helpful garden links

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We finally started our seeds this past weekend and planted a bed with spring crops this past weekend, so it finally feels like spring has arrived.

But, even though I’m behind on things, I thought you might need some helpful resources for all of you much better-prepared peeps out there, so check out these resources:

While you’re starting those seeds, a good thing to get working on before you can get outside is your compost. Check out some of these links for tips and tricks:

  • A helpful, concise roundup of tips.
  • Super helpful chart to guide you on brown and green compost ratios.
  • Some composting basics, including my recommendation for an easy and cheap beginner compost bin.
  • If you’re local, I would highly recommend you call Keith at Castaway Compost and have him come out and spray worm tea on your gardens (and yard!) at the beginning of the season. If you’re not local (or even if you are), check out these amazing-looking new worm bins of his on Kickstarter.
  • Four DIY compost bins + directions.

If you haven’t already, add soil testing to your list of to-dos before planting time. That way, you’ll have time to amend your soil accordingly to set yourself up for the best possible garden this year.

Ok, now I’m a bit more motivated to get out there and get to work – happy gardening!

 

vermicomposting take two

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You’re composting, right? If not, you should be. It has to be one of the easiest and greenest practices to incorporate into your lifestyle and family. We joke that Jasper doesn’t even know what a trash can is because most everything we dispose of is either reused, recycled, or composted. It’s amazing how much of household waste can avoid the landfill.

Grant started vermicomposting last year (see link above). We’ve actually had really good luck with the worms. They thrive in their homemade bin, and we’ve generated lots of compost and compost tea from our one little worm bin. Last weekend, Grant said it was time to sift the compost.

Because we only have one bin, we usually only do this about twice a year. He waits for a very sunny day (the worms hate the sun) and transfers the compost (worms and all) to a cardboard box. He lets it sit out in the sun for an hour or two, which sends the worm to the bottom of the box and makes it much easier to collect the compost off the top. We then dump the worms and remnant compost back into the bin, along with the now damp cardboard (the worms love cardboard!). It isn’t an exact science by any means, and we still have much to learn in this department. But we have a small operation, so we don’t need anything too complicated.

This year, when Grant started the process, there were tons of worms – far more than last time. He quickly decided that there were too many worms for one bin, so he went out to get another bin. While he was working on the new bin, I spread the compost in the garden and raked it in a bit to prep the beds. Grant followed the same process as last time with the new bin, and then added in several handfuls of worms + compost. I topped it all off with plenty of bedding – lots of shredded paper and torn up cardboard. So we are now a two worm bin family. We’ll keep you posted on how this goes!

Vermicomposting

drilling holes

I think composting is one of the easiest (and most fun) green/gardening practices there is. For beginners, I usually recommend that they start off with a homemade bin like this one. It’s super cheap, and I’ll bet that you quickly get sucked into the process.

We have two bins now in our backyard – a tall, stacked version that my parents bought me a few years ago for my birthday, and a tumbler version that we recently added to our collection. If we had the space, we would have built something from scrap wood similar to this, but we just didn’t have the space in our yard for something like that to work. At the Grace Garden, we use this idea for composting, which could be easily and cheaply modified for an at-home version (at our house, our dog would have destroyed those!).

We started composting about four years ago. At first, my husband took some convincing, but he quickly took charge of the compost at our house. We keep a bowl by our sink for compost scraps, so he takes out the compost every day, turns the compost, makes sure it’s wet/dry enough, etc. You can imagine my delight when he came home from a trip to Menard’s several weeks ago with a couple totes that he informed me he was going to use to start vermicomposting. I realize that it’s another sign of my craziness that instead of being grossed out, I jumped up and kissed him.

Grant drilled small holes throughout the sides and top of one of the totes. He used the second tote as the base, to catch the magic worm tea. We ordered some worms online, but, in hindsight, we should have called Keith, “our worm guy,” from Castaway Compost to get some fresh and happy worms from his collection. Then Grant tore up some cardboard, shredded some paper, and soaked the cardboard and shredded paper in a sink full of water for a bit for the worm’s bedding. Per these directions, we also put some “green” compost in the bin on top of the bedding. Since we produce so much more green compost than the worms can eat, we use the other two compost bins for the majority of our kitchen scraps. Here’s a helpful list of what the worms like and don’t like to bookmark. Minus the trip to the store for the totes, the whole project took him about 15 minutes!

If you’ve never composted before, I encourage you to start with the link mentioned in the first paragraph, but, if you’re an experienced composter and looking for a new challenge, we’re having so much fun so far with our vermicomposting adventure! Our son and Grant go out every night to check on “the wormies.”

Now I have my eyes on one of these, but I think it would take decades for Grant to get on board with that!