Thursday, July 17

Compost and Cleaning

Given that my labor force consists of a preschooler, a toddler and a puppy, I think these projects turned out ok.
My compost area has always been a bit of a shock given that I love gardening. Not that the fantastic benefits of compost in the garden are lost on me - I just never found the time to build a proper (or in this case semi-proper) compost bin.
So when I had the kids, the dog, some 'new' wooden pallets and a sunny afternoon at my disposal, what else could we do besides make a compost bin.
When I say "we" I mean that literally for the first 5 minutes. The little girl lost interest immediately, the little man wanted to hammer nails into everything and Murphy just wanted to explore the field to find something smelly to roll in.
I wanted a dual-bin compost area so I could move pitchfork fulls of material from one bin to another. Mission accomplished there - 5 heavy pallets for walls and the divider, leaving two open spaces in the front. I wanted something that i could remove easily so they had to be made of something lighter than the heavy pallets. I searched the upper barn and found some slats of privacy fencing, cut them to size and found 4 miscellaneous, light weight boards to attach them to. The result was two pieces of 'fencing' for the front pieces. I added some chicken wire to the insides of the two front pieces to keep stray compost from falling through the slats and instead of using hinges and hooks, I went low-budget and used two bungee cords to hold the front pieces on. 
I am pleased with my compost area even if it isn't going to make the pages of Better Homes and Gardens, and to complete the project I painted myself a little sign on a piece of old barn board just to let the world know that this is indeed a compost bin.
Something is now growing in there - most likely a melon or pumpkin of some sort so I have been dumping mostly in the bin on the right as to not bury the plant. Might as well let it grow and see what comes of it. 
A side note on the compost area - snakes like it. Yes, I know this is most likely common knowledge among gardeners, but it was still a shock to my system to see a little head poking out at me as I lifted a pitch fork full of compost up for turning. There are at least two snakes happily calling my compost bin 'home' and i am not quite sure what to do about this other than make Roy turn the compost.
It takes something pretty big for me to relinquish a yard or garden task to Roy. I can count on one hand the homesteading chores that Roy does around here (due to time constraints and a lack of gardening and mower pattern knowledge, not from lack of homesteading enthusiasm). Plowing the driveway in winter, rototilling the garden in spring, and anything involving the use of a chainsaw are the things that Roy does.
Now I must add turning the compost to that list since snakes are something that I would rather not be around.
My other project of the day did not involve any tools - I just had to pull the pieces out of the barn and stick them in the yard. I have wanted some sort of sorting/veggie washing station out by the garden for a while since the thought of lugging dirt covered veggies into the house and washing all that soil down the kitchen sink drain seemed so wasteful to me. We have no running water in the barn or shed/coop so every year I have to run a lengthy garden hose from the house. Other years it has sat on the ground by the garden fence, curled up and waiting for daily watering use.
This year, it hangs limply above my new washing station. Some people have nice, fancy wooden stations with strainers and shelves and salvaged cast iron sink basins (which I would love by the way). But I am making due with an old dairy washing tub combination of some sort that I dug out of the depths of Roy's Grandparents old shed. Not to worry, water will not collect in the bottoms - both bottoms are in various stages of rusting through so there are plenty of drainage holes.
I placed a flat rock under each foot to prevent sinking and to make it level and an old shepherds hook garden decoration now makes a handy hanger for the hose and sprayer attachment.
I know that it does not look like much, but it will serve its purpose when all those tomatoes and carrots and squash varieties start to pile up. The plan is to dig up a couple of large strainers and some nice soft bristled scrub brushes at the $1 store and to place a 5 gallon bucket under the tub to collect the dirty rinse water. This water will be put right back into the garden, soil and all, so nothing will be wasted down the drain.
I can't help but feel a little like Goldie Hawn in Overboard using my garden hose at the sink.....

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