Monday, November 10th, 2014
One of my readers (Valerie) was talking to me about her raised beds. She had just ordered Alabama Jumpers, and was excited for her worms to arrive. As soon as I saw this picture, I thought, what a brilliant idea! The plastic half bins are the equivalent of several Greenhouses. Great for sheltering tender plants from the cold in the fall and giving them a good start.
I love ideas like this.
Monday, September 1st, 2014
Have you noticed that store bought lettuce is often bitter in the summer? It’s not your imagination. Store bought lettuce is bitter because hot sun will cause lettuce to become bitter. I have grow boxes in my backyard, but because they receive a lot of direct sun, I grow sun loving plants only in the grow boxes.
What to do?
You can easily grow lettuce in pots under shade (See above). Using castings helps make the lettuce grow quickly, which is what you want, as slow growing lettuce tends to be bitter also. August tends to be our hottest month, so I’ve got another option specifically for growing in the hottest part of the year that I will share shortly.
Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
I am planning to use vermiculite in my raised garden bed for growing vegetables, and would like to know if it will harm earthworms?
By the way, regarding the worm casting you sell, is it 100% pure casting?
What they sell at OSH, labeled, “black gold”, is mixed with peat moss and compost.
Vermiculite in “Normal” quantities (Say 10%-20%) does not harm worms. I know this because my container planting mix contains worm castings(usually with worms), peat moss, vermiculite and/or turface, compost, and biochar. When I repot my plants, the mix is full of happy worms.
You need to make sure that the rest of your garden bed material is worm friendly though. A treatment of synthetic fertilizer would make your mix NOT worm friendly, and some may believe the worms were harmed by the vermiculite.
Regarding “Pure” castings. In 7 years in this industry, I have NEVER seen “Pure” castings. Frankly, the science behind growing worms would suggest there is no such thing as “Pure” castings. Don’t get scammed.
Because worm castings can get really muddy, trying to raise worms in castings is not a good idea. It’s really easy to cut all the oxygen out, and you want a bedding that is fairly light so that it breathes. If raising worms in castings is difficult, surely keeping worms in castings long enough so that they’ve eaten all of the other material would make raising worms difficult.
Sunday, May 25th, 2014
In this video game babysitter world we live in, here’s a refreshing pic. Grandma Janis Sue letting her worms loose in the garden with her adorable 3 year old Grandson helping. Or as Janis Sue likes to say, “Planting” her worms in the garden bed.
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
If I could have a dollar for every time I hear this complaint, I would retire tomorrow…
I am writing to seek your assistance with Wriggly Wranch. We purchased it last year (May) so it has been operating for almost a year. In that year, we have been very careful what to feed the worms (no citrus, no hard foods, etc.), kept it moist, and started carefully so as not to overfeed initially. The worms eat the food well but one problem: the very bottom (collector) tray keeps growing higher with a wet mud like consistency while the top working tray (the only tray we’ve ever used) continues to dwindle as the food is eaten. They successfully ate the bedding, they consistently eat the food they are given, and they eat the paper products we use to cover the food yet we never see the area grow. Can you make some recommendations? What are we doing wrong?
Oh and I should mention that we’ve kept it inside because we felt the temperatures outside were too inconsistent and we had too few places that don’t get some hours of sunshine throughout the day. So they’re kept at normal inside home temperatures, about 68 to 75 degrees.
Pamela & Cesar
Hi Pamela and Cesar,
Good News, Bad News. The good news is that you’ve done nothing wrong. The bad news is that plastic bins suck.
A plastic bin is essentially a bucket. If you’ve ever maintained a bucket for your food scraps under your sink, you’re familiar with the smell that I call, the “OH GROSS” smell. Plastic is non porous material. Regardless of how many holes you poke in the bin, it does not breathe well. Your bin will always be too wet, too muddy, too stinky, and produce castings that are never fluffy as you would like them to be. Plastic is very inexpensive to manufacture though, so plastic bins will never completely go away.
Now that you know what you are up against, there are some work arounds.
1. Never put more food than you have worm mass in a plastic bin. One pound of worms…can be safely fed one pound of food.
2. Put a piece of “Weed Stop”(Google it) to line the bottom tray that makes contact with the base (Cut it a little bigger so the weed stop goes up the sides a bit). This is a permanent strainer, and will reduce the worms and mud that end up accumulating in the base.
3. You’ll rarely (Maybe never) need to water a plastic bin. Food scraps are constantly releasing water, and that condensation bounces off the walls and the roof, keeping your bin very wet.
When you get tired of dealing with these work arounds, go to www.TheWormInn.com for a MUCH better worm composting solution.
Sunday, April 13th, 2014
I was reading a gardening book, and I came across this quote from Jerry Baker:
No matter how good your plants look when you buy them, or how fresh your seeds may be, their (and your) success depends on how well you prepare the soil in the beds you are making for them. As all good gardening professionals know, the best soil you can give your plants is one that will hold moisture while letting the extra water run off.
This describes Biochar perfectly. Biochar acts like a Biological sponge, holding in water and nutrients and releasing these liquids to feed your plants as it begins to dry out. It does not get “Boggy” like many commercial potting mixes, so the roots of your plants never smother.
If you’ve never tried Biochar before, I recommend giving it a test. It’s great stuff.
Sunday, March 23rd, 2014
Here is something you may not know about me. I’m a hard worker, but I would rather be LAZY! What do I mean by that? I spend a lot of time and passion on learning all I can about vermicomposting and gardening, but because I have so many things going on at once, I try to keep things as simple as I can. Cause I’d rather be spending more time relaxing, and less time doing physical work.
Often times my passion for learning and my love of relaxing come together. This is one of those times.
What you are looking at are pistachio tree seedlings. Because of the time involved, I would say that these are definitely not considered easy to grow. However, by putting the nuts in a bag of compost all I need to do is keep the compost from drying out…and the seeds do their thing. Easy Peasy!
Monday, March 10th, 2014
You are looking at several pineapple plants that overwintered in San Jose, Ca. The weather is warm now, but we had some really cold days this winter that were down into the teens. How could these plants have survived? The plants are sitting next to my house. My house is constantly radiating heat….apparently enough heat for the pineapple plants to not only survive, but to thrive!
Keep this in mind next year when have some plants that you want to protect. Now, those of you in the Midwest and East that have had EXTREMELY cold spells will definitely not benefit from this, but those in moderate climates may just be able to capture enough heat to save some of your favorite plants next winter.
Sunday, February 23rd, 2014
Do you enjoy reading these tips? I hope you are finding them useful.
Depending on the response, I’m considering sending out these tips weekly. I’m having some work done on my site, so I don’t want to add an opt in page on my current site until that is all done.
If I get enough response, and if you would like to be on the Tip list, simply go to the contact us page and send me an email saying, “Add me to the list”.
Sunday, February 16th, 2014
Organic fertilizer can be expensive. Want an inexpensive alternative?
Horse/Cattle feed pellets from your local farm supply are a great source of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potasium)….the feed even contains molasses, which is the perfect treat for the microbes in your soil! Just sprinkle the mixture around your plants and water it in.
The combination of these pellets, along with some vermicompost (For beneficial bacteria) cannot be beat!
I hope you find these Tips enjoyable and educational. Feel free to share with your friends and neighbors. I ask only that any reproduced information be properly linked to this website.