October 2010

I’ve been making compost and adding it to my soil for years, and my vegetable bed soil is now in great shape as a result. My earlier compost piles have had an expected temperature timeline, given the small bins I’m using, of getting hot (about 140-150° F) a day or two after I build the pile, then dropping to about 90-100° on day five.

Not so with my latest compost pile. I put the pile together five days ago. I checked it two days later and it was an astounding 160°. The next day, the same temperature. The fourth day it dropped to 155°. This morning I checked and it is still cooking away at 148°. If I keep it turned and moist (and not TOO wet with winter rains), I should have a fine batch of compost to use with my spring crops!

Update (11/5/10): Two weeks after starting this pile, it was still cooking along at 120°. I’m speculating that this pile is doing so well for two reasons: water and air. I was not as heavy handed with the hose as usual when building the pile, so I think it wasn’t water logged. I often shred materials to increase surface area and speed up decomposition. I didn’t do that with this pile, so the pieces are larger, allowing for better air flow.

With an election coming up, I’m being bombarded with sleazy election materials. So, voting must be on my mind. But, there is nothing sleazy about one of my favorites this year–a new squash I tried, the Italian heirloom trombetta summer squash. The fruit is long (about 15 inches), curvaceous and has a smooth, light green skin. When cooked, the squash maintains a very nice creamy and seedless texture, instead of cooking down like a Zucchini squash. I’ve probably used it most cooked, chilled and tossed into a salad.

It is also very productive–I’ve had about two dozen squash from one plant. Like all my squash, I let it sprawl across my mulched walkways between beds. But, it has a reputation for being a climber that can be trellised. I will definitely grow this again, so growing it vertically will be a fun experiment.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to me, but I’ve got a lot of tomatoes to deal with. Now that our cool summer has turned warm (even a month later than our usual late summer), my tomatoes are ripening. There are a few summer squash coming still, as the photo shows, but the tomatoes are now overwhelming me.  Since I put in about 15 plants and 12 varieties, I shouldn’t be surprised at the volume I’m getting now.  (more…)