Archive for the ‘Worm compost’ Category

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On Saturday, June 8th, from 9 – 11 am, at the Good Cheer Garden, learn about making your own concrete in-ground worm bin!

We will also be sharing tips on how to use in-ground worms in general, whether wood or concrete, to make vermicastings out of your food scraps.

This class is part of the Growing Groceries program to help local gardeners be successful growing food. Vermicastings are an excellent soil amendment, adding nutritients and microbes to increase your soil fertility.

Class will be taught by Cary Peterson, Good Cheer Garden Coordinator

The Good Cheer Garden is at 2812 Grimm Rd., Langley WA.
For more information, email growinggroceries@whidbey.com

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It is always a great pleasure when the LEAF Service Learning Program of Edmonds Community College comes to the Westgarden! On March 1st, we started the day with a visit to the Good Cheer Food Bank and Garden to learn about sustainable agriculture and community systems. A delicious lunch made by Chef Chrystyn followed that included kale, collards and potatoes from the Westgarden.

Then LEAF transformed the garden again with another terrific service project getting the garden ready for spring! The focus was sustainability and fertility cycles, and what better way to learn than to…

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Harvest worm castings from our concrete in-ground worm bin and transport them to the garden where we’ll use them to amend the soil,
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Turn over the garden compost, and free up a bin for all those vermicastings…
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And flip over cover crops to increase the organic matter and richness of the soil.
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The beds were sprayed with biodynamic Pfeiffer Field and Garden Spray, which inoculated the soil with beneficial soil microorganism to help with decomposing the cover crops. Mulching will reduce weeds, retain moisture and reduce leaching while the cover crops break down.
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Lots of little lettuce and kale sprouts were transplanted into soil blocks, and peas, already sprouted in soil blocks, were planted in the garden.

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WOW! A big thank you to: Jacob Assink, Grace Coale, Scott Collins, Alexzander Danskin, Francis Gregory, Sierra Klug, Tammi Koffler Coza, Sam LeBrun, Kyli Rhynalds, Gazella Richard, Paul Ritzman, Christopher Shipway, Dannika Stone, Leif Takacs, Jessica Villines, and Professor Tom Murphy, Americorp volunteer Marshall Kramer and Westgarden volunteer Mully Mullally.
We are ready for spring!

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The gardens have been bountiful, and it’s time to celebrate the harvest!

On Saturday, September 8, Growing Groceries will be part of the Good Cheer Harvest Party and Music Fest, and the class will be in the Good Cheer Garden:

1:00 – 2:30 pm: Top Tips of the Month and Get the “Scoop on Poop”!
Presented by Cary Peterson, Good Cheer Garden Coordinator

  • How to increase the fertility of your soil with animal manures, worm castings, and local plant and animal amendments. Manure has been in the news lately… find out why.
  • Special guest, Chris Korrow, will share about the ways biodynamic gardening enlivens and enriches your garden.
  • Top Tips for September- bring your questions!

2:30 pm: Ed Hume of Ed Hume Seeds will be at the Good Cheer Harvest Party to answer your questions, and sign his new book Gardening with Ed Hume: Northwest Gardening Made Easy.

4:15 pm: Worm Bin Q & A where you can learn how to make great vermicastings.

Ongoing: lots of cooking demonstrations to learn how to create delicious meals with your garden produce!!

 The Good Cheer Garden is at 2812 Grimm Rd. at Bayview Corner, Langley.

For information and registration, email growinggroceries@whidbey.com.

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Hands-on class: Thursday morning, May 19th, from 10 am – 12 noon at the Whidbey Institute Westgarden.

10 am: See two kinds of in-ground worm bins in action, and learn what makes worms happy. Worm castings are fabulous for your garden!

11 am: Learn the basics of installing drip irrigation using t-tape. This is a condensed version of the April hands-on class. Make your gardening easier, your plants happier, and save water in the process.

– Bring your questions and be prepared to be outside! 

Whidbey Institute: 6449 Old Pietila Rd., Clinton, WA

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This has been our goal – using worms to transform food waste to fertile worm compost. But our above-ground worm bins were just not working. We spent a lot of effort wrapping them in hardware cloth to prevent rodents from nibbling in, but we didn’t have enough worms for the amount of food waste from the kitchen and things had gotten smelly. Not a happy situation!

So, as long as we were going to invest in worms and start all over, we decided to go with the successful in-ground worm bins installed at the Good Cheer Garden, but modify the design slightly to make them rodent (read RAT!) proof. With the advice and encouragement of Todd and Teresa Spratt, we built an in-ground concrete worm bin!

Matt Statz and Hilary Andersen, garden interns, dug the 4 ft wide x 7 ft long x 3 ft deep hole needed to accommodate the concrete blocks.

The bin is set into a hillside, and the hole was dug at an angle. Matt laid the blocks down with a gentle grade so that the lid would be sloping.

Mark Brady simply and brilliantly made the divider with a pallet. The bin has two chambers, which are alternately filled, or finished off and harvested. Worms migrate between the chambers. The lid was built with recycled Trex and metal roofing. Let’s see if any creatures can get in this worm bin!

Todd started the bin up with 9 lbs of worms: 1 lb for every square foot of area. The key to happy worms is bedding, and we have found that horse manure, aged to the point where it is crawling with worms, is ideal. We dump the food scraps into a corner, add the aged horse manure to just cover it, and that’s it. As Todd and Teresa say, “Dump, cover and done!”. In the summer, you may need to also add water, moistening to a freshly rung out sponge. Food scraps can be added every several days depending on how many worms you have, covered, and watered.

Two weeks later one side is half full, and the worms are thriving! So far so good! The Good Cheer Garden in-ground worm bin is working really well, and this one appears to be following in its footsteps. Stay tuned!

October 2013 follow-up: This worm bin rocks! We’ve been getting excellent vermicastings! The only thing we need to watch out for is feeding them less in the winter. Get to know your worms, and adjust for their seasonal variation in appetite. We won a blue ribbon at the Island County Fair for our vermicastings, and the garden sure loves them, too. Check out the concrete worms bins recently installed at the Good Cheer Garden. 

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The worms had been working away for months, and it was time to harvest a bin. We shoveled the vermicompost out and put it on a tarp in the sun.

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After a while, the worms wriggle down to the bottom of the pile to avoid the light, and you can harvest the worm-free compost. Scrape it off until you find the worms. Then pile up the remaining compost, and repeat the process.

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After doing this a few times, there will be quite the ball of worms at the bottom of the pile! Now you can use your worm-free compost in the garden, and use the worms to start up a fresh worm bin.

worms-add-leaves worms-add-paper-and-mix-up

Add leaves and shredded paper. Mix it all up.

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Add your food scraps and mix it all up.

worms-watering-in1 Water it in – not too wet, and not too dry.

worms-all-done Done!

Just keep adding food, keep it from getting gooey by adding paper and leaves as needed, and the worms will do the rest.
We mix our food in every time, other people just pile it on top. Different approaches work!

Thank you to Rico Espinoza and Maylee Vo for their help!

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