Wednesday, November 17, 2010

As The Compost Turns

"As the World Turns" was a popular tv show back in my school days. I think I could write an equally gripping tv show today about compost. Well maybe not equally gripping but at least somewhat fascinating.

Just when i thought all the work was done for the fall I came up with a new idea. This time it was a piece of leftover hardware wire that triggered the thought. I bought a bigger roll of wire than I really needed to build that simple compost screen. What was I going to do with the extras?

My husband proposed making a circle of wire . He suggested we could just tie it together loosely and dump our piles of leaves in it as they fell off our Qualicum Beach Catalpa tree. We had the good idea and then we left town - leaving my 88 year old mother and her 90 year old sister in charge of the project. Well- the first thing that happened was the leaves got heavy as it rained and the girls were simply working too hard packing them down so the wire started to split apart where the circle was joined. They then reinforced our simple loop with wire ties and propped up one slack side with bricks and anchored the whole works around a big rock so it wouldn't tip over. Then they kept adding leaves.

When I arrived back on the west coast I was surprised to see how great the system was working. So great- in fact- I decided to screen my other tumbling compost (which is completely finished) and add the screened compost to the top of the leaves. I probably should have been adding compost all along in layers as the leaves were added but remember I was away and there is only so much you can ask of an aging mother. (Believe me - I know- I am an aging mother too). So the system sits, waiting for the last leaves to fall complete with a capping of compost. I look forward to seeing how far it progresses by spring. Will it be ready for potato planting or spreading on the garden?

Meanwhile in my hot compost pile the temperature has plummeted (I will go back to that entry on the blog and add an update soon)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Water Barrels- time to come in

It is always a sad time to say goodbye to the rain barrel for the season. Especially today as we get our first rain in weeks. But it had to happen and the barrel is now washed and put away for another winter. The trouble with leaving it full of water over winter is the chance of splitting. Most of us own plastic barrels repurposed from industry and they will not tolerate the force of freezing water. If you bought a specifically made rain barrel check the manufacturers suggestions- they may be stronger and perhaps left outside but I doubt it.

So- the rain barrel has been taken off it's perch of bricks, washed out and brought over to the side of the house where it lives for the winter on its side under the overhang. The glazed pots have been set up in the same place. I am not strict about emptying all my pots over winter because I have been careful to buy pots designed for leaving out but even so I have lost a few over the years so most of them go into storage.

Pictured above is a pot I did for the a downtown zone 3 park. It has hardy dwarf blue spruce and junipers in it and was left out successfully all winter a few years back. The mum- of course- didn't survive but the pots and evergreens did and they provided colour and form all winter.