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Spring has finally arrived and with that comes lots of chores in the garden.  One of the biggest is amending your soil in your garden beds. A major component of this mix is compost aka black gold–at least that is what I call it.  It is nutrient-rich and nourishes your plants so they will grow.

Here is a video of my first compost harvest of the season:

<I was actually shocked I was able to video and dig compost at the same time #madcameraskills>

I was so excited.  This amazing stuff came from my kitchen scraps.  It is true what they say,”One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

How to turn your scraps into black gold — compost? 5 Easy Steps

1)Get a compost bin for your kitchen.  I got mine from world market, but you can find them pretty much any where.

My big red compost bin for all my kitchen scraps.

My big red compost bin for all my kitchen scraps.

2)Start using your kitchen bin to collect your veggie peels, egg shells, coffee grounds and even paper towers. No MEAT, bones or oil.

3) Either create a pile or get one of the earth machines like mine (ironicly it isn’t a machine at all, just an aerated vessel with a sliding door).

4)Throughout the year just dump your scraps in your pile or bin.

5)Come spring time — Harvest and add to your soil.

It will save you some money too…I used to spend at least $40-$80 in compost when I had to buy it from the store. Now I just transform my scraps into compost. I use the extra cash to pay for my plant habit ;).

Happy Gardening!

m

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Every garden needs rich soil to grow.  Don’t I know it, after some failed collards and turnip greens in my vegetable beds this fall.

I was fortunate to have awesome friends that offered a unique solution to my soil amendment problem – Composted Llama Do.  You read it right–poop from Llamas. You can’t buy that at your local big box home improvement store.

Pile 'O Llama Poop

First of all, let me thank and give a shout out to some friends Megan and Ivy for sharing their precious treasure with me.  They have both llamas and donkeys on their little Chatham County farm.  They tirelessly clean after their llamas and pile up the poo to compost.

Co-blog writer, Chris, and I went out to Chatham County to collect this black gold for my garden bed.  As you would imagine, we had to shovel and wheelbarrow about 12 loads of the compost in the truck.  Then we had a fabulous lunch of salad, homemade bread and homemade pimento cheese, while all our dogs frolicked in the woods.

The Truck Load

What goes in the truck must come out.  So we headed to my place, and got the wheel barrow and shovel and moved the composted llama poo to my vegetable garden.  It was a chilly day, but cold temps could not stop me from this unique experience or the compost to amend my soil.  We will see how it does come spring and summer.

Unloading the Black Gold

Load by load, I filled my garden bed

TIP: You know when manure is fully composted and ready to be added to your soil when you no longer smell it.

To my surprise, this wasn’t a stinky adventure, since this batch of llama stuff was fully composted.

Happy Veggie Garden

So there you have it…a story about driving miles for poo for the garden….but I would do just about anything for my garden, wouldn’t you?

Do you have any wild adventures you would like to share in pursuit of gardening? Comment below.

Happy Gardening.

melissa

Thanks again Megan and Ivy…your llamas rock!


So you all know how much I love composting…Talk about a win win…diverting garbage from the landfill plus a bonus of fabulous, nutrient rich compost for the garden.

Well, after what seems like forever putting my organic waste in to my little earth machine, I couldn’t understand why nothing was really happening.  That’s because I wasn’t nurturing my compost pile.  I wasn’t helping the natural breakdown process by folding, flipping, and turning.

Aerating is very essential for composting success.  The organisms that are doing all the work need air to breathe.  Just imagine if you had to go to work and they cut off the oxygen….ok…that is a little morbid, but essentially what I was doing to my compost.

Since I have a small compost area, I just turn by hand.  My brother and sister-in-law gave me this groovy little tool  called the “Yard Butler” to turn with ease.  I never in my life thought I would have a butler…and now I am a proud owner…. You want to turn the outside material under and within the compost pile.

Check this little video of my “Yard Butler” in action.

There is some debate around frequency.  I did some research and this little whitepaper-like materials helped me better understand frequency.  Essentially the more moist the compost, the more frequently you should turn it. There was suggestion of every 2 days, that is a little high maintenance for me, especially since I don’t produce that much materials day to day. So I am going to shoot for an every week when I dumb new material in and see how it goes.  I may also add a little moisture to speed of the process.  I hope I will have plenty for my spring planting.

So don’t forget to turn your compost.

Happy Gardening.

melissa


If you are anything like me, this warm weather makes me want to get “my garden on.”  So if you are looking for something to do, you can always prep your veggie or flower beds.  I wouldn’t jump the gun to plant summer veggies yet, just in case there is a frost.  The ‘ole farmer’s almanac says this year April 15 is the last risk of frost, so I would wait until then just in case.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t stuff to do. This weekend I am going to prep my beds.

1)Going to get some more topsoil–I get the bags for this sort of project.  They are easier for me to pick up without killing my back.

2) Going to use my compost, but will probably need to get some too.  I get the cheapest and my veggies still grow.  I tried that black cow stuff for $5 a bag–didn’t really notice a difference, so decided to stick with the cheapo stuff.  It is just poo anyway.

3)Get some slow release fertilizer too.

4) Get mulch for later…remember mulch is key!

Then I will put the soil and compost in the wheel barrow and add some slow release fertilizer, mix and then dump it all in my beds.  I just layer on top of what I already have left over from last year.  I also always have the mixture ready to fill in when I transplant new plants.

So if you are itching to get outside this week…I say prep work should be on the to do list!

Happy Gardening!

m


So a 60 degree day, allowed me to get in my garden.  Plus my heat went out, so that gave me a bonus excuse.

Today, I took my friend Chris’ s advice to use January as a time to clean up the garden.  To be honest, it has been so cold lately, I haven’t even wanted to get in my garden.  But today…I remembered why I heart my garden.  It has these indescribable rejuvenating powers…i just can’t explain it. Maybe it is the endorphines from some physical activity, maybe it is nastalgia of the spring and summer growing seasons…or maybe it is just the magic of the garden.  Whatever it is, I am hooked.

Here is some of the stuff I got out of my garden today…can you believe those damn dandilions still pop up in the winter.  I dug them up though.  I had a lot of leaves in my beds from the fall.  I didn’t get rid of them all…they serve as great mulch and organic matter in my garden. Cut some dead salvia back and my canna stalks, great for composting.

WInter Clean Up

And I realized that I had this handy little tool that I had to share.  It doesn’t seem like much and when my grandma gave it to me I sort of snickered inside.  But I figured out it’s unparalled use.  It is the perfect tool for getting some leaves out of your beds without damaging plants.  This little rake is the bomb.  It is light weight, and it stores fabulously–retractable.

Here is my mini rake.  Certainly not for the big fall raking chore.  But for this mid-winter little clean up job.  It is the ticket.  Oh and that is Jasper posing with the mini rake.  He is my labrodoodle we adopted from a friend’s mom.  He is my little garden helper.  Ok, he really isn’t that much help, but he does keep me company while I clean my garden beds.

Jasper and my mini rake

So, check another one off.  A mid-winter clean up session is complete.

Now, I got to get to ordering my seeds.

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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