How to Start a Simple Compost

For those of you that live under a rock, composting is an easy way of creating your own nutrient-rich soil while simultaneously saving your yard & kitchen scraps from ending up in a landfill (or burn pile, if you’re from the country).  This method requires minimal effort and creates excellent soil for your gardens, planters, pots, ect.  Composting isn’t rocket science, but there is a little more to it than just tossing your scraps in a pile.  Here’s the simplest way you can create your own compost.

compostbin2 A great way to start a simple compost operation is to –

1. Get yourself a big rubbermaid container and a lid or two.  This size is perfect for one household and also small enough that it can be indoors if you choose.  Drill small holes in the bin and one of the lids, 1 – 2 inches apart.  If your bin is inside make sure to put it on top of the second lid or something else to keep the bin from leaking gross things directly on to your floor.

2. Dig up some dirt.  There are also several great activating products you can buy and mix with the soil to give it a running start.  These products are not totally necessary, without them the decomposition process will take longer initially but will be just fine.  Before you dump your dirt in add some branches to the bottom to create good air flow.  Fill your bin no more than a little over half way.  You will need the room to mix your compost up and eventually it will get fuller.

3. Purchase tome tiny & slimy tenants for your bin.  I just buy the same worms from the hardware store that you would use for fishing.  I honestly can’t think of any other place you could buy worms.  You could dig them out of the ground if you’re feeling ambitious. Also if your bin is indoors and you don’t want worms in your house, I understand. You don’t have to. (But they help and they also reduce the smell.)

SIDE NOTE: Think of how awesome it is for those worms when they figure out they get to hangout in your compost bin instead of dying slowly on the end of a fishing hook and possibly being eaten.  Heck ya, little dudes!
I might be on my second glass of wine right now.

4. So that’s pretty much it.  You can now add scraps to your bin at will.
It helps to add some brown stuff (leaves,grass) whenever you add some green stuff (kitchen scraps).  It keeps the moisture balance in check.
ALSO shake your bin up or mix it with a hoe or shovel or something after you add scraps OR at least once a week.
When it gets full, shovel some into your garden.

You CAN actually keep your compost bin outside all year round.  If you keep adding to it even when it’s frozen it will kickstart itself in the spring.  Turns out the thawing & freezing it will go through in the fall and spring is great for breaking down materials and will make for speedy decomposition when the temp. is right.

That being said, here are some things you SHOULD NOT put in your compost:
Meat, fat, grease, oil, bones.
Lime.  It will bring your operation to a screeching halt.
Poop. Any kind of poop.
Anything that isn’t biodegradable.
Colored paper. For some reason.
Anything toxic.

For an enormous list of things you CAN put in your compost, click here.

It’s extremely hard to screw up composting.  Just give it a shot and your planet, more specifically, your garden will thank you!

How to Start a Simple Compost

Reuse Grey Water, Save Water, Save $$$

Maybe my late blog gives me away, but 2016 has started out a little rough.

My first night in the container house was December 23rd…. my first day of running water was 2 days ago.  The 2 weeks in the middle were a little more like squatting in my own house than living in it.  I had been hauling water by the bucket (which I understand is a reality for many people) and showering at my parents’ house.  It wasn’t luxurious, but i gained a lot of perspective in that time.

The majority of us, in the western world, have ample access to clean, running water, mostly right in our very homes.  This is a privilege I can honestly say that in the past, I have absolutely taken for granted.  This experience has prompted me to do some research and look into all the ways we can better use that water, and waste as little as possible.  By doing this we can be respectful of our planet, the global water crisis and communities without such luxuries, as well as being humble first world citizens.

A large portion of unnecessarily wasted water is “Grey Water”. It is the water from our sinks (including dishwater), bathtubs and laundry machines that is not totally unsanitary and could be used again for purposes other than direct consumption.  Think of the places where we use fresh water where it is not required, toilets and gardens for example (these are the big ones in my house).

Disconnecting the j trap under the sinks and allowing the water to run into a bucket is an easy way to save your grey water for repurposing.  It may require a watchful eye to make sure your bucket doesn’t overflow, but being mindful is the name of the game, non? From there you can dump that water in the tank or bowl of your toilet to flush it.  Toilets are responsible for 31% of overall household water consumption.  You could stand to save 31% of your water bill, couldn’t you?

Plants and gardens are also a big one for me.  I love gardening and have many houseplants that at one point i was watering with fresh water until i learned about the grey water method.  As long as you are using environmentally-friendly soaps, dishwater and bathwater are perfectly fine for your plants and gardens (actually they might even be better for them!).  I found a great instructable that shows the easy way that the author rigged her laundry washing machine to drain out to spaghetti lines that water her garden.
But it doesn’t have to be a plumbing project, saving grey water can be as easy as showering with the plug in and scooping it out later.

Besides grey water, the same methods can be used with harvested rain water or snow melt.  If you were raised at the lake, like me then these are probably all methods you have used or at least heard of before.  I didn’t, but could have mentioned the old, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow…”…

Reuse Grey Water, Save Water, Save $$$

Tree Stump Tables

It’s the last post of the year! I just want to make a short note of thanks to everyone who as supported me and S&S during the last 6 months of tireless construction and blogging.  2015 has been a year of learning and new experiences and I can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store!  Thank you everyone, Happy new year!!!

Ive been feeling crafty!  I stumbled upon an awesome side table tutorial and decided to raid my wood pile and make my own!  I made the one below for my bf for Christmas. Here’s how:
2015-12-30 19.30.27
1. Aquire stump.
Any old stump will do.

2. You will have to allow the stump to dry out for about a month or so.  Then the bark will be easy to remove and it will be significantly lighter.  You can tell it is dry enough when you can see the bark separating, like below:20151214_191441

3. You will need a hammer and a chisel thingy.
Hammering the chisel thingy into where the bark and stump have begun to separate should make it easy to remove the bark.  For me it peeled off without too much difficulty.  It will take a little extra work around the knots, you will have to come at it at different angles with the chisel thingy, or use the prying end of the hammer.

4. It will look like this.
Sand the crap out of it.
Decide which end will be the top and sand that end as well.  Try to get all the sharp or splintered edges, ends of the knots and all the little wood hairs off.
Use a variety of grits.
20151214_1902425. Wipe it down.
Use a damp rag.
This will get all the dust from sanding off.

6. Put legs on! (Or don’t)
I used  3 inch “Capita” legs i found at IKEA.  I also used longer screws than IKEA gave me due to the big heavy stump i was attaching to them.
A standard side table is about 25 inches tall. If you’re stump doesn’t need legs (or you dont want them, consider putting those little felt stickems on the bottom so the table doesn’t scratch your floor.)
7.  Seal it.
I used this stuff.
I did 3 or 4 coats on the sides and 5 or 6 on the top, let it dry in between coats.

Annnnd voila!!
Stump table.
2015-12-30 19.30.27

Tree Stump Tables