This year, for the first time ever in all my years of gardening, I have had more compost available than I could use. It has been WONDERFUL… I have put thick mulches of compost on all the gardens, around all the hostas, and mixed it in with the soil when we have planted anything… and there is still more compost left in the 2-year-old pile. This particular compost started life as a combination of grass clippings and weeds from the garden, vegetable peelings, shredded leaves, goat manure, and the wood shavings we use as the goat’s bedding.

This is a somewhat coarser compost that is from a pile we made last year. It is very usable at this stage, but we will let it age for another year. This pile is made of the same “ingredients” as the first pile… it just has not had as much time to decompose. We don’t compost pine needles, but all of the compost piles are under pine trees, so the needles are always part of the mix.

And finally, this is year-old compost that contained a larger quantity of the shavings from the goat bedding than the other two piles. The wood shavings take longer to decompose, so we’ll let this pile go for another year as well. Just recently we wet down and aerated this pile again to give it a boost, and it quickly heated up to 140°F and stayed at this temperature for over a week, even though we did not add any new material. The compost has cooled down since then but it is still very warm deep inside the pile. By next summer the texture of this compost will be as fine as the compost in the first photograph… and I’ll have another year of as much compost as I can use!

And just think of the money we’re saving…

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Black gold! Looks like you struck it rich, Shirley.

I didn’t make compost this year because of the blight we had here in southern Maine and I don’t want to use chemicals that would kill the blight but ruin the organic qualities of the mulch. The blight was brought into Maine by the big box stores selling seedlings contaminated with it. I am going to work with my representative to see if Maine can pass a law that would make selling foodcrop seedlings very restrictive. This blight is the same that caused the potato famine in Ireland. A very serious matter.

I started all my seedlings indoors but the blight can travel up to 40 miles and needless to say I lost all my tomatoes. No stewed tomatoes this winter!
So, I am going to try to turn this negative into a positive by writing about it locally and seeing what we as citizens of this fair state can do to prevent it in the future.

I love the pictures of the mulch. I can almost smell it! To me it is perfume.


I am not sure what I am doing wrong. Last year I started composting in a 36 gal black plastic garbage can and drill several 1″ holes on all 4 sides. covered each hole with screening. I used grass clippings, coffee and tea grounds, vegetable and fruit skins, egg shell, and mulch fall leaves, and shredded paper. I kept everything damp. The outside was really cool and of course as winter set in it was cold. I still used household veggies, eggs and fruit. Now spring has sprung, i added more grass clippings. Couple days latter, it was cooking. After rotating the can a few times, the next it was cool again. Everything inside was overly damp. Now the results are large clumps or balls of black dirt.

What happened ?

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Bob, it sounds like the compost’s temperature was too cold and that the compost materials were too wet.


That’s good looking compost. Unfortunately mine doesn’t look like that. I think I need to start over perhaps and pay more attention to temperatures and what I put into the compost pile this time.