Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Labels, love em or leave em?

Why label my posts? Cause then I could categorize them for gardening, homeschooling, scripture, etc. And you all know I'm such an organized person. Why not label my posts? Cause I got three years worth of unlabeled posts. The likely hood of me going back and labeling all those posts are slim and none.

But that's not why I'm writing. I'm writing cause it's 4:36 am, and I've been awake since 2:45 am. Joy. The thing about Sudafed is, I can't sleep when I take it. On the other hand, if I don't take it, I'm too congested to sleep anyway. Yay.

Joy and Yay are working their way into being labels for this post.

The clarity of my thought processes must provide simply riveting reading matter for a blog.

Gardens. I lay in bed for an hour and a half and thought about a compost system and a way to make a grid for our square foot garden. Yes. yes I did. And then I thought, I should get up and share this fascinating subject matter with the world. So here I am. Behold the power of the internet.

I was online a few days ago, looking for info on composting for beginners. And I saw an add for a commercially marketed compost bin that looked essentially like a large plastic garbage can with holes drilled in its side and cover. And I thought, I have large plastic garbage cans which are currently holding leaves and other yard waste. And I thought, the Jedi has a power drill. I too can have a compost bin system.

What I need are three large, predrilled garbage cans. I fill one up with leaves and layers of grass clippings (I bet the Jedi will need to mow the yard soon. While I hate to wish that chore on the Jedi, I need layers of green matter for my compost.) After we rototill the former strawberry patch, I can save a couple bucket fulls of dirt from there to throw into the compost layers as well. I soak it down with the hose. I pick up a dozen earthworms from the local pet store (they sell them as food for other critters) and toss those on to the top of the compost.I put a predrilled cover on it. And I do nothing to it for two weeks. This will be Pile A.

Meanwhile (back in the batcave), I use some of the roll of chicken wire still in the garage from Vaya's rabbit, Moofi. I make it into a nice wide cylinder, and I fill it up with leaves still left over from autumn. (Yes, we still have leaves kicking around our yard. I lift Toa of Boy up and put him in it and tell him to stamp around and crush the dry crumbling leaves up as much as he can. No, I'm not kidding. Now I have a "leaf hopper" which will contain just brown materials.

I put one layer of brown material in the second garbage can "bin". As we generate green matter, from fruits and vegetable kitchen scraps or other grass clippings, I through those into this "in progress" bin. Sweetling can have the job of taking kitchen waste out to the compost (no meat or dairy, of course.) She adds a handful of crushed leaves on top of each little addition of kitchen waste to keep flies and such from being attracked to the bins. We add layers of grass clippings, followed by layers of brown leaves, as the spring goes on. This will be Pile B.

By now, two weeks should be up, and I can return to my first bin, Pile A. I shovel, scoop, and then pour the contents of this bin into the empty third bin. I wet it down again if it needs it, and put the cover back on. I repeat this proceedure every week or every two weeks, cause I'm in a hurry to make some compost for my garden. If I weren't in a hurry, I'd only turn it every month. But I'm hoping to have some nice compost by midsummer, to side dress the vegetable garden. Nothing new gets added to this pile that I'm turning every other week or so. All the new material goes in the "in progress" pile B that I've started in another bin.

Last, I need a large plastic storage container with a lid that seals it closed. (A big rubbermaid tub will work nicely.) When I have a finished batch of compost, I empty it from the bin into the tub. I can take what I need from the tub to add to the vegetable garden. Now, Pile B gets wetted down, some finished compost and some earthworms added, and a cover put on. It now becomes the pile that I will turn every other week through the summer. I'll start a new pile going in place of Pile A. Same routine, layer of brown stuff...hope I have some left... and layers of green stuff, and a few scoops of the finished compost.

And in the fall, will refill our leaf hopper. And through the fall and winter, I'll switch to only turning a pile from one bin to another every month or so.

So, I'll have
--a leaf hopper made of chicken wire to hold my brown materials
--a pile that I don't add anything to that I turn back and forth between two bins
--a pile that I'm slowly building as we generate green materials
--a tub for holding finished compost until its needed in the garden

That should work, right? And even if it doesn't, what's the worst that can happen? I won't have any compost? I don't have any now. It's not going to cost me any money to try, cause I've got all the equipment I need on hand already. And if I get lazy (really, sometimes it happens) and I don't turn it regularly, so what? It should break down eventually.

And that was my grand, cold-meds induced plan for composting. Now I just need to convince the Jedi that I can be trusted with his power drill.

The other idea I lay in bed kicking around was how to mark off a grid for our square-foot garden. The garden itself is up against a wall of the house. It's two feet wide and seven feet long. Mel says to make a nice, semi-permament grid, and I think he's right. Without a grid, it will be more difficult for me and the kids to make sense of what's growing where and to weed and tend to the garden properly. Mel suggests making a grid with the slats of a old venetian blind or such. BUT, the outer raised edge of the garden is formed by wooden logs salvaged from some of the large branches that came down in last fall's windstorm. And I don't want white plastic strips next to the cool, natural looking logs. If dowel rods aren't to expensive, I could pick some up and stain them green. Though, I don't know how I'd fasten round dowel rods together to make a grid. Cause they're rolly and all. Really, I need one long, seven foot strip and then six shorter cross strips to form my grid.

I also thought of using white landscaping rocks (you know, the kind you can buy in big backs) to lay out on the dirt in neat little rows to make my grid. But then I'd have to carefully take them off and then lay them back down anytime I needed to dig in more compost. And I'd have to police Toa of Boy's friends when they come over to play so that they wouldn't mess with the rocks. Cause cool rocks are just irresitable to young boys. So, white rocks, pretty and natural looking. Not quite so practical.

I could beg for free paint stirs from the hardware store. I could let the kids paint them with cool patterns and designs and then we could seal them with polyurithane and fasten them together, somehow, perpendicularly in groups of four. but I'd need 24 paint stirs, I don't know how I'd fasten them, and painting and sealing them would be a pretty involved process.

And now I'm feeling really sleepy, so I think I'll try to head back to bed for an hour or so.

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