Is this a compost pile?

>> Sunday, October 28, 2007

Went out this morning, 9 AM, 41F, and emptied all of the containers I had sitting on my back deck. Every time I walk out there lately it seems they are taunting me with their half-hearted growth of lettuce, chives, carrots, radishes, chamomile and parsley. As if saying “I’m not getting any better, so you may as well toss me out before we freeze to death!” They all sprouted okay. It’s just that I haven’t done justice by them by putting together a workable ‘thriving’ schedule, just a ‘surviving’ schedule of the occasional watering and feeding. It is definitely an aspect of gardening I want to work on. Just like I want to work on having a compost pile.

I dumped seven containers of soil and plants onto the ‘compost pile’, if I may be allowed to call it a compost pile. That term may not be accepted by people who have ‘real’ compost piles. The soil I dumped on it was potting soil and full of roots so I think it is a worthwhile addition.

I started the ‘pile’ three summers ago with a little soil and a lot of good intentions of starting a compost pile. It’s been sitting on a 9’x12’ concrete slab that looks like it might have been planned for a shed.

Since then the pile has languished through the heat of summer and the freeze of winter slowly collecting grass clippings of a yard that has been sprayed with weed killer and whatever feed that my lawn company has been using. I also throw the occasional small trash can of shredded paper. When I think about it I’ll dowse the pile with water and if memory serves, I even threw a 5 lb bag of Blood Meal on it once, thinking I would actually start actively working the pile for its intended purpose. But, that didn’t work. The part about me working the pile, that is.

I haven’t been brave enough yet to throw kitchen scraps on it. For one thing we don’t seem to generate much in the way of useful kitchen scarps. It just doesn’t seem that what little we do produce would add much to it.

It isn’t a trash pile, I mean, I don’t throw anything on it that shouldn’t be thrown onto a full fledged compost pile. I guess this is what you would call a ‘passive’ compost pile. More passive than I would like.

As for the ‘tainted’ grass, my thinking is that the bad stuff in it will leech out and it would not harm my garden plots, if I wait long enough. How long is long enough? I’ve heard that with rains and regular watering the grass should be usable in about two months. I have also heard that it is okay to throw this tainted grass onto a compost pile but it is not okay to put the clippings directly on the beds.

I’ve toyed with building a couple of bins so that the pile can be easily tossed from one to the other as a means of turning the pile. The pile is by no means big enough to use in every plot I am working so it’s not like I would benefit a lot by having a compost pile. I guess that what little bit I get out of it would help a little.

One of these days I’m going to have to turn it all over to see if the stuff at the bottom has turned into anything useful. In the meantime it is going to sit there looking, to the casual observer, like I know what I’m doing.


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