20 February 2008

Late Winter Gardening and Vermicomposting: The Worm Hotel Is About to Have Guests

Lowe's has their late winter vegetable starts in. Packs of 9 plants are about $3.50. I want to plant Brussel sprouts and broccoli using starts so I asked Sue Gray at the OSU Extension in Tulsa for some guidance. Here is her response.

"Go ahead and plant your brassica starts, but DO protect those tops….especially whenever it's going below 32 degrees F……the storebought transplants are probably not hardened off….so you may want to spend a little quality time on them or go ahead and cover with some kind of protection from wind, extreme light AND cold."
So, my new babies are inside under lights for now since we are supposed to get several more freezing nights this week. I'll transplant them out of these cells because there are two plants in some of them.

THE WORM HOTEL
Composting with worms, vermicomposting - Hubby built a four-story hotel for the compost worms we ordered from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm. I called Uncle Jim and the Red Wrigglers (Eisenia foetida) are supposed to be shipped this week.
We saw a similar four-story structure on the Internet and followed other instructions from the book, "Worms Eat My Garbage."
Basically, compost worms eat fruits and veggies plus shredded, damp newsprint. Many composters keep them in a can or plastic bin under the kitchen sink since that is a handy, warm, dark place for feeding and keeping track of them.
They do not try to escape all the time like caterpillars, but rather, keep to dark places under several inches of the damp, torn newspaper or shredded office paper.
You can tell by the design that they need air and plenty of bedding.
Also, note that the bottom tray is lifted with wood blocks under it and a drip tray on the floor. "Worms Eat My Garbage" said all these features are important for this type of setup.

I'll take a few more photos of the excited worms when they see their new digs. They should be dancing - I'll keep the blog updated.

Hopefully, I can involve the Junior Master Gardener Program at Whittier Elementary School in the project of raising another generation and making compost worm kits to give away on Earth Day at Muskogee Farmer's Market.
The City Farmer website has all the information you need to do a Red Wriggler composter.
A few points emphasized on the site:
Damp bedding is what the worms live in and can include cardboard, shredded leaves, straw, sawdust and aged manure - the more variety in bedding the better the resulting garden compost.
They also need a bit of sand or soil as grit for digestion.
Since worms are like us and are made up mostly of water, the bedding has to be moist to support their life. (They can't go get a glass of iced tea when feeling dry.)

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