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December 15, 2009 – I’ve made lots of compost piles over the years, but none in the last ten. I decided a few weeks ago I was overdue. Blessed with an abundance of wooden dowels – the remnants of previous projects – I set to work (though I did have to buy chicken wire). There’s an area alongside our patio that must measure 5’x3’. It was perfect because there was mulch on top of the black plastic I’d used to keep away the weeds during my fruitless attempt to grow a mountain laurel. I understand that compost will decompose in sun or shade; this spot gets a bit of both.
I’d refrained from composting out of laziness, I guess. I never wind up with as much as I think I should, and amending the soil in my vegetable garden with green manure and peat moss seemed easier. I still think so, actually. However, letting all those fall leaves go to waste seemed a shame. These days, we need to recycle whenever the opportunity arises.
So – the 4’ dowels sank into the soft soil easily enough, and attaching the chicken wire with twist ties was a snap. I divided the resulting bin in two, and filled both sides full of leaves. They’ve already taken quite a beating from the rain, and have lost considerable altitude. In the spring I’ll add enough garden soil to impregnate the compost with all the little beasties that help make it fertile. They’ll grow along with the pile. The only things I won’t add are egg shells (attract rats) and fats and oils. We’re vegetarians, so obviously meat is nowhere to be found. Then it’s a matter of wait and see. In the meantime, I’m hoping that the leaves packed into black garbage bags will have been cooked to a crumbly consistency by next fall, ready to add tilth and fertility to the soil. That’s the plan, anyway!
Another gardening project that’s at only the “thinking about” stage is growing apple trees. The best place to put them, from the standpoint of aesthetics, is the backyard. But the backyard is very small, has a wooded area, and gets only partial sun. Air circulation would probably not be the best, and parts of it are low-lying and collect water. All big no-no’s!
The front yard would be perfect in all those respects, but would begin to look a bit over planted with the addition of two more trees. They would be on a hill, which would mean adding lots of amendments to my monstrously infertile clay soil in order to hold water (during the summer it becomes terribly dry). And the front yard isn’t fenced, so there’s no barrier between would-be apple pickers and the apples. I guess maybe I need to be in possession of some apples worth picking before I worry about that! Looks like the front yard wins.

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