Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Benefit with vermicompost from your own wormery!

As you may or may not know, I have a worm bin full of thousands of redworms that I keep in our dining room. The whole family enjoys feeding the worms our vegetable scraps and watching the babies hatch. My worm bin is the Gardens Alive Worm Factory.

I have written before about setting up the worm bin here and here. I have written about how to harvest the worm compost from the bin, but I have never really shown why vermicompost is so great.

Worm castings, or vermi-compost is the super compost - the best organic natural fertilizer possible for your plants. I have always read this and believed it, but this year I decided to put it to the test.

Remember the Pea bed that I prepared back in March? In that bed, I put two rows of chicken wire fence with two rows of peas on either side of each fence. Afther the peas got growing, they looked like this:

For my experiment I put freshly harvested worm compost as a top dressing on the two rows of peas on one fence and not on the other.

After a few weeks, the pea vines on the composted side grew so much bigger than the other side that they reached above the fence and fell over! They also yielded many more peas! The easiest way to show you the difference is by this split screen picture:

The left side had the vermicompost added. Look how much thicker the vine is than the one on the right. The right side did well too. I never would have known the power of the worms if I hadn't done this side-by-side test. The peas were fabulous, by the way.

On the same day I added the worm castings to the peas, I transplanted my last early tomato plant. I added a generous amount of the worm compost to it's hole as well.

It may be just a coincidence, but that is the plant that has been giving us our early ripe tomatoes so far! The other early tomato plants haven't ripened yet. Sounds fishy doesn't it? Or should I say wormy! I'm convinced that the vermi-compost made the difference. It makes me want to get another tray started on my Worm factory right away. Each finished tray makes quite a bit of compost.

I have a friend that has been asking me about worm composting and how to do it. That has made me realize that I never really written a comprehensive how-to compost with worms post. I am now in the process of doing that. It will be added to as a page. Worm composting is one of many topics that I write about but don't really give good details to the beginner. I apologize for that and am working on making that better. That is why I started the GardenDesk page arm of this site. So far I do have a general composting page, a seed-starting page and a beneficial insect page. Soon I will add a worm composting page and several others.

For now all I can do for my friend is refer her to my worm composting thread and recommend some books like Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set Up and Maintain a Worm Composting System and The Worm Book . Also, my Worm Factory came with a great little informational booklet that I am loaning to her. She has said that she may buy the same bin that I have which made me remember the Gardens Alive online $20 off coupon that they have. You can get that by clicking here:

Save $20 on any order of $40 or more!

I posted that primarily for her, but anyone can use it. It leads to the main Gardens Alive page and is good for any of their products. If you are looking for the Worm Factory, you then need to search for "Worm Composting System". I highly recommend worm composting and endorse the Gardens Alive Worm Factory.

Other than my friend reading this, I'd love to here others thoughts on worm bin composting. Do you have one? Have you made one yourself that you are happy with? Does the idea intrigue you or disgust you. One thing is sure, vermicompost IS nature's super-compost!

Keep Growing!

- Marc

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Enjoying our Early Tomatoes and more!

Wow, it has been a long time since I posted here. I have a bunch of reasons why and some strange stories to go along with them. For now though, I'm going to try to get back to blogging as if I never stopped because I have countless things to report.

This year's garden is the biggest and best we've ever had! Possibly one of the most exciting things to report is that we are now eating a few early tomatoes!

This was the first one we ate but actually the second one picked. It was harvested on June 6th. We missed our early tomato record by one day, unless you count the first ripe tomato picked. The first one, picked on June 3rd was a huge, record-sized beefsteak tomato that looked like this:

Does that count? It reminds me of when a pullet lays its first egg. The first one is always a tiny strange little egg. (Our chickens are doing great by the way.) I've never seen tomato plants operate in the same manner, but this one did! Side by side they look like mother and child.

Tomatoes aren't the only thing we have harvested during my sabbatical from blogging. We've gotten a generous amount of lettuce, spinach, sugar snap peas, broccoli, and have begun harvesting cucumbers and almost zucchini. Much more is planted and doing well. I will try to get caught up here and post regularly about it all. I have enough to write that I could post every day if I'm able to get my act together. For now however, I'm going to enjoy some fresh sliced tomatoes with my family.

How are your tomatoes doing? What about the rest of your garden?

Keep Growing!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Planting Peas and Potatoes for Patty's Day!

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Here in Kentucky, instead of wearing green we can plant it! Green Peas that is. Local farmers also say planting potatoes is fair game on St. Patrick's Day. I don't know if I agree with either because in many years it stays really cold until mid-April. This year however I am going to take a chance along side my neighbors. Of course I can never garden exactly like regular folks so I'm planting the potatoes in the greenhouse beds.


I may have overdone it a bit in buying 50 pounds of Kennebec Seed Potatoes, so I won't put all of them in the greenhouse. Later when I am no longer worried about frost, we plan to put the rest in the row-garden portion of the yard.

That is unusual for us because we primarily garden in raised beds which is where I planted the peas. The ground was still pretty wet last night which illustrates another reason why I love gardening in raised beds.

Last night I cleared out the bed closest to the greenhouse with a rake to make room for some peas. If I wanted to plant them in the regular ground as in a traditional row garden, it would have been way to wet to plant. I planted four rows of peas, each row on either side of a chicken wire fence.


Later I will add more support poles to the chicken wire pea fences. It was very important for me to put the supports up before I planted the peas so I would know where exactly to place the rows.

Also, I usually have a problem planting tomatoes and things that need support because I plan to add the support later, but sometimes I don't get around to it. After doing this with half of my tomatoes last year, I vowed to ALWAYS put the support up prior to planting. So here is my quick pea supports.


The other fun thing about preparing this pea bed was watching the chickens watch me. You can see the coop in the background on the right in the previous picture. I treated the chickens to an occasional worm as I turned over the soil. They were delighted!

Taking worms over to them gave my back a break every now and then. I'm not yet in gardening shape so even prepping one 4x12 raised bed wore me out. That's another reason why I like raised beds - you can work only a few beds at a time and still be very productive.

Later this week in the outdoor garden I hope to plant beds with broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and spinach. I think my pea bed is a pretty good start. I just hope they germinate well. Maybe by planting them on St. Patrick's Day I'll get the luck of the Irish!

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Is Winter Really Over?

I actually got hot outside today while I was pruning the apple trees. It was 62 degrees and the snow is just about melted! Could winter be over? I don't think I can believe that since we have had record amounts of snow this year.

Here in Kentucky we didn't get near the snowfall that the east cost got, but we did get 27" in February and more that a foot of it all at once. It was hard to keep it off of the greenhouse.

Greenhouse in snow 1

My daughters favorite thing about having a greenhouse this winter was that when we were playing in the snow, we could go in there to warm up. It was also a great place to keep the sleds!

Greenhouse in snow 2

The only thing we could do in the garden was go sledding.

Sledding in garden 1

Sledding in garden 2

That picture was taken during one of our smaller snowfalls. Most of the time the garden beds have looked like this:

Garden in Snow

There was a lot more snow than we are used to. Even playing in it got us much more tired than usual.

Lots of Snow

It was our first winter as chicken owners. I learned that chickens do not like snow!

Chickens in snow 1

During the last snow, about eight inches blew into their pen and the girls refused to leave the coop. When they would jump down into the snow, they would squawk and flap around like they were being attacked! I actually had to shovel out the snow, put new wood chips down, and bait them out with lettuce from the greenhouse.

Chickens in snow 2

Chickens in snow 3

They still spent most of their time inside, but at least now they would come out to eat and drink. That's also about the time they start laying more eggs again. Now that it has been warmer, there are some days that every hen lays. Soon I will be able to let them back out in their grazing pen.

There will be a lot going on in the garden pretty soon too. I do have some early tomatoes and lettuce started and have much to share with you.

Most of the winter I have been writing pages for my new site (as opposed to this blog). Now I plan to turn my attention back to blogging, so stay tuned here.

In the meantime, check out one of my new pages. The ones I have done are Seed Starting, Beneficial Insects, Composting, Garden Bargains and Tomatoes! I hope to write more as well - Spring can be very busy and exciting.

So what do you think? Is Winter almost over?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Welcome Sight!

Seed and gardening supply companies are clairvoyant! They seem to know the exact moment when you become sick of winter and spring fever is beginning to set in.

Last week, my car got stuck in the snow at the end of our driveway. All I could do was put my boots on and walk up the hill to the house. Since the car was now parked closer to the mailbox than the house, I decided to get the mail first. Expecting mostly bills, I was pleasantly surprised to find with those bills some of my favorite garden catalogs!

The best catalog that I got was Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I wrote all about them and their catalog last year.

The other catalogs I got on the same day were Henry Fields, Totally Tomatoes, and Gurney's. Wow - Jackpot! I will put these with my other favorites and decide what new seeds plants and supplies to buy this year.

What a great cure for Spring Fever!

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