Thursday, January 6, 2011
Planning for Spring with Composting & Worms!
If there is one thing that you will learn about me very quickly is that I have a passion for Composting and a renewed interest in Worms..
>> Warning .. This post is not for the squeamish <<
For the past two days I've been in a class learning about soils. Yes, soils.. At first you may think that it's a dry topic, but in fact, I am all charged up about the upcoming growing season and can't wait to get my compost cooking again as what I learned in this two day class has only confirmed my passion for composting and the benefits it serves to the soil and of course, plant material.
I will admit, I am a choosy type of fertilizing gardener. For example, I do not fertilize trees, nor do I maintain any kind of "Step" program for my lawn, but what I do focus on are my perennials, shrubs and vegetable garden. They get all my attention during the spring and summer and parts of fall.
I have used Espoma products in the past for my garden beds such as Plant Tone, or Garden Tone or Garden Food, but this year I think I'm only going to use compost.
Last year I bought myself a three part composting open air unit thanks to a blogger friend, John Markowski over at the Obsessive Neurotic Gardener who first introduced me to it via one of his blog posts. In my previous home, I had a Composting Tumbler that I left at my home when I moved. Does this give you my thoughts on it? It was cumbersome to turn and didn't produce an adequate amount of compost for my needs.
The benefits of compost is just enormous and my goal this year is to educate as many of my customers in the nursery as possible in the valuable organic soil amendment.
The old time farmers had it right when they called compost "Black Gold" as there really is no better fertilizer for your plants than this.
If you want to learn more about the value of composting and how to start your own "Black Gold" visit the blog posts I've written on my work blog, The Rutgers Reuters, specifically these posts: "Your Composter Called It's Hungry" or "Are you Composting Yet?" or "The "Dirt on Composting". As you can see, I am passionate about the benefits of composting so I write a lot about it.
Now on to the squeamish part ...
Years ago I tried my hand at "Worm Composting" or as the experts call it, "Vermicomposting". I ordered my starter set of "Red Wigglers" and while they were in travel I prepared their home using a plastic storage box and followed the directions with shredded newspaper, neatly making the perfect environment for them. My worm farm lasted for several months but then something happened and they all past on.. I believe it was the temperature in the room I was keeping them that made them die. However, I did order a second set in mid Spring and put them directly in my vegetable garden that same year. Why did I do all this? Because, Worm Composting is a no-brainer. They eat garbage and a lot of it and what they produce is another valuable product for your garden!
Did you know that one pound of Red Wigglers can process a half pound of food scraps every day!
Their castings provide a compost that is comparable to your normal compost, and their pure castings are a great addition to houseplants as well. Think about it.. they are consuming 'green' food scrapes and converting it into a rich, organic material. Is there a better way to recycle? There are hundreds of websites available to learn all about worm composting so why not start googling how to start your own worm farm. The benefits are plenty including reducing the garbage you haul out to the curb thus ultimately reducing landfill waste and of course, creating a more enriched garden which ultimately leads to a bountiful harvest or beautiful plants in your landscape!
Of course, if you've ever dug a hole in your garden and found an earthworm, that is a wonderful sign that there is organic material present. So, why not continue on this path?
Worms are great for aerating your soil as well, so the benefits are numerous!
In the following weeks I'll be ordering a crop of Red Wigglers so be sure to follow my blog as I'll be posting my experiences with this wonderful way of composting!
Let's hear from you.. do you compost? Have you ever worm composted? If so, share your experiences!