Compost – The Dirty Truth

by Rebecca Simpson on July 25, 2017

Compost and me – we be mates.  It truly is Nature’s “Black Gold”.

In my evolving love affair with compost, we’ve had our ups and downs.  I’ve done everything from actively hot composting wagon loads of material to barely being able to get my own coffee grounds onto the pile.  A lot depends on my work schedule, and because I’ve been working full time, I’ve had to trim down how and what I compost to make the process fast, efficient, and most of all, sustainable.  Here’s the dirty truth about what I’ve learned.

  • Keep it simple. If all you can compost that day is an orange peel, that’s ok.  Better something than nothing.
  • Bugs love giant piles of compost.  This includes crickets, cockroaches, and fruit flies. Not necessarily a bad thing (they become wild bird food), but if you have a big pile, put it away from the house so you don’t get visitors.
  • Grass clippings smell.  Even when mixed up well, expect a good 24 hrs. of nitrogen-ish aroma.  Again, put your pile away from the house (and downwind from your husband’s open bedroom window).
  • Horse poop smells too.  Not as bad as you might think, but a whiff every now and again will find you in the first week.  Still worth it.
  • Don’t put sticks and vines in your compost, unless you want the compost coming back out that way.  They take too long to break down and make the texture a pain to deal with.  Unless you chop them up, I usually don’t add them.
  • Let the wind help.  I don’t know about you, but the wind blows leaves and dirt up against my chain link fence.  I used to get mad, until I realized this was the best type of material there was for compost.  Crumbled dry leaves mixed with dust and soil – perfect. Sweep it up, toss it in.
  • Be nice to yourself.  I used to get guilty if I didn’t compost EVERYTHING that came from the yard.  But that is unrealistic given today’s life circumstances.  So I do the best I can, and let go of the guilt.  All that is important is I am still going.

There is more to share but that is enough for one day.  If you have wisdom to share, I’d love you hear your comments below! Compost on!

Are Birds Eating your Fruit?

by Rebecca Simpson on July 24, 2017

July is such a lovely month at SSA.  Wander around, and you’ll find peaches, plums, apples, grapes, figs, and tomatoes, all becoming ripe.

Trouble is, every bird in the village knows this too.  So word gets out, and bird friends invite bird friends – and bird kids and bird cousins and bird neighbors  – to all come feast on the bounty.  This means that I get lots of birds eating my fruit.

Do I mind? Not at all.  I chalk it off to farming overhead and as an offering of gratitude to the birds for the joy they bring here daily.  But this doesn’t mean I don’t want some beautiful fruit left for myself.

What is the solution? As with many things, it is a compromise.  You see, the birds have all day to investigate the fruit for perfect ripeness.  They will often start a test hole on a favorite candidate, and then revisit it for many days as it progressively ripens.  They will also drink the nectar that oozes from the juicer fruits, kind of like opening up a little Nature’s Jamba Juice.

So when I am out there getting fruit for myself, I find the one the birds have already gotten, and LEAVE IT ALONE.  I take the rest for me.  I have found that if you pick the birds’ fruit in order to discourage them, you compel them to find another on which to start a test hole.  And because they probably have more time than you to watch for the best fruit, they will beat you to new fruit every time.  This leads to many holes in many fruits, and it will feel like they are eating all of your crop.

Don’t pick their fruit.  Leave it for them.  They will happily revisit the fruit they have started for many days, and leave the others unmolested for you. I practice this on every fruit tree I have (and there are over 40).  I find that the birds are happy to oblige by leaving fruit for me if I leave fruit for them as well.

See?  In a nutshell, by giving, you receive.  Isn’t Nature (and the birds) awesome teachers?

6.5 Years and Counting

July 21, 2017 Uncategorized

My how far we’ve come! Suburban Stone Age is 6.5 years old and counting.  The transformation has been unbelievable.  We started as your traditional suburban home, full lawn front and back, some shrubs, and nothing much else of interest.  Now I am fortunate enough to live in the middle of a fully functioning food forest, […]

Read the full article →

Starting Anew and You’re Invited!

July 20, 2017 Uncategorized

Good Morning, Fellow Adventurers! It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but it is time to come on home. For the last 3.5 years, I’ve been working full time in the corporate world.  Sure, it’s been great.  But I miss my farm, I miss my plants, I miss my wacky experiments, and most of all, […]

Read the full article →

Fresnel Lens – Solar Cooking will be happening at Suburban Stone Age

November 15, 2015 Fall

What do you do when you have a bum shoulder and can’t dig your pond? Why, you buy a death ray on eBay so you can melt glass and cook food, of course! Let me explain… A Fresnel lens is a thin plastic lens made of small concentric grooves on one side that focuses light […]

Read the full article →

California Drought and Greywater Usage Update

November 8, 2015 Uncategorized

I love me a hot bath more than just about anything. But as a drought-striken Californian, that is a luxury I’ve had to forego for the last few years. Last week, I sustained a significant shoulder injury.  I was so sad. Until I heal, I can’t dig ponds, build fences, clean, and lift, like I […]

Read the full article →

Siberian Husky Shedding (Blowing) Her Coat

September 16, 2015 Agricultural Age

Siberian Husky Coat Harvest As you know from previous posts, our Siberian Husky Roxy is the family sheep.  We harvest her undercoat and use it to spin yarn and weave hats and scarves.  In case you haven’t seen what it is like when a Husky blows their coat, the video below will give you a taste […]

Read the full article →

Edible Landscaping – Winter Garden Update

February 22, 2015 Agricultural Age

Winter Garden Happenings Spring is coming, here is a quick edible landscaping update on our winter garden!

Read the full article →