Sunday Dan and I worked a bit in the garden, starting the process of putting it to bed for the winter. First up was digging finished compost out of a bin so we would have room to make yet even more compost. Dan dug bin number 1 out onto the tarp. With 3″ of recent rain, it was still pretty wet. This is destined for the vegetable garden, starting with the garlic beds.
Once that bin was emptied, Dan put the contents of bin number 2 into bin number 1. This bin was 90% percent finished. The unfinished compost he set aside to use in our new batch (it makes a great innoculant). Once bin 2 was empty, we started pulling plants from the garden. The squash vines, peppers, tomatoes, beans and assorted weeds and flowers went into this bin, layered with my favorite brown, fallen leaves, crunched up by the mower. I added sunflower stalks through the middle of the pile to leave good air spaces.
We try to save some grass to mow with the leaves to get a nice mix of chopped leaves and grass to layer with the garden plants. We’ve been lucky with some nice warm temps and enough rain to spur some lawn growth.
I’m not crazy about the lawn tractor, but decided I need to overcome my fear reluctance and learn how to drive it. Dan gave me a lesson, and I mowed us some leaves and grass. It doesn’t take long to fill both bags on the tractor. Dan emptied the bags into the bin. We emptied the bags twice for each brown layer, aiming for twice as much leaves as garden greens.
After the leaves, we hauled out more plants from the garden to add to the pile. I’ll know by Tuesday if my ratios are working, cause it will get hot, and quick. I didn’t add any water today, as we’ve had so much rain, but if the pile isn’t hot, I’ll try adding a bit of water first.
By the end of the day, we had cleaned out about a third of the beds. I’ll leave the Swiss chard and the brassicas until they freeze, as I’m feeding the hens the leaves, which they love. Next weekend, I hope we can clean out the peas, celery, and weedy former onion beds, and give the leeks a good weeding and nice layer of compost for the winter. I’ll add a good layer of compost to the hoophouse, too. If we have any left, I’ll reserve some for spring use in the planting holes of brassicas and tomatoes, and divide the rest among the perennial beds. Last year we filled a garbage can with compost and stored it in the hoophouse for the winter.