Monday, April 16, 2012
First two weeks of April
Composters in action:
Yesterday (Sunday Apr 15th), we took apart the pile that had gone down to ambient temperature. It didn't look ready to harvest, so we put half of it in one of the tumblers with some coffee grounds and urine (hoping the nitrogen and increased mass would jump start that one). We used the other half as the bottom layer of a new pile, and flipped the pile that had so much chicken manure in it. As the books warned, it was pretty gushy. We're hoping the air will help it cure. We're not sure if we feel like it was a success or not. It climbed up to 150 at some point. And definitely cooked along. Then it hovered at 130 for several days before tapering down to 100-110. G thinks that we might have liked the output better if we had flipped it while it was still hot vs. waiting for it to cool down. *Not sure.* If nothing else, my dissertation bits have completely disappeared. And the pile is now a third to a quarter its original size. Most of the straw is gush.
The ingredient list for our third pile is pretty impressive. We estimate the pile requires mixing, then lifting and arranging 9 full wheelbarrows of materials.
~6o gallons of leaves from G's herculean efforts cleaning out the ditch
~30# shredded office paper from NMEL (that was a heavy bag!)
~3 gallons of chicken manure stew
~1.5 gallons urine
~5 gallons of expresso grounds hauled all the way from the coffee shop in the library at UNM (~40pounds!)
~7 gallons of alfalfa cut from along the ditches near the house and chopped into small, salad-like bits
1 black plastic leaf bag full of weeds G. gathered around the yard (pulverized in a trash can using the weed whacker)
1 cardboard filing box full of pine cones (gathered around campus the end of last week)
Oh, and ~1 gallon of mixed kitchen waste... orange peel we chopped finely and soaked in water for a few days, coffee grounds from the house, filters and all, 2 cups of baked beans we forgot to put into the fridge after eating them for dinner earlier this week, some peanut shells (probably should have crunched those up better), a cup or 2 of old, moldy spaghetti, some banana and cucumber peel, and onion skins and tails. :) **Note, the dogs actually followed me to the pile with longing looks on their faces. How do they know?!! I put all of this yucky stuff safely in the middle of the heap.
G checked this morning & found spots where it was up to 120. Cross your fingers! There are a lot of weed and elm seeds in the mix. If we don't hit 130 for a solid day, it could be a mess.
The Plant Parade: The daffodils are now long gone. The lilacs are out; they smell lovely. And at the end of the week the yellow lady banks on the west side of the house bloomed! My eyesight isn't great any more, I had to walk out and take a closer look to make sure I wasn't seeing dead leaves since it's been so dry. The Annual Elm Blizzard: Over the last two weeks we have endured the annual elm seed blizzard. :( After Saturday's bruising gusts, the trees in the yard look bare, so now we just have to deal with what they dumped on us. Mats of papery tan seeds. (I always intended to investigate the facts and figures for the weight, mass and sheer number of seeds one mature Chinese Elm produces annually.) I am impressed and de-pressed at the same time--staring at an enemy face to face, steely and cold. I look at them and think of all the weeding in the months ahead. :( I was worried that my balloon flower didn't make it through the winter, but poking around carefully in the leaves in the approximate spot where we planted it the end of last summer, I spied a little tendril of new growth. She made it! :) The big bush Mary & JJ gave us is in full bloom, so is the red bud (buzzing with bees). And G's rose bush--it has some blooms coming! The yellow irises are up in a neighbor's yard down the street. I'm afraid ours will not bloom again this year. I don't see any sign of blossoms. G's garlic beds look fantastic! We're having trouble forcing ourselves to fence the chickens out of the tomato bed... it will make serious inroads on their territory. Hmmm. We've been trying to figure out how to provide them with various kinds of greenery to shred as compensation-slash-diversion.
Weather: awful winds on Saturday (Apr 14th). Yuck. Very, very dry. Continued generally above seasonal temps. Though it dipped down to ~31 twice in the last week, cold enough to wilt the new growth on Gloria's rose bush. :( Not sure how it affected the apple blossoms. They might have been far enough along, and enough mass on those trees (and a couple of feet higher in the yard, as ridiculous as that seems)... they look okay. We'll see.