Monday, May 11, 2009

That many worms, really?

This weekend it was time to harvest the finished worm castings (an amazing organic matter soil supplement) from my worm bin, as the worms had finished eating all of the kitchen scraps and had fully decomposed their newspaper bedding as well.  This happens a few times a year.   My method was to dump the castings and worms into a large container, and sit the container in the sun.  As the worms burrowed down to get out of the sun, I scooped off the top layer of castings and put them in a bucket. Wriggle and slime on down, scoop; wriggle and slime on down, scoop; wriggle and slime on down, scoop; repeat until all that is left is a pile of worms!

In the end, I had a beautiful bucket of worm castings which I placed around my tomatoes, and an amazing number of worms, ready to go back into new newspaper bedding and start working again to turn kitchen scraps into the most amazing soil supplement ever.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm not the only one eating the vegetables

Well, you know that the vegetable garden is in full swing when the insects get to the vegetables before you do.  The many, large holes in this bok choy were from the beetles you see here.  I have not identified the exact species yet, and my control was to harvest the last of this crop (and the beetles with it), as the beetles seemed to limit themselves to the bok choy only.  The holes in the leaves did not in any way affect the taste of these lovely greens.

The beetles aren't the only bug in the garden this week.  My cauliflower, cabbage, and especially my Russian kale have the first tiny, pale green cabbage loopers (caterpillars), found nestled next to the mid-ribs of the leaves.  They are munching only tiny holes now, but will completely skeletonize a plant in days once they get a bit larger.  I treated them with Dipel, with the active ingredient BT, a caterpillar disease.  It will not harm the bees or any beneficial insects.  Note: if you don't pick them off before cooking the vegetables, the caterpillars very helpfully turn bright yellow on cooking, and are much easier to see and remove.

Look at the beautiful sugar snap peas, bok choy, and mixed lettuces picked for dinner!