The more I learn about "going green" the more I decide that--for us--going "off the grid" is the ultimate goal. There will be a post (down the road) on our attempt and, hopefully, success at making and installing both a wind turbine and solar panels. For now, though, we are gardening in an attempt to supplement our menu and lower our grocery bill a little. Here is the beginning of our gardening and composting adventure.
July 14, 2012
I picked three tomatoes today! I could not be more excited about the three little Romas sitting on my kitchen windowsill waiting to become part of a fabulous Italian meal. I have two more that will be joining them in a day or two, but weren't quite red enough to come off the vine. I started this adventure in the early spring of this year because I got tired of paying through the nose for vegetables. I started small, though, because I tend to be a little timid with new things--well, new plant things. I purchased a tomato plant from our local nursery--big shout-out to Behlmann's on Lindbergh!--and planted it in a large container with garlic. The garlic failed, but I'm not overly disappointed about them because I can still find garlic for fairly cheap at the produce market. I'll try the garlic next year with the onions in a raised bed we'll build in our backyard.
I thought I was saving money by planting peppers from seeds, but those have only sprouted one sad little stem with two leaves--then stopped! I will try to transplant them into a bigger pot to see if they grown anymore. More on this later.
The tomato, however, did great! It didn't take long for it to triple in size and sprout some little flowers that I soon learned turn into tomatoes. I check the water daily, though I do not water them daily as I concerned about root rot as my plants are in a container. I will be less concerned about over-watering when I have a bed next year. During this drought season, we are all concerned about water conservation so I water my plants with the water from boiling potatoes or eggs (cooled first, of course), or I use the water from my water bath canning (again, cooled first). I am loathe to waste anything, so I couldn't justify to myself pouring that water down the grain just because it had achieved one goal.
The moral of this story is this: it is worth the extra dollar to purchase a started plant from a nursery. As I am not an experienced gardener, I was not as successful with planting from seeds. I am also an instant-gratification type of girl and don't have the patience to nurse along a tiny seedling.
Good luck with your endeavors and Happy Gardening!
March 7, 2012
I started a compost bin. I did MUCH reading on this beforehand because, as you know, I do nothing without lots of research first. I checked books out of the library, scoured the Internet, and read magazines and learned so much. Primarily, I learned that hard-core composters are pretty intense about it and employ complicated processes. I don't do complicated. So, I streamlined the whole process. Here is how you compost for your backyard garden:
1. Get a container. This is actually not hard. If you have a carpenter husband who can get his hands on pallets like mine, you can have him build a very simple, crude bottomless box. If you don't have a carpenter husband and access to pallets, just find a discarded plastic storage tote and drill a bunch of 1" holes in the bottom and 2" holes in the sides to allow air to pass through freely.
2. Find a sunny spot for your conatiner. You don't really need full sun, but some sun will help to speed up the process of heating up the compost so that it can decompose properly.
3. Fill your container. This is really so simple. Toss your kitchen vegetable and grain scraps and RINSED (really, rinse them)egg shells. You don't want any dairy or animal products (read: meat). You can also toss in grass clippings, plant stems and leaves that have been pruned off, and leaves. Be careful with the leaves, though, you're not supposed to have an overabundance of one type. Make sure you don't toss seeds into the container because they will sprout and grow. You don't want an apple tree growing out of your compost bin. Here is the important part: toss in toilet paper and paper towel rollers. You know what I'm talking about; the cardboard centers of the rolls, which allows air to pass through.
4. Keep filling it. Just keep adding to it. I keep a small bucket in the kitchen that I fill with kitchen scraps and TP rollers. Every couple of days it goes out to the big bin.
Don't be worried about smells. My bin actually sat in my kitchen for several weeks before we moved it to the back yard. It smelled earthy, but it wasn't pungent or offensive.
Good luck and happy composting!
February 30, 2012
1. I found a decorative planter container that fit in my kitchen window and filled the bottom with about a 2-inch layer of inexpensive decorative rocks that have been sitting unused in my craft room.
2. I put a 2-inch layer of potting mix (not soil--I'll explain this later) on top of the rocks.
3. I carefully arranged the stalks of green onions so that they had plenty of room and were nicely spaced across the container and filled them in with more potting mix.
4. I watered the green onions and placed the container in the window for sunlight. When the weather is warmer, I will be placing the container in a nice sunny spot in the back yard.
I was surprised once again by how quickly my plant stalks grew once they were placed in the soil. The spots on the stalks where I had snipped off some sprigs had sprouted tiny little sprigs before I planted them. In only 36 hours (give or take) the little sprigs had grown so much that they were falling over from their weight! Can you see why I'm so jazzed about my new adventure in gardening?