Following on from previous article in our Edible Garden Series creating an edible garden part 4
Following on from last week’s issue where we discussed composting in our Edible Garden Series, I thought it would be valuable to discuss worm farms. If you have never made compost before, a worm farm is a really easy way to start making compost on a small scale. Worm farms can be bought from garden centres and hardware stores, you can also purchase them online.
The prefabricated units are easy to handle, light weight and durable. The worm farms are normally built in 3 or 4 trays which stack on top of each other, there are holes between each layer which allows the worms to travel between each layer. As they digest the food, the worm castings (worm poo) and worm woo (worm wee) filter down through the layers to the bottom. You end up with a layer of fine, highly organic compost material in the bottom tray and also a liquid solution of worm urine which is a fabulous fertiliser for your garden.
The worm farms usually have a on off tap on the bottom of the unit where you can pour out the liquid bi-products. The rich brown liquid is full of nutrients, beneficial microbes and organic matter. This is quite strong so it is best to mix with water so that it’s a light brown colour. It can then be used on all plants and it can be poured directly over the foliage of plants as liquid fertiliser.
A worm can eat its own body weight each day in food. It isn’t an exact rocket science to make compost but you need to know what to add as with any form of composting. Only add organic things to the compost such as fruit and vegetable scraps, soft garden cuttings, tea leaves, coffee grounds and crushed egg shells. You can also add wet newspaper or cardboard. Ideally all of these should all be cut up into small size pieces.
You should not add any heavy wood, onion, garlic, dairy products, eggs, chilli, meat products, weeds and only small amounts of citrus. The main thing to consider is to only add natural food and to keep the pieces small as worms will need to do the hard work and digest this matter.
One thing not to forget is to take the little plastic sticker off the skins of your fruit such as mandarin or avocado skins. A worm farm is completely self-contained, it is small enough to fit into most size gardens – some people even use them in balcony gardens. You need to locate the worm farms out of direct sunlight and protected from the rain.
Worm farms are well worth investigating as useful additions to your garden
Another way to use compost in your garden is to create a compost tea. This, in short, is compost left to steep in water for a week or two to allow the nutrients within the compost to seep out and create a plant tonic that can be used on all plants.
This tonic will have the added benefits of increasing the microbial activity in the soil. This in turn should help protect the plants from disease. It will also break down more organic matter and add nutrients to the soil.
It has also been said it will increase the nutritional quality and flavour of your vegetables. It is a very simple task to create a compost tea, almost as easy as making a cup of tea.
You will need a shovel full of compost, some shade cloth or old stocking like material (some type of material that will be permeable), a bucket and a stick or garden tool that can be used for stirring. Use approximately half a shovel or 2.5 litres of compost per 9 litre bucket of water. Fill the material you have chosen with the compost, secure the opening of the material and then let it stand in a bucket of water – almost like a tea bag. You will need to lift the “Tea Bag” up and down in the water (jiggle it). You will also need to stir the water say 2 times a day. After about 7 to 10 days, you will have your compost tea. This will need to be watered down or weakened before using it on your plants. I would dilute this concentrate down so it is the colour of weak tea. This compost tea will make your compost go further. It can be used as a foliar spray or it can be used as soil drench. You can also mix the tea with a seaweed emulsion which will be an amazing boost for your plants.
I hope this Edible Garden Series has been helpful to you in your vegetable growing.
If you have any areas of gardening you would like me to focus on in upcoming articles, please let me know. If you would like to read the total Edible Garden Series in one go, you can subscribe to my free newsletter by going to www.tinyletter.com/glenicebuckdesigns or email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone or text me on 0417 077 386.
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