yard thinking that when the temperature rose we would smell anything that may be “composting”. It turns out the slots in the palette provide good enough air flow to allow the compost to properly decompose.
Last year, we spent DAYS weeding the garden. Literal weekends were consumed with pulling weeds. Although we knew it would be a big task, we decided that when the weather became tolerably cold, we would start the whole garden from scratch. The picture below shows the garden last year.
We started by removing all of the existing raised boxes and extended the garden area by about 50%. Next, we laid out long rolls of weed barrier. Someone at Greg’s job was throwing it out and it was a big money saver.
We put all the old boxes back in but decided to try to keep a square shape to the garden compared to the mish mosh we had last year. Greg built a few new boxes (the lighter colored ones) out of scrap wood.
As the weeks went on, Greg found more great wood pieces that were being thrown away by one company or another and brought them home. He added the too large boxes below after he drove by a company that had just had an enormous window delivered. They were throwing away the packing crate it came in; so he scooped it up. He added trellis to the back of the crates because he knew he would be planting cucumbers and tomatoes in there. The bamboo was added to beds that would house the beans and other sprawling plants. Once everything was finished, we added a combo of organic soil and compost to the boxes and organic black mulch to the walkways. Voila! A new garden.