Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Back for some worm talk

... or to be more precise, some wormy photo blogging.

Yes, I'm still alive, but it does feel like a year since my last blog entry rather than a mere month. But what a long strange month it has been. So I'll have a few things to talk about - no Blogger Block here! Where to start?
I came home from my nephew's lovely wedding in paradise (a.k.a. the Traverse City area of our fair state of Michigan) over Memorial Day weekend to a jammed up and acting badly computer. Have you ever heard of a warped motherboard? Me neither.

After my I.T. guy got around to fixing Mom's 'puter (he is going to school and has a business to run and a family to attend to) I was pretty much weaned from daily blogging, but hey! it was JUNE! I have a GARDEN! And mostly, Blogger was giving me some issues about, let us say, "ease of logging in" so I said to heck with it all.

But I took some cool photos up on the Mission Peninsula when I was there, and the garden tour on Sunday and my project 'Demonstration Backyard Herb Garden' at the Extension deserves some mention, and the flowers in my yard have been having a field day, and this morning I got a load of pics in my e-mailbox of Pat Whetham's organic CSA farm from a pal, Bonnie, and this afternoon I finally renovated my worm bin... Lots to think about so I think it'll be a while until you can get me to quit talkin'!

So let's talk worms.
My worm bin that I made last summer, and documented in this cheezy video*, survived the winter in an ultra cold garage! When I discovered tiny whitish baby worms in there in the spring did I dance the happy dance!

(*3,224 views isn't bad for such a cheezy video though!)

Everything I've read says worms in containers tend to die off at certain temperatures, freezing being extremely harmful to their watery little bodies.
But my garage - that usually is protective enough to overwinter containers of zone 6 and 7 lavenders, salvias and other potted treasures - was registering in the teens and twenties for almost a month in the dead of winter and I held little hope. The temps killed my potted plants that usually overwinter, so why did the worms survive?

Maybe because my bin had been working since summer and had a lot of mass? I don't know.
Anyhow, today I stayed home from all my gallivanting around, and dumped the bin out on a tarp in the garage, determined to separate the worms from their castings and give them a new lease on life with a whole bowlful of fresh local strawberry trimmings. Lucky worms!
Here below is my photo essay:

Dumped the bin

Large mass of upended castings, very damp but not dripping. Worms immediately headed for the new bottom of the pile. That wooden thing is the framed screen that fits in the bottom of the bin.

Caught a slowpoke before he disappeared.

Here I replaced the screen in the bottom of the bin and added new bedding: shredded, dampened Flint Journal. About the size of a Sunday newspaper, less the ads. Don't want to fill up the bin, just have a nice damp place for the guys to rest.

This is the money shot: see the tiny worm next to the big guys? a good depiction of the various sizes of worms in a bin.

I gleaned two good pails of nice castings. A little rough with eggshells, but those don't bother me. Professional vermiculture operations screen the peach pits, pumpkin stems, small sticks and other chunks out I assume. I just pulled them out as I saw them, and kept the majority of my worms to replenish the bin.

Brown gold!


Hedgie said...

Glad to see you back.

You might be interested in dropping by my newest Jackdaw's Nest entry Some Poems with Gardens.

Brenda Jean said...

Thanks for such a neat step by step on the worm bin! I've been wanting to do this and you really explained well for those of us not familiar with our worm friends:)