Small Home Composting with Affordable Plastic Bins

In under an hour, and only spending $30, I’ve devised a small space composting system for my garden. This could easily be used on a deck.
Check out the pictures and you will see I used a large drill bit to make air circulation holes all over each bin’s walls and the bottom of each bin has plenty of holes for water drainage. I placed mine on a pallet for better air circulation.
The tops of the bins have chicken wire and a mesh bird netting to prevent rodents from getting into any vegetable scraps (remember no meat or fats in your compost). I used the wire & netting combination over bin #1 and #2, the second size down, but it is probably only vital for the first decomposition bin because when you move your compost to bin #2, there shouldn’t be any solid food left or odor. It should never stink anyway, if it does then that means it has gone anaerobic and you need to turn it more and expose more oxygen to it. This happens over the winter in cold climates anyway like mine, and that first spring thaw compost turn can be rather “fragrant”, but it quickly dissipates after it is exposed to the fresh air and sunshine.
My garden is in dire need of bacteria & microbes for proper growth so, I’m excited to see how my compost system works. I will keep you posted on any improvements I need!






Pallet Inspiration

Pallet Inspiration

Great re-use of pallets for a stylish furniture change

I have been following the creativity of fellow “junkers” on the search for a more sustainable life and home environment with great intensity.  Many gardeners, treasure-hunters, and recycled-material enthusiasts have been busy innovating unique ideas for turning what used to be trash into eclectic and funky furniture, hardscape, and home accoutrements.   I am excited to share some of the finds I have come across.

Pallets, normally used for the shipping of heavy materials and lifted by forklifts are often discarded or left to decay in landfills, junkyards, warehouses, and even roadsides.  However, according to the USDA Forest Service and research done by the Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science and Forest Products, out of Blacksburg, Virginia, which tracked activity in the U.S. wood pallet and container industry between 1992 and 2006, most wood pallets are recycled, repaired, re-used, or turned into other products such as chipped wood landscape mulch and animal bedding.  According to the 2006 Virginia Tech research study, which determined trends in wood use and pallet production within the industry, less than one-quarter of 1% of pallets are headed to the landfill due to production facilities’ efforts to divert used pallets and either reuse or repair them.  Of the 590 US production facilities surveyed, 55.5% were involved in pallet repair, recovery (undamaged), or re-manufacturing through re-nailing of old pallets that were broken during shipping.  Approximately 67% are repaired and 10% were reused without repair according to the study.  (Araman, P. B. 2010. “U.S. Wood Pallet Material Use Trends”, Blacksburg, Virginia: USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station; Department of Wood Science and Forest Products, VA Tech).  This is a considerable step, both driven by corporate financials and through efforts by the USDA Forest Service in management of our natural resources toward better use of our forest products.

Pallets are a veritable wealth of resources for recreating into a number of useful products, furniture, standing prop gardens, fences… name it!  The limits of creativity are purely your own.  You can find pallets at many warehouses and retailers, where they will sell them cheaply to the public.  You may even find them propped up and discarded almost anywhere.  Most (approximately 63.6%) are hardwood, which is a more durable material for long-term use and will withstand outdoor weather better.  They are easily disassembled with simple tools and re-made into whatever your project idea is.  Keep your eyes peeled and happy collecting!

TED talks, February 2013. Allan Savory: “How to fight desertification and reverse climate change”

While thumbing through my new iPhone app – TED talks, I found this remarkable newly released video from the conference in February.  I was fascinated by Savory’s ecological research over the past forty years and his charting of the profound visual and substantive positive and natural changes in the landscape from virtually dying land in various areas of the continent.  This researcher should be heralded for his life’s work and passion.  He is truly a remarkable contributor to a new era of thinking and re-evaluation of the methods that we have previously employed.

I also reviewed the ensuing long list of feedback comments from other viewers of this TED talk and saw how quickly the topics of discussion turned into a “vegan and animal rights vs. ecological stability” argument.  One commenter, David Heigis writes, “What Allan is suggesting is a more natural system based on how nature actually works and has been working for quite a long time. The moral issue on who eats what has no place in this. Going back to a more natural system in producing food where grass eaters place a crucial role, especially when it comes to reviving dead land, IS the only way to go. It should be obvious to anyone. And as in all working sound ecosystem there is (a) food chain that is there to keep the balance of everything. To suggest that we can construct a better system than nature has already done is nothing short of naive and a belief that has put us in the situation that we are currently in.” (May 3, 2013; TED talks, reviewer comments section).

Please enjoy this short video on the groundbreaking ecological research of Allan Savory.


Allan Savory TED talk

Allan Savory: Grassland ecosystem pioneer

Allan Savory

Allan Savory works to promote holistic management in the grasslands of the world.

Desertification of the world’s grasslands, Allan Savory suggests, is the immediate cause of poverty, social breakdown, violence, cultural genocide — and a significant contribution to climate change. In the 1960s, while working in Africa on the interrelated problems of increasing poverty and disappearing wildlife, Savory made a significant breakthrough in understanding the degradation and desertification of grassland ecosystems. After decades of study and collaboration, thousands of managers of land, livestock and wildlife on five continents today follow the methodology he calls “Holistic Management.”

In 1992, Savory and his wife, Jody Butterfield, formed the Africa Centre for Holistic Management in Zimbabwe, a learning site for people all over Africa. In 2010, the Centre won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge for its work in reversing desertification. In that same year he and his wife, with others, founded the Savory Institute in Boulder, Colorado, to promote large-scale restoration of the world’s grasslands.

A Guerrilla Gardener in South Central LA, Ron Finley pursues change for urban gardening revival and change for his community. View this brief and inspirational TED talk

Ron Finley: Gardener

Ron Finley

Ron Finley grows a nourishing food culture in South Central L.A.’s food desert by planting the seeds and tools for healthy eating.

Why you should listen to him:

Artist and designer Ron Finley couldn’t help but notice what was going on in his backyard. “South Central Los Angeles,” he quips, “home of the drive-thru and the drive-by.” And it’s the drive-thru fast-food stands that contribute more to the area’s poor health and high mortality rate, with one in two kids contracting a curable disease like Type 2 diabetes.

Finley’s vision for a healthy, accessible “food forest” started with the curbside veggie garden he planted in the strip of dirt in front of his own house. When the city tried to shut it down, Finley’s fight gave voice to a larger movement that provides nourishment, empowerment, education — and healthy, hopeful futures — one urban garden at a time.

“An inspiration to all, Ron Finley is a true urban farming hero.”

Andrew Gunther, Huffington Post, 10.3.11

non- GMO Sugar find at Local Market in Gypsum

While trying to decide between Butter Pecan Dreyer’s Ice Cream or Mint Chocolate Chip…oh the choices abound, and feeling a little guilty about my 9:00 pm craving, I decided to pick up a few needed items at my local grocery in Gypsum, CO.  I was looking for natural cane sugar to use in my coffee and tea because I feel the flavor is much different than over-processed white sugar.  It has a slight flavor of caramel, not overly intense like brown sugar, and I generally feel better about my morning cup of Joe when I don’t drown it in a heaping spoonful of white carbohydrates.  I’m probably just deluding myself, but, Hey!  I need my Java!

So I found this small bag of unrefined, non-GMO, pure cane sugar from Mexico at a small price of about $2.39 for 2 pounds.  There was a larger bag also, however, I forgot to write down the price. It’s in a plastic bag (boo!) but even the bag was labeled as #4 recyclable (where facilities accept).

The company is Zucarmex and the distribution center is in Rio Rico, Arizona.  This product is labeled as “non-GMO project verified” and Kosher certified.  They have a Facebook symbol on the package and links to their email and website.  The packaging also had a recipe for “Easy Lemon Cookies” on the back.

Kudos to a small company for getting on board with social media, producing a sustainable product and ensuring a reasonable price and value for the customer.  We need to search out and support these businesses so they keep providing us with great products.