Tuesday, November 17, 2009

compost bin

I finally finished building my compost bin, and I could not possibly feel more butch about it. Okay, I guess I could feel more butch if I'd sawed all the lumber myself (the guy at Home Depot did most of it for me, although I did have to trim some pieces... which I did with my teeth! okay, I used a hand saw). Still, sawing and hammering and drilling is very satisfying work, and I ended up with a beauty of a compost bin:

It's a variation on plan #3 from this PDF. The plan originally called for removable slats on the front of each bin, but by the time I got to that point it seemed like a lot of extra work for very little benefit--it wouldn't keep critters out, and the way my bin is situated, if the wind does anything it will blow stuff *into* the bins. So now I've got some extra lumber left over for other projects.

I'm super excited about being able to compost again, and even though it hasn't even been in use for a full week yet, I can already see how much this is going to reduce my garbage output (it also helps that I can now recycle plastic bags and wrap at the co-op). I think I'm also eating more fruits and vegetables now, because I'm thinking, "I can compost whatever's left!" So that's another added benefit.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November tomatoes, and a garden update

A month ago, just before the frost hit, I went and picked all the green tomatoes on my sungold plants and brought them inside. This is the first year that my little potted tomatoes produced enough fruit that there was any left at the end of the season, so this is the first time I've tried ripening green tomatoes indoors, and it seems like some kind of impossible magic trick. The skin is a little tougher than vine-ripened tomatoes, and they aren't quite as flavorful, but still--ripe, local tomatoes in Duluth in November.

Back in late September, I planted two pots of dill and basil seeds to see if I could grow them indoors through the winter. I probably should have started them a touch earlier, and I should be giving them some supplemental light now (they're just indoors in a south-facing window), but I am happy to report that they have sprouted and are growing. The dill is actually doing surprisingly well. The basil is a bit slower. I'll try to rig up some light for them (or pray for more sunlight; it's been overcast for the better part of the past month). My parsley and rosemary from last summer are still chugging along, and my parsley from two summers ago (2008) actually looks better than my parsley from this past summer.

This is how my actual outdoor garden looks now:
Or at least that's what it looked like before the wind kicked up again and ruffled the edges. The geometry of it in this photo makes me think it's some Andy Goldsworthy installation. What it actually is is flattened moving boxes put down to blot out the turf grass, a little bit of topsoil (and by "a little bit" I mean 560 pounds, but that's spread over about 450 square feet), and then 11 garbage bags full of leaves on top of that (with thanks to freecyclers and coworkers for the leaves; I have no big deciduous trees in the yard yet). In the spring hopefully the grass will be dead and the leaves and cardboard should be rotted enough that I can dig through without tilling. I dislike machines and would like to get by without rototilling if Ican.

I'd post a picture of what my compost bin looks like now, but it's just a pile of lumber with a few pieces nailed together. I'm going to try to finish it up this week or the next so that I can stop throwing perfectly good garbage in the landfill. Once I can start composting, I should be able to cut my garbage pick-up back to every other week.