Behind the Fence

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Productive Week in the Potager

After weeding and trimming, I spread a pick-up truck load of compost in the perennial flower beds, along the side of the garden path and along the fence row.(notice the new fence built by my talented husband. It replaces the one damaged in the 2009 Ice Storm.)

I buy compost from the city compost facility; sometimes it is better than other times. This week it was premium, rich black color, earthy smell, very little trash and quite airy.

Like some of you I had reservations about using the city compost, not sure it would be safe. A couple of years ago I addressed my concerns to Kathy Keeney, who at the time was the horticulturist for the city. She sent me the following information:

I understand your concern, and so I'm writing this to help clarify how the city compost system works

The city compost goes through rigorous EPA tests - each row is tested for various pathogens, including fecal coliform. It meets or exceeds these EPA standards, or it will be hauled away. To date, the city hasn't lost a single row due to a substandard test. The gentleman in charge of our compost facility keeps a close eye on reducing the possibility of contamination, so much so, that no one other than specialized facility vehicles are allowed on the concrete composting pad, in an effort to reduce the chances of any contamination being brought into the facility.

It does contain municipal sludge from Joint Sewer Agency, which has been tested for various pathogens as well as heavy metals. It's also tested every three months for heavy metals at our compost facility, again, according to EPA standards.

It's a quality product, and it is worthy of whatever use you may have - whether that is ornamental or vegetable. I've used it in my vegetable garden and the food is always lush and productive. It's an excellent soil amendment, and worthy of a much higher price tag than what the city charges”. She went on to say: “Seriously, you can't go wrong with the city's compost, and I'm not just saying that because I now work for the same department. It's a wonderful soil amendment, and it's improved some really poor soils and made them extremely healthy and productive - just look at the beds at the Demo Garden on Coleman Road if you would like an example!”

At $15 a truck load, I use it on the ornamentals I use Mel’s Mix and my own compost for the veggies.

In cleaning the fence row I removed, I hope the last, of the out-of-control Black-eyed Susans. Also I removed some hostas (that were getting too much sun due to the ice storm,) trimmed the Rose of Sharon and planted pansies around a bird bath.

Having enjoyed the butterflies and hummingbirds so much this summer I added a purple and an orange butterfly bushes as well as ten hollyhocks to the cutting garden. They are joining the Hyacinth Beans, yarrow, asters, mums, sweet peas and zinnias.

I replanted lettuce, spinach, aurugla and scallions in the cold frame and ordered garlic bulbs, beet seed and winter lettuce seed.

The strawberry bed has been weeded, fed fish emulsion, slugs have been fed Sluggo and bird netting replaced. It looks promising for a fall crop. Giving thought to trying some of the self-watering stacking planters, I potted some of the runners to over winter in the greenhouse.

I still have quite a lot to do before winter. The garden shed, potting area and greenhouse need to be cleaned, pots to wash, cuttings to take, mulching, and the list goes on. And I am still watering!

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