Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Workshops - Vermicomposting!

We've hosted a few more workshops since the last time I had time to sit down to write.

As a side note, I want to mention that the merits of blogging are a constant debate around here: on one hand, blogs, websites, and internet in general can be such useful tools for sharing information, as well as allowing opportunity for creative writing and valuable documentation; on the other hand, this means more time spent infront of a screen, usually by myself, when there are so many hands-on projects that need to be done on our busy homestead...and yes, there are definitely days when I'm ready to get rid of the computer all together, and during these stretches my blog posts get irratic. I'm sure this is a common discussion among all you urban (and rural) homesteaders out there.

However, I am always encouraged by the many people I've met through this blog, and other events at our homestead, who share their knowledge and are able to glean valuable bits from our experience. Thank you to all of you who read this, provide comments, and send us emails! One of the reasons we are urban homesteaders, rather than setting up a rural farm life, is because in the city we can connect more easily with community around us - so for now, I continue the blogging, planning workshops, hosting events, and doing community work...and try to balance it with entire days spent outdoors in the garden, with the computer turned off.

Farming worms - vermicomposting!
Last weekend, our friend Jeff, from Transition KW, came to lead an informative workshop on vermicomposting. He has been farming his worms for several years, and is quite enchanted with them (red wigglers or European nightcrawlers). And, yes, worms are wonderful! Easy to maintain, devouring compost quickly and quietly, and producing beautiful worm castings, which can be used directly in the garden or on houseplants, or made into a nutrient-rich compost tea. Jeff advocates for a 3-bin worm system (using large sturdy plastic bins), with holes drilled in the lid and filled with one inch strips of shredded newspaper and cardboard, soil and about 10-15 crushed eggshells. Add enough de-chlorinated water to lightly moisten the mixture and blend all well. Add 1/2 pound of worms under the bedding, add some handfuls of fruit or vegetable scraps in one corner, and voila - you have a worm composting system ready to go! The top bin can have a cover made of screened mesh or thin cheesecloth to keep out fruit flies. Avoid citrus, oily foods, dairy and meat in the worm feedings - the eggshells help to balance the ph of the bin. This system is perfect for someone in an apartment without an outdoor compost system, or those who wish to keep an active compost pile going all winter long.

By the way, vermicomposting is the perfect project to get kids involved in. Our young daughter loves checking on the worms each day, feeding them scraps of carrot peelings and squash rinds, and generally views them as curious household pets that need to be cared for.

A useful resource book to follow up with more detail:
Worms Eat My Garbage: How to Set up and Maintain a Worm Composting System - by Mary Appelhof

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