Unplanned Compost Garden

Last fall I bought a 3 bin wire composter from gardener’s supply. www.gardenerssupply.com I love looking at their catalogs.  I get as excited when they arrive as I did when the Sears Christmas Wish Book arrived when I was a kid.  I decided on this one because I wanted it to be directly on the ground so the nearby struggling orange trees would benefit from the close proximity to the composter.  I also liked the idea of having the 3 bins so that I could have compost at different stages.  Even now, I still don’t know a whole lot about what I’m doing.  I’m going by advice I’m getting from my mother in law who is a complete natural at all of this.  I’m still trying to figure out the ratio of vegetable and fruit scraps to leaves, grass etc.  My only problem I’m having is that I’m a little short to be able to use my little pitchfork to turn the compost in the bin.  I think I’m going to have to start getting a little step ladder so I can get a little leverage.

I really hadn’t paid a whole lot of attention to my compost bins from the fall.  I decided I needed to tend to them a bit better if I wanted to have any compost for my new plants when I discovered this:


It was like Jack and the Beanstalk.  I swear it grew overnight!  I had no idea what this was.  It looked like pumpkin or zucchini but I knew I hadn’t put any of that into the compost bin.  These vines were clearly coming out of the compost bins and as you can see…very healthy!  The more I looked the more I was convinced that it was butternut squash and I had put the scraps of that in the compost in the fall.


Sure enough, it’s butternut squash!  There were a ton of blossoms!


And tomatoes!….lots of them!  As you can see, they are making it a bit hard to actually get to my compost bin.  I kept thinking I may just have to cut some of this back so I can get to it but as of now I haven’t had the heart to.  I’m really interested in seeing how these taste when they are grown from such a rich fertile place.


More progress tomorrow!


Front Yard…Making the Change from Decorative (sort of) to Functional

I felt like I needed to give a little background on how we transformed the back yard before I really started in on my gardening venture.  I’m quite a bit behind since I started most of my planting around the beginning of May.  The back yard though isn’t where I really did most of planting as I realized when I started looking through my pictures.  Living in Southern California while we are in a major drought has proven to be a bit challenging.  Our front yard was a combination of rose garden and lawn.  Neither of them looked particularly interesting.  The roses were getting decimated by the deer, also a by product of the drought.  They are beautiful and gentle and everyone always stops in wonder watching them. But, they munch on…EVERYTHING!!!   I loved them at first but they literally don’t leave a leaf untouched.  I decided that the best thing to do was to get rid of the lawn in front yard and make some changes to the rose garden.  I knew I was going to need to water the fruits and vegetables a little bit but I’d rather use the water to grow food for us to eat than to just make a lawn green.  I wish I had taken pictures before we took the lawn out so I could show the difference.  I decided to start small which is really hard to stick with once you’re surrounded by all of those little pots of herbs and veggies at the garden store.  I was pretty good though and kept my garden fairly small.  For my first season I purchased my veggie and fruit plants from Home Depot and OSH.  Now that I’m finding out that most of these plants are being treated with pesticides I’ve decided that from here on out I’m going to plant from seeds that I know are non GMO.  The ones I’ve been starting with are Botanical Interests Seeds.  http://www.botanicalinterests.com  I’ve purchased a bunch of different tomato varieties for new spring but they can also be purchased at Armstrong Garden Center.  http://www.armstronggardencenter.com



The front yard after the lawn was removed.  I tried to repurpose some of the merchandisers that I had for my children’s clothing business to hang baskets of strawberries on.  I also was able to reuse the pallets that my merchandise was shipped to me on.  I love pumpkins and viney fruits and vegetables but they take over the yard and the fruit gets mucky from being on the moist ground.  So, I put 2 pallets together to make an A- frame.  I wasn’t sure how to attach them and decided I didn’t want to wait for my husband to get out the cordless drill so I just took ribbon and tied them together.  I decided to start off with watermelon, cucumber, cantelope, and pumpkin on the 4 A-frames.  I planted 3 different tomato plants in between the pallet A-frames.  I did some reading about pairing plants together and planted marigolds around the tomatoes to ward off pests that prey on tomatoes and so far I haven’t seen a single leaf that has been nibbled on.


My pumpkin babies.  The disparity in size and the little fence is thanks to the deer.  The deer won’t touch the pumpkins once they get bigger and very prickly but they loved the sprouts and pulled some right out.  These are the only ones that I planted from seeds so I planted some more right away and kept them safe from the deer with the fence.  Damn Deer!  Everyone who drives by thinks there are so fun to see and slows down to take pictures and then get upset with me when I shoo them out of our yard.  I’ll happily send them to their house to eat their garden! lol!


The cucumbers took to their transplanting beautifully!  They started blossoming quickly and growing little tiny cucumbers right away!


This little watermelon just kind of sat here for quite some time not really doing anything.  It didn’t grow but it didn’t wither and die.  My daughter kept telling me that she thought it was going to die and yet I saw little tiny bits of growth so I kept hoping all would be well and upped the watering a bit on this one.  I thought…well, maybe “water”melon needs a great deal of water.  It turns out that I’ve just learned that watermelon doesn’t really need as much water as many other plants.  I just read that here.  http://theprepperproject.com/7-survival-crops-can-grow-without-irrigation/


Cantelope…I love cantelope so much and I think this is the plant I’m most excited to see grow.  I have made sure with all of the vines that I’ve planted two of them so cross pollination can occur.  I’ve never made it this far with anything because I always forget to water.  But, we still have the sprinklers in the front yard so these guys may have a chance.  Very soon, we’re going to be converting the existing sprinkler system to a drip system and soaker hoses.