You Gotta Have Soil





This is what the compost area looked like the first day we got the keys. (It’s that grassy patch in the background)

When we first started getting ready to move into our new home, I knew there would be a garden. I also knew I had to start with a compost pile because the dirt was in such poor condition. Compact, hard soil with bare patches in some areas and mole hills in others, it was a mess.  Most of our time and money was going towards getting the house cleaned and painted so we could move in. But starting a compost pile is easy and cheap!

As I was scouring Freecycle and Craigslist for the myriad items we would now need (we were moving for a small, two-bedroom townhouse into a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house) I spotted an offer for free goat manure. Bingo! The beginning of my compost and the soil gardeners every where want. I made arrangements to pick up two feed sacks full and dumped it into a little mound next to the driveway.

So exciting, but also not nearly enough to really make the food-producing garden I had in mind. Oh sure, I threw coffee grounds and banana peels out there, but I was not getting too excited. Besides, I was working at my job all day and painting and cleaning the house for a few hours after work each evening.  Add to that the process of packing up everything in the old house and getting utilities transferred. I just let the manure and kitchen scraps do what they do when left out in the open air. They rot slowly.

Through all of this, my sweetie kept calling it a mulch pile or my poo poo pile. Sheesh! I kept telling him, “You just wait til you are eating home-grown veggies that taste better than anything you can buy in the store.” What really kicked things into gear though, was when I acquired several rolls of chicken and mesh fencing and some T-posts through Craigslist.  With the help of my bestie, Starla, we loaded that stuff up and brought it home. After a week or so of my nagging, hubby helped me pound a few posts into the ground and attach wire in a semi-circle around the miniature pile that was growing every day.

Now it was on! I started throwing shredded newspaper, toilet paper tubes, orange peels, wilted lettuce, grass clippings, you name it in that pile. We were experiencing some unusually hot weather even though this was the middle of the summer, so every few evenings I would give the pile a good soaking with the water house. If we went to the beach, I bought home a plastic garbage full of seaweed and a bucket full of shells. If the refrigerator needed to be cleaned out, anything that wasn’t meat or dairy-related (think cheese, milk, yogurt) went into the compost pile.

Since beginning the compost heap at the beginning of July, it has grown almost exponentially. The amazing thing about composting though is that one day it can seem like it is about to reach the top of the fence and a couple of days later it has shrunk. That’s because all the good stuff is happening below the surface. Worms, micro-organisms and insects are eating the waste and turning it into nutrient-rich soil.

compost3 compost2

The composting area has also grown in other ways as well. A couple of weeks ago it got enlarged and shifted. Turning the mixture is an important step in getting the most out of your compost pile. Now one half is mostly composted material and the other half is the beginning of a new pile. In fact, we were able to add some compost to the flower bed where three rose bushes are growing. They already look better just three days after their little treat.

Stay tuned to Bean Berries for more about composting and our adventure in homesteading!

This post was shared on Wildcrafting Wednesday!!


A New Old Adventure

So here I am, back to the world of blogging. Since I first began a blog several years ago at another location, I have branched out into the world of online journalism. But that isn’t what this blog is about. This blog will be a forum for me to record the adventure my husband and I have undertaken in beginning a homestead in the middle of a residential neighborhood. No, we don’t own the home and we don’t have acres to make our dreams come true, but with GOD’s guidance we want to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on money, worldly possessions and food from questionable sources.

So begins this new adventure. And it’s a new OLD adventure because we (okay me willingly and Ken reluctantly) are looking to the ways our grandparents and great-grandparents lived a more simple and less world-dependent way of life. I don’t like that I go to the grocery store and most of my food options are less than healthy and downright dangerous at times. I am unhappy that Americans are becoming more and more technologically dependent and have less community interactions with those they live among. I am tired of having barely enough money to get by because it seems there are way to many requirements for just existing these days. Okay, enough of the soap box.

The purpose of this blog will be to give directions, inspiration and examples of our successes and failures as we go from living in a home that was used as a grow house with a yard and garage left to go to waste to a home filled with love, kindness and forgiveness. We want to use every inch of the soil either as a place to grow food (both animal and plants) or as a spot where one can curl up with a good book or play a game of tag (if you are still young enough to run fast!)

Join us on our new old adventure. Share your experiences, ask questions and plan to become a neighbor who is welcome to drop by anytime.