Homemade Compost Bin

Homestead Hygge-lism

What goes hand in hand with a freshly dug and planted Victory Garden?  Well, a compost bin of course.  Surely, this was something that we would be able to achieve by recycling and reutilization something we have around the house as we did with the garden border.

Now I don’t condone purchasing large plastic anything, but chances are that most of us have a big plastic Rubbermaid container somewhere in their attic, basement or wherever.  Surprise, surprise we had one from years ago that was sitting empty.  

This container will make for one of the quickest and easiest compost bin conversions ever.  Easy enough for even the boys to do most of the work.

A good compost bin needs to satisfy a few prerequisites:

  1. Be large enough to hold at least enough compost to cover the garden bed in the fall for tilling into the soil before the winter comes.  Then it can be restocked for another round in the Spring prior to planting.  
  2. Have a cover to aid in keeping the critters out and the smells in, but air needs to circulate, so there needs to be holes in the lid.  
  3. It also needs to be kept moist with regular wetting, so there needs to be holes in and around the bottom to let the water strain through and drain.

A Rubbermaid has all of these features, except for the holes and that is a quick remedy with a cordless drill and a decent sized drill bit.  So easy a child could, and a even did, do it, two children to be exact.  Please note, my children only use power tools under strict supervision.  I would have said responsible supervision, but it is typically me that is doing the overseeing so I’m not sure that would apply.

After completion, we start our compost with a simple base layer of a little mulch and some of the grass that we cleared for the garden, root side up.  We will alternate food scraps like salad leaves, egg shells, fruit peels (light on the citrus fruits) and coffee grounds, with additional mulch, cut grass and dead leaves. Stirring occasionally.

With any luck, one day this chunk of plastic will be able to produce enough compost to offset the negative impact that its own production caused.

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Victory Garden Build

Homestead Hygge-lism

We have seeds started and plants growing but nowhere to put them.  This weekend was the time to remedy this.  After talking to our awesome landlord, we had the all clear to dig away.  We did a rough layout of how we wanted to plant our vegetables and decided on a small garden, roughly 3 ½’ x 7’ (1 x 2 meters).  

This was a perfect opportunity for a little homesteading practice, and a great time for some warm weather hygge moments.  Typically hygge is thought of as a warm drink with a comfortable blanket watching the cold wind blow outside.  Hygge is not just reserved for the colder months though.  A nice sunny, warm day with the whole family working together building a garden bed that will eventually produce vegetables that we will all enjoy and we all had a hand in growing is just such a moment.

Unfortunately, prior to our move we left most of our landscaping tools behind.  We did not expect to have a need for them on a rental property.  A quick bike ride with a backpack solved that dilemma, but for the rest of what we needed we were determined to re-purpose what we already had on hand.

My wife found a bed frame last fall that was being given away, we are transforming it into a bench, which I will be posting about, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss it.  Anyway, between the leftover wood from that and some worn out lumber from around what will one day be a water feature, yet another upcoming post, we were able to piece together a border for the entire garden bed.  It’s not the prettiest, but it is pretty awesome.

Charlie Approved.

While I got started clearing the grass layer off of our garden area, my wife and kids worked on saving as much of the top soil from the clumps of grass as they could.  We worked together through the morning, stopped for lunch and finished up in the early afternoon.  Proud of our accomplishment and all with a sense of ownership in what we were doing, left my wife and I optimistic about the proposition of running a homestead one day with our boys.

The next morning, after further garden layout planning, we determined that perhaps an extension to what we did the day before would be better than a separate garden bed for the additional plants that we planned.  After the practice from the day before, we accomplished this extension with no problem and in no time, utilizing some more of our reclaimed wood.

Raking, sifting, watering, this garden bed is ready and waiting for plants and seeds the next morning.

We determined the plant companions and the most efficient way to utilize the amount of sun and the shade that the plants would cast.  We pre-placed the plants in their pots next to the garden and started digging holes.  Everyone had their chance to plant a few veggies.

All told we were able to get strawberries, lettuce, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, peas, beans and cucumbers planted, watered and mulched.  All we will still need to add is lattice for the cucumbers and beans to climb as they grow.  

We had a few extra beans, spinach and a strawberry started without any room for them.  On the property is a neat little spiral garden feature that was used to grow herbs it seems, there are a couple rosemary plants still growing on the top section of it.  We planted our extra plants in the spiral.  The rosemary was conveniently used to aid in pest control of our new garden bed as well.  By cutting a handful of 8-9” stalks and peeling off the bottom couple inches of needles before sticking them into the ground you can regenerate complete rosemary bushes.

The Victory Garden is done, a little regular care and attention and we will be feasting off of its production in no time.  The whole family is all in on it, and excited to reap the rewards.  A wonderful, sustainable, hygge, Spring, weekend, family activity. 

Wish us luck! I will let you know how it turns out.

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Contemplating Homesteading

Should This Be The New Normal?

This may sound strange, but our family has actually kind of enjoyed these last couple months on lock down.  While people all over the world are going stir crazy, protesting and just plain acting foolish, we have been slowing down and enjoying our already simple hygge-lism life.

Now don’t get me wrong, we have had to cancel a couple vacation getaways, and that is a bummer.  We planned on thoroughly taking advantage of our time in Europe by seeing all the sights to be seen.  In the meantime, there is something to be said about experiencing life, at home, with family.

We have settled into a kind of quarantine routine of sorts.  I wake up a little later than I used to, since my commute is about 15 steps.  I brew a pot of french press coffee, water the plants both inside and out and then log into work.  I wake up the boys, they eat and then join me in the classroom/office for their schooling.  After bringing coffee up to my wife, I work and teach for the rest of the morning.  By lunchtime typically all of the schooling is done.  We all eat, check on the plants and work on house projects while I bounce back and forth between work and home tasks for a few hours in the afternoon.

The “Classroom”

In the evenings we sit and talk about the day, the past, the present and the future, it’s nice.  

We have solidified our meal plan, we are saving and investing more than we would have.  Minimizing our trips to grocery stores has made us more creative in our food processes.  We have had the time to really focus on what we want, we are being more conscious of our spending, reducing our wastefulness and paying attention to our environmental impact.  We have started our garden, looked further into the plants and trees that surround us for their possible benefits and have gotten even more self reliant and sustainable than we have ever been before.

Push Pin Travel Maps

All of these things have turned our attention to homesteading.  Living sustainable and as much off grid as possible is something that we think could become a reality for us.  To be able to raise, grow and harness nearly everything that you need to feed and support our family would be a dream.  Only, it doesn’t have to be just a dream and we are in a unique and opportunistic situation to make it happen. 

Our current situation is financially beneficial and also beneficial in the aspect that we have a clearly defined timeline that we can schedule, save, research and plan too. By planning, saving and focusing on what we want now, we will be able to hit the ground running, as they say when the time comes, also as they say.  I also have a job that offers multiple location possibilities that I can take advantage of while we get a sustainable homestead established.

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Covid-19 is a horrible pandemic, and has been devastating worldwide.  Self-isolation on the other hand has had eye opening benefits for families and offered the chance for connections and realizations that were never even imagined before.  While everyone is pining for the chance to run back out and return back to the old normal.  We are looking at what could be the new normal for us, ready to stay in, be self sufficient and sustainable for the long term.

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