Sunday, June 28, 2009

Worm Condo

After blogging last week about the worms we came to the conclusion that they needed a new home, the bin was just not going to work as it made it difficult to harvest the compost that we needed for the garden so off to; we purchased a 4 level worm condo! The condo arrived Saturday morning and we set it up today.

We filled the first two floors with the "in process" compost that was in the original bin. Floor 3 we added coconut coir bedding and fresh fruit and veggie scraps. Floor four we reserved and will use when floor three is filled.

The object with this system is the worms will migrate UP as the compost is finished on each floor. Once the worms reach level three we can then harvest the compost from level one and not have to worry about separating the worms from the compost? We just rotate the floors taking the bottom one as the worms leave and putting another floor on the top with fresh scraps for the worms to eat. SIMPLE!

The worm tea is collected on t he bottom most level (the basement)! We have already seen a vast difference in the plants that have been fed with the tea, they are much bigger and robust, I;m sure we will see the same results using the worm compost as well.
To see the album click on the photo below
Worm Condo

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Garden Update June 27, 2009

Here comes the sun! After weeks of rain, drizzle and overcast days we finally have a sunny day and it looks like we have a few in a row with just threats of thunderstorms. Over the past 2 weeks, we have harvested peas, strawberries, lettuce and radishes. I am anxiously awaiting our first tomato!

The tomato plants have tons of flowers and the ones that had been fed worm tea from our vermicomposting bin have taken off as well as the petunias that are planted in the top of our upside down tomatoes. We also rotated the hanging baskets to ensure they all get a good dose of sun!

As I photographed the garden today, I noticed that the cucumbers that I sowed directly in the garden are doing much better than the ones I had started indoors. I guess I will not be starting cucumbers inside again. They mystery tomatoes are doing well and have found several more in the lettuce patch I am going to let them do their own thing and hope we have a very bountiful tomato harvest.

The fruit trees we planted in June all have leaves on them and seem to be adjusting well to their new surroundings. I put a treatment of calcium fertilizer on them this week so we will see if this boosts the growth rate.

Hoping that Mother Nature has shut off the steady supply of water and she sees fits to only rain occasionally for the rest of the summer!

To see the album click on the photo below

Garen update 6.27.09

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Worms Eat our Garbage

In out effort to live green we vermicompost - worms eat our garbage! We currently use a storage tub purchased at Wal-Mart for about $5 we drilled holes in the bin for aeration, and holes in the bottom for excess liquid to drain into a tray or pot for collection. The worm tea that drains off is a wonderful fertilizer.

To start the bin we shredded cardboard and soaked it with water till damp but not dripping wet, added some soil, worms and kitchen scraps. Now on a weekly basis we add all our organic refuse to the bin and the worms are multiplying and making us some great compost. We purchased about 1,000 red wiggler worms to start our bin from an ad placed on Craig but the are available on the internet!

Vermicomosting is well-suited to turn kitchen waste into high-quality soil amendments. Worms can decompose organic matter without the additional human physical effort (turning the bin) that bin composting requires.

There are few food wastes that vermicomposting cannot compost, although meat waste and dairy products are likely to putrefy, and in outdoor bins can attract vermin. Green waste such as grass clippings should be added in moderation to avoid heating the bin.

Worms love
All fruits and vegetables
Vegetable and fruit peels and ends
Coffee grounds and filters
Tea bags, paper towel
Plate scrapings, moldy bread
Eggs and eggshells

Vermicompost has been shown to be richer in many nutrients than compost produced by other composting method. It also has outperformed a commercial plant medium with nutrients added, but needed adjustment for magnesium and pH.

Unlike other compost, worm castings also contain worm mucus which helps prevent nutrients from washing away with the first watering and holds moisture better than plain soil.

It is amazing the difference in the plants that we have feed worm tea to or used worm compost on. The plants are fuller and stronger. It is well worth the effort!

Click on the photo below to see the album


Friday, June 19, 2009

We may have Grapes!

Rain, Rain and more Rain, and the forecast is for rain until Thursday. I cannot remember when the sun last came out! It seems that we had a slight break in the weather so I took a stroll in the garden and picked some radish and 13 small strawberries. This is the first year for the strawberry plants so we are not expecting too much, they are very sweet and will produce all season. Next year we should have a better harvest since the plants will be better established.

Last fall we planted 4 grape vines (3 different varieties). Our goal is to train the vines to grow over the pergola so we can have some shade on the patio. Upon taking a close look at one of the vines, I think we may have some grapes forming! This vine was to last to produce leaves and the first to have grapes forming! Can’t figure out Mother Nature!

Click on the photo below to see the album


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mystery Tomato

Another week of rain!! Mother Nature we need to sun so our vegetables will grow!

As I was photographing the garden today I noticed yet another “Mystery Tomato” plant. I’m going to let her grow where she is right now and transplant her when she gets a bit larger. Now it’s a wait and see game as to the variety of two tomato plants. I guess we had a ton of dropped tomatoes last year. What I am surprised at is we have not seen any grape vines. Last fall when we made wine we dumped all the stems, skins and seeds from pressing the grapes into the garden. So we should have something popping in but have not seen anything as of yet!

The broccoli is toast, I keep cutting the large flowered stalks off hoping that will could have a few small broccoli shoots off the side but it does not look promising. Peas, beans radish, lettuce, onions, asparagus, squash, carrots and cukes are doing outstanding. Peppers, and egg plant seem to be at a standstill.

The hanging tomato experiment is going ok, still the strongest plant is the one planted directly in the ground. The fourth of July hanging tomato has a flower or two so we should have ripe tomatoes in 30 days. Rule of thumb is 30 days from flower to ripe fruit so we will try to keep track of that.

Pray for sun!

Click to see the album

Garden over time 6.14.09

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Garden Update 6.6.09

The garden is progressing but not in all areas. It seems my broccoli bolted and some of brussel sprouts did not take. I removed the bolted broccoli and dead sprouts and replaced them with savoy cabbage and cauliflower, hopefully they will thrive along with the remaining broccoli and sprouts.

The upside down tomatoes seem to be doing well, no buds yet, however the one purchased tomato plant that we planted in the ground has buds!! I also happed to find a MYSTERY tomato plant growing among the lettuce, it must have been from a tomato that fell on the ground last year. I dug it up and planted in an area that would give it more room to thrive. Now its wait and see as to what and if it produces any tomatoes.

This week I mulched the beans, cukes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant and the 2 tomato plants that are in the garden with grass clippings. Hope this keeps the weeds down and does not add too much nitrogen to the soil.

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Garden over time 6.6.09

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mushroom Cultivation

Last night we inoculated 6 logs with mushrooms spores in hope of growing our own mushrooms. The process is quite simple; the hard part was locating logs. We needed freshly cut hardwood logs, the ideal log would be oak or maple cut in the spring. The logs should rest for 3 weeks prior to inoculating.

We purchased the mushroom spores from The spores are on wooden plugs with ridges; this is where the spores attach themselves. The bags they are shipped in are sealed and some spores will grow within the bag. The spores are white and almost rubbery feeling.

Phil drilled holes in the logs with a ¾-inch bit around the entire circumference and on the top of the log. I placed the plugs in the holes and hammered them in with a rubber mallet. Once the entire log had the plugs in I sealed the plugs as well the cut ends of the logs, this keeps moisture in the log which is necessary for the mushrooms to grow.

We then placed the logs in an upright position on a pallet; the logs should not come in contact with the ground if possible. In about six months we should see some mushrooms start to appear, however next season we should have a better crop once the logs have established themselves. These logs will produce mushrooms for many years to come.

To see all the photos in this album please click on the photo below


Monday, June 1, 2009

Fruit Tree Planting

Our fruit trees finally arrived. We ordered them from Gurneys on May 7th!! Could not pass them up as they were 60% off but who know it would take almost one month for them to arrive. The three trees came in one large and long box with all the supplies you need to get them off to a good start.

We had pre dug the holes since we knew they were coming, so all we needed to do was put them in the hole and fill in with dirt and our fresh compost!! We gently placed them in the holes began to back fill and sprinkled with 2 ounces of pelletized calcium. Then watered well!!

The trees are about 3 - 4 feet in height right now but should reach 25 feet at maturity. As soon as we start to see some leave we will fertilize with a fertilizer made just for fruit trees. Keep your fingers crossed in a couple of years we should be able to eat some Granny Smith Apples, Bartlett Pears and Stella Sweet Cherries!

Click on the photo below to see the album

Tree Planting

Garden Update May 31, 2009

We will be posting weekly garden updates on our blog, not only so we can track our progress but to make notes as to what has worked and what was not such a great idea.

Our latest experiment is growing tomatoes upside down in wire baskets we purchased from Wal-Mart for $7 each. We lined them with plastic to help keep the soil from drying out. The baskets were filled with Miracle Grow Garden Soil - not potting soil! I check the soil every day to ensure that the soil has not dries out. My concerns with this method are that the basket may be too small for all the roots. I had placed 3 petunia plans on the top and one tomato plant on the bottom, so there may be a war for root space.

I have been feeding the plants with "worm tea" from our vermicomposting bin. So far the plants look healthy they were planted on May 17, 2008.

We also had our first harvest of herbs, we did not pick any basil as it is not ready, rosemary it did not need a hair cut as this is the herb we use to most of and we did not take any parsley, still does not look like it could use that hair cut.

Click on the photo below to see the album

Garden May 30, 2009