Smell Like Dirt

In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

Archive for garden

Compost. Managing a Natural Process

Backyard Composting is simply taking a process that’s completely natural and speeding it up so that we can reuse the yard waste from our gardens for the benefit of our gardens. If you can’t take one of my classes (see previous post) then take the time to watch these videos and feel free to ask if you have any questions!


After a long dry spell (pun intended), we’re back with a video about water.

Of the four elements of a wildlife habitat: Food, water, shelter and places to raise young, I think water is the most important. EVERYTHING needs water and being creative in providing water for wildlife can lead to hours of enjoyment watching the birds and other wildlife in your backyard.

If you have some creative ways you are providing water in your habitat, please let us know by sending pictures or videos.

Worm Workshop!

Worms are a gardeners best friend! Not only do they keep your soil loose in the garden, if you keep a worm bin, they will turn your kitchen scraps into great food for your plants! And worms make great pets. Low maintenance and they work 24×7 eating and pooping until you have a perfectly natural additive to your garden. Composting is basically managing a natural process, and so is vermicomposting. I’ll be facilitating a vermicomposting workshop on 11/4 at 7pm (after the polls close). If you would like to participate, send an email to Cost is $15 per bin or you can just observe for free. To get an idea of what we will be doing, take a look at this video we shot about building a worm bin called “Global Worming” Get it?

Clean AND Green (and cheap)!

We love it when readers send us stuff! and Friend of SLD, and SLD Photographer, Marketing Manager, Publicist, Agent, and Chief Bottlewasher, Lauri Shubert, alerted us to a recent article in Good Housekeeping magazine. While she was sitting on the veranda, sipping mint juleps (editors note: this is a lie. With two boys in school and involved in multiple sports, a full time job and a husband running a business out of their home, Lauri NEVER sits down anywhere. If she has a minute of free time, I assure you she’s on her hands and knees in the garden) when she came across this article rating a variety of home cleaning products that are environmentally friendly. To her surprise, she found that not only did they rate the effectiveness of the products as very good, but in many cases the green products were less expensive than their toxic-chemical- laden cousins! Read the article for the details, but here’s a summary:

  • LAUNDRY: #1 Arm and Hammer Essentials 2x Concentrate ($3.49/50oz) but a close 2nd at half the price per load Purex Natural Elements ($7.00/100oz)
  • DISH DETERGENTS: Runaway winner Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid ($3.09/25oz)
  • ALL PURPOSE CLEANERS: Sun & Earth ($3.79/22oz) with a close and much cheaper second showing by Green Works All Natural Cleaner ($3.32/32 oz). Both of these were good grease cutters in the kitchen but for heavier jobs, count on Simple Green. Its concentrated so you can dilute it a lot or a little depending on the mess

The article says that most products that make the Green claim are biodegradable, phosphate and chlorine free, and get their ingredients from plants like coconut or palm (renewable resources) rather than petrochemicals like crude oil or natural gas (which are not renewable).  But always read the label and keep away from children and pets.  Just because it’s green doesn’t mean it’s not toxic.  Other green steps to take: try washable, reusable microfiber cloths rather than paper towels, spray cleaners on cloth rather than surfaces and you’ll use less and use the cold setting on your washer when possible.

So all of this gives us more proof that sometimes doing the right thing for the environment can also be the right thing for our wallets!

Rain Barrels

Its raining in the southeast and when it does, we gets lots of hits from people looking for information on how to buy rain barrels  I decided to do a short post so that the information is easy to access.  If you live in the Charlotte NC metro area, there are two easy ways to order rain barrels in April.  In Charlotte, order your rain barrels through Mecklenburg Soil and Water Conservation District but hurry, deadline to order is April 7.  If you miss that deadline and live near Matthews, Habitat and Wildlife Keepers (HAWK) and the Town of Matthews have teamed up to sell the same rain barrels at the same price as the county.  Send an email to to order yours today, deadline April 15.  And if you don’t live close enough to the Charlotte area to take advantage of these sales, contact your local county extension office and ask where you can get a rain barrel .

Global Worming

I’ve got a dirty little secret! Actually a bunch of them. I have worms. I’m a huge fan of vermicomposting, or using worms to process my kitchen scraps. Its very easy to do and can be done cheaply as well. Its a great way for people who live in apartments or condos who can’t build a compost pile, to recycle their kitchen scraps. Done right, your vermicompost bin will not smell at all. There’s a great book by Mary Appelhof called Worms Eat My Garbage, and she has plans for a coffee table that opens up to a worm composter. Ok, I’m not that nuts, but its proof that you can do it indoors and your guests would never know. Worm poop, or castings, is a great organic fertilizer that helps the plants grow while keeping pests and diseases at bay. I hope you’ll watch the video and be inspired to start your own can-o-worms. Pls feel free to email me if you have any questions.