To read about this project, go to wildgardenburbstead.com . I will no longer publish new posts on Gina’s Inspirations. But I will continue to notify you that there is a new post on either of my new “.com” sites for a few more weeks. If you enjoy the stories about building our burbstead, permaculture, gardening, and frugal living, you can follow me at the Wild Garden Burbstead site. You can also follow me at ginaagaines.com for arts and crafts, herbals, recipes and personal reflections. I hope to continue “seeing” you at either, or both, of my new blogging sites!
Tag Archives: Recycling
I love to peruse gardening magazines in the winter. Actually, I love to do that year round, but I have a legitimate excuse to do it now! The only downside to my “window shopping” is that it makes me want all the great gadgets and gizmos they offer. I love time and labor-saving devices as much as the next gardener, but you can spend a small fortune if you’re not careful. So I’m always looking for ways to save money without spending too much time and labor.
One of my favorite thrifty-green ideas is to make seed starting pots out of empty toilet paper tubes. It’s super-easy! Just cut four slits on one end of a toilet paper tube. Make the cuts about one inch long and at equal distances apart, creating four “tabs.” Then, fold the tabs down, and place a piece of paper tape over the end to secure it. Be sure to use paper tape as it will compost best. Easy-peasy!
Didn’t save any toilet paper tubes over the summer? No problem! Just use one toilet paper tube to make lots of newspaper pots! The first ones I made using a small glass, but even if the sides of the glass are angled even a small amount, it was too much work to roll it up straight. I think the tubes work much better.
First, fold a single sheet of newspaper lengthwise into thirds. Remember not to use the shiny or highly-colored paper. Mostly black and white pages are better for your plants. Next, you just wrap the paper around the toilet paper tube and secure it with paper tape. Then cut and tape the ends just like we did with the tubes in the pictures above.
Finally, you just fill all your little pots with potting soil, add some seeds, and get growing!
I’m not as “green” as I’d like to be, but I do compost. It’s become second nature. The minute a piece of trash is in my hand, my mind is deciding on it’s destination. Re-purpose, Recycle bins, compost, or (gasp!) the dreaded trash can. Although we do generate some trash, I’m happy to say it’s minimal.
Re-purposing is easy for me because my mind just naturally runs in that direction. Recycling is easy because that’s Don’s job *smile.* Seriously, not hard to do. We toss items in a re-purposed canvas laundry hamper with 4 removable bins. Then a couple of times a month, he drives 8 minutes from the house to a recycle center. He’s also responsible for the trash. Don’t pity him. Same schedule, one trip, easy. In addition to re-purposing, I am the queen of compost around here. No applause necessary, thank you. Since my sweetheart has an easy time with his “chores” I opted for an equally carefree solution to composting. If you’re bothering to read this article, you probably have already read about the many ways to achieve correct temperatures, correct timing on turning and watering your pile, proper location, and so on.
Laugh if you will, but that first photo is my compost pile. The volunteer cantaloupe vines growing in it aren’t laughing. Well… I don’t know, maybe they are. They do look quite happy! The pile was 10 times that size and quite a bit neater looking earlier this season. It was contained in several chicken wire enclosures. Almost all of it is now in my new raised bed feeding all our veges. Which, in turn, is feeding us. The circle of life. Don’t-cha just love it?!
Several of my friends, when told that I compost, immediately respond with, “Oh I tried that, but it made the kitchen smell bad.” There is a very easy way to keep that from happening. Just add your “greens” and browns” at relatively equal amounts. The greens can be anything from leaves and stems from your garden produce to eggshells. Yes, I am aware that eggshells are not usually green. Green, in compost, is any item that is still, or has recently been, alive. This includes item such as cooked vegetables, tea bags, coffee grounds and most anything edible. The edible items you can not place in the bin are meat (cooked or raw) and animal fats (or any grease in large amounts).
My indoor bin is a plastic bowl and splatter screen lid from my local Dollar Tree. I found an old basket at a yard sale for pocket change that they fit nicely in. That basket in the background is this evenings’ little harvest. Seeds and some peelings will go right into the compost bowl during prep. The bowl-in-a-basket stays on the first shelf of this little rolling table. It rolls right up to sink while I’m working, and right back to this spot when I’m done. If I had to take too many steps to get to it, I probably wouldn’t use it. They say necessity is the mother of invention. I say laziness is the mother of innovation.
The brown parts of the compost bin in your house will consist mostly of paper products. They should certainly be used, but should not contain large amounts of meat or grease. Paper napkins are a great example. Many people don’t like using paper products, but I have a demanding day job and am not a big fan of laundry. Minimal use of disposable items are an inescapable fact of modern life in my humble opinion. You’ll also notice in there a few tea bag covers. As long as they don’t have excessive amounts of ink and are not the glossy type of paper, they will decompose easily. This is true of newspapers, toilet paper and paper towel tubes, corrugated boxes and much more. Just make sure the papers you use in your small indoor bin are torn into small-ish pieces like the ones here.
When I take my little bowl outside, about every 3-4 days or so, I just sprinkle it on top of the existing pile and cover it with a shovelful of leaves. I keep an old shovel handy. The pile of leaves I had near what’s left of the compost pile above has already been used. Another one has been started and I’ll be moving my composting area soon. It will be much larger and permanent. That will be coming (hopefully) this fall.
Outside green additions can include grass clippings and small twigs from around the yard. It’s best to use pesticide free greens and browns if at all possible. Remember, what your plants eat, you eat. That’s the same reason you should wash store bought veges before eating them. And the same reason so many people are beginning to prefer locally grown produce. But I won’t get into that subject in this post. Since this subject is compost!
Well, that’s it! I don’t turn my piles. I don’t poke them or prod them or water them. I’m not in a hurry to get them going. It takes about a year or so for them to turn into that beautiful black gold that my garden vegs are enjoying right now. The only real work involved is hauling that sweet, earthy smelling, wonder dirt to the garden bed.