Creative Composting

Reader Contribution by Heidi Hunt

Last week I vacationed along the coast of Maine. As you can imagine, it was beautiful and relaxing. But an unexpected benefit of the experience was a visit to the Four Season Farm of authors and market gardeners Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch on Cape Rosier near Harborside.

I certainly did not expect to see such lush and productive garden plots in September, a time I think of as the end of the gardening season. But Eliot is serious about gardening in all four seasons and has his system for doing so down to a science. Two of his books, The New Organic Grower and Four Season Harvest lead readers through the steps necessary to be a successful market or backyard gardener. We saw plants in every stage of development from tiny lettuce seedlings getting their start in row houses to beds of mature lettuce, leek and kale, the largest and healthiest I have ever seen.

One of the secrets of the bountiful gardens is the copious compost, which is just one of the soil amendments they use to create amazingly nutrient-rich soil. The photo, above, is of one of his compost piles in the making. So creative! It is a room-sized ‘container’ made of hay bales. All kinds of garden clippings were visible in the pile, beginning their transformation into wonderfully rich compost material. The compost pile is larger than my entire backyard vegetable garden.

Needless to say, the produce was an epicurean delight – but that is the topic for the Whole Foods blog next week. Be sure to watch for it.