Garden

Compost and Reduce Your Landfill Waste

Today I’d like to tell you about our compost container. We found it at Sam’s last year. And I just LOVE it.

It’s called the SoilSaver Classic Composter. If you don’t have a Sam’s in your area (my northwest friends), I’m sure Costco has similar products. It’s also available on Amazon and other online merchants if you’re open to ordering such things online.

I would recommend composting to anyone who has the space and means to do so! It is so easy and it greatly reduces our garbage that goes to the curb. This is what I love most about composting. Because, though it would be great fertilizer for a garden, we do not currently have said garden. Or at least anything beyond the few pots we have growing on our balcony.

I thought about taking a picture of the composter but it’s pretty plain to look at on the outside (see link above if you haven’t already) and I really didn’t think anyone would be all that keen on looking inside at our decomposing fruits, vegetables, and rabbit poo we have filling the container.

Yes, I said rabbit poo. We are raising rabbits – for meat (like chickens.) I know, this is a topic I haven’t broached yet. I’m not going to get into it much now. Suffice it to say, we have three rabbits that are for breeding purposes only. We won’t be eating them. And we haven’t bred them for any litters yet. This is a new adventure for us, like many. Time will tell as to how it pans out. For those animal conscious folks out there, we take great pains to care for the rabbits as well as we can, plenty of food and water, condo-sized cages (larger than most I’ve seen rabbit farmers use), and lots of other little extras to give them a good quality of life. We may like to eat meat but we have firm beliefs against animal cruelty – one of the reasons we want to raise our own and are trying to get away from buying commercially grown meats. But, that’s another story for another time.

Getting back to composting. How does it work, you ask?

Easy. We keep a bucket in the kitchen under one of the counters where we toss all our fruit and vegetable scraps. We dump the bucket into the composter periodically, about once a week or so. Sometimes we get lazy and it goes longer. Does it smell? Nope. I mean, sure there’s some odor but it’s not stinky odor. Again, that plays into how often you dump the contents. Also, if there’s a lot of fruit like banana peels or strawberry stems, those will produce fruit files pretty quickly so I make an effort to dump the bucket that day when I’m working with fruit. But veggies can go a long time in the bucket, things like onion skins, egg shells, bits of celery, bell pepper innards, etc. All these things can be composted and won’t stink up your house if waiting to go outside for a week or so. We also compost our coffee grounds. Again, just smells like coffee. 🙂

So, what exactly can you compost? Well the list is so long that sometimes it’s easier to say what NOT to compost.

DO NOT COMPOST

  • meat
  • fat
  • grease
  • oils
  • bones
  • cat or dog droppings/litter
  • lime
  • colored paper
  • ashes
  • non-biodegradable materials
  • toxic materials

If in doubt, look it up or don’t compost it. That’s my rule.

Here’s a more detailed list of things you CAN compost and other how-to compost information.

One other technical part of the composting. You have to turn your compost. In this regard I’ve envied some of the other models out there that are designed to turn or spin. See example one and example two. With my model, I pick the entire thing up and set it just next to the pile, then I shovel everything back into the container, the top of the pile now going to the bottom in this manner. I do this about once a month. Three week intervals would probably be even better, but since we aren’t using the compost for anything other than reducing our landfill waste, I really haven’t worried when the time between turnings runs long. Also, with just the two of us, we’ve never filled the container even halfway over the last year and this method of turning has been easy to do. But since mucking out the rabbit waste recently the container is now 3/4 full and I have a feeling the next turning is going to be interesting. This particular model does come with a door at the bottom for shoveling out the bottom and transferring it to the top. I may be employing this method in the future.

On an average week, between our composting and avid recycling of paper, plastic, tin, aluminum, cardboard, and glass, we generate one, maybe two, 13 gallon bags of garbage. Every time I recycle or compost something, I feel better that it’s not going into a landfill somewhere. I urge everyone to reduce, reuse, recycle as much as possible – and compost if you can!

I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use.
~ Mother Teresa

A Watering System For The Garden

Thanks to the teaching of Don’s dad, we assembled a timed watering system for our garden last night.

The materials…

Tucking the hose under the door frame and doing a test run on just one plant before setting them all up.

Beautiful!

But…the water spigot is downstairs so we needed to run the main hose to the end of the balcony and down the building. We ran into a few challenges while working through how to secure the hose to the building and had to make a trip to the hardware store for more supplies. In the end we managed to get it done and it doesn’t look unsightly. (I totally forgot to get a picture of that aspect so you’ll just have to trust me.) 🙂

Finally, back to finishing the rest of the sprayer hookups as the evening creeps up on us.

And then there was water. Yay!

I know, there’s water everywhere. We both got a little wet while adjusting the sprayers to the right flow rate and directing them properly so that they spray in the right direction and not just wildly everywhere. Now that we’ve got it all settled, every morning around 6:30 the water will spray for about 10 minutes and water our plants for us. Blissful freedom from having to remember to water or to fend off the mosquitos while watering.

Can’t thank you enough Big Don for turning us on to this wonderful invention and for giving us the timer to run the water! 🙂

Weather means more when you have a garden.  There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans. 
~ Marcelene Cox

See How Our Garden Grows!

I thought after seeing the beating our flag took from Irene…

that our garden may not have fared well either. But our kind friends who were babysitting the plants must have sheltered them from the weather and took excellent care of them. We’ve even got some pepper growing again! Thanks so much Stephanie and Grady!

Our basil is growing like gangbusters too, but the other herbs haven’t made much of an appearance yet.

Don’s hoping to take some tips from his dad, gleaned from conversations while we visited and were awed by the size of his garden in Washington. Hopefully we will continue to grow our knowledge and our little herb and vegetable garden into something spectacular. Although I think it’s pretty spectacular that we’ve had this much success so far!

It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.
~ Lewis Gizzard

Herbs and Peppers

We bought some plants yesterday.

This is new ground for us.

We have talked about planting a garden for years but it’s never happened. The biggest reason I think is because we’ve always felt frustrated by the prospect that we might be moved again just as the garden was starting to flourish or that the garden would not be able to go with us.

I suggested recently that we try planting just a few things in pots, that way we could take them with us.

Don never listens to me. We were at Lowe’s and Home Depot yesterday, pricing out supplies for another mountainous project, and he looked at me and said, “I wonder if we could try just a couple of plants out on the balcony?” Huh, didn’t I just suggest that a few weeks ago?

After about an hour or more of looking, and a few phone calls to Don’s folks for advice on soil and other specifics, we finally made it out of the store.


This one was already coming along pretty well, even though it had no little identification stick to tell us what it is or how to care for it. The clerk at the store said another customer had just been looking at it and had told her it was a kind of pepper. Well that’s just the kind of thing we like so we said let’s try it.

We harvested a few for dinner last night and sure enough, they are spicy little peppers of some type. Not off the charts spicy, I was able to eat one raw, but definitely had a little kick.

They are just little guys.

If anyone knows what these are, please tell me! It would be great to know so we can be sure we caring for the plant properly.

We tossed them in with our taco salad meat for dinner. It was delish!

I think it’s going to be a little while before our other plants produce anything.

The one on the far left is another pepper plant. The sales tag said it was a mild pepper but Don thought we’d get it anyway. The middle one is bell pepper. On the right we planted seeds for basil, cilantro, and chives.

We have no idea what we are doing. I’m pretty sure it’s late in the year to plant the seeds. Who knows if they will grow at all.

We also bought a mix of hot pepper seeds but they need to be started indoors with seed-starting formula. We bought a 25 cell greenhouse kit for those but didn’t have time last night to plant them yet. Don also has to make some sort of box that we can put around it that will allow it to get some sun but that will keep the cats out. That should be interesting.

Stay tuned for updates on this little adventure. Hopefully it goes well.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero