Friday, February 20, 2009

Vermiculture

As I promised you on Wednesday, I have another worm article for you.

My bloggy friend, E. Michelle of Navigation Through Education and One Soul's Journey, is starting a garden ... and a worm farm. She has very kindly agreed to share her experience with us.

If you've never visited E. Michelle's blogs ... I recommend that you do. In One Soul's Journey, she talks about the inner person ... and getting to know the soul. In one of her recent posts shes says "... once you understand how to feel your emotions, you have no choice but to just feel them and ask for release." It's truly a beautiful and profound blog. In Navigation Through Education, she talks about her experiences as a teacher and the things she's learned along the way. She also publishes a regular feature called Sunday Gratitude Times where she lists the things in life that she's grateful for. So if you have a few extra minutes when you're done here ... head over to her sites and check them out.

A big THANK YOU to E. Michelle for this article:

Vermiculture…interesting word…it actually brings to mind vermin…ick. But what is vermiculture really? Well, simply put it’s growing worms. This year, now that I’m working from home, I feel like I’m finally organized around the house. And being organized I decided to start that garden I’ve been talking about for the last three years. After watching several episodes of Victory Garden, reading a square foot gardening book and a lot of internet research, I realized that if I wanted to be any kind of gardener, I would have to start a compost pile. Being pretty scared of snakes and “vermin”, I decided I needed some type of enclosed composter and not just a big pile in my backyard. Even though I live in a respectable subdivision in a city, there are enough wooded areas around that my dogs have found a few copperhead snakes in the backyard before. I wouldn’t want to meet one of them up close and personal. So, then on another last minute episode of Victory Garden, I saw it…I knew I had to have one…a WORM FARM. Ahh Awesome…I love dirt, I love worms…perfect match. So last week my worm farm arrived. I purchased mine from the worm wrangler http://www.wormswrangler.com/

They had a decent price and quick shipping. I ordered the 5 tray model, although you can get ones with less trays. I liked the fact the farm itself is made out of recycled plastic. It also comes with a little vented roof to put on top. I also ordered 1 lb of worms from the same place. They send the farm first and then about one week later you receive the worms to give you time to get things set up. I’ve had the worms for a few days now and so far so good. I ordered red wriggler worms, which according to my research was the best type of compost worm to have. Apparently regular earthworms, while they do a good job of aerating the soil, they do not compost. The nice things about using worms to compost, besides just being fun, is that not only do they produce a solid fertilizer, they also produce a liquid fertilizer, appropriately named worm tea. To begin you place food (veggie scraps) and some dirt and coconut coir (included with the worm farm) in the bottom tray. You then place the worm in that bottom tray and then place the next tray on top, half full of food. Once the worms eat the food in the bottom tray, they will migrate up to the next tray. So basically you just keep filling one tray at a time with the empty ones always on top. Essentially worms will eat nearly anything and can denature chemicals. However, considering that you will put their compost on food crops you need to watch what you give them to eat. Nearly all vegetable scraps will work, excluding citrus and other acidic fruits like tomatoes. Also, you cannot compost meat or dairy. Basically no protein, however you can give them eggshells. Also good to use is newspaper, and other paper (no colors). The directions say to feed once per week. I can sense though that it will take a little trial and error to find the best feeding schedule and types of food for my worms.

Another great thing about the worm farm is that it’s fairly affordable and fun. You can also build your own worm farm as well out of plastic buckets. Here’s a website that details the process: http://www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/default.aspx?tabid=2101

I should be planting my garden this week! I’m looking forward to using that great worm tea and compost on my veggies!!

UPDATE: E. Michelle sent the following update and pictures:

I am SO excited!! My worms had babies! Hahaha yes it’s true…I found baby worms in there today, they are tiny and white…too small to take a pic of unfortunately. I also found an egg, but I dropped it before I could grab a shot! Also, I had about 2 tbsp of worm tea that came out of the little spigot! I really believe everyone should own a worm farm! :)


The Farm



Inside the box



An older baby



My first worm tea

Another big THANK YOU to E. Michelle. And as always ... I would love to hear from you!


11 comments :

  1. my goodness! fascinating! thanks for sharing this :)))

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  2. We plan on doing the same. Worms make the best compost. Thanks for this article. Very informative.

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  3. Very interesting! I am definitely doing a square foot garden this year. Too scared to do compost yet though. :)

    - Cesia.
    http://ceceatitagain.blogspot.com

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  4. Interesting post! :)

    BTW, I have nominated your blog for an award! To see it please go to my blog! :)
    http://englishpaganincanada.blogspot.com/

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  5. I do recommend,too!
    It's smashing,SF!
    And congrats,E.Michelle!!

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  6. just saw a documentary I think you would love. it was nominated for an academy award. It is by Werner Herzog. Of course, this second, I forgot the title but I will get it for you b/c I'm sure it will be out on DVD soon. If you watch the Oscars tonight you will hear and see a bit of it when the nominations are read

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  7. This is very inspiring. I have a friend that lived in the desert with soil of clay and rock. She turned it into rich lush soil with worms and compost. Fantastic!

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  8. My youngest daughter and her husband have been doing this for years. For their children this is just a normal port of life.

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  9. Hello,
    I've a award for you at my blog!
    Have a wondeful week.
    Cheers!

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  10. Regarding the offhand comments that worms can "denature chemicals" I thought that this post would interest you: http://vermicomposting.wordpress.com/2008/10/17/heavy-metal-worms/

    Basically, there are worms out there that are suriving in old mine sites with high levels of heavy metals.

    Pretty wild.

    Dan Moore

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  11. Thanks, Dan ... that article is amazing!

    SF

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