Posted on

Composting – Plain and Simple

by, Liz Rutledge

The official definition of “Composting” sounds, well, pretty gross.

According to Dictionary.com, composting is:

noun

a mixture of various decaying organic substances, as dead leaves or manure, used for fertilizing soil. A composition; compound.

verb (used with object)

to use in compost; make compost of:to compost manure and kitchen scraps.to apply compost to (soil).

verb (used without object)

to make compost:Shredded leaves will compost easily.

But, here’s what I’ll tell you…Mother Nature has her way. Naturally, bio-degradables break down, get eaten, processed and regurgitated as amazingly nutrient-rich stuff.

If you compost, your contribution to the landfill will decrease DRAMATICALLY. And, thanks to city-wide composting programs like the one in Denver, it’s super easy. If you don’t have such services, perhaps you can ask your landlord or apartment complex to set up a small tumbler composter – reducing the impact space-wise and reducing nasty smells, waste to the landfill and more!’

A fellow green thumb contributed this fantastic guide to composting if you want to get started. Check out Kevin Rodrigues’ article on How to make your own Compost.

Raised garden beds recently installed at Newport Street Retreat by Denver Scout Troop 62

This week, Sustainable Three will be setting up composting at Newport Street Retreat in Denver (home of Sustainable Three). Now that they have raised garden beds, thanks to Denver Boy Scout Troop 62, they will have beautiful vegetation growing to help support their Dinner Church on Thursdays. Who knows what this will grow into, but they will need a composting system for peelings, leaves and other garden waste. That will, in turn, become nourishment that will go back into the garden.

Watch for my blog series on composting in the coming weeks!

Please follow and like us:
Posted on

Mariposa, Mariposa, Will You Marry Me?

Monarch Butterfly in Valle de Bravo

Our next morning was Valentine’s Day and we were headed to the butterfly sanctuary. 

When my children were little and taking Music Together classes and watching “Dora the Explorer”, I heard this folk tale about a butterfly, “La Mariposa”, in which animals enamored by the butterfly would say “Mariposa, Mariposa, will you marry me?” (There’s a bilingual children’s book you can check out that tells the story HERE if you’re interested). That sing-songy phrase was in my mind as we headed to see the butterflies.

We got up at 7:00 and then were out in the patio area of the restaurant by 8:00a.m. for a buffet breakfast of fruit, granola, fresh squeezed juices, fresh hot coffee, and waffles.  By 9:00, we were boarded in the bus and on our way to the Monarch Butterfly Reserve.

The path to the monarchs
My guide on this journey, Francisco

It took about an hour and a half to reach the reserve.  Once there, we paid to pee and then were assigned our horses.  My horse for the day was named “Rosito” and his handler was Francisco.  The handlers lead the horses up a two mile trail (going up a few hundred metres) to a clearing where we saw thousands of monarch butterflies fluttering around.  Trotting along the rocky, dirt path, we were in a flow of orange and black flitting. 

Monarchs enjoying the sun rays

Our guides said they had never seen so many just flying around like that.  After a lovely, long rest enjoying the Monarchs, we remounted our horses and continued up the mountain to a trail where we dismounted our horses and hiked down and over to a most amazing viewing spot.

Taking a Mindful Moment with the Monarchs

The butterflies, clinging like barnacles on the tall, old growth forest trees blended in in perfect camouflage, while others fluttered around, some seeking water in the river below and some seeking nectar in the salvia.

Monarchs clinging like barnacles to an old growth tree

We can help the monarchs with their survival, growth, migration and breeding by planting milkweed, tithonia, salvia, rabbit brush.  Here are 10 suggestions of flora to plant to help and attract butterflies:

http://www.costafarms.com/get-growing/slideshow/top-plants-to-attract-butterflies-to-your-garden

Planting butterfly-beneficial plants will help these Monarchs survive and thrive

That evening, we enjoyed watching the locals mingling in the town square of Valle de Bravo.  It was great to see the lively town pulsing like a Saturday night with love on this Valentine’s Day.

Please follow and like us:
Posted on

“It’s Too Hard” – Easing into Sustainable Living

If you are not already living a more sustainable lifestyle, it can be daunting to even think about it.  Overwhelming, you might say.

“It’s too hard!”

“It takes too much time!”

“It’s a pain in the a**!”

“Why should I have to when none of my neighbors are?”

“My neighborhood doesn’t recycle – or doesn’t do single stream so it’s too much work…”

Well, about eight years ago, my neighborhood didn’t do single stream recycling and it WAS burdensome having so separate – and the city didn’t recycle nearly as much as they do now.  I helped form a group of people in conjunction with Denver Recycles and the now Governor of Colorado.  Before I knew it, we had large wheelie bins that could hold two weeks’ worth of recycling.

I didn’t grow up composting or gardening, but now our waste to the landfill is minimal and we use our food scraps to nourish our small garden which then becomes food for our family.

It doesn’t take that much extra time and the feeling of knowing where my waste is going and reducing our family’s impact on the city landfill and the planet-at-large makes me feel better as a person.

When I go out to harvest in the garden in the summer months, it’s like my birthday every time – gifts just present themselves asking little in return…like fresh, organic raspberries, tomatoes, squashes, beans (SO many beans).  And then, they give the gift of seeds so, over time, I have had to buy fewer and fewer seeds in the spring…completing the cycle.  It’s satisfying and exciting and cheap.

Setting up a compost bin probably takes half an hour…maintaining it takes little time as all you have to do is “feed” it regularly, but not even daily…ours is out by our garage, so whenever I’m going out, I can just dump the compost into the bin/box and leave the bucket from the kitchen in the garage.  Then, I bring the bucket back in on my way back home, rinse it out (to prevent smelliness) and start the refilling process as I cook.  The bucket is a small step-can that lives on my counter/kitchen bench by the sink.  About once a week, I stir the compost and about once a month I add leaves in (from autumn).  The leaves are stored in containers in our garage.

Let me say it simply…it saves money and doesn’t take that much time…and it helps reduce the amount of stuff going to the landfill.

Here are some helpful links to get you started:

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=where+to+buy+a+compost+bin

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=where+to+buy+a+small+step+can

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=how+to+start+a+compost+bin

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=how+to+start+recycling

Please feel free to leave comments on this site with your suggestions on what you’d like to see discussed on SustainableThree.com!

Please follow and like us:
Posted on

Spring Forward

As I was riding my bicycle to yoga today, I heard many different birds singing to each other…so happy that the sun is shining and things are starting to turn green after a long, cold winter. These little signs of seasonal change can be tuned into. Buds have appeared on our Japanese Magnolia – the first tell-tale sign that the bushes and trees are ready to burst out of their dry, brown, tired winter husks. Crocus blooms sprout from between snow piles and the grass is becoming green again.

All this tells me that it is time to start planting seeds indoors. This is a new habit for me as of last year. All of the seeds I planted last year sprouted, but about 1/3 of my seedlings molded and died. It is all a big experiment for me as I learn more and more about how to grow our food. I am a novice learning from failure each year. One success was planting seeds from a butternut squash from the previous year and getting the seeds to sprout indoors, transplanting them to our small urban garden outside and watching those seeds become squash again by July. It seemed such a miracle to witness the full cycle first-hand.

This year, I plan to try seedlings in another location with south-facing sun (THE key ingredient to success here in the Northern Hemisphere) where they will get the most sun. I will also try to not drown them this time.

Please follow and like us: