Thursday Challenge: Broken Egg Shells

Today I was able to turn my compost for the first time since fall. During the winter the ground is frozen (and so is my compost) even when there is no blanket of snow covering the compost.

What can you identify in my compost? Why is that item good for the soil?

Thursday Challenge is a place for photographic fun and learning. This week’s theme is BROKEN: (Smashed, Worn Out, In Need of Repair, Ripped, Torn,…)

On Local Produce

Can you buy produce from local farmers easily? What do farmers grow in your area?

Every Friday in the summer (June to November) we have a farmers’ market in Highland Park. It is fun to go and see fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers. This Friday I bought some mixed lettuce greens and two cucumbers. I ate one of the cucumbers as soon as I got home.

farmers market in Highland Park, New Jersey
cucumbersbuying lettuce at farmers market
flowers for sale at farmers\' market

Regarding the recent tomatoes and salmonella fiasco, Yardsnacker theorizes that workers not washing hands is too blame. His theory makes a lot of sense to me. I trust the local farmers much more than what is in our supermarkets. However, I do not think that everyone growing their own tomatoes is the solution. Many people live in apartments. Growing any vegetables takes time, energy and knowledge. Tomatoes require lots of sun. That said, if you do want to try vegetable gardening, tomatoes are among the easiest to grow. I always put plenty of compost in my soil before planting my tomatoes. Composting is free, if you know how to make compost out of your vegetable scraps and garden waste.

Lazy Composting

peasIt’s pea-planting time in New Jersey. I ordered my peas and inoculant; they are sitting and awaiting my having the time and energy to plant them. I already dug a trench where I want them planted.

Digging the “trench” (it’s only about 3 inches wide) was easy because the “dirt” in that spot is a mound of compost. When I started composting, I used to put all my compost scraps in one corner of my yard. But come planting time, I then need to transfer a heap of the stuff to my garden spot. Also, I found the chicken wire I originally used more of a nuisance in terms of turning the compost than a help. Instead, I now pile the scraps one season earlier in the spot where I will later plant. The compost may not be fully de-composed, but that’s OK.

What do I put in my compost? Vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grinds, egg shells. Animal products are a no-no, as they attract rodents and other unwanted creatures. Every time I put down a pile of these kitchen scraps, I cover it with some soil. That will help keep away any flies. Also, the scraps needs soil to decompose. I also add layers of garden “waste” such as dried weeds with no flowers, dried grass, thin sticks. Every now and then I turn the pile (except in winter; impossible to do when the ground is frozen!).

Key elements in compost are: air (turn it sometimes), moisture (add a bit of water if it hasn’t rained much), soil and/or manure, carbon and nitrogen (which you get from the kitchen and garden wastes).

You can read more about composting online (try, for example) or from a book (I own The Rodale Book of Composting). But my suggestion is: try it! Ask questions as you go along. You don’t need to be a chemist to make compost.