Thursday, May 6, 2010

Composting Organic Food Wastes Makes for Healthier Plants Next Year

(c) Carrie Boyko 2010
Basil Sprung from Hearty Compost
and Last Year's Seeds

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Last year's organic gardening efforts were my first ever, and what a thrill it was. There is truly a 'one with the earth' feeling you get when you grow something that you can eat. Here's how my journey started, and now continues. Perhaps you can derive a lesson or two from my experiences.

After nearly a year of composting, I harvested a nice crop of rich, organic compost to use for soil enhancement. Before my toxin free days of eating organic foods and using natural products,  I had enjoyed flower gardening. Never had I experienced the joy of harvesting a vegetable that could be savored in my dinner that very evening. What a thrill those first clippings of Basil and fresh-picked tomatoes were. Last year was truly a blessing for me in terms of new experiences.

The journey, this year, is continuing quite without my help--big surprise! As an exceptionally busy winter and spring had delayed my planned sowing of seeds, one day I made a discovery. I had basil growing out of the cracks in my driveway, and tomatoes popping up out of my compost pile.
Basil growing in a driveway crack!

While the latter was no surprise, as compost is supposed to be a terrific medium for starting seedlings, the basil in the cracks appeared to be nothing short of miraculous.

Scouting the area to see what other seedlings I might find, I discovered dozens of basil sprigs all around my yard. The wind and the bees had clearly done their job. I grabbed my yard gloves and tools and began to carefully harvest these precious little darlings into a bucket, to be transplanted into the container I grew basil in last year.

This container has been stowed under my overhang for the winter, after a freeze killed the last of the remaining basil. Before storing it there, I stirred in a bountiful bucketful of fresh compost, to enrich the soil for next year's seeds. When I slid it back across my yard to the sunlight, I discovered another surprise--more basil growing in the big pot--lots of it!

I gasped at the amount of little basil seedlings that filled the container, marveling at the miracles of nature. The picture at the top of this post is what I found. I had not even ordered my organic basil seeds yet, and here I already had nearly 5 dozen little plants started, after I added the ones I dug up around my yard. 

After transplanting all the driveway harvested basil, I grabbed another pot and headed back to the compost pile to dig up the tomatoes and pot them. Again I was in for a shock. I found not just the three plants in the compost pile, that I had seen originally, but also more growing around the area. It took nearly every pot I could find to locate a home for each plant. I blew a kiss to my organic compost pile as I potted the last of the tomato plants and whispered to myself, "Never again will I need traditional fertilizer; I have the gardener's secret." Bruschetta, here we come!
Tomatoes Growing in My Compost Pile
Imagine That!
Related Reading:
What Can I Put in my Compost
More on Naturally Enhancing Your Compost
Lighting a Fire Under My Compost

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