Saturday, April 12, 2014

Onions and Compost

Yesterday morning I was off to plant my allium bed. The garlic as you can see was planted last year and is up and off to a good start. The onion section of the bed was side dressed and aerated for the onion transplants.

My onion transplants were very nice this year. Some years I find the side leaves dying. but this year they were very strong and healthy.

I wanted to plant all my onions but I could only do the Copras. The Ailsa Craig and Redwing will have to wait for a day or two while the back end of the bed thaws out. Sadly it is still frozen halfway down the bed. The temperature difference is remarkable even in the top few inches of soil.

Then it was on to one of my most reviled chores in the garden. Once things have melted out I have to turn over the compost from the winter. I say compost, but what I really mean is the thawed mass of winter scraps from the kitchen.

We do put leaves on top as we put the scraps in. Well at least if the leaves are unfrozen enough to do so. But the reality is that it isn't really a compost pile over the winter. It is just frozen scraps. And when it thaws in the spring it is smelly and gross. And typically it goes anaerobic from too much moisture. So turning it over is pretty disgusting.

Not only that but the cats had started sitting on top of it watching the ground underneath. And yesterday the dog was barking at it. That could mean only one thing. There was a mouse in the compost pile. Now I put hardware cloth underneath the pile and the holes are too small for most mice on the side. But the mice are pretty good at getting in. The side has long narrow holes along to let air in. Well they had chewed through the plastic between two of the holes and it made it big enough for the mice to easily get in and out. Now I know mice are impossible to really keep out of any compost system. But I try. And with my kitty early warning system, I can clean it out and disrupt them enough to keep the place fairly free of mice. The other piles aren't nearly as attractive to them, as we only put kitchen scraps into the protected black one. I've never had a cat stalking any of the other piles.

So I turned the pile over into my main garden compost. I put a little of the goo from the black composter and lots of nice dry garden refuse and leaves to separate them. That ought to fix my smell. But what an icky job.

At least the overly moist compost at the bottom of the composter was filled with worms. Well really the whole container was filled with worms. Personally I think the worms attract the mice more than the kitchen scraps. I'm happy for all those worms though. I get a lot of worm castings in my compost every year.


  1. Your onion transplants look great...and so do those worms!! I enjoy watching your garden come together every do a very nice job!

  2. Those onion transplants look incredible! Mine are very small and unhappy looking. I'll plant them anyway and see what comes. I'm with you on turning the compost pile. I completely ignored the job last year. It's nagging me to get the job done every time I look at it. Hmph...

  3. Great looking onions! I don't think I could do what you are doing with the yucky compost! Lol Nancy

  4. A horrible job, yes, but necessary! Your garlic looks none the worse for the very severe and long Winter. Maybe the severe weather will have killed off more of the bugs than usual too?

  5. Your onion plants look so much nicer than the ones I bought! The garlic is looking good too, nice and green after a winter sleep. I need to turn our compost pile too. I have put it off too long!