Recently, I came across an organic gardening magazine in a waiting room. Since I started my own little garden this year, I picked it up and discovered I really enjoyed the content. The next time I went to the library I noticed they had this magazine and others like it. Since then, I have read several back issues of these types of magazines and have learned a lot.
One of the main things I took away from several of the articles is that I need to start making my own compost! For my first garden, my uncle gave me mushroom manure from his farm as one of the bases to mix in with soil to fill my garden bed. This was great but it does deplete each year so I will need more substance for next year. I cannot ask him every year and, of course, I can buy compost but the articles made it clear it is not difficult to make as most homes have all the ingredients and it is better for the planet if more small scale composting is happening. So, I figured this would be a fun project for me as I want to do more and more things by myself-from cooking things from scratch, to growing food, to making compost!
Next year, I plan to add one raised garden bed to my backyard (this first year I had one and I felt it was very successful and am ready to take on more with all that I learned). I have already started this project by reclaiming some lumber that was going to waste from my brother’s construction site and painting it. To ensure I can fill it up next year, I have decided I will start developing compost to support this garden bed as well as my original one. I decided to do so by starting my compost pile right on the site of my new garden bed. I did not want to just start throwing things into the wood structure as grass is still growing there (I would usually use the wet newspaper method to kill it off) so started by digging down into the earth a bit. My husband had a day off so got stuck helping me with this hard part! I threw in a bit of soil, some grass clippings, a few cherry tomatoes that fell off their vines from my existing garden, and then I hosed this all off just a bit.
The theory is that layers of soil, grass clippings, organic material, and water will warm up and start decomposing (with a few rotations via pitchfork or shovel once a week) and turn into “black gold” in 3 months or so. I covered my very meager pile with a tarp (as they said heat and moisture is important) and will be watching it over the next while. Our city requires separating compost materials from garbage so we already have a small bin in our kitchen. I will have to fish out the non-animal and non-greasy parts and add them to my pile each week. Am hoping this will work and I will not just end up with a stinky pile of garbage!
No matter what happens, I can definitely say that in the last while I have been experimenting with gardening and have truly been enjoying it. I started with an indoor glass jar herb garden last year and graduated to a whole raised garden bed this year. It has provided me with heaps of cucumbers, lovely tomatoes which I love (hate the store ones!), and all kinds of herbs. I have eaten many of the herbs fresh but also dried some for later use. It is very cool. This year I learned a lot about plant spacing and support (for vines etc) and decided I need a second bed. The next bed will be a bit skinnier as I am planning to do vertical gardening in it (for tomatoes and cucumbers etc that can use stakes, trellises, and ladders etc to grow upward). My original larger bed can be used for the herbs and a few other plants I will try out next year. Am definitely looking forward to that. All this has given me a lot of confidence and I am hoping my compost will be successful as it will support my other work. Since I started all this, I can definitely say I am happier, getting more exercise, eating healthier, and really appreciating food. It is also an exciting thing for the other members in my family who also benefit. I cannot recommend starting a garden enough-even if you have only a tiny bit of space.