Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Flowers from recycled wool sweaters

Jenny was sweeping the front porch yesterday and she gave me a surprise present even though she was celebrating her 7th wedding anniversary. This is a how-to post (to help build interesting content that contributes to our bottom line) and also an online thank-you letter to a talented part of our skilled customer-service team. 

Her creative creations are a hobby that takes undesirable wool (in thrift-store sweater form) and transforms them into the perfect winter outfit addition. Hot glue, a complementary button and a simple pin back is all she uses. I think my beautiful wool flower pin will have a permanent home on my winter coat. This pin might also look great on straw hats like these! Earth colors are my favorite. 

Sharing your recycled wool flower pins on your wedding anniversary is very thoughtful - you better believe these sell on etsy for $11.00 each! Thanks Jenny! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Buckets Can be Beautiful

It's not often that you think of the beauty that lies within a bucket. But it can be found. Buckets make wonderful additions to home decor, storage, yard chores, office organization and much more. And while performing their tasks they can also add a little something extra to your space.

1. This photo found on flickr taken by Rupert Ganzer is of some beautiful red buckets hanging for a fire brigade.
2. These aged galvanized buckets are hanging out on a bench with some gorgeous yard decor, waiting to be put to use for the next task in the yard or garden.
3. Rain is captured beautifully by wonderferret as it lands in a dark green bucket that was set outside to capture some rain for extra water.
4. A small bucket is perfect for collecting just enough blueberries for a pie or cobbler.
5. Tomatoes cascade out of a plastic bucket used for harvesting in this photo captured by timlewisnm.
6. Large paint buckets hold beautiful bright tulips on display for sale. 

Find the beauty in buckets and add some to your home!

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Plastic Bucket Worm Bin DIY

Vermicomposting is something that is gaining in popularity as gardening is becoming more and more popular among people who want to know where their food is coming from. Vermicompost is a product that comes from the process of a type of composing that uses various worms. The most used worms are earthworms, red wigglers, and white worms. They help to create a uniform mixture of decomposing food waste, bedding materials and vermicast or worm manure.

To keep vermicomposting affordable you can create your worm bin from a plastic bucket.

To get started on creating your own Bucket Worm Bin you will need some supplies:
Three 5 gallon plastic buckets. (I like the 5 gallon camo buckets, they blend in a bit better than a blaring white bucket).
One lid for your bucket.
A drill with a 1/8 inch and 3/16 inch drill bits.
Shredded cardboard and/or newspaper. This will make your worm bedding.
Red wiggler composting worms. Your bin will be able to hold between 250 to 500 worms.

Creating your Worm Bin:
  • In two of your buckets drill several 3/16 inch holes into the bottom. These holes need to be roughly an inch apart.Your third bucket should be left WITHOUT holes.
  • Drill a line of 1/8 inch holes near the top of all of your buckets. This is the ventilation system for your compost so that it doesn't get or stay too wet.
  • Take your lid and drill some 1/8 inch holes in it as well. Again this is to help with ventilation and aeration.
  • The bucket that you are going to start your vermicompost in needs to be placed inside of the 3rd bucket (which was left hole free in the bottom).  Start your first level by moistening the cardboard and/or newspaper you have and putting it in the top bucket. then add your worms. At this time feel free to add a few food scraps. 
  • Put your lid onto the bin and allow the worms to work away. Add any food scraps as often as you need to. 
  • This is the part that will sound a little weird: once your first layer starts getting really broken down by the worms stack the other bucket with holes into the bucket that currently has your worms and vermicompost in it.To start your second layer add fresh bedding to the bottom of the bucket and add some food scraps on top of that. Your worms will start migrating up into the second bucket for the fresh food. Wait about two weeks to give most of the worms time to migrate up into the second bucket before you harvest the vermicompost from your original bucket. 
  • Regularly check the bottom bucket for liquid that has drained off of the vermicompost and use it as a fertilizer on any plants that need it.
  • Repeat the above steps as each level becomes full. 
Explaining the above process: Your worm bin will work in levels. The first level is where you start out with the worm bedding and food. Once that is broken down you will add the next level and the worms will gladly move into a new home with new food. The broken down stuff left on level one is your finished vermicompost. This is for you to use in your garden. You will switch back and forth between two of the buckets, emptying the finished vermicompost, then adding fresh food and bedding for your hard working worms to continue breaking down and making compost for you. The third bucket you have is going to be used to catch moisture off of the first two buckets. This mixture is referred to as vermicompost tea. Most people use it to fertilize their plants.

Tips for your Vermicompost:
Best foods for compost worms:  bread, carrots, coffee grounds, cucumbers, fruit peelings, lettuce, melon rinds, plain pasta, unsweetened cereal
Worst foods for compost worms: citrus fruits, citrus fruit rinds, potatoes, potato peels, onions, onion skins, also never add meat, fat, or dairy food to your worm bin.

Don't let compost get too dry, this will kill your worms.
Also, do not let the compost get too wet, the compost should feel as moist as a wrung-out sponge, to resolve a too wet worm bin you will need to stop adding foods that have a high moisture content. These foods include: berries, cucumbers, melons, and tomatoes. Once you get your bed back to normal you can start to incorporate these again, but do so in moderation. Also you will want to add fresh dry bedding to the bin. Just pull aside some of the wet contents and add a couple of layers of the new dry bedding, this will help to absorb some of the moisture.

Keep in mind that a vermicompost that is too wet can drown your worms.

When starting the new layer of vermicompost you may want to take a handful or two of the old vermicompost and add to it. This can help to introduce a few worms to the new bin and possibly some helpful microorganisms and worm eggs in order to help with the composting process.
Once you have this system down you can start adding more worm bins in order to expand your composting abilities.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Uses for Buckets in the Garden

Farmers and gardeners alike usually have several buckets on hand at any given time. Buckets can be very useful in the garden. Here are a few of our favorite bucket uses:

Use a galvanized bucket to haul your tools around. This is especially helpful if you have several gardening areas or flower beds distributed around your yard.

Fill a bucket with water to water trees or other large plants that need more water than a watering can will provide.

Image from Flickr. Taken by Dave Haygarth.

Use your bucket to tote kitchen scraps out to your compost heap.

Image from Flickr. Taken by andrew.petro.
Grow something in your buckets. Here's a list of blogs that can help get you started:
25 Things you can grow in a Bucket
Growing Succulents in Buckets
Easy Herbs to Grow in a Bucket
Spring Container Planting
Choosing a Planter
5 Gallon Bucket Garden

So grab some buckets or a metal pail and use them to help out in your own garden! Did we miss any uses that you think we should have shared? Please let us know in the comments below.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A 5 Gallon Bucket Garden

Vegetable gardening can seem like a huge task, but if you create a container garden for your vegetables, you can maintain your plants much easier. All you need are some 5 gallon buckets. If you want to mix things up a little, you can also use galvanized tubs or even camouflage buckets. If you have some plants that don't need as much space, you can add smaller plastic buckets to the mix for a stepping stone effect to your container garden.

First step is to prep your buckets:
Be sure that your bucket is either new, or if it is a recycled bucket that it was never used to hold any type of chemical since you will be growing foods for consumption in them.
Using a drill, make drainage holes in the bottom of your bucket, they should be about 5/8". You will need about 10 or so holes for good drainage.
To keep the holes from getting stopped up with soil, add about 1-2" of gravel to the bottom of you bucket.
Fill with a good potting soil, fill to within 1.5" from the top of the bucket.

Plant your Vegetables:
Choose your vegetables that you want to plant, be sure you read how much space each plant needs, how much sun, and water.
Plant your plants according to their needs. Try not to plant too close to the sides of the bucket or you risk your plants getting too hot. Keep them at least 1.75" from the edge of the bucket.
If you have plants that are small enough to plant near one another, keep in mind which plants make good companions to each other.
Place your buckets in your yard for the best sunlight, and easy access for watering. You will need to check container plants daily for whether they need water or not as container plants tend to dry out more quickly.

Be sure to harvest fruits and vegetables as they ripen, this will help your plants continue to produce throughout the season.

Photo by Becky Cortino, found on Flickr

Friday, April 19, 2013

Choosing a Planter for your Plants

It is time to head out into the yard and pretty everything up for spring. There are so many options available for people to make their yards look great, so to help you out we thought we would go over a few things that can help you to choose the right planters.

Before we delve into how to choose, first make sure any planters you are considering for use in your garden have drainage holes. We love using tin buckets in our gardens, but we do have to drill holes in the bottom to ensure proper drainage, we also add about 1-2 inches of gravel so that the holes do not get clogged with dirt.

First decide what types of plants you want in your garden. This will help you to decide what type of planters or containers you need. You will also need to know how big the root system of the plant will be, this will help to determine how wide and deep of a planter you will need.

How much water will the plant need? How much sun? Determine the positioning of your planter and the type of material used by these things. If you use a Terra cotta planter keep in mind that they can dry out quickly, unless you plan on watering frequently you will only want to have plants that need small amounts of water in Terra cotta planters. Synthetic or resin pots tend to retain moisture better and should be used for plants that need more water. Position your planters where they will get the optimal amount of sunshine for the plants that are in them. If you are planting more than one plant in a container then be sure that those two plants have similar needs.

If you live in an area where the climate tends to be colder then you will either want to put your planters up in storage each year when winter comes or you will want to invest in frost safe containers such as wood, stone, or cement.

If you need a planter that needs to be moved around then keep in mind the weight that you can comfortably move and purchase planters that are small enough to be moved easily.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Using Buckets in Weddings

Believe it or not, but we find our website: Bucket Outlet, being listed as a wedding resource and it is for very good reason. Buckets can be very useful in wedding scenarios. There are dozens of ways to use buckets or wash tubs in weddings.

For a rustic look on your tables at your reception a metal bucket can make a great vase.

Wooden Tulips Image by Vera Kratochvil
A small galvanized bucket can be a great way for the flower girl to carry the flower petals at your wedding.

Buckets can decorate the sides of your aisle as they hold flowers for decor.

Use a bucket to hold ice to keep wine cool.

Wine On Ice Image by Anne Lowe
These are just a few of many ideas. How have you seen buckets being used in weddings?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring Containers

Spring is nearly upon us, and if you do any container gardening now is the time to start prepping them for being used. You will want to clean out your containers and prep the soil so that it has plenty of nutrients for the plants that you are going to put into the container.

If you are using new containers this year you will want to check a few things before designating it for planting:
  • It must have enough drainage.
  • It must be pest free.
  • It must be disease free.
  • And it must be clean.
You will also want to be sure that your container is in good condition, this will ensure that it lasts longer, there is nothing more frustrating than being halfway through the growing season and having a container break, resulting in having to try to re-pot a plant while hoping that the trauma doesn't kill it. 

Whether you use planters, buckets, or a metal wash tub for your plants the following tips should be beneficial to you.

To Clean a Container: Used containers, whether they were used for planting or other things, need to be washed with a mild detergent. Check for damaged areas on your container while you are washing them. If these areas are easily fixed, then be sure to tend to them before putting your plants in them. Cracks in a container can give way to the pressure from a plant's roots, this will cause the container to break during the growing season. If you feel that a container is too damaged to be fixed you will want to discard of it and replace it with a new one.

Container Drainage: If a container does not have proper drainage then the plant growing in it will be in trouble. Excess water on a plants roots can cause a plant to become waterlogged, resulting in a sick or dead plant. The container that you use needs to have holes in the bottom for excess water to make an escape. If your container does not have holes, you can carefully drill some into it. To keep your holes from becoming clogged with dirt or debris add gravel to the bottom of the container. One to two inches should be sufficient.

If your plant is on a surface that needs to be protected from water, then you will want to have a drip tray beneath the container to catch the excess water that will come out.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fermenting Food in Crocks

At Bucket Outlet we sell Stoneware Crocks. These crocks are great for a multitude of things, storage, fermenting foods, or just as decor. In the area that we are based in, people stored their own food as a necessity for much longer than some other parts of the country. If a family was lucky enough to have crocks then they would be able to ferment or pickle some of their food to create a bigger variety of foods to eat during the winter months.

People had strong beliefs about when the best time to be able to pickle their foods would be. They used signs to help them. One old timer told us that if the signs were in the bowels then it was not the time to pickle foods, otherwise they would turn out soft and slimy rendering them unfit to eat.

Curious we had to ask what it meant for the signs to be in the bowels. The bowels are apparently ruled by the star sign Virgo and if one wants to pickle or ferment then they should not do it on a day of the month that is ruled by the sign of Virgo. We were informed that if you have a good planting calender that it will have each day labeled with the sign that rules over it. So if you are thinking of following the signs to know when to ferment your food, it is advised by the elders in our area to avoid Virgo's days.

So when was it recommended to try to start your fermenting? Depends on what you are preserving. For kraut, pickle beans, corn, or green tomatoes aim for when the moon is new. It is also recommended to NOT use iodized salt for pickling.

The beliefs of the people who lived in this area are amazing, yet it makes one think when you consider that it was with those beliefs that they were able to survive in the Appalachian mountains.

How to make Sour Kraut:
Have a clean 5 gallon crock ready.
Select firm cabbage heads and chop up.
Pack the crock by alternating layers of chopped cabbage and sprinkling of salt.
You will want about 1/2 a cup of salt per gallon of cabbage.
The cabbage will produce its own water.
Once your crock is full cover your cabbage with a saucer or a preserving weight.
(If using a preserving weight be sure to place a lid on your crock as there is a hole in the center of the weight.)
If you are using a saucer to cover your cabbage you will want to place something on top of it to help weight down the cabbage. Some people use a gallon of water.
Ten days is the average amount of time to allow the cabbage to sour. But you will want to keep a check on the sauerkraut during this process to be sure everything is going well.
Once your kraut is as sour as you desire take it out and pack into canning jars and can them using the waterbath canning method.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Designated Cleaning Buckets

Having buckets that hold  your cleaning supplies makes sense, it makes toting the supplies to the area that needs to be cleaned much easier. Make it fun by sorting your supplies into different brightly colored buckets. Designate a color to a certain area or type of cleaning.

You will probably want a bucket for:
Cleaning the Kitchen
Cleaning the Bathrooms
Washing the Windows
Dusting the Furniture

To make things even easier, especially if you have children that help with chores around the house, make a list of tasks that should be completed in each area of the home. Sort the list by best task to complete first down the the task that should be done last.

Be sure to keep your buckets where you will be most likely to grab one to use it to clean!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Organize your Craft Room with Baskets

Getting a craft room organized can be a major task. Especially since it is said that creative types tend to have trouble with organization. So let's talk about organizing with baskets:

Square baskets can be used on the shelves of a desk in order to organize craft supplies.
Have high shelves? Use baskets on them to keep items that are only used occasionally out of the way, but organized.

Use your printer and create some nice labels to know what are in your baskets. This will also help with clean up since you will know exactly where items belong.

This twine holder basket from Red Hill General Store could possible double for balls of yarn:

How have you used baskets to help keep your craft room organized?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Easy Herbs to Grow in a Bucket or Tub

One of the easiest edible plants to grow indoors is various types of herbs. Depending on how many you plan on growing depends on the size of herb container you will need. You can use a planter made specifically for this or you can use a bucket.

If using a bucket you will need to carefully drill holes in the bottom, then line the bottom with 1-2 inches of gravel or rock (this is so that water can drain out), then fill with your planting soil before planting your herbs. Underneath your bucket you will want to have a planter tray underneath to catch any water that may come out when you water your herbs.

If you are a beginner you will want to start with the easiest herbs for growing indoors.

The Bay Tree: this one is a slow grower. The best type of bay tree for cooking with is the Laurus nobilis. Do not let your bay tree get too dry or it can become infested with scale. If this happens use a dishwashing detergent to wash the leaves off and be sure to rinse them well.

Chive: The best variety of chive to grow inside is the Grolau. Chive is an easier herb for growing indoors as it does not require as much light as other herbs do.

Lemongrass: Your lemongrass doesn't actually need soil to grow. If you get a stalk at the grocery store or market that has a lot of stem and an intact bottom you can just trim the top, place into a container with a couple inches of water and watch it grow. Your lemongrass should start growing new roots and sprout out several new stalks from the bottom.

Mint: You will want to grow any type of mint in its own herb container as mint tends to be an invasive species of plant.

Parsley: Like the Chive it does not need as much sun to grow, however, parsley tends to be another slow grower and may not yield a lot.