September 25, 2014

A very wise person once wrote, in a garden book I’ve since lost, that we can’t keep taking things out of the soil without putting anything back. Think about it. Plants grow, and we greedily take the fruit, but when we cut the plants down at the end of the season, we are taking everything the earth grew (the substance of the plant itself). If we then throw that away, what is left to build the soil for next year?

This is why composting matters. By saving left over plants together with dead leaves, shredded paper or kitchen scraps and letting it “cook,” we create a great material to build the soil. Not only does compost replace nutrients and provide food for worms and bugs that aerate our garden soil, it replenishes the fibrous materials that make up soil itself. Compost is called “black gold” for a reason.

Now, composting is like lots of things in the garden. You can fuss with it all day, or you can turn it once in a while and ignore it the rest of the time. Myself, I’m a pretty lazy composter. I chuck stuff into my bin and let nature take care of the details. Despite my negligence, I have a nice bit of compost to spread about the garden. I’ll talk about that more in weeks to come.

PS — You can hardly wait, I just know it!

This time of year, I cut back on watering. My garden has about a month left, and I need to slow things down. Speaking of cutting, I have corn stalks this year. I plan to use them for Halloween/harvest decorations.

I cut my two pumpkins and they are ripening on my porch. A couple of acorn squash are soon to follow. First, jack-o-lanterns, and then… pie!

Meanwhile, my green beans continue to yield nicely. I have about two pounds to donate to the food bank, if only I could get there when they’re actually open. I also brought about 10 medium tomatoes in from my yard this week.

While working at a local elementary school, I kept my eyes on the insect life as I habitually do. I noticed an odd insect and stepped closer to see what it was. Alas, it wasn’t a native bee, as I was hoping. It was a yellow jacket carrying something else. And there was another yellow jacket. And another. “Oh, look, they’re going into a knothole. There must be a nest under that classroom!”

Needless to say, I reported my discovery to the custodian. While I’m fairly tolerant of most bugs, whether they are pollinators or hunters of pests, I draw the line at yellow jackets.

See you in a week!


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