Thursday, December 13, 2018

Composting in a Plant Container

My former compost "barrel" next to the winter compost pit.
I lost the area where I kept my compost barrel and winter compost pit. I still have a garden, so I had to find a way to deal with garden waste.

Our Powell River Garden Club had Linda Gilkeson as a guest speaker. In addition to her excellent information about garden pests and growing techniques, she introduced me to a method called chop and drop. I later read more about it on the Terra do Milho website.

Chopped leaf mulch under the broccoli.
Chop and drop is a form of mulching. It's a good method during the growing season when you only have a small amount of plant material for disposal. Chop your trimmings into small pieces and drop them on the ground around plants. You get the benefits of mulching. For me,it was also a way to dispose of organic waste without taking all the way to town it to town to recycle center. 

Chopped carrot and beet tops protecting my garlic bed.

When the growing season came to an end I had lots of plant material for disposal. I decided to try using my empty half 55-gallon barrel planters for winter composting.

After the first layer of soil came chopped plant matter and Rot-It.

I removed all but the last 6 inches of dirt in the bottom. I layered that with 6 inches of chopped plant matter and a sprinkling of compost accelerator. I use Old Gardener Compost Builder: Rot-It.

Two plant containers with layers of compost processing.

I continued with layers until the barrel was full. I have several barrels layered in this manner. In spring I'll plant my tomato, squash and pepper seedlings in the barrels. The decomposed matter with feed the roots of my new plants.

How do you handle composting? Have you tried the chop and drop or barrel layering method? How did it work for you?

Hop on over to the Simple Life Mom and see some great ideas for homesteading and simple living.

Want more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

Head over to Blogghetti for Happiness is Homemade to see more recipes, crafts and DIY projects. -- Margy

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Riding the Duck Lake Forest Service Road Region

Westlake Woodlands logging map.
We went on a fall quad ride to explore the region you can access from the Duck Lake Forest Service Road. We invited our good friends Dave and Marg to join us. First, we enjoy riding with them. Second, Dave knows the trails around Powell River much better than we do.

We went on a Sunday when loggers know to look out for the public on our backroads.

We drove south of town to the junction of Highway 101 and Duck Lake Forest Service Road, a well maintained backcountry mainline.

Parking out of the way on a side sput.
A short ways up the dirt road are spots to park.

The area in which we rode was part of the Westlake Woodlands managed by locals Doug and Ron Fuller. They offer a free online map that can be used with Avenza GPS map app to track your route.

Dave, Marg and their dog Crystal.
Unfortunately, we didn't take ours since Dave was leading. It would have been a great reference for future rides.

While I can't share the exact route, we left Duck Lake Main to follow several old logging roads through the lush second growth forest.

The Blue Train Connector back to Duck Lake Main.

Many old roads and trails are maintained by local ATV, biking, horseback riding and hiking organizations. Being close to town, they are well used and enjoyed by many. Yet, on our ride we didn't see any other quad riders and only one hiking group and a man walking his dog.

East Lake

We stopped at East Lake for a picnic. There are log benches, a fire ring and a dock that would enjoyable especially in summer.

Picnic stop.

We continued through the area with a stop at West (Hammil) Lake. The weather was already changing from mostly sunny to mostly cloudy.

Clouds hovering over West Lake.

We'll go back on our own to explore the Duck Lake area while our quads are stored in town.

A rare picture of us together thanks to Dave.

Thanks Dave and Marg for sharing your trail knowledge and friendship with us. If you come to visit Powell River, I highly recommend using Duck Lake Forest Service Road as a starting place to explore the backcountry.

Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

And also a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad.

And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures. -- Margy

Monday, December 10, 2018

"Paddling the Pacific Northwest" by Wayne J. Lutz

A Christmas
Shopping Suggestion

Paddling the Pacific Northwest
by Wayne J. Lutz

Takes you on a kayak adventure.

Grab a paddle as the author leads you on day trips and overnight adventures on the rivers and lakes of northwestern Washington.
Paddling the Pacific Northwest takes you to out-of-the-way destinations where kayaking allows us to pursue our innermost individual freedoms. Come along on freshwater exploits in a sea kayak as a Canadian paddler heads south to probe the rivers of Washington, searching for “slow pushers” to propel his kayak lazily downstream mile after mile. A travelogue memoir of enlightening adventures set in the magic of the Pacific Northwest.

Print for $10.95
Kindle for $2.99 
Other ebook formats for $5.99

Friday, December 07, 2018

Insulating a Canning Pantry

Pantry storage in the corner of the bathroom.
When we added a bathroom, I included a pantry for storing home canning, dry goods and other non-perishables. It may seem strange to have a pantry in the bathroom, but when you live in a small home using space wisely is important. Plus, it's on the north side, the coolest place during hot months.

Now that I do more home canning, I am worried about freezing temperatures while we are away on winter holidays.

I asked advice on my favourite Safe Canning Recipes Facebook page. Here's what I decided to do. I started by putting bubble wrap around the back and sides of my pantry shelf.

Then I covered the canning jars with a folded bath towel. To monitor the temperature I'm using a digital thermometer.

Lastly, I put cardboard (from our new BBQ) over the top of each shelf that has canning jars and let it drape over the front.

When the front doors are closed, it should make good insulation to help prevent my canning jars from freezing.

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, Accidental freezing of canned foods will not cause spoilage unless jars become unsealed and recontaminated. However, freezing and thawing may soften food. If jars must be stored where they may freeze, wrap them in newspapers, place them in heavy cartons, and cover with more newspapers and blankets.

Do you live in an area with freezing temperatures? How to you make preparations?

Hop on over to the Simple Life Mom and see some great ideas for homesteading and simple living.

Want more ideas? Try Nancy's Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop.

Head over to Blogghetti for Happiness is Homemade to see more recipes, crafts and DIY projects.

Visit Letting Go of the Bay Leaf for more Mosaic Monday. -- Margy

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Sharpening the Saw

Elementary principal days.
When I worked for the school district, we talked about "sharpening the saw" in a metaphysical sense. It came from reading and putting into practice the seven habits of highly effective people advocated by Stephen Covey. It was about renewing the four dimensions of our lives, the physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional states.

Moving to our float cabin on Powell Lake took care of all those dimensions for Wayne and I in one fell swoop.

Our float cabin home at the "wall" in Hole in the wall.

One test in self sufficiency was getting and preparing our own wood for winter. Summer and fall driftwood gathering seasons.

The barge helps gather driftwood.

We prefer pieces that don't require splitting, but sometimes larger logs float up to our cabin and beg to be taken. All of the wood has to be cut to size to fit into our Kozi wood-burning stove.

A driftwood log that floating into our water lease.

An important step was learning about chainsaws. Our good friend and mentor John helped Wayne pick one that would fit our needs, a Stihl, and taught him how to use it. And use it he does. 

Preparing firewood for the floating woodshed.

Wayne does the chainsaw cutting, I help with the splitting. In the beginning we used a stump on our wood storage float. That was work!

After ten years of doing it the hard way, Wayne got me the best present, an electric log splitter that runs on a gas generator. Since I'm the photographer of the family, here's Wayne and John giving it the trial run.  Yes I know, we were so excited we didn't put on our regular safety equipment: boots, gloves, safety glasses and ear defenders.

Finally comes the task I like best, sharpening the saw. John taught me how to do it. Each tooth on the chain has to get uniform attention.  Sharpening the saw has now taken on a whole new meaning.

I know it's right when I can feel the edge just catch the skin of my finger after several strokes with the file. A felt pen mark ensures that I go around the chain one time before reversing the saw and filing the teeth that face in the opposite direction. If I do my job well, the saw cuts through the wood like butter.

One good thing about Wayne and I is that we each like different parts of the same task. When we work together as a team, the result is better than if either of us did it alone.

It may not be what Covey had in mind, but our saw is both physically and metaphysically sharp. How about yours?

Thanks for visiting part of my world this week. For more great posts from Our World Tuesday, click here.

And also a meme called Through My Lens by Mersad.

And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures. -- Margy

Monday, December 03, 2018

Give a Christmas Gift that Features Powell River

Give a little bit of
Powell River
for Christmas

Put a little "sunshine" in your holiday shopping. Head on over to and take a look inside these exciting books in Wayne's Coastal BC Stories series. They're popular with locals and visitors to the Sunshine Coast because they're all about our Powell River region. Each book focuses on a different perspective. I know there's one that will fit someone special on your shopping list.

Up the Lake with stories about hiking, boating, flying and survival off the grid in a floating cabin on Powell Lake. This was the first book in the series and has a variety of stories about the Powell River region. Up the Main focuses on getting into the Powell River backcountry by bike, quad, and hiking. Come ride along with us on a quad to places like Theodosia Inlet, the head of Powell Lake, and on logging roads and local trails near and far.

Up the Winter Trail takes the reader snowshoeing, hiking and biking during the winter months. This would be a good book if you are planning on coming to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Up the Strait cruises the Strait of Georgia to uncrowded and pristine anchorages. Follow our 24' Bayliner Halcyon Days into Desolation Sound, to unique Mittlenatch Island and the Gulf Islands.

Up the Airway wings you across Canada to show off our beautiful country from up above. Fly along with us in our Piper Arrow, land to camp at remote strips with gorgeous scenery, and meet unique animals like the muskox.

Farther Up the Lake follows in the footsteps of Wayne's most popular book, Up the Lake. Read about living off the grid in a float cabin, the beauties of Powell Lake and the many different ways you can enjoy the backcountry.

Farther Up the Main takes you beyond the original Up the Main to explore the glaciers of Mt. Alfred, the remote Theodosia wilderness, a logging road ride to our cabin, and on an impromptu overnight stay waiting for a summer swollen stream to subside.

Farther Up the Strait takes you on voyages to more remote inlets and anchorages in Desolation Sound and beyond. Did you ever want to put a new engine in your boat? Follow along as our Halcyon Days gets a new lease on life and energy boost.

Cabin Number 5 follows John as he constructs a float cabin from the water up.  Over the years, when time and money are available, the cabin grows board by board. If you've ever dreamed of living off-the-grid, you'll enjoy Cabin Number 5 (yes, it's the fifth one John's built).

Off the Grid is the story of transitioning from city-folk life when we bought our cabin. We learned how to generate our own power, use propane for appliances, maintain a kitchen garden, live in harmony with nature, and exchange our hectic lives for a more simple lifestyle.

Beyond the Main takes you beyond the stories in Up the Main and Farther Up the Main as Wayne and I explore the Powell River and Powell Lake backcountry on our ATVs. Discover trails to ride and meet local off-road enthusiasts who are glad to show you the way.

Powell Lake by Barge and Quad takes you on a unique tour of the Powell River region. Following Up the Main, Farther Up the Main, and Beyond the Main, this book takes you on Powell and Goat Lake adventures with our barge loaded with quads to explore places few people get to see.

Off the Grid: Getting Started is the newest book in the Coastal BC Stories series. Following titles like Up the Lake, Cabin Number 5 and Off the Grid, this book gives the reader information and tips about going from city life to off the grid. As in previous books, our float cabin home is an example of how we made the move and lifestyle switch.

All books are available online in Kindle and Kobo and print formats through Amazon and other online book sellers. E-book readers can also find the titles available through Smashwords and many other e-book sellers. Print books are also available locally in Powell River at Coles.

For more information, go to Happy Holiday Shopping! -- Margy