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Posts Tagged ‘vermicomposting’

Saturday, January 22, 2011
10 – 12 noon
San Diego Botanic Gardens
230 Quail Gardens Dr.
Encinitas, CA 92024

Saturday, February 5, 2011
10 – 12 noon
Water Conservation Garden
12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West
El Cajon, CA 92019

Monday, March 14, 2011
2-4 p.m.
Welk Resort Farmer’s Market
8860 Lawrence Welk Drive, Escondido, CA 92026

Saturday, March 19, 2011
10 – 12 noon
Summer’s Past Farm
15602 Olde Highway 80
El Cajon, CA 92021

Learn about the ins and outs of backyard composting and vermicomposting at this free workshop! Workshop will include information about selecting a bin, maintenance, harvesting, and more! A limited number of compost bins and worm bins will be available for purchase after the workshop.

Click here to pre-register now or to view a full list of upcoming workshops!

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Worms don’t lay eggs, they produce cocoons which contain multiple fertilized eggs.

Earthworms are hermaphroditic, having both male and female reproductive organs. To mate worms align themselves  head-to-head and exchange sperm from the clitellum (thickened glandular band at the anterior end of adult worms). After mating  the clitellum produces a thick mucus ring which  hardens and begins to form the cocoon.  The worm’s own egg is then deposited into the forming cocoon as it begins its slide over the head.  It then seals at both ends forming a small pearl-like cocoon.

Each worm will continue to produce cocoons (without needing to mate again) for as long as the donated sperm supply lasts.

In the case of Red Worms (Eisenia fetida), each cocoon typically produces 2 -20 baby worms, which under favorable conditions hatch out in  2-6 weeks. Temperature, moisture content, population and acidity of soil determine how long it takes for a cocoon to hatch. If poor conditions prevail, cocoons can remain in a dormant state for years.

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If your bin becomes too acidic, too moist, too dry, too compact, full of rotting food, full of  food they don’t like, too hot, too cold or they just organize an expedition,  your worms can attempt an escape from your bin.  This thwarted escape plan (if your lid is on tight) ends up with many worms in your bottom collection tray.

To rectify this situation add water to the collected liquid in order to dilute the sediment and ease its flow through the sieve.  Then strain the liquid through a sieve or small holed colander, rinse the collection tray out and reassemble the worm bin.  Add the worms, collected in the sieve, back into your top working tray.   If you clean out the bottom bin regularly you can save all your wayward worms and keep the liquid fresh and in top condition.  Dilute the liquid with 5-10 parts tap water before adding to your garden.    Remove the chlorine from tap water by letting it stand in the sun for several hours.

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Although chemical fertilizers give plants a quick,  lush growth boost they are soon depleted and actually leave the soil in a chemically dependent state.  The use of vermicompost as fertilizer adds living  micro-organisms to the soil and begins breaking down organic matter, making it nutritionally available to plants.  Surrounding and existing soil becomes  viable and sustainable; one begins to notice that the neighboring plants and yards improve as well.
When using vermicompost, mix it into the existing soil at the ratio of 5-15 % (vermicompost to soil), improvement doesn’t increase after 20%. With new plants, place a handful of vermicompost in the bottom of the planting hole. If vermicompost is not mixed into soil, but left on the surface, it quickly dries out and becomes crisp and useless.

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The Wriggly Wranch Worm Bin is designed with two different tiers. When the  first tier fills to the line inside the bin, you add the second tier and start feeding and add some new bedding. The worms will usually go wherever you are feeding them but oftentimes there are a few that stay behind. Here are a couple of tips from our Master Composters to speed up the process of harvesting:

1. Irresistible Foods Method: Add some melon or avocado to your bin. The worms will not be able to resist and will all  congregate in the same area  to eat. After a couple of days, physically move them where you want them to go.

2. Sun Method: Dump the contents of your bin on a plastic tarp outside in the sun. The worms do not like light so they will burrow to the bottom. You can even make cones of compost and take off the tops to speed up the process a bit.

3. Slurry Method: One of our Master Composters suggests putting some of your vermicompost in a bucket of water. Once in the bucket, the worms and compost will separate and you can quickly rescue your worms and put them back in your bin. Pour out the extra water and add your compost to your garden!

4. Waiting Method: Your worms will eventually move to other areas of your bin as long as you continue to feed there. If you happen to accidentally grab some worms with the vermicompost don’t worry too much about it. Red wigglers reproduce very quickly and your bin will not be affected.

Have any other tricks for harvesting?? Leave a comment and share them with us!

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Saturday, October 2nd, 2010
10 – 12 noon
Crestridge Ecological Reserve
1171 Horsemill Road
El Cajon (Crest), CA 92019

Learn the basics of backyard composting and vermicomposting including bin set up, maintenance, harvesting, and more! The workshop will be held at Crestridge Ecological Reserve during the Earth Discovery Institute Native Plant Sale. There will be a limited number of compost bins available.

Please register online at www.solanacenter.org or by phone 760-436-7986 ext. 222. Workshop is provided by the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation and the County of San Diego.

Register today!

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Your worm bin should be as a moist a wrung out sponge. A great way to find out if the moisture is just right is to do a squeeze test. Grab a handful of the castings in your bin. If water drips, your bin is too wet. If the castings do not stick much to your hand, it is likely your bin needs more water.

With the changing temperatures moving from summer to fall, be sure to keep an eye on the moisture of your bin. To make adding water more convenient, our Master Composters recommend keeping a spray bottle nearby. It is also great to moisten any paper you add to your bin before adding to keep your moisture levels up.

photo courtesy of http://growinggroceries.wordpress.com

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