Monday, November 4, 2013
Until we meet again, composting your garden and flower remnants
Saying goodbye to my little friend, the hummingbird, is just one reminder that winter is approaching. The hosta flowers she once graced are now part of my compost pile as are the impatients, tomato plants, and other bits and pieces of summer glory.
Not being one to spend much time on the shredding and chopping end, I have found the stems from my hosta flowers and tomato plants are not decomposing as quickly as the more tender and moisture-filled stems of say, my begonias and impatients. To hasten decomposition I have a new tool in my arsenal, one I use regularly in other areas of the garden, the hand pruner.
This year as I clean up my gardens and put them to bed for the winter, I am using my pruner to chop these stringy and woody stems into smaller pieces. The more surface area provided for those wonderful micro-organisms to feed off, the quicker I get finished compost. If you prefer power equipment, shredders and chippers will also make short order of the task, although stringy stems such as the tomato plant aren’t very shredder-friendly.
Just as we Northerners need shelter to survive in winter, so do the bacteria and insects in our compost piles. Not turning your pile in the winter allows these critters to stay as snug as a bug in a rug. I will allow them their rest now for in the spring they will be back on the treadmill, working my organics into that beautiful black, garden-aerating, moisture-retaining, and nutrient-packed addition to my soil.