A compost buffet and a few uninvited guests – Cowichan Valley Citizen

There are as many composting methods as there are reviews on the internet, but most are more politely explained. The best I’ve seen was in a driveway garden on municipal land in Victoria: an unused space that a neighbor has turned into a veritable Eden. She built a three-bin system of wooden slats lined with half-inch wire mesh, even the lid, so rodents couldn’t get in. The prudent gardener must defend his future soil against unwanted guests.

After fencing off an acre for gardening, the first thing David built was a trio of industrial-size compost bins, which he then filled with the leaves collected from all our neighbors, a pile from the park and bags of horse and chicken manure provided by willing acquaintances. . In short, he created a buffet for every rodent in the nearby woods, and there are plenty of them. This poses a problem that has not been solved by our dog Monkey, who we are assured was bred to hunt rats, badgers and other miscreants but seems to be mostly interested in canned tuna. He barked at an elk once, but after he chased it across the street and onto our porch, he lost his voice. Our current cat is an extremely avid hunter, but before he was rescued he had been declawed, which certainly limits his effectiveness.

I delegated this problem to David, who set traps and caught a rat for three consecutive days until the local wildlife obviously lost their taste for cheddar, but that’s not because we didn’t. can’t see that there aren’t any. Someone just has to apply more; making the pile difficult for scum and rogues to access is a priority, and just because the traps haven’t caught anything for a month doesn’t mean they’re gone. Then there are the raccoons, ravenous, determined and often smarter than many registered voters. If you intend to compost your kitchen waste, you will need to take care of it.

Long ago, when the Earth was green and David had yet to be deemed trainable, he was awakened from his slumber by a veritable cacophony, a combination of howls, hoots and bellows with a hint of discordant grunts reminiscent of the opposition benches during question period. . Since the Legislative Assembly was not in session, he decided to go outside to find out the source of the noise, but the second he stepped onto his patio, there was complete silence. Not a cricket could be heard.

Looking down the street, he saw nothing. He didn’t hear anything. Then he looked up at the beautiful plum trees above him to see a dozen (at least) pairs of raccoon eyes shining in the porch light and staring directly at him! David made the wise decision to step aside, after disrupting an uninvited party. The infernal chorus resumed relentlessly, and in the morning there was nothing left of the plums that one can evoke with taste. This serves to demonstrate that raccoons often work together and it takes preparation to fend off their attacks. Once the rains pass, David plans to spray his pile with cayenne pepper solution.

Gardeners regard compost as gold, worth the effort it takes and the pain it takes to protect it. Some experts recommend drum-shaped containers that can be turned over frequently to compost quickly. I tried this; bought a steel drill and an empty steel barrel, cut out a door and made a stand for it. It was a lot more work than the book implied! I filled it halfway with vegetation and turned it faithfully every day for a month and ended up with about two liters of compost, after all that work. In the meantime, I had learned that when composting occurs at such an accelerated rate, much of the nitrogen that would have been captured by the organisms in the pile would off-gas in the form of ammonia, so that you didn’t get your money’s worth. Back, I went to the drawing board.

These days, I don’t even turn my pile at all and just let nature do the work. I have three bins: I add vegetable scraps and other layered amendments as they pile up; clay, soft rock phosphate and garden soil. When it’s full I let it sit for a year and start filling a second bin and when it’s full I start the third bin, in which case the first one will have aged about a year so I can start the utilize. When I use some for potting soil, I sieve it, but don’t bother for the garden because it decomposes anyway.

I put in cooked scraps, weeds even when they have gone to seed, vegetation, grass clippings, leaves and eggshells. The pile gets so hot that the seeds are cooked anyway, so I don’t care. My boxes are getting old and the wood is starting to rot, so hopefully David’s new install will be a success. It all depends on whether our uninvited guests like spicy food.

Column gardening

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