A Statement of Purpose




In 2012 I inherited responsibility for
the garden at the Pry House Field Hospital Museum on Antietam National Battlefield. The Pry House garden is a 19th century style medicinal and kitchen garden, meaning that every plant serves a practical, rather than aesthetic purpose, including medicinal plants, herbs, and vegetables for the kitchen table. As close as possible, these plants mirror those available to the Pry Family in the 1860s, meaning heirloom varieties. I am strictly an amateur, with no real experience in growing a garden. The purpose of this blog is to document my experiences as I learn by doing. It is anything but authoritative and I welcome any comments and advice for a complete greenhorn. Please be kind!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

New Compost Bins

I try to update this blog every Tuesday evening, but we were fairly busy at the museum yesterday, preparing and hosting our second happy hour at Brewer's Alley to premiere our latest brew in the Civil War Beer Series: First Draught. The event was great time and well-attended, and the beer is delicious! It's a tasty twist on Belgian dubbel, so give it a try!

Read About the Event!

Read about the Civil War Beer Series!

I mentioned last week that that we had the Boys Scouts from Troops 279 and 277 at the Pry House. They were taking the opportunity to practice some basic scout skills on a winter camp out, but also pitched in for the museum, helping to get some work done in the garden. One thing they did, was to convert some simple trashcans into compost bins.

I spent some time looking online for some simple, inexpensive, and fool-proof methods of doing compost. Many different people all recommended this method. It simply requires taking a basic plastic trashcan with a secure lid, and drilling the sides, bottom, and lid with a number of holes using a power drill.


These are supposed to make great containers for compost. They make it easier to regulate heat and moisture while keeping most animals out. The many holes promote air circulation, which is crucial to getting the compost to break down. Putting it up on simple cinder blocks further improves circulation.


Like most compost techniques, I add alternating layers of "green" matter - like weeds, grass clippings, green leafy trimmings, and kitchen scraps - with brown matter - like straw, leaves, sawdust, or even paper; really anything that seems woody. Purported experts all have have their own notions of the the "correct" ratio of brown to green. I a trying about half and half.


Three things in particular attracted me to the trashcan technique:

- It doesn't require a large amount of compost material to make it work quickly, unlike open-air piles
- It is cheaper than buying purpose-made compost boxes
- These round cans with firm lids can be easily turned over and rolled around as a simple way to turn the compost periodically.

I am hoping it works out! I will keep you posted!



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