Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Potatoes, Green Beans and Compost

Hello again Garden Gals and Guys! This weekend's weather was beautiful and I used Saturday to do a little maintenance to my backyard garden and keep my mind occupied.

My lettuce looked beautiful and I was all set to harvest it to eat and give away. However, I had a sampling of it and in just a day's time it went from sweet to bitter. So here it is before I dug it all up:

It broke my heart to have to throw all that away. But then I thought about a free compost bin that I got a while back and...well....more on that later in the post.

While digging up the lettuce, I noticed a few more scallions ready for picking so my trusty garden weapon harvested them for me. How do you know when they are ready? Well, when they are about the size of your pinkie finger (I have small pinkie fingers):

Those scallions were yummy cut up in some home fries we made over the weekend!

OK, so here are the garden beds on the left all cleared out (except for scallions):

Remember I told you that I was using the SPIN gardening technique. So now, these beds will be used to grow new crops. But first, the soil has to be amended and so I got some mushroom compost to add some nutrients back into my soil:

I worked it in well into the top three inches of soil (which wasn't hard to do since the beds were so nice and soft):

Notice I'm using my walkways and not walking in the beds. This keeps the soil from compacting. Compacted soil is a no-no for plant roots!

I decided to plant green beans in the bed all the way on the left and potatoes in the half bed next to the scallions. No, it's not too late to plant potatoes (for commercial growers, yes...for your family...no).

So, once again, my secret garden weapon got some potatoes from my pantry. She found ones that had "eyes" (sprouts) on them. Then we cut them so that each piece had at least one eye:


While she was busy carefully cutting, I dug a trench for the spuds:

All you have to do to plant is space them about two inches apart with the "eyes" facing up:

Then do the potato dance. You straddle the bed and gently sweep the dirt from either side over the potatoes:

That's it! Then, once the potatoes sprout, I will let the stem get to about two inches and will start to hill them (I'll blog about it when I do it, don't worry).

OK...now remember that lettuce that I was so upset about wasting? Well, it shall return to the garden.....as compost....eventually.

I decided to start a compost pile. I won't waste a whole lot of time explaining because you can google how to do it. But basically you need brown stuff (dead stuff). I grabbed a lot of leaves from along my fence line. I then put them in the compost bin:

Leaves won't break down as efficiently if they aren't shredded. So I had my hubby get the weed-whacker out and shred them:

Next, you have to add some green stuff (garden cuttings, fresh cut grass--but not if you use fertilizer, scraps from your kitchen--no meats, bones oily or greasy foods). Ahhh...so my lettuce (and spinach stems by the way) will not go to waste afterall:

Then I watered the compost pile. You want it to be moist, but not soggy. It should be about the consistency of a damp, wrung-out sponge:

Then give it a good mixing:

That's it! Now you turn it about once a week and make sure that it stays moist. If it develops an odor, it's not getting enough oxygen, which means you aren't turning it enough. A good compost pile really has no smell to it (well, unless you are composting manure). This will break down over the next month or two and I should have some nice compost to add to my garden in the heat of summer!

See, composting is easy. There are all kinds of bins you can buy, so if you are really interested in composting, give it a Google!

Oh...and here are my green beans freshly transplanted:

And that's it for this time garden gals and guys! Now I'm off to decide what to plant in that middle garden bed!

Until next time....

Happy gardening!


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