Prepping, homesteading and living the simple, green, independent life.

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Birthday Present: 3 Bin Compost System!

My birthday went by recently and I got a little bit of money so I decided to create myself a 3-bin compost system, "borrowed" from Jack Spirko at The Survival Podcast.

I already have a nice compost bin that my wife bought me a while back but the problem is with just one bin our compost is never fully complete because we're always adding new stuff too it.  I've got some really nice looking compost but mixed in are chunks of stuff that haven't broken down yet.

So with a 3 bin system, the idea is to begin in bin #1 and a month or so later dump it in #2. New stuff goes in bin #1. Later dump #2 in bin #3 and so on. This way you're turning over your compost and not mixing new with already composted stuff.  We've already got "bin 3" so I only had to make two of these.

Also, the thing I really liked about Jack's system was that it used a tube through the pile to circulate air through it. The idea is that the compost will warm inside the bin as it breaks down which then warms the air.  Warm air rises so it will go out the top of the tube and new cool air is sucked up through the bottom of the tube.  I picked a black garbage can as my bin because the colour will also help keep the insides warm.

This 3-bin system is pretty easy to make and I did two under an hour; here are the steps:

1) Materials: dark coloured garbage plastic garbage cans, PVC pipes, right angle PVC connectors
2) I used a rotary tool (Dremel) to cut a hole the size of the PVC pipe in the bottom front
3) Cut a hole through the top of the lid.  Space pipes and mark off where to cut.  They should stick out a couple of inches.
4) Cut your pipes to length, attach together (I used an epoxy on mine)

5) Drill holes in pipe about an inch apart and on all 4 "sides".  Don't put holes on bottle bend to allow for "suction".  Now just fit it all together and you're done.  


Monday, October 17, 2011

Last Harvest of the Year

Here's the last harvest of the year that I picked this morning. I'll be cleaning up my garden for the winter over the next week or so.

So kinda from left to right I've got red onions, carrots, ground cherries, a small cucumber, a jalapeno pepper, cherry tomatoes, broccoli and pole beans.

I was really surprised to find a jalapeno and by how much the garden is still producing this late into October.  In fact this really won't be my last harvest since there's probably a dozen cherry tomatoes that will be ripe soon, a few dozen ground cherries and a few more tomatoes that are almost ripe.

I'm really pleased with the ground cherries.  My youngest daughter loves them and often before we'd go on a car ride I'd grab a dozen or so of them to eat on the way.  I might add another plant for a little bit more next year.

Cucumbers did pretty well and both my daughters love them so I think I'll double the amount next year.

Tomatoes did ok and I think I'll add a plant or two next year.

My red and green peppers did not do well at all for some reason.  I planted some on all 3 sides of the garden and they did poorly on all locations.  I only got 3 peppers all year; maybe it was just a bad year for those?  I'll try again next year but if I get similar results I'll give up on those to make room for things that do better.

For some reason though the jalapeno peppers did pretty well and I collected about a dozen or so of those despite expecting to get poor results. 

My carrots did not do well at all.  I think I'll have to put more effort into them next year with better spacing and thinning.   Though they were located in my west side garden which gets the least sun because of the hedges between us and the neighbour.  I think next year I'll try to grow things that I can trellis upwards so they can get more sun: tomatoes, cucumbers, beans.  This will also create more space to grow things.

I'm planning on putting a keyhole gardenbed in my front yard for next year.  Our front yard really isn't used for anything so might as well make it productive.  Secondly, that would be less lawn that needs mowing.  Maybe the carrots would do better there?