Monday, September 28, 2015

I've got WORMS!

Just when I thought I'd extended the ideas of being more of an Urban Gardner, I'm clearly on my way to becoming a homesteader.

The Hydro and Earth gardens have done extremely well this year and of course I continue to learn as I go.  With the addition of some new vegetables (squash), and fruits (strawberries), and spices (a bunch) the garden is quickly becoming a nice source of fresh ingredients and minimizing the trips to grocery stores.

So what's next?  for starters I've decided to already start planning out the garden layout for 2016.  We are planning to almost double our edible growing space with some new raised beds and DIY-SIP earth boxes.  I'm very happy with the Hydro setup. Surprisingly, even though I have a 75 gallon setup just for the hydro of nutrient enriched water storage, it still goes through most of that in less than a few weeks.  The system works great, it's just that I've expanded it so much that once fruits and veggies start blooming it just drinks and drinks :) but that's a good problem to have because the rewards are plentiful and the crops bloom quickly.
I've decided that for 2016 I'm going to keep the current size and crops for Hydro the same footprint size and will instead focus on more creative planting for earth bound edibles.  Since our dirt in Oceanside is crap I decided to see how I can "grow" my own more enriched crap!  Through the beautiful magic of WORMS... big fat squishy ones, little bitty skinny ones.. lala la la la lalala...

With the garden season soon slowing down just, a bit I figure it's time to start harvesting something that can build up during the rainy season and be used for the first 2016 crops. Worm castings, Vermiculture and Vermicomposting by it's proper names.  While our garden has done very well it also meant we had an abundance of green waste.  I was not happy with the time it was taking to breakdown enough for useable compost by our standard compost bin.  Generally it would be about 12 months before we had useable stuff from the bin.  Worm casting are an incredibly dense and rich plant nutrient, plus worms can eat their body weight in waste.  Double good news then.  Worms love our garden waste of fruits and veggies plus they will turn that into uhmmm... something Delicious!? Crap for my plants!

Since I don't usually do anything in a simple form, I of course researched for weeks about worms and farming of them.  We decided on a wood worm bin because they are way more functional when you think of the cycle of life for a tree.  Plus wood has several terrific inherint properties that benefit this little eco system of worms.  Additionally scrap wood is free, people give away the coolest stuff on Craigs list (Too bad that beautiful Oak desk just got massively severed by my saw).  The bright side is that what may have gone into landfill has now been re-used and converted into a beautiful two bedroom worm condo.

Look!  It's a bench or table top... or is it...

Yes to both above answers.  This is a strong oak based new bench that will be perfectly happy living outside or in the garage, inside is a wonderful worm habitat where scraps will now be diverted after dinner.
  After doing the math based on poundage of potential worm food we create each week, we are starting our farm with about 1,000 (verified) Red Worms which are specific to this type of composting.  These are not native to North America but will be used specifically just for harvesting castings, as they wouldn't have much use or benefit inside my garden beds.  Perhaps if they populate too profusely they may be used to feed fish (in a future Aquaponic setup).  Perhaps I'll farm some extra wigglers if any local friends want to give this a whirl.

Happy Farming and let's hope this experiment pays off.  It will be amusing to see how quickly they eat up what goes in.  They got the first feeding and Condo introduction last night so we'll see how things go over the next few months and try to report back.

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