A Tree Grows in Bucklingham

 As an end of the year gift one year, my students gave me a gift certificate from Headrick’s Nursery to purchase a tree. This is the second year the tree has been planted, but part of my Mother’s Day gift was to make a flower/herb ring at the base. We used reclaimed bricks from a building that was torn down in Mullinville and some of my new compost. I transplanted a plant from another location in my yard.

Unfortunately, right after it was planted, Blondie (the Wonder Dog) decided to take a walk and take in the new aromas from my exquisite compost.

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We also filled the new vegetable bed with the new compost. I can hardly wait to start planting.

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The Best Mother's Day Present

This is the best Mother’s Day present I could ever receive.

My youngest DD brought roses to me today, for a belated Mother’s Day. She actually ordered them on Friday and paid with money that she won from the JAC National Contest this month. She just didn’t want me to get them early. DH took us all to Playa Azul in Pratt on Saturday afternoon on our way to visit MIL. We love Playa Azul, but prefer to eat at the one in Woodward because they always bring the queso to the table (for free) with the chips and the interior is a bit nicer. With fuel prices the way they are, Pratt was the better choice, as it was on our way.

I had mentioned that I ended my Mother’s Day by sitting by the fire until after dark, but I should have said that it ended with a very pleasant phone call from my oldest DD, who lives in the Dallas Area. She actually spent an hour visiting with me.

Compost Bin Requirements

Originally posted 2.10.08 on our first blog

Planning my compost pile, has had me wondering the important factors of my most successful compost piles of past. There are many considerations to ponder in the quest for that perfect hot bed of garden gold. In my opinion, location and size are the most important items to consider when starting a new compost pile.
The concerns for location include accessibility, and the amount of sunlight, with a lesser consideration of the aesthetics of your pile. The location should be a place close enough to your garden area to save on the energy used getting your new fertilizer to its intended final resting place. Is it close enough so that you do not mind those daily trips out there to drop in your new deposits? Is the area sunny or shady? While it is not necessary to be located in a sunny location, it certainly helps in the breaking down of the materials in your compost. Is your compost facility a work of art, or is it hodge-podged like mine? Aesthetically speaking, mine would be considered the latter, but that does not bother me. A compost pile can be disguised by placing it behind a hedgerow or behind a fence. Me? I want to proudly display my efforts at compost, in hope of piquing someone else’s interest. No hiding for my pile!
A successful compost pile needs to be no smaller than 3′ x 3′  and about 3′ high. Making a pile too large will cause the weight of the matter added to compress the air out of the bulk and slow down the decomposition. Most of us are in a hurry for the compost to do its job, so in the case of compost bins, size does matter. Now, having said that, I must added that if you insist on the mother of all compost piles and make yours 5 x 5 x 5, there is a little gadget that might help. A large pvc pipe with holes drilled through it can be placed in the center of your pile, which will allow air into your pile and get things heated up. I have been toying with the idea of adding a smaller version pvc pipe to my bin this year. 

Compost Fence

Originally posted 02.10.08

Has anyone heard of a compost fence? I don’t remember where I read it, or maybe I saw it on a home improvement television show, but I do know that I want one. It is a fence that holds yard refuse and grass clippings which eventually composts to exit the bottom of the fence. We do not currently have a fence, but that is one of the promised hard-scaped items for this spring/summer.
My compost fence will be made from hog panels and 4 x 4 fence posts. That will give us an approximate 4 inches in width and reach a height of approximately 8 feet. On our side of the fence, the panel will be about 6 inches above the ground, whereas the opposite side will go completely to the ground. I have a climbing ground cover on the alley side of where this fence is to be located, so it will be allowed to climb the back side as a means to disguise the hog panels from the neighbors’ views. I figure we will start with one set of panels, until the unit is full and then add the second as there becomes a need for more room. The only difficulty with this design is the dilemma of how we will be able to replenish the clippings as the height of the fence raises. I am certain that DH will come up with a solution to the problem, or is that a problem to the solution?

Freezer Compost

Originally posted 2.09.08

Off and on throughout my life, I have had many compost piles….some more successful than others. I have lived in my current location for three years now and I still don’t have an “official” compost pile. Our focus has been on making our 100 year old house livable, so little time has been spent on the yard. This in itself presents the greatest challenge in making our backyard sustainable, but that is a topic all its own…meaning I feel a lengthy blog entry coming on…ha ha!
I have asked DH to build a super-duper compost pile, but it never materialized. He has promised one to be built in March. In the meantime, I have been saving my kitchen scraps in a large planting pot outdoors. I have been layering shredded newspaper between each layer of scraps. I know that it will not be compost when spring is here, but at least I will have a start on my new-fangled official compost pile in the spring.
I haven’t decided the location of my compost pile yet. I don’t want it too close to the house, but I want it to be easily accessible. Right now, the scraps stay in a bowl on my counter for a few days before I make a trip to the compost pot, but I am not liking that arrangement much….especially when there are onion scraps. I have thought about taking a huge butter tub and placing it in the freezer, so that I can add my small portion of compost to it every day. Once the tub gets full I can go dump the compost ice cube into my pile. Has anyone else done this before or have a great suggestion? I am open to ideas here. During the summer, scraps left on the counter can lead to those nasty fruit flies.

Missing Worms

2.26.08

Well, my worms have run away. I say “run away” because I do not wish to think that they perished in their new home.  It is early in the season to purchase/transport worms here, but I thought I would call the wormery in Arkansas,  from whom I normally purchase my worms, to see when they might be shipping again. I was saddened to learn that they would no longer be in the worm business. Their primary source for selling was eBay, but with the new fees and the new  requirements of their worms to be shipped via Expedited Mail, I imagine profits were lower than the losses.
The owner and I had a very pleasant conversation that offered me tons of advice for my own worm composting. Though I do not look to sell my worms, I do  need to make an abundance of compost as quickly as possible. I have to say, my enormous need for compost heightened my sadness over the closing of the wormery.  What I have determined as the demise of my vermicomposting venture is that there was not enough oxygen in my container. The commercial vermicomposting container that I use  has air vents at the top and pvc type vents running through the bottom, so I thought I was set as far as ventilation goes. It seems, however, that the more castings there are in the container the less ventilation/oxygen. The castings become a bit compacted. Mine is more fluffy, however this conclusion seems reasonable and I am ashamed that I did not consider the possibility myself. The container needs to be cleaned of the castings regulary with new bedding applied.  In my case, that means more shredded newspaper.  At the wormery, the large bins are filled with peat moss and the worms received daily feedings of dry corn meal, which is then misted with well water.
The good thing is that I currently have a few quarts of compost that needs to be sifted from the remaining food and newspaper scraps, but the bad news is I need to replenish my worms.