Sunday, May 20, 2007

Composting, Grey Water, & Climate Change Bill.

Got a number of experiments going on, but the one that seems the most successful with the least effort is the composting one. Just a week or two ago I thought I needed to buy something to compost successfully but it looks to me like I've been pretty successful turning food scraps into something pretty damn close to soil already. Could be the Texas sun at work. We're a small family, so it looks like my few food scraps can just continue to be gathered and added to a little container that sits on the back patio. I suppose I COULD make holes in the container, put the lid on it, roll it around, spray paint it black, etc., but to what end? It once contained sherbet. Here's what my daily scrap pile looks like. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Here's the little container. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket You can see how small it is compared to a 9" paper plate. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket This thing has gotten my food scraps for 2 weeks now plus a little dirt, some grass clippings, a few leaves, & of course the shredded plates. Some days I don't have food scraps, but when I add to the container, I give it a stir. It smells like sh a farm. Flies love it. Ants love it. Other insects love it. They all work together on it, it seems. So, this week I'm gonna finish a smaller container of sherbet and create a second compost so I'll stop adding new scraps to the first one. In 2 more weeks, I'll dump the contents of the first container in the garden and give the 2nd container 2 more weeks...rinse...repeat. $0.00 composter! Didn't even need to buy worms! Grey Water is a whole lot more disgusting, IMO, as I've been cutting back on water use, as well. Ever think about how much water is used for simple things like washing our hands? Do a few calculations and think about where you can cut back. We have a drought here with watering restrictions most summers. So, I've been saving the water used to wash the cream cheese off the knife and used to wipe out the bowl in which I stirred the Shepherd's Pie and water the plants with it. If it's REALLY disgusting, I use it only on the outdoor plants. That helps keep the fruitfly population down indoors. Read the electric and gas meters yesterday (the one-week point from when I read them before). I have doubts about whether I read the first week correctly so will continue the experiment for another week to see the next reading. Tonight, we're going to a Move-On Call Party on Climate Change.


Diane said...

You can also bypass the whole bucket routine and just put it in a corner of your garden (or other out-of-the-way and/or out-of-sight area of your yard), directly on the ground. Then the soil microbes can also do their thing, plus the worms all come for the party (good reason to have the spot in your garden as they will not only leave their castings but will also till and aerate your garden soil). Another option is to just bury each day's compost directly in your garden, a sort of side-dressing-in-progress thing. With the small amounts of your kitchen waste, it will be quickly taken care of by the aforementioned creepy-crawlies, minus the annoying flies. Of course, there's nothing wrong with your current bucket method, either. Different strokes and all that.

I'll give ya the quickie rundown on our compost/scraps/graywater set up but you might have already heard most of it:

All kitchen scraps go into a 5-gallon holding bucket with lid to keep away the gnats and flies) under the table. That is dumped out for the hogs to eat. They, in turn, reward us with meat and manure (plus free tilling and rock removal).

Yard waste, such as leaves and small branches, pulled-up garden things, etc, go into our compost bins. (Occasionally, the hogs get some of this yard/garden waste, too.) The compost bins are simply t-posts set in a 4' (topless & bottomless) cube and wrapped with 2" x 4" field fence. We have four of those, right on the edge of the garden. They are also on a slight upslope from the planting area so that runoff from heavy downpours can spread the goodies into the garden, rather than wasted down a drainage ditch or on weeds.

Graywater is run directly to our garden area which, this year, is right in front of the house. The kids' swimming pool is also set on the edge of the new garden so that any overflow and splashing goes to the plants and is not wasted. I think of it as a slow-release watering drip system of sorts. A pool would be way too much a waste of water for us if it weren't serving another purpose. So, this year, we'll have a very well-watered garden AND have some cool fun in the sun.

Ooh, Steve just brought home a giant load of 3" x 3" x maybe 2' pieces of wood that are used to separate sheet metal for shipping at his work. They would have been burned or dumped in the trash but he brought them home and I will make outside planters out of them for my many mints. My mints will take over the world if I don't container them.

(I installed/signed up for a cool new thingy so I now get notified when my favorite blogs are updated. I know, I'm behind the times with this technology stuff. But it's a cool new toy for me!)

Oldnovice said...

I did a short experiment on burial last year sometime. It wasn't nearly as rewarding; I enjoy "seeing" what looks to be good soil "created" by all these creatures in unison. We don't have many worms around here, so I wouldn't count too heavily on their contributions. You might recall that I imported some last year for the garden.

Do you know if hard-skinned peels will break down in a reasonable period? I haven't been including orange peels, avocado peels, etc. because I fear they'll "clog" the system. If figure the hogs or the goat eat those things at your place but thought you might know something about composting them.

I only have one regular-sized bucket free for water capture. I'm not sure if I want to try and find more, larger buckets somewhere or whether I should limit some of my madness on this project to what I can do with that one. I could call it "One woman with one bucket...", or "Saving the world one bucket at a time." LOL. No. 1 made cornbread last night after I went to bed. There went the experiment on how the electric meter will look if we don't use the oven. I hadn't thought to tell her about the oven; I've just been screaming, "Turn off the water!"
I'll revisit the experiment after she moves, as it's just not fair to ask her to change her lifestyle to accommodate my experiments. I may ask her, though, if that'll be before June 1 so I can engage in low impact week with the other folks.

We've been waiting for storm/screen doors to go on sale with installation this year to get one for the front door. The sales still haven't included installation (or we missed the sale that did), but I'm thinking we'll give it one more week and if there's no sale we should get one anyway. We could save more than $120-$150 (installation charge) in one month by having a cross breeze through the house versus using the AC this summer. We could do that until August, anyway, I'm thinking. Em's done with work in August and might not feel the house is cool enough to his standards when it was cool enough for mine. We still shut everything at night except the window in our bedroom. I'm unwilling to sacrifice security. So far, it's been cool enough at night for that to work.

New technology; I'd love some, but I need to get more storage, a new CD thing, blah blah before I try and pack more things into this already stuffed system. I don't really know what I need to get, so I just keep procrastinating on it. Ignorance is the root of several unfinished projects of mine.

Someone's coming to fix our part of the fence that fell down. He charges $60/hr. I doubt that includes the 1 pole we need now that the neighbor had his fixed fence extend 6 feet forward. I also doubt that includes what we might need to keep the fence on the other side of the yard from eventually falling down, either. I figure he'll charge $60 to put in the one pole we need + the cost of the pole and then charge $60 to come back another day to attach the piece of fence to the new pole. Be grateful for your handy gene.

My mints have no interest in world dominance. The grass is another story, and I'm off now to "weed" the grass that's growing in what should be the garden.