Skinflint Sunday: Buy yourself hundreds of new friends.

In my last gardening post I think I mentioned that I’m not overly impressed with the soil that the landscaper bought for the garden beds. My plants are yellowing and not growing well. I’m composting like a mad woman (more on that in another post), but another way to improve soil is to get some worm action happening.

So I ordered 6 mini worm feeding stations and a bag of 1,000 worms. The feeding stations also come with a ‘worm bomb’ which is coir and worm eggs. I had them delivered to work, which freaked out a few people – one woman in particular who is scared of worms.

“Are they going to escape?” she asked.

“They’ve come from 2,000 miles away. If they were going to make a break for it they would’ve done it long before now!” I said.

It’s a very simple idea. The feeding stations are just plastic bins with a flip-top roof, with 9 holes drilled in the bottom. You place the feeders on the soil, put the worm bombs and worms in, water them and put some food in. Then leave them to it. The worms are able to leave the feeding station through the holes in the bottom. They roam around the garden bed, doing whatever it is that worms do, then they return to the feeding station when they’re hungry. If the weather is too hot or cold, they retreat to the soil for comfort, so they don’t boil themselves alive.

The idea I have is that every 6 months or so I can move them to another section so that over 18 months the whole bed will have worm castings through it. The entire wicking beds are one big container – the dividing timbers that split them into 3 are only along the top to strengthen the walls. So the worms would easily be able to find their food when I move them.

The worm company said that these feeding stations can also be used for dog droppings, so I’ve decided to give it a go. I’ve put the bin in one of the original garden beds at the back of the yard, where (hopefully) the poor unfortunate worms will learn to feast on poo. So far, after a month or so, it doesn’t look like they are that desperate, but I’ll leave it go a little while longer and see what happens.

At first things went along swimmingly. The worms were eating the food and appeared to be multiplying, the plants were yellowing but surviving and the days grew warmer.

But in the last week, we’ve had a few days of mid 20’s and the black feeding stations are cooking up. What will they be like when temperatures reach the 30’s or 40’s? I decided to make an experiment.

 

After I recorded a podcast, (which was exciting. It’s my first podcast interview), I grabbed my bean seeds and some bamboo stakes and I headed outside. My ‘halpers’ positioned themselves strategically, so that I couldn’t try and sneak past them without them knowing, and I built my first ever tripods.

 

My thinking is that as the beans grow, they’ll shield the feeding stations from the sun and make the environment within seem slightly less steamy than a Turkish sauna. There are no strings across the front because that’s where the lid flips open.

The first one has Lazy Housewife beans planted. These never did well for me in the old house but I’m going to give them another try. Blogless Sandy always had good crops from them.

The other 4 feeding stations have Berlotti beans planted. Hopefully, we’ll have some dried beans to eat over winter that we grew ourselves! (I say ‘we’. Remember my ‘halpers’? It’s not as if the boys ever do anything out here!)

It was about this time that I realised I had mismatched shoes.

Have I ever mentioned how much I like podcasts? A world of information and entertainment for free. I started off listening to UK FI Pod’s interview with Ken from The Humble Penny, which I enjoyed, then moved on to finishing up Casefile’s ‘The Toy Box’, which was horrific, then finished with the latest from ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’. Financial independence to true crime to comedy. Lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Then I got wildly excited. See this fake cabbage moth thing? Cabbage moths are very territorial. They are supposed to see these things and fly away, thinking that the garden bed is already taken.

OMG. As I stood not 2 feet away, a cabbage moth fluttered over, hovered near the fake one and then flew off, over the back fence and over the church, away to wreak havoc somewhere else. I truly didn’t think this would work, but maybe it does. I don’t have chooks to feed the caterpillars to anymore, so I really hope this does the trick.

Snow peas! These were from some of the very old seeds that I planted last month as an experiment.

Two weeks ago, when my friends and I went to Heronswood nursery in Dromana, I bought a few seedlings. These are the Tromboncino zucchini seedlings. This garden bed will be planted with shade-loving plants when the roof over the lower level goes up, so I thought I’d make the most of the opportunity and plant some veggies down there for this year. The plastic container is grabbing the water from the outlet from the wicking bed above.

Here’s why it was dripping. I was watering in the cucumber and beans I planted. Bev from Foodnstuff gave me some Purple King bean seeds years ago. I kept sowing them and saving seed. These ones are 6 years old, but I’ll bet some of them germinate.

All up, I planted 4 cucumber, 4 chillies, 4 capsicum and about a million beans. The last few photos have been for Angela, who likes gardening too.

By the time I came in, Jeff was out cold. I’ve just finished a refreshing chardonnay before I go out and water. He’ll probably still be there, blissfully ignorant that he’s been on his own.

 

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This entry was posted in gardening, Quality of life, Skinflint, vegetables, wicking beds. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Skinflint Sunday: Buy yourself hundreds of new friends.

  1. Urspo says:

    I miss gardening, so reading your industry is a comfort for me.

  2. foodnstuff says:

    Ha! I made some of those cabbage butterfly things. Cut them out of some white plastic and stuck them on sticks all through the brassica plants. They seemed to work at first but I think the butterflies either got wise or desperate because I still got caterpillars. Now I just put nets over and beware! it has to be fine. They will get through the standard quarter inch mesh. I watched one neatly fold her wings and get through. I went to Spotlight and bought metres and metres of mosquito netting and it did the trick.

    Good idea to shade the worm boxes with plants. More permaculture thinking! I expect the worm food will be kitchen scraps. They say the finer the better, i.e. some recommend chopping in a food processor. I did try the Thermomix once but couldn’t be bothered doing it all the time and having to clean the thing. I just put the scraps in the worm farm as is and wait for them to rot down. The worms will do their thing when the stuff gets soft and rotten enough.

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