Monday, May 22, 2017

May 20 at the Kitchen and Labyrinth Gardens

Marcelo, Susan, Gabriela, Iris, Linda H, Blanca, Solange, Lenore and Chris were at the garden this Saturday.

Lenore, Marcelo, Chris and Gabriela focused on the Labyrinth and did some trimming, planting, weeding, watering, and replacing border stones. The Labyrinth is looking pretty good, thought there are some problem areas. We are hoping to get advice from a seasoned gardener on what plants may be best suited to the partially shaded conditions, and how to improve soil conditions. The idea is to choose native plants that will not require watering once established.

Meanwhile, at the Kitchen Garden, the rest of the crew worked on weeding individual beds, lamented some discoloration on the leaves that Susan thinks might signal leaf borers (on the spinach and kale--we cut off those leaves and threw them in the garbage, not the compost), cut down the cover crop in the middle bed and spread it on top of the bed. Marcelo also spread hay on the newly relocated beds and at the front of the garden by Oak St.

Iris and Gabriela.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Compost update: Paper cups and egg shells

May 19th, 2017.

The active pile is filling up quickly and getting hot. The warmest part was at 120°F!

Two observations for this week:
  1. Paper cups are, for the most part, non-compostable, as they are usually lined with a plastic film. These, unfortunately, belong to the trash (and it's best to avoid them as much as possible).
    Don't be confused by the recycle symbol! It indicates that the cup is made with recycled material, but it is NOT recyclable.
  2. Egg shells need to be thoroughly crushed. They take forever to decompose and usually look intact even after everything else is fully composted. They can go to the soil anyway and will VERY SLOWLY provide calcium and other nutrients, BUT THEY HAVE TO BE IN TINY PIECES. An alternative is to use the shells to prepare a liquid fertilizer for blooms.  
    These shells probably spent close to a year in the compost pile and are still intact!
    Crush the shells before composting. The smaller the better!
Thank you for helping return these nutrients back to the earth!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Compost Update April 6-13

Looks like our worms and microorganisms keep working hard! Last Friday the active bin was around 108°F!

Unfortunately, there are still some issues with the scraps. The last couple visits (April 6 and April 13) there were whole paper bags in the active bin and whole fruits and veggies. While paper can be composted, IT NEEDS TO BE IN SMALL PIECES.


  • If you are collecting your scraps in paper bags, empty the contents in the active bin and then PLEASE RIP THE BAG IN SMALL PIECES, COVERING THE SCRAPS. If needed, add more "browns" from the left bin to make sure the scraps are covered. 
  • By the way, covering the scraps will become increasingly critical as the weather gets warmer because the decomposing scraps may attract vermin and become a nuisance. 
Paper bags are OK, but not whole!

That's more like it!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

April 29th at the Kitchen Garden

Marcelo and Mark started early taking the soil out of the shaded raised bed. Gabriela joined later and tended the compost pile (for more details see the blog post). Els came later and we were all thrilled to see Solange coming back! She helped relocate the raised bed. Els and Gabriela did some weeding, seeding, and watering.

The frame is now in its new and sunnier location and we'll fill it up with soil next time.

Seeds still need to be watered. Hopefully last week's schedule will work this week as well:
Sunday: Linda H.
Monday: Marcelo
Tuesday: Iris
Wednesday: Susan
Thursday: Laura
Friday: Gabriela

Compost update - April 21 & 29

Composting is picking up steam! On April 21st the active pile was at about 100°F and a week later it was at about 110°F! The middle (maturing) pile is stable at 80°F.

What's wrong with this picture?
Fruits, veggies and tortillas should be cut up.
Paper bags are OK but should be cut in small pieces.
And everything needs a cover of browns from the right bin!

Requests of the week:
    The smaller the better; shoot for no larger than 2 inches. As there are more of us composting, it's important to speed up the process. Size matters! Smaller pieces decompose much faster.
    It's getting hotter and this is important to reduce odors. When you drop off scraps, cover with equal amount of browns (from rightmost bin).
Some good news to wrap up: looks like the trash bin is being used. Though some stickers are still making their way to the pile, we seem to be getting better at it!

Earth Day at the Kitchen Garden

It was a somewhat cool and rainy Earth Day and we had a skeleton crew at the garden: Marcelo, Susan, Laura and Iris. We worked some in our individual plots and also on the front shady boxes. 
Proposed watering schedule for this week:
Sunday—Linda H.
Sam stopped by to add some kitchen scraps to the compost.

Marcelo kept working on moving the soil out of the shady bed. 
Laura started planting seeds.
Iris chopped the cover crop in the shady bed and added it to the compost. Marcelo is also going to empty this bed in preparation for moving the entire structure to the sunnier side of the garden.
Susan started working on a small extra plot in front of her raised bed, layering cardboard and compost. She discovered some small paw prints in her plot, reminding us that we need to try to tie up the holes and gaps in the fence asap.

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 15th at the Kitchen Garden

This Saturday Susan, Iris, Laura, Linda H, Mark P, and Gabriela met at the garden.

We were busy planting the individual plots, adding compost and watering. Mark continued to advance the relocation of the shaded beds into a sunnier spot. He transplanted the herbs that came back (sage, thyme, and oregano) to make room for the bed and kept moving soil around and leveling the ground.

We mused about what we could do in the common areas, what new flowers to plant (Gabriela is sprouting lupines and will be planting them during the week), and what perennials could be eventually added to the garden (some thoughts included kiwi and passion flower vines in the west-facing fence, containers with berries, perhaps a dwarf nut tree/bush outside the fence on Oak St?)

Gabriela also installed new signs and a trash receptacle for the compost bins (for a fuller compost update, see the next blog post below).

For this week, we agreed on the following watering schedule to make sure our seeds and transplants are continually moist:

Sunday—Linda H

We were all so intent on what we were doing that no photos were taken!