EXPERIMENT: Composting Using Grass and Leaves

I’m sick and tired of paying for dirt.  I’m done with it.  I’m ready for a more cost effective way to get ‘dirt’ using materials I have around in the yard.  I’m also ready to know exactly what is in my soil instead of depending on a plastic bag to outline all of the ingredients.

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DIY Pallet Compost Bin

Enter my DIY pallet composting bin.  I built the bin in about an hour with the help of my wonderful wife.  It is very similar to the DIY Raised Garden Beds using pallets that I made earlier this season.  The only add-ons are four legs and a bottom to keep the compost off of the ground.  All in all, I was very pleased with the end result.

 

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Grass Clipping Layer in Compost Bin

 

 

Now to the experiment portion- actually making compost.  I have a couple of things that I can always depend on to compost: grass clippings and leaves.  So, I decided to lay a thin layer of grass clippings in the bin and watered the clippings.  Next, I placed a thin layer of leaves on the grass and then watered.  I repeated these steps until the bin was full.  Finally, I took my hand-tiller and mixed all of the layers together.  With everything nicely mixed, I took my shovel and scooped the edges up into the middle of the box to make a mound.  I watered the whole entire box once again.

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Leaf Layer in Compost Bin

 

Tomorrow, I plan on checking to see if the temperature is warm in the mound.  The warm temperatures and moisture helps to break down the material into compost.  On Day Three, I plan on turning the whole entire bin using my shovel.  Hopefully we will see some decomposition.  My plan is to have this material fully decomposed in about three weeks.

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Grass Clippings and Leaves Mounded in Compost Bin

Do you have a compost bin/pile?  Do you prefer to use grass and leaves or some other material?  What’s the best method you have found?  I’d love to hear from you!  Drop us a line below in the comments.

Ian

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This Has Been A Productive Weekend For Outside!

First off, I’m just going to go ahead and lay this out there- I am beat.  This weekend has been a very productive weekend our piece of the outdoors.  Combined with last weekend, we have gotten quite a few things completed.  If this type of work continues throughout the summer, one of two things will happen: We will have the best looking yard in the neighborhood, or, I will be dead.

We have about an acre and a half of land.  Our home sits in the middle of three lots.  The lower and upper lots are dotted with trees here and there, but nothing thick at all.  The best way I describe it is “park-like”.  Trying to keep up with the maintenance is hard, especially when you only have the weekends to do any work outside.  Being that we just snapped out of winter and into spring, our yard looked horrendous.  Fallen limbs and branches everywhere.  The grass and weeds was creeping up to our knees.

Thankfully, with the help of my wife, we made some major progress.  We burned about 10 trailer loads of limbs, got all the yard mowed, and even got it weed-eated (which takes longer than mowing on our yard).  After I finished the yard work this morning, I looked over at the garden and it was calling for me to come spend some time with it.

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Red Mulch With Pallet Raised Garden Beds

I got three more raised beds built for the spinach, basil/cilantro, and carrots.  According to my plans, I have about three more boxes to build to complete my garden for this year, which is a huge plus!  But, before I placed the raised boxes in place, I knew the garden needed something else.  I needed a real walk-way.  Thankfully, the place down the road had a deal on mulch- $2.00 a bag.

All in all, I think it’s going to turn out pretty nice looking!  Be sure to keep an eye out on my blog throughout the week.  Over the weekend, I’ve gotten a lot of things to write about and they are sure to make for enjoyable reads!

EXPERIMENT: Staggering Potato Harvest Times

About a month or so ago, I purchased some seed potatoes from the local big box hardware store.  I got two varieties, Yukon Gold and Red Norland potatoes.  I wanted these thinking we would make some awesome smashed potatoes as well as potato salad with the Reds and we use the Golds as our multipurpose, go to potato for any dish that needs a starch.  After a month of keeping the seeds in a low-light area, they eyes are going crazy on these things!

Each seed potato package contains 10 ‘seeds’ so that gives me 20 plants total.  Last year I planted all of my plants at one time.  They all grew wonderful in the natural dirt here in East Tennessee, but I was left with a minor issue- I didn’t account for their harvest times being the same time.  So, I was left with a bunch of potatoes at harvest time.  This year I am trying something different.

You remember that free and simply made raised garden bed I built using pallets?  In case you missed it, here’s the link to my DIY video on how to build it.  Well, I threw some weed block fabric in bottom and then placed a layer of dead leaves on top of the fabric.  I’ve read somewhere online that this can help with drainage and can also help with replenishing nutrients to the soil.  Next, I filled it about a 1/4 of the way full with top soil and placed two of the Reds and two of the Golds under about 2 inches of the soil.

So, that leaves me with 16 potatoes left to plant.  My thinking is that we go through about a 5lb bag of potatoes a week.  If I stagger their starting times by about a week and half to two weeks, we should be able to continually harvest for about 8-10 weeks without having a surplus.  It will definitely be a fun experiment as we count down the days to harvest.  I’ll also be trying different methods in my planting, maybe using a five gallon bucket, direct ground, etc.

I’ll keep you all posted!  Thanks for visiting our humble abode on the web!

VIDEO: How To Build A Raised Garden Bed Using Wood Pallets

“Building” from my last post about raised garden beds being made from wood pallets, I serve to you my how-to DIY video to make your very own beds! This is a very cost effective way to build your garden. It’s also a very quick and easy project, taking me around 30 to 45 minutes. Check out the video and be sure to Like and Subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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Raised Garden Beds Using Pallets

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DIY Pallet Raised Garden Bed

This year I decided to not plow my ground and instead use raised garden beds.  There are so many advantages over using raised garden beds compared to direct ground.  However, a lot of stores sell kits ranging from $40 to $200.  For me, I want something cost efficient to increase my return on investment.  So, I decided to go the free route, or very close to free!

 

I have been stocking pallets since last year from my job.  We get them in with different shipments and some of them are in great condition, while others are a little less than desirable.  But, it’s free wood that’s already cut!  If your job doesn’t have these lying around, you can easily pick them up from stores or other places of business.  You want to get the nonpainted/nontreated type for this build.  Paint and other chemicals can leak into the soil and you don’t want that for your plants.

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DIY Pallet Raised Garden Bed

I’ve built a few already this year, but I wanted to show you guys what the final product looks like.  The inside space measures 40 inches by 40 inches and gives you just over nine square feet of soil space.  The height of the bed measures right at 10 1/2 inches which is right in the sweet spot for growing vegetables.

 

I also grabbed some video from the build, from start to finish!  I’m going to edit it and it will be posted tomorrow.