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 Post subject: Once upon a time...
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:37 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2006 9:43 pm
Posts: 585
Location: Upstate New York
There was a time in my 3000 sq. foot veggie garden that I needed to fertilize. I'd always made compost with leaves and grass mostly, but not so much with kitchen scraps. At some point I turned to vermicomposting and nearly wrote a book/diary of my outdoor experiment.

I'd create a huge pile of grass and leaves in the fall that was seeded with redworms and come spring, I would have a truckload of finished vermicompost. The most fascinating thing is that the pile would heat and then cool, but stay very warm deep into winter. Eventually the pile would surrender to our central new york winter and become dormant until spring.
I don't know if the worms were able to go deep to escape the cold or if they perished...but in the warmth of spring, there was an explosion of worms to once again work for me. And so it went.

One year in particular, I grew the very best tomatoes fertilized with ample amounts of vermicompost. As anyone who really knows, there is nothing like a vine ripened tomato and nothing like these tomatoes fertilized with vermicompost. The crop was huge and I took great amounts to work, placed on a table in the main office for anyone interested. They were gone by the end of the day and met with resounding reviews of gratitude and approval.

But a couple of years were met with failure. With bad weather, bugs and animal pests, the work required for such a garden payed little dividends. And since I could buy fresh veggies without great cost, it seemed more practical.

I haven't planted in a few years now and with no garden to support, my vermicomposting efforts also stopped. Since I was no longer vermicomposting, my time here finally ended and another voice in the crowd of enthusiastic participants was silenced.
But I never thought that the forum would die. We were once the #1 or #2 forum in posts/participation, but then it seems to have just fallen by the wayside.
I wonder if live took everyone else away too? With a renewed interest now, I feel like I lost an old friend. Why I even think I miss Chuckieb2. lol

AD

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 Post subject: Re: Once upon a time...
PostPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:09 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:05 pm
Posts: 290
Location: Zone 8b N Chas SC
Oh, dear...

It IS very tumbleweeds in here, ain't it...

So are you going to at least grow a couple of roses or a raspberry bush or something, AD? Tell me you at least have a plastic tote worm bin in the garage?? What's growing in that 3000 square feet right now? Or is it snowing in NY already?

The fun of gardening/worming might show itself again. I've noticed enthusiasms wane and wax.

Serendipitous that this thread was at the top when I wandered by. Been dreaming of worm bins again... mostly because I FINALLY stopped moving. I've moved 5 times since South Carolina!(and several temp housings on work contracts.) But think this is it for a while: Bought a cheap house in a seedy neighborhood in Baltimore last May and am now in the mood to don my worm herder hat and wrangle some worms.

I set up an outside bin of cinder blocks and put in a bunch of shredded oak leaves that I brought from the Dundalk rental we moved from (packed and moved leaves. yes I did. still married. mostly because I didn't make an issue of leaving the bricks in Ohio)

Anyway, long story short, the dang thing heated up. I've NEVER had a compost pile heat up. Even when I try to do everything right. Which I wasn't, I was making worm bedding-- I thought. So luckily I hadn't gotten around to running up to Pennsylvania to pick up some worms there (if anyone has a Maryland source they deal with that is good, please let me know... ) and am now sitting here waiting to see if it will cool down sometime. It didn't even have any greens in it, I swear. Weird. I started putting stuff into it once I realized I was making compost, not a worm bin. It's steaming. So back to the drawing board.

I read a horror story of how rodents like to nest in compost piles in the winter. And since there are city rats running around (not a lot, but enough that one might catch a glimpse of a long skinny tail disappearing under a car if one were outside to get to an early morning shift...) I'm thinking I will become a compulsive compost turner.

I dunno. Can't say I'm sorry to trade in fire ants for possible rat encounters. I got a couple cats, so I'm safe inside the house. Hopefully.

Been thinking about raised beds, stone or concrete, waist high, with built in worm bins running down the center. That way I can feed the worms in the middle, fling some of the finished stuff out over the growing area every so often to keep the soil healthy/replenished and the garden part of it will regulate the temp enough so they won't freeze to death in the little winters we have here. (zone 7, i think) . But not sure if that is right, like, would they be MORE exposed to the elements in a raised bed? On the other hand, if I go to all the trouble of building this thing(s) then I might as well put posts up and have a greenhouse kinda thing going in the winter and early spring. Removable trellises that would double as walls in the winter. ? The problem there would be over heating them, maybe. Of course, waist high beds would be deep enough for them to dive to safety as needed.

I'm trying to decide if I should delineate the beds from the bin or just dig a trench and do it that way. Maybe just screen or something in a long...trench of worms...but it would be hard to really FARM them that way... they'd be free range. Or at least, cage free. It'd be a worm BED not a worm BIN. I'm not certain it would be cozy enough for them. Maybe a screen trench with a board on top to keep the light off the melon rinds/newspaper.

Wasn't someone else doing something very similar to this a couple of years ago? hmm


Anyway, howdy AD, Rosegrower! And the rest of y'all!

loamy


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 Post subject: Re: Once upon a time...
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:49 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2006 9:43 pm
Posts: 585
Location: Upstate New York
Hey Loamy, I remember you!

Well I let my worms go wild back when, but this fall as I was setting up a kiddie pool in the basement for Abbey's turtle, I thought I'd set up a worm bin for food. I found a plethora of worms in my EarthMachine compost bin, so went ahead and set up a worm bin in the basement.

Now as it turns out, the turtle gets real excited about nightcrawlers but could care less about the redworms so I guess a nightcrawler bin is coming soon and I'll need to decide what I'll do with the redworm bin. I'll likely just leave it to handle the rabbit and kitchen waste.

I feel bad about not growing the garden, although I don't feel bad about not being a slave to it. Plus I got very frustrated and disappointed with all the trouble I had (weather, insects and animals). But I wouldn't use pesticides and found it pretty hard to kill an animal that's just trying to eat and stay alive.
I have a woodchuck that I'm pretty sure lives in a burrow under my shed and he's a biggun. I see him sometimes now and again in the back yard and I wonder how he gets under our cedar picket fence as it must be a tight squeeze for his fatness!

It's funny that you had your leaves heat up - something that usually doesn't happen without ample amounts of greens and moisture. Oh well, worms love 'finished' thermal compost so when it cools it will make a nice home for a new crew. When I did my fall 'heap/windrow' I had worms working well into winter as the unturned pile stayed warm into December. This was a surprise as it gets pretty cold here in Central New York. I'm guessing the worms found the cozy spot just warm enough to keep working. By spring, I'd have a truckload of finished vermicompost better than money could buy.

I'm not so sure about your trench composting method for veggies...but worth the experiment. If it was me I'd give it a go, but also have a vermicomposting heap as well. I'd then top dress plants using vermicompost from the heap. But good luck in your effort.


Well, unless this forum comes back to life, I'm not sure I'll stick around. I'll check back in a while to see if there's any pulse before a final pronouncement!

Take care.

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