Well, technically the week started yesterday, but since I didn't post anything, I'll do as the French do and start with Lundi. That's really when my week starts anyway.
This week is Green Week because AfricanKelli says so. And that's good enough for me. So in addition to posting pictures over on Flickr in the Green Week pool, I'm also going into detail about my photos here. Basically, the pool includes pictures, information and encouragement about making many little choices that add up to help protect the earth. You should go and check it out.
Here's what we do to tread lightly.
We use a push mower. You know the reel type? Jeff had to convince me at first (three years ago), but I now don't mind using it because I love the noise it makes. Sort of crunchy swish swish sound that is really soothing. I also love the noise it doesn't make. So quiet I could mow at 5 am if I wanted, which I don't. Also, unless you're used to a self-propelled mower, it is actually easier to use, because it isn't as heavy as a gas mower.
But more importantly, by not using a gas powered mower, we drastically reducing the overall amount of pollution we produce. I found an article on Mindfully.org that references a Swedish study claiming that "The air pollution from cutting grass for an hour with a gasoline powered lawn mower is about the same as that from a 100 mile automobile ride."
What? That's insane! How come they're not making announcements of this over the emergency public broadcast system?
They suggest using catalytic converters on mowers, but I'm happy with our mower.
Another thing we do, or don't do, if you want to get technical about it, is use pesticides or non-organic fertilizers. What I can't understand is why someone, especially someone with pets or children, would allow somebody to spray poisons on their yard. Have you seen the signs they put up, about staying off the grass after they spray?
Have we all gone mad?
How is this sort of behavior acceptable? Seriously. It reminds me of that scene in The Birdcage when Gene Hackman finds out that Nathan Lane is a man and he says "I feel like I'm insane." He just can't wrap his mind around what he's seeing. I feel exactly like that when I see those warning markers in the grass!
Anyway, sorry for the rant. Back to me and my relationship with Mother Earth.
Because we don't use chemicals and poisons, we need to apply lots of organic matter to our landscape. In addition to Lasagna Gardening, which I've covered here and here, we do year round vermicomposting, otherwise known as worm composting.
This is a picture of our worm bin. It's in the basement, in an unused corner, under the stairs. We've had it for several years and have had almost no problems what-so-ever with it. Once I added fruit that had been sitting out on the counter and was full of fruit flies, and that did pretty much infest the entire bin, which we had to dump in the middle of winter, poor frozen wormies, but I've learned my lesson and microwave any produce that's been on the counter too long.
The worms get everything we eat except meat and dairy. Pretty much anything you could put in a regular compost bin, but this goes way faster than regular composting. I can bury something in here and a week later it'll be practically gone. And the best thing, no turning!
Here's a close up of some worms and egg shells. Calcium is good for tomatoes, so these always go in the bin. Although, usually I crush them up a bit finer than this. The bedding is dried, shredded coconut fiber (coir), which in itself is an environmentally responsible product. It's created as waste from the coconut processing industry and can be used to replace peat moss, which is very bad to use (from an environmental standpoint).
I'll also include a link to a picture of a worm composting kit that I donated to my daughter's school's silent auction. This is based on the setup that my sister has and basically looks a bit less, um, rustic.
I won't go into it right now, but I'd be happy to give detailed advice on setting up your own bin. It's one of those things that isn't terribly complicated once you get used to it, but has the potential to create a big stink if done incorrectly. I wrote up a word document to go with this kit and would be happy to send it to anyone who is interested. If enough people want to see it, I'll post it too. (I did, you can see the posts here.)
See ya tomorrow for day 2.
Ooops. I can't believe I forgot to mention the book Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System by Mary Appelhof.
Worm Composting (1)- Setting Up the Bed
Worm Composting (2)- Some Other Thoughts
Worm Composting (3)- Harvesting The Castings
Why You Need Worm Poo