Monday, September 04, 2006

Landscaping and Composting

We spent two days of our last weekend of summer doing landscaping. I wish I'd taken "before" pictures, but to give you an idea of what we are/were dealing with, here's a picture of the crap that seems to have taken over everything in our yard:
I have no idea what this stuff is. It appears to be similar to the stuff my Grandma called Frost on the Mountain, but it's solid dark green. It's got a sort of carroty/queen anne's lace-y smell and it gets ugly white heads on it. But what's truly amazing about it is the root system. You cannot pull it out. You can barely DIG it out. At the beginning of spring, I decided to try something similar to what my parents did when their garden was overgrown with weeds. They laid thick black plastic over the whole garden and took a year off of gardening. So I took black plastic garbage bags and weighed it down with rocks and left it. It kinda worked:
But I don't know if it will work permanently, so what we ended up doing with a small chunk of our front yard is digging out the entire section (6 inches deep or so), laying down landscape cloth, re-setting the rock wall, sifting all of the dirt pulled out (to get rid of the roots), then putting the dirt back in, mixed with new top soil, and topping with mulch. We did that back in May and it worked so well that we tackled two more sections of landscape this week (replacing the cedar posts on my flower garden with brick retaining wall). In addition, we pulled out bulbs from these two sections (and then, of course, re-set the bulbs). Anyone know if I've ruined my bulbs by transplanting them in September?

Here's the section next to the house but inside the fence:

(If you click back to this post, it's the section with the red tulips in it--you can see the beginnings of the green crap taking over) Also, if you look THROUGH the fence you can see the impatiens--this is the first area where we dug down and put landscape fabric--and how well that has taken off. Here's a closeup of the impatiens bed:

And here's my *flower garden*! it's at the tip of our fenced-in yard and it was a good idea, IMO, to have for a flower garden, but the green crap essentially prevents everything from growing there other than bulbs, first thing in the spring):

(If you click back to this picture from early May, you'll see some of the bulbs, and, of course, the green crap taking over)

I think I re-set over 200 bulbs. I sure hope they come back.

In addition, G. patched up some of the grass in our balding lawn, and (my favorite thing) he built me a compost bin:
I am SO excited to be composting! I had the kids gather dead leaves from last year (the ones stuck behind the shed and other places that the rake wouldn't reach), had G. mow the lawn for grass clippings, and stopped by Starbucks to get some coffee grounds! Anyone experienced with compost bins? Things I've read have differing tips on how much green vs. brown matter and when/how often to turn them and how often to water them and so on. Also, just what kitchen scraps are okay to put in it. I'd love advice on that, too.


sewingsuzee said...

Very, very cool. Your garden will be lovely! The impatiens are beautiful.

mamafitz said...

i'm jealous of your compost bin -- we still need to build one. now you need to get some rain barrels.

this is what i know as far as what is good, foodwise: no meat scraps. eggshells and coffee grounds are great. any vegetable stuff. it's supposed to be wet like a damp sponge. good luck!

no clue if you hurt your bulbs or not -- you'll find out in spring! hopefully they are fine, or at worst, will come up but not bloom.

Sarah said...


I throw in: egg shells, fruit/veggie scraps (potato peals, lettuce, orange peels, peach pits), coffee grounds, tea bags. I don't throw in weeds because my parents told me not to...but if I did, I don't know what difference it would make if I actually stirred the compost. I don't worry about brown v. green at all. Just don't throw in entire eggs or bones or meat. Supposedly that attracts animals.

I obviously don't stir enough, but I would think a couple times a week would be okay. In winter, when we have snow or below freezing temps, I don't bother to stir at all (but I do keep adding to the pile). I water in summer if it doesn't rain once a week. I think I read somewhere that you should water once a day if it gets some sun; my grandma and mom used to use "end of the dishes" dishwater. I do that occasionally (and what a great way to use that water rather than waste it).

Your garden looks great and must have been SO much work. Wow. The compose bin looks wonderful, too.

Abby said...

Your bulbs should be fine - they're supposed to be planted in the fall, and I've even moved some around in the summer and they've been OK. Also - another thing that works great to get rid of weeds is just to put newspaper down and cover it with mulch. The newspaper degrades eventually, but holds up long enough to kill everything underneath. I've done that a lot in areas that were too overwhelming to weed.

Stefaneener said...

Weeds are okay to compost if they don't have mature or maturing seeds. I don't worry, but I tend to too much green, so I shred newspaper into it. Stir whenever you feel like it. the more you stir, the faster it goes. But it will "go" no matter what.

I'm wondering if the green stuff is "false carrot" or something like that. Nasty stuff.