On Sunday mornings this month, all across our region, confused homeowners wake up to an odd theft. All the 30-gallon bags of Saturday's raked leaves carefully stacked at the curb for Monday's garbage pickup have disappeared. Meanwhile, early rising gardeners are back home having a second cup of coffee. They've already dumped all those bags at the back of the garden and mixed them with grass clippings to make compost by the truckload.
You can join the fun too. If you have even 4' x 8' of space available, you can make plenty of compost to improve soil structure and fertilize your plants. Divide the space in half and fill one side with leaves, grass clippings, and a dusting of cottonseed meal or another organic fertilizer. Use a garden fork to turn the compost from one side to the other every week or two. When the compost's almost finished, start some more.
Before you know it, you'll be cruising for bags with the rest of us!
Creating and Planting Garden Troughs
Creating and Planting Garden Troughs, by Joyce Fingerhut and Rex Murfitt (B.B. Mackey Books, 1999; $21), speaks to one of my passions. I'm enamored of garden troughs, the rougher the better. I like ruins in gardens, where vines have overtaken ancient columns and moss grows on the statues. In a moment of whimsy last year, I began a ruin in a side garden, despite the fact that no structure had ever stood there. I need a trough, and these folks have taught me how to make one. You've never seen so many ways to make truly unique planters, great for growing plants of all sorts.
A comprehensive walk through materials, designs, and plants, this book is a 2000 American Horticultural Society Book Award winner. Although some of the plants are unsuitable for our climate, the illustrations and descriptions provide grist for choosing among those that are.