Monday, February 15, 2010

Of Gardens, Garbage & Goo!

What's up with those worms? 
I've had bloggers block. I try to post a new blog each day (sort of cheating a couple days a week with simply a photo). Today I'm back. :0)

I'm taking a break in the midst of my Monday chores to share a bit more about my dirty life as an organic gardener. We've been really lucky with a mild winter this year and I've been working in my garden for the last few weeks when the weather is dry enough. Today is a day like that. High cloud cover but no rain so far. It seemed like a good time to check in on my worm bin. 
Seperating the trays 
So the way this system works is the worms should be actively eating in the top trays of the bin and the finished compost should be in the bottom trays.  First I removed the top few trays and set them aside.
Then I'll take the bottom few trays down to my veggie plot to amend my soil in an empty bed.

These worms will ride in style in my custom garden wagon! 
No one said this would be pretty! 
Now I'm going to drain the "worm juice" or "worm tea" into a watering can.  When I get down to the garden I'm going to water my celery plants with this nutrient rich, all be it, smelly juice. 
This bed will be ready to plant after a small resting period.
A quick trip to the garden and I added the worm compost to my only currently empty vegetable bed.  I just dump the trays in and pull out any "clumps" of worms that are in the mix.  I'll return them to my worm bin.  Any others that don't make it back to the bin will be just fine in my garden bed.  They'll continue to work for me by aerating the soil.  I then mixed in the new compost into the soil and I'll let this bed sit for at least 1 week before adding any seeds or new plants.
I noticed this new shoot coming up in the garden. 
It's either a garlic or onion?
After a quick look around the veggie patch, I'll returned to the worm bin to finish this project.  I replace the trays from the top.  They will now be at the bottom of the stack. Reserving the very top bin to the side.  I'll add one of my now empty trays to the top of the stack.  This is a good time to add some bedding for the worms and I've saved just the thing inside.
A pressed paper egg carton is great for worm bedding
To use a paper egg carton for bedding material in the worm bin, I'll first wet it down from the top and bottom side so it absorbs some moisture.  This helps to tear it up and makes it more appealing for the worms in my bin.
Tearing the carton into smaller pieces will allow it to break down faster.
I return to the wormbin and tear up the egg carton into the top (now empty) tray.  Then I'll add in the worms that I pulled out in the garden.
OOOwey Gooey!  That's a whole can o worms!
Yuck!  This ugly garbage will become beautiful soil amendment in no
time thanks to my hard working worm bin!

Now I add the "orignal" top trays contents to my new top tray.  These little worms have been munching away in my bins for 2 years!  They breed when there's enough food (which is always the case in my bins) and any that die are eaten by the living worms and turned into great compost too! 
Here's the bin after the project is complete with 3 working trays
3 empty trays ready for the next run of kitchen waste

So that's it!  That's really all there is to running and maintaining a worm bin.  It's so easy and the reward of "free" soil amendment and fertilizer is great in my organic garden.  My yeilds are up and my plants grow quickly and healthy.  Another plus, it's as green as you can get and keeps all those lettuce centers, broccoli stems, cabbage hearts and other scraps out of my trash can and out of the landfill.  Yes they will decompose there too, but this way they get a second life, from a single resource as a natural organic garden additive!

No one said gardening was for the squeemish!  It's a dirty job, but I love it!  I enjoy the time outdoors and love growing my own produce knowing that no chemicals have been added.  Joy, dirty joy!

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