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)


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Worm Tea for Diseased Plants

Dear Debbie,

Thanks for asking about worm tea effects - I waited so I could give a true report over time.
I found your website indirectly through google because I was looking for a natural fix for blight on the plants I had in the containers on the deck.

I'm not a farmer, not a gardener -- just went to Wal-Mart and a couple of other places and got some tomato and squash and eggplant plants.

I don't know if you heard out there, but on the east coast there was a huge blight problem because Wal-Mart was selling infected tomato and squash plants, from some grower in the South. Hmmm.

So this is what I think. Worm tea did not cure the blight.What it does do is cause a spurt of growth, leaf growth,which helps to make the plant stronger.
IF (big word) I had applied worm tea more often and more consistently, I might have been able to save the plants. But I was both lazy and not sure if it would help, so I first started out applying a bucket once a week and this slowed down into every other week or every 2 or 3 weeks.

The squash plants died. All of them. Even the pumpkins that I had grown from seed and set off in the yard, far away from the infected squash-from-Wal-Mart plants. So maybe the blight is not necessarily from the squash/tomato plants. Or maybe it travels far in the air.

The tomato plants did not die. But they were sickly and scraggly and produced puny fruits, many of which were covered in black spots. I think this is one of the symptoms of tomato blight.

But I am a happy customer. I do believe worm tea is a very good thing for plants -- it's like a perkup for them, gives them a little push, maybe like a good strong cup of coffee.

So if I was doing it all over again, I would make worm tea every day for them while they were very young and in the danger period of suffering from blight.

E Dempsey