Look Ma, no blood

For weeks, I’ve been saying that I’m going to expand our worm composting capacity.  Tuesday, I tentatively dug out the power tools and jumped in to the project!  Given my recent experiences with [non-power] tools, I approached the drill with caution.

Would this work on Hummer tires?

After considering various possibilities, such as buying one big bin and expanding to that, I decided to use an extra not-too-big bin we had sitting around and divide into two bins.

Drill, baby, drill

Horrible caption, no?  Just couldn’t resist.

I filled the new bin (AKA bin #2) with clean bedding (torn strips of black and white newspaper) and harvested worms and compost from bin #1.

Red wigglers!

See the cute baby worm?  I put most of the worms in bin #2.  Theoretically, the population can double in 2-3 months, but that did not seem to be the case here.  My guess is that the bin was not really big enough to allow the population to increase, although the large number of baby worms proves that they were reproducing.  I hope to increase their numbers now that I doubled the total bin volume.

Bin #2 on the left, bin #1 on the right

In the four months since I started bin #1, my worms produced 7.5 pounds of beautiful, rich vermicompost.  It will be lovely for the garden — just wish we had more of it!  With two bins going, we should be able to divert even more of our vegetable scraps from the regular compost pile into the worm bins.

Bin #1, doing its thing

Wrangling the refrigerator

Sometimes I open it and nothing falls out.  Other times, I’m not so lucky.  Stuffed-to-the-gills refrigerators really stress me out, and this represents the norm when the garden produce rolls in this time of year.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the bounty, but this chaos and disorder causes my brain to go into overdrive and shut down in self-defense.  Can’t.  Focus.  Make.  It.  Stop.

I hate to waste any food, don’t want one little bit to go bad, but at this point, waste is almost inevitable.  For one thing, poor air circulation in over-full fridges creates cold spots, freezing and ruining tender veggies, like lettuce.  Then, there’s the food that just gets lost, pushed back in some deep, dark corner, only to be discovered a month later, a special science experiment, green and fuzzy, fresh from your fridge.  Sometimes this almost makes me cry — I recently discovered a  jar of really delicious, locally grown and produced salsa, that came none too cheap, still one-third full and subjected to the mold bug.  So sad and such a waste.

I try to make mental lists of what we have and prioritize use, and we generally minimize our losses.  As my husband likes to remind me, when I look in the refrigerator and my brain almost explodes, any garden goods that go bad can just go into the compost pile and feed future crops.  But then why are they taking up space in the fridge in the first place?

Deep breaths.  Count to ten.

I created this lunch around our homemade dill gravy and some leafy greens that top my current mental “use it or lose it” list.

What are your tricks for taming the refrigerator and minimizing food waste?

Bowood Farms and Cafe Osage

Last night we headed to Bowood Farms/Cafe Osage in the CWE for Green Drinks!  We drove our bicycles, despite the heat — keeping it green and all.  I enjoyed touring Bowood’s garden and learning about their history, and I chatted with some lovely people.  We toured their organic garden, where they grow some of the produce served at Cafe Osage (sadly, the lack of a dinner menu thwarted our eating plans — we’ll have to go back for lunch sometime).

Drinks in the garden at Bowood

We often skip the “drinks” aspect of Green Drinks altogether, one part frugality, one part, we just don’t drink that much.  Tonight, we broke out of the mold and ordered a blueberry martini to share.  Delicious, but at $9 + tip, I’m reminded why we don’t do this all the time!

I enjoyed the ride home at dusk, although the weather makes me wish that the World Naked Bike Ride (if you don’t want to see naked people, don’t follow the link) happened every night.  If you’re feeling shy, you can go here, for a tamer, text only description of the St. Louis WNBR.  We missed the St. Louis WNBR this past Saturday, but next year?  Be there or be square 😉

Iowa, you’re tempting me

Some recent (and ongoing) conversations at our apartment involve the future and where we see ourselves, in terms of careers and family, yes, but also WHERE, physically.  Liveability factors large into these place discussions.  Sounds simple and obvious, right?  Everyone wants to live somewhere “liveable.”  Finding that place, a bikeable/walkable community, with meaningful employment for two, affordable housing, good schools, and room for a garden provides a bit of a challenge.

Enter my home state — IOWA!  A friend sent me a link to this PBS story on Dubuque, Iowa.  Click here, or click the image below, to go to the PBS website and watch the short video.  The mayor and [some of] the people in Dubuque, really GET liveable.  This looks really good.  Anyone in Dubuque want to hire two public health professionals with knowledge of liveable communities?


Are there any animals that hibernate in summer?  If so, I want to be one of them — crawl into a dark, cool cave and not emerge until the temperature returns to somewhat sane levels (i.e., below 80-degrees).

On Friday night, we biked over to Local Harvest Cafe for dinner.  We shared their vegan Green Plate special and a bowl of chilled borscht.  Borscht is basically beet soup, which sounds weird (at least I’ve always thought so and never tried it before), but this soup was amazing!  Mmm, I could eat bowls and bowls!

After dinner, we hit up Tower Grove Park.  I morphed into a little park creature (i.e., put on my Five Fingers), and we played frisbee for awhile.  Before calling it a night, we visited our community garden bed and harvested some beets, carrots, and rutabaga.  Some of those beets are destined to become borscht!

From the time we returned home Friday night, until my 6:15am run this morning, I entered hibernation mode.  I didn’t leave the apartment, other than short jaunts to water the plants on the porch, for over forty-eight hours.  What can I say — I took the heat advisory seriously, but all good things must come to an end.

Happy summer solstice!  (But, Weather, I really don’t need 100-degree heat to convince me it’s summer.  I believe you, okay?  Can you just back off a little now?  Please???)