Sprayers are EASY to use to cover a large garden area
Kids can help spray worm tea in the garden
HOW DO I USE MY VERMICOMPOST & WORM CASTINGS?
Vermicompost is a mixture of humus, worm castings and decomposing matter. Worm castings look like rich soil, it is dark and crumbly. Most food will be broken down and active microorganisms will have dwindled. Both are gold for the garden. Use them sparingly and with clear intent.
Plant your seeds in it
Use it for transplants – use a small handful when planting them
Place it around the base of your plant to give it nutrition
Make worm tea from the worm castings for spraying the leaves of your edibles
WORM TEA MAGIC
If you have a worm bin with a spigot, after a few months you’ll have worm tea. This tea will last up to 3 months if stored in the shade. Spray it on all of your vegetables with a 5:1 ratio (water:worm tea). This will strengthen your plants, make tastier veggies and prevent insect infestations and disease. If you only have castings, you can make your own tea.
Quick and Easy Worm Magic
1 cup worm castings or large handful
32 ounces of water (non-chlorinated)
1 tablespoons of molasses
If you have highly chlorinated water like we do in Los Angeles, let the water sit for 24 hours so that the chlorine evaporates or boil the water until the chlorine smell dissipates.
Mix together into a glass jar with a lid and let it sit for a few hours uncovered. Then screw the lid onto the jar and shake vigorously. Pour this magic potion over your plants at the base. You can also spray it onto your leaves, but be sure to strain the castings (use a cheese cloth) so that it doesn’t clog the spray bottle. The most convenient method is to use a 2 in 1 Sprayer that allows you to spray your whole garden effortlessly.
I planted my tomatoes in May or June (honestly, I can’t remember), but it was sometime in the late spring. I bought four heirloom tomato seedlings from Jimmy Williams at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. I followed Jimmy’s advice and didn’t trim off the “suckers” and let the tomatoes run wild, only picking off leaves that looked yellow and unhealthy. Before I knew it, a month or so later, we had gorgeous tomatoes that were delicious.
But then I got BUSY. I was working 50 hours per week and didn’t check my dear tomatoes every day or so. While I was driving away on the I-10 into Hollywood to work, the aphids were moving in. And then the ants followed. Not good. Ants and aphids have a symbiotic relationship. The aphids feed on the plant and excrete “honeydew” which the ants WANT. The ants are so obsessed with this honeydew that they will fight off aphid predators and actually bring the aphid eggs into their nest to protect them. The ants will then transport the aphid eggs to a new plant location. This situation doesn’t bode well for any crop. My tomato plants weren’t looking happy, their leaves were yellowing and the fruit yield tapered. The ants and aphids had also attacked my artichoke plant.
I first attempted to hose off the aphids. They wash off really easily as they are delicate little critters. You can even wipe them off with your fingers. But, the next day, the aphids were back. So I got my organic aphid sprays and tried different ones over the next few weeks. They were all effective for the aphids, but no match for the ants. I then bought ladybugs. They stuck around for a while (a sign that there is food like aphids for them), but then they took off. The ants were incorrigible. Ugh! Was I frustrated and my poor tomatoes and artichoke were suffering.
I went to the Good Foods Festival in Santa Monica and met Christy Wilhelmi of gardenerd.com. She is extremely knowledgeable and she told me that I MUST get rid of the ants to get rid of the aphids. She recommended Terro Ant Baits which are safe for organic gardens. You can find them here. I purchased a pack and I’m still waiting for the results. I’ll get back to you and let you know how it goes.
Photos: Our backyard farm – it’s nothing fancy, but it works. My gardening philosophy? Just start growing something you like to eat. Try it out, give it a whirl… So let me introduce myself. I’m a mom with two young … Continue reading →