Petite Inspirations

In the name of inspiration and all things interesting to me and hopefully you.

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Composting Basics

Composting is a natural process and natures way of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost, just like the leaves of a tree on the forest floor decomposes after some time. Anything that was once living will eventually decompose. Basically, backyard composting is an accelerated version of natures process.  A combination of green and brown vegetable matter kept barely moist and turned regularly will “rot” into a dark, aromatic material filled with the beneficial bacteria, microbes and fungi that enable your plants to grow healthy and strong. When you compost, you are returning nutrients back into the soil in order for the cycle of life to continue. Finished compost looks like soil–dark brown, crumbly and smells earthy.

Types of composting:

  • Backyard composting — If you have a yard or garden, you have all you need to make compost (grass, shrub, and tree clippings).
  • Worm composting (vermicomposting) — great for folk with small yards or live in an apartment

Ingredients for succesful composting:

  1. Nitrogen (greens) i.e., grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps
  2. Carbon (browns) i.e., dried leaves, paper, wood chips
  3. Oxygen
  4. Water

DO compost:

  • Animal (cow, horse, or chicken) manure
  • Yard trimmings
  • Fruits, vegetables, and scraps
  • Cardboard rolls
  • Clean paper
  • Coffee grounds and filters
  • Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
  • Eggshells and paper egg containers
  • Grass clippings
  • Hair and fur
  • Hay and straw
  • Houseplants
  • Leaves
  • Nut shells
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Tea bags
  • Wood chips

DO NOT compost:

  • Dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, sour cream, yogurt) and eggs – creates odor problems and attract pests like flies or mice
  • Fats, grease, lard, or oils – creates odor problems and attract pests
  • Meat or fish bones and scraps – creates odor problems and attract pests
  • Pet wastes (e.g., dog or cat feces, soiled cat litter) – may contain parasites, bacteria, germs, pathogens, and viruses harmful to humans
  • Yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides – may kill beneficial composting organisms
  • Diseased or insect-ridden plants – diseases or insects may survive and be transferred back to other plants
  • Coal or charcoal ash – may contain substances harmful to plants
  • Black walnut tree leaves or twigs – releases substances that are harmful to plants

There are many different ways to compost. The simplest is to just make a pile with the ‘Do compost’ items and let it sit. Even if you don’t do anything, it will eventually break down in a few months to a year. This process will take much longer than if you turned your compost regularly (about 4-8 weeks, depending on pile size).  Also, a properly managed compost bin will not attract pests or rodents and will not smell bad.

What do you think of composting?

Here are more links that I’ve found helpful, as well as some youtube videos:
Mother Earth News: How to Start a Compost Pile – Composting – Create your own compost pile

Composting 101 – Top 10 Composting tips


Backyard Fruit Trees – Optimizing space with growing techniques

One goal for my backyard garden is to have successive ripening of various fruit trees throughout the year. So essentially, I will have ripening fruit all year round. There is limited space in the yard for my goal, but I’ve found various growing and pruning techniques that I can utilize to maximize the space that I have. For example, espalier fruit trees and 3 in 1 cluster of fruit trees.

The old school way of planting a fruit tree would be to plant it, let it grow, and hope to get fruit as soon as possible. Don’t forget, letting it grow and grow and grow, until it gets difficult to harvest and produces way too much fruit for your whole neighborhood even after you’ve canned a shitload for the year. One major drawback of  this method, it takes up way too much space and energy to maintain.

My idea of backyard gardening or kitchen garden is that you grow what your homestead can eat, process, and if you have extra, share with your family, friends and neighbors. This way you can grow more varieties of fruits and vegetables that you like in your small space and provide healthy and organic (if you’re practicing organic gardening) food, which is priceless. If you have a lot of space, more power to you! I would plant an orchard given that, but I don’t so, here are some ideas of what I was talking about.

What other ideas do you have to save space in your garden?





Herb Spirals

Herb spirals are a great way to incorporate edible architecture into your garden. It’s a great way to incorporate a larger amount of herbs into a small space. Herb spirals are designed so that the top/center part of the spiral is about 2-3 feet high. As the spiral opens up, the elevation of the spiral is lowered. This creates microclimates in different parts of the spiral, allowing you to plant different types of herbs with different soil and temperature requirements. You have dry and arid conditions at the top or center of the spiral for rosemary, oregano, aloe, and thyme. Winding down from the center you would have sage, chives, parsley, and cilantro. Basil, lavender, and more cooler and moist loving plants would be planted in the lower portion of the spiral.



Espalier Fruit Trees

Espalier is the french term (pronounced: es-puh-li-ye) for an ornamental shrub or fruit tree that has been trained or pruned to grow flat. This can be grown against a wall or fence and is great way to have a variety of fruit in a small amount of space compared to the standard tree.

I’ve been dreaming of doing this all around my future garden!! Not only does this save space so you can plant up to four times more various types of fruit trees in the same amount of space, the aesthetics of the different designs can be quite intricate and beautiful.

Click this link to see some amazing espaliers!!!

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