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! : )

Itchy Green Fingers? Lets Start Sowing #Seeds

Gardeners can rejoice because it’s time to get the jump on spring! Time to start sowing seeds indoors.

If you have itchy green fingers this time of year like I do, here are some suggestions on how to get growing!

In in a pinch, (pun intended), and need to find quick and inexpensive labels? Clothes pins are the way to go, (popsicle sticks work equally well), and it’s simple to write the variety of seed you’re growing on them and then clip them to the pot.

When the time comes to planting the seedlings in the garden, the clothespin can be switched to a bamboo stake, or a popsicle stick can be stuck right in the ground.

These labels can be decorated, too! That’s a great way to involve the kids, and we all know Pinterest offers an abundance of creative ideas to do just that. 🙂

Egg shells and egg cartons work particularly well. The egg is nature’s packaging, and the carton is a ready made holder that conveniently comes with the eggs!

After that Sunday breakfast, keep the shells and pot them up with your seeds.

Eggshells will do more than just keep slugs away from a Hosta.  They’re an organic way to provide calcium to the soil. The seedlings benefit, and any worms in the garden will be quite happy to make compost out of them.

The whole enchilada can be planted in the ground, and the best thing of all is that their tender roots won’t be disturbed once it’s time for them to be planted outside.

Containers from newspapers work well, too. The best 20 bucks I ever spent was on a pot maker purchase! Every year it repays me because it’s easy to make these recycled containers, which also keeps some paper out of the landfill site. Newspaper will break down in the garden, so they too can be planted directly in to the garden.

No muss, no fuss.

My kind of gardening!

 

Sharing our DIY Moth repel bag recipe, plus other handy household uses for herbs

lavender-sachets-moth-repel-dryer-bagsWe’re sharing a few fragrant, old time herbal potpourri recipes you can create for everyday household use. These are  remedies that have stood the test of time. No chemicals required!

To make a Moth Repel Bag, use a muslin or organic cotton drawstring bag which allows the scent of the herbs inside to circulate without restriction.  The herbs I’ve suggested (below) are pleasant for people, but not moths! The sachets help to keep wool, angora, cashmere, and other natural animal hair fibres safe.

In all actuality, herbs do not repel moths, but rather mask the scent of most natural fibres, keeping them safely disguised from unwanted visitors.


Mint Moth Chase-Away
2 cups of dried mint, either spearmint or peppermint
1/3 cup of dried rosemary
1 cup dried Thyme
1/3 cup of ground cloves


Cedar Shaving Chaser
2 cups of cedar shavings
1/2 cup of Lavender
1/2 cup of wormwood
1/2 cup of ground cloves


Lavender  (Old French recipe)
2 cups of Lavender
1/2 cup of pennyroyal
1/2 cup of ground cloves
1 cup of dried thyme


last-of-the-lavender-harvestLavender is my ‘go-to’ herb. I’ve been known to pop a couple sachets inside the hockey skates and work boots that accumulate around our house. 😉

Sachets can also be thrown in the dryer, which will lightly scent your sheets & towels. Just give them a good squeeze after each use to release the oils from the flowers, which is what offers that lovely aromatherapy scent. The bags can be used this way, about a dozen times before the florets start to get a bit icky. Then you know it’s time to compost them, bag and all! : )

Other herbs said to ward off moths include Tansy, Sage, Santolina, and Southernwood.
* Pet owners take note: Pennyroyal is also said to repel fleas.

Have a lovely weekend! ~ Karen

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