the secret compost pile

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, your popular host, Mani the purebred border collie, here today to tell you about the work that’s been done, as well as some other things. You may remember me from such posts as “Film At Eleven”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.
I’m not even paying attention to the fancy alliums from Afghanistan in this picture. (Allium jesdianum Per Wendelbo.)

First of all, the guy I live with wants to thank everyone who commented on yesterday’s post.
I think he had a more difficult time today than he did yesterday.

It was a rough day for me today, too. There was a lot of scary thunder, and the guy I live with kept looking at the radar to see if hail was coming our way. There wasn’t any; it just rained. The rain was nice, though.

But before that, he decided it was “high time” to do some work in the garden on the south side of the house. It had become terribly overgrown.
I should back up a few days and talk about the yuccas and agaves in the front yard. He removed some of the leaves from the really big yuccas, using a pole pruner for trees, and pulled out a dead Agave parryi var. huachucensis, which had been in the garden since last century, but this past winter was too much for it.
He cut up the yucca leaves and put them, with the leaves of the dead agave, into cardboard boxes.

Today he decided to tackle the side yard. He used the word “carnage”, but since even I know that word refers to flesh, I wondered if “plantage” wouldn’t have been better.
I wasn’t allowed in that little garden, because of all the spiny things, but I could see that the mesquite was mostly dead, and behind it was a large and very dead Cylindropuntia leptocaulis (the “Christmas cholla” called that because of its bright red fruits), which he pulled out from behind the mesquite with a hoe.

So there was a huge pile of spiny, pointy, stabby things, as well as what was in the cardboard boxes.
The guy I live with is pretty brilliant, almost as smart as I am, and he thought and thought and thought about this. The stuff couldn’t go in the trash.
What he decided to do is make a secret compost pile, which few people would ever see, and put all this spiny stuff at the bottom, so that, in three hundred years, it would decompose.
Here it is. If you remember how this garden looked before, it looks pretty bare now.
That green stuff in the middle is some kind of aster that seeded itself from who knows where, and needs to be removed.
The shrub at the back is Philadelphus lewisii, about to flower. The secret compost pile is behind that.
And across from that are some new plants, now.

The rain has made everything green.
Especially the weeds. The guy I live with has been pulling weeds constantly.

The seakale, Crambe maritima, is looking really good this year.
There’s a story behind this little raised bed, by the way. Chess, the purebred border collie who lived here before me, used to tinkle on this spot constantly, and the grass was killed, so the guy I live with made this little raised bed. I used to use this bed as a place to survey my domain when I was little. And now there’s seakale and a whole bunch of other things growing on it.
The seakale on the right is growing in the gross heavy clay that was spread over the native soil by the developer.

The cotoneaster, Cotoneaster multiflorus, is in full flower. The flowers smell awful; to humans, anyway.
And so is Rubus deliciosus. The yellow things are the new growth on ‘Taylor’s Sunburst’, a lodgepole pine found by Allan Taylor, who passed away recently, along the Peak-to-Peak Highway. Allan gave this plant to the guy I live with.
Speaking of conifers, there were a couple of dwarf ones that needed to be moved. The guy I live with was very uncertain about moving them, but so far they seem to be doing okay.
Some years ago, the guy I live with and his wife visited the late Jerry Morris, who told him that when conifers have fewer roots than needles, the needles need to be watered since there aren’t enough roots to hydrate the needles, which then need to be given a weak solution of something like Miracle-Gro, so that’s what’s being done.
The conifer on the left is one introduced by Jerry.

The last thing is about the seedlings, from the seeds that were stratified.
These are seedlings of Calochortus ambiguus:These are erythroniums:
The guy I live with is really put out that he didn’t order more erythronium seeds from Alplains in past years, considering the successes this year, but he says that’s the way things are.

I guess that’s all I have for today. Kind of a lot, really.
I should say again that the guy I live with appreciates all the comments on yesterday’s post.

Until next time, then.

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26 Responses to the secret compost pile

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Goodness, I did not comment yesterday. I thought that was the most respectable response to that particular post. Perhaps you should not mention it. However, the guy you live with does not know who I am anyway.
    There certainly is significant activity there now. That is a lot of different tasks. Coincidentally, I just finished pruning the very first mesquite trees that I have ever met. I am on vacation with Rhody near Phoenix. I did not know until I finished that there is no place to dump the debris like there is at home. It is in a neat pile now, but must be hauled away by a neighbor’s gardener.

    • paridevita says:

      Not commenting is okay.
      The guy I live with had a lot of things to say when he was pruning the mesquite. Those thorns.
      He stepped on a thorn and it went through the sole of his shoe. Didn’t go into his foot, but he could feel it.
      The only part of it that was pruned was the part blocking the path. If the rest of it has died (I mean besides the new growth at the base), he’ll cut up the wood and offer it to his neighbor, who uses his smoker a lot.
      Or maybe for here. We have a smoker, as you must have seen in pictures of the patio.

      • tonytomeo says:

        The thorns are wicked! However, I noticed only a few, and I found them before they found me. I did not know what to do with the branches, so cut all the small branches and foliage off of them and brought them back here.

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with has a big chipper-shredder, but he gave it away because it stopped working. The person he gave it to had someone who could repair small engines.
        This stuff can sit at the bottom of a compost pile forever, if need be.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Well, for some biomass, that is an appropriate alternative. Shredding is practical where space is limited, but is otherwise overrated.

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with thought about getting a leaf shredder, but what he does instead is just dig dried out stuff into this pile of dirt underneath the cotoneaster.

  2. Paddy Tobin says:

    The greening of the garden is quite extraordinary giving such a different picture of the garden than we had all over the winter. Dealing with some of those spiny plants is a nuisance. They can even be a bother to shred in preparation for the compost heap. Plants with strappy foliage is are also a bother – phormiums, and the likes. My compost heap is a very hot, steaming pile at the moment so I am very happy! Best wishes!

    • paridevita says:

      Here, it would take that three hundred years for compost to form, too dry, but he does it anyway.
      The guy I live with says not to say that a great deal of that green is from the smooth brome (Bromus inermis) that has been invading the garden for decades, but I’m going to say it anyway.
      Well, also from native grasses and “way too much” Melica ciliata.

  3. Christine says:

    Ever on, Gentle-men, ever on…

  4. Jerry says:

    It has been a long time since I have seen your garden this green. I joined the Pacific Bulb Society a few weeks ago, so looking forward to trying some bulbs of my own from seed. It makes me a little sad that I don’t have much interesting to offer them in exchange. We get lots Lilium columbianum and Camassia quamash seeds, but I assume everyone here has those in abundance. On a different note, our Philadelphus lewisii is about to bloom for the first time since planting it 5 years ago. Looking forward to that. I also just brought home a few roots of Crambe maritima from a plant exchange up in Portland and was wondering how they would do in our heavy clay. Now I know after reading your timely and relevant post.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with said that Graham Stuart Thomas said the crambe did well on heavy soils, which it why it was planted in the middle of the lawn. That is our lawn that the crambe is in. (My Private Lawn is in back.)
      The guy I live with hasn’t been on the PBS forum yet. He keeps forgetting to sign up, or whatever you do.

  5. What a wonderful secret compost pile and brilliant thinking on the man you live with coming up with this solution. Wishing you and your man that you live with safe and happy Memorial Day weekend with no thunder.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks. He agrees it was brilliant.
      I think it’s too late for the no thunder business. Severe thunderstorm watch right now, for most of the metro area.
      We just got rain, yesterday.

      • Here in NW Denver as well. But I’ll never turn down the moisture.

      • paridevita says:

        It rained here quite a bit, about an hour ago. The guy I live with was looking at the radar; I was hiding in my Upstairs Fort.
        Even though the weeds are growing like crazy, the guy I live with is happy for the rain, as I bet almost everyone around here is.

  6. ceci says:

    In a totally different garden environment we too have secret compost piles, not because of thorny stuff (we don’t have much of that) but because its easier to chop stuff up and deposit it in a secret place very close by than it is to haul it away to the official compost pile in the way-back. Also a ground hog has taken up residence in the way-back pile and we hat to disturb til baby ground hog season is over. Our little dog ignores the whole ground hog situation, and they don’t seem worried about her so it’s all peaceable kingdom around here until the veggie garden gets eaten up.


    • paridevita says:

      A ground hog definitely sounds interesting to me.
      It’s so dry here, usually, that compost piles have to watered, which sounds very weird to me.
      The guy I live with said almost every yard had an incinerator, made of concrete, when he was a kid. People would just burn stuff. That seems eveen weirder to me.

      • ceci says:

        Yes, when I was a kid we had a metal drum with holes in it that household paper trash and small yard waste was burned in weekly – one of my favorite chores! Latent arsonist tendencies? People also burned leaves in the fall along the edge of the street. Horrifying to think of now – as I recall it stopped in the very early ’70s.


      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with said they used burn leaves here, too. They smelled pretty good; cottonwood leaves.
        Everything here is so damp there would just be a ton of smoke.

  7. Wee send more POTP an **purrss** an ❤ love ❤ an {{hugss}} to you Guy.
    BellaSita Mum iss havin trubbell since it iss comin up to 20th Annie-versary of Mistur Kevin'ss death…..
    Shee even changed her name back to Mayden (Maiden) name at a few storess beecause shee not want to carry his name anymore. Two much sadness….
    OKay back to gardenin rite Mani? THE Seecret Compost pile iss an xcellent idea.
    That way no one aka you getss stabbed with spiny, point thingss an THE plantage can deecompose inn peece!!!
    Wee think you an Guy are doin a GRATE job there! An WOW you due have alot of GREEN an wee so happy fore youss'!
    ***nose rubss*** BellaDharma an (((hugss))) BellaSita Mum

    • paridevita says:

      I’m sorry BellaSita is having that trouble. The guy I live with says that grief is endless, but that it’s a sign of love.
      Some people told the guy I live with that he should “move on”, but what does that say about how he felt about his wife? Pretty heartless, he says. People can be like that.
      It didn’t rain today. I heard thunder, but it must have been far away from here.

      • You nose Mani BellaSita Mum AGREESS with Guy ’bout Greef an Love goin paw inn paw! 😉
        An sayin “move on” iss like an innsult to peepell like our Hu’manss!!
        No rain heer inn dayss…an it iss warm enuff fore no heet on….furinallee 😉
        An THE Fudner can stay fra far away rite Mani?

      • paridevita says:

        It really isn’t nice to tell people to “move on”. They’re usually the ones stuck in some rut, anyway.
        It thundered yesterday and today and probably will tomorrow. This is, unfortunately for me, typical for this time of year. We did get some rain, too.

  8. Elaine says:

    Secret compost piles are the best. They just rot away at their own pace. Looks like the guy you live with has been busy. The garden looks very green indeed and the special allium lovely. You should try to be more observant Mani.

    • paridevita says:

      The guy I live with says he’s totally exhausted from working in the garden. Mostly pulling grass and bindweed.
      He’s kind of irked tha WordPress is no longer sending notifications of comments to his email.
      He worked with them on a weird issue, which they resolved with his help, so now maybe he’ll tackle this one, too.

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