Friday, February 10, 2017

Westfield Mall - Carlsbad, CA

We originally headed to the mall to check out the new Dave and busters that just opened but the line was so long we went to the arcade downstairs instead.  And good thing we did! $5 and 10 rounds of the claw game got us some nice prizes! A girl angry bird,  a minion,  and Chloe from secret life of pets!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My $10 Worm Bin!

I have made my next big step toward reducing my carbon footprint-- worm composting!  I've been interested in worm composting, also known as vermicomposting, fore a while now, but all the worm bins on the market are so expensive (anywhere from $80-$100) and seem like such an investment for something I just wanted to "try out."  The idea of getting worm castings (poop) for free is awesome to me, and with worm castings being one of the best fertilizers in the world, how could you go wrong?

Well, it turns out there are a lot of great resources online that tell you how to build your own worm bin! Here are the websites that I got my worm bin instructions from:

"Cheap and Easy Worm Bin" - Lots of good pictures

VirginiaTech "Composting Your Organic Kitchen Waste with Worms"

 "The Down and Dirty on Worm Composting" by Liz Pevytoe - A pdf file that is a short E-Book on the subject.  Very thorough!

Here is what I did to build my own worm bin for $10!

First I went to Wal-Mart and purchased two 10-gallon Sterilite plastic containers ($5 each).  Apparently worms like the dark, so make sure you get bins that are not transparent, but opaque like these.  Transparent bins can also make it hot for the worms, which could kill them!  One bin will serve as the actual worm bin, and the other will serve as a catch tray for the "worm tea."

I then followed the instructions and took a 1/8" drill bit and drilled holes along the top of the bin and on the lid of the bin.  These act as air holes for the little wormies so they don't suffocate.  It is also important to keep these holes small so that it prevents fruit flies from getting into your bin and eat your yummy rotting kitchen waste!

I also drilled some 1/8" and 1/4" holes at the bottom of the bin.

This serves two purposes. (1) It provides drainage for any excess liquid in the bin, including worm tea, which is just a nice name of worm pee. Apparently the worm tea also is a great fertilizer for your plants, and an effective organic pest repellent when you spray it on your plants.  Bye-bye aphids! (2) When this worm bin gets full, I can stack it onto a new bin with scraps in it, and the holes allow the worms to travel between this bin and the new bin.

I then filled the bin with some bedding, which basically was paper bits from my shredder that I soaked in water.  Make sure you squeeze out any excess water.  The bedding should be wet like a damp sponge, but should not put out more than a drop or two of water when squeezed.

In the second bin, which has no holes in it, I placed four miniature pots, one in each corner, to act as risers for the worm bin.  You can use bricks, plastic cups, etc...  This will give the worm bin plenty of room to drain out while also catching the valuable worm tea.

I then stacked it all together and it was ready for the worms!

The next morning we went to the Vista Farmer's Market to visit Rubi, of "Rubi's Reds."  She is there every week and sells worm castings and red wrigglers.  She had her worms sitting in a bin similar to mine, and when I made my purchase, she grabbed a plastic bag and shoveled a couple piles of wormy goodness into the bag. She  showed me pics or her worm farm, where she raises tens of thousands of worms in piles of dirt on her land.  She also showed me some of her plants that she's been feeding worm castings to, and all I could think was, "Hey, you don't have to sell me on the idea.  I'm sold!" I also asked her a number of questions based on the reading I had done, and she told me not to worry about all the things I read.  Just dump the worms in, put the lid on, and they'd take care of the rest.  It was that simple.  I was so excited to take these little guys home!

Back at la casa, I opened up my bin and dumped the contents of the bag into the bin.

At first, all I could see was the dirt that they came in, but looking a little closer, I was able to spot the little guys.  They burrow pretty quickly and are good at hiding, so I'm not really sure how many worms I have in there.  I'm sure there are more than I realize!  There were even baby worms that you had to really concentrate to find.

So we'll see how it goes.  I gave them a little bit of a banana peel yesterday, and I can't help but go check on them everyday (this is my third day since I brought them home).  Everyone says be patient though, so maybe I'll let them be for another week, and hopefully I'll see some progress soon!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

San Diego County Fair - Plant Envy!

I went to the San Diego County Fair today and visited their "Farm" section, where they planted a bunch of crops and also had some educational exhibits on composting and vermicomposting.  I had such plant envy as I looked at all the bountiful vegetables that they were growing and at how huge all their crops were!

Herb Garden




Sweet Peas

Raised Bed for Herbs

Tomato Garden 

All of their tomato plants were at least 4 feet high!

Giant Cabbages


Radishes - Looks like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon!

I also learned about vermicomposting, or composting with worms.  There are several ways to do it, but the most common is with a worm bin.  I've always been reluctant to try this out because commercial worm bins on the market typically cost anywhere from $80-$100, plus another $20+ for worms.  Seemed to be too big of an investment for just trying something out.  But I learned today that I could make my own bin for less than $10!  Here are the instructions that I got from the exhibit:

I also met a nice lady who does her own worm composting and she made it sound so easy! So I'm going to go to WalMart and get some plastic bins and build my own! More on this next time!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blueberry Pot

I bought a blueberry plant about a month ago and planted it in a large black plastic container.  It looked really ugly in my backyard, so I decided to spruce it up with a vintage print and a little Mod Podge.  I found this vintage blueberry can label on Flickr and printed it out at Kinkos.

A coat of Mod Podge and a quick spray of varnish sealant, and viola! A vintage inspired blueberry pot.  Looks so much prettier!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

When Life Gives You Bees, Make Honey

OK everyone.  For those of you who've been following my backyard bee adventure, the Bee Guy came by and relocated all of the bees to his bee farm (I'll post pics and video of that crazy ordeal in the next blog entry) .

The Brr Guy gave us some of the hive to extract fresh honey from.  I've never done this before, but it was such a cool process, and so much fun! I just finished my video about how to extract honey from the hive!  Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Being in the middle of spring, I've noticed lately that there have been more bees in my backyard.  I've welcomed them because they pollinate all the vegetables in my garden.  This morning I was pruning some of my plants and I noticed a white chunk of something sitting on a branch of a tree in my backyard.  Funny, I thought, looks a bit like beeswax.

Later in the afternoon, I noticed a few white chunks on the floor beneath the tree:  I looked closer to investigate and saw a couple of bees on them, and sure enough it was beeswax.

I wondered where these chunks of beeswax were coming from, and looked up into the tree and to my horror, I discovered this:
HOLY SHIT! I have no idea how long these bees have been here or building this hive.  It's about 2 ft long and at least a foot wide!!  Here are more gory pictures:

Clearly these are honey bees, and so far they've been pretty peaceful and have kept to themselves, but they still give me the heebie-jeebies in a massive way.    Even those these bees are scary looking, they are very beneficial to the environment, and we did not want all these bees to be killed-- that would be such a waste.  We have a bee specialist coming on Monday to remove the hive and he'll be relocating it to a bee farm.  It'll be really interesting to see how he gets up into this tree to remove the hive!! 
Until then, we'll just be extra careful not to disturb this hive or piss the bees off!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rookie Garden: New Beginnings for 2011 - ALL ABOUT BULBS

Happy 2011 everyone! This new year is a year for new prospects, and now that the weather is warming up here in Southern California, it's time to get planting!!

Since November of last year, I have pretty much neglected my Rookie Garden, except for a little weeding here and there. My day-job had left me little time to tend my garden, plus there was little point to planting things when the weather was so cold. Nothing was sprouting outdoors, and since I was traveling so much for work, starting seeds indoors was futile since my dear hubby would always forget to water them.

But yesterday it was a warm 78-degrees here in San Diego (sorry about the poor weather to the rest of the country) and it was time to clean up the rookie garden and plant some new things! I started out with "a little" weeding. All that green that you see on the concrete there... WEEDS.

This planting session was all about planting bulbs! Last year I had purchased some bulbs from the 99c Store, and decided to give them a try. At a buck a packet, I thought, Why not? Some of them turned out nicely, but some of them are really blooming this year like this Freesia:

And here are some Gladioli bulbs from last year starting to grow shoots!

Since they're looking so strong this year, I decided to give them another try, and I went to the 99c Store once again, and bought a bunch of them! When the cashier was ringing me up, he commented, "Are you planning to get your hands dirty? You're buying A LOT of them!" I smiled as I thought about how lovely my garden will look once all of these bulbs start to bloom.

ROOKIE TIP: When planting bulbs, a nice trick is to store the bulbs in the refrigerator for a week before you plant them. Bulbs generally like having a cold period that helps them go dormant and become stronger.

Here are the bulbs that I planted...


I love these tall flowers. In Chinese, they call these "Sword Orchids." They should be planted at a depth of about 8 inches. You can plant about 4 of them every square foot. They take 60-100 days after planting to bloom, and love full sun.

They were a real success last year in the Rookie Garden. Last year, I got the peach and white varieties, and this year I decided to add to the palette. The Plumtart and Tradehorn are my favorites because they look so bold in color... I really hope they bloom nicely this year.

I planted the gladioli against the wall (see the stone circles depicting the planting locations) since they can grow to be up to 5-ft tall!

Freesia and Asian Buttercups

Freesias are sweet smelling flowers that are symbolic of innocence.
They should be planted at a depth of about 5 inches. You can plant about 12 of them every square foot. They generally flower in late spring, and love full sun or partial shade.

The Asian Buttercup is also known as the Persian Buttercup. They should be planted at a depth of about 5 inches. You can plant about 16 of them every square foot. They bloom in early to mid summer, and love full sun or partial shade.

I'm excited about the Freesias since the ones I planted last year are so pretty this year (see yellow freesia pic above), but I'm even more excited about the Asian/Persian buttercups! They just look so pretty! I planted these two flowers together with the freesias in the back and he buttercups in the front. Hope I'll end up with a colorful mass of flowers by late spring!


should be planted at a depth of about 5 inches. You can plant about 5 of them every square foot. They generally flower in mid-summer, and love full sun.

The Grape Hyacinth should be planted at a depth of about 5 inches. You can plant about 16 of them every square foot. They bloom in early to mid spring, and love full sun or partial shade.

These were some of the more peculiar looking bulbs that were available at the 99c Store, so I just had to get them!

I had no idea what "Drumsticks" were, but a quick search on the internet showed that these are a type of onion plant. In fact, "Allium" is the onion genus, and in Latin, means "garlic." This makes sense because the flowers of onions and chives look very similar, kind of purplish and bulbous. Overall, people seem to be happy with this flower as it is easy to grow, and it attracts birds and bees.

The grape hyacinth, or Muscari, is also strange looking, at least in the picture on the package. Another quick search on the internet shows that the grape hyacinth is not really a hyacinth at all, but a member of the lily family. Aside from the strange looks, part of the reason I bought them was because the name reminds me of the character Hyacinth Bucket from "Keeping Up Appearances," one of my favorite shows ever! I think Ms. "Bouquet" would be very proud of this.

Right now there are several bare spots in my Rookie Garden, mostly from taking the old annuals out and putting these new bulbs in. I'm not sure at all how these will turn out in the Spring, but that's all a part of the adventure and excitement of a Rookie Garden!!