Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hello world!

Things are winding down at the farm. Still, we have to winterize the worm hoop houses. The plastic needs to be unpacked and stretched over the frames. At 16 feet high, 20 ft wide, 48 ft long, this is a 4 person job. It has to be done on a windless day or you would likely be flung 60 miles away.
We have 50 degree days and 35 degree nights. The Worms are lovin' it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


March came in like a lion, a snow lion! 

It’s been a very cold windy start to the beginning of the garden season. Right now I have to go to the cellar to get my spring green fix where seedlings are happily growing under the lights.  In another couple of weeks it should be warm enough at night for some of them to move out to the greenhouse where they will really start to take off.  It would be great if they could move out quicker because I need the room for my next round of starts.  Right now I have cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, leeks, lettuce, parsley, thyme, anise hyssop and a half a dozen different flowers residing on a table under 3 shop lights.  Later this week I plan to start peppers and eggplant, then next week it will be flats of tomatoes, basil, and more flowers. 

There is so much to do but it can be hard to get motivated when it is cold and gray, really I don’t think the seeds even want to come out of the packages on a days like this.  The weather man has promised sun by the end of the week so I won’t get too far behind schedule.
Maybe I should go sit under the lights too! 


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shaker-style worm harvesting

Moving on, a simple inexpensive tool for harvesting your worms and castings is a framed screen. I recommend using "hardware cloth" with 1/8" holes. This separates most of the baby worms as well as the bigger ones. It also gives you a more pure worm castings product.

Make your screen with slightly larger dimensions than those of your wheelbarrow. You can place the screen on the edges of your wheelbarrow to load worm material onto. Then simply move the frame back and forth so that the castings fall into the wheelbarrow and the worms and unfinished material stay on top of the screen.

One thing to keep in mind with this method is that your material must be dried to a point where the worms are still fine and the material is crumbly and damp. This will allow the castings and vermicompost to separate. The worms and material left on top of the screen is then added to the fresh bedding. When the process is completed, you should end up with a wheelbarrow full of high quality worm casts and compost that is ready to add to your garden!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hill and Sort Method

The hill and sort method is a bit time-consuming. But for the home worm bin enthusiast, it works well.
**Empty the contents of your bin onto a table covered in plastic or a light-colored vinyl tablecloth. **Place a bright light over the material.
**Now separate into small hills and scoop off the tops repeating the procedure every 20 minutes.
**The worms will continuously dive away from the light until all that’s left are the worms in a small amount of the compost. Place them into your freshly prepared bedding and start recycling again. There will still be some worms left in the separated compost. You may decide to dry your vermicompost  enough to enable you to sift it through a screen collecting the remainder of worms.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bedding For Worm Bins

We have loads of choices of materials we can use in worm bins. First though, lets go over the worm's requirements:

*Composting worms are surface dwellers. This means their living environment is oxygen rich and fairly loose.
*Worms take in air through their skins and to do this requires that they live in consistently moist material. So, the bedding must hold moisture.
*A worm bin is generally a small space for a large number of worms to live. There can be nothing in the material that would distress your worms as they would have nowhere to go to get away from the irritant.
*Worms use the equivalent of a gizzard to process nutrients. So, include small amounts of grit or sand in any bedding.

The bedding material, while being light and fluffy, should also have enough substance so that you can bury your garbage and cover it knowing that you are not attracting unwanted pests and that no odors escape.

Materials that fit the bill:

*Coconut coir
*Peat Moss (although this is not a renewable resource)
*Aged sawdust
*Shredded newspaper (mix this with compost to avoid matting) avoid color pages as the inks may be toxic
*Compost, choose organic but avoid compost containing cotton burr (I do not know why this is an irritant)
*Shredded leaves
*Cardboad (combine with compost)
*Grit should be added in small amounts with any bedding

If your goal is to keep the worms in a "natural" habitat, compost and shredded leaves is the answer and don't forget the grit.If you don't have the time and/or materials to make up a natural bedding, we provide worm bedding on our site that meets all of the worms' and the worms' owners needs. It comes as close to a natural habitat for the worm as we can make it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Garden Dreaming

It's the New Year, the holiday festivities are over and the seed catalogs have arrived just in time to add brightness to a dreary January.  Cold winter nights are the perfect time to curl up in a cozy chair and plan out the garden season ahead. 
I sip hot herbal tea and makes lists of everything I want to plant this year.  Of course since the real work is still a couple months away I can be as impractical as I want. I add anything that catches my eye to the list. 
There always seems to be a whole new bunch of tomato varieties that look too good to pass up, all the different colors and shapes. I must have one of each.  How many types of summer squash can I get away with this year? What about the beautiful eggplants and the peppers and all the different greens, and I haven’t even started looking for flowers. The list keeps getting longer and longer. 
Eventually reason will start to take hold again and I will whittle my orders down to an almost manageable level. This year’s garden in my January mind is way different than the April reality.  I will probably once again plant the onions too late and maybe not get to that last packet of morning glories but oh how wonderfully lush and unique is my imagined garden!


Monday, January 3, 2011

Worm Harvesting

This is an email I recieved about worm compost way too wet for separation at harvesting time:

I just purchased one of your worm harvesters and I am anxious to use it. I teach second grade and I keep my bin in my classroom. My kids help to manage the bin. I really would like them to begin harvesting the compost using the harvester worm poop is very wet and not dropping through the screen. I know you suggested drying it a bit but exactly how do I do that? I find when I have dried the compost it dries in hard clumps.
How do I create light, dry, loose compost and castings. We would like to sell it at school as a fundraiser but I want it to be just right.

Thanks for your help!


Your material is way too wet I think. Here are some ideas. Tear newspaper into chunks (not shredded). Mix it into the material well until wet then remove. Do this several times with new paper each time. You should be able to absorb a lot of moisture this way.

The material should be more manageable after this. Now put the material on a tray with shallow sides (to keep the worms in) and run a fan on this. Periodically run your hands through this to break up clods and stir the material so that it all dries evenly. Soon you should have harvestable compost.

I hope this helps. The kids will get such a kick out of harvesting time :o)