A Great Blue Heron, dwarfed by the surrounding forest – Wordless Wednesday

Vermicomposting – Let worms do the dirty work!

When it comes to vermicomposting, earthworms will do the ‘dirty’ work for you.

Most people know worms turn waste into beautiful compost outdoors, but this can be done indoors, too. It’s an easy way to compost much of your kitchen waste.

Worm castings, the black gold by-product resulting from vermicomposting, contains 5 times more nitrogen, 7 times more phosphorus, and 11 times more potassium than ordinary soil; some of the main minerals a healthy growing plant requires.

Castings are also rich in humic acids. This soil conditioner offers a perfect pH balance. It contains plant growth factors similar to seaweed. What could be better for your garden?

Here in Canada, snow covers outdoor composters and gardens for several months at a time. It might seem easier to take compostable kitchen scraps to land fill. However, for a small investment, vermicomposting can reap benefits far and above the 40 bucks initially spent, and it can be done year round, right in your kitchen!

Here’s how:

  • Purchase 2 plastic storage tote bins from the hardware store.
  • Drill ¼-inch holes in the bottom, sides and top of the box, not just for drainage but for aeration. You don’t want to smother the worms. The box should be approximately 1 square foot of surface area for each person in the household. – e.g.: A 2′ x 2′ x 2′ box can take the food waste of four people.
  • Bedding materials can include shredded newspaper, corrugated cardboard, peat moss, and partially decomposed leaves.
  • Worm boxes should be filled with bedding to provide the worms with a mixed diet, as well as a damp and aerated place to live.
  • Tear newspaper or cardboard into strips before first. Bedding material should be moistened by in water for several minutes. Squeeze out excess water before adding it to your worm box.
  • Cover food waste with a few inches of bedding so flies won’t become a problem.
  • Make sure the worm box doesn’t get too wet.  Worms will not survive and fruit flies will appear. That’s when it will smell. -> Troubleshooting worm bins
  • Red wigglers are considered the best worm to use for vermicomposting. They thrive on organic material such as yard waste and fruit and vegetable scraps.

Do feed them:

  • Coffee grounds or filters
  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Small plant material
  • Tea leaves with bags

Do NOT feed them:

  • Bones
  • Milk and Dairy products
  • Fish
  • Greasy foods
  • Meat
  • Peanut butter
  • Pet/cat litter
  • Vegetable oil/salad dressing

To Harvest castings, feed one end of the box for about a week. The worms will find their way to that side to feed. Remove two-thirds of the worm castings from the opposite end and apply fresh bedding. Start burying food waste in the new bedding, and the worms will move back. The cycle continues!

Tip: Save the casting in a bag to spread on the garden, and top dress some of your indoor plants. They’ll love you for it.

Here are more great links to get you started… Have fun! : )

Forest Bathing – Mindful Meandering in Nature

Have you heard of ‘Forest Bathing’?

Forest bathing is a holistic practice focusing on our ecological health. It aligns with our fundamental need as sentient beings to interact with nature.

While studying the benefits of Biophilic design a few years ago, along with vertical gardens and terrariums, I discovered this delightful concept.

Forest bathing is an activity that can reduce anxiety, depression, and boost the immune system.

It doesn’t matter whether this is done during a ten minute break at work, or when a whole day is spent roaming through a provincial park. The simple act of observing nature offers positive mental and physical benefits to our wellbeing.

Being fortunate as I am, residing in a place surrounded by forests, my experience with this concept is not unlike that of a sponge – best served soaking up all of the goodness nature offers for free.

Originating in Japan during the 1980’s, and known there as ‘Shinrin-yoku’, the translation means either, “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”. Already cornerstone of preventive health care in Japanese medicine, it’s becoming known to health practitioners here in North America, too. They are beginning to see the practical use of forest bathing as a prescription for healing, helping patients by connecting them back to nature.

Akin to the practices of horticultural, animal, and art therapies, forest bathing is a sensory-based activity. In partnership with mindfulness and a green-space, it’s a tool to help us connect with the natural world. By slowing down even just for a while, we focus our attention on the beauty around us.

If only temporarily, forest bathing removes the daily distractions and stress caused by our manufactured schedules and hectic lives. Studies have shown that the aroma from certain trees in a forest has healing powers.

Forest therapy has a lasting effect on our wellbeing, lingering long after that walk in the woods.

Usually, a session entails a quiet, slow-paced walk. A group of people mindfully meander, immersed in the forest, engaging with nature, using all five of their senses.

This tempered walk is not the same as hiking. The goal is not about breaking a sweat, or hurriedly trudging on towards a specific destination.

Besides, who knows what one might come across whilst contemplating the trees and the forest? 🙂

In conclusion, I’m currently immersed in learning how to be a forest guide. I’ll be offering a forest bathing session in Haliburton Ontario this spring.

For more information, or ff you would like to sign up for this forest therapy session, (held on Saturday, May 25th, 2019), please RSVP on Facebook – event listed -> HERE (Or) at our Eventbrite listing.

Thank you!

Forest bathing links:

Questions? Please feel free to get in touch through the contact form below. Thank you!

The Red Fox – A fabulous forest-lurker, neighbour, and totem animal.

Fox hunting for voles and mice.

Our backyard is a special place because of the abundance of wildlife in our neck of the woods. I am extremely fortunate to witness a diversity of animal/bird species who wander through on a regular basis.

One of my favourite visitors is the lovely Red Fox, (Vulpes vulpes).

These solitary hunters are intelligent, opportunistic omnivores, about the size of a small to mid-sized dog, and they rather remind me of a cat because of the way they play with their food, tossing the soon to be meal, (voles & other rodents) in the air with abandon, just before ending this celebration to seriously chow down on their catch.

Like many of us humans, the red fox prefers a diverse habitat! For them, that includes farm fields, forests, the edge of thickets, and even urban settings, where like the racoon they also thrive. From my experience in a rural setting, they hunt in and out of these habitats, which describes our backyard, and is likely why I see them so often.

The adult red fox has a year-round coat of red that is absolutely striking to see in the winter, as you can see it here in contrast with snow.

Yes, there are some people who find satisfaction by wearing these beauties on their own backs. I’m not one of them and prefer to see the animal alive and well, in its own coat. Luckily, I don’t yet carry tomatoes & won’t pelt, (pardon the pun) fur wearing folk. However, I will offer an unequivical icy glare and judge you in a negative light. But, I digress…

Fox with mange.

Foxes are shy animals. They’re mainly nocturnal, but occasionally one will see these non-aggressive creatures during the day. If you see a fox during the day, it doesn’t mean that they are diseased with rabies or mange, though that can be the case. It more likely it means food may be more available for them during daylight hours in their respective environment.

If you’re interested in animal lore and totem animals like I am, there is a phenomenal amount of information available, making the fox an interesting subject to read about in many folkloric and mythic tales.

Consider the term “to outfox“, which means “to beat in a competition of wits”, similarly to “outguess”, “outsmart”, and “outwit”.  If you consider Aesop’s Fables from classical antiquity to Beatrix Potter‘s anthropomorpic stories, there are numerous stories involving a fox in popular culture throughout history.

Fox focus

Within the spiritual realm, they’re considered figures of cunning or trickery, or as a familiar animal possessed of magic powers and transformation.

As for having the lovely fox as a totem animal, it suits me well.

According to many who’ve interpreted the fox as a totem animal messanger, a fox will communicate its presence in order to offer the advice that you should think outside of the box. They also show us how to focus on our goals, and to use our creativity in our approach to current circumstances.

My feeling is that the fox encourages us to be aware of our own habits, (good or bad), adapt to our environment using all of our resources, and that we should refrain from certain distractions that may lead us off course when we want to realize a goal.

In any case, the Red Fox is a wonderful creature and participant in the planet’s food chain. They’re an animal that deserves our respect, and it is a real gift to see them in nature.

 

Butterflies flutter by… musings on these remarkable creatures

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

“Metamorphosis has always been the greatest symbol of change for poets and artists. Imagine that you could be a caterpillar one moment and a butterfly the next.” ~ Louie Schwartzberg

And, one more quote to offer.. my personal favourite because as a child, I thought butterflies were floating flowers.

“Butterflies… flowers that fly and all but sing.” ~ Robert Frost

There have been times in my life where I’ve felt I may have been trapped in a cocoon.  Many of you may have felt like this, too. Some times this may have been self-imposed, and other times it may have been situations or circumstances beyond our control.

One thing I’ve learned to do during times like these is to call on the spirit of the butterfly.

They emerge from their original caterpillar state, through that cocoon and towards one glorious transformation! Maybe that’s why these creatures fascinate us so.

Perhaps it’s because we humans learn, grow and evolve as we go along, not unlike this marvelous creature. In any case, I feel all animals on this planet offer lessons to teach if we take the time to listen.