Garden/Compost Update! Finally!

I said in my last post (which was a while ago, my bad) that I would post about the garden. If you remember a post a while back, I also said I would update about my compost. So here I hit two whammies, info on both, each has been a new adventure for me.

My first attempt at a raised bed garden, or any garden at all for me, was awesome. We grew (or attempted to grow) the following:

End of the season, but still looking good!

tomatoes, basil, marjoram, watermelon, sweet potatoes, carrots, lettuce, sunflowers, snap peas, lettuce, and a friend borrowed some space in the garden to grow hops. My garden was 8’x4’. If you’re thinking, “WOW that is a lot for such a small garden!” then you would be right. But I was so excited! As a result to crowded space and a late start (we didn’t plant until late May), the lettuce, marjoram, and carrots did not produce. Well, we had one carrot, but well…it sucked. The watermelon plant grew and grew and grew and grew (it’s a vine) but never produced a watermelon. I probably/likely did something wrong there.

Everything else grew in abundance. Turns out sweet potatoes are on crack and will try to take over your garden, so I had to clip them constantly. They grow until the first frost so are still going strong; I’m excited to see what they produce. I know some gardeners struggled with tomatoes this year, but we had HUGE success. Still yielding tomatoes now and am in the process of figuring out a salsa recipe. Basil also grew abundantly, despite me having to transplant it to a new spot in the garden because the tomatoes were so big. The sunflowers were huge and gorgeous, I’m going to try to incorporate some pictures into the blog somehow. We grew red sunflowers as well as yellow, and they were stunning. The snap peas produced dozens, probably over 100, and were so full and tasty that I couldn’t have asked for anything better. The two varieties of hops that were grown had a slow start but then took off and eventually produced well. Hops do not usually yield cones in their first season, so the fact that they did leaves me curious as to how they do next year. My prediction? Awesome-ness.

Did my home compost help grow my garden? Nope. The compost process takes a long time to truly break down every item, and it took about 12 weeks to really form compost that could be used. By the time it was ready my garden was too full to bother putting compost in, so I added more materials to the existing compost to make more. Since complete compost was already in the container the break-down process was much faster, and by the end of the summer I had a small batch of compost (by that I mean I had somewhere in the range of 10 cubic feet). It was a little lumpy, but take a look:

Compost goodness!

After clearing out a lot of the garden that has seen its better days, I was able to add the compost in and mix it into the existing soil. Since the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and basil are still growing, I’m hoping that my “black gold” will give an end of season boost.

Depending on the winter, Swiss chard and a few varieties of lettuce can be grown in Upstate New York, if covered well. I have to research this more, as I may have already missed the window of opportunity to plant. In the meantime I am re-collecting compost materials, growing what is left of the garden, and hoping that winter isn’t too cold this year! If anyone has had success growing outside in the winter months, I’d love to hear from you!

Special thanks to my garden pal for the this year:

Mango helped dig back in May!

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