Growing the Desert Garden

Welcome to the Desert Garden, with garden coach Tyler Storey, where we talk about everything having to do with gardening and landscaping in the Desert Southwest. From composting to Cercidium and agaves to arugula — we'll cover everything you want to know to grow your own beautiful Desert Garden.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Composting: Moisture

As the weather in the Desert Garden gets steadily warmer, now is the time to develop the habit of keeping your compost pile consistently moist. A compost pile has four necessary ingredients: carbon, nitrogen, water and air; whenever any one of the four is missing, the process grinds to a halt. Our standard is to keep the pile as moist as a wrung-out sponge.

You don't necessarily have to rely on hose-water alone. Leftover coffee goes into the pile (black, with sugar or without, no cream), as does unsalted cooking water from the kitchen, flat soda, leftover fruit juices, and similar liquids. If your hose is warm from the sun, empty the first flush of hot water onto the compost pile before you water your plants.

If your pile does dry out, you will end up with petrified plant material instead of compost. You can get it started again by adding more "greens" — nitrogen-rich plant matter — and water, then turning it well. But it will take less water in the long run if you keep it moist from the start.


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