Winter Chores: Preparing The Garden Soil

After last year, our first year having a garden, we determined to do things much better this year.  We kind of threw our garden together at the last minute last year.  On the bright side we did learn a lot out of our failures.  Not everything was a failure. We did get a better harvest than we expected from the haphazard way we threw our garden together.  But this year is going to be different, we hope.

We have done a lot of things to fix our pH, which we believe to have been a major problem with our garden last year.  In the fall, we burned a large pile of brush we had collected and spread the ash over the garden.  We also tilled in a bag of lime.  At last check, our pH was between 6.0 and 6.5.  A huge improvement over the 5.0 we had in the fall.

Next, we decided that we needed more organic matter.  Lots of compost.  We built a compost bin last summer and have done a good job of throwing in our waste in the bin.  Unfortunately, we had a lot more grass clippings and not enough leaves and vegetable waste to make a good balance for composting.  It also did not get turned as regularly as it should have, and the biggest problem I think was that it was not wet enough most of the year.  So, due to those factors, we have not gotten very much home made compost to add to the garden.
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How Not to Build a Compost Bin

A compost bin is a wonderful idea. Taking things you do not have any use for and turning it into valuable fertilizer for the garden is a perfect win-win situation. Using grass clippings, fallen leaves, and table scraps to help produce better produce.

I did not want to spend a lot of money on our bin, because I am cheap. I also did not have enough scrap wood to build one. We can get free wood out of used wooden pallets! Ann’s father is a truck driver, so he has access to free wooden pallets. On one of her trips to visit family, she returned with 5 old wooden pallets. So now I have my free wood to make our compost bin and make our free compost. Great idea, huh?

Now, I have broken down pallets in the past. Wood always comes in handy, and I like to get as much use out of things as I can. These pallets must have been built to ship tanks! Getting them apart was much more difficult than I had expected. But after several hours of prying the planks apart, I had finally gotten them all apart. In hindsight, I should have just sprung for some wood and had this entire project done in less time than it took me to break the pallets down.

I planned for a simple two compartment box construction with an open bottom.

Wooden Pallet 2 Compartment Compost Bin

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