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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Compost Piles

One of my lofty goals in Horticulture Therapy, is to teach my patients how to be good stewards of the Earth. When a predominant amount of veterans have lived in suburbia, horticulture and specifically composting is not common. Other goals in horticulture therapy are also be as organic as possible when gardening, and to reuse and recycle products when able. Wednesday when I was getting my coffee at work, I asked the vendor about the status of his coffee grounds. You see, my program collects them every so often (at least once a week) and dump them in one of our 5 compost piles.

"My coffee grounds are really piling up!" "OK", I said, "I will send one of my patients around to pick up the buckets (old plastic 5 gallon paint buckets) and leave you new buckets."

"You must have a huge compost pile! You have collected a lot of coffee grounds!"

Why, yes, we have 5. It all started with a bad horticulture accident. I had just started working in the greenhouse. Just started figuring out what I was good at and what I was not so good at doing. We had tried making some cuttings of fibrous begonias. They came down with some bugs. I sprayed them with Cinnamite.

Well, I killed the bugs.

I also killed the begonias. And the first compost pile was born!

I have converted 5 old broken down and abandoned cold frames into my compost piles. Dirt from the transplanted greenery goes into the compost piles instead of the going into the trash and or dump. The coffee grounds, leaves, dead flowers from the flowershop and trimmings go into these piles. We put wire fencing over the tops of the piles to keep large items from blowing out but the rain and snow can get in, plus we can dump the grounds into the pile without moving the fencing. I eventually labelled them by number so that everyone is clear when I say dump in number 3 or number 4...

The compost pile gets turned by pitchfork about every other month throughout the year (except for winter when it is frozen ;) and watered, and given enzymes to help it break down. Last year, we used the piles to supplement our whiskey barrel flower gardens. I think we must have about 30 barrels (and the number is always increasing) which need freshening up every year as the dirt gets pulled out when we pull the annuals.

You should see my worms! Phew!

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