Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Recycling Gone Wrong

We recently received notification 
that the garbage service we use,
(our city does not pick up trash in our area),
will no longer be accepting recyclables.

This recent change is occurring because of the global problem with recycling.
Countries that usually buy our recyclables
are no longer accepting them 
and it seems the bottom has dropped out of the market.
With nowhere to send the materials,
many municipalities are ending their programs.
Here's an article on the subject.

toilet paper roll seed pots

We're a family of three,
and we've recently managed to get down
to one kitchen-bag sized per week.
Everything else is recycled or composted.

Always an avid recycling proponent,
this latest development really throws me for a loop.
It's been a week since we got the notice,
and I feel just horrible about throwing things in the trash
that I know could be recycled, if only we had the means.

Of course, I had to call the county to find out our options.
It turns out that the county's waste department is continuing their recycling program.
That means that we have to bring our sorted items to their location
and leave them in the designated bins.
Not only am I willing to do that,
I will be stopping our curbside trash pick-up.
There's no sense to take our recyclables and
still be paying for trash pick-up.
Not only will this will save us about $300 a year,
the burden of guilt will be removed.
Although we've found a solution,
it got me to thinking about what we can do
to reduce our garbage and (even our) recycling long-term.

Here are a few ideas I came up with:
 *Give up straws-
I mean, are these really necessary?
Just think what a difference it would make
not to have all those straws taking up space in the landfill.
If I get a beverage out somewhere (which is rare),
I order it with no ice, no straw.
Especially in summer, I never travel without my own
reusable water bottle.  No straw needed!
If you are bound and determined to use straws,
might I suggest buying some glass or stainless steel straws
that can be washed and reused?

daisy totes

*Give up plastic bags-
Bring your own totes to any store,
not just the grocery store.
Encourage merchants to offer only paper sacks
(at least they are biodegradable)
or give rewards for bringing in your own bag.
Many times, a bag is not even needed.
As long as you have your receipt in hand,
you can walk right out of the store with your purchased items.
This one is really a no-brainer, 
anyone can do it.

pot shard bird feeders

*Repurpose items-
Find new uses for things.
This is a great way to use your God-given creativity
to find a new purpose for items you may already have on your homestead.
Not only are you helping the planet,
you may end up saving money
and honing your creative juices.
It's really fun to make something unique
out of everyday items.

*Pay attention to packaging-
Buy items with as little packaging
as possible.  Write to online merchants and share your concerns.
When purchasing at brick-and-mortar stores,
let the merchant know that you are making your purchase
based partially on the lack of packaging.
Alternatively, find another use for the packaging,
such as our coffee can planter shown above.

*Buy bulk and bring your own container-
Whenever possible,
buy products in bulk.
So many food products come this way:  candy, coffee, grains, herbs, nuts, seeds,
spices, tea, even peanut butter.
Bring your own container, have it weighed before items are added, 
and walk out the door knowing you've helped Mother Nature.

*Compost all food waste-
Most things 
with the exception of meat and dairy products
can be added to a compost or worm bin.
There really is no reason to place food items
in the garbage, when they could be used to improve garden soil.
If you aren't a gardener,
perhaps you know someone who is,
and who would be happy to take your scraps.
Maybe you have a community garden in your area
that is looking for items to compost.
One can never have enough compost!
How much less trash would you have 
if you did this one thing?

This week, we'll be relieving our trash company of their duties,
and making our first trek to the local dump.
C promised to help me with this task,
as he is also passionate about our planet's health.
I don't know how long it will last,
but it makes me feel better
knowing that we are not adding to the landfill
any more than is absolutely necessary.

Have you heard about any changes
in your county with regard to recycling?

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Garden Friday

 This Garden Friday finds us thankful for a bit o' rain.
The garden appreciated every last drop of liquid gold
that found its way to us.

Sweet potatoes are spreading like wildfire
and the teepee will soon be undetectable.
This is one of the easiest crops to grow
and the harvest stores well for a good, long time.
Here's a post we did on it a few years back
as part of our "Seed to Table" series.

 Refreshing slicing cucumbers are a welcome addition to salads.
I can't believe I've never grown them before.
They will be a staple in the garden from now on.

The banana peppers are starting to respond to the heat
(in a good way).
This plant in the straw bale is doing far better 
than the ones planted in pots.

 Carrots sown a little over a week ago
are already popping up.
This is the fastest germination I've ever had with carrots.
This is the Danvers variety, which get 6-8 inches long
and that is just about the depth of the bin in which they are growing.

 The pumpkins got a late start,
but are doing just fine.
They got transplanted into bigger pots this week,

and placed under this trellis structure.
With only 2 of the 4 seeds germinating,
they may not yield much.
We use pumpkin for C's morning pumpkin bread,
which I'm thrilled to say, he now makes himself!
The pumpkins can be cubed, roasted, mashed and put in the freezer
and should hold up well.

 Here is the same tomato, one week apart.
I'd say we're making progress.
Crops respond to nothing else like God-given rain.

 Elsewhere, my broccoli starts have been eaten by something.
I will have to reseed and cover the pots with screen.
Can't blame the bugs,
they know the good stuff when they see it!

 Here's a curious item.
I feed the squirrels (and bluejays) peanuts twice a week.
Well, it seems that they are getting buried
and reemerging as peanut plants.
I grew this in Florida,
but didn't really have any intention of growing it here.
Now that I think about it,
it might be a good idea!
One more thing to cross off the shopping list.
Next year, I'll make some space for them in the garden 
and get them in earlier in the season.

A small project got done this week.
These crates were acquired (for free) from a local fruit stand.
Since they said they just throw them out,
I asked if I could have a few.
They will come in handy for something, I'm sure!

For now, I lined them with screen
and will plant flowers in them
to place around the veggie garden.
It will lay out the welcome mat for local pollinators!

There are a few trays of flowers getting started to add to the veggie area.
Here, nasturtiums are coming up.
They are supposed to be great companions to beans, cabbage
and cucumbers and the bonus is that they do well in poor soil.
You just can't beat that!

The lemongrass has gone bonkers with the recent rainfall.
The sprawling lantana underneath has been equally content.

Everything has responded to the recent precipitation. 
It seems that even our drought tolerant specimens
breathed a sigh of relief when the rains came in earnest.

 Of course, we're always happy to share with the pollinators.

 They do so much for us,
the least we can do is provide some nourishment and respite for them.

 It was thrilling to finally be able to snap a shot of these amazing critters.
They have been frequenting our feeder so often,
that we ended up hanging another on the back deck.
No doubt they are using up all of their energy in the summer heat!

 They are absolutely fascinating
and a complete marvel to those of us fortunate enough 
to be able to take some time to watch them. 
C has taken the responsibility for making their nectar.

 Although there is not much going on in the garden right now,
we know that we will soon be hopping with activity
as the fall planting time draws nearer.
August proves to be project-laden.

What's going on in your garden
on this last weekend in July?

Thursday, July 26, 2018


Repurposing is a way of life.
We make do with what we have
and what we don't have,
we try to make.

This picture frame was found at our local ReStore,
complete with hanging hardware.
It was painted a creamy white 
and then slightly sanded for a distressed look.

The chicken wire had been sitting around for a while,
just waiting for a new life.
This roll was acquired (for free) several months ago,
along with a number of larger-sized wire rolls.
The chicken wire was attached to the frame
using our electric staple gun.

The Scrabble letters were found at one of our local shops downtown.
They can be used for so many things,
and because I love the game,
it makes it even more appropriate in this application.
The scrap of beadboard was leftover from our 
"Bad to the Bone Beadboard" project
that we completed last summer shortly after moving in.

The letters were originally glued onto the painted beadboard with Liquid Nails,
but because I had used craft paint, it didn't stick.
Fortunately, our resident handyman has a bin with dozens of screws.
It didn't take me long to raid it find just what I needed.
The screws were a scant 1/4" shorter than the tiles,
to ensure that they wouldn't come through the other side.

This handy-dandy vise assisted me with holding the frame still
as I attached the eyehooks.
The towel was placed to prevent damaging the painted finish.

For a little over a dollar,
these small eye hooks were purchased
and there will be a few extra for future projects.

Using a tape measure,

the hooks were placed about 6 inches in from each side.

Some narrow-gage wire was used to hang the beadboard
from the eyehooks.

This was a pretty quick project,
and I'm so glad we now have original artwork
to make our home more personalized.

The white frame really stands out against the teal background.
Combining so many things I love,
the rural feel of the chickenwire, the modern and fresh look of the beadboard,
and the Scrabble tiles, 
really customizes this piece.
The kicker?
It cost me a fraction of what I would have paid
had I bought it somewhere.

What have you repurposed lately?

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Amazing Me Mondays

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Community Garden Workday for July

The heat of summer does not deter us from our appointed rounds.
The Community Garden in Denver required a few helping hands,
so about a half dozen volunteers showed up to harvest and tidy up.

The Community Garden is a project that allows nearby folks
to lease a raised bed in which to grow what they wish.
Most gardeners grow veggies,
but a few people have flowers and herbs mixed in their beds.
There are also "community" beds in which veg is grown
and the produce is donated to the local food banks.

This bed is boasting a plethora of carrots
and some nice-sized tomatoes.

The sweet potatoes planted last month are doing well.
In this box, the new irrigation system can easily be seen.

The loofah vines took me by surprise.
They are filling out one corner of the garden.
We posted about our loofah project here.

One large gourd was even spied already dangling from the fence top.
What a treat to see the transformation of this crop!
Although I had trouble germinating seeds,
next year I will give this crop another go.

Brilliant Swiss Chard was ready for picking.

Tomatoes of all shapes and sizes can be found in many beds.

Some needed a bit more time on the vines.

Sunflowers invite pollinators to do their vital work.

Bell peppers in various stages,

will no doubt be enjoyed by many.

Some of the okra may be too far gone.
It is best picked at 3-4 inches long,
beyond that it tends to get woody.

Just look at this colossal tower of beans!
I stole this simple trellis idea
and used it in my garden.

The caretaker of this bed (who is also a volunteer),
told me that he blanches and freezes the beans
so that he can eat them all winter long.

It's been wonderful to take note of all the different
trellising ideas folks have come up with.
Most are simple and inexpensive to put together.
This one uses t-posts and a hog panel.

A few more goodies that need just a bit more time on the vines.

Over 17 pounds of food was collected on this workday
and brought to the food pantry.
I am so grateful to be part of this project.

Do you have a community garden where you live?
If you're interested in starting one,
here are some guidelines.