Cead Mile Failte !

A 'hundred thousand welcomes' to friends of all things Irish, organic, and environmentally friendly. I hope you enjoy my anecdotes and little vignettes. I appreciate comments. If you like it, why not become a follower? Click on Archive and then scroll down to the very bottom for the beginning of our story. Or see: http://Ioncehadafarminireland.blogspot.com/

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Yes, we can!

Our local grocery store how has a Green wise magazine and an online one called Go Green. 4 years I first started blogging under the title GOING GREEN. (One article:Superbowl Goes Green and The Full Flush:Toilets are Going Green ) I was the only one who brought reusable bags and got some looks!
Publix now recommends bringing a bag!What a change! My pharmacist there admits she is not as green as I must be -since I bring the bags.She has no idea of this blog. Must give her my card of this blog.
Guess what their tip # 3 is: Grow a compost heap! Yes, we can.It feels like going full circle.
Happy gardening!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gardener's Gold

You needn’t be an alchemist to turn your kitchen scraps into compost. Your healthy compost will be ready after several months depending on your location and prevailing weather conditions. Not only is it beneficial to the vegetables that you grow but it overall improves the quality of your soil. (In Europe we don’t call it dirt).
The best place to build your compost heap close is close to where you want to use it in the garden and close to your water source. Compost should resemble crumbly dark soil, smelling like earth. If it gets too wet, it gets slimy; a roof or tarp over it. A too dry pile is too compact for use. Don’t be shocked to find a wiggling worm on your hands.
In winter, before the new planting season starts, the compost needs to be dug into your existing soil. About 2 inches of this precious garden gold is advisable for soil improvement and better plant performance in the next season. It’s essential in order to simply replenish whatever nutrients have been taken out by growing your plants.
So get all these little critters to work for you. You’ll be surprised that a decent compost pile reaches about 66 degrees Celsius inside while the bacteria and worms are at work. For more information and troubleshooting, there is a Compost 101. Serious.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The long awaited COMPOST HEAP

If you bother to grow your own vegetables- and here in Florida the new growing season is under way- you should spend time to make your own compost heap. This photo is the proof that a compost heap does not smell when done correctly : it was my son's and his friend's favorite spots to play at the age of 3. And we lived in a German village among neighbors who would not have tolerated anything untoward.
I'm trying to create one at the moment. You need a container, not the ones you can buy in certain wholesale place that don't have holes. Air needs do go thru it to ventilate. Just rolling the drum / plastic container, as suggested in that store, won't do it. As you can see from the picture a timber construction is easily made, you need a few planks on the ground and an enclosure. Not necessarily for climbing on top...Seymour in his ultimate Self-sufficiency book has different cheap solutions: an old oil drum with holes bored into it,the aforementioned wood structure or an even simpler one with chicken wire/mesh as sides to enclose the compost.You can build one with bricks on three sides and timber planks in the front or an old fashioned silo, depending on your needs.You never have enough good compost. That requires more space and maybe a little tractor or bobcat to handle once it grows. The easiest is if you can open it at the front, ie remove the timber planks and shovel the ripe compost, ie crumbly, healthy earth out that is full of nutrients and life.It's more important what goes in! You start with a layer of twigs, then almost anything that rots goes: leaves, grass clippings, left overs (which are not thrown into the garbage disposal. We fed them to dogs and pigs).Even newspapers, eggshells, bark, fish, avoid bones as the dogs will only dig them out anyway. They also take too long to be transformed into earth by all the microbes that will get to work instantly. In the process of composting, microorganisms break down organic matter and produce carbon dioxide, water, heat, and humus, the relatively stable organic end product. All of that should be alternated by layers of dirt and nitrogen containing material such as bone-meal or fish-meal. Algae or seaweed make an excellent starter, too. Not to forget tea leaves and coffee grounds- even with the filter. Worms love coffee! And then a layer of dung if you have it. You should water it from time to time if rain is lacking. Not a problem in Ireland. The perfect silo has a pointed top so that you can cover it in winter and the rain drops off- once it's ready.
It's ideal to have two heaps going at the same time. One that has matured and can be used and one that is still ripening.
How do you get the materials going and onto that heap? Collect them in a plastic container in the kitchen and carry out each day to throw on your developing heap. Seymour suggests to trample the heap each evening by foot or beat it with a spade...but there are certain limits and it worked just as well without doing that on a regular basis.