I planted my strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers in mid-April. All the labels stated the period to peak harvest was 60-90 days. While a few strawberries have been ripening here and there, my tomatoes and cucumbers aren’t quite there yet.
Basket of lettuce from my garden
But my lettuce came in! I was really excited to enjoy something from the garden. I had to rinse of the lettuce before I could put it in a salad. I thought a brief rinse would do it, but the dirt was hard to get off and a thorough wash was needed.
I’m so used to buying grocery store produce that I forgot that that the fruits and vegetables are cleaned and packaged before they ever hit store shelves. Produce from the garden doesn’t work the same way or look quite as perfect. On the plus side, I know my garden produce is fresher and pesticide free.
See below for the delicious salad I made with my lettuce. (Cucumbers and tomatoes store bought.)
Delicious garden salad with homegrown lettuce
Compost piles are gifts that keep on giving. At least that’s what I’ve read. Since last summer I’ve been giving some thought to starting a compost pile, but that’s about as far as I got. Until now! After thinking about it for so long, I finally decided to put one in the corner of the garden.
Compost piles have lots of benefits but I wanted to share my reasons for starting one.
1. Composting is easy– There aren’t very many steps to starting a compost pile or to keep one going. Staff at my favorite garden center told me they’re hard to mess up which seems pretty close to idiot proof. Good news for me.
2. Composting is free- There isn’t a cost to composting if you use yard materials such as decomposed leaves and grass. The food scraps come from already purchased groceries. Some people choose to buy a compost bin, but I’ve just cleared a corner of the yard and started the pile there.
3. Composting means a healthier garden- Composting provides really rich soil for the garden which means a nutrient-rich base for the plants. Yay for stronger, more nutrient dense fruits and vegetables!
4. Composting is better for the environment- The food waste doesn’t end up in a landfill and decomposes naturally. Composting is better for the environment and I’m sure it will greatly cut back on the amount of garbage we generate.
5. Compost can be used in landscaping- Compost isn’t just for a vegetable garden. It can also be used in flower beds and landscaping. It’s good to know that the pile I’m starting now can be used for next year’s landscaping. I haven’t had much luck so far in growing flowers in the yard since we’ve been here, so hopefully the compost will help.
If you have other reasons or benefits for starting a compost pile, please share!
Starting a compost pile isn’t very difficult. There are tons of resources online on how to start one. I found Rodale’s Garden Life very helpful. Here is how to build a compost pile in just six easy steps.
Location of compost pile
1. Select a location- The location should be somewhere convenient and close to the garden. You don’t want to have to go really far to add your scraps to the pile or have move compost a long way when it’s ready to use. I chose the corner of the yard closest to the garden.
Base layer of leaves
2. Start with a layer of organic materials- This could be leaves, grass clippings, straw, etc. Good thing we were too lazy to remove our leaves from the yard last fall, the decomposed leaves were the basis for my first layer.
Layer of soil
3. Add a layer of soil- I added a layer of soil on top of the decomposing leaves. I used soil from the front yard in what will eventually be our drainage ditch. So I didn’t have to buy soil or pull it from somewhere it was needed.
Layer of fruits and veggies
4. Add a layer of green materials- Starting a compost pile is like making a lasagna. You keep adding layers. The next layer should be green materials like kitchen scraps. We’d been saving ours for awhile so we had a good mix of fruits and vegetables.
My completed compost pile
5. Add a layer of organic materials- This was the final layer. I added some more leaves to the top and voila, compost pile done!
6. Moisten- The final step was to wet the entire pile. The pile needs to be moist, but not wet so it can do its thing and break down the food scraps.
So there it is! A compost pile in six easy steps. In a couple months time, I should have extremely rich soil to use in the garden.
In looking for ways to get rid of slugs, I found out something very interesting. Slugs love beer! Their fondness for the alcoholic beverage has something to do with being attracted to the yeast. Even though I find slugs repellant; I found them slightly less so when I realized we have a love of beer in common.
The organic pesticide spray I used a couple of weeks back wasn’t quite doing the job. It didn’t do anything to prevent slugs from chomping on my strawberries, so I had to find a new strategy. This is where the beer comes into play.
Someone needs to learn how to pour a beer properly
I dug two holes deep enough in the middle of my rows of strawberries for small plastic cups. I filled the cups with beer we had in the fridge that Steve and I had both refused to drink. So oatmeal stout it was for the slugs.
Apparently, slugs aren’t picky about their beer. When I went back a couple days later to see if the the cups of beer worked, I found several dead slugs in each cup. Success!
When I informed Steve of my victory, he asked if the slugs were drunk or dead. I told him the slugs probably got drunk before they drowned. I felt a little bad for the critters, but it means that I get to enjoy the strawberries in my garden instead of them.
Below is a picture of the slugs post-bender. Don’t scroll down if that kind of stuff grosses you out.
Cup full of beer and slugs