Ideas for your difficult yard

A Word About Compost

There's a school of thought which believes in quick compost. balanced carbon/nitrogen ratio -lots of work turning the stuff and instant compost. see the rodale booklet about compost in 14 days.
There's another school of thought to which I belong which feels that the loss of bulk from the quick method is a dreadfull waste. When the compost is given more time (a year) there's more product, less work,(no turning) any shortcomings in not enough nitrogen are easily remedied with a light aplication of chicken stuff. Chicken stuff smells terrible when first applied. Not a problem, water it in and tomorrow, no smell!
Bulk organic material is essential for preventing erosion, stopping that crust from forming after a rain, breaking up that clay so that the soil can be worked and for holding moisture and nutrients in sandy soil. Bulk organic material is also essential for no till. Every year I try a patch of no till, But I can not seem to make it work for me in my non-irrigated garden. When the soil dries out, it has to be broken apart again for my vegetables & flowers to thrive. My perenial beds get a top-dressing of an inch or 2 of manure followed by a couple inches of wood chips a couple times a year.

For those people looking for step by step directions on making compost:
  1. Find an area to put it, convenient to the kitchen and the garden.
  2. Decide whether to contain or open pile. both have their advocates. If you are offended by the site of natural processes, definately contain.
    Here's a source of composting containers for those looking to purchase rather than build.
      I think that it's less work to open pile.
  3. Vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, lawn clippings, yard leaves all make fine additions. Sometimes the kitchen compost bucket sits around too long and starts working, gets insects and is generally offensive. I bury that kind of addition in the middle of the pile. If necessary, I'll add enough garden soil on top of it to stop the smell. Fireplace ashes is good for that also, with the additional benefit of helping to lower the soil acidity when the compost is added to the garden. Sawdust is also excellent at absorbing odors and adds to the over-all bulk of the finished product. There exist  long involved discussions about turning, shredding, and other methods for expending extra efforts on the production of  compost. You can do all that if you want, I have better uses for my time than trying to hurry a natural process.
I begin using the compost from the bottom of the pile. It's pretty obvious what is composted enough to add to the top of the soil and what isn't. Don't be afraid to experiment. Compost that isn't finished is not going to hurt the garden.
For additional information, please continue to Working The Soil

What about pests in our compost?


I'm not in favor of catch and release.
I feel that catch and release causes problems for other people.
Let's say that you caught a raccoon and gave it a nice ride out to the country.
I live in the country and I have baby chickens and a garden of my own that the raccoon destroys.
So I catch the raccoon and take it to town where there's plenty of food for it.
Town people throw away tons of food, that is why there are so many raccoons and possums that live in town.

The solution? Catch and eat. Look around, there's lots of people that will eat your catch if you don't find raccoon appealing.

Raccoons are very easy to catch. I get traps at the hardware store. Bait with catfood. Dry is fine. They like canned catfood too.

Comments? Post on the garden forum. Thanks.

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