We get a lot of questions on our blog about the doors to our barn. We actually made them from recycled 3/4 inch barn flooring from the Cardington Barn we tore down last summer. When the huge doors needed for our new barn were going to cost over $1500 for just one pair - we decided to make our own from some of the old flooring we had taken out of the old barn.
A hint when working with old barn wood when your going to re-purpose - dont spend a lot of time with sanders or planers. They are hard to use - and easy to ruin with nail fragments. Instead - we use a fan nozzle on our pressure washer - and simply clean away years of grime. It leaves behind the beauty of the old wood and once it dries out in a day or two - you can stain or paint or just leave it natural. We ended up making 4 doors for our barn at a cost of about $20 in screws.
One other hint - pre-drill everything when working with old, hard oak. Your drills and screw bits will thank you :)
They have been up now since early this year and should last for years!
Jim and Mary
Commented on Aug 31, 2012
I am going to create something similar for our basement door. thanks for the inspiration!
Good compost is a must if you want to have good results from your garden –and for those of us who strive to have those "best tomato or pepper ever" results – it's a must.
One can spend a lot of money on all of the products made to help us produce compost – compost tumblers, compost bins – worm bins, etc. But all things considered –it's pretty easy to make compost for next to nothing in just a simple pile. With that said, if you find a way to contain it; a wood, metal or plastic bin or fenced area – it's easier to maintain and keep out unwanted pests.
We use a two bin system at Old World Garden made for free from recycled pallets – but you can just as easily have a single pile, or a three bin system. There are major books written on composting – so in no way, shape or form is this post the end all to composting – but just some general points in making and using compost.
We could get into all of the nitrogen vs. oxygen vs. moisture content details and arguments – but don't get so caught up in it that you never get around to starting a pile.
Compost is eventually going to be made in your pile no matter what you do, the art of decomposition works on everything at some point – even that old truck that slowly rusts in the weeds puts it's iron back in the soil! However, there are some simple tips to help you make it quicker.
Here are three basic hints for composting that can carry you far in your efforts to make great compost. By following them, it's made our little two bin system crank out plentiful amounts of the high quality soil additives – helping bump up our garden yields.
1. Keep the items in you put in the pile chopped up. The smaller the item going in – the quicker it will decompose. You don't have to buy expensive shredders or grinders – a simple run over with the lawnmower can shred leaves or straw before you put it in. And when you throw in those kitchen scraps –just cut them up a few times on the pile with a sharp shovel to slice them up – they will begin to decompose so much quicker with the exposed smaller pieces
2. Keep you pile moist but not wet. Too wet, and your pile can get slimy. Too dry, and it loses the ability to decompose faster. You should be able to pick up the compost in your soil and feel moisture like a damp paper towel or rag. But don't fear – it won't ruin your pile if it gets either way – it will just slow down the process. If you get a ton of rain and your pile is out in the open, mix in some dry materials (i.e. chopped straw) to help it out. Maybe even cover it with a tarp to help it not get so wet. If instead you have a huge dry spell – spray it with a little water when you turn it to get it cooking again.
3. Keep your pile turned. If you turn your pile over every couple of days – it really helps keep oxygen and air flow and distributes the moisture more evenly – which results in a quicker compost pile. When you see steam coming from turning it – you will know your pile is really cooking!
So what do we put in it? Here are some basic things that are great to include in your pile, and some things to avoid:
Meat and fish products, Cooked foods, Cooking oils or oily food remnants, Diseased or unhealthy plants, Weeds or invasive plant material, dog or cat feces.
Although meats and oils can be successfully composted in high temperature piles – for the average weekend gardener – these spell trouble. They bring in unwanted vermin like raccoons, possums, mice, even rats...and they can smell awful. We really try to do a good job just saving and consuming our leftovers so we are not throwing out much anyway – but for us – we just avoid putting these types of things in. Weeds and unhealthy plants are a no-no because if your pile isn't hot enough, it may not kill the resulting seeds that can germinate in your soil. As for the dog and cat by products – for numerous potential health reasons, it's best to avoid altogether. However, chicken, rabbit, cow and horse manures are a great source of nitrogen for your pile and can be used if you have available.
So now that you're making it – how can you use all of this valuable compost that is commonly called "black gold"?
In the early spring – a few weeks prior to planting, we will work a 2 to 3" top dressing of compost into our raised bed rows. Then, at planting time – we will put a good cup in the average tomato planting hole, mixing it in with the soil from the hole. We use it one more time to top dress and mulch our garden plants. We usually do this once the plants have begun to grow up (at the 2 to 4 week stage). We will put a good shovel full or two around the plant's base – it gives great weed control, moisture retention, and the compost slowly releases nutrients when it rains or we water.
I do need to point out here that this is finished compost we are applying – not the hot stuff from a cooking pile. If your compost is still warm and cooking – you DO NOT want to put it near your plants or it can burn them and kill them.
So save those kitchen scraps and get busy on building that compost pile. If you don't have materials easily within your reach – just take a tour this fall through wooded neighborhoods whose resident bag up there leaves for the city to take away. Take them home, mulch them up with your mower –and you have a great start to a large amount of compost for free. Or stop by your local coffee shop and ask if they will save their coffee grounds for you – you would be surprised how many of them will!
Compost 101 – it's easy – and like anything else –the biggest step is simply to take one and try it. Even if you screw up – remember –everything turns to compost eventually !
Happy composting and be sure to check out our blog at www.oldworldgardenfarms.com for more gardening and DIY stories.
a few days ago our water line to the house busted and was replaced. Since then everytime we turn the HOT water on, there is a loud deep sound until we turn the hot water off. It makes the
floor vibrate. It seems like it comes from the water heater (which was replaced 4 years ago). especially when I run the dishwasher (and washer if doing a hot wash) I can't do anything about it. It does stop as soon as the dishwasher is done getting the water for the cycle! what can be done? thanks