June 26, 2012

Wild Worms and The Helpful Gardener Forum

All the domesticated worms in my worm wigwam would be interested to know that I wrangle some wild worms as well.  I caught a glimpse of this one out in the wild near the spinach:
I've been feeling very...well...growish lately. Like nothing I touch will die or wilt.  I've been riding high on the compost success in my garden.

I saw some wild stems growing off my lone blackberry bush, and I thought, dang, I have a super-growish idea: I'm going to clip these and root them (is that the right word?) to create a whole ROW of blackberry bushes.
WHOOSH! Did you hear the wind go out of my sails? I barely had time to move the pots next to each other before they had wilted, and it only took two more days before they were reduced to brown twigs. 

Fast forward a few Googles, and I found The Helpful Gardener Forum. A member there let me know that blackberry stems would grow until they were top heavy, and then they could be buried into the dirt to grow roots. Eventually, I could clip the stem in the middle, leaving one part attached to the main plant and the other newly rooted into the ground.

The next time I feel a gardening decision coming on, I'm visiting a few helpful gardeners first!

June 24, 2012

Lessons in Worm Wigwam-ing

Way back in 2008, I moved all of my smaller bins into a Worm Wigwam.  With 4 years of experience now, I'd like to share the three things that would have made worming life a little easier getting started:

1. Plan for size and space.

When the Wigwam (or other worm farm container) arrives, take a measurement of the top or bottom and realize that once it's assembled, you may not be able to get it out the doorway you brought it in.  Also, if some vermicompost spills out or some water leaks, you want to make sure you leave enough room to get to the sides or behind for quick cleanup.

2. Let the Wigwam make its home on a tarp or other piece of plastic.  This will make it easy to move, and you won't have to worry about staining or watermarking the pavement, concrete, floor, decking, or whatever you have it resting on.  If some of the compost (or a stray worm!) gets out onto the tarp, you can shake the sides into a quick pile to sweep up.

3. Based on location, make the top "breathable".  
I found that in my basement/garage, the solid Wigwam top blocked in so much moisture that it caused problems like condensation and weird growths.  Plus, the worms seemed confused and were crawling all over the place.  The modification was to simply cut a large hole in the top cover and caulk in some screen.  This not only eliminated most of the condensation, but also allowed in a little bit of light to keep the worms down underground.

Any other set up advice for the Wigwam?  In the future, I'm going to cover more tips I've gathered along the Wigwam way in relation to feeding, maintaining, and harvesting.

June 14, 2012

Snappy Stake Update and Early Season Compost Touch Up

With the tomato plants growing like weeds, it was time to move to StakeCon2

StakeCon1 was beginning to choke out the stems of the plants:
organic tomato plant stake

StakeCon1 vs. StakeCon2:
organic garden stake

StakeCon2 in place. I imagine the plant breathing a sigh of relief, like it just took off that pair of jeans it couldn't quite sit comfortably in. Ahhhhh, room to move:
organic garden stake
Once the proverbial jeans were off, what's left to do but have a big meal? The garden was about due for another application organic wonderfulness in the form of worm compost/ vermicompost/ worm castings...I'm not sure what to call them anymore?

I'm moving towards worm compost lately because anything with "vermi-" just doesn't call up warm and fuzzy feelings with me- and I feel totally warm and fuzzy about this garden and making it grow better!

For an informal research project, I only "fed" the one row of tomatoes and a few of the red peppers for future comparison purposes:

worm compost application

Last but not least, a shot of those miniature strawberry plants. Patience is a virtue.

June 11, 2012

Berry Growing Black and Blues

My strawberries are still so small. I posted questions on two gardening forums about what might be taking so long, and people responded that growing strawberries from seeds can be tedious and they may take a season to get started.

I've dealt with berries before- small planters, berry tops, and from waaaay back, the first feeding. But this is the first time I've had them in an actual garden situation.

I'd tell you to stay tuned for pics, but imagine three leafs sticking out of the ground- and you pretty much have the idea!

While I was in the berrying mood, I chopped three strong long stems from my blackberry plant and potted them to start roots and make more plants.

Although this seemed like trickery and foolery to me- yeah right! Stick the stems in the ground and they'll just take root! Good one!-  I read this was the way to go, no kidding.  I filled up two planters with some soil and worm compost and stuck in the cut stems.

Now let's see what this worm poo can doo.