Hi Ho the Dairy Oh, A Composting We Will Go! This is a delayed post….I created this blog posting and set aside as a draft then forgot about it….such is life with CRS. (can’t remember shtuff) – 3 weeks ago maybe. Why can I remember my third grade teacher, Miss Keck with such clarity and can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday?

It is a hot and sweaty job in the Houston heat to turn the pile and harvest to black gold…no, not Texas Tea or commonly known as crude oil! I am talking about the organic ,material piled high in my bins and rotted down through microbial action of probably billions of too small to be seen critters’ munching away and converting the browns and greens into the almost black rich compost that every garden craves. The microscopic critters do get some help from the worms…just under the surface are the red wrigglers that have found their way out of the vermicomposting bin and the big ole earthworms the migrate to the deeper, cooler and more mature regions of the pile.

This recent turning of the pile has produced 2 and a half wheel barrow loads of rich compost. One load has been added to my most recently established raised bed. It is in need of big help. When I built this bed I used quite a bite of supposedly organic materials, existing heavy clay soil, organic compost, composted cow manure and topsoil. Not money well spent. The 4 bags of “Miracle Grow” organic labeled compost were primarily sawdust and very small wood chips. Technically, yes it is organic but it is a far from being a source of plant nutrition – the sawdust and wood products lock up nitrogen until they break down sufficiently…probably in a year or less for our hot humid climate. The composted cow manure was at least 30% sand and probably 10-15% wood chips… some readily available nutrients but not what I wanted. The top soil again was loaded with small wood chips, sand and some “soil”. I realized the error of my ways when most of the seedlings came up looking anemic and with most the growth was stunted. This recent wheel barrow load supplemented two other loads that I had added 3 months ago to this bed … growth is improving so I am feeling better.

The first of several loads heading to the garden.

Getting down to the bottom of the bin. What luscious yummy garden food!

I am pretty well done adding new beds to my backyard farm so from this point forward all additions will be Bishop made compost. I am looking for some well-rotted or composted horse manure and I may have located some.  Craigslist is for more than finding casual encounters, or at least it is here in Houston. The farm and garden section has me drooling….yes, not a pretty sight but when you can get a pick-up load of aged horse manure for little more than $40.00 – gas included, you can get a little excited. That is a little more than 2 cubic yards if not mounded high – about 2 cubic meters for those lucky enough to be on the metric system.

While typing that last paragraph it reminded me to remind Joe, my youngest son, to remember to mow the grass….and most importantly dump the grass into the left bin of my two bin compost pile. Although it should be obvious I decided to be a Dad and give explicit instructions…..leave nothing to chance with a teenager! Dear iPhone, please send my text message ASAP! The right bin has about a wheelbarrow and a half of luscious compost waiting to start feeding the hungry plants….I don’t want it buried under a couple of weeks of grass cuttings. The only cost of moving the grass cuttings over to the left side is copious amounts of Houston inspired sweat required for the task….I will sweat when I want and when I know that I must… I will try to conserve my sweating for NEEDED activities!

I am still in California( update left New Mexico yesterday in Midland TX this morning and back in Houston before night fall)  but I have traded the cool foggy evenings and mornings for the heat of the central California Valley in my “real” home town of Bakersfield California. I am trying to think of something that does not grow well here???????  My mother-in-law’s backyard, besides looking like a park, has a variety of citrus trees. The grapefruit tree is loaded to the point of sagging heavily. FYI, my mother-in-low just poked her head into the room and reminded me about the fresh apricots just picked off of the neighbor’s tree. My, my, my, California, if the government here wasn’t so broke I would consider returning – maybe!

A garden tool hook that reminds me of how easy it is to sweat in Houston and also a reminder of the fruits of hard labor!