Saturday, January 16, 2010
Art of Composting
The plant I used as a model for this painting was a gift from a gardener I met at the oldest P-Patch in Seattle, located on the grounds of the old Picardo farm. Before we moved into a house with its own yard, we tended a plot at the Upper Queen Anne P-Patch, one of the many organic community gardens in Seattle.
The —P— in P-Patch doesn't stand for a pea in the pod, but for the name of the farmer who, during economically hard times, let neighbors grow their vegetables on his property, years before the city of Seattle bought the land in 1973, and the first official community garden in town was a fact.
Since it's practically impossible to control the spread of pesticides (it's carried on the wind) from one plot to the next, the early gardeners agreed all of the gardening should be done without. That is, pests had to be controlled in a natural manner, not with chemicals that could be bad for one's health and the planet.
While they were at it, they voted to use natural fertilizer as well.
In the Pacific Northwest the story goes that the best fertilizer is a salmon, buried in the soil where you plan to have your vegetable garden. Could be true, but chances are the neighborhood cats will dig up the fish before it can do you or your plants any good. An alternative is steeping fish meal in water which is poured on the soil. Cats seem to pull their little noses up for that, but you'll see plenty of flies hovering over the areas treated with such an infusion. We prefer horse or chicken manure mixed with compost.
Recipe for Compost: Russian Kale or other vegetable stalks, apple and potato peels, chopped in 2 inch pieces, teabags and coffee grinds (from your home brew or barista), grass clippings, dried leaves, weeds (without seed heads) and water, turned weekly.