My efforts to grow a year-round, organic vegetable garden on a fourth floor deck downtown continue -- aided at various points by curiosity, an apparent inclination toward tinkering and more than a handful of goat poop.
While the spinach, butterleaf lettuce, arugula and mesclun were productive and still look quite green, production has slowed with the recent extra-cold nights. I got five to six good harvests, enough salad for a number of people at several meals. I love harvesting and serving right on the spot. And the leftovers? They stayed healthy looking in the fridge for weeks.
I've given up on the broccoli. It was tall and leggy and never produced a head, so I decimated it yesterday and threw the remains in the compost.
Speaking of compost, I've got a small-scale operation underway just feet from where the garden is. My space is limited, so the compost can get no bigger than a full, 18-gallon plastic tub. One that's less full is easier to deal with. I popped holes on all sides for air and drainage, and it seems to work very well.
I feed it a continuous supply of coffee grounds and fruit and vegetable scraps gathered in a small bucket that stays in my kitchen sink. The clothes dryer is only feet away, so I routinely add dryer lint to the small, primordial stew that's eventually headed for the roof.
A little research on small-scale urban composting taught me that residential efforts tend to be heavy on nitrogen (scraps, grounds, other greenery) and short on carbon (dried leaves or grass clippings, paper, etc.), so you have to be creative to be sure your compost gets enough carbon.
For carbon, I'm largely using torn up strips of the Albuquerque Journal (everything but the glossy inserts). I've considered asking friends with yards if I can go gather some of their leaves -- but then I remember I live where I live because I hate yardwork (but still want to be outside). So I haven't gotten that desperate. Yet.
At times, the compost does needs a shot in the arm, which I've given with organic bone meal and, on one occasion, goat poop. So decided was I one day that my pile was inactive and needed farm animal poop that I drove down to a feed store on 4th St. and asked if I could have some of the poop from their back-lot chicken coop.
"There's the goat pen. You can climb in there and take all you want," the proprietor said.
And so I did. I climbed into the goat pen and brought back two 5-gallon buckets of straw and goat poop. And hauled it up the many stairs at home, just like everything else.
The compost was on fire two days later.
Happy gardening! Next update in February.