Columns

Gardener's Grapevine 2016.01.13

on . Posted in Gardener's Grapevine

By JO ERBSKORN

Saturday I decided it was time for a new approach to my winter composting. Walking out to the garden gets old when the weather is bitter, icy and snowy, and especially since our back yard is not very level or smooth. So I asked Nick to bring one of the big plastic trash cans that has a lid up by the back door of the house. It’s a lot easier to care for the compost if it’s easier to access.

I have written about composting  before in this column. It is a very important way to get wonderful soil that is very rich in nutrients. The compost tends to retain moisture better than just tilling the same old soil.

Now, my winter compost will not break down like it does in the summer, due to the freezing temps. It is important to layer a compost pile, especially in the winter. With every large pile of scraps from the kitchen I will add some shredded newspaper, straw, rabbit droppings from my son’s girlfriends rabbit and some lime pellets. If the weather is nice, the nice tall trash can should make it easy to stir or turn my compost every couple weeks.

I listened to a live video post on building a bio intensive garden. I found this interesting as it was all about using space wisely and getting more yield. The author discussed how using a double layer approach to starting your beds can aid in so many positive ways.

Apparently, double layering involves taking a shovel of soil from the area you want to make a bed in, putting it in a bucket, then taking a pitch fork to loosen the soil under where you just removed that scoopful from. Don’t remove more soil, twist the pitchfork around and just loosen it. Continue in this manner across the bed.

The soil being put into buckets is for your next compost pile. Once the soil is loosened, layer a pile of compost over the loosened soft soil, then put your plants in. By doing this, the theory is that the loose soil lets the plants spread their roots much easier causing the plant to mature  faster. The compost layer retains moisture and provides numerous nutrients the plants need to survive.

The gal who was speaking on the video states that she plants her seedlings very close as the plants make a nice warm, area under them that will need less watering. I like the idea and concept. Maybe we should give this a try in the spring.

Some people don’t like composting and that’s fine. They can buy commercial chemical fertilizer and be happy with smaller plants and yields. I ever strive for that awesome exact recipe that will yield a crazy abundance.

As I was tooling around the internet this past week I came across a website that had a nice article and examples of container gardening to save space. It’s an interesting concept, so of course curiosity got the best of me and I clicked on it. They had some awesome ideas, and one I liked in particular. Buy some metal threaded dowel rods, washers, nuts and  clay pots, then thread the clay pots on the dowel rod leaving space between them using the nuts to secure that plant in place. The base of the rod can be put into a pot of soil or a ring soldered to the end to hang it.

The other thing I saw was a threaded steel rod with clay pots threaded on to it alternating the direction the pot hangs so the pots bottom sits on the edge of the previous pot. It’s very crafty, and once again, the bottom of the dowel rod is buried in a pot of soil. This makes it so many plants can grow in a very small amount of space. What gardner doesn’t like that?

The article also shows stacking wire cubes that were open completely and basically making a wall of plants in pots. A pot sat in each cube. All I could envision with this was an avalanche of cubes, pots, soil and plants. Some folks are way more adventurous than I am.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017