Have you noticed a decline of the honeybees in your own backyard?
Fellow SC blogger Grandpakb thinks he has seen a distinct decline. I usually see a few on the salvia or lavender every time I go outside to check on my plants. However, we haven't lived here long enough for me to make a long-term comparison.
Beekeepers are reporting drastic die-offs in the United States this year, and it's still unclear whether this is due to disease, parasites, pesticides, or all of the above. If you haven't heard about the recent decline, here's a couple good articles:
Honeybee article from PBS
Forbes Honeybee article
I'm not overly concerned because:
1) These honeybees are not even native to the US, so I figure there has to be some native pollinator out there ready to make a comeback and do the job.
2) Natural selection! There's probably some resistance gene out there in the honeybee genome for whatever pest or chemical is killing them off. Perhaps they will just come back stronger as a population over time. Teenage Mutant Ninja Bees!
Am I becoming a crazy biologist or what?
Take note, I'm not saying we should ignore the problem. I'm just looking for that silver lining.
No, I'm not planning to shoot cannons from my front porch. This is a compost tumbler that my husband and I assembled one rainy day, and it just took a while to make its way off the porch and to the side yard.
I was thrilled when the folks at Organic Compost Tumbler asked me to try their product. As I mentioned in the previous post, I have been an avid container gardener since I've moved south, as I've been avoiding working digging in our "orange cement". Now I've sworn to give up my fears and start digging in. And adding compost is the #1 best way to improve our soil in this red-clay state.
As an eco-freak, I also like the idea of avoiding chemical fertilizers and reducing my contribution to the landfills. And of course it's great for your plants, but I won't elaborate since listing the virtues of compost to an audience of gardeners is like preaching to the choir.
But you might not have thought about using a compost tumbler before.
Why use a tumbler?
Previously my attempts at compost were an unsightly, neglected pile in the side yard. Yes, I know I'm supposed to turn it with a pitchfork and water it occasionally. How often do I get around to it? How about never.
So the advantages for me are:
1. Looks and smells better than a pile of rotting refuse.
2. Much more convenient to turn and aerate (see the picture of the central aeration chamber below).
3. Much quicker than conventional composting.
4. Our daughter won't be able to try playing in it.
Some Assembly Required?
Those three words often strike fear into my heart. But the Urban Compost Tumbler was not difficult to put together. It came with detailed instructions, including plenty of *real* pictures. I'm a very visual person, so this helped out a lot.
As they say, if all else fails read the directions. The hardest part for us was putting together the two halves of the barrel in the tongue and groove connection (see picture below) .
The directions said to add something slippery like soap or vegetable oil. Well since my husband's strategy is to pound things together with a hammer and brute force, and follow the directions only if necessary, I was sure that he was going to break this thing before I even got to use it. But the barrel held up surprisingly well. Whatever secret material this composter is made of, it's very sturdy. I think it will be very durable and last us many seasons.
In the next post: Recipes for Speedy Composting
( The folks at Urban Compost Tumbler say that you can make compost in just *13 days* once you "season" the barrel. )
My goal for the next year is to wean myself from containers. They line our walkways, our patio, and our driveway. I'm about as bad recently about buying new pots as I am about buying plants. Why do I keep sticking plants in containers instead of directly in the ground?
Three words: HARD, RED CLAY. I was totally spoiled in Ohio and never had to worry about ammending the soil. I've lived here a few years now, and it's time to stop procrastinating. It's time to battle the clay!