Bargain Alert…How’d I do?

I placed an order with Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Company. I got:

  • 50 ever bearing strawberry plants (buy one order of 25, get one order of 25 free)
  • Blueberry plants (buy one, get one free)
  • Another blueberry for pollination
  • Blackberry plants (3 per order)
  • Gooseberry plant

All for the grand total of … drum roll, please … $30 and some change … and that includes shipping and handling.

When you go to their web site, at the top of the front page you should see a blurp saying if you place an order of $50 or more, you get a $25 discount. As soon as your order hits $50 in the shopping cart, the $25 discount shows. However, when I filled in my shipping info, the discount disappeared. I had to call the company and they manually applied the discount. I also ordered the catalogue through the web site, but the ’09 catalogues aren’t out yet and they mailed out a $25 coupon as a consolation prize so to speak. Now I have something else to look forward to in the spring.

On the gardening front, on Sunday we had a relative heat wave (temps in the 40s) and I finally got a chance to deal with my bags of collected leaves. I mulched the garlic and strawberry plants and threw some on the perennials. I constructed a makeshift frame in the bed with the lowest soil level and dumped all but one bag of leaves into it. The “frame” consists of some wire border fencing about 24 inches tall lined with black plastic. The pile is about 4 feet wide, 4 feet long, and maybe 18 inches deep. I wet the ground before I put them in and I layered with the finished compost that was just sitting in the garden cart and the partially finished load sitting in the tumbling composter. I wet the leaves as I was adding them. It’s definitely not a hot compost pile, but hopefully the little wiggly worms will find the pile and help it break down by the spring. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but it’s functional.

The one big bag of leaves I didn’t dump in the yard will serve as the brown for the house scraps over the winter. The bag must be five feet tall with nicely shredded leaves that I rescued from the trash. You know what they say…one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME and HAPPY TURKEY DAY TO YOU

Happy Gardening!!!

Powerful Poultry Poo

Chickens

I’ve been busy the past few days. My ex gave me some furniture pieces in exchange for help with packing and I’ve been rearranging things around here to fit stuff in. We have quite a history, and I’ll just leave it at things worked out surprisingly well.

Anyway, he got a couple of chickens recently. (I’m pretty sure he’s planning on raising them for the eggs only). You know me. Chickens, manure, fertilizer for the garden. I’ll try anything once.

So, today I gave him some of my sawdust I got from the carpentry school for my composting to use as bedding for the chickens and I collected chicken poo for the garden. I started doing research about how to use the manure in the garden and discovered that unlike rabbit poo that you can use straight from the bunny’s butt (sorry, I just couldn’t help myself), you have to compost the chicken poo or let it sit for a while because of the high nitrogen content. If you used it straight it would burn plant roots.

While doing my research, I came across this site that talks about using chicken manure to power 90,000 homes in the Netherlands. They plan to turn 440,000 tons of chicken manure into energy generating more than 270 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which is the amount of energy it takes to power those 90,000 homes.

And did you know that a cow’s flatulence, burps and poo produce methane, one of the greenhouse gasses? Some folks in Argentina have come up with a way to capture the methane a cow gives off in order to study the impact on the environment. One California farmer has converted to a methane digester and uses cow poo to produce energy for his farm.

But back to the chickens. Chicken poo to power 90,000 homes. Sounds great, right? You’ll need quite a few chickens pooping for that little endeavor. I ran across this site that talks about how chickens are “intensively” raised for human food production.

WARNING!! The video is pretty graphic. It shows how chickens, cows and pigs are inhumanely raised and slaughtered. Poor animals.

I started out trying to figure out how to recycle chicken manure as a fertilizer and I ended up debating with myself whether I should be a vegan. Let’s just say at the grocery store today, the only meat I bought was fish and I had spaghetti for dinner.

Happy Gardening!!!

P.S. I just fixed a couple of mixed up links and ran across this site on composting that gives info on composting different animal manures.

The photo came from the chooseveg.com site, not the producers of the poo I collected.

Compost Containment Contraptions

It’s that time of year when folks start collecting leaves to be used in the garden. They can be shredded and used as mulch; they can be used to make leaf mold by bagging them, wetting them down and closing the bag and let nature take its course over a few months; and they can be used as the all time favorite brown for compost.

I got my Earth Machine composter back in April through one of the city programs for a mere $30. If you order it from the internet, you’re going to pay as much as $90 plus shipping and handling. One company charges $55 just for shipping.

The Earth Machine works fairly well and definitely looks better than a pile of lawn waste just sitting there uncovered waiting to decompose. I think it’s better for the throw-it-in-and-let-it-compost people more than the I-want-it-done-really-fast-so-I-can-use-it-now kind of people, which includes me. It’s hard to turn the compost in the bin, and if you fill it up more than halfway, it would be almost impossible to turn it. I think the black plastic helps generate and contain the heat to help it cook, and I was able to get a couple of half-bin loads of compost over the summer.

There are lots of different models out there with prices all over the place. This one I found for $83.79 (which is marked down 30 percent) plus $26 to $36 for shipping.

Wire Mesh Composter

It folds flat, is rust resistant, and has a 22-year warranty. Personally, I’d take the money I would have spent on shipping and handling and go to the big box store and buy the heaviest chicken wire I could, make a circle and stake it to the ground. My “aeration tube” would be a smaller circle from the same chicken wire that would go in the center, then I could spend the money the bin itself would have cost on next year’s supplies.

I thought this was really cute and functional.

Compost Bench

It’s a bench/compost bin. The top lifts up for you to fluff your compost. It’s constructed of plastic lumber and sells for $2,250 after a 30 percent markdown. As cute as it is, I’m sure some of our engineeredly talented folks could make a much more price-friendly version.

I have the Patio Tumbler which I bought second-hand for the price of shipping if I had ordered it from the internet.

It works fairly well.  The interior is insulated so it retains a lot of the heat and breaks the materials down pretty quickly. There is a problem with one of the bushings and I’ve got to figure out a better way of fixing it, but overall I’m pleased with it.

Here is a compost screen priced at $40.00

Compost Screen

You could take a piece of chicken wire and staple it to a frame built out of scrap lumber and make your own for a fraction of the cost.

Here is the coolest thing I found.

Automatic Food Composter

It’s an automatic composter. There is a video on how it works. It sells for from $299 – $399 + $15 shipping. The pro edition is available at Target and the standard is available at Sams so you can avoid the shipping and handling costs. If I were inclined to spend money on a composter, I could see spending it on this one over some of the others.

  • It’s automatic
  • You don’t have to get your hands dirty
  • You don’t have to hold your scraps in the house until you get a chance to go outside to the regular compost heap
  • You don’t have to worry about smells
  • Neither snow nor hail nor gloom of night will stop it from producing compost

Until the economically savvy inner me allows me to spend that kind of money on a composter, I’ll be making compost the old school way. I’ll be collecting my leaves and my neighbors’ leaves and your leaves too if you leave them nice and tidy in a plastic bag by the curb.

Happy Gardening!!!!

Wiggly Worm Woes

With summer slowly fading away and fall fast approaching I’m looking into something to help keep away the winter blues that are likely to come when you’re looking outside at bare trees and snow-covered ground. I’m toying with the idea of trying vermicomposting. Vermicomposting is the practice of using worms as living garbage disposals. You give them your food scraps (vegetable peelings, egg shells, spent coffee grounds, used tea bags, but no meats or fats), you can even give them paper products, and they give you super rich compost, a/k/a worm poop.

The concept is great: Another way to reduce your carbon footprint; keep garbage out of the landfills; make one of the best natural soil amendments for your garden. The only problem is I HATE the sight of worms. I look at them and they just creep me out.

So, what I’ve been doing is trying to desensitize myself to the sight of the lovely (yuck, yuck, yuck) worm.composting%20worms

I’ve been reading about vermicomposting and making myself look at the pictures on-line. There’s a ton of information out there. I found a very good instructional video on UTube explaining how to construct your bin, how to set it up, and how to maintain the bin once the worms are added. I also found an informative PowerPoint presentation with animations about the wonderful world of vermicomposting.

Everybody tries to build a better mousetrap, and everybody tries to build a better vermicomposter. Here are a couple of interesting versions I’ve found. They range from functional to chic to downright creepy.

If I decide to actually start vermicomposting, I’ll make my bin out of two storage containers. The one with the worms will sit completely inside the other one with absolutely no holes in it and a screen on top. That way if my new pets (yuck, yuck) escape, they’ll only be able to escape into the second bin. I’d hate to have escaping worms on my hands like the young lady featured in another UTube video.

I stopped by one of my old fishing places yesterday (yes, I love to fish). I met a guy who was fishing with red wigglers that he had stored in a potato chip bag. He told me that he dug them up right there at the park. Of course, economically savvy (uh, cheap) person that I am, a light bulb came on. Guess where I’ll be getting my compost worms?

You may be asking if I love to fish, how do I bait my hook? Do I bug everybody around me asking them to bait my hook? I used to…until I realized you weren’t too popular when you were making a fisherman put down his fishing pole to bait your hook and his fish got away during the process. So, what I do now is wear gloves, two pairs of gloves, one latex so no worm juice will get on me and one really thick pair so I can’t feel them when they start wiggling, understandably so, when I start stabbing through their flesh so I can try to satisfy my desire to catch the fishy, fishy in the brook. “Real” fishermen laugh at me, but I don’t care. After catching a few fish with large, slimmy, wiggly night crawlers, worms are just yuck now.

See…I’ve desensitized myself down to one yuck.

For those of you with pets, you might consider composting as a way to get rid of your pet poop. You wouldn’t be doing it to make compost as a soil fertilizer, you’d be doing it to keep the poop out of the land fills. Pet poop should never go into compost that will be used for growing plants for human consumption as it may contain undesirable pathogens.

That’s it for now.

Happy Gardening!!!!

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