I wasn’t going to buy seeds this year with the expense of putting in the raised beds and all. Started lots of leftover seeds we’ve kept in the freezer. The kid and I enjoyed it- good fun.
But somehow the seedlings got COMPLETELY infested with spiders. Hundreds of tiny spiders all over the seedlings spinning strangling webs at seemingly miles per second. It was to the point that there were dozens spiders on the ceiling and to kill them I sprayed the ceiling with vinegar but then a dead vinegar-soaked spider landed in my eye. Gardening is dangerous.
The seedlings I flung out the second story sunroom window. Scared the shit out of the chickens- they are used to only bread and vegetable scraps crashing down around them, not flats of spider infested potting soil.
So we will not be starting everything from leftover seeds this year and I had to buy more seeds because we used up everything that needed to be started already. And of course I had to buy even more seeds than necessary because the packages are pretty and omgilikeprettypackages. And the little potted herbs are so cute, how could one resist? Best to get one of each. And the raised beds still don’t even have dirt in them. Oh dear… I think this should be considered a rebuilding year.
I got the raised beds in the ground and leveled today and the compost bin (yes, another one) finished, in and leveled. It’s pretty sweet. But more importantly, I had the most lovely conversation with my neighbor, who is probably a little older than my mom and with whom I have spoken very little in the 11 years we have lived here.
He was very excited about the raised beds and actually worked with his kids today to put in some of their own. (They have more sun and I’m jealous.) We talked about his garden from his younger days when he grew corn and lettuces and Romania tomatoes the size of a heart-shaped fist. He talked about growing up in Lawrenceville and raising chickens and rabbits as a boy in the 40’s, and mean roosters used to keep away rats. He gave me some suggestions on my compost bin, asked if they could feed the chickens extra lettuce, and remarked at how good the eggs were that I gave them the other day after the chickens ended up in their yard.
He does not think I am crazy to plant a tiny garden on what amounts to a sloping rumble heap, to want to use our leftovers to improve our soil and decrease our garbage, to raise chickens for eggs and a lesson on where food comes from. He does not disapprove of clotheslines or DIY rain barrels or the probably dozens of other things that most suburban neighbors would complain about. He made me miss my grandparents.
and my hill will look like this forever. I want to install the raised beds and matching compost bin (yes – I built another one.) I want to have 3 cubic of dirt and 7 cubic yards of mulch delivered by a company called Chicken Brain Hauling. I want to carry it all down the hill in Rubbermaid tubs and hopefully not kill myself. but it just.won’t.stop.raining.
I came across a good deal on cedar today that made planning and pricing the raised beds I want to put in easy-peasy: 1x6x6 boards for $3 each. Apparently they are leftovers from the mill that are made after the bigger pieces are cut. They’re supposed to be fencing but lumberyard dude suggested them for this use as well and it makes good sense to me, especially since the 2x10s that I was lusting after were $4.59 a foot. (Is it normal to lust after lumber?) At $3 a board, I’m going to build 3 beds, each 3x6x18″ and a 3x3x3 compost bin for a grand total of about $230. Can’t beat it.
The best part is that, by my very feeble math calculations, each bed will hold 1 cubic yard of dirt. That’s my kind of planning – round numbers suit my needs. Cost for 3 cubic yards of compost/ soil blend comes in right at about $100. This is clearly meant to be.
Oh – the picture – this is what happens when I try to make an actual plan – raised beds become Dragon Battle Land. It happens. Maybe the dragons will keep the tomatoes warm.
Sources: Paul Lumber and AgRecycle
A 5 minute attempt to define open projects and relevant completion objectives, because that’s what being an anal retentive procrastinator is all about:
- Finish spring sweater before fall. Or edit pattern to include turtleneck.
- Fix paver steps to the garden and chickens. Would be easier if crazy rain hadn’t turned them into a waterfall. Actually, a waterfall would be nice….
- Build raised beds for the garden. Source magical soil and mulch from renewable resources. Remember that we don’t have a truck anymore.
- Buy truck. Convert to veggie oil to avoid guilt for buying truck.
- Actually do yoga instead of thinking about yoga.
- Fix front stained glass window. The tape is too trashy for words.
- Make better bread. Less rock-like. But then what would the chickens eat? Grow grain in raised beds.
- Finish kitchen reno project.
- Start seeds. Find all the stuff needed to start seeds. Basement. Crap.
- Clean the basement.
- Build walls around new furnace and duct work. 3 years ago.
- Add insulation to roof. Screw the walls.
- Close hole in third floor ceiling. Or put in fold -stairs. Or a whole house fan.
- Wash two of the chicken’s butts. But only two.
- Finish reading the four books I have started before starting another.
- Paint third floor floors with lead encapsulating paint. Then lick floors.
- Rebuild front planter before it completely rots and sends children to ER.
- Can dried beans. Because I can.
- Take giant load of stuff to Goodwill enabling use of dining room table. Then do giant jigsaw puzzle that doesn’t actually fit on table.
- Get new table.
- Refinish first floor floors. Or get new floors. Or move.
- Install third floor light fixtures. Find third floor light fixtures. Probable location: basement.
- Oh crap – the basement. Dammit.
There are a couple of things I obsess about. Actually, there are a lot of things I obsess about, but one of them is compost. Specifically, compost containers. Which is how I ended up moving the compost (AGAIN) in my pajamas yesterday morning.
Originally, I went to a city sponsored composting class in order to get a free Earth Machine. It’s a good deal. But eventually I started to think there was probably something that would work a little faster, and require a little less effort than trying to turn the contents with a pinch fork though a relatively small opening. A friend gave us a spinning composter which seems good in theory, but they don’t hold very much, and I don’t like that the contents doesn’t sit on the ground where bugs can get into it easily.
It must have been winter when I decided a Naturemill composter would be a good idea. Indoor composting, what’s not to like? It was expensive and and decidedly NOT for a non-detail oriented person. I was constantly either jammed or smelly. To Craigslist it went.
The most recent idea was a three bin wood and chicken wire container that came from another friend and apparently used to be a monkey cage. Sounds a little crazy but it seemed to be working pretty well for keeping in-process compost, aging poopy chicken bedding, and finished compost in a neatly contained area. Except that it was huge and blocking the light from our already shady garden area.
And so it came to pass that I found myself in my pjs yesterday using more strength than I actually have to upend the three bins and construct a 4 ft circle of leftover fencing, tarp and zip ties. And when I refilled it, and stood back, I realized I had created my grandparents’ compost pile, possibly almost to the exact dimensions. Because it turns out, all the technology and spinning and plastic in the world sometimes can’t do the job quite as well as something simple created out of leftover junk. Lesson learned.
Our worm bin is just about a year old according to flickr. I checked on them today and things seem to be moving along nicely. One of the bins should be full soon and we’ll rearrange the stack and let the worms migrate up into an empty bin, leaving their wonderful castings (ie: poop) behind. The worm bin has been largely problem-free, mostly, I think, because I leave them alone and don’t feed them too much. The worms probably get our kitchen scraps once every two weeks or so. They seem happy (if a worm can be happy) with that schedule and by not over-feeding them we haven’t had to deal with any smells or other less desirable creepy-crawlies. Shockingly, worms would rather be alone to do their thing, and I’d rather leave them alone, so it’s a nice relationship. 🙂
The system is simple – just Rubbermaid totes with holes drilled in the bottoms of the upper two and holes around the sides for ventilation (everybody likes to be able to breathe.) Originally we put a valve in the lower one to allow compost tea (ie: moisture) to drain out, but it really wasn’t proving to be useful so we got rid of it. We made made the bins using this tutorial. It’s an easy project, doesn’t take up much space, and it makes wonderful fertilizer. Highly recommended.