Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Starting Your Garden
     I know it's winter everywhere on the Northern American Continent.  I have seen the news, snow in the northeast as if storms only head toward NYC!  It has been snowing in the Dakotas for weeks.  It is winter.
     I know there is little growing in the garden, but there is still much to do.  A garden is more than the green stuff growing on top of it and it starts way before the seeds and starters go into the ground.  It starts now.  It starts with prepping for the green stuff to come.  I have posted a blog on the kitchen composters and the act of composting in the kitchen.  You can click on it for some tips for composting in the kitchen.  No matter if you start in the kitchen or if you live far south enough to start your compost in the yard, the important thing is to start now.  While the earth rests, the gardener goes to work!  Start your garden, start composting, next week, we start seeds!
     A good mix for compost is one part green to two parts brown.  Green are green lawn clippings, once they dry, they are then classified as brown.  Greens and waste from the kitchen, these are still fresh green vegetables even the red peppers are green.  Brown is dried material like dried cornstalks, the hay bales left from Halloween decor in the yard, the dried vines in the garden that need cutting back!  Start with a layer of brown material.  Make it about 3" deep, then layer on the green material about the same depth, and alter the green and brown with a bit of soil on top of the green layers.  Keep the pile covered with a tarp or other cover to keep the heat in until the summer sun comes to warm the mix.  This cover also helps you to regulate the moisture in your heap.  Too much cold water that turns to ice in the coming freezes brings the decaying process to a halt.

     Use your compost in the weeks to come the same as you would use fertilizer and potting soil or mulch.  Using compost as a mulch gives the plants a boost of fertilizer all year long.  As a soil amendment, work the compost into the soil.  Dig down a few inches, fill with compost, cover with soil, till before planting.  As a fertilizer, use compost by making a tea.  Put compost into a five gallon bucket, fill halfway with water, let set a week, then sift and pour onto plants as a liquid fertilizer.
Start your compost heap, bin or barrel and you have started your garden. We start seeds next week!

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