Tag Archives: Recycling

CHEAPSKATE Hints-Cheap nd Free Supplies And Skills for Garden

The original inspiration for this blog was the garden I was building in a $-rented-$ space in a city garden. I was building my soil, creating beds and starting some compost for future use. All of these items were done for free, but some work was needed to be successful. [and of course I was using tools purchased at retail price- but some of them could have been acquired at thrift stores/ yard sales.]

This post will put forth a list of free items for use in the garden.   Your garden  and my garden are places for peace ,fun, sweat and food. All of that can be attained with a big checkbook but there is something rewarding about reusing, and repurposing items for beneficial use in the garden .

The first is a free ( inexpensive) technique not an item but it still keeps things cheap. It is called lasagna or sheet gardening. Lasagna gardening starts your garden with NEW SOIL MADE BY layering yard and food waste. No need to break nor till the soil(buy/rent root tiller???)  just take a little time ,plan ahead and build new soft soil.  Make your new soil where you want your garden to be.  This is free if all of the material built into the layers is also free(see below). If this is done in the fall the soil will be ready to,plant in the spring and if started in spring some good topsoil or compost can be added to the lop layer as seeds or seedlings are planted.  Lasagna Garden HOW TO:  latest of cardboard or newsprint(15-20 sheets) on the bottom ,on top of the old grass.  The alternate layers of grass clippings, leaves, compost, manure. Shredded wood chips can also be built into the layers.


If you have a yard , you have a gardeners gold mine with all of the grass clippings you will generate spring to fall. These can be used in the lasagna garden, added to compost pile/container and used in the growing garden as a weed barrier that eventually breaks down and keeps the soil developing. If you don’t have a yard of green you can collect bags of cut grass around the community . Do this by driving around or do a search online for bagged grass ( see FREECYCLE for,your community).


These can also added directly to the  garden as weed barrier but in many areas th leaves fall as the garden is finishing for the season. They can be added as fall-winter cover , shredded and added to compost pile or bagged and set aside to,creat leaf mold for next springs garden.

If you do not have trees and leaves you may be able to find them from friends, or others in the community and in many communities leaves are collected and piled in a central location for local citizens to use.

WOOD CHIPS/shredded wood mulch-

The wood can be used as weed barrier or as layers in the lasagna garden. they can also be added to the compost pile sparingly. Much like leaves and grass clippings when added to garden as weed barrier they will eventually break down in to the soil.

Most folks will need to get wood chips and shredded wood mulch as few have the wood/trees AND equipment to chop them. Many communities that collect leaves and make them available also collect downed trees and branches AND  Christmas trees and shred in a central location available to the community.


Coffee grounds make a great addition to the compost pile, garden soil and directly for acid loving plants in the garden and yard. When building a lasagna/sheet garden-coffee grounds area a addition . Worked into the soil grounds loosen the soil and break down leaving it nourished.

They may also be spread under acid loving plants like azaleas and even broadcast out on the lawn.

If you drink coffee you will generate some supply but real volume can be found at most local coffee shops and many locations of large chain coffee shops. Some places bag them for you and others ask you to bring buckets.


If we eat any fruit or vegetables we will generate peels and scraps that can be composted for use in the garden. The scraps eggshells plus fruit and veggie only, no other animal based scraps ( meat , fat or bones).

They can be collected in an airtight table top container or the freezer until taken outside to the composting area or tool. The compost is usable after 3-9 months , depending on the method used.


Summary list of Cheapskate supplies:

1.Lasagna gardening

2. Grass clippings

3. Leaves

4. Shredded wood/chips

5. Coffee grounds

6. Composted kitchen scraps






Compost bin Construction- Pig Pen gone and Compost on the Way


New compost bin- 1st section ready, loading up

I recently helped friends start a new multi-bin composting system. The above is the way it looks now as 1 bin is ready and getting loaded. Eventually It will have 3 bins for Compost in 3 stages. (green- starting, half way and ready for the garden).


The footprint for the bin started the day as an old pig pen, all of the pieces have been reclaimed and many will be used in other projects around the house and yard. The old nails were too rusted and damaged to reclaim but will be sent to recycling.    


Pieces and debris removed from the Pig Pen for Compost bin location.

The reclaimed HT (heat treated) wooden pallets will make a solid frame for the collection and creation of the black “gold” that will feed the garden and plants for years to come. The mountain soil in this are is very fertile but also heavy with clay. Additions of alluvial/sandy soil from the stream, leaf mold and compost will keep it strong for years to come and fertile as the garden of Eden.

There are plans to complete the full 3 bin system as well as a Hot compost drum- to speed up the process for the garden as to “spike” the other open compost bins . It will look something like this: Image   



Ultimately the bins will look like this. 3 bins with a pallet base- covered by burlap coffee bean bags.

More plans and more work for the 2014 garden..


Compost- Beautiful Black garden GOLD

Is that a silly title….Black Gold….Much like the Clampetts at their black Liquid Gold.

I love making compost but with a large garden you need a lot of compost. To generate enough compost I decided to create traditional compost bins with recycled (HT) shipping pallets.

barrel Composter In plastic- could be Stee

barrel Composter In plastic- could be Stee

3 bin Open Composter

3 bin Open Composter

The traditional 3 bin system will generate plenty of compost by next spring (for new system0 but I need compost this fall at the end of the growing season to prep the beds for next year- and of course fresh compost next spring for planting. That is why I like to have both an open system that will process the yard and kitchen waste ( plus some added manure) and and an eclosed system that will “cook” hotter and Create compost faster. The proper working of the fast and slow systems will generate the great garden food all plants need.

Access Panel in Compost Tumbler

Access Panel in Compost Tumbler

Recycling a barrel with an axle on a stand, a bunch or hole drilled into the container and an access panel created- will start turning leaves and weeds and grass and kitchen waste into dark useful food for the plants in your garden
It will also be useful to add to the open bin composter to give the material in there a KICK. The microorganisms pushing the process along will be transferred to the new material and get in cooking.

Structural Reinforcement for barrel

Structural Reinforcement for barrel

The barrel can be plastic or steel (even wood) but it need to be closed and able to spin to move the rotting material around without using a fork or other tools. Keep a good blend of carbon filled AND Nitrogen loaded materials in the bin and keep in damp but not WET. The movement allows the workhorses of compost- microorganisms and worms – to have access to much more of the material and break it down even faster.

The holes in the barrel allow for the process to continue aerobically and limits the “fun” smells that often accompany rotting of vegetation. The rotting is a part of the process but movement and air and “bugs” turn it into garden food with less stink.

A fun way to recycle tires and a barrel. Put tires arond barrel and roll in the garden to turn the material.

Barrel with Tires

Barrel with Tires

Can also set the tumbler on a vertical axis to do the work of Composting.

Vertical barrel

Vertical barrel

Snowy day- Garden Planning, Reading and Dreaming


I spent a little time at my garden plot yesterday – dropping off coffee grounds from the coffee shop and mixing with dried leaves as I build up the beds for spring and summer.

The beds being developed are for beans, peas and squash. They will also have poles/teepees to climb and maximize the space.

My favorite poles are bamboo cut from a local “wild”patch.

I have been thinking of adding some potatoes to the garden this year. This is just for fun since they are quite inexpensive to buy at the Farmers Market- BUT they are such a rewarding plant. I have seen a few plans for building towersto maximize the growth of spuds in small spaces- The following was the first I found on a random search.


I am also adding a 2nd layer of wooden pallets to raise the beds in the garden to provide for deeper roots and protect against the flooding like we had last year. Hopefully I will grow some full sized veggies this year , rather than the stunted babies I got last year.



Some of the following ideas I found with a quick search. I may add starwberries as well as potatoes. Pallets make great sense for this sweet treat.


This article has a lot of fun ideas- many of which i have seen and read and tried in the past.



Compost Bins and Composting and Planning for the Future of the Soil

I have a been a fan of collecting and making compost for the garden. I have had worms in bins doing the work for me. And black plastic bins cooking the greens and browns outside,

Now with friends and a bigger yard and garden we need to decide what to do for the compost that is or can be available with the farm in the woods and the nearby stream. 

A look at Compost bins-Tools

 * The following is a simple and useful Grab a roll of chicken wire and 2-4 stakes(plus a fork to turn) 

The following bins I have used- Love using the hot method to make compost quickly. At least get the batch started and then pas it on to a open bin.

Now I am looking into some ideas for the following reused/recycled items. Wooden pallets and cinder blocks/bricks.


 Now this one is a little fancy but will really crank up the heat and get the material churning and rotting- prepping for use in the garden.


COMPOSTING – And Reusing the Green leftovers

COMPOSTING – And Reusing the Green leftovers


I have been mulching and composting for years.  Started with cut grass and leaves raked up and spread under bushes and in the veggies. It expanded into collecting in a bin and turning it as it broke down and became useful garden fuel.

Now I have bins, piles and bags. It is a lot of fun.  I want to get back to worm composting because the production from worm composting is tremendous for garden and plants.

Today I added 30+ gallons of coffee shop waste ( grounds, fruit peels and paper filters and chopped leaves to the pile and to several raised beds. 2014 garden will be great !!

Wonder what this would cost for a household or maybe for shared use in a neighborhood. Eliminate most of the waste and feed/help the garden, shrubs and trees.


Interesting video and a good start on the information needed.