Friday, July 20, 2012

Gone Fishing

Time for a break.  (I know for most of you following me, it seems I'm always on a break from the blog).  After a fun productive spring, and an exhaustive June (the 2nd hottest on record), I will be taking a much needed hiatus for the remainder of the summer.  I'll be back on line after Sep01 with a new look and a lot of great info.
Thanks to all of you for your support.
Happy gardening!
- Vynnie

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

What Do Do Wednesday - Start Composting

It's that time of year.  Well, actually, it's always that time of year.  Time to start composting

I won't go into all the reasons why composting is good for you, and why composting is good for the earth, and why you're mother should have told you about composting.  I'll get into all that some other time.  For now, let's just dive into the nitty-gritty.  You wanna compost, here's how:
Just start.  It's gonna be a bit messy.  It's gonna be a bit hard.  It's gonna take work.  You will find your rhythm and create a good system and really like doing it.  But first, you have to just start. 
Step #1: You need stuff.  Grass clippings, leaves, hedge trimmings, yard stuff.  This is the base material.  If you can get yard waste, you have the goods.  Don't have lawn?  You can find bags of it curbside on garbage day.  (Later, I'll show what else can go in the compost). 
Step #2: Make a pile.  It can be on concrete, on the dirt, on grass, or directly in the garden.  A pile is the basic form of composting.  Even if you use a composter, it's just a container with a pile of stuff in it. 
Step #3: Stir the pile. This is not to be confused with 'turning the pile'.  All you really need to do is mix it up.  A little on one side, a little on the other side, a bit in the middle, and in thirty seconds, done.  This should be done a couple days a week.
Step #4: Water it.  After you stir the pile, turn on the hose, use your thumb, count to twenty, done.  Do this a couple days a week. 
Step #5: Repeat Step #3 & #4.  Do this as often as possible (about 3 days a week is ideal) and within 3-4 months, good compost will be ready to use.  The more you stir and water, the sooner your compost will be done. 
(Finished compost 3 ways - Raw, Sifted, Fine Sifted)
What you will need to compost:
Space - A compost pile will be about 3-4'feet wide and 2-3'feet high, and you need room for it.  The pile will grow, and then shrink as you begin to use it.  And stuff will spill, spread and go all over.  Make sure it won't be all over the lawn mower and the bikes.
Composting container - This can be a wood frame system, a tumbler, a static bin, a city provided bin, chicken wire frame, even an old cardboard box.  This is the tidy alternative to a pile.  It may cost money, or a bit of effort to build and/or acquire, but try what will work for you.  I recommend having at least two container systems.
Tools - Something sturdy and reliable to help stir your compost.  A spade shovel is good .  A metal rod is even better.  Typically made of rebar (about 4'ft long), this can be purchased at a hardware store or home improvement center.  Standard shovel will work, as well as a pitchfork, or garden hoe.  Even one of those fancy-schmancy aerator corkscrew tools will do the job.   As long as you have something that will move your compost material around, it's a start.  Oh, don't forget the broom.  You're gonna need it, a lot. 
Water - Without water, composting will likely not happen.  The closer the compost is to a hose source, the better.  Just one less obstacle to manage.  If it's a hassle, you probably won't bother.
Lastly, you need a place to use your compost, like a garden!  Once you start composting, it's only a matter of months when you'll be able to start using it, so be ready. Whether planting in ground or in a raised planter, compost is the magic ingredient.
(Raised beds at Xericopia full of good ol' compost soil and happy plants!)
What else can be added into the compost...(you asked for it)
Happy Composting!

Friday, March 02, 2012

Friday Feature - First Friday!

Are you ready for the weekend?  It's going to be a great time to enjoy the night out.  Why not do something adventurous and check out First Friday.  This is the premiere artwalk in the state, and is actually one of the biggest in the country.
Roosevelt Row is the main hub for what's happening downtown, just south of I-10 off 3rd Street.  The scene is so full of energy, they sometime close off a few blocks just for foot traffic (and a bevy of street performers).  The cornerstone of it all is MADE Art Boutique, one of my favorite places to buy cool, funky books and jewelry.  Here, you can find out about what's happening, where to go, and you might even see someone you know.   

And from there, the fun just spills down the block and around the corner, with JoBot Coffee, Lost Leaf Cafe, Modified ArtSpace, Tammy Coe Cakes, and more.   Feeling hungry?  Your nose will do the walking toward the always awesome Food Truck garden.  Don't feel left out, you gardener types.  You have to go see GrowOp, a great little shop with vintage/found goods and fashion.  Oh, did I forget to mention the entire exterior space is brimming with veggies- along the sidewalk!
If you don't want to venture to far downtown, stay uptown and peep Practical Art, on Central Ave just north of Camelback.  Loads of amazing artisan wares and works of art.  The staff is nice to look at too (Love you guys!).  You can take a stroll for more cool vibes at Frances Vintage where you may not find what you need, but you'll definately find something you want; Stinkweeds music shop where vinyl still lives; and Windsor, and Postino for some fine comfort dining. 
Click here for more details on First Friday.  Now get out and support your local community!
(Cool things you see only at Phoenix First Friday)