Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Honey, the worms started a corn farm...

Have you ever considered vermicomposting? RLM and I were at a dinner party last night where we discussed (among world politics and office gossip legends) making our own dirt. This is no small matter in northern areas, where garden dirt is either made locally or imported. I've heard many stories of local people making dirt from fish guts or peat from the thousands and bogs around here. I still think that some enthusiastic entrepreneur could make good money making dirt by composting whatever is available and then selling it to local consumers.

The worm compost is used in the vegetable garden, flower beds, and in the pots growing herbs and vegetables under grow-lights in the basement. There is the odd worm living in the bottom of my pots, and they, like cats, like to leave their droppings in a particular place. Most seem to poop out of the bottom holes of the pots, and a few extrude their waste matter towards the top corners of the pots -- check this out:

Whole heads of corn + worm composter = Abundant corn sprouts in the worm box.


We also have a heap of slowly composting grass clippings and yard trimmings outside. In cold climates with short seasons, the outdoor compost heap operates slowly and I imagine it has to maintain a critical size in order to generate heat at its center and actually result in decomposition. I laughed hard at the post on (outdoor) composting in the Tundra Garden, a blog about the most northern garden in North America.
"The pumpkin from Halloween 1996 didn't look any different than the one from 2005 before the snow fell. As an archaeologist, I can attest to the fact that organic material can stay frozen with minimal decay for hundreds of years here."
I think this just goes to show that there are just some places you can't do outdoor composting! As an aside, if anybody locally wants some Eisenia foetida (special compost worms) for their own worm box, let me know. I have lots.

8 comments:

Christa said...

I think your little corn farm looks kind of cool, actually. I never thought composting would be so difficult for folks in cold climates. Makes complete sense, I just never thought about it. I'd love to try vermicomposting sometime, but I have to get my husband to warm up to the idea first. :-)

Cicero Sings said...

My Aunt lived in Medicine Hat for years. (Medicine Hat is zoned 3a ... not quite as cold as your own neck of the woods.) Her whole back yard was garden and she grew a great vegetable garden, as well as some flowers. When she was finished with a section of her vegetable garden she would dig a trench in it and into that trench went all of her "compost stuff". She would cover that with dirt and move on to the next spot. By the next spring, she would turn her garden and all would he wonderfully composted. The ground worms did the trick ... no fuss, no muss. I've tried this both at the coast and here and "stuff" composts in about 2 months. You might want to give this a shot!

Cicero Sings said...

P.S. Over the winter, we throw our kitchen scraps into a black, lidded garbage bin that has holes drilled in for aereation. It sits in a sunny spot and over the winter it even seems to compost down some ... by the end of winter our bin isn't even full yet but we are only two.

Gardenista said...

Cicero - Yeah, I can see composting right in the garden working well. Problem is, my vegetable garden is 4 by 10 feet. It is a little raised bed, with 2x10 lumber forming the sides. I bought all the dirt that went inside -- so my space is too precious. There's really no free dirt around here, and the ground is bedrock (our basement was blasted out of the granite). Even the lawn grows on a few inches of sand atop bedrock. I never really appreciated large expanses of soil until we moved here! Now when we see building developments and see machines piling up dirt somewhere, we have dirt-envy.

the Red Scot said...

Gardenista, how much soil can you produce in a year?

-I liked the picture of your early bird snowmobiler. He looks about like the folks down here the past few winters!

Gardenista said...

Really, I can only produce a few litres of soil per year in the worm boxes. I consider that stuff more of a fantastic fertilizer to grow my basement veggies on and to top-dress a few flowers. The outdoor compost makes more from the bottom of the heap -- enough to throw on the flowerbeds.

adam said...
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Anonymous said...

Hello,
I've been enjoying your blogs and they have gotten me through some cold and snowy days here in Michigan.
Have you thought about having a rabbit or 2 and using the manure? It isn't a hot manure, breaks up easily, doesn't smell, and is wonderful for the plants. I have a small rabbitry and my veggie garden soil will consist mostly of the manure.