Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fertilizing Worms

Today was spent mostly in the garden after we bottled some of the worm wine to feed to the garden beds. “Worm wine” is what we call our compost tea, which we brew at the Worm Ranch directly from the worm castings. What happens is that after we harvest castings from the vermicompost bins, some of the lesser-dense castings are set aside to be brewed in large tubs. Much of my time has been spent rinsing and labeling used milk jugs that we bottle the wine in, which is less fun than playing with worm poop, but is surely worth the experience of helping out at the Worm Ranch. The worm wine is another commodity sold from our booths at the farmers markets so that people may go home and inoculate their soils with beneficial bacteria to promote plant growth.

So today we poured the wine on many of the plants growing, especially the eggplants and peppers who seem pretty stubbornly dormant so far, but time will tell. There are many tomato plants that we’ve been selling at markets, but today we planted quite a few in our own garden beds. Some tomato plants have been sprouting green fruits, though I believe they just need a little longer to become ripe and red. We also planted some basil in the gardens, which has been very popular at the markets, and I can still smell the refreshing scent linger on. We filled the beds with composted soil before planting and topped the fresh plants with alp alpha and Texas sand one in the soil. (This is another natural fertilizing step!) Last week, even, it was thought that some plants were done sprouting for the season, but we spread more composted soil and leaves as mulch around the plants, and yet again they are growing and sprouting!

To speak of good natural fertilizers, much of the time spent at the Worm Ranch has been full of worm poop! Okay, these worm castings are fun to joke about, but they are also such necessary ingredients to fertilize the gardens! I’ve spent much time over the weeks harvesting and bagging castings for people to purchase at markets and spread throughout their soils. It is good to have between 25% and 50% worm castings in the gardening soil to make it rich enough for good plant growth. This is what makes vermicomposting so nutritious for soil- the worms eat the food ‘wastes,’ love their appetizing atmosphere, and simple biology will allow them to discard their own wastes, which is like gold for the soil and hence the plants! All the active microbes in the castings allow for so much microbiology that I hardly understand to take place. I think its amazing that I’ve grown up in a culture that doesn’t understand and practice this on a larger scale, but here’s where goals are made. Tata for now…

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