By Janeen Ellsworth
Industry wants us to be consumers so badly, despite our best efforts to tread softly on the Earth, that they want us to purchase liner bags for our compost bins.
For our compost bins!
Are we really that stupid?
Ads for "Eco-Liners" and "Bio-Bags" claim to make composting super easy by helping us to "collect kitchen scraps" so that we can simply toss rotten veggies right into the garden.
That may be true. But at $12.99+ for 40 of these babies, are they really worth the money?
And what goes into manufacturing them? How much energy is used, how much carbon emitted, how many resources depleted, and are workers being compensated fairly?
Moreover, has taking out the compost become such an inconvenience that we need to buy a special bag to do it?
If you're already composting food scraps, good for you! You have honorably committed yourself to the pain-in-the-ass effort it takes to collect stems and skins and egg shells, let them sit on your kitchen counter in a tub for days on end, and ignore that tub for as long as humanly possible until the fruit flies can't be avoided.
Which means, by then, you're dealing with a bucket full of moist, dead goo.
Dumping that puppy outside every now and again truly is a drag, I'll admit. I hate delivering a heap of decaying vegetable vomit into the even bigger vat of grossness outside, which is teeming with worms and slugs and Lord knows how many other creatures.
Who wouldn't want to make this dry-heave inducing chore a little less gooey?
I'd love to, but I just can't wrap my brain around buying a product to make it happen. I'm not that delicate a flower.
It's like paying good money for blue plastic bags for recycling (*which is a colossal waste of cash because recycling plant workers tear those bags open to dump out your jars and jugs, and then have to throw the bags away. If you want to read more about the recycling process, check out this writeup I did after a MRF plant tour.)
So I've come up with a free and stupid-easy solution to making composting less disgusting, by getting the funk out of your compost bin:
There you have it. No money wasted, dry heaves prevented. Just give your bucket a quick swish-out after dumping and be on your merry way.
Slugs are jerks.
Some expert gardeners claim they're essential to the backyard ecosystem. Typically I can jive with that kind of woo-woo talk. I teach my kids all about the important role that seemingly pesty critters play in the natural habitat: how bats eat mosquitoes for us, and worms nourish the soil, yadda yadda yadda.
But I can't find one reason to praise these lurid beasts. The slugs graze on my tomato plants every summer. Tear apart my broccoli. Feast on my basil.
I'd already had it up to here with the slimy heathens this summer when they -- and their filthy slime trails -- showed up in my basement one July evening. Oozing across the inside of my window screen was the last straw!
Andrew said he'd known all about the slugs already, and how they'd been sliming their way inside for a while now. It only happens at night, he said, and usually only after a big rain. He said he gets rid of them by grabbing them with his bare hands and tossing them back outside.
What kind of maniac?!
I'd been downstairs turning the laundry over one sticky August night when I noticed one dangling by a snot-like thread from window frame. Upon closer inspection, I noticed something horrifying: it was giving birth. Or it was multiplying before my eyes. Or an alien was emerging from its disgusting rear end.
After vomiting in my mouth for a few hours from watching this, I started researching how to get rid of these vermin once and for all.
Of course, being that I live in the tree hugger house, I couldn't go blast the suckers with Agent Orange. Noooo, we have to be all eco friendly here. Ugh.
My quick read results showed you can buy some copper tape to trap them with--they get attracted to it and get stuck, apparently--or sprinkle coffee grounds and egg shells. That sounded like child's play to me.
There were some other suggestions like diatomaceous earth but I didn't have that on hand, so I did what any good blogger does and asked Facebook what the best route was for getting rid of slugs.
To my surprise, two of my most loyal readers suggested the same thing: beer.
A good old, trusted brewsky.
That, I actually had in my possession, and it sounded so implausible I just had to try it.
So I hastily visited our elitist microbrew selection but hesitated upon wasting a perfectly good Fat Tire or Bell's Pale Ale.
Instead, I chose a dust-covered bottle of Corona (without the lime) as my slug trap, and got the kids to work digging two holes in the garden soil where those slimy SOB's were doing the most damage.
We set one of those plastic kids' cups you get from Eat 'N Park into one of the holes, and a plastic yogurt container, the quart-sized kind, in the other. Then we split the Corona between the two.
Involving the kids was a win: they loved that I let them pour the beer in, and they loved watching the fizz bubble up even more. Plus they felt like nature's detectives, or my accomplices to a secret crime.
I love that we got rid of a Corona no one was ever going to drink, and hadn't since it had been in my basement for God knows how many years now. (I used to love the stuff, and it does hit the spot on a hot summer day, I just typically reach for a Sauv Blanc in my old age, and Andrew is the microbrew snob, so that's how we roll now.)
We checked back the next day, and wouldn't you know it, those cups of Corona were FILLED with dead slugs. Big ones, little ones, spotted ones and striped ones. Jerks.
According to Robert Pavlis on GardenMyths.com, slugs are attracted to the yeast, not the beer itself. And he suggest not all beers work the same, and oftentimes the slugs will simply take a sip and leave.
Other sources even go so far as to warn that beer might simply attract more slugs -- acting as a beacon, notifying the neighborhood of a damned good party going on in your garden, calling more slugs forth, which no one wants.
So consider yourself warned!
Maybe ours worked because the cups were only half full, and deep, so the slugs got so hammered they couldn't climb out. Maybe it was the Corona. Who knows. All I can conclude is that killing slugs with beer worked.
Thank you, Diana and Fran, for your amazing DIY solution.
The only trouble I have to deal with now is figuring what to do with all the dead bodies...
I'm Janeen; writer, mother, wife, and full-time, radical Reductionist. I share stupid-easy tips on how to save money while reducing your impact on the environment, & I'm committed to helping others live a life of simple sustainability.
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