Sunday, October 23, 2011

Still Here

And still a crazy-busy time of year, mostly trying to race the oncoming winter. We needed to do a complete barn muck-out, and frenzied internet research was in order. I admit to not quite thinking through the issue of used bedding before getting animals – there is quite the hazy glow around the “sustainable” or “urban homesteading” blogosphere around the “closing the loop” aspects of having lovely animal fertilizer for one’s garden. How silly of me not to think through that the goats and ducks don’t exactly poo in a nice collectible way, but onto the straw of their barn floor!

Anyway, for this round at least, I am happy with what occurred. After the final garden harvest:

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I ripped out all of the plants (which took forever due to the yarn I used to tie up the tomatoes – should’ve used cotton yarn, but was in a hurry so used non-compostable acrylic), used the pitchfork to loosen the soil, weeded, and then spread the barn straw over the beds. We really had a perfect amount.

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I got to thinking about the ammonia content of the urine (well, actually the odor made thinking about ammonia unavoidable) and had the idea of sprinkling a layer of coffee grounds on top. Right? I mean, I took college chem, organic and biochem, etc ad nauseum about six million years ago, but I do seem to have some foggy memory that ammonia is the classic base and coffee, as we all know, is acidic. We’ve used Starbucks “Grounds for Gardens” before. This is the one reason why I can’t strictly call our garden “organic”, as Starbucks doesn’t separate out their organic and not-organic grounds. We collected grounds for about three days and had enough to do an even layer over all of the beds, then Gareth has been spreading a layer of soil mix over the top of it all. The last to cover over the odor – I’m hoping it seals off smell completely, but we’ll have to see when the rains come. He’s done a fabulous job with it; out there in the light sprinkles for the last few days so that there are only a couple more beds to cover.

Always sort of sad to put a garden to bed for the winter. Taking out the tomato, bean, zucchini, and lettuce plants that were started as tiny seeds and so much nurturing put into them – then finally into the yardwaste container, as we’re not up and running with a composting system at this point. But the goats and ducks have a fresh thin layer of straw to begin the winter’s deep bed approach to the barn, and it feels like a good start to the winter. I wonder if this point isn’t the garden’s New Year’s Eve moment every year.

If so, a happy Garden New Year Eve to all of you who garden, and wishing you a happy new gardening year! We can all take a few breaths before the seed catalogs start rolling in :-).

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