Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Red Wiggler : Eisenia fetida

Red Wigglers

Eisenia fetida also known as the red wiggler worm. Lovely red wiggling friends! These are so easy peasy to keep once you figure out how to keep them at an even temp. They will make quick work of the majority of your raw food scraps and can be kept in your home for a low volume household or you can adapt your system to suit the needs of your household/community. Once you are set up you can harvest the castings, make worm tea or collect it and even use it for trades. The nutrient dense castings make an excellent soil amendment. The worm tea can be used as a foliar spray or just poured on the ground to nourish your plants. The castings are living as they contain tons of bacteria and fungi that benefit soil thus benefitting the plants.

Next I will show you my worms and then explain a little about how I keep mine.

I am currently running three worm bins right now; two of them are simply black plastic 3 gal pots and the other is a Worm Factory my mom got a couple of years back. The worm factory is not so suitable for the Florida climate so I would only recommend you get one of these pre made units (there are several brands) if you can keep it at an even temperature in extreme hot or cold. The worms work best at 55 - 77° F although they can tolerate other temperatures they work best in this range.

Here you can see what a small handful of worms looks like with some casting and debris... You can tell when they are well fed as they will be active (if the temperature isn't too cold or too hot) and appear very red otherwise they will look a little grey and not so plump and full of life.

In this next picture you can observe the main food my worms will be getting from now on. We are juicing daily for our health and save the pulp, separate from our compost waste, in a small plastic tub with a lid until its full. As it sits on the counter for two to three days in this tub it begins to break down. There is  no noticeable bad odor and I find it to be an important step as the worms like to get into predigested food. In the bag above the bowl there were left over's from our Jack-o-lantern that had past their prime. I let these bits of pumpkin sit out and we also gave our worms the pumpkin we had carved also.

We have rodent problems in our barn and they are extremely attracted to the food I give to our worms. My partner collected a huge bag of palm debris which I am using to line the bottom and top of the bin. Once I feed my worms I cover them with the palm husk and then put another pot with a small weight to that creepy animals can t get into the bin. Its worked great so far. Even if you dont have rodent issues its good to have a lid for your bin or cover it with leaves once you feed as the worms dont like light too much.

Below you can observe what their eggs look like. Once the temperature here gets cooler after the summer the worms start multiplying VERY rapidly and I have been finding stashes of eggs all over my bins.

So very simply this is how I set up my bins:

  1. I take a large plastic planting pot and line it with palm husks or large chunks of coconut fibre... You can use any organic material that you want that does not contain volatile oils as they might affect the health/productivity of your worms. You can also use any container so long as it has tall sides and you have created areas where air can get into the bin. When I started I made mine out of some rubber storage tubs.
  2. I add coco fibre (you can find it at hydroponic stores, some garden centers and online) to create the bed they will be in. It should be moist/wet but never soaked about one inch of material should be enough.
  3. Then I add my worms. If you are just starting then you can get worms online, from a specialty grower, or better yet find someone locally or a community garden that would be willing to share some with you. The worms will take a minute to get settled so when you move onto the following step you must take caution.
  4. Feeding = simple.... Take your food scraps (preferably cut into pieces; some people blend it up with a little water in a blender) or better yet pulp from your juicer and put a thin layer on there...

How much I feed them depends on several things:

size of the container
amount of worms
the type of food I am feeding

After some time if you are somewhat of a weirdo like me you will begin to develop a relationship with your worms and will be excited to see all the awesome castings they will be making for you!

Now the last thing is to know that the worms are not HUGE fans of citrus and Alliums (onions, leeks, garlic, etc) so they can be added but too much and your castings will be acidic and you will find some funguses you probably dont want from the citrus... In small quantities and mixed/broken down like in the pulp there are no noticeable negative effects.

I will be making another post on Harvesting and use of Eisenia fetida castings and tea. Stay posted!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fall 2013

Fall is an exciting time for gardens and gardeners in Central Florida.

The weather is ever changing but its milder than the summer months. Suddenly its much more pleasant to be in the garden all day long. This fall we will be implementing many awesome changes to our garden including some basic irrigation for the established raised beds, small fences around our main growing areas, a hot compost set-up, and planning our spring/summer crops.

We currently have a wide array of medicinal, culinary, edibles and ornamentals. I will be cataloging these over the winter. Its pretty exciting to see everything coming together. During spring we will begin selling seeds we have collected and we should have a wide variety of surplus vegetables we will be offering to the public directly at our site.

The work we are doing here is part of a larger vision to provide our local area with high quality locally sourced fruits and vegetables. Our dream is coming true; to share the plentiful bounty that occurs as you nourish the earth and watch as she nourishes you in return.

The most incredible pleasure has been harvesting enough vegetables to have YUMMY organic salads every day. As the garden matures and prospers we see plants showing themselves whose seeds have been dormant during the hot summer season. Many of the volunteer plants are much more vigorous than its seeded counterparts. Its lovely to walk around and see how our system changes daily.

I am determined to get organized this fall when I am not in the garden I will be working on this blog.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Three Bin Composting Solution

Above are the side and front view of the area we chose to be our new composting area. Josh began with a pointed shovel to clear the area and level it off to place the palettes that my father had obtained free of charge from a  local business. We placed three palettes on their sides to act as the back to our compost pile and then will use four to make the shape for the three areas: Layers, Mixed, Finished. Its pretty simple!

Here is the almost finished product. We need two more palettes and the chicken wire to line each bin. BUT We already have a system for our food waste. YAY

This week we are working on contacting local businesses that can provide us with enough waste to make our composting project a reality. We already have sources for horse and chicken manure. We are now looking either to obtain our own bunnies for rabbit manure or to find a local backyard bunny farmer who wouldn't mind sharing their bunny droppings. We will also contact several coffee shops for their grounds and a couple of restaurants to make sure we have enough food waste to layer.

Its going to be a hot pile of dirt! I cant wait.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why are you eating that?

When was the last time you took a look at the ingredients in your foods?

As a rule I tend to look at the ingredients in 99% of everything I consume. There is something very gratifying about knowing what I am eating and where it has come from. Disclaimer: you do not have to enjoy your food choices as much as I do...

Its funny to think that about 100 years ago the supermarket or 'grocery' was not stocked with the myriad of food choices available to USA consumers today. Many foods now available are a series of gimmicks with different combinations of a variety of stabilizers, gums, corn products, soy products, emulsifiers, artificial colors and flavors amongst other awkward named food items.

So now I have two questions for you:

Do you really want to eat that?


Why are you still eating that?

Dont get me wrong! I am not some food judge waiting in the shadows to snatch your eating choices from you. HA Its up to you. I do recommend that we all understand that the food that is available overall is not necessarily healthy but fulfilling.

Do you want fill a gap?


Would you like to nourish your body with essential nutrients and feel better than ever before?

Learning about what you are consuming is essential to your health. So please; when you are at the supermarket or any other food establishment: ask questions and read labels. Its your health. Most companies that sell food are not interested in nourishment or health. They are interested in selling you, the consumer, a product that makes them money. Make sure you begin to understand how our food system works. Shop as much as you can with local grocers and farms. Grow your own food.

There is nothing wrong with questioning the hands that are feeding us. Unfortunately for most of us the prospect of growing our own food seems like a distant dream or to some a horrible dirty nightmare: MUCH easier to let hundreds of thousands of other people be responsible for your nutrition while you just pay a monetary value suitable to you.

Think about how satisfying it would be to serve yourself food from a garden that you tend that you know where the food comes from and what is put on it and who handles it. It much healthier than buying something that has been touched by who knows who and has been goodness knows where. So think about it.

Why are you eating that?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Grow your own!

Power is a common subject in our modern culture.

Isn't it strange that the power to feed ourselves is no longer considered a priority.

In fact.

We happily allow others to control our relationship with the earth.

As we are living notions have become norm. The idea that food needs to be paid for is not my idea nor yours.

Concepts, ideas, notions, etc... These dominate our landscape.

The trees should be dominating the landscape. Instead we crave more, want more, consume more, buy that then throw it out and get another.

This, my friend, is a dessert of understanding and compassion.

We have forgotten our duty to our fellow man and instead have placed prices on all that is dear.

Imposing thought patterns into the young most people continue the cycle of misunderstanding.

The only way forward is to grow.

This is why I have created this space and this is where I will share my journey towards sustainabiliy and low impact living in tune with my mama Earth.

Sana is to heal and gaia is our planet.. Everything I work for is to improve this place for me, my family and for you too.

I hope you enjoy! :)