Thursday, September 29, 2011

Worms, My step by step

My Blogging Friends, Carolyn over at "Karazo Farms" and, Leigh at "5 acres and a Dream" have asked for a Worms how to. So for them and any other of you who might be interested, This is what I did to get started!

First let me say that I'm no expert. And I have a "Go to Guy" that I have used from the beginning. He is Bentley Christie at "Red Worm Composting" (htt:// He has had a blog up for the past 5 years and he is the expert! Its a great site and he has all the information for anybody wanting to get started raising worms! Check it out and I think you will be very impressed!

But here is what I did (all of it gotten from Bentley!). I started my first "Worm Bed" in a 20 gallon tote and set it up in my utility room, right off my kitchen. This made it easy to keep an eye on the worms and to add food material/bedding and water. And then I ordered my first 1,000 worms.

The tote should be of a dark color, as the worms like it dark! I drilled a few vent holes in the top and sides of the tote (glued window screening over the holes from the inside, so the worms stay put!). I placed a layer of bedding (3 - 4 inches deep) that had been soaked in water and allowed to drain off the excess. You want the bedding to be like a rung-out sponge.
Primary Bedding:
 - Shredded cardboard (non-glossy, waxed). Corrugated boxes (remove tape and staples!), Drink trays, egg    cartons and toilet paper rolls (My personal favorite!)
 - Shredded newsprint, No color inks!
 - Aged manures, coarse compost.
 - Rotten straw/hay

Secondary bedding:
 - Fall leaves... When I first set up my outside bed, I saw the biggest change in this material. They went through this as fast as they any of the food I put in!
 - Wood chips/sawdust (no treated wood/chemicals)

Remember ...Bedding is your friend!! You can not add to much bedding!!!!

Now let's talk about Food.
The three thinks you should not use as food!
1. Meat/oils... Not of any kind! This will smell up the bed and might be a calling card for animals you do not want in your bed.

2. Dairy... This can cause it to smell and the worms might try to find greener pastures!

3. Anything from the Onion family/Hot Peppers... contain potent volatile oils that cause issues for worms!

So, anything that was alive at some point can be used as food!
 - Kitchen scraps...Coffee grounds (with filters), Tea bags, Egg shells (also adds calcium and can normalize PH), Bread/pasta (in small amounts).
 - Human/pet hair.
 - Over ripe fruits/produce from the garden.

 - Any of the bedding I listed before! As a matter of fact, I run kitchen scraps through the food processor to chop it up fine and then mix it with Egg cartons and toilet paper rolls to make what Bentley calls "Home made Manure". This works great!
 Two months after I got my worms, I though they might be getting a little crowded, So I built my first outside bed.

And this is it, made from recycled wood and is opened bottom. This provides a lot more room for the worms  to do their thing. The only thing that is a pain, is the harvesting of the worm casts! Labor intensive!

So there you have it Lady's. That's how I got my worms started! If you want to start this way, I would suggest that you purchase your worms from Bentley! I did not do this and I did not get the right worms for the job! The worms you want are "Eisenia fetida/andrel" (Red wigglers, Manure worms!). And Bentley has them!

Also he has the plains to build a "Single-Compartment Flow-Through bed", that will make harvesting worm casts a lot easier! I have my copy and will be doing up a post on that as I work on it.

So go to his site, because he has a lot more info on how to get started.

I hope this helps and let me know how it goes!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What's for dinner?

As I wrote in my last post, Thursday morning was spent working with the worms (My Blogging friend Carolyn at "karaso Farms asked for a step-by step on how to set up a worm bed, Coming soon!!). Terri spent the day in school (Pitt Community Collage) and of course Mark was at the Job. So I decided that I would make Dinner that night.
Terri called at some point to ask if I had any ideas for dinner and being as I,m a meat and potato kind of guy, I said, How about "Stuffed, loaded, and covered "Rebaked potato's?
I know that some of you lady's out there believe that a man can not find his way around a kitchen (other then to find where the Beer is!), But I do quite well at it and I like to cook!
So here is my recipe  for "Stuffed, loaded and covered Rebaked Potato's"

1 lb of breakfast  sausage
enough baking potato's for the number of people you have to feed (in this case, 3)
1 onion, diced
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
eggs ( two for each potato)
enough shredded Colby/Monterty jack cheese to cover the potato's
Sour cream to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Some of the ingredients ready for the chopping.

Wash the potato's and using a fork, pierce the skins in a few places. Using enough tinfoil to wrap the potato's in, rub each potato with olive oil and warp them up. Place in a 400 degree oven. Remove when completely done and allow to cool to the point that you can handle them.
Meanwhile, crumble the sausage into a pan on medium high heat and brown, breaking it up as it browns.
In another pan on low heat, carmalize the onion, then add the mushrooms and cook until done.
Unwrap the potato's and cut in half length-wise, and using a spoon, scoop out the insides.
Place the potato skins on a baking sheet, drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and return to the 400 degree oven to brown and crisp up. 8 - 10 minutes.
Add the cooked potato to the pan of sausage and cook until potato is browned, set aside.
Remove the skins from the oven and evenly load each one with the sausage/potato mixture, then smother each one with the onions and mushrooms. Now cover each one with the cheese and return to the oven until cheese is melted and browned.
Fry an egg for each potato.
Remove from the oven and add the green onion to each and a dollop of sour cream (or as much as you like, Me I like a lot!)

Sausage in the bowl waiting for the potato's to brown some.

One stuffed,smothered, and covered. One waiting for the egg! 

Just add two slices of Farm House White Bread, with lots of butter and jam!!

So there you have it. My turn in the kitchen. Took longer to write it up then it did to make it! Try it, you will like it!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The morning with the worms

I have to admit that I have not spent much time working with the worms. Give them a little bedding/food and not much more.
Well today I work all morning with them. New bedding and food. And lots of water!
They are pretty forgiving and will fend for themselves for quite some time. But the main thing to remember is that they have to be kept pretty wet, as they breath through their skin and taht means they have to have a wet environment.

Here are some of the tools and materials I use. The bottles are filled with water and there are 22 of them. There isn't a water source close to the beds and I tote it all in the bottles. The paper bag is filled with empty paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls (bedding).  Hard to see, there are a couple of buckets of food in there too!

This is Daisy. She was suppost to be helping, But her idea of helping is to chase rabbits or to find Deer POOP to roll in! (Silly Dog!!!).

Anyway, once I got out to the beds, The first thing I had to do was clean up around the beds with the weed eater.

Grass and weeds had gotten pretty bad around the beds,

And the spoiled hay bales were almost covered up. I got the hay curb side a few weeks ago and it is prime bedding material! Once that was done, it was time to open the beds up. 

Like I said, the worms are pretty forgiving and there were quite a few mixed in the old bedding and the casts. Sorry they are hard to see, but that's the best my camera can do!

Here are a few that I was able to pick out. Worms are by-sexual, But they need another worm to breed with. The amazing thing about them is each adult has the abillity to lay 900 cocoons (up to 7 eggs per cocoon) in it life time! And from hatching to adult, is about 90 days! So I started out with about 1,000, April of last year. And if I were to guesstamate, I would say that in the two beds there are upwards of 30,000 

Once I racked back some old bedding and was able to see several worms doing their think, I placed some new bedding in. This was a combination of shredded newsprint, and the paper rolls I mentioned before. I made sure that it was pretty wet before it went into the beds.

Just layered down the middle, after soaking in water for a few minutes. I let the water drain off before putting the bedding in.

And then the food went on top of that. Food consisted of rotted garden produce (water melon, cucumbers, sweet peppers and tomato's) and coffee grounds (with filters), tea bags, banana peels and egg shells. I run it all through the food processur and that produces a lot of water in the mix. I also use all kinds of manure's too! The worms do not eat the food itself, but the Bacterial goop that it produces as it all breaks down! And in the end, it all comes out as WORM CASTS! Another addvantage is I do not send this waste to the land fill, but feed it to the worms!

And then cover it all with a good later of rotten hay and water it all down. The hay and other bedding will decompose and get turned into casts too.

Closed up to help keep the mousture in and to keep it dark (worms do not like the light). The extra bottles are for watering again later.
So that's what it takes to make the worms happy. Not so hard? So do you want to start a worm herd of your own? Worm casts are a great thing to add to any garden!

Talk to you later,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What a mess!

Its been two weeks sense Irene went through and dumped all that rain on us. The temperatures have been in the high 80's and the weeds have gone crazy!!

Believe it or not, there are pepper plants still producing in there!

This was the tomato bed. A few Zinnia's and volunteer melons. Nothing but weeds now!

And if you look real close, you can still see the sweet potatoes growing in this bed!

I started cleaning out the pepper bed first and got all the weeds out and rebuilt the trellis. Irene knotted the pepper plants over, So I used tomato clips and line to get them back upright.

This is the harvest for this day! 14 fruits (6 1/2 lbs!). Some of them are turning and the plants still have peppers growing! I love sweet peppers! And I can just slice this up and toss them into the freezer for later use.

This is what the bed looked like when I finished. Much better
I stopped at around 1500, It was just to hot! I went into the house and watched a 2 hour documentary  on 9/11. If you have not seen this one, you should! Its titled "9/11 ten years later". It made me feel so very upset, Just like I did on 9/11. But it also helped me to move on and do all I can to support the war on Terrorism!

I wanted to go back out and continue pulling weeds around 1900. But by that time a cold front had come through and the temps. had gone down to 64 degrees and it was raining buckets! And that's the way it has been for the past 3 days! So the rest of the beds will have to wait for another day.

One of the things that I saw that day early in the morning was this!

A Blimp! Not something we see a lot of out here. Sorry the picture is any better.

They had a pretty morning for the trip!

That's it for now. be good!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tree limbs

Yesterday was a long day! I had decided that it was the day to take care of the tree limbs that Irene had dropped into Mark's yard. As I said before, this tree is just over the property line, just north of mark's yard. So the limbs were hung up in the tree and on the ground in the yard. As you can see from the above photo, The tree had lost a couple of big limbs from the top.

And it is where it all landed! So I got out my new chain saw (Terri gave it to me two years ago Christmas!), First time I have had a reason to use it! I got started and had cut some of the smaller limbs out and loaded them into the back of my truck, When my neighbor Mike came over and said that his son was coming over with his front end loader to help!

And here he is taking the first load to the back 40, where I will cut it up later for fire wood.

That's taking a bite out of the problem! He accomplished in about 20 minutes, What would have taken me most of the day to get done! Thanks Mike and Kevin!!!

After the wood was gone, I took the tractor and bush hog and just chopped up what was left! It will break down and return to the soil. I and Mark cut the grass right up next to this area and I have always thought that I would clean this area up and just leave a few trees standing. There is the big Gum there and a Cider and Maple in there too. So while we were there, I cut out a few of the weed trees and under brush. I will continue to work this area with the bush hog and chain saw until I get it clear. Lots of work, But it will look so much better when it's done!

This it what we got out of the tree! The biggest part of the limb is the part near the bottom of the pile. There is a lot of wood there! And I would never have gotten that big part out of the tree without Kevin's help! It was up in the tree about 15 feet and a rope pulling with my truck wasn't going to get the job done! Thank God for great neighbors!!!
I was able to spend the rest of the day cutting grass! And when your talking about 6 acres of grass, I finished up this morning!
Now all I have to do is repair the carport that Irene tore up (It's where we park the tractor out of the weather). That will not be so easy!
Talk to you later!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Irene's aftermath

Irene came thru and dumper a lot of rain/wind. I spent 41 hours at the job (1130 Friday - 0700 Sunday). Lots of water damage to the building and meny trees down. The ride home was interesting!

This was the conditions on the drive home on the route I normally take! What is a 1 1/2 hour drive, became a 3 hour ordeal to get around the road blocks!

Some I was able to drive on the shouler to get around!
 And the Ahokie creek was near flood and runing over its banks!

This a bridge I cross over the creek on and it is normally just a small stream!

But as you can see it was over flowing and inadating some of the crop fields along it' banks!
One of the things we were hoping that Irene would do was put out the fire in the Great Dismal swamp and get rid of the smoke we have been put up with the past weeks. But nope! the peat bog is still burning and the smoke is still with us.
One very strange thing is this guy desided to take up residents on Mark's front porch!
He stayed with us for a few days and did not show any ill effects from the storm.

One last picture, this tree sat in the front of a resterant in town. It looks like it was hit by a bomb!

We do not have any trees on the homestead, but there is an American Gum that sits on the property line on Mark's place and it lost some limbs that fell into his yard. Tommorow I will be out there with the chainsaw to clean that up. I will have pictures on the next post. As if I didn't have enough to do already!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Made it through Irene

Irene hit us last week-end and spent the whole time at work (11:30am Friday - 7:00 am Sunday). I'm in the security department and we and the maintenance guy's are considered "Alpha Personnel"! The water damage to the roof of the building was bad! The roof is being resurfaced and repaired and in the process a lot of material was removed before the storm and being as the roof is flat, we had to wear rain gear while in the warehouse!
The building is ONE MILLION SQUARE FEET of floor space and that means alot of roof! We got 10" of rain and alot of that ended up in the building, Thank God for floor drains!
As I was at work, Terri and Mark took Daisy and Luke over to their house to ride out the storm. Every one made it through all right and no damage to either house. But their were a lot of trees down (Pictures in next post) and the only tree near our place is a American Gum on the very edge of Marks place. It lost a few big limbs and I will have to get out the chain saw it clear them out of the yard.
The drive home that Sunday morning was very long and interesting! Trees down on the road and power lines down with them! We lost power for only one day and the freezers were kept closed, so we didn't loose anything. And the BBQ grill was used quite a bit.
The one thing that we hoped Irene would do was dump enough rain on the fire in the "Great dismal Swamp", But she didn't. Its still burning, But it is much smaller and the smoke isn't as bad.
And one other thing that was good about this past week-end, All the OVERTIME I made! A little extra money is always welcome!!
The next post, I will be showing pictures of the death of the garden and some of the down trees. The garden looks like it was hit by a bomb and the weeds have gone crazy! Not much to salvage, but I will get what I can and try to get the beds ready for fall planting. But I will have to see how that works out.
I will work on that post and get it up in a few days. Until then, be good.