Vermicomposting is worming its way onto farms everywhere. Here’s why you should fertilize with worm castings, and how to grow your own worm composting unit.
Vermicomposting For The Homestead
I’m always looking for new ways on the farm to reuse, recycle and repurpose, and there’s nothing I love more than an opportunity to reduce the amount of waste we produce. The other thing I really get passionate about is finding new and inventive ways to do things naturally, like killing weeds with vinegar solution instead of toxic weed killers and fertilizing the garden with Epsom salts and coffee grounds instead of chemical soil enhancers. So when you can combine these two things, I’m a happy girl. Let me introduce you to vermiculture, the practice of raising worms for their castings, which is essentially worm poop.
What Is Vermicompost?
Vermicompost is a dark, peat-like material, higher in nutrients than regular compost. It is said to contain five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus and 11 times more potassium than traditional compost! It is also broken down faster than a regular compost pile, due to the worms’ activity, and the huge bonus is that they essentially do the turning of the compost pile for you, aerating the material and eliminating the back breaking work that has always put me off having a true compost heap in the past.
Some sources say that the worms actually eat the waste, others say that what the worms are actually consuming is the microorganisms that cause the food to decay. The modern research appears to support the latter theory and, for this reason, if the food is slightly rotted when you add it to your worm bin, it will help the process along even better. Food that should not be fed to chickens or the dogs because it is ‘off’ or moldy, is a gourmet meal to your new friends. They will quickly turn it into gold for your garden.
Vermicompost is favored among gardeners as a superior natural-fertilizer because, unlike other natural fertilizers, such as horse and chicken droppings, it is not ‘hot’ and the Vermicompost can be added directly to the soil around the plants, providing enrichment and a huge nutrient boost without risk of burning the plant and its roots. .
Unlike manure from other livestock, worm castings have been shown to contain lower levels of contaminants such as feed additives, antibiotics, and other medications, making it ideal for chemical conscious and organic farmers.
Does Any Worm Work?
The two most common worms used in vermiculture are red wigglers (Eisenia fetida) and European Nightcrawlers (Eisenia hortensis). There are enthusiasts of both varieties, but it seems that the former is the most widely used so, for the purposes of this beginner setting up her first worm farm, that’s what I chose to use.
Where Do I Buy The Worms?
Worms can be bought online, and are probably one of the more unusual things you will ever receive through the mail. Prices vary, but read around for reviews and recommendations when buying worms sight unseen by the pound, as there are stories of companies sending what essentially amounted to boxes of dirt and trying to convince the customer that the worms were in there, but were just very, very small.
Because I live near the river, places selling bait worms are practically every fifty yards down the road. So I simply stopped at one of those and bought a bunch of red wigglers. A worm will eat half of their body weight each day in waste material, so consider the waste output of your household when deciding how big you want your worm farm to be.
Feed Your Worms
So what will they eat? Basically, they will consume all kitchen waste, and if it is moldy or slightly rotted, so much the better. As I mentioned above, it is the micro-organisms that they eat, not the actual food, so speeding the process by offering them food with the micro-organisms already present is beneficial to them.
Vegetables, fruit, bread, pasta, eggshells, coffee grounds and tea bags, paper towels, shredded newspaper, junk mail, and napkins are great – and even limited amounts of aged manure from poultry and rabbits.
Citrus should be avoided in quantity, and do not add salty or greasy foods as these do not break down correctly. The key is to not add too much of any one thing at a time, or you could upset the pH balance of the farm.
They need a pH between 7 and 8, so if you are unsure, it might be a good idea to buy some litmus paper and test it; if you find it is too acidic, add some baking soda or some crushed eggshells, too alkaline and you can add some 3/1 water/vinegar mix. Eggshells are good for worms because they process their food in a gizzard, and the eggshells help them digest it properly, kind of like a chicken needs oyster shell and grit!
If you detect an unpleasant smell coming from your worm farm, or you have a cloud of fruit flies hovering, you’ve probably been overfeeding, and the worms cannot keep up, thus making the habitat too damp. Try adding some more dry bedding – shredded newspaper, cardboard or dry leaves — and hold off feeding for a few days until the worms catch up.
Make Your Vermicompost Container
The container that you choose for your worm farm should have a good amount of surface area and be fairly shallow; a bucket is not a good choice, but a Rubbermaid container or similar will work well. These can be found pretty cheaply at Walmart, but I had a dirty, old one hanging about in the shop, so I decided to use that. You’ll also need a lid to go with it. The tub needs to be opaque, as worms are sensitive to light.
- The first thing you need to do is drill some holes in the tub. I drilled a bunch of 1/8″ holes in the top and sides for aeration. Worms are aerobic, just like human beings, and require oxygen to survive. Without proper ventilation in your tub, the atmosphere in it will become toxic and the worms will eventually die.
- I then drilled some 1/4″ holes in the bottom of the tub for drainage. Be sure to drill the holes in the lowest part of the tub where the liquid created by the worms process will gather; you’ll see that most tubs have a ‘gully’ around the edges of the bottom, this is where the liquid will sit, so drill here. The liquid that comes out of the bottom is called leachate and can be gathered to use as liquid fertilizer for plants. The idea way to do this is to have a second Rubbermaid tub, slightly larger than the first, and you can stack the smaller tub inside the larger, with a couple of rocks or small pieces of 2×4 inside the bottom tub to boost it up.
- Next, shred up some paper for bedding. I had a bunch of old cardboard boxes lying around waiting to be burned, so I deconstructed them, split the three layers of cardboard, and then shredded it roughly. Add a good thick first layer, and then gather some food. If you are putting your worms in right away, as I was, try to add some food that is already slightly rotten, so that the worms have something to eat from the get-go. I had a mushy cucumber that I had been meaning to throw to the chickens, so I put that in, along with some coffee grounds, and some bread.
- Then I added my worms. They came with a few casings in the tubs with them, so I dumped that in for good measure too. Then I added more bedding on top, sprayed it with water to damp it down and laid down a piece of flat cardboard on top to hold in moisture. Then I clipped on the lid and took the whole thing down into the cellar, where it was going to live. Because I live in the South, finding somewhere cool to put the bin was a challenge. Worms should not be exposed to temperatures below 50F and above 85F and they reportedly feed fastest at temperatures between 59-77F. In the South, that’s a tall order, and we don’t even have AC in the house, so I decided that the cellar was the best place for them during the summer.
When To Harvest Your Worm Bin?
I anticipate that it will take 3-4 months for my worm castings to be ready, so take that into consideration when planning when to start your compost! Harvesting is pretty simple; just push the castings and existing contents of the bin to one side, and add new bedding and food to the other. The worms will naturally migrate over to the new side where the food is, and you can then scoop out the castings.
You should also see a relatively quick increase in your worm population. Worm eggs look like tiny, pale colored spheres, and they should hatch in 21 days. I’m hoping that if I manage to succeed at growing worms, I can set up a much larger bin system later in the year.
Castings can be used as is, or can be made into what is known as ‘worm tea’; basically, you steep the casings in water and use the resulting mixture as liquid fertilizer. A quick look at eBay shows that worm tea is a popular and expensive plant treat, but I am looking forward to creating my own.
This article was written by Katy at the Poppy Creek Farm, check out her site (here)
Want to know more about when worm bin is ready to harvest? Check out this video from Mumbai Balcony Gardener | Avid Life Observer
That’s all, fellow homesteaders! But, there’s an added bonus too, one that is not lost on my husband, and I bet your family will be all for it, too. The resulting worms are perfect for fishing, so you’ll have your very own bait right there on hand for fishing trips. And in a family who regards fishing as important as the other necessities of life, such as breathing and water, the prospect of home grown bait suddenly puts vermiculture into a whole new light.
Are you going to start your own vermicomposting unit? We want to know how it goes! Let us know in the comments section below
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on May 2015 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
This Article Was Found On pioneersettler.com Read the Original Article
NYC Adds Nearly 4,000 People Who Never Tested Positive To Coronavirus Death Tolls
New York City added nearly 4,000 people who never tested positive for the coronavirus to its death toll Tuesday, bringing coronavirus-related deaths in the city to around 10,000 people.
The city decided to add 3,700 people to its death tolls, who they “presumed” to have died from the virus, according to a report from The New York Times. The additions increased the death toll in the U.S. by 17%, according to the Times report, and included people who were suffering from symptoms of the virus, such as intense coughing and a fever.
The report stated that Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decided over the weekend to change the way the city is counting deaths.
“In the heat of battle, our primary focus has been on saving lives,” de Blasio press secretary Freddi Goldstein told the Times.“As soon as the issue was raised, the mayor immediately moved to release the data.”
How To Make Lacto-Fermented Sauerkraut In A Mason Jar
The thing about homesteading is you get to create your own ingredient right from scratch! Cheese, yogurt, butter and now sauerkraut, a delightfully sour and crunchy ingredient you can use on your meals — or consume by itself — while on a homestead, or while facing this health crisis!
This homemade sauerkraut is a great meal because it has a long shelf life. You can either make plain sauerkraut or mix it with herbs and spices. In this tutorial let us make Lacto-fermented sauerkraut that preserves all the good probiotics in a jar, good for your guts.
So how to make sauerkraut in a mason jar?
Delicious Sauerkraut Recipe Every Homesteader Should Know
Why Make Sauerkraut?
Not only does sauerkraut spoil a long time, but it is also a meal in itself, and it is also easy to make! You don’t need to be an expert cook, all you need to do is follow these simple steps.
So let us get started. Here are the steps in making sauerkraut in a mason jar.
- 1 head of cabbage or 2 1/2 lbs cabbage
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- mason jar
- smaller jar
- rubber band
Step 1: Wash & Clean the Tools & Ingredients
Wash all the equipment and utensils you need. Wash your hands too.
You don’t want to mix your sauerkraut with bad bacteria, anything that is going to make you sick.
Next, remove the faded leaves from your cabbage. Cut off the roots and the parts that don’t seem fresh.
Step 2: Cut the Cabbage Into Quarters & Slice Into Strips
Cut your cabbage into quarters and remove the core. Then, slice it into strips.
Step 3: Place in a Bowl & Sprinkle With Salt
Put the stripped cabbage into a bowl. Sprinkle the cabbage with 1 tablespoon of salt.
TIP: Use canning salt or sea salt. Iodized salt will make it taste different and may not ferment the cabbage.
RELATED: Homemade Yogurt Recipe
Step 4: Massage the Cabbage
Massage the cabbage for five minutes or more to get the juice out.
TIP: You’ll know it’s ready when you see a bit of juice at the bottom of the bowl and will look similar to coleslaw.
Step 5: Press Cabbage Into the Mason Jar
Add the cabbage to the mason jar gradually. Press it in hard to allow the juice to come out. Do this every time you add about a handful of cabbage.
IMPORTANT: Food should be covered by the liquid to promote fermentation. Add any excess liquid from the bowl to the jar.
Step 6: Press a Smaller Jar Into the Mason Jar
You want to squeeze every ounce of that juice from the cabbage. To do this place the mason jar in a bowl and get a smaller jar.
Fill it with water or marble to make it heavy. Press it into the bigger mason jar. Allow any juices to rise to the surface.
Step 7: Cover the Jars With Cloth & Tie With Rubber Band
Leave the small jar on. To keep your jars clean from annoying insects and irritating debris, cover your jars with a clean cloth. Then, use a rubber band to tie the cloth and the jars together, putting them in place.
Step 8: Set Aside & Check Daily
Set it aside in a cool dry place, away from direct sunlight. Check the water level daily. It should always be above the cabbage.
Step 9: Taste Your Sauerkraut & Keep at Cool Temperatures
After about five days, you can taste your sauerkraut. If the taste is to your liking, tightly cover it with the lid and store in the fridge or cellar.
NOTE: If after five days it’s still not your desired taste, leave it for a few more days. This will allow the fermentation process to continue.
You can now enjoy your sauerkraut in a mason jar. Enjoy its goodness! You can use it as a side dish or mix it with your favorite sandwich.
Things to Remember in Making Sauerkraut
- Store away from direct sunlight and drafts.
- Colder weather will make the process longer. Spring is the best time to make them since the warmth helps activate the fermentation.
- Always make sure that the cabbage is below the water level during the entire fermentation process.
- If the water level decreases during the fermentation process, you can make a brine and add it.
Let us watch this video from Kristina Seleshanko on how to make delicious Lacto-fermented sauerkraut in a mason jar!
So there you have it! Making Lacto-fermented sauerkraut in a mason jar is as easy as slicing the cabbage into strips. Remember that as long it remains unopened, your sauerkraut can last for months. Best of all, you can partner this sauerkraut in many recipes.
What do you think of this homemade recipe? Share your best sauerkraut recipe in the comments section below!
Fellow homesteaders, do you want to help others learn from your journey by becoming one of our original contributors? Write for us!
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9 SPRING VEGETABLES FOR YOUR GARDEN
Having plants in the house will bring peace to people. Having a little garden with vegetables is even better! You can grow these vegetables in your backyard garden easily as well!
RELATED: Microgreens Growing Guide
In this article:
Growing veggies in your garden will give you an opportunity to understand what you eat and value it more. Early spring is when most vegetables are being planted. Keep reading to learn about 9 spring vegetables that anyone can grow in their garden!
Tomato is the most popular garden vegetable in the States! There are different varieties to choose from. Tomatoes need to be planted in early spring because they won’t survive a frost.
Because tomatoes are consumed daily, try adding them to your garden! They’re not difficult to grow either.
Eggplants are known to have low-calorie, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Plus, they are delicious! So why not plant them in your garden?
Eggplants shouldn’t be planted too early because they won’t be able to survive a frost. So you could consult an expert in your area before you plant your eggplants.
Beets are known to be a superfood for its various health benefits. They’re easier to grow in the garden, usually around late March or early April.
If the weather is always cool, beets will keep getting bigger and bigger. Once the weather starts to warm up, you’ll need to harvest them, or they’ll go to waste.
Spinach is a delicious early spring veggie, and it’s also very beneficial for health. And it’s not difficult to grow spinach in your garden!
Spinach needs cold weather to grow. Getting spinach to grow is easy, but keeping it growing will require some extra care.
Peas are usually planted in late April. Peas will die in freezing temperatures, but they also won’t survive the heat either. So make sure you plant your peas in early spring.
Peas are widely used in many different ways, and there are different types of peas. The soil you’ll be planting your peas should be suitable for them, so make sure you ask while buying seeds.
There are different types of carrots, but regardless of their size and color, it’s a fact that carrots are both delicious and rich in vitamins.
They’re root vegetables, so with proper sun and watering, they can be picked up as baby carrots as well.
A radish is an excellent option for beginners because it doesn’t require too much care. Radish is easy to harvest.
Radish grows fast, so it’s better to keep an eye on it after a few weeks. Radish usually is grown pest-free, but there’s always the chance of unwanted guests, so watch out for worms. Radish can be eaten raw or can be added to garnish recipes.
Cauliflower isn’t the easiest vegetable to grow at home, but it is very popular.
Cauliflower grows better in colder weather, so before you plant it, consider the climate of your garden. Cauliflower can be eaten raw or cooked, and it is known to be very beneficial for health.
Freshly picked, tender asparagus is very delicious!
Asparagus plants get more productive with each harvest, and mature asparagus harvest can last for months! Make sure you plant them at the correct time, or else they might go to waste.
All the vegetables listed above are great for your healthy diet, and it’s fun to watch them grow. So don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow your own veggies and eat healthy this spring!
So tell us which veggies will you be growing this spring? Tell us in the comments section!
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This Article Was Found On pioneersettler.com Read the Original Article
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