Get your Garden Ready Now - for Under $5!

I’ll admit it – my husband is more of a gardener than I am! I love to cook with the produce, but he definitely has the green thumb in the family!

Paul’s been thinking ahead, regarding what needs to be done in our garden before the rains hit, and he pulled our boys in this last weekend to help him out.

Seriously, $5?
For under $5 Paul built a 3 bin compost system, measuring 8 x 4. The $5 cost was for buying screws.

Why 8 x 4?
Because that’s the size of the FREE palates that he picked up from the local Grange (or garden center)! He kept it in those dimensions to make the least number of modifications. It wasn’t the ideal size that he had in mind, but because of the time restraint that Paul was under, he made it work!

Did you know that the Grange Co-Op will give you these palates for FREE? Sometimes they are stacked “20” high!

Why a 3 bin system?
This 3-bin system was built in less than 3 hours with a few modifications to the existing palates, but not much!

~ It’s the easiest way to turn over a compost pile
~ You turn the compost twice
~ By the time it gets to the “third” bin – it’s the final compost ready for the garden

Why compost?
~ Compost adds nutrients back into the soil, but not as much as some people think
~ It’s a great way to break the soil up
~ You can use partially decomposed compost as a weed barrier
~ Compost helps your soil retain water

A Balanced Diet – 4:1
Paul follows the 4:1 rule. One (greens) to four (browns) is how we feed our compost pile!

Greens: grass clippings, yard debris.

Browns: kitchen scraps (veggie and fruit peelings), coffee grounds, leaves and straw.

For carbon-rich ingredients you can even add shredded newspaper or small amounts of ash from your wood stove! And even Abby’s hamster droppings go into the pile! We also use straw around our compost bin, which provides another layer of protection from wind and cold!

This winter
This winter we’ll layer our pile. We alternate brown to green – the layers help insulate the pile, trapping heat and gases inside. You want to cause as little disturbance as possible to the layers of insulation.

Next spring
When the spring comes, we’ll start turning the pile. During warm spells we’ll even “water” the pile, leaving it damp, but not soaking. The warmer temperatures keep the microbes well supplied with oxygen.

On a cold winter day, the sight of steam rising from the compost pile warms the heart of every gardener. It’s a sign that when spring comes, you know you’ll have a batch of fresh compost ready to get your garden off to a healthy start!

Gardening is also a great distraction from the writing of a book, says my husband! This last weekend while I was up in Portland for our daughter’s soccer games, my husband and the boys amended the soil and got the beds ready for spring.

What about tools?
Did you know that almost all of our garden tools were purchased at yard sales? Over the years we’ve picked them up at these sorts of sales, rarely paying more than $2 a tool!

We live in town on a city lot, and we’ve prioritized growing a garden. And for the Reluctant Entertainer, I can guarantee that you and your guests will so enjoy eating your organic produce!

How about joining the minority like we did? Does a garden sound appealing to you?

(Remember my Apple Pie in a Jar? Last night I canned more, but this time I added 1 pear per jar! Yummy! Now we have Apple Pear Pie in a Jar! And all the apple/pear peelings went into the compost bin!)

READ Reluctant Entertainer post from ONE YEAR AGO - here!


Mod Girl said...

We're planning on joining the gardening minority (for the first time) this Spring. Needless to say we have a lot to learn!

Michelle said...

Great post! We had a garden this summer & started composting as well. I can't wait for the spring! We've used these last 4 warm days of the year to get our garden cleaned up for winter.

ValleyGirl said...

We have a huge garden plot (probably about a 1/4 acre!) and always have a garden, although we NEVER use up all that space!!

Your apple pie/apple pear pie filling looks and sounds delicious!! I'm actually going to try your sans-boiling-water-bath canning method this weekend, I think. I've got a bunch of little apples that need to be made into sauce.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I'm trying to step-up the gardening and I don't have ANYTHING to complain about re: space. It's just so much work and I do most of it myself - I seem to poop out. That's exciting about your hubby's book - it looks like a good read.

sarah @ a beach cottage said...

Hi Sandy

oh nice post, I would love a composter for $5...

I am really enjoying the fruits of planting out my salad and veggies, every night we are eating lovely fresh food for free, so fantastic isn't it, I've done it before but here in Australia as long as you water them they grow like wildfire!

ooh the apple pie filling looks yum, i might try that too!


p.s my reluctant entertainer journey seems to have come to a halt, hmmmm I need to work on that!

emilymcd said...

Sandy-- The more I get to know you on your blog, the more amazed I am by how wonderful your family is.

Thanks for sharing this great tip. I love how environmentally friendly it is.

I am hoping to start a garden next year.

I was recently reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift from the Sea". In it she says something a bit controversial: She says (in so many words) that women of today have so many modern conveniences but so little domestic satisfaction. She believes that putting care and elbow grease into something makes you care for it. Your blog has been SO inspiring to encourage us to not hide or despise the domestic side of life.

What a gift you have been to so many.

Anonymous said...

excellent instruction! My compost area should have such pretty walls.

I fill the holes in which I put tomatoes with a couple handfuls of crushed egg shells (what doesn't go in the compost is frozen in big ziplocs starting late winter) and wow, does that make a difference.

deb meyers

Anonymous said...

Good Morning Sandy!
What a great post. My hubby and I have discussed the concept of a compost bin, but haven't found a good way of doing it. I love this and will forward your post to him.
We have always done small things like tomatoes in tubs on the porch or a few herbs here and there, but now that we are moved and settled in we have built 2 raised beds which at the moment are growing many herbs and letuces. We are thrilled. We have about 15 acreas in which we can play with planting and cultivating, and for the first time in years there is NO prospect of us moving, se we are really excited and anxious for the spring!
Have a great Wednesday!

Sandy Toes said...

After last night, we all may have to start a garden so we can save some money!
-sandy toes

Betts said...

Just a quick warning: if you have a dog or a neighbor's dog comes on your property, make sure you compost pile in inaccessible to them. Two years ago, our dog died from eating compost scraps (there was no meat in it, but he was attracted to it anyway). The lid latch was frozen, so I couldn't shut it and the snow was up to the top, so he could get it it easily. Since then, others have told us stories of similar experiences. It still compost, but I'm very careful now about the lid and the snow.

Mommy's Kitchen said...

great job on the compost bin its beautiful. I cant wait to get our garden started again for next year. My husbands loves the gardening part more than me as well. This coming year we are making a way bigger one than last year. The pie filling is beautiful I wish we had access to apple picking here in Texas :(

Apron Thrift Girl said...

I love this post. Sadly we have all the pallets but we are leaving soon so no compost for us. Maybe if we buy another home but I love the fact that you have shared this idea with everyone. And I adore that it is so frugal. Great job Sandy.

Ms. Tee said...

I've always wanted to do this. Thanks for making it so detailed - I'm gonna show my husband. :)

Van said...

I have never been one to enjoy reading about food prep, recipe books, or any kitchen topics for that matter - but reading this entry on composting has absolutely intrigued me! I am ready to compost - but not on such a large scale!

Today I went to the grocery and praised God the entire time I shopped because there was not a thing on my list the store didn’t have, yet I wonder… “Can we always expect our food to be trucked into our neighborhood or do we need to start taking a little responsibility for our food?”

~nanashouse~ said...

I've been wanting to start a compost pile for several years now but have been put off because it seems expensive. My husband works in a grocery store and has constant access to pallets. Hooray, this just might be the year!

Shimmy Mom said...

That is AWESOME! We have a composter, but it's from Costco, so we spent more the $5. (I think 60)
Compost is definitely the way to go though. I love it.
Your apples look SO good. It looks like you've got a great blog too.

Stephanie said...

I know I know... my music is a wee bit early! I hadnt stopped by in so long, I thought I would pop over tonight and see how ya'll been.... looks like you have been busy having fun :)
Take Care !

linda t said...

I rarely ever go to Starbucks but when I do (like for my free coffee after I voted!), they always have a basket filled with containers of coffee grounds that they are giving away for composting! I love that they do that!

sheridan said...

I've always wanted to have a garden but I'm scared. I have no clue as to where to begin but you've encouraged me to start! I'd love more posts on gardening and how to start, what to start with, your greatest tips etc! Thank you for your blog!

keeper of the chocolates said...

what an amazing post! i miss having a little yard...thank you for letting me dream a little today..your photos are so awesome. i can actually 'feel' them :)

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Happy Fall, Sandy! I'm still so behind on reading blogs. Love the compost idea & should probably do that at my house too.

gracy said...

what a great idea! we have a HUGE backyard, and have been growing some vegetables, fruits, etc. i should have my dad look at this. it would be a wonderful help!

thank you so much for you comment! :) i do love to write, though i haven't had much time for it lately. the encouragement was greatly appreciated!

enjoy your delicious-looking produce!

Laurie said...

There's nothing like choosing your dinner straight from the garden! I love your compost bins. Very frugal, nice, and creative. Thanks for the composting lesson!

Ornery's Wife said...

I have started a compost bin in a plastic garbage can my daughter had used to store horse feed in. Ornery drilled holes in the sides to allow air flow, and we dump all our vegetable debris, egg shells, coffee grounds (including the unbleached filters), tea bags and more. Now that the leaves have started falling, we plan to incorporate those into the mix gradually, too. It is fun to think I am giving back to the soil that gives so much to us!

Kirstin said...

Oh, I love that idea!!!! I think there is a place around the corner, down the road that gets rid of pallets. Hubby might fall over when I tell him I want to do this...all he wants to think about is getting in the house, not getting ready for a garden (C:

Thanks for the idea.

Composing Hallelujahs said...

oh wow, that's so much better than anything i would have spent a ton on!
we had our first garden last year and i have not been motivated to start it up again, but this might spark some new motivation!

MeganSloan said...

That's great! My dad's a huge gardner and has a compost pile and a compost container that cooks in the sun. Some day I'll have some of what he has, but definitely not everything... although I do enjoy his homemade/homegrown produce!

rebecca said...

Great idea. I like your husband's philosophy, too.