msfuzzApril 1, 2009

So I've decided that this year's "garden" is not going to be much. A few tomatoes, peppers, cukes, basil, grown in 5 gal buckets. I have some soil available, but it's sandy & not much to it. I was going to amend it about 50/50 with some kind of organic compost, then add a mixture of lime, seedmeal, & kelpmeal. I saw somewhere selling vermicompost, and wondered if it would work for this sort of application. I know next to nothing about gardening (mostly what I've read here and a few books), so any advice would be much appreciated.

On a related note, is it too late to WS the stuff listed above?

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Hi Ms.,

Is it earthworm castings you found that you were thinking of buying, or was it some kind of vermicomposting kit where youre gonna do your own composting with worms? IÂll stick a link at the bottom to a place that sells worms and the composting kits, but I discovered you can do a "less expensive" form of vermicomposting just by building your own compost pile directly on top of the soil in your yard. As soon as you get something laying on top of the soil that the worms want to eat, theyÂll start migrating up out of the soil and into your compost pile.

HereÂs something from one of my recent posts on another thread:

I wound up with an "accidental" vermiculture compost pile in my backyard! I started it about 3 years ago, and itÂs built directly on top of the ground. By the end of the first year when I started to pull a little bit of the finished compost out of the bottom of the pile, I discovered that red wigglers had migrated up into the pile and were apparently reproducing like mad! Ever since then IÂve had an endless supply of worms to "transplant" into my beds whenever IÂm planting something. ThatÂs great in any situation, but with clay soil, itÂs absolutely wonderful. Little by little the worms are multiplying and my soil is improvingÂand since my main perennial bed was under landscape fabric and tons and tons of rock mulch when I bought the house, the soil was totally packed down rock hard, and had nothing in it but a few ant nests. It still has a way to go in spots, but the worms are my biggest helpers!

And this is from my Compost Tome a year ago:

Another observation! The most worms were in the wetter and more undecomposed parts of the pile. The compost at the very bottom of the pile, which was completely decomposed, had no worms at all in it. That surprised me a little bit since IÂand probably we allÂthink of earthworms as eating earth, but I think I really knew better even before I noticed that. My compost pile is directly on the ground, which, tho I didnÂt realize it when I started it, is a really, really good thing since worms can migrate up out of the ground, and they absolutely thrive in the pileÂespecially the areas with a lot of undecomposed material. I think the worms have been at least as much of a benefit from my compost pile as the compost itself! Whenever IÂm digging into the pile to get some compost to use, I make sure I get a bunch of the worms to mix into the soil where ever IÂm planting, along with the compost itself.

I also discovered this year, that if I left extra bags of leaves laying on top of the soil in my veggie garden, that the worms would remain at the surface and continue to eatÂand poopÂand procreate all winter long. I think theyÂre coming to the surface to eat the grass clippings which I use to mulch my veggie garden, and which have not been worked into the soil yet.

A compost pile doesnt need to be a complicated affair (tho it can be, if you so choose!) For mine I just bought some sheets of galvanized steel (at HD) and attached them to the inside of my fenceÂso the fence wouldnÂt rot out. Then I started throwing all vegetable matter I could come up with on the pile. No milk, cheese, meat, bones (attract animals), fat, or any other animal products. If youÂre lazy like I am, I just wet it down often enough to keep it from drying out, and let it lay there till itÂs completely decomposed. If you like work, you can turn it over/stir it up every now and then, and it decomposes faster. The more you turn it, the faster youÂll have useable compost. And unless you put some sort of a barrier between the soil and the bottom of the compost pile, the worms will migrate up into the pileÂand youÂll be doing the "easy version" of vermicomposting.

HereÂs a pic of the compost pile last spring after I had taken out all the useable compost, put the rest back in its corner, and dumped the remaining bags of leaves on the pile.

Happy gardening,

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 3:19PM
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I just found someone on CraigsList who was selling the actual composted material/worm castings. I'd like to try vermicomposting in the future at some point, but this year I'm going for extra-simple. I just wondered what kind of luck people have using vermicompost in their gardens, if it's better/worse/same as regular or organic compost. :)

Thanks for all the info, though, Skybird. I'll definately keep it in mind as I get more ambitious.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 10:21PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I just have a minute--getting ready to leave on a trip in the morning--but I meant to say this in the above post but forgot it!

With the things you're talking about wintersowing---at this point I recommend you just go ahead and start them in small pots inside. They'll take off much more quickly, and should be ready just about the time it's time to plant them out.

Gotta go,

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 10:46PM
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I know very little about container gardening, but seems I have read that you need the right potting material in your containers b/c of drainage and such. You may want to check out the container gardening forum as well.

Chances are also good that someone with experience will come along and tell you the scoop... I just wanted to toss out there that you may have a problem. Don't take my word for this one though...

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 2:32AM
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