Gardener's Grapevine 2012.09.12

Written by David Green.

It’s another beautiful Sunday afternoon and I’m sitting on the front porch with my feet up and a Coke, writing this with a gentle breeze blowing. Who could ask for more?

If you aren’t aware, I teach Sunday School at the Congregational church and this morning we discussed “God’s bountiful harvest.” Sunday school is interesting to say the least. I have young elementary children, the grandchildren of Larry and Sharon Bruce.

I asked them if they knew what a harvest was. Yup, “It’s when you get stuff.” True that, but I explained that it is much more than that, it is gathering all the food that God has blessed us with in our gardens and fields, and getting it ready for use in the winter when we can’t grow anything. “But Jo, we can just go to the grocery store if we need food.” My reply was, “Well, yes, we can, but the food in the grocery store comes from where?” “From big semi-trucks!”

I love the innocence of children. My point in telling you this is that we are not all children and we have to plan to feed our families. For most of you reading a gardening column I would assume one of two things: either you garden or you know me and are reading this to see what goofy stuff I’ll write. If you garden you are aware of our crazy growing season and weather this year. Apparently our tomatoes loved it as we have a “bountiful harvest” and then some.

A bountiful harvest is not just relying on God’s grace, it’s using the knowledge he has empowered us with to protect our crop and keep us fed. Farmers are all too aware of this. One thing that helps grow strong healthy plants is good soil. Soil does not stay nutrient rich without assistance. Composting is a must and using good compost in your garden protects plants with both lack of and excessive amounts of rain or sun. Like humans our plants like to eat and do not like excessively wet feet (roots). Good compost can provide this.

When compost is breaking down it is very alive with microorganisms, worms and ants, and all this aids in creating a nutrient rich soil. To start a compost pile it requires very little in the way of cost. You can purchase a compost bin at any gardening store or website, but it is unnecessary. I use an old trellis my grandmother was going to discard and bungee it into a circular shape. Some people just make a pile in a corner of their garden. As long as you turn it occasionally and keep it moist you will make good compost.

A compost pile should be damp, but not soaked. Sometimes this can’t be helped if you have an open pile or bin as a heavy rain will soak anything. Just turn it over and it will eventually dry out. Excessive moisture can slow the process and cause it to smell rotten. A damp pile will not have a stink. My trellis bin is a length of garden fencing with two two by fours attached to each end and three bungee cords to hold the ends together.

You need to layer the items you put in your compost. Green compost is your kitchen waste such as egg shells, coffee grounds, banana peels, vegetable cast offs, used tea bags, pasta without sauce or oils, grass clippings, flowers, flower stems and coffee filters.

Do not put meat, bones, cheese or anything with fats or oils in or on it. A brown layer is shredded paper, lint, hay, straw and tree leaves. Do not use walnut leaves as they are toxic in compost. A neutral layer is soil.

Layer all of these things and put the soil on top. A shovel full of soil dug from your garden is fine. Wet the pile every so often but don’t soak it and keep layering what you have when you get it. Turn the pile over every week. In winter the pile may freeze, preventing turning. Depending on what you use in the pile it should be ready for your garden in two months to a year. Spread it on your garden when it is well broken down and enjoy a bountiful harvest.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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