There has been a shift in the weather since I returned home from my trip to California. Maybe I brought some of the sunshine to Arkansas from Cali or maybe not. All that matters is that we are having warm weather! Last week we got a ton of rain. Nonstop. This weeks forecast is looking brighter. Im talking sunny and 70s! I know its still early, and we could get hit with another snowstorm, but my fingers are itching to be in the dirt. So we are taking a chance and just planting some plants. We saved this old wooden couch frame from the burn pile and repurposed it into a garden bed. I bought some dirt at Lowes and mixed it in with the droppings from the rabbits. It backs up against the dog kennel and you can see jack there in the back.
We planted peas to climb up the rails on the back, spinach in the row in front and a jalapeno pepper for Hubby. Once again, there is dirt under my finger nails and sunshine on my back. I am a happy camper!
(see how sad it was on the burn pile?)
Being big fans of composting, our next step was to add worms. I was looking at worm bins on Amazon and was saddened to see the high prices. Not wanting to pay an exuberant amount of money for a home for worms, I decided to see if there was a frugal solution on Pinterest. I was not disappointed! This whole worm set up cost under $15 (not including the worms themselves). I bought three small tote bins and drilled drain/air holes in the bottom and top sides. I put a good layer of shredded newspaper in the bottom of one bin for the worms to start out in. The newspaper needs to be damp for the worms. Not dry and not soaking, but damp like garden soil is deep down. I ordered worms online and after they were shipped to Texas first, they finally were forwarded to Arkansas. When I opened the package of worms, I was dismayed to see a whole bunch of dried up dead ones. Thankfully once I unwrapped the layers I found the majority were still alive. The live worms went straight into the bin with the damp newspaper. I then covered them up with more damp newspaper. I put the box of dried worms in the chicken coop. The ladies sure had fun pecking and eating the dead worms. At least they didnt go to waste and the chickens got some extra protein. Back to the worm bin, I placed a lid under the bin (so if anything drips or crawls out, it is contained in the lid) and another lid on the top. Man, these worms did NOT want to stay in the bin! They crawled out and went everywhere. Finally I had to take the lid off and put the bin under a light. Worms hate the light so they will dig down into their bedding and hide. The package had warned that the worms would be “restless” for the first few days, but I was not expecting them to be everywhere! Once they finally calmed down under the light for a few days, I was able to start adding table scraps. Lots of coffee grounds, banana peels (they really like it when the peels are cut up) and whatever else I had from the kitchen. If the scraps seemed too dry I would spritz with water.
I am now pleased to say that our worms are growing and thriving! They can double their population in just a month. Hubby is excited at the thought of having lots of worms on hand for fishing. Worms dont do well in the freezing temps, so until recently we had them in the camper. Now that the weather is warmer, they are outside in the shade. We have now added the second bin on top of the first. The worms will transition to the second bin once they are done with the bottom bin. The castings (aka worm poop) that are left in the bottom bin will be a huge help on the garden beds. Once we remove the bottom bin to take to the garden, the second bin will then become the bottom bin and the process starts all over. I think someone could make this with only two bins. I got three because thats what Pinterest recommended but so far I have yet to need a third bin. So technically this project could be under $10 if you only had two bins.
Hubby and I are constantly looking for ways we can become more off grid. The main thing that holds us onto the grid right now is electricity. We can have water and heat in the camper without being connected to anything. We compost our waste, therefore eliminating any sewer hookups. But, we have not found a way to go completely off electric. We have been wanting to get into solar energy but have been unable to afford it. Since we live in a camper, we don’t need too much power. The camper has a battery, just the same as a car or boat. This battery can be used to run the electricity but only lasts a couple of days. My goal is to figure out how much power we need to run solely off the battery. If our budget was not an issue, I would run out and buy a full size solar set up this very minute. But we are on a very tight budget so that is not possible. We decided to start small and build/save up for a full system. Harbor Freight is running a sale on their solar panels. What usually costs $300 is on sale for $130. We think this is a good place to start and bought one set. The system is only a 45watt set up so it wont be powering any big power tools anytime soon. I am hoping its enough to charge the battery for the camper. Once the solar panels are set up, you are supposed to leave them charging for 3 days. I set them up yesterday, thus making today day two of waiting. I am very impatient and I couldnt wait until tomorrow to test it out. I plugged a light into the box and what do you know? we have light! granted it flickers and isnt terribly bright, but still! Once I was done celebrating and showing hubby, I promptly unplugged the light so the system could continue charging. I am sure most people would not be as animated as I am, but I am so tickled that we can have a light turn on without electricity in the common sense. With only the help of the sun, and these solar panels, we now have a light that turns on! Thats big news in my world!! This week we will try and connect the system to the battery and see how long it takes to charge the battery. The next step is to unplug the camper from the electrical hook up and see how long we last on battery power only. I am soo very excited about this next step towards living off grid!
I couldn’t ask for a more beautiful place to go home and visit!
I am on vacation out in sunny California visiting family. In the meantime, here’s an adorable duckling who loves my jacket hood!