Hops 2012 – April

Spring stopped by early in Binghamton, and then took a ten day vacation. Hops were happy, then the hops were cold. A few of the tallest and first shoots were damaged when covered for the last hard frost at the end of March. Some of the newly transplanted cuttings are doing decent. I moved thirty cuttings outside into five pots. I use eighteen gallon blue buckets that were previously readily available at Home Depot for $6 the last few years. This year, not there. I have fourteen pots – three are on their third year, six are on their second, and five new ones; each with twelve cuttings. I will be erecting a pole in my backyard shortly to run lines up to with the ability to lower and raise each bucket individually; each with four lines per bucket. For those keeping score, fourteen buckets, four lines, with three bines per line comes to 168 bines total. Awesome.

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Cuttings are ready to transplant outdoors. The roots have found their way out the bottom of the peat planter.

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Hop Garden – Garbage Composter

This year, I decided I wanted to be a better hippy/hippie. And what way would be more environmental, than starting a garden? (With composing).

For those who don’t know, composting is the collective breaking down of organic matter, into something useful by other growing organics. In layman’s terms: food, plants, and veggies break down and rot into organic plant fertilizer. Seems simple enough, right? Well it is.

There are many well written guides to composting, so instead of writing an overall ‘How To’, I will provide links for those who already have, and do a write up on ‘How I’.

I am currently growing only hops; they are planted in 18 gallon plastic buckets, which have a nice head space I plan on filling with super rich compost this fall (Oct 2011).  If this composter fills up, I will buy another.

The composer I am using is the Earth Machine (company website). They are available at the Broome County dump for $45 (and if you live in Binghamton, they are the same price at City Hall in the Treasury Office). If you live outside of our county, check to see if your County, City, or municipality does a discounted composter sale (they might be a different model than the Earth Machine). Here is why:

The city has to pay to pick up your garbage/waste. If you produce less waste, they have to pick up and dispose of less. Even if they are able to off set the costs via fees and taxes, the less they have to deal with, the better. So, if they are able to buy composters at a bulk discounted rate, they are able to save tax payer’s money by passing on the savings to the consumer/constituent. All and all, government ideas I can get behind, which I don’t say too often.

Here is how I did it:

1. I dug up the area that the composter would occupy. Mine is 30″ in diameter, so it is 30 by 30. I cleared out a square patch of yard at the back by my fence and by the yard sharing neighbor’s big garden; which with the fertilizer they use, no matter how stinky it gets, they cannot complain.

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2. The composter comes in 2 parts.

This is the bottom with the door and base screws to secure to the ground and a top that has a taper to a venting lid – all of which is made in heat absorbing black plastic.

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3. This is the top (upside down) – holding the waste pail that comes with the composter. This goes in your kitchen and is used to collect food scraps.

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4. I covered the whole compost are with chicken wire; this will keep vermin out, and allow for earth worms to come up inside to composter to eat.

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5. The composter is bolted down with 4 screw anchors that are angled into the ground. I have also since added a few bricks around the outside to help keep it in place.

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6. Once everything is together, and the front door is on, you can start filling it up. I started with a layer of dirt, then all the food scraps from my kitchen and refrigerator. I then topped it all off with yard trimmings. It is tough to get started, as one usually does not have a stock pile of rotting food on hand, nor a bag of brown leaves from last fall. But once you get going, and start accumulating more kitchen waste, it will begin to even out.

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7. Here it is, sitting in the sun, waiting for me to feed it more. I will keep you up to date as to how it progresses.

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