Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Composting and your teenage son

Do you have teenage boys?  Is it their responsibility to take out the trash?  What is your success rate in having that happen with or without grumbling?  Uh huh.  There is a better way.  Make less trash by composting!  Less trash equals less grumbling.  Composting can eliminate about 1/3 of your household trash.  That amounts to 1/3 less teenage son grumbling.  You’ll also gain numerous gardening advantages that you can read about here

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It’s really not hard.  Here’s our set up.  First, you’ll need a compost  bin. It can be purchased or homemade.  Here’s what our compost tumbler looks like.

compost 1 wm.jpegI purchased our tumbler at one of those large warehouse stores.  Lovey was very kind to work till dark one evening putting it together.  It had a lot of pieces.  It was compared to an IKEA “put together”.  Have you ever put together something from IKEA?  I’m not not always sure it’s worth the savings.  But any who… the lid lifts up to put in your composting materials. The pin on the right side slides out so you can tumble the contents.  No more pitch fork turning by the mother.  Tumbling is fun.  At least that’s what you will tell your chilies.

What do you put in your compost bin?”, you ask.  Why, kitchen scraps, of course!  Lovey’s morning banana peel, DR’s strawberry hulls, onion scraps from the meatloaf, my morning coffee grounds and filter, yard clippings and leaves! 

This pitcher sits on our kitchen counter and makes it convenient to toss kitchen scraps into.

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I also like it because it’s not see through.  It’s not always pretty in there.  Does it smell?  No.  Not unless you leave it for days and days.  Consistent dumping of the kitchen scraps is what we have a “compost runner” for.  This is a good job for young chilies.  Because taking out trash, in any of its forms, is not in my job description.  One more tip.  I always put a paper towel or coffee filter in the bottom of the pitcher as this makes it easy for everything to slide out.

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And all this is free!  So get composting already!


Want to compost more stuff?  Here’s an interesting list of things that can be composted:

dryer lint, cardboard egg cartons, newspaper, sawdust, paper towels, shredded documents, 100% cotton fabrics, freshwater aquarium water, nail clippings, feathers, human and pet hair, vacuum bag contents, pencil shavings and facial tissues.

Strange and interesting.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Gardening takes Guts

Ah, what has she been up to?  Let’s start with the garden…

It took me three years to grow the Clematis flowers below.  They started as spindly ,little vines and didn’t do much the first two years.  Over the winter I pulled down some of the “dead” vines and luckily missed this one and look what grew on it!  Sigh.  This morning I counted 24 blooms.  Apparently Clematis grow into large, climbing plants and stick around for a long time. I read about one that is 26 years old.  I’m just saying  you might want to look into these for yourself.

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About a month ago I bought a magazine, Urban Farm. It sang the praises of square foot gardening  and (my little obsession is back) city chickens.  I’m just a girl who dreams of growing her own salad fixin’s and someday watching chickens play tag in the backyard.   As I’ve sworn off taking in anything else that’ll nag at you if it doesn’t get fed, it appears that only half of my dream will shape itself into backyard reality. 

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So, about three weeks ago Lovey and I set out to gather supplies at the local home improvement center.  That’s when we realized, with another freak Texas snow storm in the forecast, that gardening takes guts!  As the freakish snow swirled and blew, I trudged on and gathered up all the gardening “necessaries”.  The weather, apparently, had kept all the genteel (a.ka. warm and dry) gardeners at home and I had the entire outdoor department to myself. 

The fun part was picking out what I would grow.  Tomatoes?  Sure!  Jalapenos and cilantro?  Yes and Yes!  Lettuces and cucumbers?   Why not?!  A lot of hope has been put into such little, bitty plants.

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Gardening Commercial…

The sunflowers above were grown from seeds last summer.  Please note the color coordinated spider.  When accessorizing in the garden, I prefer to match the spider to the flower.  I feel it  brings a more cohesive look to the garden.  If you would like to achieve this same look in your outdoor space, call 1-800-JUST-KIDDING.  That number again is…  And if you act now, they’ll also include synchronized swimming water bugs!  But only if you’re one of the first 50 callers.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program:

Recently warmer weather has prevailed and with our project complete we can now call ourselves Urban Farmers! 

I’ll walk you through the project and we’ll see how it progresses through the summer.

Here’s a (square!) footnote:

Square foot gardening is meant to use less space and be easily manageable.  First you build a 4’ square box.  The boxes are set above ground, directly on the yard, so you don’t have any heavy digging.  Pick a spot that gets plenty of sunlight and has good drainage, remove any weeds and line the box bottom with a commercial weed-barrier cloth.  The plants will grow in about 6” of soil. 

Here’s what that looked like:

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Here’s how we made the planting “mix”:garden 2 wm.jpeg

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I made two 4’ boxes instead of one 4’ x 8’ box, so that if any of the plants cross pollinate and morph into vegetable madness, I can move one of the boxes next season. 

Time to plant:

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And then, I read some gardening tips in Food Network Magazine and decided to make a few changes…  They suggested planting lettuce near tomatoes or other taller plants that would give the lettuce some shade.  That sounded pretty good to me.  Another article  said that tomatoes need S- P –A- C- E and air flow around them.  I had planted mine right next to each other in tidy rows.  Also suggested was planting several types of tomatoes so if one type doesn’t work, perhaps the others will.  I moved some of the tomatoes and peppers to help out the lettuce.  I have homegrown salad and jalapeno poppers high hope that this all works out!

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In between and basically all around I also planted low growing types of flower seeds.  I’m hoping this will prettify everything and keep out any weeds that may decide to sneak in.

I’ll keep you posted on my gardening successes and “won’t try that again’s”. 

Want to grow your own snack tray or salad fixin’s?  Look here: www.squarefootgardening.com.