Thanks to everyone for bringing your compostables (greens) to the garden and covering them with leaves (browns).. Thanks also to those with muscle that pitched in to turn the compost. And thanks to the air, and rainwater for supplying the other two ingredients for a successful compost pile.

We stuck a thermometer into the compost pile the middle ‘cooking’ bin. The contents of the collecting bin (measuring around 4-5 cubic feet of organics) were turned into this one just last week, on Thursday August 20th.

140We were very pleased to see that the thermometer registered around 138 degrees! Now that’s a hot community compost pile! A hot compost pile [above 130 degrees] will break down organics very quickly and kill any weed seeds, plant diseases or pathogens remaining in the compost.

We haven’t yet purchased a compost thermometer; we just dug into the pile and stuck in a 4-5 inch long cheapo ‘meat’ thermometer, which can be purchased from the grocery store, and often found in 99cents stores.

If you want to bring your compostables to the garden, we are open Sat-Sun 12-5 the bin is in the back of the garden. The Collection Bin is the left/east bin next to the leaf bin. Please cover your donations with leaves.

If you need compost, we should have some available soon, though you’ll have to sift your own.


Composting Workshop July 2015 Everyone is invited to a composting workshop next weekend. Bring your compostables and questions! Master Composter, Ellen Belcher will teach you how to compost with food scraps, sawdust, garden waste, leaves, pallets and worms in the garden. We will also learn how to ferment dairy, grain and meat food waste using bokashi to create a compost accelerator at home or in the garden. Everyone will leave with instructions and plans and a good idea of the differences between each system. We will be mixing up a batch of bokashi grain and talking about plans for new composting bins to be built with the support of a Manhattan Borough President Compost Grant, which the garden recently received. We can also get out the measuring tape and calculate compost volume – which we did in our garden this April.

This is one of a series of compost workshops taught at the Morris Jumel and Joseph Daniel Wilson Community Gardens. Stay tuned for announcements of more workshops which will take place through October 2015. Contact MorrisJumelGarden [at] gmail [dot] com for more information.

NYPL Image

Here is a picture of the building that stood on the ground that is now the garden from the NYPL Digital Collections you can see to the west of this building what is now the church’s parking lot. To the east is the brownstone that is still standing.

The back of this card dates the top image to 1932 and the bottom image to 1934

Citation to this Image is:

Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, The New York Public Library. “Manhattan: 162nd Street (West) – Amsterdam Avenue” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 4, 2015.

This garden is serious about diverting organic matter produced in the community away from the garbage and landfills and into our bins to create compost. But how does that measure in weight and volume? Today we spent a few hours with our 3-bin composting system in the back of the garden with a tape measure and calculated some of the results. Our composting bin is the same that many gardens construct, made of recycled wood pallets, which create 3 open spStep 1 compostaces for compost in different stages measuring approximately 4 foot square.

We didn’t use the incremental bucket & scale recording method suggested by the Five Borough Farm Kit, because we found it much easier to take bulk measurements during the compost turn and use cubic foot calculations available on the web for figuring out weight and volume.

So armed with shovels, pitchforks and a measuring tape (and some muscle) we spent a few hours in the back of the garden calculating how much organic waste has been diverted and how much compost has been created over the past 7 months.
Want to bring your compostables to the garden? We love you! Bring them!
We are open Saturday – Sunday 12-5pm April – October.

Step oneEmpty the middle bin of cooked compost.

Surprise! On April 4th, half of this pile was still frozen! It was seriously difficult to hack away at this frozen blob. But through a lot of hard work, we managed to build this pile of finished compost.

 finished compost pileThe contents of this bin yielded a pile approximately sized 3ftx3ftx3ft or 1cubic yard of finished compost, using this site to calculate, seems like we produced at least 465 pounds of compost, but this site suggests one yard of finished compost is closer to 1000 pounds (the sore muscles of the volunteer compost turner concur).
According to this site, 1 cubic yard of compost can cover 325 feet 1 inch deep – which should cover most of all of our gardeners’ spring planting needs.

Step 2 calculate the present volume of organics collected

step 2 compost

The community trudged to the frozen garden, covered with snow and ice all through the many months of that freezing winter weather, to compost their organics. By spring we had amassed a huge pile.  We wanted to measure their efforts before turning into the now empty middle bin.

 This pile was overflowing the bin, so conservatively calculating at 4ftx4ftx4ft, or, using this calculator,  64 cubic feet of food waste/garden waste and leaves were diverted from the landfill into this bin. The actual amount is probably more, as this pile is smoking hot, full of red wriggler worms and has been breaking down for the past 7 months.

Step 3 – calculate fall leaves left in the leaf bin.

step 3 leavesThese were raked up by community members and donated to the garden over the fall months. They mainly came from the parkland surrounding the Morris-Jumel Mansion, but also came from neighbor’s front stoops, sidewalks and yards.

This pile is huge, the bin is constructed of 4 pallets, cattle fencing and orange netting that used to hold the Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon of Thomas the Tank Engine. Its all held together with rope and bike tubes.
We need to come back to the garden to measure that volume. According to this site, dry leaves weigh 344.7lbs per cubic yard. This pile is perhaps 3 or 4 cubic yards?
We have applied for a SWAB Community Compost Grant to achieve even more organics diversion, stay tuned for more composting news from the garden!

Here is the schedule of garden meetings for 2015, which take place in the garden at noon on the first Saturday of every month April – October.


  1. Saturday April 4
  2. Saturday May 2
  3. Saturday June 6
  4. Saturday July 4
  5. Saturday August 1
  6. Saturday September 5
  7. Saturday October 3

Please also see how to join the garden and note that new garden friends are voted in and placed on the garden plot waiting list at the beginning of every meeting.

From April – October (weather permitting) the garden is open 12-5 Saturday – Sunday and at least ten hours unscheduled (usually in the early evening). Everyone is welcome to visit the garden whenever it is open. See also our events page.

Everyone is invited to the upcoming workshop: Managing a Feral Cat Colony in a Garden: Community Relations on Saturday 10/18 1-4pm (rain or shine). Here is a chance to see an established, “managed” cat colony which is resident in a NYC Green Thumb community garden. We will discuss what we have learned about managing a TNR’d (Trap Neuter and Return) cat

Too hanging out in the garden

Too hanging out in the garden

colony and show methods which allow them to coexist with and benefit the garden by keeping it rodent free. We will also visit other nearby TNR shelters and feeding stations in the neighborhood, including a church, a park, a parking lot and apartment building basement.

Harley eating dinner

Additional information:

All the cats are spayed, neutered and vaccinated against rabies. The cats don’t reproduce or fight with each other. They fend off most other cat-newcomers and keep the garden rat-free.

Gardeners can rest assured that there are no rat-burrows in their garden plots or rats hiding in the compost heap. We can garden; hold events and parties anytime, day or night, with no fear of the “beady red eyes” or gnaw-marks on our tomatoes.

Harley and Creampuff eating dinner

Harley and Creampuff eating dinner

We’ll show you how we constructed and placed feeding stations, cat shelters, and discuss how we have involved other volunteers. Perhaps you’ll even meet the cats …if they come out from their sleeping places.

If you are thinking of starting a feral cat colony, we will distribute information on where and how you can get further training in becoming a certified TNR Feral Cat Colony Manager. See links below.

Other TNR colony managers are welcome; we don’t have all the answers, we can all learn from each other.

Informational Links:

Cocoa Bean watching over the compost bin

Cocoa Bean watching over the compost bin




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Thanks to Scott and a volunteer from the Montecalvario Church next door, the true gnarly nature of our olive tree can be seen and appreciated.

Thanks to everyone’s support, work and donations, our new back fence is being installed saturday. Watch this space for pictures and a new fence party.


 Saturday May 17


 Morris-Jumel Community Garden

457 west 162nd street

Between Amsterdam and Edgecombe


Books, Clothes & General Stuff

from 25cents-$20 everything priced to sell!


 to benefit the funding for a

New Back Fence for the

Morris-Jumel Community Garden

1your contributions will allow us replace this fence…

with this fence!

        ???????????????????????????other ways to contribute:

Come into the garden Saturday and help with the community workday or…

PayPal Donate Button <<– Click on this button to make an online donation to the Morris-Jumel Community Garden Fence Fund!! Thank You!

Thanks to Bari, Audra and Stacey who went to the butterfly workshop we got another big haul of free plants for the garden that will attract butterflies to our garden and make it easy for them to mate / spin cocoons and become mothers, so its good these got planted on mother’s day.

For more on what these plants will grow to become and what butterflies they might attract to our garden see the NYC Butterfly Project.

Bari planted them in the common areas according to what does well in the sun or the shade. Here are some pictures showing what and where they are.

In the back area between the swing and the cat condo are aJoe-Pye Weed, Eupatorium  and three Gray’s Sedge, Carex GrayiImageImage

On the side underneath the olive tree are a white wood aster, blue wood sedge, geranium, and a blazing starSide-1

In the front in the area behind the larger side of the fence are a Honey Suckle (positioned on the side of the fence that is close to the church lot), Bee Balm, Monarda and a Sweet Pepper Bush, Clethra alnifolia ImageImage

They are  tagged / have tags in front of them so please be careful not to trample them, esp the ones under the olive tree. They needed to be placed in the ground and were done so in places that were empty. Please let them grow.

Hopefully well have lots of pretty butterflies this season! We are looking forward to it

contact the garden at: morrisjumelgarden [at]

Photos of the garden on Flickr