- soil biology
- soil restoration
- worm castings
For those of you who are starting to dabble in the world of worms welcome to the game. You probably have an inkling of an idea that there is actually something to this worm stuff. This should help that gut feeling that you have. There is a paradigm shift happening in the world of agriculture. What the ancients know instinctively is now coming full circle and being validated by modern science. It’s a slow painful slog at times, but it is happening. We “moderns” created this mess, and it’s going to take some time to fix it. Modern farming techniques solved a lot of problems 50-60 years ago, but now the unintended consequences have come home to roost, and a fresh look at what we’re doing is required. For a long time the vermiculturists have been preaching to the choir, but when you find an article like this in an essentially political publication you know that an awakening is occuring. Our thanks to our friend Heather Rinaldi at Texas Worm Ranch for posting this. It’s a great article and a harbinger of what is coming.
Alright all you Michiganderanians. Because we’ve had such beautiful weather this late into October, I just know that you’ve delayed cleaning out your vegetable and flower beds. Well, it’s going to be in the 70s with unlimited sunshine again this week, so you have no more excuses for not getting this done. You know you’re going to pay the price if you delay any longer. 70 and sunny, or 48 in the rain. Your choice, but either way the “chop and drop” has to be done. “How do you do it,” the guy in the back row from Westland asks. Simple. It goes like this:
- DO NOT rake your soil clean.
- Chop down your old plants and drop them there. Don’t pull them out by the roots.
- Put down a thin layer of WormCycle worm castings.
- Add a layer of good organic mulch. This is a perfect way to dispose of fallen leaves. Chop them up with a mower first though.
- Now put down a 2 inch layer of wood chips.
“What’s the reason for doing this?” Good question, lady from West Bloomfield. Everything we do is for the benefit of the microbes that we have carefully cultivated all summer long. Just because we’re done growing doesn’t mean that the critters are done living. What we’re doing here is setting ourselves up for success come the Spring. By doing this we can continue to stay away from all the chemical fertilizers we thought we needed. Always keep your soil covered. This protects all the bacteria and fungi from the Sun’s UV rays. By dropping your old plants onto the ground you’ve now provided an over winter food source for the microbes. As it composts in place, the soil fool web can sustain itself. If your soil needs a microbial boost, add the worm castings. Add more food in the form of mulched leaves. Finally, armor up. The wood chips provide cover for the complex eco-system that you just put in place. Without it the harsh winter elements will destroy what you just created. Further as the wood chips decay they will enhance fungal growth and make for a more balance environment.
“That’s a lot of stuff to dig up in the Spring.” Well, my friend from Downriver, I’m glad you said that. You don’t have to do any digging at all in the Spring. Never, ever, ever use that roto-tiller again! By doing so, you’ll destroy your new carefully balanced microbial system. When you plant, simply use a hand spade and disturb the soil a little as possible.
The point of all this is to understand that biology begets the chemistry. All our gardening lives we thought it was all about the N-P-K. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we get the biology right, the soils will come into chemical harmony without us lifting a finger.
That’s all for now. Please give me your feed back here.
First off, my apologies for not posting for a while. Today it’s back to basics. I’ve had quite a number of new subscribers recently most of whom have little experience with “worming.” Since education is a big part of what I like to do, I thought a comprehensive list of questions would be in order. Enter Brian Donaldson. Brian hails from Australia and is a heavy hitter in the world of worms. I was going to put my own FAQ together, but when I asked Brian if I could use some of his material he was quick to oblige. So, rather than re-invent the wheel I’m putting up Brian’s amazing bit of writing. Click here to access Worm Farming Frequently Asked Questions to get started. Give it a look. You won’t be disappointed.
So, you’ve been using your WormCycle castings all summer and now the harvest is coming in. Tomatoes, red and meaty, Zucchini’s as long as your arm, and Zinnias up to your knees. Well, now what. The season is rapidly closing and you have some worm castings left over. What should you do with them? Well, there is one planting period left. As the cooler weather looms, consider some late season vegetables, and Mums. Now is the time for decorating your house with the colors of fall. If you live on the western side of Detroit, Willow Greenhouse is a great place to start. They’ve been very kind to WormCycle and have been selling A LOT of castings. For those of you who are interested, we will be setting up an end of season sale of our worm castings. When it’s time to clean our your beds, that is an ideal time to add WormCycle to your soils in preparation for next springs plantings. So, stay tuned. I’ll be back here in a few days with sale information and some ideas on how to prep your soils for the winter.
So, by now we all know that getting microbes into our soil is what we’re after. These critters are essential to the growth and well being of plants, and by extension, us. There are many ways to do this. We happen to use worms. Here is an article that gives a nice overview of the cast of characters we have come to know and love.
We’ve been busy over the last couple of months and haven’t spent nearly enough time with all of you. Our new Composter is up to speed and producing more VC than ever. 60 thousand worms will do that. They’re eating almost faster than I can feed them! We’ve had a lot of new visitors to our site, and I can’t thank you enough for helping spread the word about WormCycle. Remember, subscribe here and we’ll discount your next purchase. For those of you who enjoy short videos, here’s a cool one that nicely sums up the complex interplay between plant roots and the microscopic life that is so important to healthy soil. Thanks and enjoy. And give these guys a look.
I come across all sorts a material these days about how fixing our soils will solve a whole host of problems. The issue for me is how to distill this stuff down into something that is easy to understand and doesn’t take 4 hours to read or watch. For me personally I’m finding the Micro vs Macro view point fascinating. We look through microscopes to solve global issues. Here’s a guy who puts it all together rather nicely. While he is talking about a scale that most of us will never see, the principle applies to us all. We can do this in our back gardens, our raised vegetable beds, and our front lawns. Enjoy the cycle.
Hi again everyone. Sorry it’s been so long since my last post. As they say, “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” The picture to the
right gives a fairly good representation about all the goings on in the soil and how the food soil web interacts. While the mechanics of the Carbon and Nitrogen cycles are pretty well understood these days, we’ve mostly been focused on the N cycle since that’s where we worm farmers have our most immediate impact on our soils. This happens at the “micro” level. Interestingly, at the “macro” level what is now coming to the fore is the impact the C cycle has on our global environment. Soil is the single biggest bank of Carbon on the planet and it is our agricultural practices that have the greatest impact on that cycle.