Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Growing Winter Tomatoes

Here's a look at our heirloom tomatoes we're hoping to keep through most of the winter. These are the ones on the outside at the south of the house.  A couple are still on the porch, with me.

Frost cloth at the ready...

Heirloom Tomatoes Wintering In Florida

Remember, these are the tomato plants produced from seeds we saved from last year's tomatoes.  Despite a couple of frosty nights, our Johnson German transplants are doing just fine, thank you very much.  Just got through pruning off the some big fat suckers and re-potted them for next spring.

A big fat sucker, there on the back.

Above is one sucker we missed.  It will make a nice tomato transplant to keep on the sun porch.  I know, "move over, Digger".  The porch is getting a little crowded, already.  What with the new bamboo starts and other not-cold-hardy plants ol' Bill's been moving in.  There's hardly room enough for my toy collection.

By planting a few suckers along the way, the tomato becomes "perennial" and, in theory, you'll never have to buy tomato seedlings again. We'll see.... Wouldn't that be nice?

Here is one monster bloom that's opening up on one of the tomato plants outside.

Is that a sunflower or a tomato blossom?

By trimming off the suckers, providing constant water via a drip, and laying on the organic worm castings with  a weekly dose of VermaPlex® liquid, the plant is getting maximum nutrition for fruit production.  The bloom stems or "fingers" are particularly stout and thick.  Shouldn't be any blossom drop.

When  the suckers are left on, the plant is putting all it's efforts into growing the offshoots and not into the one stalk with it's blooms.  I know, I know, it's difficult to trim, especially when the suckers are thick and healthy.  But it's absolutely necessary.  Besides, they make excellent new plants.

One thing we learned is to put the trimmed off sucker straight into moist potting soil, rather than a container of water to form roots before planting.  The fine hairs on the stem grow into roots right away and the tomato plant performs better.

Here are some of the tomato suckers we planted in this way last week.  They're doing fine, no wilt at all.  One was knocked over (I had nothing to do with it, I swear) and you could see the roots already starting on the stem. Just have to keep the potting soil very moist.

Recycled containers make great transplanting pots. Ugly but cheap.

We kept two tomato plants for the porch, just in case the outside ones take a hit.  Never know how cold it might get.  One year, we had three days of 12-15 degrees overnight.  It could happen again (please, Lord, no.)

Not as big and stout as the outside ones, but still growing and putting out blossoms.  And they're safe!

Our plan is to let one sucker on each plant go until it's big enough to transplant.  At least until we have enough transplants for the winter and spring.  That way, the mother plants won't be too stressed and overworked.  We'll see how that goes.

For now, that sun ray landing on my cushion is getting m-i-g-h-t-y tempting.

Organic Fertilizers For Tomatoes

Certified Organic Worm Castings For Fertilizing Tomato Transplants
What's the best fertilizer for tomatoes?  Use slow release, certified organic worm castings and VermaPlex® for the best tasting, most nutritious tomatoes possible.

Pure Black Castings Slow release, never burns.

VermaPlex®:  Provides continuous feeding for maximum growth and fruit production.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What's The Best Way To Pick Citrus?

If you're lucky enough to live in Florida this time of year, you'll know it's time to pick some citrus.  Yeah!

Best way to harvest grapefruit, organic, and all citrus

Digger's Tip Of The Day

As the lovely picture above suggests, the way to pick grapefruit, oranges, etc is:

  • Bend the fruit up
  • Invert
  • Then Twist and Shout Pull!
We're enjoying some freshly bend-ed, inverted, twisted and pulled grapefruit even as we speak.  All grown organically and without pesticides, of course.  Yummy....

Organic Fertilizers For Citrus

Citrus takes best with organic fertilizers
Citrus tastes better when fertilized organically.

Increase yields and improve flavor with Pure Black Castings and VermaPlex , certified organic, OMRI listed fertilizers for lawns, gardens, and orchards.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why Beneficial Microorganism ARE

Add beneficial microorganisms to your soil for plant health

Hello from the farm!

Did you every wonder.....

What puts the beneficial in "beneficial microorganisms"?

"Good" microorganisms are important in our gardens, lawns and farms for at least two reasons:

  • Plant growth stimulation
  • Plant disease suppression

Plant Growth Stimulation

Beneficial microorganisms promote plant growth in two ways:

  1. Nutrient Conversion
  2. Stimulation

1.  Nutrient Conversion

When organic materials such as compost, vermi-compost, manures, or worm castings are present in the soil, microbe activity converts the nutrients contained in the material into a plant available form.  The plant absorbs more nutrition and - surprise, surprise - the plant grows better and faster.

It follows, then, that the higher the number and the higher the quality of microbes, the more nutrition is available for the plant and the better the plant grows.

2.  Stimulation

Another "Mode of Action", or MOA, of microorganisms  is stimulating growth of the plant and root.  There are certain "rock stars" of the Microbe Universe (fungi included) that produce growth stimulating "metabolites".

Other mysterious physical interactions of some strains of microbes and fungi stimulate growth through specific mechanisms that are little understood. It's enough to know it happens.

Plant Disease Suppression

Beneficial microbes control plant disease through the following mechanisms:

  • Soil Remediation:
    They feed on pathogens, eliminating them from the soil.
  • Competitive Exclusion:
    They inhibit pathogen growth by taking up space and nutrients.
  • Microbiostasis:
    They kill pathogens or limit their growth.
  • Rhizosphere Competency:
    They prevent pathogens from accessing into the plant's roots.
  • Systemic Resistance Inducement:
    They strengthen and stimulate the plant's own natural defenses against disease.

"Since disease prevention is infinitely easier than disease curing, having the growing medium enhanced with beneficial microbes from the get-go is important for success."

Enhancing Soil Microorganisms

It's easy to see why maintaining the beneficial microorganism population in our soils is so important. Protect the microbes you have by avoiding chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Build up the soil by applying organic materials that are alive with microbes, like worm castings and vermi-compost.

Improve and expand beneficial microorganisms in your growing medium with these liquid soil inoculants made from worm castings:

  • VermaPlex®, teeming with these growth enhancing, disease preventing microbes,  is important in the beginning or when plants are struggling.  Apply VermaPlex® at seed planting and transplanting time or when plants are showing signs of disease or stress.
  • VermaMax LE® contains extra nutrition for more growth and green.  A must for high nitrogen using plants.  Once plants are established, is doesn't matter which liquid is used.
    VermaMax LE® is available in select areas for now. 

A good regime is alternating liquids throughout the growing season.  In our studies, micro-dosing with a very small amount at each watering brought the best results.

Happy Growin',

Best Way To Add Beneficial Microbes

A potent combo for enhanced growth and plant health.  VermaMax LE®  is available in select areas for now.

Certified Organic Fertilizers

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tomatoes And Companion Planting

Our Johnson German tomato seedlings were way past ready to transplant.  It's still a little hot, though, so it's probably a good thing we're late.

Transplanting Johnson German Tomato Seedlings Into Garden Bed

We put the tomato bed on the south side of the house in preparation of the cooler temps a potential frosts ahead.  Right now, it's still hot, so we'll have to add a shade cloth till this (expletive) heat lets up.

Don't Plant Tomatoes Near ...

We're paying a little more attention to companion planting now.  Here are some plants that should not be planted near tomatoes are:

  • All members of the Brassica (cabbage) family. Also know as cruciferous vegetables, avoid planting tomatoes near cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, collard greens, kale, turnip greens, etc.
  • Potatoes - attract the same pests as tomatoes.
  • Fennel
  • Apricot trees
  • Corn (that pesky corn worm is an awful lot like the tomato worm)
Tomatoes also have an adverse affect on corn and apricot trees and therefore should not be planted near them.

Do Plant Tomatoes Near.....

The plants that are protective or improve the flavor of tomatoes and therefore should be planted near are:
  • Chives
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Marigold
  • Nasturtium
  • Carrots
  • Stinging Nettle
Notice how some of these above vegetables are good together in a salad?

Tomatoes Are Protective Of...

When setting up tomato planting locations, consider the plants that are benefited by tomatoes.

For instance, tomatoes have a fungicide effect against Black Spot on roses.  If planting tomatoes near roses isn't an option,  spraying with a solution made from tomato leaves for roses is an effective option.  Tomatoes contain a volatile alkaloid, solamine, that in days gone by was used as an agricultural insecticide. Cool, huh?

Here's our tomato spray for roses.  Add to a vegetable juicer:
  • Tomato leaves
  • 4 pints water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Blend, strain, then store in the refrigerator when not in use (we should put a label on it so ol' Bill doesn't drink it.)

Organic Fertilizers For Tomatoes

Certified Organic Worm Castings For Fertilizing Tomato Transplants
What's the best fertilizer for tomatoes?  Use slow release, certified organic worm castings and VermaPlex® for the best tasting, most nutritious tomatoes possible.

Pure Black Castings Slow release, never burns

VermaPlex®:  Prevents transplant shock!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Florida Vegetable Fall Gardening - Tomatoes

Ol' Bill braved the heat and humidity and managed to plant some heirloom tomato seeds we saved from the spring/summer garden.  He's doing O.K.  A little red-faced, but O.K.

Heirloom Tomato Seeds Planted

As per my last post (you did read it, didn't you?), we should start our Florida fall garden on  August 15.  At least, the warm-season vegetables, like tomatoes.   So we were anxious to see how well the seeds we saved from this summer's crop of Johnson German heirloom tomatoes would sprout.

Ol' Bill filled a 16 slot tray with seeds with our potting soil mix and, by golly, it looks like a 100% seed germination rate. That's very encouraging, since we're working on seed saving of heirloom varieties.

There are a few spindly ones because Ol' Bill was a little too careful with the intense, unrelenting, August Florida sun.  They were getting a little too much shade time.  What looks to be a good approach is placing  the seedlings in on the east side of the house so they get the morning sun and the late day shade.

If you're beginning Florida vegetable gardeners, take a tip from the old timers here in Central Florida:    Forget the advice of every garden how-to book out there and plant your vegetable gardens under trees.

Further south nearer the sub-tropic line, most gardens are planted in the winter and this advice would not apply. Here in Central Florida, it's a must, especially for tomatoes. Vegetables like okra and corn can take the full sun.

Ah-h-h.  Under trees. It's where I spend most of my time, too.

Florida Vegetable Garden Resources

Certified organic worm castings and liquid fertilizer VermaPlex
Get your Florida vegetable garden off to a good start this fall. Use slow release, certified organic worm castings and VermaPlex® for the best tasting, most nutritious vegetables possible.

Pure Black Castings


Friday, August 15, 2014

August - Time To Plant Your Florida Vegetable Garden


All you folks who came to Florida from the North, this may come as a complete shock to you.  It's now time to plant your warm-season vegetable garden. Get ready for nine glorious months of gardening.

August is the time to plant warm season vegetables in Florida
Squash seeds a-planted

Plant Warm-Season Vegetables Seeds

As we all agreed on last post, it's hot.  But it's August 15.  And time to get our warm-season vegetables planted,  especially since some vegetables need 90 days to mature.  We want to give vegetables like corn, eggplant, pumpkins, peppers, tomatoes and watermelons plenty of time and avoid the possible fall frosts and early freezes (especially in the more northern Florida zones). Click here for fall gardening tips.

This season's seeds should be in garden stores now, for starting your own seedlings. You save so much money that way.  You know, we really should stop talking about it and get busy:

  • Building new beds or setting up new planting areas if needs be.
  • Weeding and cleaning up existing garden.
  • Doing a soil ph test while we're at it.
  • Recharging our garden soil with organic matter, manures, and/or worm castings.
  • Planning our gardens.  You know, where to put what.  This is the time to consider companion planting options and plant heights for peaceful co-existence, at least for the plants.
  • Getting those long-timer's in right away, the ones that take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to mature.
  • Picking up seeds and starting them in flats or pots.
It's time to grab those garden gloves and get going, Florida gardeners.  I'll watch from here in the AC, if you don't mind.

Give Your Fall Vegetable Garden A Good Start

Florida Fall Vegetable Garden Organic Worm Castings and Liquid Fertilizr
For faster seeds sprouting and more vigorous seedlings, apply VermaPlex® to seeds before planting.  Soak seedlings root ball with VermaPlex® when transplanting  to virtually eliminate transplant shock.

Mix Pure Black Castings in the garden soil and line planting holes, providing slow release fertilizer as your seeds sprout.  When transplanting seedlings, line planting holes,  top dress, then wash in with VermaPlex®.

Click here for planting guides and use/application information on these certified organic fertilizers.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

August Florida Gardening - Annuals

O.K....O.K.... I know, it's HOT.  The August heat in Florida is biblical, giving testament to the old adage: "It's so hot you can fry an egg on the sidewalk."  I can personally attest to the hotness of the sidewalk because my foot pads are blistered.

But, that's no excuse not to garden in Florida in August.  If I can manage to pee on each and every fence post of these 10 acres each and every a.m. and p.m., then you can get out there and weed, fertilize, prune and replant.  Just remember to keep hydrated.

Flower Annuals

It's almost time to sow your fall warm-season flowers.  Some good annuals to sow in Florida mid-month:

  • Marigolds
  • Salvia
  • Nicotiana
  • Verbena
  • Ornamental peppers
  • Sunflowers
Right now, though, if you don't have seeds on hand, you won't find any in garden centers.  Florida law requires that all seeds be removed from shelves at garden centers by July 31 (only bulk suppliers still have seeds).    But, guess what?  They will restock shelves after- you guessed it - August 15.  Just in time for your fall flower seed planting.

So, you have plenty of time until then (and you should pace yourself, what with the heat and all), to get those flower beds prepared.
TIP:  If you have a flower bed that is heavily infested with nematodes, plant it entirely with French Marigolds. This annual flower is known to decrease nematode populations. Do it this month ahead of the cool-season planting.

Next..... More Florida August gardening things to do.   I'm so glad I'm just writing about it.
Remember, avoid overheating, keep hydrated, work in early morning and evenings - oh, and watch out for the lightening bolts.

As you're sweating, panting and ducking, just keep remembering how nice it's going to be December-February while the rest of the country is in a deep freeze and snow bound.  A little August heat is a small price for living in paradise.

Florida Annual Flowers Resources

Fertilizing Annual Flowers in Florida Gardens

Recharge your flower beds with Pure Black Castings.  This certified organic worm-based fertilizer will not only provide slow-release nutrition for your flowers, it also has water retention qualities.  And, no leaching or run-off.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bamboo Control Methods

There are many methods of controlling bamboo.  To be honest, all of them sound very labor intensive.  And you know me.  I'm allergic to labor intensive.

Controlling Running Bamboo

We've read about digging trenches.  We've read about installing barriers.  There's probably a "nuclear option" out there.  But if your soil is not so rich, like ours, it appears the simplest and (most importantly) effortless (well, maybe not completely effortless) method of controlling running bamboo is to lay down manure or other rich organic material and fertilizers only on the area you want the bamboo to follow. Duh!

As you can see in this photo, the bamboo followed the line of horse manure we laid down all  last summer.  The shoots ran in both directions from the mother plant, east and west.  And get this: There were no shoots beyond the manure!

Bamboo following the manure.

Think about it.  Bamboo is pretty darn smart. Either that or it can smell.  Why put out rhizomes over there were there's little to feed upon when there's a thick, smelly run of good old horse manure up and down this way? (Other useful bamboo growing and controlling information can be found here at Bamboo Garden.

Nature's all about taking the easy way and following the path of least resistance.  If you thought running bamboo was too hard to control, maybe you need to give it another try.

If any shoots do appear out beyond our containment area, simply mowing this area should do the trick.  We left a line between the fence so we can do just that and keep the bamboo from invading our neighbor's pasture.  We also plan to dig up any stray shoots and relocate to new groves.

Bamboo Fertilizing Information

Improve the long term health of soil as well as fertilize bamboo: Pure Black Castings™ and VermaPlex®

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bamboo Plants Update


As promised, here are the bamboo plants as they look so far this summer.

Our Giant Bamboo Plants Are A-Growin'

The two  images below are  the bamboo plants from the previous post as they look to date.  You know, the ones we put down by the barn.  That's what the electric fence is about.  Horses LOVE bamboo.  If we want to see the bamboo live to a ripe old age, we'll have to keep the horses away from them.

Growing Running Plants in Florida

And another wide shot....

How to grow and fertilize bamboo plants

Remember, this is the growth from the single plant circled in red and last summer's growth shown here...

Transplanting bamboo plants
Bamboo plant as it looked last summer.

So this year,  we have about 40 canes grown out about 30 feet in both directions from the original red-circled bamboo plant.  The bamboo canes are running along the horse manure, castings and liquid fertilizer applications. No canes grow out towards the barn (and that's a good thing, they would be gobbled up!)

The image below are of the bamboo plants we planted in the other pasture as they are to date....

We put in four bamboo plants at this location last summer, so the cane growth is much thicker,  The manure and fertilizer was added to a very large, square area, so the stand is much wider.  The shorter canes shown here came up first and are about 7-8 feet tall.  The newest canes coming up are now reaching 10-11 feet tall.

The shoots emerged in very early spring (actually, in February) as soon as it warmed up.  We got a couple of frosts, but we covered up the tender young shoots to prevent damage.  Even though this bamboo variety, Moso, is cold hardy, the young shoots are susceptible to frost until they harden off.  

Because we get late frosts in the spring and early frosts in the fall, followed and preceded by warm temperatures, we must vigilantly keep these early and late shoots protected.

Next...Our Bamboo Plant Fertilizing Regime

Bamboo Plant Fertilizers

Grow Bamboo with organic worm castings fertilizer
  • Pure Black Castings™:  Certified Organic, OMRI listed worm castings. Slow release fertilizer for bamboo.
  • VermPlex®:  Certified Organic liquid soil inoculant made from these worm castings.  Foliar feed for instant nutrition, drench for root growth and health.

Together, they take care of your soil.

Click here for information on these results using organic bamboo fertilizers.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Blueberries and Strawberries


A-ww. It looks too good to eat.  But I'll eat it anyway.

Eating Color

Eat blueberries and strawberries for health
Colors in nature are always harmonious.
Just had to share my breakfast with you.  Well, at least an image of it.  I never share my food.

Enjoy! I know I did.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Growing Running Bamboo

Well, we finally did it.  We overcame our prejudice against (cringe) "running" bamboo and  planted ourselves some.  Turns out, we live in bamboo growing heaven.

Bamboo: A Magical Plant

This country is slowly waking up to something the rest of the world has know for centuries: Bamboo is a truly magical plant. What's the magic?  Oh, only the potential to save our sorry behinds from deforestation, soil erosion and scarce, expensive building supplies.  

More on what makes bamboo so wonderful later.  For now, let me update you on our beginning bamboo grove.

Planting Running Moso Bamboo

This picture is the one of the "moso" bamboo plants (a giant timber bamboo) we planted down by the barn last spring.  The original potted plant  is circled in red. The remainder of those bamboo canes came up over the summer.

Growing Moso Bamboo
Young Moso Bamboo Plants
A good friend brought us the moso bamboo culms from North Carolina late in the summer the year before. We planted the bamboo into pots and held them over the winter on our sun porch.

We planted these potted bamboos early last spring, one by the barn and three in another pasture.  The one pictured above developed a long root in the pot.  So we stretched it out down the fence.  These culms came up from that root pretty quickly.

We prepared the planting hole and out away from the hole and down a trench for the long root by mixing several cups of Pure Black Castings™ and watered it in with VermaPlex® mixed 20:1. A foliar spray of VermaPlex® was applied throughout the summer as well as alternating drenches of VermaPlex® and VermaMax LE® (a higher nitrogen and calcium liquid available soon).

Here's a link to our Bamboo R & D (Research and Development) page describing the applications and results.

Preparation Of The Bamboo Planting Area

Throughout last summer, Kayce dumped all the manure and wet shavings from the horse stalls and paddocks around the bamboo and out, following the area where we wanted the bamboo to grow.  We read (or Ol' Bill read 'cause I don't) that bamboo roots will grow towards the nutrition and moisture. We mulched the manure with old hay and kept the whole thing moist throughout the year.

Bamboo sends up new culms in the spring-summer. After the culms come up, all the action is going on out of sight below the surface. Over winter, the root system is doing it's thing. .  Because of the winter root growing aspect, we did a final VermaPlex® drench application in the fall to benefit winter root production.

Then, this spring, the shoots started emerging.  It was a little scary.  Check back later for current pictures, if you dare.

Bamboo Growing Fertilizers

Grow Bamboo with organic worm castings fertilizer
  • Pure Black Castings™:  Certified Organic, OMRI listed worm castings. Slow release fertilizer for bamboo.
  • VermPlex®:  Certified Organic liquid soil inoculant made from these worm castings.  Foliar feed for instant nutrition, drench for root growth and health.
Together, they take care of your soil.

Click for more information on these organic bamboo fertilizers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blueberry Harvest Time

Blueberry harvest is late this year.  Late but abundant. After what happen last year, we were so thankful.

Certified Organic OMRI Listed Worm Castings and VermaPlex®

Here Come The Blueberries

Blueberries almost ready to harvest
Blueberries a-ripening.
Because of the cloudy weather we had this spring, our blueberries are rather late coming in.  We've been harvesting a few for the last couple of weeks, but they are just now truly starting to ripen in earnest.

A late harvest is better than no harvest at all.  Last season, because Ol' Bill got a l-i-t-t-l-e too enthusiastic with the pruning shears the previous fall, for the first time we missed a harvest. 

It took until mid season last summer before any leaves appeared.  I, an eternal pessimist,  feared the bushes were dead.  But by summer's end,  there was healthy new cane growth.

Then, this summer, after  castings/VermaPlex® applications last fall and again this spring, the bushes exploded.  Ol' Bill was so shell-shocked from his pruning debacle, he dared not touch the bushes (lest I remove several of his fingers) and let the bushes go wild.

Bountiful Blueberry Harvest

We even have fruit stems coming out of the ground!  Never had that before.  I can take care of the  "low hanging fruit" harvesting and I wont even need a bucket or anything.  I just eat them as I go.

There's going to be plenty for us, the neighbors, and the birds.  Kayce's making room in the freezer for our blueberry harvest and Ol' Bill's feverishly studying responsible blueberry pruning.  Pruning is going to get a thorough review between now and harvest's end. I'll see to that.

Pruning Blueberry Bushes

Some removal of the flower stems would have been beneficial and made for easier harvesting, but the missed harvest of last year made cowards of us all. We just wanted some blueberries.

More on blueberry bush pruning next time

Blueberry Organic Fertilizer Resources

Certified organic worm castings and VermaPlex for blueberies
  • Certified Organic Worm Castings:
    Natural, slow release - just what blueberries need. For more and bigger berries with better taste, broadcast twice a year.
  • Certified Organic Liquid Fertilizer:
    VermaPlex® is made from these worm castings.  For stunning results, apply to blueberry bushes  in Spring and Fall after applying worm castings. Adds microbes and promotes plant and soil health. 

All about worm castings and VermaPlex®:  Prepare to be amazed!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Add Worms To Your Garden and Lawn

Earthworms are good for your soil (I also like them as snacks, but that's just me). Here's how and why...

Add earthworms to your garden and build soil
Earthworms in your garden.

Build and Improve Your Soil With Earthworms

You remember Charles Darwin, don't you?  He was a very smart man who was very interested in earthworms.  In fact, he studied them until his death. Another very smart man, Aristotle, had such a high regard for the importance of theses lowly creatures, he called them "the intestines of the earth"

Now that may sound like an insult to you, but think about what that means for a moment. This description pretty much sums up the important role earthworms play in our world and these two giant thinkers of old recognized it, as well as scientists, horticulturist and soil conservationist of today.  It's time all we gardeners jumped on the "earthworms rule" bandwagon, too.  Here's why.

Earthworms Make Soil

Our esteemed Mr. Darwin said of the earthworm:
"When we behold a wide, turf-covered expanse, we should remember that its smoothness, on which so much of its beauty depends, is mainly due to all the inequalities having been slowly leveled by worms.  It is a marvelous reflection that the whole of the superficial mould (topsoil) over any such expanse has passed, and will again pass every few years through the bodies of earthworms.  It may be doubted if there are any other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world as have these lowly creatures."
To paraphrase Mr. Darwin in Digger speech:
"Earthworms have created and are creating now, even as we speak,  the very rich topsoil from which all plants, trees, and vegetation grow."
And the earthworms aren't just processing all the organic matter they run across in their wondering's.  They leave behind valuable, highly fertile, slow release, worm "castings" (or "worm poop" if you prefer) in their wake.

But wait.  That's not all.  Earthworms, particularly night crawlers,  improve the soil in another important way. All this burrowing and crawling about improves soil drainage and aerates the soil. Hard packed soil that prevents rain water from sinking in can be improved dramatically with the addition of earthworms.

How To Add Earthworms To Your Garden And Soil

The use (and might I say, over-use) of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, has had a devastating effect on the worm population in our soils.  But you can help overcome this population reduction by introducing earthworms to your garden, lawn and pasture.  Here's how.

After making sure there's a supply of organic material (like leaves, manures, grass clippings, compost), introduce earthworms at a rate of 10-12 worms per square foot. Prevent the area from drying out, if possible, and let the worms work their magic. (Summer is the best time to add earthworms.)

Now you can say you're of a kindred spirit with the likes of Charles Darwin and Aristotle as you build top soil and improve soil drainage with the mighty earthworm.

Summary of Soil Benefits From Earthworms:

  • Break down of organic material
  • Deposit of fertile worm castings
  • Aeration of the soil and improved drainage
  • Add 8-10 worms per square foot

Earthworm Resources:

Earthworms are good for your garden.  Add some today.
European Nightcrawlers: Sensational fishing worms and spectacular soil builders. So, when you're not gardening, you can go fishin'!

Red Worms: These earthworms create a staggering amount of vermicompost.  Add them to your garden or put in a compost bin.

Earthworm Information:  Care and feeding of earthworms.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

How To Create Garden Soil

How to create gardensoil
How do you make organic garden soil right in your garden? Let me count the ways: Lasagna Gardening, Sheet Composting....

Originally posted 12-6-13

Make Garden Soil with Lasagna Gardening
 Pure Black Castings ™           VermaPlex ®            VermaMax®

Make Top Soil In Your Garden - It's Easy

It's winter time and most gardens (except here in sunny Florida and other blessed places) are lying fallow.  Why not make some top soil right in place over the winter?  Do it now and the rich compost will be ready for planting come spring time.  Here's an easy way.

Sheet Composting

There are several names to describe this type of composting: lasagna gardening, sheet composting, direct composting.  The idea is to mimic what mother nature does in the forests all the time.  Different layers of organic matter and animal manures, filled with beneficial microbes and earthworms,  build up and compost over time.

The rich "leaf mold" and forest soils your ancestors gathered for their vegetable and flower gardens can be created right in your garden patch,  saving you time and labor.

For existing gardens and beds, here is one method of sheet composting:
  • Remove all weeds from your plot.
  • Aerate the soil if it's compacted. (This will help the composting process. See Tips below.)
  • Chop up any leaves and yard waste with your mower.
  • Cover your bed with a layer of this material. (Don't forget the chopped veggie scrapes and coffee grounds.) Moisten (see Tips below for adding microbes to your water).
  • Spread a layer of fresh or composted horse manure. (If your not lucky enough to have access to horses, you can purchase composted manures from garden centers.) Moisten.
  • Add a second layer of chopped organic mulching material like straw, leaves, etc.
  • Keep moistened and leave over the winter.
During the winter, microbes and earthworms stay busy converting this mixture into rich compost.  You have "created soil" so to speak, just like the automatic process occurring on the forest floor.

Success Tips:
  1. Add VermaPlex® to the water when moistening to add microbes to the mix.  It speeds up the process and insures composting takes place.
  2. Add earthworms to the ground before adding layers.  They break down the compost, accomplish the soil aeration chore for you, and deposit rich castings that feed your plants.
Next time:  Easy way to create new fertile garden beds where grass is growing....

Gardening Resources:

Liquid garden fertilizer
Add microbes to your soil.
VermaPlex®: Certified Organic, All Natural Soil Inoculant.

Make garden soil with earthworms
Add earthworms to your soil.
Red Worms and European Nightcrawlers for your garden.