Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Notes from The Compost Palace, Brewster by the Sea

[My excellent correspondents in Brewster, Byron and Donna Cain, run a luxurious Bed & Breakfast establishment on Cape Cod, but that doesn’t mean that they neglect the nitty-gritty things of life. Here, Donna tells how she gets down to basics in the garden. (I had to check out what BLT meant at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BLT_sandwich )]

29 July 2009

We are continually updating our inn and changing our amenities to keep things fresh for our new and repeat guests. We also have committed to a ‘green’ environmental focus when making these changes. We recycle when possible and are very proud of our compost palace which is used daily. My husband Byron has become quite the photographer, and we both marveled at this picture which shows the left over fruit cuttings that were going out to the compost after one of our daily breakfasts.

(Right: The Compost Palace, complete with chipmunk)
We actually have expanded our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast compost palace to include three different bins made up of cement blocks. The first one is our active pile where we add daily vegetable and plant clippings. When I am working in the vegetable and perennial gardens I always have two buckets – one for weeds which I throw away and the other for deadheading, which is the dead flowers and plants that I add to our compost. The second bin is covered with plastic and is allowed to age for one year. That will be next year's fertilizer for the gardens. The third bin is our treasure. That is compost from two years ago. It becomes a dark brown color and you almost can feel the richness as you run the soil through your fingertips. I have grown to appreciate how special this compost is because I have seen the difference between plants and vegetables that have had or not had the compost added to the soil. We also like to add cow manure to the compost and gardens along with peat moss as needed to break up the soil.

This year's gardening has been a challenge due to all the rain. We have been enjoying plenty of lettuce, parsley, chives, nasturtiums, peas and recently some zucchini and squash. The recent sunshine has everything growing fast, and we anxiously await when we can have our first tomatoes for our summer BLTs.

My favorite time of the day is when I go out to the vegetable garden early in the morning to collect all of the herbs and garnish that I need for our daily breakfasts. Our guests are all sleeping, the air is so morning fresh, the birds are happily chatting with the world and for just that moment everything seems to stop in time. Our dog Harrison loves to follow and we usually have a quick game of chase before I head in to put the finishing touches on our breakfasts.

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