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! : )

How to grow, pollinate and harvest seeds from an amaryllis – It’s very easy to do!!

amaryllis-vittata-february-2015pistil-and-stigma-for-pollinating-the-amaryllis-karen-sloanPollinating and saving seeds from Amaryllis is very simple. All you need is a light touch.

Step 1: Collect some pollen, (gently), on your finger from the stamen. (see next photo)
Step 2: Dust it lightly on the stigma.
This should be done when the stigma (Pistil) is completely open.

Just a note: Some people use a paint brush to transfer the pollen, but this is not a requirement if you’re very gentle.

 

 

I don’t pollinate any flower with its own pollen. I’ll use the pollen from one flower to pollinate another .

seed-pod-developing-on-the-amaryllis-karen-sloan-wall-flower-studio

Unripe seed pod

This is a seed pod that develops not long after, from the pollinated flower that dies back.

Let it mature and turn brown. Then the seed head is ready to harvest.

amaryllis-seed-pod-opening-copyright-karen-sloan-wall-flower-studio

Seed pod is ready to harvest.

 

 

 

 

Many people ask me how to bring an Amaryllis  into bloom again…  Here’s my advice:

Don’t dig up your bulbs and stick them in the closet in the fall.  Don’t do it. It doesn’t happen that way in nature! Why anyone started promoting such fiction, I’ll never know.

Seriously, I can’t tell you how much this myth irritates me, and every year I see gardening articles perpetuating this falsehood, repeating it verbatim like parrots, likely by writers who haven’t actually accomplished what they’re proposing you to do..

Because of that, it’s no wonder so many people tell me they’ve given up growing these beauties and can’t get a bulb to re-flower the next year. Purely because something so simple has been made to seem so very complicated…. There’s my rant for today!

amaryllis-seeds-karen-sloan-wall-flower-studio

Freshly harvested, plump amaryllis seeds

In any case, bulbs have an internal clock that works very well, with or without our help.

As long as the flower stalks are allowed to die back naturally after flowering, and there has been sufficient water, light and food over the course of the year, (I only give them a bit of very diluted coffee or tea once a month), then you have the secret to getting them to flower again.

amaryllis-wfsMy amaryllis is 130 years old.

It was my originally my great-great grandmother’s plant, a true heirloom, and I cherish it!

It blooms every year, and sometimes twice. I can tell you, it has NEVER seen the inside of a closet!

Treat it as you would any houseplant, all year long, but ease up on the watering in November.

Don’t let your plant completely dry out, but water it once per month until a flower bud starts to emerge. Then water every 10 days or so. After the flowers finish, let the stalks die back naturally. This is very important as this is what provides the bulb with the energy to produce a flower next year… 

If you don’t like the look of the plant while it’s in this semi-dormant state, put it in a room where it’s not so visible. Leaves will die back too, and watering should be lessened again ‘til  mid March when the sun gets higher in the sky, and you’ll see an abundance of new foliage. Water more often, as the cycle has begun again.

Amaryllis vittatum - Wall Flower Studio 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wall Flower Studio business logo square

 

 

Sharing our Autumn hours, and an abundance of tea at Wall Flower Studio!

Herbal TeaAutumn is the time to cosy up with a warm cup of herbal tea! The seasons have shifted gears, Karen has harvested all kinds of herbs from her garden! Wall Flower Studio’s herbal tea line is growing! The harvest was just in time too, as it’s now sweater weather here in Ontario.

It’s time to enjoy the harvest, the changing colour of leaves, and to settle ourselves into the cooler weather that fall offers.

As noted we have an abundance of herbal, green and chai tea available! (See our partial list below). Karen is happy to create custom blends for her customers, too!  Visit the shop to see all of the creative and soothing tea combinations with which one can indulge.

Can’t get to Minden?… Shop online  via our Etsy store, too. 🙂

wall-flower-studio-shop-hours-fall-2016Our hours have changed, like the seasons do, so we’re sharing the October and November open times at the shop. We are now closed on Tuesday & Sunday.

This of course doesn’t take into account special events or workshops, and our December holiday hours will expand.

Check back for more on that in late November, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, too. 🙂

Thank you!

 

Tea tasters at Wall Flower Studio:

Flowering Tea placed in hot water - beginning to open - Wall Flower Studio

We offer organic Flowering Tea Blooms, too!

Chocolate Chai
Coconut Ginger Chai
Spiced Apple Chai
Mint Chai
Rooibos Vanilla Chai
Vanilla Citrus Chai
Chamomile
Lavender
Ginger Mint
Lavender + Green Tea
Lavender + Chamomile
Calendula
Hibiscus Flower
Jasmine Pearls

An abundance of Lemon balm!

An abundance of Lemon balm!

Citrus + Ginger
Lemongrass + Mint
Lemongrass + Sage
Licorice + Lemongrass
Orange + Chamomile
Calendula + Mint
Hibiscus + Green Tea
Chocolate Mint
Dandelion Root + Fennel
Lemongrass + Fennel
Lemonbalm + Green Tea
Rosehip + Ginger
Lavender + Rosehip
Chamomile + Comfrey
Green Tea + Jasmine
Green Tea + Sage

We are happy to create custom blends, too! Contact Karen to create your own personal cuppa tea! 

 

Happy Autumn!

Succulents in Wire teapot at Wall Flower Studio