Urban Gardener: Composting For Winter
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Organic gardening comfortably relies upon simple concepts well within the range of practical understanding. Soils support myriads of life forms and we are healthier when the distance from grower and person is very short. Our area has rich varieties of glacial deposits and formations. Over centuries of occupation and constant attention many urban gardeners have open spaces formed from vacant lots, sometimes with little more than broken pavement. Or they may cultivate those charming hidden gardens that are festooned throughout every neighborhood. All gardeners prosper when paying attention to opportunity and attention. I’m convinced that the gardener amore proper understands their plot as a vibrant living community united in common purpose. When applying simple harmonious garden techniques the gardener and the garden become veritable Edens. Here are successful techniques I’ve used and I think you can too.
Keep an eye out for bio-degradable materials. In November our streets are clogged with cascades of lovely foliage. Providence is a green city and entire neighborhoods are named for trees, such as Elmwood, or districts such as Summit on the East Side where Forest Street intersects with Evergreen. Or perhaps its flowers you treasure? Tulip Street! Abundant leaves are cheap, easy, and work. They are appropriate for shredding into delightful mulch or can be worked gently into the soil to hasten the introduction of earthworms, fungi and molds to feast. Our short cool days slow down evaporation and our soils tend to remain moist longer. This is a welcome trait as we depart from a dry September and October.
Our glacial soils are often sandy loams or the express creation of generations of people. Leaves are essential stages in hardwood forest regions in our zone. The fallen leaves add to the sandy gravelly glacial debris once prevalent and still found in neighborhoods of old houses. Many years ago former residents paved much of the city with granite cobblestones, curbs and drains. Those remaining in remarkable numbers testify to the ardent labor of colonial and Victorian Providence. I think it not only practical but also delightful to rescue architectural detritus and offer homage to generations of gardening people. Mixing organic materials such as leaves into soil transforms the soil from a sterile laconic place and into one of melody and chorus. Rich dark humus forms from as disparate shredded leaves or one may successfully find other forms of organic materials such as coffee grounds. Scale and means drive the scope of one’s recycling. Virtually in sight soils gain vibrant life and will with encouragement yield abundant harvests for the body and the soul.
I enclose sections of the garden in old window sashes from the sidewalk. These glass windows are firmly fitted together and enclosed by a wire fence 4 feet high. I dig a pit in the garden, right down to a lovely sand bed about 2 spades deep and pile the ground aside. Then I dig a trench usually conforming to the arc of the winter sun slowly climbing back from winter’s nadir. This solar perspective is important to our efforts. A compost pile need not be tethered to one location, I move mine around the garden and often have several types in different stages of evolution. The traditional compost heap is my forte this winter and you can have one too with these steps.
Gardeners fill the first trench with organic material, manure this time for me, then a covering layer as available always alternating whatever is at hand, such as leaves, shredded leaves, shredded paper no more than 3 pages thick, or large unfolded leaf bags, peat, old compost full of inoculating microbes, the soil from the deepest levels, and so forth. As the trenches fill, grow and gradually donut around the heap, move the pit over by deeply filling it with slower, harder to digest materials such as wood chips and hedge clippings, and repeat the process ever layering the heap. Hay, seaweed, wood chips, sawdust, coffee grounds, yesterday’s salad, hair, all can be composted. As each layer may be the last, the task is always ongoing and there is no beginning or end.
Gardeners are ingenious people and some anticipate the compost heap with a lateral technique of layering their entire growing area with organic mulches, employing whatever materials are at hand. Personally I enjoy this type of gardening during cool weather. The activity keeps one warm and breathing fresh air. Despite constant attention compost heaps become alive with microbes and earthworms and may even steam! I found a salamander in the manure pile and gently hid this miracle of nature under the nearby mulch. By these methods I defy the reckless practices of past industry and cultural attitudes hostile to our natural resources. As the compost heap grows it also settles and can be covered with mulch for the winter. I like to top off the entire garden with a thick layer of hay. Let’s talk about hay and the urban garden soon. Cold weather offers gardeners time to witness snow’s power, blizzards and gales, the trials of winter and from that experience emerge renewed into the springtime. Compost heaps will transform and become the stage for planting unweary drama.
Please share with me your compost heap and we’ll put a picture up. Each gardener has signature style.
Related Slideshow: 10 Homes In Central MA That Just Came On The Market (11/19/13)
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Circa 1869, this handsome "Grey Lady" is currently a Professional Dental Office (1500 sq. ft.) multiple office uses. Live where you work, Have your tenant pay part of your mortgage. Convert to income producing multi or back to a single. Very flexible zoning. Some houses are just plain lucky---------they are built well and handsomely.
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Beautiful Conomo Point..Walk to beach and boating..this seasonal cottage is a wonderful place to gather, relax, and play with family and friends. Build wonderful memories.. town owns the land and you will have to purchase the land for $189,000. Buyer to comply with title V by 12/14.Town water April 15th-October 15th.
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Located in the desirable Federal Eagle neighborhood in the area's top rated school system! Just one mile from town center. This stately colonial sits on a 3 home cul-de-sac. Expansive family room with beamed vaulted ceilings and a fireplace, cherry kitchen, formal dining room with French doors. Fireplaced living room. Hardwood floors on the main level and second floor. Master en-suite over 2 car garage with Juliette balcony. Finished basement. Newer Anderson windows & roof. Private back yard with outdoor shower. Price reflects cosmetic work needed!
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ATTENTION CONTRACTORS & BUILDERS!! RIVERFRONT 3 FAMILY WITH NICE YARD AND OFF STREET PARKING IN NEED OF TOTAL REHAB, PROPERTY SLOPES A LITTLE AND HAS A WALK OUT BASMENT PROPERTY IS GUTTED TO THE STUDS, SOME FIRE DAMAGE IN THE BACK OF THE BUILDING. PROPERTY IS CLOSE TO SHOPPING & STORES. PROPERTY SOLD AS IS.
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PHASE III OPEN!! Choose from one of the final lots to build the "Beachwood" Model! Grand 2-Story Foyer, 9-ft Ceilings on 1st Floor, Cathedral Family Room, Study, SS Appliances, Granite Counters, Hardwood Floors, Master Suite w/ Vaulted ceiling, Soaking Tub, Sep.Shower & Private Water Closet, Kohler Fixtures. 2X6 Const. Great N.Grafton Location Mins to Rte. 9, Pike & MBTA. Surrounded by 134 acres of Conservation/Open Land w/ Picnic/Play Area & Walking Trails.Your choice of Gas or Oil-fired heat.
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