It is a very chilly 30F Saturday morning in February and my wife and I ventured out to the compost pile to check on things. The peak of mount compost keeps rising ever higher and it is beginning to look like we will exceed our target of five cubic yards of high grade compost for spring. I'm still collecting eight gallons of UCGs a day but mostly hoarding them as a wall of white frozen boulders by the pile for the few afternoons with a bit of sun and milder temperatures we can thaw them out and mix them onto the pile with the shredded leaves and kitchen scraps.
There is not much you can see from the outside of a compost pile in winter, unless its snows in which case you can measure how long it takes for the snow to melt off the pile for a very rough gauge of its inside temperature. For a more precise measurement a two foot long compost thermometer is required to take the temperature at the center of the pile. The temperature range for an active compost pile should be between 100-160F (38-71C) with the ideal temperature near the hotter end for rapid break down, weed seed destruction, & plant disease killing. Winter can be the hardest time to achieve that ideal temp since your battling outdoor freezing temps but this is the where UCGs comes to the rescue. All that UCG nitrogen being slowly unlocked by the microbes will keep the compost hot and cooking though the winter so it finishes just when its needed for the garden in early spring.
A low temperature reading in an unfinished pile can indicate that your pile lacks sufficient mass to retain heat (4ftx4ft or bigger), are low on nitrogen fuel (UCGs), low moisture (hot piles evaporate moisture), or poor airflow (material not shredded or properly mixed). Some of these conditions require digging into the pile to check on, but in cold temps be sure to patch the hole you make or too much cold air will reach the center of the pile. An extremely high reading above 160F (71C) is an warning sign that the pile is cooking itself to death and in danger (albeit this is a rare occurrence) of catching fire. At that point it is a wise move to split the pile and water it down. So far the temperature of our pile is holding at toasty 140F and we are less then a month away from splitting the pile anyway to reveal the finished product. We will then let the unfinished outer layers start cooking at the center of a new pile that we add to through spring and summer to have ready for the late season planting.
Last edited by Supa; 02-17-2013 at 06:25 AM.
I don't know how I missed this thread. We've got 3 large compost bins, all in varying stages of breaking down.
I'm going back & reread all of this because our compost consists only of produce matter and very little brown, which is not good - I know....
And hey - you were right by us here in WA, Supa ~
I love a good compost thread :) We have a large wooden compost bin, a composting toilet and various heaps of more woody matter. I need to make a wire mesh bin for leaves.
Here is the turmuric. I had it crammed under some T-8's so the growth might not be typical. I believe they got leggy due to other plants as this one started being taller and the distance to the lamps. I think a metal halide or high pressure sodium would be a better choice due to the plant's height, but I don't have a way to deal with their heat right now. The browning of leaf edges was due to lack of proper watering at one stage. My whole grow area has suffered of late. I am revamping it currently and moved this to a window now that the sun's angle is changing.
I am trying to decide if I should uproot them for a look/see (or harvest), or wait until spring and place this container outside and possibley up-pot it. They are currently around 10 months old. I have another small pot started from a couple months ago but they have not emerged yet. I certainly want to start some ginger soon for summer outdoors growing too. When I harvest the turmuric, I will show you the results. I might also just put these in a darkroom under an eight bank of T-5's. It's still up in the air.
Nice pile you have there. About the size of mine.
Here is the turmuric plant, Supa.
(I forgot to include the photo in my prior post, sorry. If mods want to combine this with my post with the text that is being moderated, that would be sweet-danke!)
Last edited by streetsurfer; 02-17-2013 at 03:19 AM.
The most common problem with produce only is the lingering smell that wet green material gives off as it decomposes anaerobically. However I think juicing pulp tends to do better then typical kitchen waste since it has a higher ratio of carbon to nitrogen, a well chewed airy texture, and less moisture after juice extraction. My wife and I tend to go to Seattle WA every other year to see my sister and her brood and take scenic trips from there to couch surf and b&b our way around the area. It always a grand experience and maybe we could meet up next time :)
Originally Posted by DebB
If you just showed me the pic and hadn't told me it was turmeric, I would have sworn that was a canna! Maybe I'll throw in a some turmeric pieces in my canna stand next time. Is that a public facing window? The vertical blinds really cut down the light coming through. I know it can be challenging to have privacy from neighbors in dense areas but still let in the sunlight, and its even more problematic at night. I used spray on window fog for our over winter sun room at our last house to keep from having to raise and lower the blinds everyday.
Originally Posted by streetsurfer
Last edited by Supa; 02-20-2013 at 11:40 AM.
I made some tweaks to the morning juicing routine that have helped streamline my workflow. We have lots of deep bowls in the cupboard that never got a lot use due to that deep shape. I now use them for holding types of produce after its prepped and chopped. They keep the workspace on the cutting board clear and I can pour small items like chopped carrots and berries strait into the juicer from the bowls. But for the leafy or springy stuff I now have a large scoop I got for two bucks to help move items from the cutting board and guide them into the chute without stuff dropping behind the juicer and onto the floor.
The boon lawn drying rack has really been working well too. I tend to the leave the ceiling fan on in the kitchen during the day after the cleanup to evaporate the water from the juicer parts in the drying rack and the water that I inevitably get on the counters and floor. By lunch the kitchen and juicer parts are dry, ready for reassembly.
I love seeing pictures of other peoples' kitchens and food prep. What a great use for the bowls supa - love that you're juicing all that wonderful produce!
We use a bucket also for our produce. We keep it under the sink and it fills sometimes 2-3 times a day. Then we transfer it out to more buckets (with lids) on our back deck and when they're full, my husband totes them down a flight to the compost pile. (During the summer, we take the compost directly down to the pile).
We get all our buckets with lids free from the bakery in our local grocery store.
Today the morning rain stopped and the sun came out making for a pleasant 65 degree afternoon. This gave us a bit of time to go out and rake up some winter yard debris. The neighbors gumball tree outdid itself this spring with about two cubic yards of gumballs falling on our yard alone and it is still not done. Normally I shred these but since they were wet I decided to make use of their airy brown matter qualities and use them as is in the seed of our new compost pile. We cut one side of the limbs off our recent xmas tree and used the tree's now flat side down with the removed limbs piled on top as an air channel footing for base of a new compost pile. Then we weaved the gumballs, leaves, spring debris, and kitchen waste on top of the xmas tree mixed in with 120 gallons of used coffee grounds we have been hording the past two weeks. This is now a very hardy and soon to be very hot seed for the new pile which we will mix the shredded nut and branch debris and the unfinished outer layers of the old pile on top of on the next yard work day.
Last edited by Supa; 03-09-2013 at 09:02 PM.
Not to put a downer on eating a healthy vegetable (I'm a big fan of kale, myself), but expense needn't be an issue, for the simple reason that one should eat brassicas only in moderation, as they are goitrogenic.
There are plenty of options, such as micro greens, to vary one's intake of green leafy vegetables without excessive reliance upon the brassicas.
For what its worth, we tend to only consume brassicas in juice on weekday mornings and take a break from them on weekends. When I first read about the goitrogenic veggies I was a tad worried our necks would swell up from all the raw kale and collard juice. Some information I found digging around about it put me at ease, though I still keep checking my neck in the mornings. ;)
'Kale is sometimes referred to as a "goitrogenic" food. Yet, contrary to popular belief, according to the latest studies, foods themselves—kale included — are not "goitrogenic" in the sense of causing goiter whenever they are consumed, or even when they are consumed in excess. In fact, most foods that are commonly called "goitrogenic" — such as the cruciferous vegetables (including kale, broccoli, and cauliflower) and soyfoods — do not interfere with thyroid function in healthy persons even when they are consumed on a daily basis. <......> What causes problems for certain individuals is not the food itself but the mismatched nature of certain substances within the food to their unique health circumstances. For more, see an An Up-to-Date Look at Goitrogenic Substances in Food.'
The first batch of garden seedlings are underway.
kale, collards, parsley, cabbage, tomatoes, basil, dill, marjoram, lettuce, spinach, arugula, and one whole tray of just roman camomile that I am going to make camomile lawn area with this year.
Last edited by Supa; 03-11-2013 at 10:30 PM.
Thankyou, Supa, I'm always open to learning new information.
Originally Posted by Supa
I will read up on the contents of that link. There may well be some truth in it, and if there is, I will certainly take it on board, rather than deny it. With that said, however, it doesn't exactly fill me with confidence when I see them saying:
"Over the past 50 years, however, researchers have determined that there are no
such "negative" substances in food, but only health-supportive nutrients that
are not a good match for certain individuals because of their unique health
history and health status."
That's one hell of a sweeping statement.
I shall investigate further, time permitting.
Thankyou for drawing my attention to this, though, I appreciate it, and, as I said, I am always open to learning new information.
And good luck with your seedlings!
It is now official, spring is here! The magnolia buds seem to have survived the last frost intact and are beginning to open fully. First order of business was to secure some wood mulch while it is still leaf free. Our electric utility company has a service where you can get the mulch they create when trimming trees to keep them out of the electric lines for free. The only issues are you have to be prepared to take an entire load (9-12 cubic yards), the wood is whatever they happen to be working on at the time, and the truck that comes to drop it off is huge and heavy so you don't really want it on rolling in very far on your driveway. You have to sign a waiver that if they do break a slab or damage anything during the drop off, they are not responsible. One wood you should be wary of and ask that it not be is black walnut, which contains juglone that is toxic to many plants and other trees. It is great for wood working, but bad as mulch around plants you care about. We got lucky this year with nine yards of good quality fresh green oak with a few big logs as a bonus.
Our beds only really need around five yards of mulch to cover them each year which leaves a large remainder of chips to put use for other purposes. Two great ways to use the excess are as a carbon composting input when there are no more leaves from last fall; or mixing it with larger chunks of aged wood in hugelkultur swales to capture rainwater. For those not familiar with hugelkultur, it is a permaculture technique of burying wood to create fertile low maintenance gardens that over many years do not require tilling, fertilizing, or watering.
We raked back the winter blanket of compost on top of the garden beds to reveal rich soil teaming with life and we even found a mole that we then relocated from the garden to the compost pile. Moles are often wrongly maligned for eating roots of plants but that is really not the case. They are after the soil critters, some of which are good like worms, but also the bad guys like grubs. The damage they cause to grass and gardens by uplifting the soil and exposing the roots to air is incidental to their way of life. If you can catch them without harming them, then relocating them to areas they can feed without damaging plants you care about and tamping down the surface burrows they create and watering those spots is all you really need to do.
We started putting out our first sets of seedlings of kale, collards, spinach, and lettuce. This weekend we will create some new trays to start out a second batch of seedlings to occupy the now vacant areas in the indoor garden.
Last edited by Supa; 04-05-2013 at 03:39 PM.
Supa, you might be interested in studying indole-3-carbinol (I3C, or C9H9NO).
If you like your brassicas, you will surely like some mizuna mustard greens. I don't see it in your seedlings. Red Streaks is one variety. Mildly hot, very decorative in dishes, lovely in pestos, juices, salads.
Last edited by streetsurfer; 04-08-2013 at 01:27 AM.
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