January 2018
The Herb Farm

Tidying Up For the New Year


There are hundreds of young ferns popping up in the mossy areas of the property.

Anybody who knows me knows I send very little stuff to the landfill. People even bring me things to upcycle, freecycle or repair.

Friends bring me their old computer parts when they fail. Printers get stripped down. There are several metal shafts, motors, screws and other fasteners in a printer. Some of the components of PC boards are reusable such as resistors, capacitors, etc. The leftover shell is sent to the recycler. It’s made from #6 polystyrene.

Old washers, dryers and dishwashers folks drop off are either repaired to give to someone in need or stripped down. Motors are mostly used in my shop or given to an artist friend who uses them in his works. Side panels are cut into sheets of metal and used as roofing for various outdoor structures. The rest of the parts of the machines are separated into categories. All of the fasteners are sorted, copper wire is stripped and prepared for smelting, and the remaining scrap metal is saved for a scrap collector who stops by every few weeks to visit.

Very little garbage is produced here at the farm. Paper and most plastic is recycled, as are tin cans. Most glass gets hauled to a recycling station north of here, when they are taking glass. Wine bottles, however, are used on the farm as decorative planting bed borders.

Aluminum cans and cast or extruded aluminum are made small enough to fit into a crucible and smelted in my small furnace. The molten aluminum is then poured into cut-off tin cans to cool and shape into ingots. I give those to my artist friend as well. He uses them to cast aluminum sculptures.

I mentioned that "most" plastic goes to the recycler. I save plastic #2 (high density polyethylene) for making into parts I use around the shop. Milk jugs, detergent jugs and some medicine bottles have this number. It’s the same stuff in plastic decking. I use it to turn wheels, idlers and pulleys on the lathe. (Note: If you try this, be sure to sweep up all of your wood shavings first. Otherwise, you won’t be able to recycle the plastic shavings and the wood shavings will become useless as compostable material.)

Even in the wintertime you can find interesting fungi growing on fallen trees like this happy little growth.


This is the time of year I like to gather all of the fallen tree limbs and branches and chop them in the chipper shredder, along with leaves and pine straw. This makes an excellent browns addition to the compost pile.

On composting, browns are mostly carbon-rich and come from dead branches and leaves. Greens, on the other hand, are made of green hedge trimmings, grass clippings and kitchen scraps. Do not add animal fats or meat scraps to a compost pile. Citrus scraps and peels are OK. They just take a little longer to decompose.

Cleaning up the property is top priority in January. That gives me a clean canvas for the new year. It’s much easier to imagine the possibilities of your property (or rooms in your home) without clutter.

It’s also time to load up the truck with useful items we no longer need and take them to a charitable group. After all, how many salad spinners and pop-up toasters does one person need?

Recycling, freecycling, upcycling and giving things away that I don’t need make me feel good. It’s one of my simple pleasures in life.

While walking around the property a couple of weeks ago, I found some interesting stuff growing in sheltered areas that hadn’t been bitten by the frosts or cold temperatures. Tender plants such as begonias have usually turned to mush by now. I’ve included some photos of a few of the surprises I found.

In the wintertime, unwanted creatures come into the house. Mice, rats and big scary flying cockroaches! Those kinds of pests really get me going!


Here’s a nice stand of turkey tail mushrooms growing from an oak log.


I will leave you with a sure-fire recipe for ridding your home of cockroaches. I call it Lou’s Roach Bait because my late friend, Lou, invented it and it works … even in Florida!


Lou's Roach Bait

4½ ounces boric acid
1 small onion, minced
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ cup plain flour 

Combine all ingredients. Add just enough water to make soft dough balls. Roll out small dough balls in your hands. (The boric acid will not harm you.) Make the balls about ¾- to 1-inch diameter. Place the bait under the refrigerator, dishwasher, stove or in other places where you have seen those buggers. The balls will dry and will not have an odor.


Clean up the yard, kill the roaches and have a productive, Happy New Year!

Until next time, remember to watch your salt and sugar, drink plenty of pure water, and breathe in and out!

Thanks for reading!

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