Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fastest Way to Making Compost

Compost is critical for an abundant garden, but many people get frustrated by the time it takes for their yard waste to turn into black gold.  Here are tips to have compost in as little as 30 days when done properly.
(Information compiled from several sources and personal experience.)
1. Shred and chop.
Shred or chop materials as finely as you can before mixing them into the pile. For example, you can chop fallen leaves by running your lawn mower over them. The same strategy applies to kitchen scraps and the like—“the smaller, the better” is the rule for compost ingredients.

2. Mix dry browns and wet greens.
The two basic types of ingredients for making compost are those rich in carbon and those rich in nitrogen. Carbon-rich materials, or “dry browns,” include leaves, hay, and straw. Nitrogen-rich materials, or “wet greens,” include kitchen scraps and grass clippings; these work best when used sparsely and mixed in well so they don’t mat down. Your goal is to keep a fair mix of these materials throughout the pile.

3. Strive for size.
Build the pile at least 3 × 3 × 3 (or 4) feet so materials will heat up and decompose quickly. (Don’t make the pile too much bigger than that, though, or it will be hard to turn.) Unless you have this critical mass of materials, your compost pile can’t really get cooking. Check the pile a couple of days after it is built up—it should be hot in the middle, a sign that your microbial decomposers are working hard.

4. Add water as needed.
Make sure the pile stays moist, but not too wet. (It should feel like a damp sponge.) You may need to add water occasionally. Or, if you live in a very wet climate, you may need to cover the pile with a tarp to keep it from becoming too soggy.

5. Keep things moving.
Moving your compost adds air to the mix. You can open up air holes by getting in there with a pitchfork. Even better, shift the entire pile over a few feet, bit by bit, taking care to move what was on the outside to the inside of the new pile, and vice versa. Or consider using a compost tumbler, a container that moves the materials for you when you turn it.

Top 7 Heirloom Vegetables of All Time

When choosing which varieties to carry in our store, we research trends on which varieties are most popular and most successfully grown.  Over the years, farmers and home gardeners all over the world have passed down seeds of their most delicious, unique vegetables.  Seeds that are in their original form (meaning they haven't been genetically modified or hybridized) are called heirloom seeds, and must be preserved and passed down to ensure purity.

Here are the top 7 Heirloom Vegetables of all time based on number of years they have been preserved:
  1. Beans - Kentucky Wonder If a vegetable can be popular for hundreds of years and still be grown today when there are hundreds of new variations each year, it deserves some respect.
  2. Cucumber - Lemon Usually yellow cucumbers are a bad thing, but lemon cucumbers are a real gem. Pick them small, about lemon size, and you can eat them like a fruit. The pale yellow skin is thin and the inside flesh is crisp and juicy. They make an excellent edible bowl for salads and an interesting choice for pickles.
  3. Eggplants Eggplants are stars among heirloom vegetables, because of the variety of size, shape, color and flavor you won't find elsewhere.
  4. Garlic - If you live where the winters are cold, it's hard to beat the flavor or Garlic. It's a hardy vegetable and is prized for its taste and it also stores well for up to 6 months. Since garlic isn't grown from seed, you can safely save garlic bulbs to replant each year, without concern for cross pollination.
  5. Red Salad Lettuce - What's so wonderful about lettuce is that it is one of the few vegetables we all eat fresh. Salad bowl is a classic favorite and outredgeous red salad bowl does it one better by being beautiful too. This looseleaf variety is very slow to bolt, making for an even longer harvest. The beautiful deep bronze tinged leaves are crisp and inviting.
  6. Hot Peppers - There are hundreds of varieties of hot peppers that have been passed down for thousands of years.  Their spicy taste and aroma mixed with the ability to be served fresh, dried, or grilled, make for beautiful dishes that add a kick to your meal.
  7. Kale - This leafy green is among the hardiest and easiest to grow of its relatives, and it is absolutely packed with vitamins.  Kale has stayed relatively the same for centuries, a sure sign that it was perfect the first time around.
Visit www.seattleseed.com to purchase these and other great organic and heirloom seeds!