This is my first venture into vermiculture and though worms don't seem to be a specimen that needs much attention, I find myself sorting kitchen scraps - removing the more smelly veg and then pureeing their yummy food for better consumption, stripping paper for bedding and generally just clucking over them to make them happy. So I dedicate a little of my time to making my worms happy - at least I think they are....
I purchased 1 pound of red wigglers and put them in a bin as it is a little too cold outside yet and they reside in my living room. My partner wrinkles his nose at the smell, but I find the smell rich and earthy and have gotten quite used to it but then I love the smell of my compost pile too. This is only short term until it warms up outside. They will be ready for 'harvest' next month and I am so excited. I never ever thought I would be this excited over worm poo but I feel I had a huge part in creating it and therefore making all my vegies in the garden more bountiful.
I had a few things growing this winter, broccoli, carrots, potatoes not much as it is my first season in Sth Texas and was a little afraid of what the weather might do. As it turns out, winter here this year was quite warm and threw us all for a loop and I probably could have had a lot more growing and I had just got some seedlings started when the weather turned cold over the last few nights, so I am sitting on the edge of my seat to see what may happen this month.
But spring is coming and I am armed with worm poo, mulch and seeds and can't wait for the new season.
If any of you have worms, I would like to hear from you, tried and tested methods etc, and certainly would love to hear from southern-ish Texas gardeners to learn a lot more about the uncertain weather and growing conditions in these here parts!
My first broc harvest EVER!
We also have caleche (sp) clay here which seems to extend to middle earth, so any help with what to do with this 'stuff' would be greatly appreciated. I have mulched leaves and left them laying around the yard and this seems to have loosened up the clay a fair bit.
I had brick-hard clay and kept adding compost compost compost. I made rounds at various starbucks and asked for their used coffee grounds, and they gave me huge bags of grounds. I also added leaves. All of that went into the soil and now it's crumbly and easy to work. If I had to do it over I might just use raised beds, which are easier than that, but it can be done.
Sentient, what a good idea about gathering coffee grounds. They are wonderful for the soil. I now have raised beds, and they are very easy to manage. Good suggestions.
I had caliche at Ft. Hood, too. It was awful stuff ... clay that wanted to be stone. Just pour on the compost, barnyard and green manure (I used legumes because it fixes nitrogen in the soil). Peat moss, leaves, composted garden and kitchen waste, barnyard manure, anything that has plant life. If you live near open range cattle country, gather cow pies and compost them really well or you will get all kinds of really tough weeds. I just piled cow pies on the ground, threw a black heavy plastic tarp over it and made sure no sun light got into the pile. It took a winter and some really hot sun to cook the weed seeds, but I got wonderful soils from it.
When I lived in Alaska, I went with Athabaskan Indians to gather sea weed. We filled a truck with it straight from the ocean, took it to a nearby stream, washed it thoroughly to get the salt out, and then piled it on the soil about 6 inches deep in the fall. Spring time, I tilled it in and grew fantastic cabbages.
Your broccoli looks delicious! I had good luck with broccoli one winter, and I loved cutting it and bringing it right in to be steamed. I may start some worms, so I'd love to hear any updates from you!
I used worm bins for years, but then decided it was too much work and put the worms into my compost bin. Now we have a couple of composting devices, and every day all of our kitchen scraps and coffee grounds go into them. We turn them now and then. After 6 months to a year, we empty them out, put a couple handfuls of wormy compost back in and start over. The worms grow like crazy. They make it through freezes although we don't get super super freezes here in SW Washington. My partner dumps the compost onto the ground and lets the hens have a feast for a day or two before using the compost. So, the kitchen scraps are ultimately converted into eggs and vegetables. After I cleared out one compost bin that was on the ground, then started it again, I didn't add back the worms, but the worms that had colonized the ground under the bin came back up into it and populated it again. Starbucks gives away used coffee grounds and they worms love them.
Beautiful harvest! I lived at Ft. Hood, Killeen, for several years and found it very difficult to garden. I had to use way too many chemicals, especially on corn, and still I had bugs and fungus taking more than their share. I suspect worms will do a great deal of good in Texas soil. I brought in truck loads of very well composted manure and had to constantly replenish with both green and barnyard manure.
I live in Spokane, WA state now and I have a worm farm and love it. I keep it inside in a place that doesn't get below freezing during the winter and drain off the "tea" to feed my house plants. During the summer I have a spot in deep shade with a water source and they multiply like crazy in both places.
Feeding them is no chore, just pop in any fruit or vegetable, except citrus, and of course no meats or fish. They seem to thrive and I spread their worm compost all year long.
The neighbor kids come over every afternoon during the summer to check on their progress and we build bird houses and different food stations for the city wildlife. They must treat the worms very gently or they have to leave for the rest of that day.
In the fall, I went to our local dog park and in the guise of volunteering to clean up, I 'stole' all their leaves and took them home to mulch, I have spread this all over the yard and with top soil that we dug up (by hand, mind you,) from a pecan orchard, we have trees here but I needed more leaves than they offered me. My yard is a little better from the mulch but I am so impatient, I want miracles to happen immediately!!!. I do have a raised bed for my vegetables but it isn't big enough (see, nothing makes me happy lol). It is my first year and I will get there eventually.
I think after my worm harvest that I may put them in my compost pile to do the work there, just for my first one I wanted to baby them and I am very proud of my poo! I drink instant coffee (don't cringe!) so I steal my neighbor's grounds for them.
I try to do everything as cheaply as possible hence the dirt digging by hand and I do like to know that the soil I use has not had any chemicals used on it and the orchard we work for doesn't. I collect seeds from the vegetables that we eat and the only thing I can't guarantee how organic is the chicken poo that I bought last year to put in my raised veg garden but they did love it and it was cheap.
My project for this year is a chicken coop not only for the eggs but for the poo too.
I don't think I had ever tasted anything as good as the broccoli cut from the garden and put straight in the steamer, with a little salt and pepper and a smattering of olive oil. It was simply a 'foodgasm' in every sense.
Thank you for the link Joan and everyone else for the input. I look forward to sharing happy harvests with you all.
You scared me for a minute. I thought you were going to say you collected the doggie poop. Not what I want in my vegetable garden! Although I did place some at the bottom of a raised bed for non-edible shrubs and trees. They grew very nice, too. As for chicken poop, it's brown gold. Our hens are central to sustainability - scraps and weeds go in, eggs and poop come out, then hen poop goes into compost which goes into veggie beds, making veggies and more scraps and weeds. The hens also eat the worms that populate the compost, and scratch for insects and worms in the garden beds. The eggshells go into the garden beds too. Living in a rainy climate, the soil tends to be calcium-depleted. It's amazing how much eggshell comes out of a handful of chickens over a year. I smash them in a big mortar and pestle, then scatter in strategic areas, especially for calcium-loving plants and fruit trees.
I had the same reaction, Sentient, about the dog poop. Chickens and poultry, rabbits, and barnyard manure works great if composted. I don't know if there is a reason not to use dog or cat poop, but I never have. Your garden tips are great and I am learning from you. Thanks.
Generally, you should never use the poop of a carnivore. I like to make "chicken shit tea". I place about a gallon of chicken poop in a large trash can, fill it will water, and let it steep for a day or so (not too long, or it gets really smelly). I then use the "tea" to water my blueberry bushes and peach tree, and saturate my raised beds. It works very well.
Last night, I was reading the chapter on the invention of fertilizer in Bill Bryson's book, "At Home: A Short History of Private Life". It was fascinating, and might be an interesting read to fellow gardeners.
Thanks Annie for the information and the book recommendation.