Local Write-up about composting.

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  1. Durgan

    Durgan Contributor 10 Years

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    Brantford,Ontario, Canada
    http://osaloh.notlong.com 10 May 2008 views on composting by Durgan.

    Local News

    Dishing up the dirt; City gardener shares recipe for quality compost

    Posted By Heather Ibbotson

    James Durgan Young enjoys having dirt under his fingernails. This time of year, it's likely to be compost, which, according to Young, is greatly misunderstood.
    Many gardeners are too fastidious in tending compost piles, Young said in an interview on Thursday.
    "Don't fret over it," he said. "Just throw it in a pile and leave it alone."
    Turning a pile too often can kill the composting action, he said.
    Young knows his subject. Over the past five years, the 72-year-old has created a garden paradise on his nearly half-acre Childerhose Crescent property.
    Growing dozens of varieties of vegetables, flowers and trees, Young produces a smorgasbord of produce including, but not limited to, tomatoes, potatoes, raspberries, grapes, brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers, artichokes, parsnips, beets, radishes, carrots and peas.
    "I feed the neighbourhood," he said with a smile as he wandered about his yard sizing up the health of overwintered plants and spying out miniscule sprouts seeking the sun.
    Young was raised in a log cabin homestead at Carrot River, Sask., and went on to a career as a technician and manager with Hitachi. His work involved installing electron microscopes at universities across North America and around the world.
    Since retirement, Young's passion for gardening has fully flowered. The backbone of his backyard Eden is good clay soil and his gardens are fed through yearly applications of compost and wood chips.
    The composting area, located at the rear of Young's property, is comprised of four adjoining bins, simply and inexpensively constructed of metal fence posts and wooden lattice. Each bin measures four feet by eight feet by four feet and is open at one end for easy access.
    Young started with one bin and added on as his gardens grew.
    One bin contains fine, strained compost given away free by the city. Other bins contain developing compost - comprised of garden refuse and grass clippings with some dirt thrown into the mix - and the remains of last year's compost, which was largely used last fall in preparation for spring seeding and planting.

    Young has no patience for plastic stand-alone composters offered by retailers and municipalities.
    "Those little spaceships they give people are hopeless," he said.
    A gardener needs access to the compost for occasional mixing and removal. Barrel-sized plastic composters do not provide proper access, he said.
    Young's compost corrals are large because of his vast garden. Smaller and fewer bins would be enough for most gardeners, he said. Some gardeners go overboard and construct the "most elaborate silly bins," he said, adding that simplicity is best when it comes to composting.
    "Compost is working all the time. You just throw it in and play it by ear," he said.
    Materials must be finely chopped to achieve proper compost, Young said.
    He now uses a portable mini-chipper/shredder but he is no stranger to using a simple block of wood, a machete and some muscle to chop up material for his compost pile.
    'don't like to work'
    "A machete and block is fine for a small garden," Young said.
    The drawback, of course, is that "lots of people don't like to work," he said.
    Young generally spreads compost in the fall and then seeds garden areas with red clover to fix nitrogen in the soil. The winter kills the clover and Young plows it under with his Rototiller.
    "You shouldn't leave land fallow," he said.
    It is fine to spread compost in the spring or fall but it needs to be well turned in the soil, either by spade or tiller, he said.
    He also avoids putting fallen autumn leaves in the compost pile.
    "I don't touch leaves," he said. They are useless as compost because they must be laboriously pulverized by repeated passes with a lawn mower or they turn into sodden, matted clumps thick as phone books, he said.
    "I gave up on leaves. They're a real misery."
    Compost piles get hot when working properly, Young said. "In the summer time, it's too hot to put your hand on."
    It seems everything Young does touch in his garden thrives and he produces a host of healthy flowers and edibles each year.
    Young is nostalgic for the open vistas of the prairies and he has lived in or spent time in many other areas of Canada.
    But from his experience, Brantford "is the nicest growing area I've been in," he said.
    "We're pretty well blessed here."

    Article ID# 1022255
  2. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Toronto, Ontario

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