Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Refreshing the worm bins

Yesterday was the first official day of Spring and while many gardeners around the country are just getting their gardens planned and cool crops planted, we are in full swing and I feel like I'm already late to the party. There's so much to do! Yesterday was a gorgeous day and a welcome change from the 3 days of rain we just had.

I decided to spend a leisurely morning working on refreshing the worm bins because they provide an incredible source of nutrient dense plant food and organic matter which is one of the most important things you need for a successful vegetable garden.
Gidget asks, "Really? The worms are your biggest priority? Have you seen the rest of my garden lately? It's a hot mess!"
Worms make awesome pets because they are very low maintenance, non judgmental, take up a relatively small amount of space, they are contained, they happily eat your vegetable scraps and they provide you with a rich reward. All of this makes them easier to deal with than say - a cat. I highly recommend a worm bin for every household.

I hadn't spent any time on them recently so I knew they would be grateful for some new bedding and a nice meal. If I had any complaints about them before it was that it was taking way too much time to cut their bedding (cardboard) into scraps but Farmer D is a problem solver and he got me this nifty hand held saw that makes this chore a snap.
My hand held saw
I cut down a couple of large cardboard boxes into small pieces and added just enough water to make them damp like a wrung out sponge.

My cardboard pieces
We have 2 active worm bins at the moment and I was thrilled when I dig into the first one.

The first worm bin teaming with life in black gold (worm castings).
All of the worms were active and healthy and the white specs you see are thousands of little baby worms. I made sure there wasn't any funky odor, fruit flies or ants in the bin and then added a nice meal.

Worm food.
I've started putting the vegetable scraps through my food processor before feeding them to the worms so they will be able to break it all down faster, thus decreasing the time it takes to get what I'm looking for which is beautiful worm castings (or poop).

I added a fresh layer of bedding on top of the bin and closed it back up.
When I opened the next bin, I felt as though I struck oil!

This is what you're looking for in a worm bin.
The second bin, which is actually the first bin we started, was also full of life and even better, ready to harvest. The entire bottom of the bin looked like this which is just fabulous. This is the stuff I'll make worm tea with and add directly to my garden for a nutrient boost to the warm season plants that we'll be eating from soon. 

I didn't harvest the castings yesterday. I added a meal to the corner of the bin to attract the worms over to one side so it will be easier to screen the castings without disturbing too many of the worms. I'll wait about a week and then harvest the castings. I think we'll be able to split both bins again soon and then we'll be off to the races in that we'll soon have enough worm tea to start selling to people to enrich their own garden plants with. 

Today is going to be more labor intensive. I have a tour in about 3 hours and need to pull weeds, clean the garden in general, replenish the straw layer in the back yard, plant some new seedlings, etc. etc. 
Gidget is much more at ease with my plan for today.

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