Thursday, May 2, 2013


It's going to be warm today. Not as warm as originally predicted, there was a heat advisory from the National Weather Service for today but they've revised the forecast for slightly lower highs, we aren't supposed to pass 90ºF after all. The last couple of weeks have been unusually warm, unlike last year when we had months of unending cooler than usual weather. Last year spring lasted until August with persistent coastal fog, cold nights, and sunny but cool days. This year summer seems to have started in April. Go figure. For the most part the vegetable garden has responded by leaping into amazing growth. I'm sure that as soon as I plant out my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant that spring will return with a vengeance.

Check out the greens again, I am utterly amazed at how fast they are growing this year. I'm really glad that I covered them all a couple of weeks ago when we had the first warm days that made the lettuce get wilty. I've kept the cloth over them all and they do seem to appreciate it.

I harvested another pound of spinach on Monday and it looks like I'll be harvesting more soon. And the napa cabbage - grow baby grow!

The Flamingo chard is leaping skywards.

Time for you to hit the compost bin.

Speaking of compost - that's another toasty item at the moment. This lot was cold just the other day, it had cooked itself dry after a few weeks in the bin. I turned it from one bin into another watering well as  I went along. Two days later it's once again toasty at the center.

This bin holds about a cubic yard of material. I topped it with cardboard to help keep the contents moist and warm. The dark area under my compost riddle is where the cardboard has become soaked from the steam of the hot compost. I put all of my compost bins on top of hardware cloth these days to keep the gophers and moles from burrowing into them.

Not all my compost gets hot. The bin on the left is where I toss the materials from the vegetable garden and the chunky bits that I sift out of the finished compost. It gets a bit warm at times when I pile a lot of stuff into it, but for the most part it stays cool and the sow bugs and worms do most of the work. The bin on the right is the latest hot pile.

I covered it with a couple of handy plastic potting soil bags. It's just shy of 160ºF at the center.

Pull the thermometer out about 6 inches and the temperature drops to about 140ºF.

And here's a bunch of chipped oak trimmings ready to go into the next bin. I won't glorify the POC chipper/shredder that I have by showing a photo of it. It gets the job done but I'm rather looking forward to the day when it finally finishes self-destructing so that I can replace it with something better. These four cans will fill one of my compost bins with a bit of room to spare.

When I install a new set of sharp blades in the thing it actually does a decent job of chopping things up, in its painfully slow manner. I hope the POC doesn't break down too soon, I just invested in 5 sets of new blades when I couldn't find the 4 sets that I bought a few months ago, which of course I just found yesterday.

And finally, the cold bin where I toss all the fruit and vegetable scraps, paper towels, coffee filters full of grounds, tea leaves, etc. from the kitchen and soft stuff from the vegetable garden when the other cold bin gets a bit too full. This bin sits on top of hardware cloth, is wrapped in hardware cloth, and is topped with hardware cloth, all of which helps to keep it from being a feasting bin for the rodents. The sow bugs are the primary workers in this bin, it's not really all that worm friendly. There must be a million sow bugs in there, I can hear them scurrying around every time I disturb them by adding new food.

I'm glad it's going to be too toasty to do more heavy work in the garden today, I'm tired of fussing with that POC, and I'm just plain tired. But the oak trees need more trimming, they are growing like crazy after having been munched for 2 years by oak moths and the ones near the house must be trimmed up to at least 6 feet above the ground to reduce the fire danger (it's going to be a bad year for fires this year). I think it might be time to get the check book out and hire someone to finish the job for me! I've got enough compost going to last a while.


  1. Thanks for posting on how you do your composting. It seems that everyone has their own way and it is good to see what each system looks like.

  2. I wonder if my bin that I turned over heated up or not. I don't usually have hot piles here. The worms do most of the work.

  3. I love all of your greens! I spent two hours at my community garden allotment today turning over the soil and weeds and can't wait to plant in a few weeks!


  4. The fire danger is a real problem. I'm already giving the hills squinty eyes this year. I hope you stay safe!

  5. I don't have a great composting system it has to be said whereas yours looks great. As do your greens - just fabulous.

  6. Wow with all those compost your plants are so green healthy.

  7. Where do you get those bins? Can you recommend a simple chipper/shredder that can be used for brush as well as leaves ? Thanks.

    1. The bins come from the hardware store (Orchard Supply), they are very simple flat sheets that roll into a tube and are held to together with screws and wing nuts.

      So far as chipper shredders go, invest as much as you possibly can if you are going to buy one. I had an electric one that just wasn't up to the job, I was constantly replacing cutting blades and the main blade at least once. The main blade broke again recently and I can't get replacement parts anymore so the machine is officially junk now. I replaced it with a significantly larger gas powered machine that I haven't actually used yet. So I'm sorry, but I don't have a recommendation at the moment.


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