November 25, 2012

What to Buy, What to Buy- The Green Gift List

Thanksgiving is over, and its time to talk gift-giving!

If you have a worm lover, an organic gardener, or just an earth-friendly tree hugger on your list, this one's for you. I've poked around Amazon to find some of the most interesting, eco-positive purchases you can make for your loved ones this holiday season.

Besides being interesting and eco-friendly, my only other requirements were that the product be rated four stars or higher and be under $50.

Let's get started!

Fun in the Sun

Frostfire 16 Bright LED Wireless Solar Powered Motion Sensor Light (Weatherproof, no batteries required)
Everyone has that one side of the house that could use some extra lighting. This waterproof and heatproof solar motion light is perfect, and is guaranteed to last five years. Super simple and sleek design, too!

Taking a Ride

Eco Touch GPK110 Interior Car Care Kit Mini Pack
Guys can be difficult to buy for, but this handy dandy little kit for cleaning the car interior the green way is a great pick. It fits right in the glove compartment, and comes with mini-versions of Eco-Touch's window, leather, upholstery, dashboard, and all-purpose cleaners.

Veggies and Herbs Contained

EarthBox 1010002 Garden Kit, Terra Cotta
If you are buying for someone that used to be a gardener but now has limited space, the EarthBox will let them enjoy their old hobby in a fool-proof, space-saving way. They can pick their seeds and cultivate away in the reusable container.

Protect those Plants

Flower House FHSD100 SeedHouse Seed Starter
For people needing to protect plants from less than perfect weather, the Flower House will provide year after year of portable pop-up protection! Great air circulation, a light diffusing fabric, and the ability to extend the growing season make this a favorite of reviewers.

Worm Game!

Bamboo Collection Rapelli
Kids 4+ can roll the dice and try to pull their worms out of the bamboo stand first. Not only will the game help kids learn to strategize, it's also made from super earth-friendly bamboo.

Pick Up Day

Green Toys Recycling Truck
A recycling truck made from recycled materials to teach recycling to kids 1+. What else could be better?!

Oldie But Goodie!

Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System

If you have anyone on your gift list thinking of starting a worm bin, this will be their vermicomposting Bible! Start them off on the right foot by getting them the newly revised version of this super-scientific, instruction-packed reference book for new wormers.

You can find lots more ideas at Amazon Green.

Have a great earth-friendly gift idea or suggestion? Please share, and happy holiday shopping!

November 19, 2012

Pre-Thanksgiving Trash Pickup & Handy Bag Holder

Trash pickup time! I couldn't stand the garbage accumulating on my favorite country road, so I headed out to remedy the situation this weekend.

First, I finally got around to constructing (read: having my husband construct) the handy bag holder I mentioned in an earlier post.

For comparison purposes, here's the one featured on Thrifty Fun:
Make Your Own Bag Holder

And here's the version I/we created at home:

do it yourself garbage bag holder
Some notable differences between the two:

     -Rather than purchasing an aluminum rod (which the Home Depot associate seemed to deny existed, but then wanted an in-depth summary of the project), we just ended up using some copper pipe we had in the garage left over from the plumbing when our house was built.
     -Instead of rubber tubing to soften the grip of the handle, we used some flexible PVC we had remaining from the garden fencing we constructed in the spring.

I have to reiterate to everyone traveling this route and any other that tosses their stuff out the window- WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?! Wherever you have been, there is a garbage can. Wherever you are going, there is a garbage can. THROW YOUR GARBAGE IN IT. Ugh!

I covered less than a mile and gathered 8 bags of garbage:trash pickup map

Just so local residents are aware, the Vodka Bandit is still on the loose, throwing half gallon empty bottles stuffed into plastic bags at regular intervals along the road.  I picked up a minimum of 25 this time!

Other interesting items:

-Beyonce CD, but I've learned my lesson on this one.. once upon a time I stuck a CD I found on a walk into my old car and it got stuck, volume up, and the radio would not turn off even when I turned off the car. I had to drive to Best Buy and have them disconnect the battery to get the dang thing to stop and eject. Never again!  Goodbye, Beyonce!

-Endless amounts of Halloween candy wrappers. Parents or kids? Who knows, but favorites are Snickers and Reese's.

-More Turner's Iced Tea cartons than one person could comfortably drink in two and a half months. Clearly there are multiple culprits.

Hopefully, this pick up lasts until after the holidays!

Just one more gory, post-Halloween update from the bin....whoa...
worm wigwam spooky pumpkins
And, of course, the pumpkin seeds I couldn't remove have sprouted in full force:
worm wigwam sprouting seeds

Closer, closer, closer:
worm wigwam sprouting seeds
Coming soon: gift recommendations for beginner worm farmers and new organic gardeners- 'tis the season!

Related Posts & Links:
Labor Day Local Trash Pickup
Thrifty Fun "Make Your Own Bag Holder"
Post-Halloween in the Worm Wigwam
How Do The Pumpkins Grow?

Featured Products & Services:

November 11, 2012

Pictures to Make You Squirm

As promised, I snapped a few super-freaky update photos from the jack-o-lantern drop-off in the Worm Wigwam.

The pumpkin that was left peeping out after I buried them all last weekend had some snow accumulation...
moldy pumpkin
Or was it....ewwwwww....mold?!?

You probably want a closer look.
moldy pumpkin
I've never seen this type of mold before in my bin, but a quick Google search told me it's probably sclerotinia sclerotiorum, "the most nonspecific, omnivorous, and successful of plant pathogens"- according to a reference compiled from the University of Hawaii

There is plenty of time for the worms to gobble that up and push it out before planting season next year, which is good because I don't need any omnivorous pathogens making my organic gardening life any more difficult.

That's the great thing about worms- they are able to take all sorts of disgusting, moldy, rotting things and turn them into fantastic organic plant food. In Australia, there are even giant industrial worm farms designed to process sewage and water waste. You can read a great set of FAQs about these systems at A&A Wormfarm Waste Systems.

Back to the bin! The pumpkins got unusually soft and mushy this time around, so I don't think I'll have any skins/shells to pick out fortunately.

I say fortunately because when I dug around through the bin, it was exceptionally squirmy this year!

pumpkins in the worm wigwam

Double ewww! Even for a seasoned worm farmer like me, that is a LOT of worms!

You probably want a closer look.
pumpkins in the worm wigwam
One peek was enough- I am not anxious to go scooping through there again to pull out any shells. Every single pumpkin had giant masses of worms similar to that one.

At this rate, I expect the pumpkins to last another 1-2 weeks before they are completely gone.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and guess who's hosting dinner this year? THIS GIRL. With my novice cooking skills, the worms will probably be the most thankful about that.

Related Posts & Links:
Post Halloween in the Wigwam
Pumpkin Shell Discovery
NPR:Fermentation: When Food Goes Bad But Stays Good
A&A Worm Farm Waste Systems

Featured Products & Supplies:

November 4, 2012

Post-Halloween in the Worm Wigwam

With Hurricane Sandy causing some turmoil with Trick-or-Treating times in my township, we held off on pumpkin carving until yesterday.

Halloween is kind of like Christmas for the worms, as they absolutely ADORE eating the pumpkin guts and left over jack-o-lanterns. 

So here's how this year played out...

First, I was determined to create a more efficient pumpkin-carving station on our bar:
pumpkin carving
The first clear bowl was for the seedless pumpkin parts to be dumped into the Wigwam.

The second red bowl was filled with hot water to put the seeds still attached to pulp, so they'd separate easier.

The third yellow bowl had melted butter, soy sauce, and salt for the clean seeds to soak in before they were baked into a delish snack.

Funny side note- the hubby has a weird allergy to pumpkin seeds which I have to remind him of every year. He gets an upset stomach, turns real red, and gets overheated. I'm fine with them, so more for me!

The clear worm bowl eventually looked like this, with a few seeds slipping in:
pumpkin guts
 The finished jack-o-lanterns, pre-trick-or-treating:
pumpkin carving
The Wigwam has been hopping lately, especially with the addition of the end of garden season funky vegetables. As I opened it to snap this pic, there were worms squirming all over in a composting frenzy:
worm wigwam
 Happy Halloween, wormies!
pumpkins in the worm wigwam
Although it would be great if the worms just jumped into action with the pumpkins above the surface, they prefer their food be buried (and I prefer to be fruit-fly-less).

The last step was to cover what I could so they could enjoy their feast:
pumpkins in worm wigwam
On one of my last posts, someone had commented this would go a lot easier if I mushed up the pumpkins- and I agree...BUT this way is so much more fun!

Stay tuned this week for some super freaky update pics!

Related Posts & Links:
Useful Jack-O-Lanterns
How Do the Pumpkins Grow?
Pumpkin Shell Discovery
Pumpkin Flavored Whaaaaat?

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