i know when you see these in your compost or worm bin, you freak out.  stop it. these are good. they are the larvae for soldier flies which really look like black wasps but don’t sting and aren’t wasps. they do however break down your compost for you and make it easier for your red wigglers to digest the rest of what is in the bin. a lot of people purchase them, but if you have an amazing compost, they just show up… at least they do for me.  check out the article and learn all about soldier flies and good composting.

soldier flies in your compost are great


As you can see from a prior post on building raised beds, this is how i garden. I build the soil under the plants so they are always fed. Lasagna gardening is the way to go. This article gives you a lot of good information explaining the importance.









I wouldn’t know how to begin a discussion on gardening without beginning with the soil. When I teach a workshop, I ask people what they think of when they think “garden”. Most often, the answer has to do with the harvest. And, of course, we wouldn’t garden if we couldn’t look forward to a bountiful harvest. But, I always encourage my students to think “soil” because healthy soil will result in a healthy, nutrient-dense harvest. A garden with poor soil may produce fruit, but that fruit can’t possibly contain the nutrients, or taste as good, as one grown in soil that has provided all that is needed for its health. And plants grown in healthy soil have less problems with disease and pests.

Components Of Healthy Soil

So, what makes soil healthy? Soil is so much more than dirt. One of the components is, of course, weathered rock. That is where our garden plants will receive many of the minerals that they need. Good soil also contains organic matter – things like worm castings, decomposed leaves, and even the remains of soil organisms like insects, fungi and bacteria. Replenishing organic matter is essential to soil care.


6 great reasons to compost


The Beauty of Compost

Compost is simply decomposed organic matter, but it’s the best gift you can give your garden. Here are just a few of the many benefits of compost.  (click link for article)



If you’re one of those people who throws away food thinking, “I wish I knew how to make a compost pile,” — this article is for you!  The good new is… you’ll be pleased to know that setting up a composting system at home isn’t as much work as it sounds.

A compost pile takes some prep work.  Start by clearing the perfect patch of ground by:

1.   Choosing a space which is away from trees or fast growing vines as the roots of these plants can enter the compost pile and take away much needed nutrients.

2.   Removing weeds from the area you are going to make into your compost pile so that the seeds from the weeds don’t germinate when you lay your compost on your garden beds.

3.   Identifying a space which is slightly elevated so that it will have good drainage.

4.   Positioning your compost pile away from the house and shed as the pile can attract insects.

5.   Placing your compost pile away from a wooden fence or deck as the compost can stain and rot wood.

5 EASY STEPS FOR FAST COMPOST Get garden-ready compost in about 30 days.


Making compost is probably the single most important thing you can do for your organic garden. The success of your garden depends on the soil, and the health of your soil depends on the compost you give it. And making compost isn’t difficult. With very little effort on your part, you can turn throw-away materials into this sweet-smelling, nutrient-rich, no-cost soil conditioner. So how do you start this easy composting?


Self Reliant Living and 40 Ways to Self Sufficiency

Self Reliant Living and 40 Ways to Self Sufficiency

Here we show you 40 ways to self reliant living and self sufficiency whether you live in the city or the suburbs. Urban homesteading and urban self sufficiency is a lifestyle sought out by the baby boomers, and for good reason! So many people think that having a large piece of land allows them to be self sufficient. As I have always said, it is not the size that counts, but what you do with it! 😉


Self Reliant Living and 40 Ways to Self Sufficiency.

DIY Raised Bed for gardening


For this project, you will need two 8 foot 2×12 planks (cut in half), 4 corner brackets, screws, weed preventing landscape cloth, scrap cardboard, veggie scraps, green leaves, green grass clipping or other green matter, leaves, twigs, dried hay/grass or other brown material, organic soil.

NOTE:(we made our raised bed 3×6 to fit our space. you can make yours whatever size you wish. 4×4 is easier to work without the need for stepping in the soil. and we used brackets we had on hand.  choose whatever works best for you.)


Using your electric screwdriver,  mount the corner bracket in the center of your board. Make sure it is straight and flush.



Attach the remaining board via the bracket, forming a corner.Image


It’s easier to do this if you have someone help you hold the board against the bracket, while you use the electric screw driver to screw it together.



You now have your raised bed frame.


Cut weed preventing landscape cloth a few inches bigger than the inside of the box/bed.  You will need this extra cloth to staple to the wood.


13 raised bed

Next, add cardboard you have saved for this project.  It’s biodegradable and will work as a moisture barrier.  Cardboard is considered “brown” material and works with your raised bed to provide nutrients like dried leaves would.  Don’t skip this step.

14 raised bed

Keep filling your bed until the cardboard is as even as you can get it. Make sure it’s flat as possible.  You can add several layers.

15 raised bed

Add green material on top of the cardboard.  Green material is anything like veggie scraps, fruit peelings, green leaves, small amount of grass clippings, eggshells, coffee grounds.

16 raised bed

We added banana leaves from a tree we pruned and other leaves and small twigs from pruning trees and shrubs. Don’t use large twigs or sticks.

17 raised bed

Cover the cardboard as well as possible with your green matter.  You are building a “compost” under your soil which will feed your plants for months and help maintain moisture in your soil.

18 raised bed

Next add brown material: dried leaves, some dried grass, dried tomato vines, dried corn husks, small twigs. (if you don’t have dried leaves, you can use strips of newspaper or other scrap paper)

19 raised bed

Break up any twigs or vines into small pieces.  We walk on ours to crunch it up and press it down before we add the soil.

20 raised bed

Add organic soil on top of your other layers and smooth it as evenly as possible.  You will have to add more soil, in time, as the levels compress and compost.

22 raised bed21 raised bed

Now your raised bed is ready for planting!  If you’d like to make the most of your space, make a grid from twine, mapping off 16 squares, each one being 1 square foot.  Plant your veggies in each square. You can read about square foot gardening online or look for future posts about it, here.

Composting: a guide to making compost at home, using compost tumblers, bins & other composters |


Composting Benefits

Soil conditioner. With compost, you are creating rich humus for lawn and garden. This adds nutrients to your plants and helps retain moisture in the soil.

Recycles kitchen and yard waste. Composting can divert as much as 30% of household waste away from the garbage can.

Introduces beneficial organisms to the soil. Microscopic organisms in compost help aerate the soil, break down organic material for plant use and ward off plant disease.

Good for the environment. Composting offers a natural alternative to chemical fertilizers.

Reduces landfill waste. Most landfills in North America are quickly filling up; many have already closed down. One-third of landfill waste is made up of compostable materials.

via Composting: a guide to making compost at home, using compost tumblers, bins & other composters |