My Spontaneous Summer Garden

Ever considered composting?  

When I first started juicing fresh fruits and vegetables, I looked for something to do with the abundance of leftover pulp, rather than just tossing it in the trash.  I tried adding it to smoothies, I froze some in the hopes of adding it to carrot muffins, I even added some to pancakes once (not entirely recommended). Then, about 7 years ago, I purchased a composter and began making rich, organic soil from the juice remnants and the other organic kitchen waste that would otherwise have been lost forever.  To my surprise, the soil that came out of the composter provided us with a full garden the following year.  We first noticed tomato and squash sprouts, and thought, "Wait a minute, these are not weeds."   

The sprouts grew to what we now call our spontaneous chaos garden - a mix of the strongest, heartiest, plants I have ever seen, all sprung from the seeds of our previous year's produce.  It took my own personal gardening experience to remind me that Mother Nature always has the perfect plan - the plants that are strong enough to nourish the beings who eat it will be the ones to survive.  I do not use any type of pesticide, not even an organic one, and this year, I have the biggest, healthiest garden of spontaneous growth yet.  

Below are the leaves and flowers of the summer squash vines that have taken over my yard and threaten the neighbors' yards as well.  The leaves measure 12-16" across and I have stopped counting the large yellow flowers which produce new squash buds daily (although I may halt this process by snipping some flowers to stuff with goat cheese and sauté in some Ezekiel bread crumbs...).  

There really is very little to composting - as long as you add in enough dry matter (leaves, dry grass) to balance out the wet ingredients, and spin once a week.  Any seeds that are heirloom or organic are fit to reproduce.  Seeds that come from genetically modified foods, however, will not (which is in itself a comment on the highly UNnatural state of a fruit which cannot reproduce).  

I recommend a composter that spins rather than those that are more of a big box that needs raking to turn the soil.  I also found compostable produce bags that not only reduce on plastic waste, but make juicer clean-up a cinch!  I used to use the plastic produce bags from the supermarket to line the pulp bin of my juicer so I wouldn't have to scrape out the messy pulp, but when I found compostable bags, it was a double win.  

It's never too late to get started creating nutrient-rich soil to lay down in your garden.  I used to call myself "The Black Thumb" when it came to gardening, but composting opened a whole new world to me.  Not only can we, but we were actually born to plant, eat, and replant our food.  For the authoritative word on all things organic gardening and composting, check out Rodale's Basic Organic Gardening and The Rodale Book of Composting