Monday, 16 November 2009

Worm compost

I don't have a green thumb.

Mostly this is because I'm not good at routines and habits.  So I forget to water and tend my plants ... or let's say I choose not to remember.  As a result, my balcony garden looks like this:

Gardening tools: trowel and gloves (which may contain spiders, I don't know).  One planter which formerly contained bok choy and lemon thyme, which the caterpillars promptly ate.  The red ice cream tub contains the little pots that the bok choy and lemon thyme came in.  The two other pots are the remains of tomato seedlings I bought a few weeks ago in a flutter of enthusiasm.

Okay, I do have an excuse for not putting the tomato plants in the planter, and for not watering my planter.  Here is the reason:

It is supposedly a 'self-watering' planter.  In theory, water drains from the soil into a separate compartment at the bottom and can sustain the planter for a few days.  Excess water can be tipped out through the letterbox-shaped hole in the picture.

In practice, mosquitoes get into the water compartment through the hole, and breed there :( After that, I avoided opening the balcony door at all until the plants were dead.

I did buy some mesh to put over the hole, before I bought the tomato plants.  However I never got around to taping it on.  Or watering the tomato plants more than once, come to that.

Okay, so I can't sustain green life.  Hmm.  What can I do for practice?  Compost maybe?  After looking a little while at composting information, I decided that my planter would make a perfect worm compost farm.  All it needed was a lid with airholes, and mesh over the water compartment. The water compartment would  drain the compost so it didn't get too wet, and the lid with airholes would stop little flies from getting in the top and laying maggots.

Went off to my nearby hardware/nursery store (looking for lightbulbs, as it happened) and asked the DIY man how I could get a lid for my planter.  He suggested that someone could just cut a piece of plywood into shape, put a handle on it, and off I go.  He even offered to do it himself, when I said I didn't know anyone who had materials to do it for me.  He refused my offer to pay for materials, too.  I better bake him a cake or something.

He measured a planter that was in the shop, to make the lid.  Because he'd measured that one, I bought it to be sure the lid would fit.  So here's my future worm farm:

The shredded paper is for bedding for the worms.  I used duct tape to put a couple of layers of narrow flyscreen mesh over the hole.  Hopefully that will keep the mosquitoes out.  I'm also going to put in a couple of trowels of soil and some of the random brown stuff from my balcony, to give it more organic material.  And I'll soak it all before the worms go in.

I don't have the lid yet, he said I could probably pick it up tomorrow.  And I rang up the nursery, who said I could buy worms any day of the week :)

Meanwhile I've been collecting my kitchen waste in an icecream tub.  Not optimal, because it's rotting a bit, but oh well.  The worms can eat it later on.

Will post further on how it all goes!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Little sharp things...

Smith and I, changing lightbulbs.  Specifically, I bought them, he got up on a chair and put them in place, I reminded him to do so before the sun went down.

Then Smith says 'I think there might be something in my finger.'

Looked at his right index finger under the bright lights we'd just installed, and it was obvious there was something there, but it was tiny.  Tried to grasp it with my fingernails - definitely something hard there so not skin, but I couldn't grasp it.  Grabbed a pair of tweezers - still feeling the hard object, but no luck grasping it.

Now what?  Dig it out?  Me, who'd never dug anything out of skin before?  With no local anaesthetic?  Okay, well, I had pulled a 2cm "splinter" out of a man's foot before.  But that wasn't exactly hard.  This ... well.

The alternative?  No medical centres open.  Take him to the ED?   .... Err ... no.

No local anaesthetic in the house.  No sterile needles in the house - well, not your normal hollow ones anyway.  But I did have a sterile suture with a needle on the end of it, and it wasn't expired yet.  I was supposed to use it to practise suturing at some point (on a pork chop or something).  That, however, was years ago, and since then it was just clutter.  Might as well break it open.  There was supposedly a needle holder to go with it, but given the amount of clutter in my room, it was not to be found.

Slippery little J-curve needle had to be held one plane with my tweezers and supported in the plane with fingers.  The rest was no-touch technique and a little bit of scraping.

Smith, at one point, said 'That needle has some sharpness to it."  I took that to mean it hurt.  It turned out to mean that he actually didn't feel a thing.

End result:

That's it next to my fingernail.

A closer view:

The clear part was embedded right in the middle of the pad of his index finger.  The pink part is where the skin subsequently leaked a tiny bit of blood around it, I guess.

Will we wear gloves when changing light bulbs in future?

... Nah.