I am making a point to ask for paper bags instead of plastic now. I used to think both were equally bad for the environment for different reasons, however, I can compost the brown paper bags from the store!
But the latest, most distressing update, is that I found a nest of Red African Fire Ants IN my compost pile. They are a real problem I never encountered in Ohio and we are constantly finding them popping up around our yard here. The only non-chemical method that has worked for us is to pouring boiling water on the ant hills. I am just unsure how this will affect the good nutrients and worms I've built up in my pile.
After doing a little research and weighing my options I decided to start out simple. For about one week of doing some serious disruption (digging, spreading out the mound) to my Fire Ants and working to keep my compost very damp (they don’t like wet environments) I was happy to turn my pile thoroughly and find no more swarms. I also took a break from adding kitchen scraps for that short time since the ants seems to be drawn to the sugars in fruit. I can only assume the colony moved to another spot, but so far we haven’t found any new ones pop up in our yard. (Secretly I have fingers crossed that they moved next door, shhh).
A simple + nutritious deliciousness enhancer // Sesame seeds browned slightly in a cast iron skillet for a toasty, nutty flavor I often sprinkle on eggs, salads + cooked greens
I have wanted to compost for a long time and even had some meager attempts at doing it years ago when I lived with my parents. But, without having my own place for so long I never really owned it like I should have to make it successful. Plus, I got caught up in the seeming complication of it. Like I often do, I felt like I couldn't do it perfectly so I was paralyzed to do anything at all.
Now I'm in a house and working toward some homesteading practices I have been dreaming about to keep our family healthy, sustainable and frugal. I found the Living Homegrown Podcast to start learning a little before jumping in. The episode on Composting 101 pushed me—succeed or fail—to just start. So while I'm no expert, here's what I've been doing.
TURN IT // Give It Some Air
I have a good size backyard, so I decided to stop worrying about what container to put my compost in and just start a pile by my back fence. Every week or so I go turn my pile over to loosen it up to make sure it has air. I wasn't sure if my pile was starting to smell a little funny when I approached (which means things are out of wack), but was encouraged by the deep earthly smell I caught wind of when I flipped the bottom of my pile over.
BROWN LAYER IT // Give It Some Carbon
While I used to worry that I needed to source some herbiside-free hay, I realized I had tons of brown (carbon) stuff all around the house. I was able to collect plenty of dead leaves, twigs, shedding Crape Myrtle bark, (even corrugated cardboard!) etc. from around my property.
GREEN LAYER IT // Give It Some Nitrogen
Throughout the week I keep my food scraps in a container in the fridge. Soon enough I will invest in a countertop odor-free bin, but for now this system seems to work. I dump them, along with grass clippings and other green stuffs on top of the brown layer. Apparently the ratio of brown to green should be about 7:1. Odor is a giveaway that this ratio may not be quite right, so I'm keeping that in mind. But honestly, I'm not worrying too much about that right now.
DIRT LAYER IT
I finish by piling dirt on top, usually just covering up the food scraps.
Depending on how dry the pile looks or what the rain-prediction is for the week I will soak the compost with water.
What about all you real food growers out there? Any compost tips I need as I figure this thing out?
A couple weeks ago I stumbled across a little piece of heaven. In search of grass-fed, local beef I found Green Leaf Farms on EatWild.com and chose it mostly just for it's proximity. But it was more like fate or serendipity. The charm of this place and all the ways I feel I can identify with it and the people just won me over. If you live anywhere near Concord, NC please visit this beautiful place.
After many years of renting without a permanent garden spot I am finally getting my hands dirty to grow some veg! Compost and more compost is my first feat in preparation for Spring. Plus, we are potting a little tomato plant gifted to us so we can start growing now!
My love of farms and farmers markets led me to ask good friends Zach + Bethany if I could "shadow" them at the market they visit every Saturday morning. They frequent the Shaker Square Farmers Market, which in my opinion is the best outdoor market in the Cleveland area.
Zach + Beth are the real thing—all about real food and traditional food preparation methods. They source their fresh food from vendors they are on a first name basis is with. I'm simply inspired by them. Some of their simple tips from the shoot: 1// use the more easily digested milk from jersey cows to made homemade yogurt (and don't be afraid to try—I use this recipe). 2// keep fresh parsley and cilantro in a bit of water in a jar in the fridge to last weeks longer (this works so well!). 3// organize your fridge with more perishable items like lettuce towards the front to ensure timely use of fresh ingredients.
I first watched Michael Pollan making sauerkraut on the video at the bottom. I have been meaning to make it ever since. I even bought a cabbage a couple times and never did anything with it! I finally got around to using this super simple recipe and now I wonder why I haven't been doing this forever!
I went really basic and used only cabbage, salt, a mason jar, and 5 days. The result is delicious and I'm thrilled to be adding more probiotics to my family's diet without the usual price tag, pasteurization, or additives.
A probiotic rich diet can protect from colon cancer, relieve inflammatory bowel disease and lactose intolerance, improve oral health, increase bioavailability of vitamins, nutrients and minerals in food, and perhaps most significantly, increase the efficiency of the immune system, which is primarily located in your gut.
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Hi. I'm Suzanna.
I like running outside, eating real food and crafting beautiful images. I am captivated by authenticity, adventurers and life-lovers. I call myself a biohacker-wannabe pursuing the unconventional.
Society6 by Suzanna West
Fine Art America by Suzanna West