Sunday, February 11, 2018

What a load of ...compost!

Part of the responsibility of having a bumper crop is replenishing the soil.  I fertilize veggies when I plant them, and also try to remember to do supplemental fertilization around mid-summer.  That's not enough to keep from gradually depleting the organic material and nutrients in the soil, though.  That's where compost comes in!  And now is a great time for composting.

In the picture above, you can see my main raised beds, freshly mulched with 2 - 3 inches of compost.  I still need to rake it down and make it more tidy... or let the rain do it for me.  :-)  The main reason I made time to compost this weekend is that we should get at least one more heavy rain storm this spring.  I wanted to have the compost down in time for that.  Compost can absorb a lot of water, so I'd rather have the rain water it.  Also, the rain will bring nutrients from the compost down into the garden soil.  That lets me avoid doing a lot of mixing of the top soil layers with the compost yet still get the benefit of composting.

If you live in Santa Clara county, like we do, you can visit the SMART Center once a week and pick up a load of compost for free.  We use a bunch of huge rubbermaid bins and a couple of clean plastic garbage cans to keep from making a big mess.  When we were there today, we saw folks re-using potting soil bags to fill up, which is a great idea too.   Here's a list of where to get compost in Santa Clara county.

What's that green stuff in the middle of one of the beds?  That's a lot of volunteer cilantro, from where I let my spring cilantro go to seed last year.  I composted around it, in a compromise move.  If I had composted in January, as I had meant to, I could have composted over the whole bed and the cilantro would have come up anyway.  Oh well!  Sharp-eyed folks will see an obvious weed or several in that patch, which I need to deal with too.

By the way, do be sure to weed before you mulch with compost-- a heavy mulching won't kill most weeds, sadly, so you'll just be fertilizing them and encouraging them to grow strong roots.  Right now the garden soil is dry, so pulling weeds is easy, and a lot of the roots come right up with them.  So go forth and weed before the next set of rains!


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