Friday, November 21, 2008

Recipe corner

We have a new addition to the blog - Must Eat Those Veggies - or a recipe corner!
Check it out! I'll try to keep it updated as often as I can. If you have some recipes you'd like to share with everyone e-mail me! Or if you try any recipe's I post - let us know if it gets thumbs up - or "eeeh... so-so"...
Happy munching!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I've been meaning to write this blog entry for a while and something always keeps messing me up. Do any of you have a problem uploading some images? I had one more I was trying to upload from the vermiculture workshop and after 3 attempts I gave up...
Let me see... looks like server is down or something or the other... one more try..

It worked this time!
But see, I run into all sorts of technical problems with this blogging that keep me away for days sometimes.

Ok. to the point...
Melanie Lamonds and I attended a vermiculture workshop in September at Piedmont BioFarm
in Pittsboro and had a great time learning about composting with worms and tearing up piles of newspaper. We came away thinking "boy - this is a lot more trouble than we thought it would be!" and our very own worm bins with 1 lb of fresh new worms introduced to the shredded newspaper.  Here you see Brian Rosa - the NCDENR - DPPEA Environmental Specialist/Organics Recycling Coordinator explaining something to very attentive listeners...
I don't have a picture of Amanda Sand, Piedmont Biofuels Vermiculture Specialist, who organized the event and runs the worm project at Piedmont Biofuels... 
This (below) is my Worm House... Let me tell you... The first few weeks were like having a new baby! well... not quite, but if you're thinking there's nothing to it to start a new bin, think again. The worms were not at all delighted about being dumped on fresh  wet newspaper in a plastic "house" after coming from wherever safe and nice they came from. 
At home I raised the bin on a plastic lid of another bin on three styrofoam egg cartons (they were readily available) and put it in our former dining, now sewing/craft and pilemaking room, under a table lamp that had to be turned on overnight. And did I say that I DO NOT LIKE burning lights at night... I guess not, well, I DO NOT LIKE burning lights at night!  The light has to be on to keep the worms from escaping the bin in search of a better environment (which they are not going to find inside a house...). 
Well. Despite the burning light and all, I still had to pick up a few dried up worms off the floor but at least the fatalities were not massive. After a few days we dug some kitchen scraps (coffee grounds and some veggie cuttings) under some shredded paper. 1 lb of worms can eat about 0.5 lb of scraps a day (once they are established, and the food is pureed for easier access to the worms). We added a little stuff to the bin every few days. I did not weigh or puree anything though. It didn't take long for fruit flies to settle in - of course, free food and lots of moisture!!!
So i think after about 2,5 weeks of babying them inside I put my worm bin on front porch and kept adding kitchen scraps (no fats and meats or dairy though!) and checking for moisture. I also, sort of turned the whole concoction over a few times. The worms stopped trying to escape, and started churning out some great looking worm poop in return for the food.
Well. Then it got cold and I moved the busy little guys/gals into our garage. Since it is sort of cold there, the worms have slowed down and we don't add as much food for them. Most days I forget I have them, to be honest... last time I checked it looked great in the bin despite the general neglect! I haven't had to add much water but it is moist, most of the newspaper has turned into an indistinguishable mass of brownish matter mixed with some distinguishable veggie parts. There is a whole host of other "bugs", mostly fruit flies but as I remember that is not a problem... I want to say there is also way more worms than what I put in... but that may just be a parental pride...

So there! After the initial doubts and second guesses about the whole undertaking I can say it is worth the few weeks of "trouble" in the beginning, to have this wonderful living kitchen scrap recycling machine, that requires minimal attention, and gives pure black gold in return! I'm hoping to use some of the worm castings this spring to add to our seed starting mix, and start a few more bins with our own worms!

PS! Melanie has her worm bin in her classroom where her fourth graders can keep an eye on the worms and give them something little to munch on every now and then. Way to go!!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Winter garden

What a gorgeous weather we had last week!!!!
I got inspired to clean out the garden from the
debris of frost bitten summer veggies, and planted
some cover crops on a few beds, to replenish the 
soil in the spring by digging it under.
The garden looks so orderly now, compared to the 
summer's wild abundance...
I also transplanted some Chinese cabbages and a few
varieties of pak choi, and looks like they are enjoying
the fresh new grounds.
Spinach, chard and lettuces are growing beautifully
and I'm eager to see how long we will be able to 
enjoy salads this winter.
This is such a great region for growing veggies all year long!