How Hot’s Your Pile, Baby?

Bend over now, honey–this won’t hurt…well, it might hurt a bit. 😉

Now, let’s take your temperature, shall we?

This thermometer with a close to two-foot-long probe is actually to measure the temperature inside a compost pile–to see if all those microbes are actively working to break down all that fine organic material and even burn out weed seeds.  It’s the shorter of the two gauges available through Johnny’s.

I was finally persuaded to pick one up by local compost fanatic and community garden coordinator, Dean Spader, who says this is one of the tools he can’t live without.

Dean and his wife Vikki have a little farmstead east of town that was swallowed up by City limits when the golf course development came in, and ever since then, he’s been cited repeatedly by Code Enforcement for “tall grass” (aka green manure).

He’s tried to educate city officials about the benefits of his grass-and-clover blend (which, in all honestly, is so lush and beautiful, it makes me wish I were a bovine–it’s all I can do not to lie down and roll in it), but they’re not convinced–it’s “unsightly” next to the chemically-enhanced and meticulously manicured development we Vermillion taxpayers are subsidizing.

Well, Dean’s still fighting–he got grandfathered in (or so he thought) as a farmstead when his property was annexed, and he happens to be a retired law professor as well.  If I were the City, I’d give this one up–trust me, Dean can and will come talk to you for hours about compost and healthy soil and the food supply’s imminent collapse.

Just let him have his clover and ryegrass and hope he and Vikki decide they like you enough to feed you when civilization as we know it collapses.  It might really be better to be on his good side in that event.

Anywho, this post was actually going to be about the compost thermometer and other goodies that came from Johnny’s today–a pound of white clover seed for the central garden aisles, a half pound of heirloom Marvel of Venice pole beans, a second “company” hand hoe (I like visitors to have good tools to use, too!), and a greens harvesting knife.

And then I picked up three more of the large size harvest tubs known as Tubtrugs.  I have a set of these in the three different sizes (something like 3, 7, and 11 gallons) that my mama gave me a few years ago, and I use them constantly.

The problem is that because I only had one of the big ones, I had to harvest, rinse, spin (in my trusty 5 gallon salad spinner), and bag before I could go out and harvest more.  That’s kind of a pain when you’ve got 150 square feet of salad mix to gather.

The tubs are flexible, non-porous, and made from food safe material (unlike many of the imitation ones I’ve seen), and their integrated handles make them comfortable to carry.  They’re stable, and easy to fold in to create a “pour spout” on the side, and they’re easy to sterilize, too.

Just a really sweet deal.  I can harvest a tub full of mud-encrusted root crops, fill the tub with water to loosen it, and then dump the whole thing out on the mesh wash table to sort and spray off the rest.  And then (if I want) I can rinse out the tub, put the clean crop back in, and lug them somewhere warm to bunch them.

And that looks like it’ll be my fate tomorrow because it has been raining all day today, and I’ve got some pretty multi-colored radishes that (among other things) have a date with my CSA members tomorrow afternoon!


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