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Posts Tagged ‘worms’

It’s garden season here in the burb.  Not that you’d know it by looking at our garden.  Every day, I say, “Must work in the garden tonight”.  Every night, I find another chore to do.  Yikes.  I need to go back and watch “Multiplicity” again and see how Michael Keaton did it, because I need more of me.  Well, at my girth, not more of ME, but more copies of a leaner me. Well, you know what I mean.

Our sun room is loaded with tomatoes and peppers that need to go out, but they must wait a couple more weeks, in the unlikely event of one more frost.  I have bags and bags of seeds begging to be unleashed into the earth.  Unfortunately, the garden beds and containers are unprepared for their arrival.  In other words, I’m BEHIND.  Oh, that the Keebler elves would do me a kindness by sneaking in and take care of that for me one night.  Perhaps they could even leave behind some of those little cookies with the yummy fudge stripes on one side; that would be nice. Sorry, got side tracked.

One of the things I’m excited about this year is our compost.  People who actually know what they’re doing, say that one sure sign of good compost and earth is the presence of worms.  If that is the case, then we are in luck this year.

First, as previously recorded here, after our worm bed box was flooded last year, B tossed the soggy contents into a compost pile we have in the garden.  Somehow, a few of the little wigglers lived.  The survivors tackled the rabbit manure with vigor and have turned it into something spectacular.  And, Boy Howdy, have they reproduced.  It is so much fun just to go out to the compost pile and turn over a fork full of it and watch the worms dance.  Am I a cheap date, or what?  I can’t wait to get some tomatoes into that compost.

Hold on, there’s more.

Out at the farm, we have a compost heap made up mostly, of mule waste, with a little side dressing of donkey and cow manure.  It has been steadily growing, and shrinking, for months.  On Saturday, I stuck a manure fork into it and turned it over to see how the compost was doing. Oh my gosh, it was like all my compost Christmases came at once.  First, the stuff is black and rich and smells like earth instead of, well, instead of what it smelled like when it was first produced.

What really painted my wagon though, was the number and size of compost worms.  They were everywhere and they were huge!  These are not night crawlers, these are compost worms.  They found our heap and said, “Oh, baby, we’re home.”  That pile of, well, you know, is to worms what Cracker Barrel is to a fat man. They have buffeted themselves into obesity.  The compost is ready.  And I have snacks for the chickens, too, not to mention a tasty trap for some unwitting bluegill in Lake Acworth a little later this spring.

Yep, we have the best compost ever.  It should translate into the best garden ever. Well it should if I ever manage to get my buttocks into the garden and get it ready, that is.  And I’m on it.  I really am.  Just as soon as I finish looking for those fudge cookies.

 

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Farming has many by-products; eggs, milk, meat, etc.  But the largest by-product of all, must be manure.  Chickens, for example, appear to produce twice their body weight daily with the stuff.  Ok, that’s an exaggeration, we all know it’s three times, but work with me here.

The pigs are very efficient, turning every possible food scrap into usable meat or fertilizer. They are amazing recycling machines.  Our cows do what everyone knows cows do. Our rabbits produce the most amazing fertilizer of all.  And or mules and donkeys produces mountains and acres of the stuff. Even the fish are nutrient factories. It is indescribable.

So, what do you do with all that waste?  Where do you put it? How do you dispose of it?

First, it is not waste.  It is a miracle in progress.  As we pile up the poo, a variety of bacteria start to work in the middle and on the edges of the stack.  They break down the manure and gradually turn it into compost. It is a wonder to behold.

We have zero leftovers at our house.  Food that is turning or leftover goes to the chickens and pigs.  They make great use of it.  Greens and garden produce that is excess goes to rabbits, goats, cows, chickens, donkeys and mules.  They turn it into manure and the bacteria turn the manure into food for next years plants. The fish waste goes into aquaponics grow beds where the useful bacteria converts the waste into plant food and the gravel turns dirty water into clean.

We had one group of leftovers that didn’t fit into the cycle; coffee grounds and tea bags.  The answer to that conundrum was worms.  We save the coffee filters with leftover coffee and we save our used tea bags.  Every three or four days I take them out and put them in our worm bin.  The little red wigglers living in the tub, turn the grounds into nutrient rich castings and compost.  It’s a huge win.

I have heard that worms are a great option for dealing with dog waste as well.  This spring, I intend to test that hypothesis.

By March, my worm colony should be large enough to divide it into three sections. One will stay with the coffee and tea, one will be transplanted to the manure pile at the farm and one will be put in a tub with dog manure to see how that goes.  I’ve heard that worms can turn dog piles into outstanding fertilizer for flowers and trees.  We’ll find out.

Creation is phenomenal in its intricacies and interdependence.  When managed properly, nature cleans up after itself and feeds the next generation.  All the fertilizer and compost will grow next year’s veggies and fruits, which will feed the animals who will produce food for us, for the bacteria and for the worms and the cycle goes on.  I see order in the universe, the very fingerprints of God.

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…but certainly one of the most useful.  I’m talking about Mother Nature’s own miracle grow.  Yes, you guessed it….rabbit manure.  The stuff is magic.  It is natural, organic, great for fruit, vegetables, flowers and even pastures.  It can be applied composted or uncomposted.  We used it partially composted.  Oh, when partially composted, it also makes great food for worms, if you are into vermicompost.

We are offering it @ $2 for a 10 lb bag as an introductory price.  It is available for purchase on the store page, or email us and pay for it when you come to pick it up.  Limit 50 lbs per customer for initial purchase.

 

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I get up way too early in the morning.   I do it because I have so many irons in the fire that I could not get everything done without rising early.  I’m not proud of it.  I’m not ashamed of it.  It is what it is.

This morning is a rare leisurely one.  I got the rabbit chores done, checked out a few of my favorite news sites, then sat in my recliner with a cup of coffee and started daydreaming about what I would do if I was forced into a survivalist mode here in the burb.  Some people dream about winning the lottery, my miswired mind runs toward self sufficiency.  I blame talk radio.

So, what would I do (and…what would Brittan let me do…..) if I was suddenly thrown into a situation where I had to fend for myself?  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

  1. Since we grow so many fruits and vegetables already, I’d be pretty good there.  But I would need to save more seeds.  Right now, it’s easy to buy them off the internet, but B got me a good book last Christmas about seed saving, and I could easily make that move.
  2. I would grow more beans.  They are prolific, nutritious and provide most of their own fertilizer by pulling nitrogen from the air and trapping it in the soil.  They are also a good food source for the animals we would keep.
  3. I would pay more attention to my berries.  Raspberries and blackberries are easily grown and spread.  They are an excellent food source for humans and animals.  I should consider more strawberries.
  4. We already have fruit trees.  I think I’m good there.
  5. I would grow more cantaloupes.  If I could figure out how to keep the dogs from eating them, that is.
  6. I would pay more attention to my worm composting.  I would greatly expand that project.
  7. If I could only keep one edible livestock, it would be the rabbits.  They are quiet.  They easily reproduce.  They eat what we grow in our garden and yard.  They provide the best fertilizer in nature.  They are a tasty and healthy food source.
  8. Next, I would sneak in the Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  A buck would be a bit of a challenge, because of odor potential, but we’d work it out.  A buck and two does could provide an ongoing supply of dairy and meat.  I don’t love goat’s milk, but it’s healthy and the goats are small and quiet.  Our Nigerians are much quieter than sheep, chickens or cows.  They would eat the brambles and weeds in the yard and would help with post season garden clean up.  Since they are small, they’d take up little space and would not tear up the yard.
  9. I would try to keep some chickens.  This is the tough one.  I could hide two or three laying hens, but that would only work for two or three years.  Without a rooster, the chicken thing comes to a halt fairly quickly.  Roosters are noisy.
  10. Finally, there is a piece of the puzzle I have yet to acquire, namely the aquaponics tanks.  With a 200 gallon aquaponics tank, I would be able to raise tilapia, all the food for the tilapia and additional vegetables and greens for human and animal consumption.  It would also require a breeding pair of tilapia.  Since I don’t have that, but live near a major lake and raise my own worms, a supply of fish is fairly convenient already.

Many other pieces of a suburban survival plan are already in place.  Brittan already cans copious quantities of produce that we grow.  So those supplies are available.  We have stockpiled things like candles, soap, toilet paper and toothpaste.  We have a pretty good quantity of water purifying tablets and all weather clothing.

With a little tweaking, we are ready for the apocalypse.  I figure that if something really dramatic happens, our HOA would become irrelevant, so I don’t worry too much about them.

This may be the oddest post I’ve ever written.  But, hey, it’s Saturday morning and I don’t watch cartoons.

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Mornin’ Y’all.  What a beautiful morning it is here in the burb.  The photo is pirated.  We have no trees here, and it’s overcast.  But I wanted to create a mood.  Today started about 66 degrees, some clouds, a bit of humidity and a gentle breeze.  It was a glorious start to the day for doing chores.

After such a difficult spring with the seeds and seedlings, the garden is coming along well.  A few of the tomato plants still look deformed, but most are healthy and some are already heavy with fruit.  After a brief battle with blossom end rot, everything is under control.  We have harvested some broccoli, squash and zucchini and enjoyed them for supper last night.  The strawberries are about finished.  Brittan will harvest the last batch today.  I’m thinking we’ll need to plant more next spring.

We have bush beans and wax beans appearing among the blossoms, as well as the occasional pepper.  The squash and melons are loaded with blossoms.  I am taking that as a good sign.  All in all, the garden is in good shape.

The rabbits are so much fun in the morning.  They get quite excited when I come down to clean the cages, because that means….breakfast.

After nearly a year of trial and error, we are finally creating compost in quantity.  I am very pleased with it.  We have traditional enclosed compost bins (HOA rules), rabbit manure compost piles and worm compost.  We are up to three small worm colonies.  They aren’t producing a great deal yet, but the quality is quite amazing.  I have learned that the worms don’t like fresh food.  But once the scraps begin to decay a bit, the little wigglers are all over them.  They are especially fond of rotting fruit like apples, pears and mangoes.

The chickens may go out to the farm early.  They are growing, eating and, well, crapping at herculean rates.  It’s about time to get them out of the basement and on to some pasture.

Speaking of chickens.  Two weeks ago, Brittan was so terrified of them, she wouldn’t even pick up one of the day old chicks.  This photo that I snapped on Sunday afternoon suggests the fear has waned. Click on it and see what I mean.

As for the sheep, I need to get in the shower, get ready for work and go check on them on my way.  They are a welcome addition.  They make me laugh every day.  6 weeks ago, I thought I hated stinky, stupid sheep.  Now I’m totally addicted.

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Back in October, our HOA (otherwise known and our local green death panel) announced that compost piles were not allowed.  Bah! Humbug!

Not to be deterred, B and I bought a couple different types of commercial compost bins and transferred the pile into them.  We’ll update our findings as soon as we have some.

Around the same time, I started reading about worm composting, aka, vermiculture.  I was instantly hooked (pardon the pun, fishermen).  I ordered a worm compost bin, set it up, got some bedding going and ordered a pound of red wigglers.  They arrived in good order.  I must say, though, they were much smaller than I expected.

It took the worms about a month to establish themselves and get to work earning their keep.  The process is a bit slower than I expected, primarily due to the adjustment period and the fact that I should have ordered two pounds instead of one.

After the worms began to get active, I discovered a flaw in the design of the compost bin I ordered.  The holes between the bedding section and the waste section are too big.  The worms regularly leave the buffet table for a nap down below.  That’s bad on a number of levels.  Besides the fact that worms can’t eat things they can’t get to, they endanger themselves and can die if not put back.

B went to the store and bought some screen material to line the bottom with, which seemed a great plan, but the worms still find their way under it.  I’ll have to superglue the darned stuff to the bin.

Anyway, during my morning rescue mission today, I happened to notice some very tiny strings of thread in the bottom of the bin .  When I went to scoop it up, it moved.  There were a dozen baby worms in the box.  I am so psyched.  They are very thin, extremely pale, but quite active.  I gently placed them in the upper bin, added some food scraps and closed the lid with pride. But in my excitement, I forgot to take pictures.  Sigh.

How weird am I?

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