An Uncapped Pen

June 24, 2008

Grass Clippings, Egg Shells, Salad Schnibbles and Earthworms

Filed under: The Garden — cindylv @ 3:21 pm
Tags: ,


Gardening in the Las Vegas desert requires a little patience, lots of water, and dirt. When you buy a new house here, you get: the house, a concrete block wall, a tiny patch of front yard covered in a single layer of reddish rocks, and maybe a row of scraggly privet or mock heather. The backyard is scraped earth. No grass. No dirt. A few rocks along the wall, if you’re lucky.

Fourteen years ago we bought a few yards of dirt, a few yards of flagstone for the patio, some plastic border for trim, a truckload of black plastic sprinkler parts (hoses, heads, pipes, emitters, sprayers, clips, clamps, brackets, valves, etc.) and some plants. Every year, we head on over to the nursery to buy bags and bags of dirt, and a few replacement plants.

This summer we decided to make our own dirt. I bought a book on composting. I visited a friend who has been composting for several years. I sat on the patio with my husband and debated containers, contents, ventilation, watering, worms and waste over a few glasses of wine. And finally, we have our preliminary system in place.

We bought a 55-gallon black plastic trash container and drilled holes in the top and sides. We crumpled paper for the base layer, then added grass clippings, shredded paper (from a long-overdue file purge), kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, deadheaded roses and a few brushfuls of german shepherd hair (the fluffy undercoat part – the good stuff), and we’re on our way. No worms yet, but the container is HOT!

I can see this working out in one of two ways:

1. By this time next year, we’ll have the equivalent of a Binford compost heap generating sufficient compost for the subdivision (emitting a few million BTUs of heat), or

2. We forget all about it in a month or so and next season we start using the holey trashcan to store potting soil.


1 Comment »

  1. I used to compost and to get it going (at least here in Colorado where it’s pretty dry too), it was best to start out with a lot of lightweight stuff, like just grass clippings and vegetable peelings. It took a little while for it to really “activate”, and we did get some stuff we mixed up and added that helped it along, but once it was rolling, it really worked.

    I have a friend who is a serious gardener and she started raising worms a couple of years ago. Being petrified of worms myself (yes, I know it’s asinine), I could never do it, but they create some kind of miracle worm waste that’s apparently miraculous for fertilizing plants. Go figure.

    Comment by lisakenney — June 25, 2008 @ 4:09 am | Reply

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