Sunday, February 13, 2011

Worm Boxes Help Make Gardening Truly Sustainable

There is a word I’ve been tossing around that has become very popular in the past few years; that word is sustainable. So what does it mean to be sustainable? The definition in the Webster’s Dictionary is to endure, or to maintain or prolong. Ecosystems in nature do this all of the time unless their balance is disrupted. In sustainable living, the idea is to return what has been taken in perfect balance. When both sides of the equation are zero, we are living sustainably. This is of course very difficult to do but the idea is to get as near zero as possible. By definition though, we are living sustainably even if we are not at zero because we are prolonging the depletion of resources.

This year I made a resolution to live more sustainably. I’ve been blogging about it for about nine months now but when I really take a look at myself I haven’t been living it to the best of my ability.. I have to face the facts; I am spoiled when it comes to convenience, and as a result I throw a ton of stuff away! What I realize today is that all of this waste costs money both directly and indirectly.

One of the biggest areas where I am guilty of waste is food. I have to admit that when I go to the Farmers Market or the Supermarket I buy more than I can eat, especially produce. Then when it spoils, I throw it in the garbage and ultimately it languishes in the local landfill for years and years because it is buried and cannot get enough oxygen to decompose. The cost of this directly is the money I could have saved out-of-pocket by buying less and eating everything I purchase. The indirect cost is the amount of energy and money needed to plant, cultivate, harvest, process, ship, and distribute the food to me. When I start to think of cost in those terms the numbers really add up. This not only taxes me, but all of society. When we start to add millions of people like me together the numbers become astronomical. The prices at the gas pump are a pretty good indication of this cost; more demand, higher prices.

I was standing in my kitchen one day when I heard water dripping under my sink, not a good thing. What had happened is my garbage disposal had corroded and water was leaking out the bottom. My first though was that I would have to replace it. Then I had an epiphany, what if I could turn all of my vegetable and food waste into soil for my container garden. Now that would be sustainable! The first thing I did was to get a five gallon bucket and turn it into a compost bin. Eventually bacteria will break down the vegetable matter into a mulch which I an mix with my potting soil as an organic base.

Composting is One Way To
Garden Sustainably

When I ran this by my friend and associate, Don Jacques, he suggested I also build a worm box. The worms will then breakdown the vegetable matter into rich soil which can be used to grow organic vegetables without chemicals. Another benefit of using a worm box is that the worm will also break down plant matter into a liquid fertilizer which can be drained out of a spigot on the bottom of the box. To me this offers a perfect solution to my sustainability problem and also provides a way for me to return the waste from my container garden back into the garden and thereby balancing my sustainability equation to zero.

Worm Factory DS4GT 4-Tray Worm Composter - Green

I though at first about building one but it can be time consuming and really is not any less expensive once I factor my time in. I decided to buy one through instead. Amazon has several models available and they are reasonably priced. There are some nice wooden ones from Wooden Worm Farms but I decided on a 3 tray worm composter from Worm Factory. I liked this one first of all for price and second of all it has a spigot on the bottom to drain the liquid.

So there you have it and I feel better now knowing that I have made a decision that allows me to be a truly sustainable organic gardener. Until the next time, Happy Gardening!

Wooden Worm Bin 3 Trays

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Want a Great Market Experience, Try Roadrunner Park Farmers Market!

Often the cost of a vacation is far more than the price of an airline ticket or a vacation rental. Usually that cost is the time it takes to play catch-up and get back into a normal routine. Why am I saying this, well I’m about three blog posts behind after another trip to Costa Rica. I know, excuses excuses! Ok, so the real reason I haven’t posted is I ran into a slight case of writers block, and I couldn’t think of a topic, usually not a problem but after a wonderful trip to the tropics I was having a hard time getting back to earth long enough to focus. Well I’m back and as I was checking my blog stats I saw and suddenly remembered that Roadrunner Park Farmers Market in Phoenix is one of my followers, and that it was on my list to pay them a visit.  So I put it on my calendar to show up this Saturday, and I am so glad I did.

The market, which is open every Saturday except Christmas, has been in existence since 1990. Hours are 8am to 1pm October-May and 7am to 11am June-September. Admission and parking are free although get there early as the spots fill up quickly. Of course  if you want to sleep in, there is extra parking on 36th St adjacent to the park. I rather enjoyed the short, scenic walk to the market (Yep, you guessed it, I slept in). Roadrunner FM accepts Arizona Farmers Market Nutrition Program Vouchers and also makes shopping with a credit cards simple by allowing you to pay for all of your purchases with one swipe.

Roadrunner Park, named so because it is actually located in a Public park of the same name, is in a idyllic setting. Here you can walk the dogs, take the kids to the playground, and buy groceries all at once. Even with record cold temperatures all week in Phoenix, the market was well attended. The crowd was vibrant and the vendors were extremely friendly and helpful. I spent about an hour and a half here and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was able to spend a few minutes with seven of the vendors and was even invited to tour some of their farms and facilities which of course I will blog about. They are as follows:

Horney Toad Farm which grows pesticide free organic fruits and veggies. They have invited me to tour their farm which is amazingly right in the middle of the city.

Prescott Valley Farms, producers of steroid free, hormone free, antibiotic free poultry, pork, and lamb. The also carry a line of buffalo and elk meat and have a store in Phoenix which I will visit in the near future.

Double Blessings Lotion and cosmetics who specialize in lotions and cosmetics made from goats milk. I bought some just out of curiosity and I AM SOLD; A great product at a great price.

Lewis Hen House and Veggie Farm who are growers and producers of Organic vegetables, fruit, and poultry.

What’s Your Grind Coffee Roasting who are local roasters and purveyors of a wide variety of coffee and tea.

Life Energy Awakenings owned by Leanne Phillips who is a Feng Shui designer and teacher and who also creates edible gardens.

I also ran into my old friends from A Pickled Perfection and I got to sample their new creations, pickled celery and pickled mushrooms both of which live up to the Pickled Perfection Name.

An Idyllic Park Setting Lends
To The Charm of The Market

The Horny Toad Farm Banner,
Great People, Great Products.

A Very Relaxing Way
To Shop

Lewis Hen House and Veggie Farm Has An
Attractive Selection of Fruits and Veggies.

The Lewis Farm Banner

Even The Littlest Shoppers Enjoy
The Roadrunner Market

Homemade Cheese Anyone?

Nothing Like Fresh Honey

Even On A Chilly Day, The Market
Draws A Crowd

The What's Your Grind Booth,
A Great Place For A
Cup-A-Joe on a Chilly Morning

All in all I found my Roadrunner Park Market experience very enjoyable and refreshing. The atmosphere there is very energetic, and it really got my creative juices flowing. I enjoyed talking to many of the vendors who, even though were very busy, took the time to answer my questions and tell me about their enterprises. I was also very impressed with the gals at the info booth who were very helpful in answering my questions about the market in general. I hope to interview the market organizer in the near future who is, by the way, a follower of this blog. I highly recommend a visit to the Roadrunner Park Farmers Market; I think you will be pleased as well. For more info, visit them at their website:

Until the next time, Happy Gardening!