The Lee Reich
Compost Bin Design

Dateline: 30 May 2016
(click on pictures to see enlarged views)

There it is. Thank you, Lee Reich!
(click the picture)

Back in 2007 my family went to the Pennsylvania Renewable Energy & Sustainable Living Festival. While there, I attended a presentation by the garden writer, Lee Reich. In the course of his talk, Lee showed a picture of his compost bins. Someone asked how he made them, and Lee provided a verbal explanation of how he made the interlocking side boards.

Shortly after I got home, I figured out how to make the  sides and built a couple of the bins. The pictures below give you an idea how the bins go together. 

Lee uses 1 x 12 boards to make his compost bins. I used 1 x 8 boards. The finished bins ended up being kind of expensive but they have lasted 9 years and will likely last quite a bit longer. 

The secret to getting maximum lifespan out of your boards is to not leave them outdoors, full of compost, year round. If you take the bins apart at the end of the garden season, let the boards dry out, and store them out of the weather in the winter, they will last. 

Click Here for an article showing how Lee Reich makes his compost bins.

This pile of old boards will fit together to make my compost bin.

I attached the end cleats with Gorilla glue and three wood screws. Two screws through one side and one through the other. None of the cleats have come off in nine years.

This picture shows how the boards interlock at the corners.

I made two bins nine years ago. One is bigger than the other.

Yesterday I mowed and raked up a truckload of grass and weeds to fill my compost bins.

I layered in the fresh-cut greens with some comfrey. I'm not using any animal manure because of  a bad experience I had with herbicide residue in horse manure a few years ago. I think the fresh-cut weeds and comfrey will have enough nitrogen and moisture to compost without manure.

Full compost bin, for now. It will settle considerably, of course. I filled the other bin after taking the picture.
A well-tended compost bin should be covered.

This is the desired final result. I sifted this compost from the remnants of last year's compost pile.

Interview With
Eliot Coleman

Dateline: 28 May 2016

Eliot Coleman
(photo link)

My introduction to Eliot Coleman came back in the 1970's when he was featured in Organic Farming & Gardening magazine (I still have that issue somewhere). Eliot is now 77 years old, and is the elder statesman of American organic gardeners.

If you're any kind of a gardener, you have at least one of Eliot Coleman's gardening books. Click on the photo link under his picture and you'll find a "fertile dozen" of vintage gardening-related books (besides his own) that he recommends. I just tracked down a couple of the less expensive ones and ordered them.

Better yet, if you want to listen to a great (and fairly recent) interview with Eliot Coleman, click here: Eliot Coleman on the Importance of Observation and Making the Soil Work For Your Farm.

I enjoyed the interview so much that I've listened to it twice.

Planet Whizbang
Pocket Cultivator Giveaway...
With Four Winners!

Dateline: 16 May 2016

It's a downright handy tool for any gardener!
(click picture for enlarged view)

Among the best of ideas in my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners is the homemade Whizbang pocket cultivator, an example of which you can see in the picture above. 

Don't let the obvious simplicity of this tool deceive you. My own Whizbang pocket cultivator is one of the most useful gardening tools I own. It is perfectly suited for light cultivating of garden soil up close to plants, and in other areas that are too small to get into with a hoe. 

There are three "secrets" to making a most useful pocket cultivator. First, the length of the fork must be just right. Second, the handle end of the fork must have a bulbous shape to it. This swollen end makes it so much easier to grasp and work with the fork. In my book (page 69) I reveal the ideal pocket cultivator length and I tell how to make the bulbous end.

The third secret to making a really good pocket cultivator is to choose the right fork. While any dinner fork will do the job, a heavy-duty fork with long tines is so much nicer than a fork with short tines made of lightweight metal.

I have made a study of dinner forks at thrift stores and antique shops and I've discovered that ideal-pocket-cultivator-grade forks are surprisingly hard to find. There is an abundance of cheaply-made lightweight forks to choose from, but there are far less of the better quality forks.

With that in mind, you might imagine my delight at finding 18 assorted vintage dinner forks that were just right for making pocket cultivators at an antique shop a few days ago. I sorted through a box with hundreds of pieces of odd cutlery to get the 18 forks, and I paid a whopping 70 cents each for them.

This recent discovery is what has prompted me to launch this Whizbang pocket cultivator giveaway. I've made four pocket cultivators like you see in the picture above. These are deluxe Whizbang pocket cultivators because I have given the handles a coating of Plasti-Dip rubber.

I'm using Rafflecopter to compile the names of everyone who enters this giveaway. And Rafflecopter will choose the four winners at random. This should save me a lot of time and trouble.

However, Rafflecopter is new to me and I'm still kind of figuring it out. I hope everything goes smoothly. I hope you will bear with me if there are any glitches.

To enter the contest, you need to click in the appropriate spot in the Rafflecopter box below. Rafflecopter will need either your name and e-mail address or your Facebook identity. After you enter that information you will be asked to visit the Whizbang Gardening Facebook page. Then click "I visited" in the entry box, and you will be officially entered in the contest. 

Winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter on May 24th and announced here shortly thereafter. 

Terms & Conditions

No purchase is necessary for this giveaway. There will be four winners, chosen randomly by Rafflecopter. Each winner will receive a homemade Whizbang Pocket Cultivator, like shown in the picture at the top of this page. The contest is for US residents only. If you win, you will be contacted by e-mail. You have 48 hours to reply to the e-mail with your mailing address. If you don't respond in that time, another person will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There is still time to take advantage of the unprecedented 2-fer sale on the Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners. Two books for the price of one ($21.95), and shipping is included. The sale runs to the end of this month. CLICK HERE for details and to order.

Good News From
"Further South"

Dateline: 15 May 2016

For those who don't already know, David the Good and family, formerly of Florida, have left America. David revealed this in his Blog Post a couple days ago. As explained in the short YouTube video above, they are renting a cocoa farm at "an undisclosed location near the equator."  

Those who have read this blog for awhile know that I've mentioned David several times. We "met" back in 2013 when he purchased a Whizbang Wheel Hoe kit from me and reviewed it at his blog. Later, when I came out with my Classic American Clothespins, David bought some and reviewed them too (Here is the Review Link).

And David is, like me, a self-published gardening book author (see his books Here). He also has a slightly zany sense of humor that is frequently manifested in some of his YouTube Videos. For the most part, I get the humor and appreciate it. 

When you move your family from Florida to a cocoa farm in an undisclosed location near the equator, taking all your stuff can be expensive. So you just don't take all your stuff. You take only the most essential and valued items. Which means, of course, that if you are a "survival gardener" you take your Whizbang wheel hoe, and I was very pleased to hear that is exactly what David has done. 

At this point, I don't know if the clothespins and David's Planet Whizbang Hat were deemed necessary and worthy enough to make the journey.

Now, as I pondered this move, it occurred to me that David would have at least one problem moving to an undisclosed location near the equator. That problem being that his blog is titled Florida Survival Gardening

But I just looked, and it's now titled The Survival Gardener. So I guess that little problem is solved.

David and family (his wife and a number of children) are among a growing number of American expatriates. It's an exciting idea to consider, and I wish this family all the best in their new tropical homestead.


P.S. I've been privileged to know about this planned exodus for some time, and I actually know where the undisclosed location near the equator is. But I've been told it is Top Secret (for now), and I'm very good at keeping a secret.  

Who knows... I might want to head down there myself someday. Wouldn't that be something! And I'll change the name of this blog to The Deliberate Tropical Agrarian.

It's A Down-To-Earth,
Theological Tour De Force
(Joel Salatin's Newest Book)

Dateline: 5 May 2016 AD

I'm in the midst of a little blogging break but I'm returning to tell you about Joel Salatin's newest book, The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs, which I am in the process of reading. 

Don't let the title mislead you. It isn't a book about pigs. It's a book written directly to professing Christians on the subject of responsible creation stewardship. In short, The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs is a well reasoned, much needed theological slap upside the head of modern mainstream Christianity.

I must confess that I've only read up to page 68 thus far (189 pages yet to read). But I can tell you I haven't enjoyed a book as much as this one in a long time.  It is insightful, thought provoking, spiritually convicting and, occasionally, kind of shocking. The book makes one powerful point after another. Here are a few random quotes that give you a little bit of the "attitude" of this book....


The fact is that the religious right has neglected earth stewardship and given it over to creation worshippers instead of owning it as Creator worshipers.


I would suggest that a culture that views its pigs as just mechanical objects to be reprogrammed and manipulated will view its citizens the same way, and ultimately God the same way. A deity to be manipulated and formed into something of our liking.


We're the first culture in the world that routinely eats things that have never lived. In spiritual parlance, we're ingesting things that are an abomination to our bodies—and then requesting prayer for the ailments that result.


In many ways, GMOs are far more insidious and destructive than alcohol or tobacco...


I find it fascinating that sexual abstinence is front and center on youth Bible study agendas, but junk food orgies are perfectly fine.


For Christians to make jokes about Rachel Carson and the definitive understanding that DDT created infertile frogs, three-legged salamanders, and a dead zone the size of New Jersey in the Gulf of Mexico is simply unconscionable in light of our creation stewardship mandate. The earth is the Lord's, not ours. If we took care of our employers' physical interests the way we take care of God's physical interests, we'd be fired and probably put in jail.


The world we live in is holy. The life we embrace is holy. My dad used to say, "To us, every bush is a burning bush."


There is so much more to this book than those few quotes convey. If you are a Christian and an agrarian (as many readers of this blog are)  there isn't a doubt in my mind that you will enjoy The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs.