In praise of the Envirocycle Composter-Update

UPDATE- The universe has semi-answered my prayers. I must thank friend and sometimes reader of the blog Shawn for giving me his unused rotating composter. It sits next to the composter I bought. It’s sturdy and I look forward to turning it into a turny worm paradise.

_______original post below________

Sometimes you never know what you had until it is long gone and you can never get it back. That is how I feel about my-no-longer-mine Envirocycle composter.

Taking another break from the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle, again. Face it, it’s long and tedious. Also rewarding. Anyway..

When I first moved to Truxton Circle, a co-worker (now department head) gave me his composter. He and his partner had no use for it. They lived a couple of miles where I live now in the Maryland suburbs. He was nice enough to throw it in the back of his truck and deliver it to my Truxton Circle home.

I dumped my old plants in it. I dumped some cherry tomatoes from a house warming party in it. That resulted in having accidental cherry tomatoes growing in the front yard. I put shredded paper from shredded documents in it.

I took earthworms found on the concrete patio in it. At another point I bought some earthworms in the mail and put them in. This resulted in the great worm escape on an unusually hot day where worms were oozing out of the slits en masse. It was a sight.

I used the compost tea and the compost for my container garden. I also donated compost for one of the sidewalk trees Brian and crew placed on 4th St. It was a lovely thing to have.

Did it stink? On occasion, when I failed to balance the ‘greens’ and the ‘browns’. The greens were the romaine lettuce butts, egg shells, whole avocados gone bad, remaining parts of avocados gone good, and all the raw veggies that were composting in the refrigerator. I’ll also include tea bags, loose tea, and lots of coffee grounds from nearby coffee shops, when the neighborhood starting having coffee shops.

The browns were the shredded papers, dryer lint, and maybe the odd batch of leaves.

I took it for granted.

When we decided to sell our Truxton Circle home I had to find a new home for the composter. By this time, 19 years had passed and around year 17-18 some urban wildlife tore a hole in the side.

I suspect it was the big bag of fruit I threw in there.

I put the composter on Freecycle, with pics of the hole, and a fellow with a pick up truck picked it up and took it away.

Fast forward 1 year.

I was in my new suburban home and getting tired of putting food scraps down the garbage disposal drain or in the trash. The place where we moved has a composting program, however, I wanted to get back into gardening, and I want my own compost, where I know what’s in the compost.

So I went looking for a new Envirocycle and holy heck those suckers are $500! I could buy similar tumbling composters and I really don’t need the feature that made it great for my urban back patio, the system that captured the compost tea and kept it from staining the concrete.  But I really like the door for the composter. I like that all I had to do was turn the composter, no lever or having (but I did) to go in and turn the compost myself.

I don’t really like the new style of Envirocycle. The old model had several little slits, and this new one just has a vent at the top. I guess that would prevent the hole problem I experienced.

Since I’m not paying $500, I bought a $80 stationary composter. It’s eh. I’m just happy I’m not throwing perfectly good scraps away. I might break down and buy a tumbler. I just don’t see one that I like for a price that makes sense to me.

I miss my old Envirocycle. I guess you really can’t appreciate what you had until it is gone.

 

In praise of the Envirocycle Composter

Sometimes you never know what you had until it is long gone and you can never get it back. That is how I feel about my-no-longer-mine Envirocycle composter.

Taking another break from the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle, again. Face it, it’s long and tedious. Also rewarding. Anyway..

When I first moved to Truxton Circle, a co-worker (now department head) gave me his composter. He and his partner had no use for it. They lived a couple of miles where I live now in the Maryland suburbs. He was nice enough to throw it in the back of his truck and deliver it to my Truxton Circle home.

I dumped my old plants in it. I dumped some cherry tomatoes from a house warming party in it. That resulted in having accidental cherry tomatoes growing in the front yard. I put shredded paper from shredded documents in it.

I took earthworms found on the concrete patio in it. At another point I bought some earthworms in the mail and put them in. This resulted in the great worm escape on an unusually hot day where worms were oozing out of the slits en masse. It was a sight.

I used the compost tea and the compost for my container garden. I also donated compost for one of the sidewalk trees Brian and crew placed on 4th St. It was a lovely thing to have.

Did it stink? On occasion, when I failed to balance the ‘greens’ and the ‘browns’. The greens were the romaine lettuce butts, egg shells, whole avocados gone bad, remaining parts of avocados gone good, and all the raw veggies that were composting in the refrigerator. I’ll also include tea bags, loose tea, and lots of coffee grounds from nearby coffee shops, when the neighborhood starting having coffee shops.

The browns were the shredded papers, dryer lint, and maybe the odd batch of leaves.

I took it for granted.

When we decided to sell our Truxton Circle home I had to find a new home for the composter. By this time, 19 years had passed and around year 17-18 some urban wildlife tore a hole in the side.

I suspect it was the big bag of fruit I threw in there.

I put the composter on Freecycle, with pics of the hole, and a fellow with a pick up truck picked it up and took it away.

Fast forward 1 year.

I was in my new suburban home and getting tired of putting food scraps down the garbage disposal drain or in the trash. The place where we moved has a composting program, however, I wanted to get back into gardening, and I want my own compost, where I know what’s in the compost.

So I went looking for a new Envirocycle and holy heck those suckers are $500! I could buy similar tumbling composters and I really don’t need the feature that made it great for my urban back patio, the system that captured the compost tea and kept it from staining the concrete.  But I really like the door for the composter. I like that all I had to do was turn the composter, no lever or having (but I did) to go in and turn the compost myself.

I don’t really like the new style of Envirocycle. The old model had several little slits, and this new one just has a vent at the top. I guess that would prevent the hole problem I experienced.

Since I’m not paying $500, I bought a $80 stationary composter. It’s eh. I’m just happy I’m not throwing perfectly good scraps away. I might break down and buy a tumbler. I just don’t see one that I like for a price that makes sense to me.

I miss my old Envirocycle. I guess you really can’t appreciate what you had until it is gone.

 

Flower Power 2010- Call for volunteers

Help!
The Bates Area Civic Association will be having another Flower Power Walk this year and well people are needed. Hopefully the walk will take place on a Saturday in late June, so what will be needed are people to volunteer to give tours. Before that can occur volunteers will be needed to get the word out, help with signage (producing) and volunteering to host a sign. If this interests you contact Flower Power at bacaflowerpower at gmail period com or me.
Related to neighborhood beautification, BACA is planning on having a big spruce up on May 1st. The last clean up I was able to make a dent in the trash in my alley. I picked up a big yellow bag at the start location, went back to my street, then hit the alley, and dropped it off at one of the trash drop off points.
But once again, I really need help with the Flower Power walk so please, if you can volunteer for one or more things, drop a line.

Lasty, I’m going to be migrating this blog over to another URL this week. There might be several “This blog has moved” posts. Ignore them until I post something at length stating the new URL (hopefully will be blog.inshaw.com) before updating your RSS feed.

I really need to get my garden in gear


Patio tomato
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

Last year I was chomping at the bit for Spring to come so I could start planting seeds and planning my garden. This year with various things going on, such as the short notice roommate, bf, and some stuff I’ll just shove under ‘financial’ the desire is not at the same level. Also I mentioned to friends and neighbors that I’m not going to plant as many tomatoes as I did last year. At the end of the season I had a several tomatoes that rotted on the vine simply because I didn’t know they were there. I was concentrating too much on the tomatoes the squirrels ran off with.
I know I’m going to do arugula, alpine strawberries, tarragon, sage, thyme, onions, and cilantro. Mainly because those items have either re-sprouted or reseeded themselves without any help from me. And I still have some leftover seed from last year and it seems tomato seed lasts a year or more. I’ll have to see if the same can be said about cucumber and hot pepper. I collected seed from my beets and will give those a go. So the only new seed I may buy is basil and parsley.
I also decided on a different use for the garden, as a supplement rather than a main source. I love puttering in my garden but last year I overdid it. Also I want to support the local farms and buy their produce, so that is another reason to cut back. Yet I do love having food growing in the back yard so I can quickly grab a little thyme for this or a few beans for that. I can’t wait till the BFM opens up again, anyone heard anything about it?
Still, I need to get rid of some pots, take some cuttings from the bay laurel and sell off the main tree, and start some seedlings.

Shaw Homestead Report


Front Yard Garden
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

No, that’s not my yard, but the amazing front yard garden on 8th Street near the Giant. Comparatively, my yard is sort of disappointing. The tomatoes are just plants. A few sport some small green globes. So far I’m doing very well with arugula and I’ve been giving away the salad to friends and neighbors. Another salad item I’ve got going gangbusters in the yard is purslane. I saw it at the Mexican Fruit Stand and found out it is called ‘Verdolagas’. But no need to buy it as I have tons of it. I just have to avoid steeping on it, and the arugula.
I also have growing cucumbers, beans, sage and a bunch of other herbs. The cukes are weird. I bought a particular variety of cucumber that formed softly furred baby cukes. The other plant (I swear from the same seed) has fruit with hard spikes.
I, like many it appears, have started experiementing with canning. My excuse is, I’m running out of room in my freezer and would like to remove the things that can be canned. I ordered a hot water canning kit from the 5th Street Hardware Store, then went back later to pick up the last set of 1/2 pint canning jars they had on the shelf. I’m hoping that if and when my tomatoes do come, I can can them. So far I’ve canned a banana rum jam and some peaches from a neighbor’s yard. I’m still looking at the jars carefully to make sure I did it right. 72 hours and so far so good. I would can the cherries, but my favorite form of preservation is to soak them in vodka. I’m trying to see if the drunken cherries are somewhat shelf stable. Problem is I keep eating them.
Speaking of canning there are a few articles in today’s Post’s Food Section. One on 14th & U and Bloomingdale farmer’s market vendor, Stefano Figerio. Stefano’s pastas are taking up space in my freezer, which is why I must can.
And some dissappointing news about food, organic isn’t as organic as we’d like. And if you really want to depress yourself (or not, depends on you) here’s a big ole organic agri-business chart. Last word, which makes this mess so sad, I was overhearing a conversation between a shopper and one of the farmers at the farmer’s market. She wanted to know if the veggies were organic. The farmer tried explaining that he couldn’t use that word “organic” because of the USDA rules and what not, but yes, no pesticides or unnatural fertilizers.

Arugula blossoms

Over at Apartment Therapy’s Kitchn they have found a use for flowers from bolting arugula. I got tons of bolting flowering arugula. Unfortunately, all that bolting arugula looks kinda weedy to the untrained eye. I know this because young men came to my door offering their services to pull out all those ‘weeds’. Not the first time someone has done that.
I am trying to collect seed from these bolting plants so I don’t have to keep buying seed. When the seed pods have dried, I’ll pull up the plants and restart my salad days again.

BACA Clean up May 9th & Flower Power Walk 6/13

Okay, I got a couple of BACA Flower Power tickets to sell. Flower Power is the Bates Area Civic Association garden walk, and this year it is going to be on June 13th. It is a good opportunity to look at others yards, see what grows well around here and steal ideas. The tickets are $10 and I take PayPal. Money goes to fund other BACA beautification projects.
Also this weekend as a part of the build up for Flower Power is a BACA clean up, with a focus on tree boxes. May 9th between 9 and 11 or noon, at the corner of 1st and P, neighbors will be gathering together to spruce up the area. It is suggested that you bring your own tools and keep them in your sights.

In 60-70 days I should have tomatoes

Containers &In ground I look at this picture to remind myself that in a few months my front yard will b overrun by greenery, and I will leave some tomatoes to rot on the vine because there is no way I’m going to reach back in there and retrieve them.
Anyway, I’m now actually trying to use up the tomato pastes and sauces I made with last year’s tomatoes to make room for this year’s tomatoes. I look forward to the little cherry, the flavorful paste and the plain old tomatoes. Right now they are seedlings that aren’t sure if they want to live or die. If the little baby plants decide to commit suicide, I’ll buy plants at a farmer’s market (Bloomingdale starts May 18th) or Home Despot.

More Tomato Posting

I got an email from a marketing company and after some light investigation figured it was worth passing on to y’all.

For the first time in its more-than-100-year history, Campbell Soup Company is making available to the American public specially cultivated seeds used to grow tomatoes for its iconic Campbell’s® Tomato soup. The effort is part of Campbell’s goal to grow more than one billion tomatoes across the country and to support American agriculture. Campbell also is teaming up with the National FFA Organization and Urban Farming Inc., each of which will use the special seeds to help create five community gardens in urban communities.
To learn more about this please to go http://akamediainc.com/SMNR/tomatoseed.html

Campbell’s on their own site appears to be giving away seed with the purchase of soup. At “Help Grow Your Soup” you can click and donate seeds to their project and get your own seeds.
I already bought all the tomato seeds I’m going to use this year. I tried a new to me seed company “Totally Tomatoes” to get indeterminate and determinate tomatoes. Indeterminate just go all over, determinate tomatoes like the balcony hybrids, are a bit more bush like. Totally Tomato had more of a choice with the determinants.

Other Seed Sources of Interest:
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange– Virginia based and mid-Atlantic focused.
Pinetree Garden Seeds– Smaller packets of seeds. Seems a bit cheaper than some other suppliers.
Cooks Garden– My personal gardening rule is if I can’t eat it, I don’t need it. This is a seed supplier who factors in taste.
Nichol’s Garden Nursery– She wrote the book on container gardening and I bought seeds from her site.