Sunday, January 29, 2012

Composted Thoughts

Sunday, January 29, 2012

23° here on the mountain this morning. There's a 4-6 mph wind that comes and goes, and as it moves a little, temperature corrected to wind speed drops to 16°. The sun is rising over Peacham Pond and the sky has rows of black clouds that look as if someone took a paint brush and dabbed gray-black paint across a light blue backdrop. The recent weather has offered up a variety of sky colors lately and this one will change too before night approaches.

The high point of the morning is that it's birdiferous out there and I do not know why. Karl the Wonder Dog and I just headed out for a second walk and just off the back steps where the overgrown Miss Kim lilac shivers, we were surrounded by a Hitchcockian flock of chickadees like I have never seen before. These are family oriented birds I hear but this was one big family, chasing each other in circles and surrounding us to the point that Karl was smacking his teeth as they went by. They are usually such docile birds and they tame quickly to hand feeding with little patience. But today they were little whirlwinds, covertly signaling a bird convention of sorts here at the house and feeders.

The eruption of evening grosbeaks from two days ago is still here feeding heavily on the Thundercloud crabs but my real amazement came when I heard the windy wings from a flock of 38 cedar waxwings landing in the sugar maple as they waited for blue jays to leave the Dolgo crab apples. I was so happy to see these birds as they landed and flew, landed and flew away but in between time crushed open frozen apples and consumed the seeds they cherish. I remember the waxwings as my mother's favorite winter bird.

The early rising juncos are everywhere on the ground under the feeders in company with about 20 mourning doves so we have quite a collection this morning. Perhaps these are not the kind of birds that birders marvel over but to me they are my day's entertainment and like old friends who show up unannounced, the waxwings produced a morning smile on my face as Karl gave a shiver and headed for the steps.

But it was the crows fighting in the compost pile that produced a thought for today and that thought really is about compost. I don't want to brag about Vermont but factually there is deep concern for what goes into landfills and what doesn't need to. The composting industry is very well established and it has reached the level from single composters to community composters to "let's make a bunch of bucks" composters. A while back I saw a lady enter the local store and leave off two spanky clean 5 gallon buckets in exchange for the two that had been filled at the back deli. Entrepreneurship at its best! Last year at Town Meeting there was a vote to change solid waste districts and part of the concern was who would pick up the food waste at the local school. Within 20 miles of here there are three or four commercial operations that take major food and waste scraps and turn them into black gold that is sold by the truckload or bagged. IN the case of the school, the worry was worked out with a new provider.

So yes, it is cold outside today but that doesn't mean it's the wrong time to think about compost. Time flies and before you know it you'll be walking your gardens and thinking about amending soil and getting better looking crops than last year. Just remembering last year's floods in May and the hurricane in August will remind you how much nutrient rich soil is in Lake Champlain now and how much you need to replace. So-o-o-o as you think gardening, think compost and begin to research what's available, how much you need and what the price will be. The Composting Association of Vermont might be the place to start although I'm not sure all the composters who have product to sell are members. For example Grow Compost Of Vermont in Moretown is one of the newer commercial endeavors. They are located on Route 100 between Middlesex and Waterbury and they have a very good product too.

Up top is an image of fall leaves. When spring arrives and you have to rake what you forgot last fall, get the leaves into the compost pile you always thought about building but didn't. It takes a while before leaves turn to gold but when they do, you might remember my hint.

And from the mountain above Peacham Pond where late waking ice fishermen are heading down to set up tip ups for fat brown trout, happy composting thoughts and if all else fails, fill the bird feeders.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
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We're always here to help you grow your green thumb!

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