Thursday, April 19, 2007

compost and mulch 101

Another plant blooming! I waited until this evening to take photos, so this isn't as bright and pretty as it was earlier in the day. I think yellow daffodils are so cheery.

By the time I got out there, the tulips were closed up for the night - but I have 5 clumps with several blooms in each clump - so some nice color at last.

I have spent parts of 3 days this week shredding leaves. My ears are ringing from the shredder noise (I wore ear muffs and still they hurt!), and my nose and throat are all congested from the dust (even though I had on a mask). Not my most fun garden job.
Every fall I run around like a crazy woman collecting leaves. I get them from several neighbors and this last year I collected from people who had bags piled by the road for yard waste pickup. I use shredded leaves as mulch on my gardens in the summer instead of buying shredded bark or some other super expensive mulch. I think the leaves are a great additive to the soil, and I like the way they look on the garden. I also put whole leaves over the winter gardens to help protect against freeze/thaw cycles in the spring and to keep the dogs' feet from being totally muddy all winter long.
We filled the bigger bin on the left with shredded leaves last fall. It settled to about half full over the winter, and this week I shredded another 30 or so bags and topped it off again. Way too many leaves!! This spring I filled the smaller bin on the right with stuff I cleaned off the gardens. I'm thinking I should probably shred all of that too, but it is going to have to wait awhile!
I'll start putting the shredded leaves on the gardens when the ground has warmed up, and will probably have to reapply at least twice more during the summer. Any leftover leaves, I'll add to the compost bin.
The smaller bin is my compost bin. I fill it all summer with seaweed we pull from the lake and with grass clippings. So any leaves I can mix in are a plus to the compost. I don't turn my compost. The seaweed and leaves cook fairly fast, so by fall it's partially composted.
In the fall, I mound the compost around the base of my roses and clematis. I also use it to amend the soil where I plant tomatoes. The rest I mound on other established gardens. I also seem to add a garden each year, so I add as much compost as I can to those spaces each fall. I just shovel the compost on and let it sit over the winter, then spread it over the garden space in the spring. Seaweed makes the best compost you can imagine.
I'm trying to find the perfect size for these bins, and then I want to make a nice-looking enclosure for them. I think the neighbors will greatly appreciate that!! Snow fence is great for moving around and trying different sizes and shapes, but not very attractive!
I'll leave you with one of my new hyacinths - I ordered blue and yellow ones when we were at the Keukenhof last year. I can't wait to see them open.


Trailhead said...

I have to shred a lot of documents in my line of work, so I've started using them in the compost heap. I am stunned at how quickly the worms finish off the shreds.

Composting is undeniably fun!

kris said...

Composting is fun!! I haven't been adding shredded paper to the pile - but that's a good idea. Always looking for ideas to make more compost - the plants love it!