compost pile

Lovin’ Me Some Tomatoes!

Just had to share how wonderful my tomatoes are doing. After battling hornworms and stink bugs  and a host of crickets (diatomaceous earth works wonders for creepy crawlies), my tomatoes are beating the odds. Remember, I’m totally organic and out in a wide open field of sunshine which makes my tomatoes more vulnerable to stress. Too much heat, too many bugs, the occasional thunderstorm that wreaks havoc with pelting wind… You get the drift. It’s tough out there!

better bush tomatoes

But they are doing well. Not terribly beautiful, but producing some serious beauties. I’ve chosen Better Bush (shown above), Beefmaster (shown directly below), followed by Celebrity.

beefmaster tomatoes

A few brown spots, plucked leaves (hornworm damage) and various spots, but all seem to be thriving. I try and harvest mine when they begin to turn red. I do so in an effort to beat the beetles and worms who love crawling in and devouring my tomatoes as they mature. Simply pick and place in a sunny window. Voilá — red tomatoes within days! More

Anatomy of a Compost Pile

Ever wondered what it looked like beneath that pile of fall leaves?  You know, the one you formed with dead leaves and garden waste?  The one I told you would provide excellent organic matter for your soil?  If you build it, dirt will form?

Yes, that one!  Well in Florida it’s time to use our compost or more specifically our dirt again for fall planting.  Yep, you guessed it–my compost pile has turned a pile of crumbly brown leaves into the most gorgeous black dirt you ever laid your eyes on and I’m ready to use it.  Just look at this treasure!

This photo represents a cross-section of my backyard compost pile.  One of my backyard piles.  I have two, right next to each other.  This one is my “easy” pile.  The one I never turn.  The one I never water.  I let it sit there week after week, month after month until I’m ready to use it.  Well, I’m back in the garden planting and I need soil amendment!  Where do I go?

I go to this pile of compost.  Digging deep into the center, I struck gold.  Black gold.  Can you see it there towards the bottom?  Deep, organic and beautiful black dirt.  Oh, but I can hear my beds jumping for joy already!  The hardest part about this compost pile?  Scooping each shovelful into my wagon and hauling the heaping mass down to the garden.  And no, for you Curious George’s out there, I didn’t build this thing.  That credit goes to lawn guy, a.k.a. my husband and once a year garden helper. 🙂 They do good work!

My active duty pile is the other smaller pile behind it.  This is the one where the kids and I dump the contents of our cute in-house compost jar.  From leftovers to stale bread, from eggshells to green weeds, we use this pile for a more well-rounded source of organic matter. 

After each deposit made with kitchen scraps we cover it with a layer of brown leaves taken from the prior pile.  This way we manage to achieve some semblance of the recommended ration of carbon:nitrogen which is 30:1.  Key word:  some.

But it works!  My vegetables are happy and my soil is ecstatic. Just be sure to rinse your compost jar before returning it to the kitchen.  Cuts down on the ick factor.  Cause Moms don’t like ick in the kitchen! 

Now here–carry this out to the compost pile.  We’re growing dirt!