Monday, April 19, 2010
Visit with author of "Complete Idiot's Guide to Composting"
If your attempts at gardening have not been all that successful, don't give up. I grew great plots of weeds for years before I finally got it figured out. And I'm still learning more every year. My biggest mistake was that I thought I could just plant seeds and they'd grow. Ha! Then I heard that compost was a good organic fertilizer, so I figured you just pile things up, and they rot, right? Well, yeah, sort of.
Today we have a visit from Chris McLaughlin, author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Composting. If you want to grow organically, this is one of those skills that you simply must acquire. And it's a great way to make a lot of your garbage magically disappear. I had a few questions for Chris, so here goes --
Deborah: How did you get interested in gardening?
Chris: I started gardening when I was 14 years old...so, several years ago for sure *grin*. I had a couple of tomato plants, and marigolds the first time around. I was surprised how much I enjoyed watching plants mature.
Deborah: How or when did you start writing?
Chris: I started writing in the 4th grade - seriously. I remember my 4th grade teacher telling me that I should be a writer. Of course, like all young writers, I dreamed of fiction and played with it on and off for years. Later, I realized how nice it was to share what I had been learning with other people and it dawned on me that non-fiction wasn't as boring as I had once thought, LOL. Because my love for growing things stayed with me and I delved more and more into the subject - it was natural for me to write about that.
Deborah: Why did you write a book on composting? It doesn't seem like a topic that would need a whole book to address it.
Chris: I was actually pedaling around another non-fiction book that I was writing about suburban farming (homesteading, or however you look at it). I had some great responses but I began to realize that the market was about to become saturated with this very topic. Instead of trying to push something that already had many voices, I decided to think ahead of the curve. What was it that all of the new gardeners (per the Victory Garden movement) out there were going to need? Ahhh...soil! New gardeners were about to be amazed at just how crappy their soil was - and I had the remedy: compost. By dumb luck, I had an agent interested in representing me at the very same time that a pub house was looking for someone who could write a composting book...it all just lined up right.
By the way, I'd been an avid composter for years and was thrilled at the success I had with rabbit manure. I can create compost REALLY fast with my rabbits.
Deborah: What are you doing in your garden right now?
Chris: Oh, my. Well, I always have perennials and shrubs going on...my husband loves Japanese maples and I love propagating, LOL. In my veggie garden I'm growing all heirlooms this year and trying varieties I've never tried before. I have 13 varieties of tomatoes but 42 of them..hehehe. Lettuce, broccoli, all kinds of mild peppers, carrots, cucumbers, beans, squash, radishes, watermelons - oh I'm growing Moon & Stars watermelon and a couple other delicious-looking ones that I have no idea where I'm going to fit them... I also end up tucking lots of annuals in everywhere to bring in the beneficial insects. This is also the first time that I'll be growing some gourmet beans for a local chef's restaurant and I'm super excited about that.
If any of you have questions about gardening or composting, click on "Comment" and start typing. Chris has agreed to hang around today and answer your questions. And she is also giving away a copy of her composting book! So, if you'd like to win a copy, just leave a comment, and you'll be automatically entered to win. Deadline to enter is Wednesday at midnight, central time, and Chris will mail the book to the winner as soon as it is available May 4.