Monthly Archives: September 2013

Vermicompost

I set up my worm bin in a corner of the garage the first week of June. I collect all the kitchen scraps in a bucket, and feed the worms with that once a week. Not a very labor intensive livestock. After a few weeks the tray gets pretty full and I add another tray on top. After my shoulder surgery I sometimes skipped a week or two but the worms were content munching on their bedding of coconut fiber, newspaper and peanut shells.  They’ll eat just about anything made of carbon: paper, lint, dog hair; but they’re not fond of protein, fat, or citrus.
I finally put the worm bin on rollers so I can move it out to the doorway to catch some fresh air.

The first harvestable product, which I had forgotten about until it spilled over the side of the bin, is the leachate. This is all the extra fluid that has worked it’s way down through the bin tiers. That dark liquid holds lots of nutrients and diluted makes an excellent fertilizer for potted plants. When I realized the tap had been shut for two months, I tapped off about a quart and a half.

The most important products are the castings, or worm poop. This is where all the microflora and fauna are living. The castings can be fed to your soil, either in this form, or in the form of a compost tea. Peanuts make a fun bedding for the worms, lots of air pockets to crawl into, but they take a really long time to break down. I’ll have to sift this once it has dried enough to handle. Then I’ll start brewing some tea!

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Where has the year gone?

I thought I’d put an update on the blogosphere about how things were going here at Windhaven and was shocked to see when I last posted.  The best way to describe the year so far is green and complicated.  We finally got lots of rain and broke out of drought but life got very complicated.  My Dad died in late April and we spent most of May in Montreal.  When we returned we picked up our new pup, and I promptly had shoulder surgery to repair some damage I had done during my office renovation last fall.  What can I say? I’m stubborn and once I got started plastering the ceiling, I couldn’t stop.

As a result of these complications, despite all the rain, the only thing I grew in my garden, was weeds and grass (which grows really well in Oklahoma).  Some of the weeds grew higher than our roofline.  The few perennials that did survive were, yet again, attacked by grasshopper (who by the way don’t eat grass).

However, I did manage some cultivation. After taking a day long workshop on soil microfauna and the uses of compost teas, I decided to try my hand again at vermiculture. The worms arrived a few days before my surgery. They’re little red wigglers, the perfect kind for worm composting. Of course the worms arrived a few days before their worm bin so I had to set them up temporarily in a bucket.

I also attempted to harvest wild yeast for a sourdough starter. It was impressive at first but the harvest wasn’t sustained. Not entirely unusual. Apparently the prairies are not known for their wild yeasts.

As my shoulder improved rapidly, I got permission to take my first woodturning class. I’ve had a lathe for years (a reward to myself for some carving sales), but I had never gotten around to teaching myself how to do it. The local technology school was offering some classes, so I signed up. Apparently, I have a latent talent for woodturning because my tool really turned out nicely. After class I excitedly cleaned up my own lathe and set up the practice piece from class. I turned it on and confidently got to work turning my little block of wood into a honey dipper (I’d found Youtube instructions for it). I was not ten minutes into my new project when the wood stopped spinning. When you leave a tool idle for ten years, things tend to gum up or deteriorate. The motor was spinning but the belt was completely shredded.  Of course that part is no longer readily available, so I’ll have to wait a month to fix my lathe. At least there’s another class this weekend to keep my new skills honed.

Introducing: Oscar!

After we found Dumpling, I felt more and more that I wanted to find a new dog that would be right for our little family.  Dumpling was too young for D’Argo’s taste and I didn’t really want to deal with all the growling.  So all through this Spring, I found it therapeutic to go through the Petfinder.com listings of all the dogs available for adoption (there were hundreds of them).  I found Oscar’s picture in April at the Seminole Humane Society with two of his siblings, and my heart melted.

I knew we would likely have to make a trip to Montreal, but I introduced myself to the president of the Society, telling her our current dilemma, and that we already had a dog who was sometimes iffy with puppies.  The president wrote to me immediately and it was obvious that she didn’t want to lose us as potential adopters.  We arranged to meet Oscar and introduce him to D’Argo.  The meet went better than expected as it turned out the pup was more than eight months old instead of the original estimate of six.  It was obvious right away that Peter was in love and we adopted him that day with the understanding that they would continue to board him with his siblings until we returned from Montreal.

I picked up Oscar the day after we returned from Montreal. Thankfully the terrible storms and tornadoes earlier in the week had missed Seminole. We had listened all the way home, hoping he would remain safe, although we did get him microchipped the day we adopted him.

He wasn’t very happy about his first ride but he settled in rather quickly.  He and D’Argo started playing together, and D’Argo showed Oscar the best places to dig.

We have no idea what mix Oscar is.  Of all my dogs, he’s the one I might get a DNA test done on.  But he’s a real charmer.  Loves all people, and as far as we can tell, all dogs.  Hasn’t been cat tested, although the one stray he’s seen he did want to chase. He would LOVE to chase a car, if he was ever given the chance.

Oscar is now a year old and he’s Daddy’s little pup.