Yes, I’m still alive. June is going to be my second highest grossing month since opening, and I did it without a weekday housekeeper. That will be changing shortly, but a past guest motivated me to talk about composting some more. Now remember, I am not an expert, but the results I’m seeing this year (my second) compared to last year is amazingly better. First of all, the best way to compost is in a manufactured composting bin. Things will compost out in the open, it is nature for things to rot when dead. But with a bin you can control things that make the process more efficient. A problem with composting is it can draw rodents. The bin’s are designed with air vents to let lots of air in, but keep rodents out. If you live somewhere with raccoons, the lid can twist to secure the contents (raccoons are pretty clever and know how to lift the lid from your trash can or compost bin). When you first set your compost bin up, it needs to be placed on open dirt so the worms and microbes can get in. Rodents burrow, so you need to place a wire mesh down so the little guys can get in and the big guys can’t. (It takes a little while for the microbes to find your bin. You can buy an additive from a home and garden store, or just stop out in the woods and collect a pile of moldy leaves in a trash bag). When I harvested my first load of compost this spring, it was all muck. My good friend (and the editor of my manuscript), Myra is an avid composter and told me my percentage of green to brown was wrong, I had way to much green. Green are your kitchen scraps. Things like apple peelings and cores, potato peelings, celery trimmings, etc. Remember if you are going to compost something large like melon rinds, you should cut them up into smaller pieces so our little friends can be more efficient. The browns are your leaves, thatch, etc. I have a pile of leaves from last fall, but they won’t last this whole season, so as I weed and trim, I have a pile next to what is already brown and will use them up next. Composting is the exact opposite of sanitation. Basically, in sanitation harmful bacteria need food (so you keep your kitchen clean), water (our ancestors dried food for storage), temperature (we refrigerate perishable food until use) and air (we don’t leave perishable food sitting on the counter). (The other factor in sanitation is Ph, with composting the only thing you need to be concerned with here is be careful not to over load with a ton of citrus). When composting we now provide food (green and brown), keep it damp, the composting bin helps hold the warmth when it gets cold and is well ventilated (besides the air slots, you need to turn you concoction regularly and mix it all up). A rough analogy, but I thought it was relevant. What I did wrong my first season, was I used way too much green to brown. Myra said I should do 1/4 green to 3/4 brown and really seems to be working much better this year. Never compost meat and bones. I don’t compost vegetable matter that’s coated with fat (butter, oil, etc) after cooking. When I make quiche, frattata, etc, I just blanch the vegetables with steam, I don’t think a little salt & pepper will hurt. I have never noticed an offensive odor, even at the compost bin. There are a ton of fruit flies and such in and right around the bin, but my gecko swing is only about five feet from the bin and I’ve never had a guest complain about bugs, nor have I seen them there. I do have a problem here with slugs (I go out late at night with a flash light and stomp on them, rather disgusting, but better than putting chemicals down) and I have found them (and their babies) in the bin, which I just swat. Last year I added my egg shells and when I harvested the compost this spring, they were fairly intact. Myra says they are hard to compost and can take up to two years. I’m thinking if I get my little factory over there in that black bin working efficiently this year, I may try adding some egg shells next year and see how it works. A final note, there’s all kinds of bins out there that you can buy at home and garden stores or on line with all kinds of prices. The state has a program to encourage composting and they send people out to hold composting classes. Included is the compost bin, so for about $40 bucks, you get classes and a very sturdy bin. I’m sorry I don’t still have the info on this, it’s from last year, but I’m sure you can find it by Googling it.
I had a visit by the blood suckers last week. Allegheny County has a budget deficit and so they seem to have hired these young, just out of college people to canvass small lodging establishments trying to make some money for the county. I am in no position to comment on my fellow small businesses, but I don’t have the time or inclination to steal from the County. I have been giving tax exempt non profits the benefit of not having to pay the bed tax. Apparently non profits aren’t worthy of their tax exempt status by the County and I have to pay $300 for the four years I have been in operation. I’m OK with that (me paying, not their refusal to grant non profits tax exempt status). In four years, the County thinks I underpaid $300 in bed tax also. (Actually, I’m quite impressed that there’s only $300 in dispute in four years of operation). I’m OK with that also, mistakes happen and maybe I did. What I have a problem with is they are only giving my CPA four days to counter what they planned for three weeks, spent four days mulling over all my books. They want his rebuttal in my Thursday so they can enjoy their extended holiday weekend. What BS, maybe if the County worked as hard as small businesses, they might be able to provide services at a reasonable tax rate. OK OK, enough of my whining.
I think in my last blog, I talked about moving one of the hibiscus, which I did. He’s mad at me, but surviving. A little stunted (actually a lot stunted), but living and I’m sure will be happier in his new home. I hope to take out the sea grasses this week. I think I probably have another two weeks before their seeds ripen. OMG, I swear every seed from last year sprouted. I think I will have time to run out to that greenhouse in Allison Park, LMS Greenhouse & Nursery and get some replacement plants tomorrow. The Arondo donex along the front fence (the plants that everyone thinks are corn) are as tall as I am already. The elephant ears, my favorite, are waist high looking quite nice. The new banana plants seem quite happy and are growing above all their surrounding cousins (ferns and claira belles). The Veronica’s have their mildew again, I’m spraying them with an anti fungal, but I hate using any chemicals other than food and they have a limited life here. Guess what, I have a zucchini. It’s from a seed from last year. I wasn’t going to grow them again because they are prone to that mildew also. I guess I’ll see what happens this year. I have a problem with aphids in the oak tree in the “Beach”. Last year I got lady bugs and they really helped. I noticed the aphid poop on the deck under the tree a couple of weeks ago and finally remembered to the the lady bugs. But even without getting them in the early spring, the poop is a lot less than last year. Way to go lady bugs, you go for it.
Tricia & Kirk got married here last weekend. I think it was my first wedding this year that it didn’t rain. They did a first, they actually had the ceremony “on the beach”. It worked quite well and a little different. Usually the couple’s back is to the guests and the officiant is facing the guests. Tricia wanted to actually get married in the sand and they faced the Courtyard with the officiant standing on the deck. I personally really liked looking the officiant’s back the the bridal couple. You know, maybe I have no memory, but I swear each bride looks like the most beautiful bride ever. Tricia was gorgeous. It was a nice event, Jay’s group from Catered Elegance did a real nice job great food and service and poor Elaine, the Captain, had to take some grief from one of the guests before I stepped in. She handled herself very well. We had two temp bar tenders and they recycled so well that I only have one beer case that’s missing maybe three bottles. The guests were some beer drinkers. Chris from Wilkensburg Beer Distributors didn’t have to come back to pick up any full cases. That also was a first. Chris’s daughter got married here two years ago and we have an arrangement that he takes the credit card number, delivers what ever is ordered (he’ll advise you on how much to order), pick up the full cases after the event and only charge on consumption. His prices are competitive and a very nice service for my brides.
OK, I lied. I’m going to whine a little one more time. When I’m at the desk, I usually have the TV on low as back ground. For the past while back, I’ve had the Reggae station on and I actually get to see the name of the artist, song and CD and have been writing it down on a tablet when a song comes on I really like. Itunes doesn’t seem to be very interested in Reggae, I haven’t found one of them on they list. I’m far from an expert, but they should hire me as a consultant to beef up their offerings.
Well, the linen should be finished in the dryer by now. I’m going to finish my last two rooms and then play in the garden some. No check-ins today, so da boiz are guaranteed a run in the park. They don’t know this yet, but I assure you it will make their day.
Have a great day and I’ll be back sooner than the last time,