Posted in "Rotline" Question of the Week, tagged bedding, coconut fiber, leaves, manure, red wigglers, red worms, shredded paper, Solana Center, vermicomposting, worms, Wriggly Wranch Worm Bin on June 16, 2009|
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Wriggly Wranch Worm Bins come with a brick of coconut fiber bedding to get your worm bin started. It is often sold at hydroponics stores and nurseries. Coconut fiber is great for worm bins as it retains moisture, provides aeration, and gives your red wiggler worms nutrients. It is a renewable resource made from recycled coconut husks.
Coconut fiber is great for bedding but is not the only bedding material that you can use in a worm bin. Moistened shredded paper (newspaper, office paper, cardboard boxes, etc.) works great as well and is readily available. Paper shredders are often quite inexpensive and do a great job preparing the paper for the bin but hand shredding will work as well.
The bottom of a pile of decaying leaves can also be a great source for worm bin bedding. Just make sure to do a quick check for unwanted organisms. If you have manure at hand and would like to use it as worm bedding, make sure it has aged to ensure all salts have leached out and the ph has stabilized. Be sure that the temperature is appropriate for the worms as well. Manure also often contains other organisms such as sowbugs, mites, grubs, or centipedes which some people would rather not have in their bins.
To prepare your bedding for your worm bin, fill a clean bucket with water. Add your bedding and allow it to absorb the water. Wring out the bedding (it should be as moist a wrung out sponge). You can add your bedding by placing a layer on the top of the bin and adding food underneath.
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Posted in "Rotline" Question of the Week, tagged bacteria, compost, farmer's lung, gardening, histoplasmosis, illness, infection, manure, paronychia, sickness, soil, tetanus on March 17, 2009|
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There are tons of microscopic bacteria and organisms living in the pile that are breaking down organic material into good humus. Generally speaking, bacteria are pretty harmful to humans. The wrong ones can definitely hurt you, and if in some cases could even be pretty serious. So what about the bacteria in your compost pile?
Here are a few illnesses that can be common among gardeners, farmers, and sometimes composters.
First is Farmer’s Lung. Symptoms are similar to those of pneumonia. It’s caused by bacteria and fungal spores that live in rotted hay (for the most part). If you ever have to deal with hay that has white or gray dusty patches, make sure to grab a dust mask. Change into clean clothes and wash the clothes you worked in when you’re done. If you are unfortunate enough to breathe in any of the spores, antibiotics can be prescibed by your doctor.
Next up is paronychia. It’s an extremely painful infection around the edges of fingernails. This happens when there are any cuts or abrasions around the edges of your fingernails (for example, from biting your nails) that bacteria can enter. Moisture compounds the issue. To prevent this, make sure your gloves do not have any holes in the fingertips and that they are always dry when you use them. If a glove becomes wet and dirty, it would be a good idea to put on fresh dry ones. Again, cases of paronychia can be cleared by antibiotics (minor cases often clear up on their own).
Histoplasmosis is caused by fungus that grows in bird and bat droppings. This fungus attacks the respiratory system and causes a respiratory infection. For most people, this is not a common problem because the immune system can ward off infection before it ever occurs. However, care should still be taken when dealing with large amounts of bird or bat droppings. If you think you’ve been infected with histoplasmosis, please see your doctor.
Finally there’s tetanus. It attacks the central nervous system and causes muscles spasms (starting in the jaw, hence the term lockjaw). Tetanus is caused by bacteria that are widely spread through almost all soil. In this case, prevention is more effective than treatment. That means make sure your tetanus shots are up to date.
All this information and much more can be found in The Complete Compost Gardening Guide by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah Martin (2008).
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