Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wooden Pallet Composting System

Just found several wood pallets at work. The facility guys are going to save them for me. So...I hope my neighbor, Jen, and I can make this happen!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Stick a fork in it...

We're working on filling the raised bed garden, but realize it's going to be pricey to purchase bagged soil and compost. Then, we remembered that we have this huge pile of grass clippings, dried mulched leaves and a few veggie/fruit table scraps and including some coffee grounds and egg shells, it's an official compost pile. We started filling it (two families) a couple of years ago, but really never even looked at it, because our desire was to build our own three section compost bin,but these two working moms have no time or energy to do so. Purchasing a bin was an option, but we've yet to get around to actually doing that. Anyhow, I digress.

If we have to fill the garden, why not see if we have any compost made in the pile? Of course, we haven't turned or watered it, and it's under the shade of my giant silver maple tree, so I'm sure it's not getting hot enough to break down sufficiently the organic matter within. But, you would think, it's been a few years of adding to the pile, there must be something worthwhile underneath it all, right?

Jen picked up the pitchfork and started to dig, since the week before I tried to do that and snapped my hamstring and writhed in deep pain for a couple of days. Now, about 10 days later, the leg is bruised and tender, but not terrible. So, we begin again. She dug in and turned it to a new pile, and I added water and some organic stuff  (compost maker) that helps to speed the break-down process. We were hoping to find amazing stuff,  but were a little stumped by the large black plastic bag left near the pile, and whatever other non-natural things we'd find in there and have to pull out, such as candy wrappers, plastic plant tags, and toys.

Jen stepped away to grab the wheel barrow, hoping we'd have enough to fill it, and I picked up the pitch fork. As I poked around and "stabbed" at the pile before digging in, I heard a surprising "squeek, squeek, squeek, squeek, squeek, squeek, squeek, squeek, squeek, squeek, squeek, squeek, squeek"...OMG, I let out a shrill shreik and jumped away from the pile. (Yes, I was wearing flip flops, and yes I know it could have been much worse.) I never did see the mouse, and we joked around about only hearing it and not seeing it that maybe it's a ventriloquist mouse or a DJ mouse with a scratching vinyl record sound that was making the squeeks. HA! The laughter helped, and we heard it a bit more as I dug deeper into the pile. I still cringe at the thought that it might have been a nest in there. Alas, no mouse seen by me.  Jen saw the mouse toward the end of our project, but neither of us wanted to know where it was going or if we injured it in some way.  Ick.

Not as much beautiful black gold as I would have hoped for in that first time digging in.We're hoping for much more of this stuff as we keep digging.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Web surfing garden blogs

Boggled by all the different topics...but I'm trying to keep up with some different ideas. Mulch in the veggie garden? How to successfully make your own compost? Companion gardening? Newspaper in the garden? Hot sun or slight shade, where to plant my veggies? What tools are necessary? Lead and other dangerous materials in your garden? Beneficial insects/creatures vs. harmful insects/creatures? How to keep the rabbits from eating my asiatic lilies? Is it too late to plant veggies in Minneapolis? How much should I water the tomatoes? Is my garden soil "good enough?"

Yup...I stayed up late tonight again with a few leads from Pinterest. I found some new garden blog sites I hadn't found before...I hope to go back and find more time to really peruse the posts.
I often look to the internet for resources & references, much like a great big encyclopedia...not just Wikipedia, but the whole world (beware of where the knowledge is really coming from) at my fingertips.

Now, most people that know me know that I care about the environment and more than that I care about the health of my family. I believe that all things are connected to each other in one way or another. I told a friend the other day that I've been completely covered in large allergic reactions to mosquito bites, and they've bitten again over and over when I forget to put on some insect repellent. In fact, I'm sure I've mentioned before how we bought the house mostly because there's a screened in porch attached to it. She talked about using Cutter Insect control for the backyard and that it's worked great! I hesitated to run out and buy it, simply because it might also kill off any beneficial insects like butterflies and honey bees/bumble bees that we need to pollinate the veggies we're growing. Not to mention that it may also be harmful to the kids if they get near it when it's wet. So, I'd rather find some "organic" or natural remedies for warding off insects in the backyard. Maybe garlic? Sorry neighbors. Well, I haven't decided on a for sure remedy yet.'s a few places I've been that have me so excited!!!

Here's a new site I'm sure I'll check back with often as a quick resource and reference tool.
GoodGuide Make choices that fit your personal values. If you care about being more organic, health or just looking to see if a product is safe around your kids and pets...check it out here first. It doesn't rate some things like food on choices I'd make, like staying away from artificial colors and flavors, but it does list chemical components.

Another spot I just found...OnEarth magazine.  [On Earth, One Earth...] I actually found a link to an old article from a year ago about the 10 best garden blogs. I had to check it out. Here's the article:

So...from OnEarth, I've found A Way to Garden where Margaret Roach offers up inspiration for organic gardening.

Looks like I've got so much more reading to do and find out about veggie garden pests and how to keep them at bay without hurting the beneficial ones, and ways to mulch the veggies to keep weeds tucked away and soil moist and hot for the tomatoes.These are all new topics to me in the past couple of years. These are days I wish my mom was around to give me some gardening advice and know-how.  But, because she's not here, I'm glad there is the internet.