I've been working on my garden plans for a few weeks, figuring out what to plant this year. I'm trying to add something new each year as I learn more and more about container gardening.
I'm trying to expand this year, and thinking about mounting window-boxes along the fence all the way around our tiny yard. We have great sunlight but no more room on the brick-patio, so I decided that if I can't grow OUT I'm going to try growing UP! I'm keeping an eye on Freecycle for people giving away window boxes and mounting equipment, and a few weeks ago I saw a post of someone giving away compost.
Trying to keep costs down this year, I know that if I want to expand I need to find a way to stretch the organic potting soil that I purchased last year. At almost $20/bag, it's very pricey and each container uses quite a bit of it. I knew that mixing in some compost would help improve the soil that was used last year, and stretch it at the same time.
When I went to pick up the compost, it really wasn't compost at all - it was a big pile of leaves. Certainly compost in the making, but not compost yet. I scooped out as much as I could from the base of the pile where it was wetter and darker, and then took about 6 trash bags of the dry leaves on the top.
I've never tried composting before because I thought that you needed to use food scraps to make it work, and putting food in your backyard in DC is a great way to attract DC's mascot: the RAT. But I did some research, and you can do a decent compost with just yard waste so I decided to give it a shot this year!
Step 1 - Set up the compost bin (cost: free thanks to a City of Rockville program my Mom took advantage of):
Step 2 - Fill with a layer of dry leaves and yard debris (cost: free from Freecycle):
Step 3 - Sprinkle a layer of soil to provide some stuff that the internet says I should provide to make the compost do whatever it is that compost does (cost: free; extra bag from last year):
Step 4 - Add some of the wet leaves that are slightly more compost-ey:
Step 5 - Add a shredded-up newspaper to provide some stuff that the internet says I should provide to make the compost do whatever it is that compost does:
Voila! Compost bin.
If I can find more leaves I'll fill it to the top, and then start on the second one I've got ready to go. With proper care and turning, I should hopefully have some beautiful compost come April!
Tonight I'm curling up with the Burpee catalog and picking out all of my seeds. To keep costs low I'll only be growing one or two types of each vegetable so I have to pick carefully. It's so nice to think about summer while it's so cold outside!