Tag Archive: Compost

Ultimate Composting – Week Six

It’s the sixth week of our Ultimate Composting experiment here at 1840 FarmLast week, I transferred the original romaine heart and celery from their water bath to soilless potting mix.  They made it through the week with their roots and new growth intact.

In my last post, I mentioned that I would be planting them in the raised beds in two weeks.  Well, I jumped the gun a little and planted them over the weekend.  I couldn’t help myself.  I was transplanting heirloom tomato seedlings in the hoophouse when I noticed the empty spot where I intended to plant them next week.

As a gardener, I almost can’t stand an empty space begging to be planted.  So, I added them to the greens bed in the hoophouse.  I planted them, gave them a drink of water from the rain barrel and went back to planting Livingston heirloom tomato varieties.

I’m hoping that the romaine lettuce and celery will take root and spend the summer growing in our garden and providing my family with fresh food.  I’ve been watering them lightly and watching them closely.  I am happy to say that they are still looking good two days later.

The other specimens are still in the window of our farmhouse kitchen.  They seem to be growing roots and leaves at a steady rate.  At this point, they are not falling prey to the mold that ended this experiment for a few of our earlier participants.

I promised to share how I had altered the growing container to prevent mold growth.  I’d like to say that it was a highly scientific modification.  I could try to make it sound more impressive than it is.  Or, I could just tell you that I took a utility knife and carefully cut the top 2/3 off of a yogurt container bound for the recycling bin.

While this modification isn’t fancy, it seems to be working quite well.  The bottom of the yogurt container is large enough to hold a day’s water supply but short enough to allow air to circulate around the crown of the romaine heart.

This week, I’ll be monitoring the specimens in the hoophouse and kitchen window.  I’ll share their progress with you next week.  Stay tuned!

Related Posts:

Ultimate Composting-Week Five

Ultimate Composting – Week Four

Ultimate Composting – Week Three

Ultimate Composting – Week Two

Ultimate Composting

Compostable?  I Think Not. 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/06/ultimate-composting-week-six/

Ultimate Composting – Week Five

We’re five weeks into our Ultimate Composting experiment here at 1840 Farm.  We’ve hit a milestone in this project:  it’s time to remove the first two specimens from water and plant them in soilless planting mix.

As you can see, the roots have really taken off over the last two weeks.  Both the celery and romaine heart have established healthy roots and now I need to see if they are hardy enough to draw nutrients from a more solid substrate.  If they can make it another two weeks in the kitchen window, I’ll be ready to add them to the raised beds in the vegetable garden.

Yesterday, I removed the two stubs from their water tray and planted them in small recycled yogurt containers.  I used seed starting mix as their planting medium.  This will provide a very airy, soft material and encourage vigorous root growth.

Seed starting mix tends to dry out quickly, but I’m planning to use that to my advantage.  I don’t want the roots and crown of these plants to be too wet over the next two weeks.  I think that they might be more likely to develop mold if they sit in wet pots on a daily basis.

I also want to transition these plants from their water bath where liquid water was available 24 hours a day to a more natural gardening environment where water will be added during my daily  chores.  These plants need to learn that water is available on a regular basis, but not constantly.

I am eager to see how these two specimens respond to their new pots.  While it’s too soon to tell, they are looking great this morning.  So far, so good.

Next week, I’ll be removing them from their pots to check on the root growth.  I’ve also been using a modified container to discourage mold when starting new specimens.  One week later, the plants are sprouting leaves and roots without showing any sign of mold.  If that continues over the next week, I’ll be sharing the simple way I changed their container to combat the mold problem.  Stay tuned!

Related Posts:
Ultimate Composting  – Week Six

Ultimate Composting – Week Four

Ultimate Composting – Week Three

Ultimate Composting – Week Two

Ultimate Composting

Compostable?  I Think Not. 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/06/ultimate-composting-week-five/

Ultimate Composting – Week Four

It has been nearly a month since I started my ultimate composting experiment.  The celery is still growing stalks and roots in my kitchen window.  Several romaine hearts have joined in and one has roots to rival the celery stump that started it all.

So far, I’ve found that the romaine grows at a much faster rate than the celery.  The romaine leaves are much larger and its roots seem to be more vigorous.  To test this theory, I  started a new celery and romaine heart on the same day.  A week later, it seems that the romaine is clearly in the lead.

I’m learning as I go, making a few mistakes along the way while making changes on the fly.  For instance, one of the romaine hearts was growing well and developing roots but began to mold.  While the interior continued to grow, the exterior was wearing a fuzzy coat of blue-green mold.

The moldy romaine heart went into the compost pile.  I modified it’s growing container slightly to attempt to combat the mold problem.  All I needed was a specimen to test the new container.

I didn’t have to wait very long.  I served salad for dinner last night and added two new romaine hearts to the windowsill.  Now I’ll observe and see if the new container improves the outcome.  I’ll share the results with you next week.  This experiment may never end!

Related Posts:

Ultimate Composting

Ultimate Composting – Week Two

Ultimate Composting – Week Three

Ultimate Composting – Week Five

Ultimate Composting – Week Six

Compostable?  I Think Not. 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/06/ultimate-composting-weekfour/

Ultimate Composting – Week Three

It’s week three of my windowsill ultimate composting experiment.  The tiny celery stalks are now about four inches tall.  The roots are becoming longer and more numerous every day.

In fact, the results are so encouraging that I have added another specimen to the window.  Add one more romaine heart to the collection.  Pretty soon I’m going to need a bigger kitchen windowsill.

 

Related Posts:

Ultimate Composting

Ultimate Composting – Week Two

Ultimate Composting – Week Four

Ultimate Composting – Week Five

Ultimate Composting – Week Six

Compostable?  I Think Not. 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/06/ultimate-composting-week-three/

Ultimate Composting – Week Two

It has been two weeks since I started my latest gardening experiment.  There’s no point in trying to hide the truth from you:  I’m growing groceries from what some would call garbage.  Yes, that’s right:  I’m growing celery from the trimmings that usually end up in the compost bin or garbage pile.

While that may sound crazy, here’s something even crazier:  it’s actually working.  The celery has sprouted several stalks since last week.  Small roots are taking hold on the underside and if this continues I hope to be planting the whole thing in a few weeks.

In fact, the celery is making such amazing progress that I decided to add another item to the growing tray.  This time, I added a piece from the end of a head of organic romaine lettuce.  In less than five days, the romaine has already started to grow new leaves and roots.

I can’t wait to see what kind of transformation these specimens will make during the next week.  Right now I’m off to scavenge in the refrigerator.  I know that there must be something else I could add to this edible experiment.

Related Posts:

Ultimate Composting

Ultimate Composting – Week Three

Ultimate Composting – Week Four

Ultimate Composting – Week Five

Ultimate Composting – Week Six

Compostable?  I Think Not. 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/05/ultimate-composting-week-two/

Ultimate Composting

Several weeks ago I shared the disappointing results of my children’s compostable packaging experiment.  In case you missed it, the results were notable for not showing any result at all.  After two years in the compost heap, the vegetable scraps had been transformed into beautiful, lush compost for our garden.  The packaging had not.  It had remained intact, barely showing any sign of degradation.

While I was dismayed at the lack of transformation shown by this supposed earth friendly packaging, I carried on carrying out all of our compostable materials from the 1840 Farm kitchen to the compost bins.  I decided to tuck the packaging back into an actively composting bin and see if the third year might do the trick.

Then I happened upon an article that made an interesting claim:  I could grow organic celery plants for my vegetable garden using nothing but the stump left over from a bunch of organic celery.  I was skeptical.  It seemed far too easy.  I couldn’t wait to see if it would work, so when the aforementioned celery trimming was ready for its usual trip to the compost pile, it was given a place of prominence in the kitchen window instead.

The celery trimming sits in a shallow container of water for a few weeks.  As it does, it will set roots and begin to grow new stalks of edible celery.  I kept checking for either when I changed out the water daily, but for the first few days nothing seemed to be happening.  Today marks the fifth day of this experiment and suddenly the small slice of celery is sprouting a tiny new stalk.

There are miniscule roots beginning to emerge from the underside of the celery.  They aren’t sizable enough to plant in the garden yet, but we’re making progress.  I’m amazed that this method may actually turn something that I would usually toss into the compost bin into a vibrant new plant that can be transplanted into the vegetable garden for the summer growing season.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of our new composting experiment in the coming weeks.  Until then, I won’t be throwing any celery trimmings in the compost bin.  I’ll be too busy sprouting them in the kitchen window.

Related posts:

Ultimate Composting – Week Two

Ultimate Composting – Week Three

Ultimate Composting – Week Four

Ultimate Composting – Week Five

Ultimate Composting – Week Six

Compostable?  I Think Not. 

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/05/ultimate-composting/

Compostable? I think not.

Two years ago, my children and I decided to conduct a little experiment.  That happens quite often here at 1840 Farm.  In fact, it’s strongly encouraged.  We started noticing a lot of compostable packaging on grocery store shelves and wondered just how quickly it would compost.

We buried a few bags, pouches, and cups that boasted their eco-friendliness in the bottom of one of our four compost bins.  I had forgotten all about this experiment until I was harvesting compost for our new raised beds last weekend.   As I used a shovel to remove the compost, I began to uncover the packaging one piece at a time.

While the materials were weakened and slightly worse for the wear, they were still intact.  The food scraps and leaves that had been in the bin were  transformed into beautiful compost.  During the same period of time, the supposedly earth friendly and compostable packaging was unchanged.

Compostable?  I think not.  Something stinks here and it sure isn’t the compost.

Permanent link to this article: http://1840farm.com/2012/05/compostable-i-think-not/