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Saturdays in the Malibu Compost Garden November

It was finally time to create compost in our own garden. This was one of the biggest joys for us because of all that we had learned in the past in other people's gardens and of course on the farms. Even though the compost on the farms is a much larger system, we can still create compost to not let anything go to waste on our little farm.

Garden sign that says I Dig my beautiful Garden
Garden Sign Gift from our Daughter

Our new compost bins were built by a man I've known all my life who worked for my mother while I was growing up. He comes out twice a year from Alabama to visit his kids and to help us with whatever we need. So naturally, we had him custom build our two new compost bins!

A home composting system with two wooden compost bins and a tub that holds carbon.
Our new Home Composting System

A home composting system showing the side view of two wooden compost bins and a pile of greens to be added.

When composting, you need to add layers of "greens" (nitrogen sources) and "browns" (carbon sources) evenly. We recommend doing this in 1" layers starting with the browns.

These are the "green" sources we've gathered up over the last few weeks from cutting up spent tomato plants, pruning boxwood hedges and trimming lengthy vinca minor:

Remember to not use weeds that have seed heads on them, diseased plants, or anything from the kitchen that has oils or fats. We also recommend not adding avocado pits as they will sprout in the pile and create long, tangling roots that will make it hard for you to pull out of the bin with a pitchfork. Not that I've done that before or anything :)

Avocado peels are great as well as crushed up egg shells. When you sift your finished compost, you will still see small bits of egg shells that are a great calcium source for your soil.

We bought this container to hold our "carbon" sources. It's much easier to find greens than browns in a typical home. If you need more carbon sources, ask your neighbor's gardeners for the browns before they throw them away into their yard waste bin.

A black container holding oak leaves for a carbon source for composting
Carbon Source Container

close up of oak leaves in container
Gathered Old Oak Leaves

We started by adding 1 layer of carbon to the bottom of the compost bin.

Adding oak leaves using a scooper to the bottom of a compost bin.

Layer of oak leaves at bottom of compost bin.
Bottom Mulch Layer

Then we added layers of greens, browns, greens and browns until all of the greens were finished. Then we topped it off with a brown layer so that the bugs won't gather around and lay eggs on an exposed green layer.

We pulled this green unripe tomato out of the bin because over time it would decompose and when we set the finished compost out in the spring, it would germinate and create not a very good tomato plant. We do like adding some ripe tomatoes into the bin though and seeing little surprise tomato plants germinating throughout the garden.

Hand holding small green tomato.

Half filled wooden compost bin.
Compost Bin ready for Water

Always water on top after topping off with carbon. That will start adding moisture to the carbon so that it could start breaking down.

Unfortunately this hot, cold, hot, cold weekly weather has weakened our lettuce and spinach beds. We cleaned up the beds and removed the outside leaves and some whole plants that have hard bolting-leaves and pests on them. We are dying for cool and cold consistent weather here!

Our potatoes arrived from Peaceful Valley! We will be planting these within the next few weeks in containers and in-ground.

Five varieties of organic seed potatoes in bags with Grow Organic magazine in foreground.
Peaceful Valley Seed Potatoes

Time to pick the ripe tomatoes for breakfast:

We have a few small avocado trees, but this one has been growing sideways rather than upwards, so we pruned it to shorten the sideways branches just below where a new branch was facing upwards.

Small avocado tree planted in ground in a garden.
Avocado Tree Before Pruning

Small avocado tree after pruning.
Avocado Tree After Pruning

Randy was at the Oregon farm all week loading finished compost to go out to the NW bagging facility. Here are some pics of a LARGE composting system that beats our small hokey one!

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

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