Country Traditions

November 9, 2010

Composting 101 | Real Simple

Filed under: composting, family, farming, gardening, rain water, weather — Tags: , , , , , , — dmacc502 @ 7:03 pm
better compost

Image by normanack via Flickr

Composting 101 | Real Simple.

via Composting 101 | Real Simple.

It’s not just for people in the sticks anymore: Composting is great for all gardeners because it improves soil, which in turn prevents plant diseases. And it can even reduce harmful greenhouse gases. “Organics that break down in a landfill produce methane gas, which is about 120 times more harmful than carbon dioxide,” says Cary Oshins, assistant director for programs at the United States Composting Council, in Ronkonkoma, New York. So why not help the planet and your yard by piling it on?

How to Get Started

Choose a container that’s made of wood (or some other sturdy material) and no smaller than three by three feet. Place it in your yard in a shady spot with good drainage. Start adding waste in a ratio of three “browns” to one “green.” Browns are carbon-rich materials and include wood chips, straw, branches, and leaves. Greens provide nitrogen and include grass clippings and kitchen scraps, like eggshells and carrot tops. When you’re adding new material, Oshins suggests, dig a hole in the pile and stir the new stuff in so it gets coated with the old mixture.

October 8, 2010

Attract Night Crawlers to Your Garden – Organic Gardening – Ask Our Experts Blog

Filed under: animals, gardening — Tags: , , , , , — dmacc502 @ 5:47 pm
Lumbricus terrestris (Nachtaufnahme)

Image via Wikipedia

Attract Night Crawlers to Your Garden – Organic Gardening – Ask Our Experts Blog.

via Attract Night Crawlers to Your Garden – Organic Gardening – Ask Our Experts Blog.

Several species of helpful earthworms will magically appear as you dig compost and other forms of organic matter into your soil. The most important species in terms of soil improvement is the night crawler (Lumbricus terrestris), which specializes in taking organic matter from the soil’s surface and storing it in underground middens, which are combination food supply/trash heaps. As these middens decompose, they become nutrient-rich hot spots in plants’ root zones. In addition, night crawler tunnels create open channels for water and plant roots, which can make a huge difference in tight clay soil.

Using mulches will encourage night crawlers, as will creating grassy mowed pathways, which you might think of as night crawler reservoirs. But the best thing you can do to increase night crawler populations is to place piles of compost and mulch in or near your garden. More night crawler activity goes on around the edges of compost and mulch piles than anywhere else in your garden.

Chances are good that providing habitat for night crawlers will attract them in noticeable numbers, but if you want to import worms to colonize your new garden area, you can use night crawlers that are sold as fishing bait.#mce_temp_url#

September 12, 2010

Building A Worm Bed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 8:48 pm

Getting started is easy. Everything you need can be found in your local home-improvement store. You can estimate spending about $50 on the supplies needed to build your worm bed.

YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 25-lb. bags of cement mix
  • 6 7-inch by 1⁄4-inch by 6-foot boards
  • 6 7-inch by 1⁄4-inch by 3-foot boards
  • 6 2-inch by 1⁄4-inch by 2-foot boards
  • a 3-by-6-foot screen mesh
  • adult permission and/or help

The boards can be bought new or you can use old boards you have lying around. The boards may be different sizes as long as they are equal to the size of the bed.

STEP 1: Pick a spot that is shady most of the day.

STEP 2: Measure an area 6 feet long by 3 feet wide.

STEP 3: Dig a hole the size of that area to 36 inches deep. (Ask your parents permission first.) Keep some of the dirt for use later.

STEP 4: With your boards, make a box frame to fit inside the bed you’ve dug. The box will be set into the ground about a foot below the surface.

STEP 5: Place the frame inside the bed. There should be a 1/4-inch gap around the outside of the frame.

STEP 6: Mix the cement according to the directions on the bag.

STEP 7: Pour the concrete into the 1/4-inch gap around the box. Don’t overfill into the bed.

STEP 8: Let the concrete harden. Remove the frame one wall at a time.

STEP 9: Fill the bed with a mixture of peat moss, shredded newspaper and part of the dirt you removed.

STEP 10: Make the top from two of the 6-footlong boards and two of the 3-foot boards. Nail the screen mesh to the boards to make a rectangular door-like frame.

STEP 11: Place the top on the worm bed. This will keep animals out of the bed.

Ordering Your Worms

Now order your worms. The best way is from a worm supplier. You can find a list of these in any outdoor magazine, or you can go to the Internet. One example: http://www.wormman.com. Suppliers will have several different types of worms. Ken Chiarella of Monroe Township, N.J., the Worm Man behind the http://www.wormman.com Web site, recommends red worms for the beginning worm farmer because they’re cheap and easy to raise. You can get about 1,000 worms for $18. Mr. Chiarella warns that you should let your bed sit for several days before you add the worms. Otherwise decomposition will make the soil too hot and the worms will crawl away.  http://boyslife.org/hobbies-projects/projects/68/build-a-worm-bed/

worm working

Succession Gardening: Planting Dates for Second Crops

Filed under: gardening — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 6:06 pm

A second harvest can dramatically increase your yield—and allow you to enjoy fresh vegetables into fall and winter. In addition, fall gardening is often easier since there are less pests and problems in cooler weather. Finally, a fall “cover” crop can organically protect and build your soil.

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