Building a Bridge

For years, the garden has suffered with huge pools of standing water during the fall and winter ‘wet’ season.  Not only is the water an obstacle when accessing plots, the saturated ground makes it nearly impossible to move wheel-barrows.

Sunday, October 30th saw a group of like-minded gardeners come together to construct a bridge over the largest of the waterways at the front of the garden.

A little ingenuity, a lot of lifting, some sawing and a handful of nails resulted in this seasonal bridge that spans the water.  Using recycled wood and nine large cedar planks the bridge will be removed in the spring when things dry out so it won’t interfere with the mowers and upkeep around the garden.

Thanks to all who lent a hand (or a hammer) to this project.  It’s been talked about for years and is finally a reality.

The water hazard.  This shot shows the 'support pilings' that were put in place to support the planks.

The water hazard. This shot shows the ‘support pilings’ that were put in place to support the planks.

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Ginny and Judith checking the stability of the support.

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Laying in the planks and aligning them to the support platforms.

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The bridge gets it’s first testing. It’s wide enough for a wheelbarrow, but the structure isn’t wide enough for the hand carts and four-wheel carts at the garden.

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The final project. This bridge is designed to be removed in the spring once the garden dries up. In the meantime, it provides a way to move wheelbarrows across the wetest (and softest) portion of the garden.

 

Bin #4

September Update:

Picture #1

Picture #1

A new experiment is underway in Bin #4 – we’re following a formula for ’18-Day Compost’.  We’ve started with alternating layers of green waste, lawn clippings, bark chips, leaves, shredded newspaper, cardboard cut into approx. 2″ squares, and about 4 pounds worth of coffee grounds.

Picture 1 shows the materials laid out and ready to go.  We’ve got green waste and prunings from the plot in the wheelbarrow, shredded paper, bark chips, cut-up cardbord, and we’ve also got two containers of crushed egg shells and dried & ground banana peelings.  We’ve also held back about a half-wheelbarrow of the compost that came from the composter to be used as a ‘starter’ for this batch.

Picture #2

We began by layering in 2-inch layers of alternating matter, wetting the layers down with water as we went.  Picture #2 shows what a layer of the cut-up cardboard looked like.

When the bin was about half-full, we piled the held-back compost right in the middle of the heap, and then continued to layer in the remaining materials with a layer of brown waste (cardboard and newsprint), green waste, coffee grounds, leaves, and a scattering of crushed egg shells.  Finally, we wet the whole pile to get everything nice and damp.

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Picture #3

The final bin appears in picture #3.

Following the formula, we’ll let the whole batch sit undisturbed for four days, and then begin turning it every couple days, bringing the hot inner core to the outside and putting the cooler outer layer on the inside.  With any luck, we’ll have a bin full of rich compost in about three weeks.  Watch for updates!

September 14 Update:  Temperature 126F.  Turned to move dry material to the middle and added more water.

September 18 Update: Temperature lower at 114F.

September 21 Update: Turned compost moving warm centre to outer edges and dry matter from the outside back into the middle.

September 24 Update: Compost is breaking down very nicely and cooling off to the point where there are hundreds of earthworms already active in the mixture.

Sept 24th inspection

Sept 24th inspection

October 11 Update:  We unloaded four wheelbarrow loads of beautiful rich compost from the bin.  33 days from start to finish – not quite the 18 days ‘as advertised’ but still pretty quick for this time of year, and certainly faster than letting it cold compost.  We will definitely do this again.

We added three loads of compost to the plot, and used the fourth load to re-start the composter for another batch.  We’ve added leaves, greens and waste from the plot, shredded newspaper, grass clippings, and some must left over from making a batch of wine.  It’s all layered in like a big batch of lasagna, and we’ll wait until spring to see what happens with this load.  We won’t bother trying to maintain a hot compost mixture through the fall and winter, but we still hope to get three or four more loads of compost out of the bin in the spring.

Over the past two years we’ve added 8 wheelbarrow loads of compost to the plot, raising the north-west corner of the plot by about 8 inches and getting it up out of the standing water that forms in front of the plot.

Final results October 11

Three wheel barrow loads of compost added to the plot.

Final results October 11

Maintained by N3-89-90

This compost box has been in service for over 18 months and is being used as a ‘hot’ composter.  The initial loading consisted of alternating layers of green waste, dried plant material, garden soil, egg shells, newspaper, cardboard, coffee grounds and some manure.  The contents were watered down and left to sit for about 72 hours when the temperature was checked.  Internal temperature was maintained between 130 and 140 F while the contents were turned over and in about 7 weeks the entire load was reduced to rich black compost.  Approximately 80% of the compost was removed and added to the garden plots, and another batch was started using the remaining black earth combined in a layered fashion like the original start-up.

Bin #2

On August 17th we prepared for ‘cold composting’ in Bin #2.

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Rhubarb leaves, Kale & Swiss chard stalks

Dried rhubarb leaves, kale & swiss chard stalks will be added to ‘brown layer’. Trimmings from broad beans and amaranth will go into green layer.

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Trimmings from Broad Beans and Amaranth

Also, just heard from Linda Gilkeson (author of Backyard Bounty) “you can compost powdery mildew leaves, but don’t pick them off until they are really dead because the plant is still able to use partly infected leaves for photosynthesis.”

 

Bin #1

August 7th

Additions to Bin #1 August 7, 2016

Additions to Bin #1 August 7, 2016

Today, there was an addition of materials to Bin #1 as you can see from the accompanying photo.  There was a substantial amount of material added including dried leaves, grass clippings from the most recent mowing, and a little dirt/manure.

The wheel barrow on the right is heaped with dried leaves.

The middle wheel barrow contains a small mountain of grass clippings, and you can see the small amount of dirt/manure that was used to layer the compost.

Let’s see what happens!

October 6th Update

The pile had one more wheel barrel full of dry leaves added in Aug.  It was turned and watered twice in the first couple of weeks in August and then left undisturbed till Oct 2.

Bin #1 results October 2, 2016

Bin #1 results October 2, 2016

Composting

Four composting bins in Neighbourhood 3.

Four composting bins in Neighbourhood 3.

Composting Diary

There’s a Composting experiment running in Neighbourhood 3.  Four composters – four different composting styles.  We’ve numbered them 1 through 4 with #1 being on your left as you face the access doors, and #4 being on the right.

Compost bin #1

Maintained by N3-5

Click here for an update on Bin #1

Compost bin #2

Cold Composting is underway

Compost bin #3

Watch for updates

Compost bin #4

18-day Compost experiment Underway

Composting On-Site

Gardener Bev Neilson has the following composting suggestion for those who want to compost right on their plot:

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Step 2: Put in your clippings, leaves, green waste. Chop with a shovel.

Here are photos of my garden –

Step 1: Dig a hole

Step 1: Dig a hole

1. Dig a hole (I used a pathway)

2. Collect the weeds/plants where you have collected them  Put them in the hole and chop then with the shovel

3  Cover them with the soil – Happy Worms!!

Cover and let the worms picnic.

Cover and let the worms picnic.