Garden Update: Composting Adventures and Fall/Winter Planting

It’s getting to be that transition time in our Santa Barbara garden plot, where the summer items are fading out and our winter garden is starting to go in.  I love that we get to live in a place where plants can grow happily all year, and I’m enjoying the adventure of learning what works and what doesn’t out here in SoCal.

Over the summer, we had great success with our tomatoes, some peppers, zucchini (out of control), summer squash, green beans, potatoes, and even some sunflowers that the birds planted.  We spent a lot of time in the spring/beginning of quarantine times re-wiring the bottoms of our raised beds to prevent invasions by moles and squirrels, which were frankly getting out of control.  All of that effort really paid off for us this summer, and I’m happy to report that we didn’t lose a single plant to our underground rodent friends all season!  Some pictures from our summer harvests below so you can see what we’ve been up to!

After the re-wiring work and summer planting, we have been really enjoying our harvests recently.  We are ready to start taking on some new projects, such as building an arch for vined plants (melons, cucumbers, winter squash, peas, and beans), and working on building our new composting system!  The arch will be a later project, but we got the compost system up and running this past weekend.

We ordered a flexible compost bin from Geobin to serve as our base for the compost pile.  We liked that this brand was easy to assemble, and was definitely on the cheaper end of recycling bins that are available on the market.  Upon assembly, we were really surprised by how big the bin ended up being, and loved that it was made of a durable material that could be folded into a nice oblong oval to fit alongside the back aisle of our plot.  There are also plenty of holes for ventilation, which is key to the success of the composting process.  We lined the bottom of our bin with some spare chicken wire to prevent our friends the moles from attacking, but hopefully to allow worms and bugs to move in and find a happy new home there.  We topped our bin with a breathable fabric that is often used to shield plants, which will hopefully help keep the squirrels and birds out, and shade from the sun a bit.

For the actual contents of the compost, we added some horse manure that the garden stocks, kitchen scraps, old plant material, and shredded paper bags.  We got a cheap, sealable bucket to hold our kitchen scraps, that I have been putting into sealable Ziploc bags to reduce the smell over the week.  Because it’s pandemic times and we aren’t allowed to bring reusable bags to the stores anymore (and, frankly, I always forget to bring bags regardless of the pandemic), we have quite a supply of paper bags that we have started shredding (we bought a paper shredder just for our compost!) and adding to our bin.  I’ve also been throwing in paper towels that have only been used on water-type items (none that have touched any cleaners or grease) into the bin to hopefully compost down over time.  I’m very excited about our mix and hope it produces great compost!  I’ll post an update in a year or so with our final result!

We’ve also been planting away for our fall garden!  So far, we’ve started lots of items from seed: cabbages, Brussels sprouts, fava beans, Tuscan kale, Swiss chard, bok choi, and some lettuce.  Last week we also planted some garlic, onions, and a whole bed of peas.  We’re starting to see some sprouts, and I’m very excited to see what starts growing over time.  More to come as the season progresses!

I hope this was a nice tutorial about our composting adventures, and a nice little update on what we have planted so far in our fall/winter garden.  I want to try to do an update on our tomato varieties that we grew this year, plus a Bakersfield garden update as well.  Lots of exciting things happening, and I love sharing our garden adventures with the blog!

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