Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Worm Compost Bin (DIY)

I went on Pinterest and I pinned, then later read a LOT of Pins about building a worm compost bin.  They are all basically the same info, with some minor differences.  But I will say one thing that bugged me.

'DIY compost bin for only $5!'  'Build your own worm compost bin for under $15!'

There were more titles along those lines…yes, the building materials can be that low…but the worms are right around $30 (unless you know someone with a worm compost bin who will give you some of their worms).

I personally think if you are going to say how cheap something is, you should include all expenses, yes, worms included.

With that being said, my worm compost bin cost right around $45, probably closer to $47.

Let me start by saying you can do a smaller bin (like I did) or a bigger bin.  The bigger then bin, the heavier it will be, which can be a factor when you are ready to harvest your compost.  That will also effect your price.  I went with 10 gallon rubbermaid bins I bought at walmart for just under $5 each.  You can do 1, 2 or 3 bins.  I personally did 3.  Some people do 1, and put a lid under it to catch any drippings (liquid you can add to water and put right into the garden).  Others will do 2 containers…they will have 1 on the bottom to catch any liquid, and then the one on top with the worms.  Then there are those that are like me, who do 3 bins.  The 3rd bin is set up like the other one that will hold worms…when the 1st bin is done, you put the other bin on top and the worms will slowly move to that bin.  Once they've all moved over you can take the middle bin out and use all your compost without having to go through it and removing your worms.  I'm all about the easier option!

So I bought 3 10 gallon rubbermaid bins for just under $5 each al Walmart.    Then I bought 4 pieces of PVC at Lowe's for $.60 each to set in the bottom bin so I could raise up the compost bin.  Finally I ordered my worms online.  I did a google search and compared prices at a few different places.  The cheapest for me was (but it seems they are still a part of Uncle Jim's worm farm, cause that's what all my packaging said!).  I bought 1 pound of worms, and it was $30.98 (change part may be a tad bit off, but pretty sure that was it).  Oh yes…you need to uy Red Wiggler worms, not night crawlers or anything like that.  So just over $45.

I'll share some pictures, and tell you what I did :)

The first thing I did was drill 20 1/4 inch holes into the bottom of Bin 1.  You want to make sure you have holes in the lost points so any excess water will drip out.

Then I used a 1/16 inch drill bit to drill holes along the top for ventilation.  For both sets of holes I saw reports of people using different sizes, so you can choose different size holes if you'd like.  I put these holes about an inch apart all around the top.

Finally I drilled some holes in the lid too (you only need to do this with 1 of the lids, it's the only lid you will need to use)

Do the same steps to bin 2, so it'll be ready to g when you need it.

Then you stack bin 1 into the base and you are ready to go!!

I cut up a bunch of newspaper, then you want to get it wet.  Not soaking wet, you don't want it to be dripping.  I rang mine all out by hand, then I fluffed it out as I put it into the bin.  You'll want to put 3-4 inches in there.  The paper keeps th worms wet, but they'll eat it too, and it gives them some place to hide, which is why you want to fluff it out some, so they can move through it easily.  Then I threw some dirt on the top of the newspaper, they need grit to help them digest their food.

Then I added in my worms!!  I included the peat moss they had been packed in.  You want a 2 parts 'brown' (paper, leaves, grass, etc) to 1 part 'green' (table scraps)

Then I added in some of my kitchen scraps I had been saving for them.  You don't want to give them too much to start, so I only put in some, even though I  have a ton saved for them.

Then you want to put some more wet newspaper on top.  The newspaper on top protects them, and will also prevent fruit flies, because the food is covered.  I also added some grass, since Josh had mowed yesterday.  Then I took a piece of cardboard, I wet down 1 side of it and put it all on top to protect everything.  Eventually the worms will eat it too.

Then I was done!!  When ready to set up your next bin (after this one is full of the black gold) you'll add the newspaper and food etc then take the lid off the other bin, put the new bin on top, and they will go through the holes up into the new bin.

It was super quick and easy to set up.  I can't wait to see how my worms do, and to use their castings in my garden!!!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Adventures in Gardening!

It's Spring time, which means it's time to start the garden again.  I learned a lot last year and I know I still have more to learn.  This year we added in a second raised bed.  We had bought enough wood last year for 2 beds, so we already had the wood and the black lining for another one.  My hubby put it together back in March.

Everything is planted, except for the pumpkins, we have to wait til summer time for them.  We're growing cherry tomatoes, early girl tomatoes, brandywine tomatoes, mojito mint, cilantro, oregano, spaghetti squash, pickling cucumbers, watermelon, wax beans, onions, garlic, silver queen corn, sweet corn, jalapeƱo peppers, cayenne peppers, banana peppers, red sail lettuce, romaine lettuce, parris island lettuce, spinach, kale, dill, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, red potatoes, and okra.  We also still have sage and rosemary from last year.  Our Strawberries came back, and of course the blackberries, blueberries, and grapes and looking great.  We even have a few raspberry canes.

Here are some pictures of all our pretty things!

I will update how the garden is doing as the growing season continues.  I am so excited for everything we are growing.

Stay tuned for my upcoming blog post about my DIY Worm Compost Bin that I am working on!!  I can't wait for my worms to get here!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Magnetic Chalkboard Wall (DIY)

So, I have been wanting to do a chalkboard wall for while now.  I REALLY want to do one in the playroom, ever since we bought our house I have planned to.  But I want to paint all the walls before I do the chalkboard, but we need to build a wall up there before we paint the walls.  We have a stainless Steel fridge, which means we can't stick magnets to the front of it.  So I figured I would paint the panel on the pantry door with chalkboard paint, so I could have a place for grocery lists.  Unfortunately my pantry door is like my front door and doesn't have a solid panel in the middle (like my cabinet doors do).  However, I do have a short wall right across from the pantry door, that is next to my fridge!!

I went to Lowe's and got some Valspar Chalkboard paint, they have 250 colors to choose from.  I wanted to match my Kitchenaid Mixer and my olive oil holder, kitchen towels, etc.  While I was talking to the guy helping me and asking him questions, he told me they sold a magnetic primer that would make my chalkboard magnetic.  Even better?  It was on clearance!

The next day I taped everything and sanded the wall.  Then I went to use the primer.  It was SO thick and sludgy, super nasty.  I stirred it, I shook it, I even took it out to my drive way and rolled it around super quick.  Nothing seemed to help!  So I took it back to Lowe's and had them mix it for me (which everyone who buys magnetic primer should have done before they use it)

A lot of the reviews I read about the Primer said that even with multiple coats (they recommend 3 light coats) it did not work at all, or barely worked.  I think this is because they didn't get it mixed up enough and all their iron shavings were on the bottom.  Getting mine mixed by Lowe's made all the difference I think.  I did the 3 coats, and not only did a magnet stick, but it could hold up a piece of paper too (which most people said it wouldn't do).

They said it was suppose to be dark grey…but it came out black for me.  You're suppose to wait 4 hours before you do a top coat, so I waited til the next day since I finished this too late at night.  The next day I painted the chalkboard paint over it.  They recommend 2 coats, but after 2 coats you could still kinda see the primer in some parts.  I was really worried that if I added any more coats if would affect the magnetism, but I added one more coat.  It looked great after 3 coats, and the magnetism wasn't affected at all!

Finally I removed the tape, and then I had to 'prime' the chalkboard.  You need to take a piece of chalk and turn it on its side and cover the entire chalkboard with chalk before you use it.

Then Voila!  You have a magnetic Chalkboard in your kitchen (or whatever room you put it in)!

I only used maybe a fourth of the cans of paint too, so I have tons left over!  I absolutely love it!

Do you have a chalkboard wall, or are you thinking of painting one?