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Handy compost chart provided by the city of Richmond.

Compost: hold your nose for succulent bounty!

My gardening dreams have been temporarily quashed by the fashionably late winter blusters, but thoughts of making my own chunky,…

By Robyn Smith , in Garden Sweet , on March 13, 2010 Tags: , , , ,

My gardening dreams have been temporarily quashed by the fashionably late winter blusters, but thoughts of making my own chunky, steaming-with-nutrients compost keep me warm. The garden suite is fortunate enough to have a composter out back, which I’ve been throwing my organic waste in since September. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of my work. When upstairs neighbour Gord went out to assess the backyard situation, he stumbled upon clusters of nasty little insects worshipping my altar of discarded egg shells and banana peels.

Gord’s a good, patient man. He explained that compost is a delicate balance – it has to be half browns (dead leaves, straw, cardboard) and half greens (discarded dinner, grass clippings). The idea is to maximize decomposition by creating the right conditions: about a 30:1 ratio of carbon:nitrogen, according to Canadian Gardener’s Compost Recipe.

Handy compost chart provided by the city of Richmond.
Handy compost chart provided by the city of Richmond.

It’s a layer cake! Green, brown, green, brown, plenty of watering and turning once a week is the recipe (air circulation is the flour to the compost cake). The best indicator that the compost is ready for use in the garden is taking a big whiff – it should smell like soil, not like lifeless plant detritus or smelly leftovers. It might not work the first time; in fact, you could spoil your compost by adding meats, bones, oily products, dairy products, used cat litter, etc. Don’t be discouraged. Gardening has a great history of “trowel and error!” Ho ho! And of course, humour.

Gord and I have rescheduled our trip to the garden centre until the weather clears up. I’m starting to think that this foray into gardening is going to bring my neighbour and I closer together. I see him nearly every day now, whether he’s scolding my compost carelessness or waving through the kitchen window as he leaves the premises on his bicycle. I told him about this blog, and he responded that he would start his own blog, the “real story” of the garden, sensing my tendency to embellish. I have said that Gord is a good, patient man, but I really don’t know Gord that well. Gord may be the kind of man that follows through. Something to look for on the internet while the bad weather passes.

Gardening enthusiasts, bear with me through this cold front. I know it’s hard when there could be home-grown caprese salads to consume.

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