homemade compost bin

Yesterday I made a compost bin. It took me like 5 seconds (equivalent to about 25 minutes in a non-exaggerator’s world). I can’t even get over how easy it was.

I searched the internet and found this video from About.com that I decided to copy.

I bought a new no-wheels trashcan from Lowe’s but if you have an old one that you can use for the project, it’d keep your cost down to zilch. Make sure it has a lid that works though! You’ll need it.

The photo above shows my supplies: trash can, drill, green and brown matter. I found this article that explains what the green and brown matter is for and how composting works if you’re curious.

Begin by drilling lots of holes all around the side of the can. The holes are necessary because the microbes that break down the matter need air to survive. It also reduces the smell among other things. I don’t know what size the drill bit was but it looked to be about 1/2 inch in diameter. It seems like a good size to help the air circulate.

Make sure you do the drilling on your driveway or a back porch (not on grass like me) so that it’s easy to sweep up the debris. I spent a good amount of time picking up these little plastic scraps. They were everywhere!

Here’s the bin in all it’s holey goodness. I just eyeballed the spacing by the way. No need to make it perfect.

After that, in went a layer of brown matter. Be sure to tear the paper products into small pieces, it’ll help them decompose quicker.

Orange Green Matter.

And another layer of brown matter in the form of leaves.

If the matter doesn’t stay moist the microbes that break down the material can’t survive so if you live in a super dry state, you might need to water your mixture about once a week. I probably won’t be watering again because I live in the humid South but I didn’t want you to miss a step!

Next, cover the can with your lid. Make sure it’s secure. You don’t want any critters getting into your ‘food’ and also when you roll the thing, you don’t want smelly compost everywhere.

One of the reasons to use a trash can is so that you can tip it over and mix the compost by rolling it about once a week. This will help speed up the process a ton. I’ve read in a couple places that in anywhere from 4 weeks to three months you’ll have fresh compost ready and waiting.

If you want to reduce a little carbon footprint, I’d say this is the way to do it. You’ll take out the garbage less, your trash can in the kitchen won’t stink to high heaven like it sometimes does and in a couple months you’ll get FREE compost to help your garden grow. You may not be a hippie who wants to save the earth but those are some awesome reasons to start a compost pile.

Do you have any green habits or projects? Feel free to share!

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On another note. The Grow Light that I mentioned in this post has come in! It looks like a crazy UFO but all the plants in the greenhouse have really perked up. The big test will be how much fruit everything produces. I’ll keep you posted!

my veggie garden

Not to be confused with my greenhouse garden.

Speaking of my greenhouse, I’ve been having a little trouble with it. There are two issues: 1. That there is too much shade and therefore not enough sunlight and 2. I might have watered the veggies too frequently.

The overwatering has resulted in yellowing bottom leaves and gnats galore. I’ve somewhat fixed the problem by being really stingy with watering. If I feel any moisture in the first two inches of soil then I leave the plants alone. Since doing this, I’ve gone up to 5 days without watering! I have to remember that the plants are in a greenhouse in pots so they don’t need much. So far so good now that I’ve changed my ways.

As for the sun problem, I did a couple things. First, I cut back a couple of pine tree branches to let in a little bit more light.

I also bought a GlowPanel 45 LED Grow Light that covers 5 square feet. Even though it was pricey, I figure it’s a lot cheaper and ‘greener’ than buying vegetables that I have traveled across the country to my plate! It also only uses 28 watts of power but produces 250 watts of sunny light. Super cool. I wish I could tell you that it works great but I got it out of the packaging yesterday and it wouldn’t turn on! Hopefully, once I get a new one, I’ll be posting about giant tomatoes and peppers.

The last and final thing I did to try and combat the shade was to move some of the plants to a spot outside that gets more light. To the right of our side entrance we had a huge mess of weeds and plants so I thought it’d be a good location.

The week before I started my solo work, my sister and I uprooted all the weeds and transplanted the plants in the foreground of the photo (that need mulch!) from the area in the back. Because this was already done, I was able to start tilling the soil right away using a hoe.

Can I just say that I feel quite silly using these gardening/farming terms? Especially when one reminds me of my love for Ludacris.  Does that explain a lot? I hope not, ha. Please keep reading!

Anyways, tilling is tiring!! I had to stop ever couple minutes to take a breather and rest my weary arms.

After I was fiiiinally finished, I mixed in my new top soil with the existing soil per the instructions on the bag. I then dug out little trenches to help water filter out. I don’t even know if I was supposed to do that part but it’s what I always see online.

I laid out my 2 feet long bamboo sticks to space out where I wanted to plant my veggies – every 3 feet for tomatoes and squash and every 2 feet for the peppers.

Then I carefully dug the plants out of their pots and planted them next to their poles.

And tied them to the poles using twist ties. I know they aren’t very tall but I figured a little support this early wouldn’t hurt.

I’m still a bit worried about the amount of sun these plants will be getting too. I know they should be getting at least 8 which they aren’t BUT I’ve got nothing to lose!

I wish there was someone that could come over and just tell me what to do with everything but hey, it’s an experiment! This gardening stuff is fun and if I get a couple tomatoes at the end of the July it’ll be icing on the cake pasta sauce on the spaghetti!

Are you taking any risks in your yard? Any new plants?

to eat meat or not to eat meat?

That is the question.

Ever since I was little, meat has grossed me out. To this day if I chomp on an unmentionable (veiny thing or fat) I panic, start to sweat, and then either attempt to swallow or spit it out. Lately I can’t even finish the meal if that happens.

Ground up stuff on the other hand, I can take – all that nastiness is mixed together so you can’t determine what’s what! <- That statement is so ridiculous but true. An example: I had a Mexican meal last week with the best beef tacos and tamales in town. It’s located here but has a different name now just in case any Richmonders want to venture outside the city.

Meat promoting aside.

At the beginning of this year I attempted to stop eating any of it. It was fine except for when I went to eat my normal meat meals like pizza and Mexican when I’d have to rethink a bit. Obviously there are simple substitutes but it made me think! I went a couple weeks and then went back to my normal eating habits. I think going back was a combination of having to cook for myself as well as my meat eating husband and the question of ‘why?’. What’s the point of stopping if I like some of it? I thought this and I’m sure my husband did too.

This morning my blogger friend Sarah wrote a post on Polyface Farms which is a ‘green’ farm talked about in the movie Food, Inc.
She reminded me that I’ve had this post in my drafts folder for a couple weeks now so I thought I’d bite the bullet and finish it.

I’ve been meaning to watch Food, Inc. ever since it came out (four years ago!) but I’ve been too scared to do it.

You know I’m a huge animal lover (my family keeps growing and growing) so too see all that pain and suffering would be tough. Watching the movie would be a game changer because I’m not a huge meat eater to begin with.

I’m scared of becoming a vegetarian even though I have an urge to do so. Also, it’s about the cooking challenges and the judging of my reasoning by others. Very silly reasons to not watch a movie that will help me grow. I am a grownup after all, I can do it.

But I haven’t.

I know for some vegetarians it’s about how gross it is to eat flesh and for others it’s about the rights of animals. Or at least I assume these are the reasons because really, up until I started reading healthy living blogs, the only vegetarian I knew was my older sister, Amanda. Hi AMP!

After writing the above, I realize I’m a little bit of both.

So should I become one? My views on animal cruelty are quite strong but I do like to eat meat once in a while. Do I want to give up my beloved tacos and tamales? Maybe I should just make sure the product is coming from a ‘happier’ place like Polyface Farms?

I think for now, that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll find a local farm and/or head to the farmer’s market on Saturday to explore my options. Maybe I’m chickening out or maybe this is what I’m supposed to do.

It’s an interesting crossroads to be in. I’ll be watching Food, Inc. this week for sure.

If you’re a vegetarian or meat eater that is particular about their vendors, what is the reasoning behind your eating habits?