Sunday, October 23, 2005

If You Carrot All...

Watch as the leaves drift slowly down from the big maple tree out back. Watch as even the hardiest of weeds start to droop and wither. Watch as the borage and the dill make a cool-weather comeback, hoping to get in just one more precious burst of flavorful greenness!

We're still waiting for the first frost around here, but the garden is slowly dying down to its winter hibernation, and I am gradually getting it cleared for its rest.

After today's hard work, approximately half the garden is weeded, and about half of that is covered in newspapers and mulch. The other half has a nice thick layer of dark, rich, perfectly moist-crumbly compost over it. Once I can get the rest of the garden weeded, I'll be raking those gorgeously brilliant maple leaves on top for an extra layer of humus come spring.

I also dug up the last of the carrots before covering up that section, so it looks like I will be cooking with those sometime this week.

Normally, that much work would exhaust me and pull my back just enough for me to call it quits. But the relatively warm and sunny weather compelled me to remain outside for the most grueling work of all: turning the compost.

I'm lucky to have two good-sized open-air bins that allow me to keep dumping the kitchen scraps and weeds and leaves into one while the other "cooks" down into that dark gold. And with my trusty shovel, I turned the newer additions from the full bin into the nearly-empty one, adding the occasional layer of leaves in order to help the more compacted layers loosen up.

Hard work, but there's something satisfying about using your muscles so vigorously and heaving shovelful after shovelful of organic matter that will eventually adorn and enrich your garden. (As long as you don't end up with mud, slimy weeds, or slugs accidentally tossed back into your face due to poor aim or the wind. What fun.)

Come winter, I'll end up shoveling a path through the lawn to get to the compost bins to keep dumping steaming stock scraps and other kitchen detritus to keep the compost "cooking" (albeit slowly). And next year, I'll have even more good compost to add to the garden.

Now, if it would only stop raining so that I could finish...

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