8 Steps to Worm Composting

  1. Buy a multi-tiered worm bin that includes a temperature guage and plastic rake.
  2. Find a place outside that stays in the shade (take the bin inside during freezing temperatures)
  3. Create a nest for your worms of shredded newspaper or printer paper (don’t use plastic coated paper or shredded magazines), a little dirt, dried leaves and the coconut shavings (first wet them) that come with the bin.
  4. Add your red worms and place a little pile of cut up raw  or cooked vegetables along with the following options: garden cuttings, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags or shredded paper towel. Do NOT feed the worms meat, dairy or citrus.  Cover the pile of food with shredded paper to prevent flies.
  5. Keep the top level empty except for a layer of dried leaves and garden cuttings to prevent flies from moving in.
  6. Let the worms do their thing. Feed them every 10 days to two weeks. Check them weekly. Your worm bin should never smell bad – just like fresh earth.
  7. After a month of so, you can move some of the worms to the other levels so that you have three levels of worms working to create castings.
  8. Once a level seems to be getting full with castings, stop adding food on that level and those worms will make their way to the other levels.

Now you’re on your way to harvesting garden gold. Your veggies will thank you.

Battling Ants and Aphids – Part II

In my last post, Battling Ants & Aphids Part I, an army of ants harvesting aphids had taken over my tomatoes and my artichoke.  I set out Terro Ant Baits to see if they would keep the ants at bay. Well, the ants (and the aphids) are still around.  The Terro Baits can take up to three months to work, time that my tomatoes don’t have. My tomatoes are at the end of their season anyway, so I’ve decided to pull them out and start over.  I set aside the green tomatoes to make Fried Green Tomatoes.

Sometimes pulling out your veggies that aren’t doing well feels really good.  It’s almost like getting rid of stuff in your garage that you don’t need anymore.  Once I removed the tomatoes, I added a few handfuls of Dr. Earth Start Up fertilizer, a few handfuls of worm castings and some water. I’ll let the soil sit for a few days to give it time to rejuvenate.  It’s nice to make space for new veggies.  I’ll plant some beans, lettuces, and Brussels sprout in that space.

With the artichoke plant, I need to keep it going.  Artichokes are perennials (they will last for years and produce artichokes a few times a year).  I am going to continue to keep the Terro Baits out while spraying inside the artichoke with Pyola to kill the aphids every ten days or so. Pyola is a powerful organic pesticide, so I’ll also spray worm tea on the leaves to strengthen the plant every few weeks.  Hopefully this slow and steady method will keep my artichoke alive.  We’ve harvested one artichoke so far (and it was delicious) and have three baby ones growing. It is certainly a determined plant despite its battle with the aphids.

The most important guideline in gardening is to embrace “failure.” As the Latin maxim goes, Discimus Agere Agendo, we learn to do by doing.  The only way to learn how to garden is to do it. The wonderful thing about gardening is that you can always start over and that feels great.

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Starting a Vegetable Garden

Organic Veggie Garden

Here’s a simple list to get you started:

  1. Find a spot with enough SUN (minimum 6 hours). If you’re not sure how much sun you have you can buy a sunlight tester.
  2. Decide what you LIKE to eat and then plant it. I suggest starting with lettuces and greens . They’re easy and grow quickly.
  3. Start with a SMALL garden box or pot. You can make a box, buy one or use a pot.  Check out this link: All Things Cedar 3-Piece Planter with Trellis ""
  4. Get great SOIL – this is KEY.  Go to your local nursery and pick up E.B. Stone organic soil – it’s fantastic and you won’t need to fertilize for a month after you’re first planting.
  5. Plant organic seeds or buy seedlings.   You can try these greens or Lettuce Q’s Special Medley Certified Organic Seeds 1000 Seeds. Swiss chard is a great option because it’s sturdy and pretty easy to grow.
  6. WATER – Only water every few days, over watering KILLS edibles. Read your seed packet for guidance.

GARDEN TASKS:

Take a 5 minute peak at your mini-farm everyday – just to make sure they’re happy and no bugs have moved in.  If you skip a few days, it’s fine (I certainly do). And then watch your garden grow. Harvest & enjoy.