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September 27, 2011

Lazy compost pile

If you grow squash and you don't have a compost pile going, here's a double whammy.

Squash is a heavy feeder, in fact the best squash you can grow is on a compost pile itself. At the same time squash requires a lot of room. Usual spacing for squash is about three feet on center, but it would love to crawl even farther if you allow it.

So the solution is to grow squash next to the compost pile, or start one next to the growing squash. Here's the squash I have going, it's a yellow straight neck variety. Yellow squash is pretty easy to grow, and I love easy.

Designate a space next to the squash and start piling up some garden waste. Break up spent plants into manageable pieces and add to the pile. Weed your garden and add weeds to that pile as well. The only thing you have to watch for is not to add weeds that have gone to seed because this pile will not be hot enough to kill seeds. The regular compost pile that is capable of killing the seeds should be at least three feet high. We are not building that huge of a pile for the purpose of lazy composting, so eliminate weed seeds from the pile.

At this point it looked like the pile was lacking carbon, so I added a layer of chicken coop cleanouts, partially decomposed wood shavings. Now the pile looks balanced.

For a compost pile you need roughly equal amounts of green and dry matter. Green matter includes weed greens and kitchen waste. Dry matter includes anything that was once a green matter but dried out, such as fallen leaves, pine needles, palmetto leaves, etc. If you don't have any of these, shredded newspaper and office paper will do as well. Use your imagination.

Keep the pile watered and turn it once a week until squash takes over. You can keep adding to the pile until squash sends the stems over it. Then just wait until the sqush is done and dig both, compost pile and spent squash leaves and stems into the ground to enrich the soil.


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