If you’re a compost beginner, never fear! Composting is one of my favorite things in the world, and you’re going to love it, too! I mean, think about it… you can take your trash and turn it into something highly useful. How awesome is that?!
9 years ago I was a compost beginner living in a rental house. A house of my very own with all the yard in the world was right around the corner, but I wanted to get started with composting right away. When you’ve got enough of your own land you can have permanent compost bins. But as long as I was renting I got started with garbage cans.
I started with a big trash can (I don’t remember the gallons, but it’s about 3 feet tall) with a good lid. I drilled holes in the bottom and sides for air flow and bug access. Then I started dumping in our waste.
Some things that DO go in the compost:
Egg shells and cardboard egg cartons
Fruit rinds, peels, seeds, and pits
Veggie tops, bottoms, and wilted stuff
Coffee grinds and our eco-friendly coffee filters
Paper towels, cardboard toilet paper rolls
Swept up random debris and dog hair
You might be amazed at how quickly this stuff builds up!
Some things that DON’T go in the compost:
Meat, cheese, or any dairy
Greasy or saucy stuff
Bread, pasta, and rice are kept to a minimum
People or dog manure
At one point my trash can compost got maggots. As a compost beginner, I pretty much panicked at that point! I knew the whole thing must be ruined. But, nope. Turns out they were a sign that my compost was too wet and had too much nitrogen. I worked in a LOT more dried leaves than I had previously been using, and the maggots went away.
Compost is easy like that. Even when you’re a compost beginner, problems are pretty simple and easy to turn around.
Another sign of a problem I enjoy looking out for is the smell. Contrary to popular belief, compost should smell good. It should not smell like a rotting mess. It should have a clean, earthy, dirt smell. During the maggot period, my compost smelled like shit. Literally. After working in more brown yard stuff, the smell came back to the pleasant earthy smell (with heavy coffee overtones!) I really love smelling my compost, both to check in on it and just to get a big nose-full of the earth-happy project I’m working on.
Are you a compost beginner? What do you need to know to get started?
Have you heard about sprouting? It’s a way to garden without having to leave your kitchen. How cool is that?
I have been experimenting with growing fresh greens in my kitchen for me and my bunnies. It’s called fodder when you do it for livestock and sprouts when you do it for yourself. Either way, you’re making fresh, delicious greens right in your kitchen.
What are sprouts? Sprouts are the stage of a plant between seeds and full-blown plants. The seeds have just shot up into little stalks of greens but haven’t developed true leaves yet. You may have seen bean sprouts on a salad bar. This is that! Although there are lots of different plants you can try.
Why sprout? Because it’s fun and adorable to have little baby plants popping up in your kitchen. Then, it’s convenient to have fresh greens on hand when you want to add a little flavor, nutrition, or crunch to a dish.
(All the following Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.)
What can you sprout? You can grow sprouts of peas, lentils, some beans, radish, broccoli, alfalfa, wheat, barley, or sunflowers. There are some great salad mixes available, too. You could get started with something like this organic mix assortment.
What can you do with sprouts? You can add them to any meal that needs an extra bit of flavor, crunch, or freshness. I tried adding my sunflower sprouts to my salads and in place of lettuce on a sandwich. They were a perfect addition in both cases! You can also add them into your smoothies! Another idea I haven’t tried yet is to use an herb spread on crackers with sprouts on top.
Do they grow in soil? It is possible to grow sprouts without soil, which is what I’ve been doing. However, there are many benefits to using a sprouting soil. You’ll need to use less water and your sprouts will be more robust and tasty.
What other supplies do you need? You’ll need containers with drainage holes and a water collecting tray underneath. I’ve been using simple seed starter six packs, which are available online, or at any hardware, garden, or home improvement store. You can go cheap and simple by growing your sprouts in mason jars. Or you can go all fancy-schmancy with a cute counter-top system..
What do you actually do to sprout things? The simple answer? You soak your seeds for 12 hours, put them in your chosen container, then regularly give them water. A few days later you’ll have a little crop of fresh greens! Check out this page for very complete instructions.
Leave a comment telling me whether you’ve tried sprouts before and what you think you might do with them if you give them a try!
5 Acres & A Dream is one family’s tale of starting their homestead, from the dream phase to making it happen.
(Links on this page are to the Amazon listing. If you buy from there, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!)
You won’t find a how-to here. Rather, it’s a personal account of the ups and downs and lessons learned along the way. Storytelling like this can be really valuable if you’re dreaming of your own homestead. You can find a lot of the bare how-to online, but getting into the mind of someone who’s been there helps you really understand the process.
5 Acres & A Dream covers lots of topics, including:
Food self-sufficiency, gardening, food preservation, and foraging
Raising goats, chickens, and guineas
Spinning, weaving, and knitting
Sewing and quilting
From a family who’s been there, you will learn a lot about the homesteading journey. 5 Acres & A Dream is 262 pages of inspirational words, along with 156 photos and diagrams.
Square Foot Gardening (SFG) is an easy, enjoyable way to get started gardening. It was the inspiration I used to get over being too intimidated to start gardening.
Because I love it so much, I am equally delighted about the book Square Foot Gardening With Kids!
Disclosure: To do this review, I received this product for free. All opinions are mine. The links in this post are affiliate links.[/color-box]
Square Foot Gardening is the simplest way to garden. It doesn’t take a lot of money, a lot of space, a lot of gardening knowledge, good soil, or fancy tools. You don’t have to do a lot of weeding, and it’s organic, too.
What more could you ask from a gardening method?
It’s ease and simplicity make SFG already perfect for kids.
In addition to information on how to get started with the SFG method, Square Foot Gardening With Kids brings specific tips for gardening with kids in different age groups. For Preschool Growers, Early Learners, Terrific Tweens, and Cultivating Teens, you get advice and activities tailored to kids from 2 to 18.
Gardening is accidentally educational. The SFG with Kids book shows you all the different ways to aid children’s education. You’ll find art projects, science questions and discoveries, math problems, carpentry, writing tasks, and vocabulary. This is the best kind of learning, because it happens alongside living and creating.
I love the section on plant suggestions that are big hits with kids – like radishes which come in lots of colors and are ready to pick in 4 weeks, and cherry tomatoes which are delicious to eat standing right there in the garden. These are my favorites, too, because I like a big, beautiful payoff and eating right from the plant.
Like the original SFG book, Square Foot Gardening With Kids gives you everything you need to know in one book. You won’t need any other gardening books at all. It even covers things like expanding your garden into cooler seasons and building community around gardening.
I am absolutely thrilled that there’s a Square Foot Gardening book aimed at kids. I think anyone who wants to bring their kids into the garden with them should check out this book, even if you’re not going to stick with the SFG method. It’s so full of great ways to include the kids in the gardening process.
Do you have kids? Do you garden with them?
I use the SFG method myself. I have four 4×4 boxes so far. I’m just now planting them because we had one last, late frost. One of my boxes is not going to get planted, though. I’ve turned it over to Dylan so that he can play in the dirt. It’s like a sandbox but with rich, homemade planting mix.
I have a new bunny named Hops. Hops likes napping in Dylan’s garden box, too.
Even when you’re not officially “gardening”, it’s so rewarding to be outside in the dirt with kids. What other ways do you like to get outside with your kids?