My Summer Garden

Composting, worms and some poop

the sundial

My summer garden, a phrase I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to say, is no longer a saying for me, but it’s a summer reality. My summer garden is now something real, that I can re-design every season, as well as something I can nurture and enhance with very little effort. I love gardening, as many people around the globe do too. It’s a feeling of hope that I get inspired by. Toiling the earth, seeing the life in the soil, and seeing the life slowly returning as spring leads into summer is simply fascinating.

Compost is key

For a successful summer garden, there is plenty that entails your success or failures. For me, the health of the soil was essential, yet I wasn’t willing to go to the local home-improvement center to buy it. Rather, I wanted to rely on composting methods and knowledge. My compost set up is far from picture perfect, in fact, it’s quite basic. It consists of 2 basic metal rounds, lined with an airy plastic bag, so air can pass. Of the 2 rounds, one round is “active”, so this is where the daily kitchen waste gets dumped. (kitchen waste is anything decompostable, also including cardboard and some animal hair, while adding no meat or bones or animal products other than egg shells) While the other round is in a resting or composting state. To which, it remains undisturbed for approximately 20 months.

Don’t be afraid, just compost!

I’m certainly no compost expert, but nobody’s judging me. And I actually find composting quite exciting now. After all, I’ve had some small successes in this area, and I’ve overcome my “can’t do” attitude. If I consider myself an environmentalist first, composting was a must! You’ll notice if you spend some time on the web or read over some nice books on composting, that there are some basic simple rules to follow, but the rest is kids play. Additionally, you’ll also learn from fellow-composter’s, how happy and cool composting makes you feel about things. It’s a 2-fold reward system. I’m sparing harmful gasses from improperly disposed food waste which compile to the green-house gas crisis, and I’m encouraging life from trash. Composting has made me a better gardener, as I now provide my soil and veg with a nice healthy, nutrient rich, alive soil.

Additionally, I’ve learned over the years from accumulating various opinions, that it’s healthy for the compost to have some natural paper products added to it, and natural hair. So, whenever I came across small natural cardboard boxes from strawberries for example, I tossed it in. When I had some hair after grooming my dog, I tossed it in. It’s apparently an old secret to add hair into the compost piles, as it provides calcium and other nutritional benefits. But with all this information, just remember composting only requires 2 real components. Kitchen waste, and patience.

The benefits

Composting and it’s benefits are huge for the garden.  Not only do you do the environment a huge service when you compost, but you produce the by-prodcut of great soil.  Transferring the compost that has been smouldering away for the past 24 months to the existing garden plot is also part of the job.  You can actually see with your own eyes, how a heap of kitchen trash, breaks down into a meager pile of pure goodness.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of worms in and throughout the pile, as they thrive and diet on the bacteria and fungal matter of decaying food waste.  The important contribution from worms is their ‘castings’ or poop. This is the extremely nutrient rich ingredient for any healthy soil.  Worms, also known as ‘nature’s plows’, are any gardener’s best friend.  Improving aeration, mixing soil, and better soil tilth, they are quite possibly your greatest asset in gardening.

Celery and other things…

This year’s garden has a big request for celery.  Since we’re doing lots of celery juice these days, celery is hard to find!  Until we discovered the great idea (!) of growing it!!!  Who knew.  I’m going to go for a nice crop of potatoes, enough to store during the winter moths, as well as garlic and onions.  I’ve added a few cabbage, cauliflower, and beets, coupled with some green beans and zucchini.  I still have space for a bit more, but I’m just not sure what to fill it in with.  Maybe I’ll add some spinach to the mix.  I’ve got my tomatoes and peppers stationed in their own containers, as I’ve found it difficult to grow w/ out attracting slugs, a gardener’s fiend!

The herbs

The herbal garden is the second part of my garden love.  It’s my apotheke garden if you will. Or it’s my medicinal garden I use to get me and my family through the winter months with Flu always on the standby. 

Stocked in this herbal pharmaceutical garden are: 3 types of peppermint, (apple mint, spearmint, and moroccan mint), sage, wormwood, verbena, yssop, yarrow, nepita, oregano, St. John’s wort, Rosemary, lemon balm, cilantro, camphor, borage and blue salvia.

Though I have only one plant of each species, the key is to continually pick and dry throughout the summer months.  Once the leaves of the herbs are dry, store them in a cool, air-tight container, clearly labeled and store until needed.  These irreplaceable herbs are at your beck and call.  They are loaded with healing potentials, and far exceed any form of pharmaceutical in my humble opinion. 

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