Veggie Tales: black gold

There are days when I forget I have a garden – the maintenance is easy and I can leave for a few days and not worry about it. Lately it has been hot with no rainfall so I’ve been going out to water it now and then. Sometimes I go out just to take a look, munching on sugar snap peas while I explore what’s growing. I enjoy that part very much. Just a few days ago I was delighted to discover these little babies:

They are Sun Gold tomatoes, a variety that is positively thriving in my garden right now and will produce golden cherry tomatoes when ripe. 

But some days I go out there just intending to “munch and peek” and end up getting my hands dirty. Last week I took out all the lettuce plants as they had bolted and our last salad was definitely on the bitter side of fresh. I also removed the gai lan, which I’d not pruned and had therefore missed harvesting. The flowers were pretty but as they turned to little seed pods I realized it was just a giant plant taking up space and crowding out other things. 

Today was another such day. My compost bin was finally filled to the top after the last visit from the lawnmowing guys (hired by our landlord), who started putting the clippings in my bin at my request. I decided that, ready or not, it was time to start harvesting my compost. So I opened up the lid, stuck in a trowel, and pulled out some Black Gold.

I actually wasn’t sure what to expect, or how to know it was ready. But I figured after almost 8 months of adding things to this bin I had to have *something*. I had sort of imagined it would look like potting soil – rich, dark, crumbly. It wasn’t quite like that. It was dark…it was also lumpy and I could see egg shells throughout. It didn’t smell like garbage, which I thought was a good sign. And it was clearly different from the grass clippings added more recently so I dug out some more and hoped for the best.

 I closed the door, mixed up the compost, and gained a fair bit of room at the top again. Then I grabbed my bucket and spade and went to the garden.

I recalled Mel saying in the Square Foot Gardening book that one should add a scoop of compost after harvesting a plot to replenish the soil. I began doing this and slowly gained confidence in my compost as I dumped shovelfuls onto the dry soil of the garden. Using my hand rake I blended it until it resembled “normal soil”, but with a darker hue (in fact, it looked alot like what I started with back in February). As I worked the earth I imagined all that had gone into the compost: organic local eggshells, tons of veggie and fruit bits, tea bags and coffee grinds, grass clippings and dry leaves…all these things going back into my garden just seemed so…right. Like a circle had been closed.

I ended up putting a little bit of compost in every empty plot and even put a bit around my chard and pole beans. I know I’m going to have to sit down very soon and decide what crops to plant for the next season. At least the soil is ready!


3 responses to this post.

  1. Isn’t compost amazing? I can’t help but smile when I take some of the finished stuff out of the bottom, like you did, and see how all the stuff I’ve put in the bin over the previous months has been broken down into its basic humus-y components. What a good idea to put a scoop back into the spot where you’ve harvested from – that seems practical and wise, and just right too, to give back to the earth that our food grew out of. Very nice post – thanks 🙂


  2. Only once have I ever created the mythical compost of legend. Usually, my compost takes forever and still ends up dry, chunky, and lumpy. Maybe it’s the desert.

    Although, the one time where it turned into beautiful moist rich soil, and in 1 month’s time, no less, was when I lived in dry desert. The trick was that I was adding about 3-4 boxes of discarded produce from the grocery store every week. TONS of fresh wet material, I guess, made the difference.


  3. Doesn’t it feel good to be using your own home made compost? When we first moved to our land there was no choice but to organise a compost toilet so we went for the sawdust bucket idea, having read Humanure it seemed do-able. It also seemed just a little icky til we actually tried it and found that it was ok.
    We decided to have two compost piles, one from the kitchen to be used in the veggy garden and the other from the bathroom to be used as mulch and compost for the many trees we were planting.
    We were not confident that our composting would work but we have had the lovely compost from both piles.
    For the last two years we didn’t have a veggy garden, due to time constraints and so have amalgamated the two heaps into one. We have 4 pallet-size compost bins, one for use, one resting, one space for turning out into and one for the garden, it’s been working really well so far.
    happy dirty hands 🙂


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