Sunday, August 20, 2006

Your Soil is Teaming with Life

If a healthy soil is full of death, it is also full of life: worms, fungi, microorganisms of all kinds ... Given only the health of the soil, nothing that dies is dead for very long.- Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America, 1977

"Teaming With Microbes: A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web"
Sometimes scientists can talk over the layman's head and not even realize that the message is not being conveyed. This book is written in a very understandable language, that even a simple worm farmer like myself could understand and relate to. A must read for anyone who wants to learn more about the life producing your food.

Smart gardeners understand that soil is alive and what is in the soil is what supports plant life. Healthy soil is exploding with life - beyond the worms and insects we can see with the naked eye - there are a multitude of bacteria, fungi, and other microbial forms of life vital to the soil food web that sustains healthy plant life. Resorting to chemicals destroys this delicate balance and results in an unhealthy situation for the soil, the plants, and the environment. You can't destroy this balance and not have an affect on the people, the children, family and friends. As gardeners, farmers, and inhabitants of the Earth we have an obligation to the next generation to leave behind a healthy soil. Venture beyond your current understanding that good soil grows healthy plants and understand why...

This book is newly available and can be purchased now from by clicking on the buy link.
If you are interested in worm bin composting and you garden you have the beginnings of understanding why. Learn all about the why and strengthen your resolve to garden organically.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

What I Do When It's Too Hot!

Well, since that last notification of a posting to my blog was bogus I figured I had better sit down and have a little chat with you all, and since it has been hot, hot, hot here all summer long I guess it would be good to share with you what I do with the worm bins when it is hot.

Hot and dry will kill the worms way before cold and wet will. And since by the very nature of composting you are creating heat you need to use a great deal of caution when the ambient temperature raises to the point it's uncomfortable for the average human. Granted some of us "like it hot", I'm not one of them and neither are the worms.

Once the bin temperatures get into the nineties you need to start frettin' about losing worms. I usually know I have lost worm mass when my "tea" buckets fill up almost over night. Worms contain a lot of moisture and when they die from over-heating that moisture is released and ends up in my tea buckets. Boo Hoo!

One of the best ways to keep your bins cool when the temperature raises is to set up a fan to blow over the surface of the bedding. You will need to be adding moisture as the fan will cause evaporation, which will cool the bin but will also leave the surface of the bedding dry. This is where the worms want to be, but not if it is too dry.

Another way to help keep the bins cool is to control the amount of composting going on in the bin. To do this you watch what you are adding for bedding material, don't mix it up. Whatever your main source of bedding material is, for instance I use manure, that's all you want to be adding. And you want to make sure the worms have worked it up real good before you turn it. This can leave your worms wanting for food so, I use worm chow.

It's made by Purina and is very finely milled for the worms to eat. I can sprinkle it on top of the worm bin and the worms come up and eat it at night. The food is immediately available and does not have to compost for the worms to eat it.

I use an old flour sifter to sprinkle the food on top of the worm bin. This gives me an even spread over the surface of the worm bin.

The worm chow comes in a 40 lb. bag and one bag fits perfect in a tote to keep the mice out.

Another thing I have noticed when it's hot, the worms seem to like it better with the screen off. The screen restricts airflow, even just a bit, and the worms notice. I haven't had a problem with leaving the screen off in the summer. Come fall I will be putting them back on to keep the mice out of the bins.

So, that's what I do when it's hot. Sometimes instead of using manure in the hot months I will stick with shredded newpaper. And that's all I use for bedding is layers of shredded newspaper on top of the bedding. Or maybe I'll just use leaves. The main thing is just not to mix it up. If you mix it up you're gonna compost and add heat to a system that is already stressed by the heat of the day.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

New Web Site In The Works!

New website shows you exactly how I build my small 2 person worm bin, talks about the value of real brewed worm tea, worming with kindergarteners and how to proceed with a school project at the high school level. This site is devoted to worms, worm bin composting, and worm bin composting by-products. I will talk about castings, food stock, bedding material, and step by step how to.

Mother Earth's Farm will become an organic gardening site. There will be more information on organic fertilizers, composters, conventional composting, pests and pest control, gardening helpers.

For additional gardening tips you can check out Market Monthly News. This is a newsletter I write for the Kootenai County Farmers Market.

The Market is a place to find many treasures. Stop and see us if you are in the neighborhood. Stop by our website and get some ideas for starting your own Farmer's Market.

A lot goes into farming worms, gardening organically, and building a successful farmer's market where people come together to share unique creations, food grown safe and fresh, plants and flowers, music and friends.

The closer we get to Mother Earth the closer we get to each other. Come on Down!

Stop on by and see me, and feel free to drop me a line, Skype me, or send me a message.