Sunday, November 29, 2009

Let's Talk Dirty

Although this blog usually focuses on the pretty parts of gardening, a lot of dirty work does happen in our humble garden that goes unseen in the flower and veggie money shots. One neglected corner of our garden has been the compost pile, which has grown to the gargantuan proportions of a heap. Kid you not, this thing is about 15x10x3. Most of the garden books seem to refer to 3 cubic feet as the ideal size of a pile. Perhaps this is where we've gone astray...

Since we are planning a big garden expansion next spring (just beyond the white car), we're going to need all the organic matter we can muster. The good news is we have most of what we'll need in the decomposing leaves, grass, and kitchen waste that lay in the former foundation of a root cellar on our property. We were blessed with a fairly dry 3 day weekend so we went at it today, stirring, layering, and wetting the pile.

Here is the before:

And the uhhh now - hopefully after by spring:

A cute little green stink bug resident of the pile. Probably bad news but too cute to kill:
Amongst the clumpy, slimy, wormy and wet bits, we did discover some nearly finished compost. Maybe neglect can be divine. We filled 2 old trash cans and plan to roll them around over the next few weeks to make sure they're fully cooked and consistent.

We are thankful for worms! Hope you all had a very happy holiday

Amanda & Mike


  1. Hi Amanda - Wow, I think your mulch pile is bigger than my veggie patch! Impressive! Hope it all settles down nicely for its winter nap and provides all you want in the spring.

    Thanks for weighing in on the mystery grass question on my blog. I have a gut feeling that you are right, in which case I will probably dig it out if Pampas it indeed turns out to be. It's just going to get too big for the space and I already have one (hm, maybe the parent plant?) in my back garden.

    Hey, we have a little group going, meeting most every month, of Seattle-area garden bloggers. If you are ever up for a drive from your neck of the woods, we'd love to have you join us. No meeting scheduled yet for December, we'll probably re-adjourn in January and I will try to post the details on my blog when we have them. Cheers! - Karen

  2. You're so good with your composting pile. We got one of those plastic barrels you turn on an axis. It's supposed to help aerate the goods inside, but we weren't the best when it came to adding the right components, so it just kind of clumped up and never really turned into great mulch. We still fill it with material when we can. I don't know if you've had any luck with contraptions like those?

  3. Karen - would love to come to a meeting. I've always enjoyed your blog! So fun to see the cool stuff people are growing!

  4. Denisey,
    I've never tried a tumbler because I'm so cheap! Well maybe not cheap but have a hard time paying for things that do something that can be done by hand (often to my detriment and hubby's har har). Apparently the trick is some grass, some leaves, some veggie matter (kitchen scraps) and eeeeven maybe a bit of dirt for inorganic fun and bacteria/microrganisms. We are trying to replicate the tumbler concept with trash cans which we'll roll around a little?
    Wish us luck...

  5. Amanda - if you would like to be added to our listserv, you can email me at and I will point you in the right direction. we'd love to meet you! - Karen