Tuesday, May 17, 2011

From Junque Mail to Free First Aid and Food

Like many people, we get lots of advertisement/junk mail.
It used to aggrivate me, for a number of reasons. For one thing I fell for that whole "tree killing" hype, believing junk mail was contributing to de-forestation, stealing our oxygen and the end of humankind. LOL, what malarkey.
Another reason is the concern of identity theft. Apparently people were getting their mail stolen and the thieves were opening credit card accounts from credit card offers that came in the mail, such like that.
I think alot of that kind of thing has been safeguarded at this point, but I still feel a residual spasm of nerves throwing stuff with our name/address on it in the trash.

I open the junk mail and sort through it and find alot of the papers are blank on the backside. This gives me Free Paper great for printing my Copy & Paste shopping lists and printable coupons on.

The other papers I shred and it goes into our compost (bin).

We don't have a *real* (ie. commercial) compost bin, but use wooden pallets we got free nailed together into a couple of corrals. We fill one of them up with shredded paper, yard clippings, leaves, and kitchen waste and "turn it over" into the empty one, back and forth, until the stuff "cooks down".

Some of my longer-time readers might remember last year (or the year before?) I posted about my vermi-composting, or worm composting. I had built a wooden box and filled it with shredded newspaper, leaves, grass clippings, and red wiggler worms. The worms would eat my shredded junk mail and kitchen scraps, and poop it back out as Free Potting Soil.
That worked great until that winter, and all my worms moved out through the holes drilled in the bottom of the box for drainage!

At any rate, it worked, and we decided to go with a larger composting idea. I didn't want to go out and buy a commercial plastic compost barrel or anything like that, so I got on the internet to research and see what would work for us. We liked the pallet idea, but as I was telling my son a couple days ago when he expressed interest in it, you don't really need anything but a sunny corner of your yard. (I say a sunny corner, but ours really isn't in the sun that much and it still works.)
Just pick a corner or area somewhere out of the way and start piling up grass clippings, leaves, pruned shrubbery, etc. You can add torn up newspaper, shredded paper, kitchen scraps like egg shells, coffee grounds/filter, tea bags, fresh fruits and veggies peels/scraps (anything except meat/dairy stuff), and even old cotton clothing like blue jeans and tshirts can be composted (so I've read, but never have thrown clothing in mine). 
Every so often, maybe when the season changes, or after a couple of rains, use a shovel or pitchfork and turn the pile over so it can "cook down" right.

Unlike my vermi-compost box where I had to add the worms, in this compost on the ground idea, the worms move into it by themselves. So in addition to getting organic soil, you get a free supply of fishing bait, too.

I got this Aloe plant couple years ago as a little baby plant. I re-potted it in some of the soil from our compost bin, and it has more than quadrupled it's size.
My Grannie always had Aloe growing out beside her house, and would go out and break off an arm to use if someone got a burn or sunburn or skin troubles like dry skin or a rash. Heat rash is pretty prevalent here in the South and Aloe is soothing for it.

And I mentioned free fish bait? My husband and son caught these in a local creek/river this past Saturday afternoon using worms they dug out of one of our compost piles.

They made for a delicious meal slow-smoked on the grill:

With the economy in the shape it's in these days, people are going to have to start cutting back, and learn to do with less.
My husband still has his job, but hasn't gotten a raise in four years. With the gas prices going up, food costs increasing and our insurance benefits decreasing, our income doesn't go as far as it used to. So every bit we save by making, creating, growing our own things helps to get us what we need and still be able to pay our bills.

Although I do throw my newspaper/magazines/plastics/glass/etc into the recycle bins, mostly just because it's easy and convenient for us to do, I'm not a die-hard "Greenie" or tree-hugger or whatever. I like my creature comforts and don't worry over-much if whatever I'm eating is organic or sprayed/injected with poisonous hormones and such.
But my veins are infused with a whole lot of thifty Scots blood, and it tickles me purple (pink's not a good color for me with my orange hair) anytime I can save a penny. Hence, my enjoyment of coupon/deal shopping.

My Native American blood thrills at the sense of accomplishment when I'm able to make/create/grow/nuture things.

When I was younger I didn't care much about that kind of thing, I was all about convenience. Buy it already made, throw the leftovers in the trash. Easy, and done.

Now I'm teaching my kids, and I encourage everyone to try to look back to the old ways and learn to re-use stuff, and how to grow stuff to eat or for health benefits. 

Although I spent alot of summers on my great-grandparents' farms when I was little, I didn't learn much about farming, raising a garden or much like that. So when I decided I wanted to learn - same as when I wanted to learn about couponing - I went to the internet and searched and read and started small. (I also ask my parents and older relatives alot of questions.)

The first year I wanted to try to grow a garden, I completely failed. I only planted a few of each kind of plant, just to see if I could get anything to grow. I think I actually grew three Okra and half a Cantaloupe (not half as in one side, half as in it grew to about the size of an orange, then disappeared. I guess an animal ate it?).
The next year I decided to only go with one vegetable, and planted three rows of corn. It wasn't a bumper crop, but I ended up with enough corn on the cob to put in the freezer!  I was so excited, and it felt great that I was able to do that.
The year after that we only raised tomatoes, and they did really good. I also learned how to "can" them that year, for use in chili and homemade vegetable soup during the winter.

After the tomatoes, my husband got interested and now he's the big time gardener in the family. To hear him brag about the stuff he grows, you'd think he invented vegetables, LOL!

It doesn't matter if you live in an aparment or a trailer park or on 3 foot of property, you can compost and grow stuff in a very small space, or even in your kitchen.

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