Trench and Worm Composting

I have not been gardening long; maybe 4 years.  My paternal grandfather was a gardener, and I always loved his massive backyard with trees and plants always growing! Mine started out as some herbs, grew to a container garden and now I’ve done in-ground gardening (keeping herbs in containers).  To start, it can be expensive, especially if you have sand for dirt like we do.  I only bought seeds and dirt (A LOT OF DIRT) and the wood for the beds you see in the pictures below was picked up from someone’s curb that they were throwing away.  Yes, I am one of those people that sees potential in some of the things people throw away, and NO, I am not a hoarder!  If I don’t use it in ample time, I will throw it away or have a garage sale and sell it after fixing it up.  One man’s trash is another man’s garden bed barrier.

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My new project has been composting.  Anything to avoid having a trash full of garbage attracting bugs.  We try to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible.  We only go through one trash bag a week, and I’d like to keep decreasing the output. As lucky as we are to live in an age where we can look anything up on the internet and try it, composting has been like my many tried and failed attempts at making peppermint oil…no two people do it the same!  I decided to still try.  My mother-in-law found an article of different ways to compost without purchasing a $100 bin.  I am now trying trench composting.  I knew when composting the ratio is 4:1 for all the kitchen scraps and live matter, you need 4x more dead organic matter. I had raked leaves into a giant pile and decided to use what I had.  Low and behold, as I started shoveling some of the leaves, I found earthworms everywhere!   Most people use red wiggler worms.  They are usually the most efficient at breaking everything down.  The red wigglers are the ones on the top in the graphic below; the ones in our yard are the ones at the bottom.

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The ones at the bottom of the picture break the compost down and reproduce at a slower rate, but I didn’t have an insane amount of compost material to begin with.  I dug two trenches along the long sides in a bed I already used.  I filled it with kitchen scraps like eggshells, coffee grinds, lemon peels, banana peels and other vegetable and fruit scraps.  I then shoveled some dead leaves and more nutritious dirt, ensuring I got enough worms in there, covered it with the rest of the soil I had and let it sit.  I started sifting it every few days, which is the only time you smell it, but then I read the trenching method still aerates enough so you don’t have to do that!  I still plan on planting more lettuce in between the trenches and adopting a new method from now on, which is putting some scraps in a little at a time around the edges of the bed along with some dead leaves and a worm! 

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DIY and Montessori: The best of both worlds!

I love the Montessori program.  For one, my auto-correct tries to change it to “Nontraditional,” which I love.  The main reason I love it is because if this program was around for me, I think I would have done better in school.  Even though the education system in this country surrounds testing, originally understanding the material can help, whether your learning style is condusive to testing or not.  For those not familiar, the main principles are Independence, Observation, Following the Child, Correcting the Child, Prepared Environment and Absorbent Mind.  This is a great go-to website that goes in depth into what each of those entail and the basics of what to expect from each stage of your child’s young life.  http://www.dailymontessori.com/montessori-theory/

I want Therese to go to a Montessori school eventually, but it is never too early to start doing activities that fall under that.  Not only is it easier than you think, it is fun to come up with!  I am big on DIY projects, because it falls under Reduce, Reuse and Recycle AND it saves you from buying new toys. Plus, it is fun to put together!  All the activities are big on motor skills.  The first thing I put together was a container with a slit in the top to put money in.  I recycled an old oatmeal container with the lid.  I had her color a piece of construction paper to cover the container.  I slit a hole in the top, cleaned coins and she LOVES this thing!  Today, I finally emptied another container so I can make the hole smaller and more challenging.

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This past weekend, I finished a more elaborate one.  I used recycled cans that I painted different colors.  I also used hot glue to buffer the tops of any metal that might cut her.  There was only a tiny bit on each, but I did a ring around it just to be safe.I found little toys around the house for each color to use.  At first, you introduce the toy/activity and let them play.  I just set it on the floor, did each color to show her and then left it alone.  After they get acquainted, you can start helping them separate by color more.  I have started just doing one color at a time, and then we’ll work up to all at once.  The last step is observing, but letting them do it themselves.  She is at that stage with the coin and container activity, but not quite with this.  She’ll get it!

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After:

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Pinterest, as always, is a great resources for making these activities.  I didn’t find this exact one, I just found ideas and made it my own!