Friday, January 14, 2011

Right tool for the job

So this week has been interesting. Huge dump of snow early on paralyzed us "wet-coasters" so we had a snow day on Wednesday. Took some time to read Leading Change by John Kotter. He emphasizes a few things that are so important in working through organizational change, but communication and leading by example are my personal mantras. This blog and our 52 week pledge towards better self-sufficiency fulfills both of those for me personally and gives me thinking time on how to better do it professionally.

Being snow-bound, and frankly a bit lazy, I didn't plan a lot for the week but one project needed to be done. I needed a compost pile. Having separated out kitchen food scraps from other garbage for a couple weeks now, the old ice cream bucket under the sink was full and starting to smell. The weather provided ample excuses for not getting to this task sooner but I wanted to stall off the compost walking outside by itself.  The bin just had to be done.

I have had compost piles in the past. Usually elaborate affairs with three sections so that you can turn one section into another to keep the compost cooking and giving yourself a progressively more decomposed pile. Well, my elbows just can't take that kind of strain anymore. Years of hauling firewood for heating has left me with tendonitis that flairs up if I barely think of digging or carrying. I wish I could claim it was tennis elbow but nothing nearly so romantic as that blew them out.  So how to have a working compost without the strain.....simple! Keep it SMALL.

While I was in town today signing up for a beekeeping course, I scooted to the local HomeDepot and bought a 2ft high 5ft long piece of stucco matting. This matting is really wire mesh but very sturdy and with much smaller openings than traditional chicken wire. I also grabbed a bag of small plastic zipties (or wiretires or zap straps or whatever people call them) and from then it basically put itself together.

Opening the mesh, it unravelled to the point where I could take the two ends and set them against each other. Then, using the zap straps, I joined the two sides to form a tube from the mesh. VOILA, one small, easily manoeverable and easily emptied compost bin.  I took it down the hill to where I am going to have some raised garden beds built, put it on the ground and emptied my old compost pail into it. Since there isn't more than a 1/4 inch of soil on the ground around my house, pegging the thing to the ground also posed a problem. Temporary fix? Weigh it down with some old wood lying around. Will hold out until I can figure out if it will stay in a wind or fly away like Dorothy's bike or at least until is has more mass inside of it.

And on the subject of right tools for the job. A quick pop in to the Cowichan Green Community Store today ( netted me a fabulous little under-the-counter-smell-free composting bucket. Its much nicer than the ice cream pail as it is long and skinny as opposed to short and wide. Perfect for that crowded spot under the kitchen sink. Perfect! I think for this year, I will keep track of how much goes in to my compost (and stays out of my garbage) just to see. At least I will have some lovely homegrown (or is than home-decomposed) fertilizer when I get the new beds built.