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Good Castings, Bad Castings

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

How do castings work?

Healthy soil is a living ecosystem.  The key word here is “Living”.  When “Viable” castings are added, they contribute large amounts of beneficial bacteria to the soil.  Without beneficial bacteria, nothing (At least not anything we would be interested in) grows.

Have you ever purchased castings from a garden center or a big box store?  Were the castings damp, or more like dry sandbox material?   I call these cat box castings!

Ever wonder how and why this happens?

Here’s the scoop.  There is time involved in getting the product to market, and the packaging is optimum.

Time to get the castings from the farmer to the distributor.

Time to get the castings from the distributor to the warehouse

Time to get the castings from the warehouse to the store.

There’s more….

The bags that are used for retail packaging contain micropores.  Hundreds of thousands of them.  During all this transit time, your castings are slowly drying out.  To the point that they become non viable as the good bacteria requires moisture.

What does this mean?

Well, you’ve just purchased worthless (Or nearly worthless) castings.   That’s not much of a bargain at any price.

Science says that castings can last a LONG time when properly maintained (IE provided oxygen and moisture).

How can you tell if your castings are still viable?  Simple…put a few fast growing seeds in your castings.  Grass seed works well for this.  If the seeds sprout within the week and continue to grow, your castings are viable.

What’s the point?

Purchase your castings shipped straight from the farm.  Use them right away, OR store them properly.  5 gallon buckets with a bunch of small air holes drilled in the neck of the buckets for stacking works well, as buckets retain moisture like a sponge.

You can purchase your castings from the garden center/big box store and HOPE…or buy them from the worm dealer and know you’ve received castings that were recently processed from the back end of living worms.

 

 

The Food Waste Problem – Week 10

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Well folks…I’ve decided that this is my final week of tracking my food waste.  After 10 weeks, I believe there is no doubt about how easy it is to divert your fruit and veggie scraps from the landfill.

4.74 pounds of scraps this week (Fresh Pineapple was on sale)

Delicious!

The worms are going to love it.

…Again, when I’m done, no muss, no fuss.

Final Tally – This week 4.74 pounds

Previous totals – 26.12 pounds

FINAL TOTAL – 30.86 POUNDS OF WASTE DIVERTED FROM THE LANDFILL

Waste Reduction.  You can be a part of the problem….or a part of the solution!

 

My Poor Wife

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Since temps are expected to be 100 degrees out here for the next several days, I decided the grow beds would be better off filled with summer fruits, and it was time to pick the onions.  Looks are deceiving here.  This tub weighs about 50 pounds filled with all of these onions.

My poor wife.  I asked her if she would chop and freeze the green onions.  Oh man, that is a LOT of chopping.  I grew these in my grow mix and a lot of Biochar.  Best yields I have ever had.

Onions were removed so I could fill my grow beds with yummy mini watermelons.  The neighborhood kids have been coming over to see these…and they all want to pick them when they are just ping pong ball size….LOL

I’ve potted up several in 15 gallon pots with grow media so their non gardener parents only had to make sure they received some water daily.  The children will never forget growing their own melons, and hopefully,  they will garden themselves someday.

 

 

The Food Waste Problem – Week 9

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Remember the whole watermelon I put in last week?  Wait and see what happened to it. You will be amazed.  The bag itself looks like I put the usual 3-5 pounds of scraps and worms are waiting for more.  Is that possible?

5.25 pounds of waste this week.  Not the usual stuff.  Because our weather has been so strange….Hot, Cool, Rainy, Hot….my lettuce is bolting faster than I’ve ever seen it.  So…rather than throwing all that lettuce in the trash, might as well give it to the worms.

Between the bolting lettuce and our food scraps, almost filled up a bucket this week also.

Here’s the money shot.  Can you find the remaining watermelon in the INN?

This weeks food du jour is the lettuce I was telling you about.  Lots of it.

And when I’m done, you can’t even tell I added a thing.

Previous total – 20.87 pounds of food waste diverted from the landfill.

This weeks waste – 5.25 pounds.

Total waste processed – 26.12 pounds!

The more the merrier, it’s all going to be nice rich vermicompost for my plants after the worms have had their way with it.

The Food Waste Problem – Week 8

Monday, June 17th, 2013

I was shopping this weekend and saw the Watermelon cribs FULL of BIG, juicy melons. Instead of triggering a rational thought of…that looks good,  the first thought that came to mind was, That would make a great blog post this week………

Turns out the Melon was very good too….  LOL.

Lots of produce scraps for The Worm Inn this week…..

Here is the skin of that entire Watermelon…..

Total waste to be added to The Worm Inn this week…12.49 pounds…..WOW!

Here is what it looked like when I just dumped everything in (Before covering up the scraps).

Because the worms had broken down much of the existing bedding, I added some fresh newspaper shreds this week.  Notice, I chose to add my shreds totally dry.  This was done on purpose….My Inn had plenty of moisture in it from last week, and I know 12+ pounds of scraps would release a lot of water.  The addition of the dry shreds will help suck up the excess moisture in the Inn this week.   After adding the shreds, you would never know I just plopped in an entire watermelon (And more), this week.

Previous total amount of waste diverted from the landfill – 20.87 pounds

New total after this week…..33.36 pounds of food waste diverted from the landfill!!!

The Food Waste Problem – Week 7

Monday, June 10th, 2013

This week was more representative of a “Normal” week for us.   We dehydrated some Mango, so we had quite a few skins in our waste, in addition to the normal, “Stuff”.

…and the scale says…a whopping 4.49 pounds of waste.

As usual, the bedding level had dropped some.  Worms are waiting to be fed…..

Temps this week were unusually high…..and unusually low.  Anyway, last weeks scraps rotted pretty quickly.  No bad smells though…that’s aerobic decomposition, the product of a breathable system.  Waste is broken down, but not soupy…just damp.

Now you’re probably thinking, Why is he throwing out perfectly good lettuce?  Well, once again temps going from 60 degrees to 95 degrees in a week have freaked out the fresh lettuce….making it bolt (Turn to seed), and extremely bitter.  The lettuce below “Looks” good, but is waaayyy bitter.  Haven’t heard the worms complaining about it though.

Another pic of the “Stuff” before covering it back up.

And the final pic with everything covered up.  It takes 10x as long to document the waste as it does to deal with it.

Previous total – 16.38 pounds

This week – 4.49 pounds

New Total – 20.87 pounds of food waste being turned into valuable vermicompost.

Time spent actually processing the waste this week…..approximately 30 seconds.

What’s YOUR excuse for not doing this?

The Food Waste Problem – Week 6

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

So…first things first…I had added bedding a few days ago and just got around to wetting the new stuff this afternoon.

We had a little more food waste this week than normal, so I put it in a medium garbage bag in order to weigh it all at once.  Included in this weeks food waste was some romaine lettuce growing out back that started turning to seed.  For those of you that have never grown lettuce….

1.  You don’t know what you are missing.  Fresh lettuce is fantastic.

2.  Unfortunately, lettuce turns to seed quickly when the weather gets too warm, or the plant gets stressed.  As it begins to turn to seed the lettuce gets very bitter.  The worms still love it though!

90 degree weather a few days after cool, rainy weather makes it really stressful on plants like lettuce.

Before I put in the food, I wanted to check out what remained of the prior food waste….

Basically nothing left!  Just damp paper with a few small chunks of who knows what…..worms are gonna be hungry.

Everyone in the pool!  Chow time.


…And all waste covered up and ready to be devoured by the worms.  Easy as can be.

Previous total – 13.04 pounds

This week – 3.34 pounds

New total  16.38 pounds of food waste being turned into valuable vermicompost.

It’s done when I am sleeping.

It’s done when I am awake.

It’s done when I’m taking a shower.

It’s done when I’m driving to work.

It’s done when I’m at lunch.

It’s done when I’m driving back home.

It’s done even when I’m preparing dinner, and creating more food waste.

Worms are amazing creatures.

The Food Waste Problem – Week 5

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

This week is going to be short and sweet.  We were out of town enjoying the holiday for most of the week, and then today, I caught a bad cold.   Summer colds suck.

Bedding level has dropped significantly.

Only 1.07 pounds of waste this week.  That’s the least in awhile.

Always like to see what the little guys are doing.

…and now, the bedding level is high again.  Next week, will probably be down like it was this week.  Amazing.

Through week 4…waste averted…13.04 pounds.

Total week 5 – 1.07 pounds of waste.

Total waste averted from landfill = 14.11 pounds and counting.

So, The Wife Asks You To Bring In Some Green Onions For A Salad…

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

…and you return with THIS!

Here is a better perspective… 30+ inches of oniony goodness.

Biochar baby!

The Food Waste Problem – Week 4

Monday, May 20th, 2013

I got a late start on the blog today as I’ve been working in the backyard all weekend.  Spent the early evening picking giant veggies (I’ll write about them shortly).  Anyway, the lighting in my garage was horrible (See below).

Sorry about that reflection.  The weight was 3.75 pounds (The bowl weighs .73), so let’s call it 3 pounds (Net) of scraps for today.

As usual, I took a pic at how far down The Worm Inn is this week.  Check this out.

…and another thing I like to do is check and see how broken down stuff is in The Inn.  This is definitely optional.

Everything looks good, so I’ll dump in my new mess of scraps.

And cover everything up with toilet paper tubes and more shredded newspaper.

Yep.  It’s that EASY.

Previous Total – 10.04 pounds

Todays – 3 pounds

Total waste diverted from landfill after four weeks…13.04 Pounds.