You take the Good, You take the bad…

So I noticed some crazy effed up leaves on my peach trees this past week.  Looked like a leaf roller or something – yeah, it turns out I have a fungal issue with peach leaf curl.  Treatment this year will be taking the affected leaves and composting them – and next year it looks like a simple copper spray, or perhaps compost tea, may be enough.  Still, pretty frustrated that my first years buds and growth were rendered moot.   Live and learn.  The trees aren’t really big enough to support much fruit this year, but you still hate to see them in such a state.

On the Good side, – the potato tower is doing fabulous!  The two larger plants are putting on an inch of growth a day thanks to the compost rich soil, slow rain, and 1″ of worm castings.   Thus far it is VERY encouraging.   To top it off, I (finally!) bought a pair of gooseberry plants from a local native/edible landscaping nursery.  I am excited to see how big they get, how the fruit tastes, and how bad the thorns are.  They are fruiting out already so updates will be coming!

And finally, my personal favorite of the day – two of my compost bins crested 152 degrees today!  I typically struggle to get enough nitrogen in my piles as they are mostly coffee grounds, and with an entire winters haul of materials (almost 3 yards!) I needed to get the piles cooking HOT before I run out of room.  So I mixed in 2 cu ft of lawn clippings for each 6″ of partially cooked compost, wet it down a bit and let ‘er rip.  The first week I hit 142, but I must not have had it wet enough, because after several days of rain, they settled down about 4″ and are cranking along at 150+.  That is a personal best and should net me a very fine finished product if I can keep it up.  Hopefully I can let every other cutting lie on the lawn and still keep the piles going this strong.  How exciting!


9 Responses

  1. Interesting- lawn clippings always turn into anerobic muck when I try to compost them. I’ve started putting them in the chicken pen- the girls keep it constantly moving, and find lots to eat.

    It might be worth mentioning that if your compost isn’t ridiculously hot, it would be safer to burn fungus infected leaves.

    As far as native fruits, I’ve been harvesting five pounds of mulberries per day for two weeks, and they don’t have thorns. This is from trees less than ten years old.

  2. My work around on the anerobic muck is that I put the clippings in small quantitites and add it to the pile *before* I turn it so that it is “pre mixed” and cannot form a mat. Each fork full as I turn is no more than 20% clippings, but is a real good mix of material so that it cannot form a mat.

    I share your concern about the fungus in the compost, but I am rather rigorous in my composting – keeping temps 110+ for 2 months with the majority of the time at 140+.

    That is a crazy amount of mulberries – congrats!

  3. I’m watching your reports on the potato tower with interest this year. I’m doing a modified version of this with potatoes in buckets. I chose a late season potato to trial this with, based on some people’s claims that only late season varieties will produce much better with extra mounding. Harvest should be a breeze with the potatoes. Looking forward to your results and mine!


  4. Awesome results all the way around…save for the peach tree that is. Your compost is to be envied with that temp. Alas, I’m so not there yet.

  5. I’m such a lazy composter. I have never checked the temp, I just make sure I have twice as much brown as green, water occasionally (AZ is great for dry composting over years and fossilizing, not so great for finished good stuff), and wait.

    I would love to have worms but I don’t know where I would keep them that they would stay alive over the summer…or the winter. We allow the house to get to 85 in summer, and it hovers around 56 in winter, neither of which is conducive to worm life. On the other hand, I have chickens which have greatly increased my manure inputs to the garden.

    My seed potatoes started sprouting in February so I got them into the ground then; I am doing a VERY redneck job of making a tower for them — garden fence and black plastic are my towers. I showed your photos to DH and he is enthused about doing your version next year instead.

  6. I thought I was a little nutty when I realized how happy a hot compost pile made me. But now I just realized how enthralled I get with other people’s hot compost pile stories. Hmm.

    Nice work with the potato tower. I tried to line a chicken wire fence with leaves on the edge and compost in the middle last year, (figuring that the matting nature of leaves would hold in moisture) but I couldn’t keep it wet enough. Will have to try something sturdier like your tower next year.

  7. Thanks Christy! I like to keep it in the 140 range – but with so much material on hand (and more coming!) I needed to take it up a notch. It was pretty exciting to see it crest 150! Nitrogen and water are key.

    THS – there are many times I *wish* I could be a lazy composter, but I feel almost a moral imperative to repair the “dirt” here to a more livable state. the 85 degree would be a bit much for the worms, but certainly 56 wouldn’t be too cold. I keep my bin outside -year round- in WI and we see air temps as low as -17F. I think I get a lot of culling in that temp, but enough egg cases survive to repopulate the colony annually – I have a huge amount right now after a horrid winter.

    Christy – I think alot of us get nutty about hot composting. It likely has something to do with goal centric personalities. My Left Brain loves to measure the harvest, calculate the yield per input calories, etc of my gardens to see if I am making improvements. But composting is still special. I tell my kids its like taking part in Mother Nature’s mysterious magic; in being a part of the wondrous cycle that takes waste and turns it into resources. Being surrounded by wanton waste (as an end state) in our society, there is something very soul cleansing about that aspect of composting.

  8. Hey, Rob,
    Stumbled onto your website and loved it. FYI The One-Straw Revolution is being republished on June 2, 2009 (egads, on Tuesday) by the New YouK Review of Books.
    Larry, editor and translator

  9. Oops, I do want to get follow-ups. I live in Ashland, Oregon.
    Larry Korn

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