The leaves of my plum and cherry trees are beginning to drop. The fig leaves have dried to a crisp and are also falling. I’ve got pumpkin and squash vines and stalks of corn pulled and lying in piles in the garden.



The corn I grew over summer is now just a pile of dried stalks

The corn (pictured here in spring) has been harvested and is now just a pile of dried stalks



This dead, particulate organic matter (detritus) in my garden is too good to throw in the green recycle bin for the city to compost. By composting it myself, I’ll save the money I might spend on buying compost next year.



Pumpkins are quintisenstially asociated with autumn

After harvesting pumpkins, throw the vines onto your compost pile



If your garden has a pile or two of of similar detritus but you’ve had trouble getting it to break down into compost, you might be missing a secret ingredient.



Add one to two cups of a nitrogen-rich garden product like blood meal, bone meal, or cottonseed meal–all are available from your local nursery or garden center.



Follow these simple steps.


1. Dump a wheelbarrow load of leaves where you will be composting this fall and winter. I use a rectangular raised bed.


2. From a cup of blood meal, generously sprinkle the meal onto the leaves.


3. Layer onto the pile grass clippings, pumpkin and squash vines, corn cobs, chicken house straw, dried oats, weeds, and other biomass material.


4. Add more blood meal, more leaves, and more organic material.


5. Sprinkle the remaining blood meal from your cup onto the compost pile and then wet it using a garden hose.


6. Cover with plastic sheeting.



The compost pile generates heat as the plant material breaks down. Thoroughly turn at two or three week intervals. Keep the pile moist (not drenched) and covered.



Using this method, you can expect to have lovely nutrient-rich compost to use on your spring flower and vegetable gardens.




If you enjoy reading about gardening topics and you are a mystery lover, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries from Kensington Publishing. Each charming  novel features a wholesome whodunnit along with delicious recipes and farming facts and tips.



Murders at a N. California winery is a catalyst for ex-cop turned farmette owner Abigail Mackenzie

This newest novel involves murder at a N. California winery


Click here to see more:


Join me for “Coffee and Conversation” at Towne Center Books in Pleasanton, The date is Wednesday, October 18, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. The address is: 555 Main Street, Pleasanton, California. Phone is (925) 846-8826.


I’ll be sharing information about my farmette, my mystery-writing process, and my newest novel, A HIVE OF HOMICIDES.


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Tis the time for Cool Season Planting

Author: Meera, February 15, 2015

If you love the cool season plants like lettuce, spinach, kale, onions, leeks, sugar snap peas, and artichokes, Valentine’s Day weekend is the time to start planting cool season crops in the Bay Area and other warmer climates.



When the early blooming varieties of apples break bud, it's time to think cool season planting

When the early blooming varieties of apples break bud, it’s time to think cool season planting




I put in onions throughout the cool season and am rewarded with burlap bags of red onions, yellow, white, and the walla walla variety for kitchen soups and other culinary creations during the first months of the year.




My husband is building more growing boxes (4 x 4 x 3) in which we shovel amended soil, some planting mix, bone meal, blood meal, compost, and chicken manure. The soil will grow almost anything.



Herbs in a pot for use in the kitchen

This is the time to also tuck some herbs in a pot for use in the kitchen




This weekend, we’re moving a couple of citrus trees and three rose bushes. I’ll feed and water and watch for the new shoots to show within a week or two if the weather stays warm. So, you see, Valentine’s Day isn’t just for lovers but also people who love to garden.


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