April 13, 2014

Organic Garden 2014 Is About To Begin!

Time to start anew- for Organic Garden 2014 (OG2014)! 

This year, I'll be growing:
Strawberries, continued from OG2012 & OG2013
Onions, the starters were a birthday gift from my Mom
Cucumbers,got a bit out of control last year
Spinach, my favorite smoothie add-in
Tomatoes, to make salsa
Colorful peppers, I shocked to learn a few years ago actually start out green
Raspberries, started last year with zilch harvest, and the bush still looks a little meager- seems to need a double-dose of worm poop!
Blackberries, grow completely out of control and have to be cut back several times a season so they don't overtake the whole garden

I took all my materials- peat pots, seeds, plastic tray, and vermicompost/potting soil tub, out onto the deck.
organic garden seed starting
Using the time tested peat pots (I tried a more recycle-y method last year with paper towel rolls that didn't prove sturdy enough for my seed-starting ways), I filled each with a mixture of two parts potting soil, one part outside dirt from OG2013, and one part...drumroll, please...vermicompost, or WORM POOP!
vermicompost

organic seed starting

After I doused them with water, I let them sit in the direct sunlight outside for the afternoon with just one, small nebby visitor: 
organic seed starting

organic seed starting
Finally, I covered the pots with some plastic wrap to generate a mini-greenhouse effect and placed them in front of our glass doors for optimal sunlight. 
organic seed starting
I'll be spritzing them with water every morning, and I'll post progress pics as they poke their tiny buds out!

Of course, the worm poop is the secret ingredient that gave me comparable results like in this photo- the plants on the left were raised with vermicompost, the ones on the right were not:
organic pepper plants


Not only did those plants grow larger and more sturdy, they had double the amount of flowers/fruit. They also seemed to repel pests more effectively and had less bug-holes in the leaves.

Lesson learned!  With an exceptionally small garden, I'm focused on quality, not so much quantity.  I now start & cultivate with vermicompost all growing season so each plant can live to it's fullest. It's as simple as putting a handful at the base of each plant once or twice a month!

WORM POWER!

Don't forget- if you would like to give vermicomposting a try but just want a small amount of worms to get started,  you can order 1/2 of Lilliworm Red Worms shipped right to your door! Visit the "BUY 1/2 LB OF LILLIWORMS!" link on the right hand side of this page.

March 9, 2014

Rain, Sleet, Snow, or Hail...Soon My Worms Will Be Traveling By Mail!

The time has come...I have more worms than most people have ever seen in their whole lives all totaled up!

When I push away the top layer in the Worm Wigwam, the scene revealed can best be described as a very populated, hugely squirmy mass of worminess. They climb the walls, they live in the bottom, they skim the top...they practically overflow from the bin!

There's only one thing left to do...sell some of my friends! Not as worm bait, mind you (because I've had plenty of offers for that!), but to some newbies like I once was that are interested in vermicomposting as a way to get rid of their organic wastes, as well as organically fertilize their houseplants or garden with amazing results.

When I click around, I notice most people sell composting worms by the pound (estimating about 1,000 worms in a pound). Worms are typically shipped living in a moist peat-like material inside a cloth bag surrounded by shredded newspaper.
shipping composting worms
My worms multiplied quickly. They went from a large Rubbermaid container to three large shoebox size Rubbermaid containers within about 2 1/2 months.
worm bin

worm bins
They moved into the Worm Wigwam less than a year later:
worm wigwam
My experience tells me that you can start very small and still end up with a healthy herd that can easily munch through your organic scraps each week.
organic scraps
Soon, you will see an option on the side of the page to purchase 1/2 pound of worms- or about 500 worms. This size is great if you are interested in vermicomposting, but want to start small. It also works for kids that are creating a school project.
vermicomposting project
Rain, sleet, snow, or hail...soon my worms will be traveling by mail!
composting worms for sale

January 25, 2014

Third Year Organic Gardener, Seventh Year Worm Wrangler


Happy New Year, wiggly ones!

2014 will be my third year as an organic gardener, and my seventh as a worm wrangler- we all know how they go hand in hand!

I've learned so much, I thought I'd revisit a post from last year where I reviewed what I learned from my first year to do differently during my second. Now with TWO whole seasons to draw from, here's some of the plans for the third organic-y year of growing goodness.



Starter Planters

2012- Peat pots

I used biodegradable containers that got transferred right into the garden when it came time to plant:
They were convenient, and they held up well throughout the starter growth of the plants. They didn't grow mold or fall apart early (some of them were still intact halfway through the growing season after being planted into the actual garden).

2013- Free & green cardboard roll pots
My environmentally friendliness kicked in and I used the FREE cardboard rolls leftover at the end of toilet paper and paper towels.These little planters were easy to make.
recycled seed starter planters
recycled seed starter planters
recycled seed starter planters
HOWEVER....not so sturdy! Once the seedlings were watered, things got ugly with these cardboard planters.
They got mushy. They grew mold. By the time they were going to be planted in the garden, it was a bit of mess. The bottoms were falling out, so the dirt in them wasn't solid. The roots of the tiny plants seemed weak and exposed because the dirt and container were so flimsy.

Give me extra points for being free and green, but minus points for being ineffective in growing strong plants with good roots to start the season.

2014 Decision- Peat Pots! Lesson learned! Back to the peat pots. It's so important to start good, strong seedlings- and I have such a great soil formula, using about 1/3 vermicompost and 2/3 garden dirt, to cultivate them. Time to return to the sturdier, more dependable peat pots.


Dirt & Fertilizer
2012- Chop and leave the remnants

When I put the garden to bed in 2012,  it looked like this:
organic garden
2013- Pick out the remnants

When it reopened for 2013, it looked like this:
organic garden
A bit of a mess. Although I was thrilled that the strawberries were on their way back early, I had to sift out all the stems and sticks I thought would compost up all nice over the winter (clearly false!). After doing that (and adding a serious dose of vermicompost!), it all worked out.

So I learned another lesson- don't chop everything up at the end of the season, mix in the first few inches of soil, and hope for the best- because you'll be sifting out stems and sticks come spring.

2014 Decision- Start Fresh!

This past season, I cleared out all the debris before putting the garden to bed:
organic garden


Seeds

2012- Buy seeds

In 2012, I bought my seeds at the local home improvement store. Everything turned out OK, except the onions were a little harsh.

2013- Buy seeds
Last year, I bought a new red raspberry plant, plus bought seeds from the local home improvement store for tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, spinach, and onions again. The strawberries were multiplying from the year before, so no need to buy any more of those. (I blame my poor starting pots, not the seeds, on the less sturdy crops I yielded last year.)

2014 Decision: Buy seeds
I enjoy the process of starting seeds and getting to see the effects of vermicompost up close and personal, so I'm going to continue to purchase seeds and start them on my own.


Stakes

2012- The perfect garden stake

You may have read my absolute amazement at finding the perfect garden stakes in various sizes last year.

2013- Recycle and reuse

I reused the stakes from last year with no problems.

2014 Decision- If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
The stakes are still in great shape, so they'll be re-used for the third time. 


Fencing

2012- Creative berry fencing

We constructed our very own berry protection from the birds, using PVC pipe and chicken wire.
garden fencing

2013- Recycle and reuse

We pulled that gem right out of the garage and re-used it in 2013.
organic garden fencing
2014 Decision- Third time's a charm
It works so well, and looks so interesting. Another organic garden item that will be in circulation again for 2014. 


Rain Barrel

2012- Investment year
We invested in this beauty in 2012:


2013- Re-connect!

We reconnected it from it's winter nap on the side of the house.

2014 Decision- Re-Connect!The rain barrel is a huge water saver- as in we never saw it go below halfway full all summer. It's also positioned so conveniently close to the garden that we probably water even more often than needed.

One great thing kicking off 2014 is that I have worms and vermicompost practically come out of my basement. The worms have had a stellar off season- getting plenty of scraps and eating their way through the holidays....and pooping out some great organic fertilizer.

Let OG2014 begin! 

December 8, 2013

Holiday Worm Composting Do's and Don'ts

The holiday season is upon us, and if you've just started composting with worms, you might be wondering what is OK to throw into the worm bin and what is better left to the garbage can!

Ho, ho, ho- it's Lilliworm to the rescue!



If you are bold enough to let your guests determine what garbage goes where, you can make it easier for them by creating "worm scrap bins" or "worm bowls".

Any worm scrap storage apparatus should be CLEARLY LABELED as "WORM FOOD" so your human guests do not confuse it with the actual HUMAN FOOD.  You may even want to post a similar "do's and don'ts" list like the one above near the bin to really drive the point home (Dad? Can you hear me? NO PIZZA CRUSTS!).

One smaller scrap container you can put to the side of the regular trash can looks like this:

I would advise dumping this into the worm bin soon after the party, so it does not have time to smell or attract pests. 

Personally, I go with the "worm bowl" version and keep it in my refrigerator until it's feeding time:



The bowl in the fridge method works better if you are slow to fill it up and aren't interested in sprinting down to the bin immediately following the celebration.

This year, make the proper scraps and remnants of your holiday gatherings the perfect gift for your hungry, squirmy little friends...yes, I mean the worms!







November 24, 2013

The 2nd Annual Green Gift List

The turkey is barely cold before it's time to run out and get that gift-giving machine humming!

For the second year in a row I've rounded up the most eco-friendly, interesting, and practical gifts that I could find using the same criteria as last holiday season:
  • must be rated four stars or more
  • has to cost under $50
With a little research and a lot of well wishes- I present to you Lilliworm's Green Gift List!


GET MOVING!
Yoga is one of my favorite healthy activities. Basically all you need is the knowledge and a mat....and what a mat this one is!
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CK3OO7A/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00CK3OO7A&linkCode=as2&tag=lilliworm-20

This double-thick gem is not only textured to prevent slipping, but it also comes with a lifetime guarantee. Of course it couldn't make the list without having a green pedigree: it is recyclable and biodegradable! Color options include blue, purple, and black. Current price: $39.95.


GET CREATIVE!

You just never can tell when the desire to create is going to strike you (or the kids on your gift list!), so why not be ready with The Go Artist Travel Pack:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006OOU3JY/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B006OOU3JY&linkCode=as2&tag=lilliworm-20
All 21 pieces in this kit will inspire, including notebook, ruler, stencils, and colored pencils- and all are made from natural materials like cotton, wood, recycled paper, and soy. Current price: $20.21


GET USEFUL!

You probably still have those relatives that haven't quite caught the "green" bug, and continue to collect their stash of harmful plastic bags every trip to the grocery store.  Convert them to greenies by selecting their favorite colors in these reusable bags:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00D34TQC8/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00D34TQC8&linkCode=as2&tag=lilliworm-20 

Each bag is only 49 cents and made from durable ripstop nylon. Once their shopping trip is complete, they can fold it back up to small pouch size and place it back in their purse or glove compartment for the next trip.


GET ORGANIZED!

For those worker bees in your life that can never seem to find a pen or business card when they need one, how about this compartmentalized messenger bag:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0029L7N9E/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0029L7N9E&linkCode=as2&tag=lilliworm-20
This bag has a cotton canvas outside, padded laptop section, and several other snappy compartments to make sure everything is secure in its own space. Current price: $34.19


GET COOKING!
After growing all those organic vegetables this summer, it only makes sense that I promote an eco-friendly place to chop them up: bamboo cutting boards!
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CRUKNAS/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00CRUKNAS&linkCode=as2&tag=lilliworm-20
The set of three is easy to handle (they have handles, duh!), are lightweight, and are made of natural bamboo- a very renewable resource.  Current price: $18.99


GET SCOOPING!
Dogs are going to poop, which means someone is going to have to scoop...why not in the most eco-friendly way possible?http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E3GOFLW/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00E3GOFLW&linkCode=as2&tag=lilliworm-20
Every dog owner on your list will appreciate your thoughtfulness (and so will everyone else in the neighborhood) as you provide an earthy-friendly poop pick-up method. Current price: $15.99


GET SQUIRMING!

What worm blogger can resist suggesting an eco-friendly worm toy for the holiday shopping season? Certainly not Lilliworm!

Babies on your list will be thrilled with this toy crafted from natural wood and lead free paint. It squiggles securely on a thick elastic band...plus it's a WORM!!! Current price: $12.99


So now all there is left to do is...
GET SHOPPING!


    November 11, 2013

    Feeling Squirmy?

    If you aren't then you will after these new pumpkin-eater bin pics!

    Remember the pumpkin feast of 2012 and the funny mold?

    Guess who's back:
    organic pumpkin in worm wigwam with sclerotinia sclerotiorum
    Last year, I learned that this was likely sclerotinia sclerotiorum- not much to worry about in the bin, as the worms would eat it and poop it back out into the same great organic fertilizer they always do! 

    Turning over a pumpkin top in the bin can be an adventure...
    organic pumpkin in the worm wigwam
    Pretty slimy!

    I pushed around a few pieces and uncovered more wormtastic wonderfulness:

    The worms have a lot of work left to do...I have four smaller pumpkins waiting in the wings as dessert!

    Speaking of teamwork and wings...Happy Veterans Day and thank you to all who have served or are currently serving in our military!





    "the most nonspecific, omnivorous, and successful of plant pathogens"- according to a reference compiled from the University of Hawaii - See more at: http://lilliworm.blogspot.com/2012/11/pictures-to-make-you-squirm.html#sthash.gghc71SO.dpuf
    I've never seen this type of mold before in my bin, but a quick Google search told me it's probably sclerotinia sclerotiorum, "the most nonspecific, omnivorous, and successful of plant pathogens"- according to a reference compiled from the University of Hawaii

    There is plenty of time for the worms to gobble that up and push it out before planting season next year, which is good because I don't need any omnivorous pathogens making my organic gardening life any more difficult.

    That's the great thing about worms- they are able to take all sorts of disgusting, moldy, rotting things and turn them into fantastic organic plant food. In Australia, there are even giant industrial worm farms designed to process sewage and water waste. You can read a great set of FAQs about these systems at A&A Wormfarm Waste Systems. - See more at: http://lilliworm.blogspot.com/2012/11/pictures-to-make-you-squirm.html#sthash.gghc71SO.dpuf
    I've never seen this type of mold before in my bin, but a quick Google search told me it's probably sclerotinia sclerotiorum, "the most nonspecific, omnivorous, and successful of plant pathogens"- according to a reference compiled from the University of Hawaii

    There is plenty of time for the worms to gobble that up and push it out before planting season next year, which is good because I don't need any omnivorous pathogens making my organic gardening life any more difficult.

    That's the great thing about worms- they are able to take all sorts of disgusting, moldy, rotting things and turn them into fantastic organic plant food. In Australia, there are even giant industrial worm farms designed to process sewage and water waste. You can read a great set of FAQs about these systems at A&A Wormfarm Waste Systems. - See more at: http://lilliworm.blogspot.com/2012/11/pictures-to-make-you-squirm.html#sthash.gghc71SO.dpuf
    I've never seen this type of mold before in my bin, but a quick Google search told me it's probably sclerotinia sclerotiorum, "the most nonspecific, omnivorous, and successful of plant pathogens"- according to a reference compiled from the University of Hawaii

    There is plenty of time for the worms to gobble that up and push it out before planting season next year, which is good because I don't need any omnivorous pathogens making my organic gardening life any more difficult.

    That's the great thing about worms- they are able to take all sorts of disgusting, moldy, rotting things and turn them into fantastic organic plant food. In Australia, there are even giant industrial worm farms designed to process sewage and water waste. You can read a great set of FAQs about these systems at A&A Wormfarm Waste Systems. - See more at: http://lilliworm.blogspot.com/2012/11/pictures-to-make-you-squirm.html#sthash.gghc71SO.dpuf

    November 3, 2013

    The Garden Goes To Bed and Other Scary Pictures


    OG2013 (organic garden 2013) has come to a fast ending!

    While OG2012 ended with a small harvest and huge chopping endeavor, the lessons learned from last year made it clear a new plan to put the garden to bed was needed.

    No more chopping and turning of the stems and stalks- I just ripped them up and churned up the ground with my hand-held three pronged rake.

    A last glimpse before it was yanked:
    organic garden
     And an after shot of the stems and stalks yanked out on the left:
    One success-in-progress story is the strawberries! My goal was to have them take over the entire bottom section by next year, and they set out to meet my goal with gusto:
    organic strawberries

    organic strawberries
    They are so excited to be taking over that they are still flowering and producing berries in November!

    I am already planning all the delicious ways I can use the berries next season with this kind of determination:
    organic strawberries

    organic strawberries
    No early November post on Lilliworm would be complete without some post-Halloween squirm-tastic pictures, so on the to real fun!

    Of course, all Halloweens start off innocent and harmless enough- jack-o-lantern carving!

    This year, I dedicated my design to one of my favorite charities, Best Friends Animal Santuary in Utah, and I used their logo as my template:
    Best Friends organic pumpkin carving
    Pumpkin guts!
    organic pumpkin gutsOK, a little closer...
    organic pumpkin gutsThe finished product:
    organic jack-o-lanterns
    And we all know where they ended up right as the last trick-or-treater was leaving the premises:
    worm wigwam
    Right into the Worm Wigwam, of course!

    I helped the worm herd along by loading some of them up into the pumpkin feast:
    worms in pumpkin

    worms in pumpkin

    worms in pumpkin

    pumpkins in the worm wigwam
    A certain pet in the house named himself the official dog of the Worm Wigwam and stood guard for me:
    Look for more squirmalicous pics this week as the worms work their magic & celebrate their Halloween feast!