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Urban Compost + Recycled Potting Soil = Good Tomato Food? We’ll see…

Posted By Beth Terry On June 9, 2008 @ 8:08 pm In gardening supplies | 25 Comments

Yesterday, I mentioned recycling the potting soil from my dead roof garden as well as harvesting the compost (finally) from my Urban Compost Tumbler to add to the dirt in the front yard where we planted tomatoes. Back in March, I whined about how the Urban Compost Tumbler was just not as great as I’d hoped [1] it would be. I stopped filling it because it had become too heavy to actually tumble by myself, and we switched to dumping our food waste into our curbside green bin instead, to be sent away to the city’s commercial compost facility.

Feh. I’d rather we could keep our food scraps and use them ourselves. Maybe now that we have a bit of yard, we can switch to the kind of composter that sits directly on the ground. As I mentioned in the March post [1], we’d had great success with one of those before. (A worm bin is not an option at this time. We have no place to put one and would probably let the worms die, anyway, just like the plants.)

So okay, this Saturday was the day to harvest the compost from the tumbler, such as it was. Michael pulled the thing forward and held that sucker down:

He is able to do things like that because he has a pair of these:

While he held it down, I slid a table under the back end to prop it up:

And a plastic tub under the opening to catch the compost:

Okay, the compost didn’t actually tumble out. I had to pull it out with a hoe. It was kinda smelly and wet, not at all like the beautiful, rich compost we’d gotten from the traditional composter a few years back. Still, I ended up with 3 bins half full of the stuff, most of which seemed broken down.

Some of the shredded paper was still intact. And a nylon tea bag. (Where the heck did that come from???) The biggest mystery was a mini glass brandy bottle, the kind you’d get on a plane. No freakin’ idea. But there wasn’t anything still recognizable as food, so I was happy about that.

The next step was recycling the roof garden. This is what I started with:

(Oh, my poor babies. Here’s how they used to look…)

See more photos here from last year [2].

I just now made myself really sad.

Okay, Beth, get over it. Drought Schmought. You didn’t feel like watering them, and this is what happens. Let it be a lesson to you. Don’t neglect your cats and husband or the same thing will happen to them! (Well, no, because Michael actually feeds all four of us. And loads the dish washer. And does the laundry. We’ll be making a chore wheel soon, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

Right. So we carted the whole mess down to the front yard, raked up the dirt, mixed in the compost and recycled potting soil, and planted the tomatoes that Jennconspiracy [3] had brought over in their own little coconut coir pots. No disposable plastic pots for us!

And here are the tomatoes. Can you see them? Look carefully; they’re small. There’s one at each leg of the metal cage.

Will the soil be good for them? It’s pretty chunky and lumpy. Chlumpy. How often do I need to water them? I could look it up, but it’s easier to just ask you guys. What’s the best way to grow tomatoes when you’ve already waited way too late to plant them in the soil and you have no idea what you’re doing?

Oh, and what other veggies are easy to grow starting in the middle of June? I can get vegetable and herb seedlings in biodegradable eco pots from Long’s. They’ll still come with those ubiquitous plastic identification tags, but whatcha gonna do? Anyone in the area have some to share without the plastic tags???

Oh, and lest you feel too sad about the dead plants, this is how the roof looks now with the remaining cactuses and drought-tolerant succulents that are left:

Aside from the college dorm-looking plastic crates (we won’t mention where they came from) I think it’s elegantly simple. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Article printed from My Plastic-free Life: http://myplasticfreelife.com

URL to article: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/06/urban-compost-recycled-potting-soil/

URLs in this post:

[1] Urban Compost Tumbler was just not as great as I’d hoped: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2008/03/update-2-urban-composting/

[2] See more photos here from last year: http://www.coloringthevoid.com/bethgardens/

[3] Jennconspiracy: http://www.blogger.com/profile/16304420774638468362

[4] Image: https://plus.google.com/+BethTerry

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