Skip to main content

Epiphany & Brag: Greening…my *Compost* :-o

waterplay 028Even my compost is going – nay, growing – green!!!  Yes, I’m growing a cover crop OVER the nearly-finished batch of compost while it waits to be used on the garden beds in the fall!

I have been thinking about cover cropping for years.  Cover cropping, in case you’ve been living on Planet Inorganic (no shame in that; we stopped in there yesterday for paper plates and plastic cutlery for our al fresco Shabbos lunch!), is the practice in organic farming of rehabbing the soil between “real” crops by growing something fast and good for the world. 

Cover crops are often a legume like clover, since legumes fix nitrogen in the soil (whatever that means, it sure sounds wholesome!), but sometimes they can be a grain like rye or millet.  They’re grown for a while and then turned back into the soil next season so more “real” crops can be planted. 

Some cover crops are annual; planted late in the season, they don’t set seed and will die naturally over the winter so they don’t even need to be killed in the spring.  Others are perennial and have to be killed off, I suppose, presumably before they set seed, because you don’t want more uninvited generations of your cover crop competing with your real produce.

Cover crops are sometimes also known as “green manures” because, I guess, they’re green but incorporate nutrients in the soil much the same way as manure does.  

Oh, they’re also great because they keep weeds off your soil while you’re waiting ‘till it’s time to plant again.  Weeds, according to the weed book I read a few weeks ago, are nature’s way of healing wounds in the earth.

So where do I and my compost piles and my minor epiphanies come in?

The big challenge for home gardeners is that clover, millet, rye, etc., are tough to find in seed form, and even if you can find cover crop seed, it’s usually offered in quantities sufficient to seed an entire field, not my three meager square-foot beds.

But then I read something, in the wise and ever-helpful gardening book, 365 Days of Gardening: A Day-By-Day Book of More Than 1000 Terrific Facts, Tips, and Reminders , that practically made my mouth fall open.  (Okay, I’m a mouth-breather… it’s not that hard to make my mouth fall open.)

Bird seed.  Cheapo no-name bags of bird seed contain… wait for it… drumroll… you will never, ever in a million years guess what’s in it.

Okay, I’ll whisper, but promise you won’t tell a soul.


She says any bag of bird seed that doesn’t contain sunflower seeds is a pretty acceptable cover crop seed.  I think the restriction is just cuz you don’t want huge sunflowers all over the place in what’s basically supposed to be a groundcover.

Actually – just had a minor secondary epiphany right this second – sunflower seed hulls are actually somewhat allelopathic… the seeds themselves may sprout, but there is a chemical in the hull that will prevent other things from sprouting and/or growing.  Another reason you don’t want sunflower seed in the mix.

If you leave out sunflower seeds, most birdseed, she says, is mostly millet, which is exactly what you want in a cover crop. 

Because my square-foot beds are in use at the moment, and because I wanted to test the seed, and because it is very cool to green one’s compost, I invested a couple of bucks at the grocery store and sprinkled the compost pile with birdseed, covering it and watering it in so I didn’t just invite a whole flock of birds for snacktime.

It doesn’t look like much yet, but there are tiny pale-green seedlings popping up everywhere in the compost now!  That is actually a good sign about your compost, too.  If seeds will sprout in it, I think I read that it’s nearly done; it’s not as actively decomposing as it was at first.  Or maybe I just made that up!

   waterplay 029 waterplay 030


Popular posts from this blog

לימודי קודש/Limudei Kodesh Copywork & Activity Printables

Welcome to my Limudei Kodesh / Jewish Studies copywork and activity printables page.  As of June 2013, I am slowly but surely moving all my printables over to 4shared because Google Docs / Drive is just too flaky for me. What you’ll find here: Weekly Parsha Copywork More Parsha Activities More Chumash / Tanach Activities Yom Tov Copywork & Activities Tefillah Copywork Pirkei Avos / Pirkei Avot Jewish Preschool Resources Other printables! For General Studies printables and activities, including Hebrew-English science resources and more, click here . For Miscellaneous homeschool helps and printables, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you just want to say Thank You, here’s a

Hebrew/ עברית & English General Studies Printables

For Jewish Studies, including weekly parsha resources and copywork, click here . If you use any of my worksheets, activities or printables, please leave a comment or email me at Jay3fer “at” gmail “dot” com, to link to your blog, to tell me what you’re doing with it, or just to say hi!  If you want to use them in a school, camp or co-op setting, please email me (remove the X’s) for rates. If you enjoy these resources, please consider buying my weekly parsha book, The Family Torah :  the story of the Torah, written to be read aloud – or any of my other wonderful Jewish books for kids and families . English Worksheets & Printables: (For Hebrew, click here ) Science :  Plants, Animals, Human Body Math   Ambleside :  Composers, Artists History Geography Language & Literature     Science General Poems for Elemental Science .  Original Poems written by ME, because the ones that came with Elemental Science were so awful.  Three pages are included:  one page with two po

It's Heart Month: 3 days left to save lives!

Dear Friends & Family: Hi, everybody! Sorry I can’t stop by in person... you're a bit out of my area.  :-) We’re out walking up and down on our street on this beautiful afternoon to raise money for Heart & Stroke.  This cause is important to me (I won't say it's close to my heart , because that would be tacky!).  I hope you'll join me by donating online. Growing up, I watched as every single one of my grandparents' lives were shortened by heart disease and strokes, and my father had a defibrillator that saved his life on more than one occasion.  Heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 Canadians and are the #1 killer of women. Please click this link to be redirected to my main page at the Heart & Stroke website: Thus ends my personal appeal.  Official information follows.  :-))) ----- Heart disease and stroke is the #1 killer of women - taking more women's lives than all forms of cancer combined. But no one is immune. Th