Sunday, May 18, 2008

Compost and Another Setback

For years my husband cut the grass and I combined the grass with the leaves collected in the fall and made compost. This ended when we got a lawn service to mow our lawn and rake our leaves. They all had mulching mowers, so the grass stayed where it was. I figured that wasn’t a problem since we could mostly quit fertilizing the lawn. Can you tell I’m not a lawn person? I did miss the compost for the garden.

This year it has all changed. They mowed on Friday, and yesterday I noticed there were green lawn clippings in the woods behind the house. So this morning I went into the woods and resurrected one of my compost bins. I used to have 5 bins - 4 of which where green vinyl covered wire 2”x 4” mesh. The other was for my screened finished compost that was made of ½” hardware cloth. One of the green bins was huge and was just a holding bin for all my leaves that were raked in the fall. It was probably 8’ in diameter. The state of the bins was sad. Trees had fallen on some of them and totally collapsed them, but one looked relatively decent. It was a little smooshed, but easily pushed back into shape. A few of the mesh welds had come undone, but no matter. It will work. I’ll dig out a more of the bins later.

The typical book says to layer 4” of green/nitrogen matter (grass) to 4” of brown/carbon matter (leaves). I always figured they would compost better and be less smelly if the brown and green are mixed together (a compost pile gets smelly from the ammonia given off, and happens more when there is too much green matter together). So I don’t religiously layer. After I add about 8” of waste, I water. Right now the pile is about two feet high. When I get more grass, I’ll finish the pile at about 3’ high then start another.

My poor Asian greens have another pest to deal with. I found the cabbage fly under the row cover. Next year I really have to be better about tacking down the row covers. The good thing is that the fly also likes yellow. Several of the flies committed suicide in the flee beetle traps. I found more on the leaves however. They probably already laid their eggs. It makes me want to cry. Get a handle on one pest, and the next one moves in. Cabbage flies are a much more serious pest than the flee beetles. They lay eggs next to the stems and the larva tunnels into the roots of the plant. My daikon radishes under the row cover are doomed. They still need another month before they are ready.

But just in case it will help, I laid out more yellow traps. I also put some maggot collars around the smallest plants. I made them out of the same left over construction paper with which I made the flee beetle traps - except this time I picked a light blue grey. I figure I don’t want it to be anywhere close to the yellow of the traps. I’m starting to remember why I quit growing the brassica family in my garden. Maybe next year I’ll plant garlic and onions.

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