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Shrubs for Low Mainentenance Garden

posted by: garden60 on 10.24.2008 at 08:17 am in Shrubs Forum

I have a huge perennial garden that wraps around the outside of my back yard (100'x30', plus 75'x10'). I am tired of perennials, cutting, dividing, etc. I want a more maintenance-free garden using a variety of shrubs, various texture and leaf color w/flowering, and then add more color with annuals. I live in Minnesota. Any suggestions?

NOTES:

Good ideas for shrubs.
clipped on: 09.01.2009 at 11:04 pm    last updated on: 09.01.2009 at 11:04 pm

RE: Need help with raised bed plan (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: Ray_Scheel on 06.23.2005 at 03:21 pm in Square Foot Gardening Forum

For the best durability, the posts are going to have to extend to the top of the bed.

For the basics on this sort of construction, look at:
http://www.diynet.com/diy/diy_kits/article/0,2019,DIY_13787_2274670,00.html
or
http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=howTo&p=Build/BuildSandbox.html&topic=howToLibrary

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clipped on: 06.17.2009 at 12:22 am    last updated on: 06.17.2009 at 12:22 am

RE: Plans for a homemade vermicomposter?? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: boreal_wormer on 04.04.2005 at 01:48 pm in Vermicomposting Forum

Hi

Here's a plan by Kelly Slocum a frequent contributor to these forums.

To build a home made Rubbermaid style worm bin:

Materials: Opaque plastic bin with lid.

Half-inch drill bit suitable for drilling through plastic.

Enough foam packing peanuts (not the cornstarch variety!) to cover the bin floor 2" deep.

Two pieces of half-inch hardware cloth cut to fit inside the bin.

One piece of landscape fabric (shade cloth) cut to fit between the hardware cloth sheets.

Enough rotted manure, compost or vermicompost to cover the bin floor 4" deep as your initial bedding layer.

Drill half-inch holes two inches apart in the sides of the bin 2" below the upper lip and 1.5" up from the bin floor. These holes ensure sufficient aeration in the bedding. They do not need to be covered to prevent worms escaping or flies from entering the system. There is no way to make a healthy worm bin either contain worms who don't want to be there or prevent other bugs from entering the system, regardless of what you might hear to the contrary, and we neither need nor want to do so anyway. We're creating worm heaven, not worm prison, and the other organisms which will find their way into the bin are beneficial to the process and do not harm plants, animals or people.

Spread the packing peanuts over the bin floor. This peanut layer will create space beneath the bedding in the bin where excess moisture can drain, and creates a space through which oxygen can easily move. Drain rock can be used in place of packing peanuts, but they make the bin very heavy if you decide you want to move it later!

Sandwich the landscape fabric between the two pieces of hardware cloth and lay it on top of the packing peanuts. This hardware cloth acts as a false floor that supports the bedding but through which water and air can pass. The landscape fabric sandwiched between prevents finished vermicompost from filtering down into the peanut layer.

Spread the material for the initial bedding layer over the hardware cloth floor; add your worms and you're good to go!

Feed the system by spreading whatever feedstock you choose in a 1-2" layer over the initial bedding material. Cover the feedstock with an equally thin layer of compost, or shredded brown leaves, paper or cardboard (leaves are my personal favorite), which we'll call working bedding. Each time you feed, cover the feedstock with your choice of working bedding material. The working bedding balances the relatively high nitrogen in the feedstock with a rich source of carbon, ensuring good microbial activity in the system. Because it's a bulky material it helps to maintain space for oxygen movement through the bedding and because it tends to hold moisture well it helps to maintain a relatively constant moisture level. If the feedstock you're using is rather dry then the working bedding should be dampened before being added to the bin. If the feedstock is wet then the working bedding does not need to be moistened, but will absorb the moisture released by the feedstock as it breaks down.

How often to feed the system will depend on the worms. The next addition of food should be made when the worms are actively working in the previously added feed stock layer. The layer does not have to be gone, the worms just have to be working in it. As the system becomes more mature the amount of material you'll be able to feed will increase. Initially you may find that you can make only one or two additions of feedstock per week. In a fully charged, mature system it's not unusual to find you're able to feed it the same volume of material daily.

When the bin is filled to the top it's time to harvest. Once the worms have moved into the last feed stock addition, remove the top six inches of material from the system and set it aside. The vast majority of your worms will likely be in this material. The remaining vermicompost is then removed from the bin for use in the garden. The worm rich material you set aside goes into the bottom of the now empty bin, right on top of the hardware cloth layer just as you did with the initial bedding when you first started the bin. Feedstock is spread in a thin layer over the top of it and covered with working bedding. Thus, the system begins again!

The total cash outlay for a system like this is less than $15. Once you've gotten a taste of what home vermicomposting is like and determined it's a project you'd like to make a regular part of your home recycling regimen you can look into the more expensive units. Some of the commercial units do have bona fide advantages over home made units, but it's best to know the project is one you're going to want to continue before plunking down your hard earned cash!

For those who prefer to purchase a commercial unit right away, look at the bin reviews provided by Worm Digest and consider which concept most appeals to you. The worms don't care which bin you put them in provided their particular needs are met. Youll simply need to decide which concept you feel most comfortable working with.

Good luck! Kelly Slocum

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clipped on: 04.25.2009 at 05:44 pm    last updated on: 04.25.2009 at 05:44 pm

RE: vermicompost vs. composting... (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: joe.jr317 on 04.20.2009 at 01:16 pm in Vermicomposting Forum

Do both. I don't recommend a tumbler, personally, unless you have no other options. A commercial tumbler is too expensive in my opinion. And I have not heard any good reviews from people that actually have them, including Franklin College who uses them in their compost system. They said last year that the tumblers were a terrible disappointment considering the piles that were waiting to be placed in the tumblers were decomposing faster than the material in the actual tumblers. Essentially, my understanding is that the claim on 21 days is based on having all the materials at once. Not based on the feed as you go systems that you would use for kitchen scraps.

I have a family of 4 all week. 6 on weekends when my teenage son and daughter come over. My worms handle all the food waste, plus. Except those items I don't want them eating. Those go to the outside compost bin. Things like potato parts and onions, for example.

I use compost from my hot bins that has gone past the thermophilic stage for bedding in my worm bins. I have 5 worm bins. The tiered one sucks in comparison. It is a 5 level worm factory. It does the job of composting (slower), but not with results that are to my liking. My homemade bins have me spoiled now. The castings in the tiered bins grow anaerobic easily as the moisture from the upper levels seeps down and keeps the lower levels from getting as much oxygen. Not the kind of bacteria you really want. It's not going to hurt your garden, but the fresh castings that have aerobic microbes thriving will better inoculate your garden with the beneficial bacteria annuals (most veges) love.

I started out with approximately 1200 worms. 1000 were put in the worm factory. I ordered them online. As an experiment I started a homemade bin from a 14 gallon rubbermaid container and gathered worms from my uncle's horse manure spread. Long story short: My 200 free worms (if you don't count the labor of finding them) multiplied faster and eat more voraciously than the ones in the worm factory. Just to be sure it wasn't a matter of species difference, which there appeared to be none to me as they all had the same length and tell-tale yellow end (I'm no taxonomist), three months or so into it I made another homemade bin and used worms from the ones I originally ordered. In the homemade bin they did much better and have out paced those in the worm factory. I now have 4 homemade ones that could use dividing further while the worm factory still has yet to require dividing. One is specifically a breeding bin. My guess is that the free worms were more used to having to adapt because of the elemental issues they contend with that farmed worms are often protected from. That's just a guess, though.

Don't be discouraged by slow eating. Worms will eat best if the temps are at 70 degrees or so. They will also breed best in that range. Want them to breed faster? Use cornmeal. I have read several times that this is a "misconception". I'm convinced by my own eyes otherwise. The worms you order are used to a certain diet (which usually contains cornmeal and other grains) and environment. Your best activity will actually come from their children as they will be born into this new environment and won't have to adapt at all, so the first goal should be to get the ones you bought to breed. That is, after all, why you purchase breeders.

One last thing: Freeze your compostable kitchen scraps for worms. We put our scraps in a coffee can. Each day we put it in the freezer. The next day I take it out and let if thaw. The slow freezing breaks the cell walls of plants, which is why freezing your own food doesn't compare to the flash frozen food from the grocery. As it thaws, the tissue is softened for the worms and much of the excess moisture can be drained. This helps to control the ammonia produced by the decomposing food which can cause a bin to go "sour" (acidic).

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clipped on: 04.25.2009 at 05:18 pm    last updated on: 04.25.2009 at 05:19 pm

RE: Worm Bin (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: joe.jr317 on 04.20.2009 at 01:49 pm in Vermicomposting Forum

I just posted my experiences comparing the two types of bins in the "vermicomposting vs. composting" thread. A worm factory and the totes. I neglected to mention the totes are nested for drainage, though.

For your situation, if ease is preferred over function, go with the tiered worm factory. I'm in the same boat as Fagopher. My wife wanted something a little more aesthetic. My other bins are hidden away in my man cave.

I use the dump and sort method, but I don't dump the entire contents. You should plan your bin out to allow one side to become the new safe haven when it becomes time to harvest castings. Only feed from one side for a month or so. Let the food dwindle. Switch to the other side. Harvest the side that has castings when the food is gone. I make piles and use a light bulb to get the cacoons and any worms. The older worms will often try to use the old side for breeding, so don't assume that they are stragglers or stressed or dying. Breeders will sometimes separate themselves from the young if they can. I'm guessing because they can't mate with the young, but I don't know the exact reason. Maybe they are just annoyed by those crazy kids. If you want to attract the breeders, use cornmeal. Then you can set up another bed if you want to concentrate on propagation of more worms. Use the harvested breeders for a cacoon production bed and harvest cacoons every 2 to 3 weeks. Put the cacoons back in the bins for composting and you will see your composting take off in a couple of months. Or throw them in a cool compost pile to speed that process. Then again, you could just put them all back in the bin after replacing what you took out with new bedding.

Like mbetts, I even separate cacoons and worms from castings with the worm factory and I find it enjoyable. It's therapeutic. My wife and kids think it's disgusting.

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clipped on: 04.25.2009 at 05:12 pm    last updated on: 04.25.2009 at 05:12 pm

RE: Worm Bin (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: african on 04.20.2009 at 02:29 am in Vermicomposting Forum

Don't waste your money! For a very easy to make and effective DIY worm farm, complete with a tap spigot, check the link below.You don't have to be a handyman to construct this one.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hoe to Make your Own Worm Farm

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clipped on: 04.25.2009 at 05:06 pm    last updated on: 04.25.2009 at 05:06 pm

How I built my Tiered Wormary

posted by: vagas on 10.01.2007 at 06:53 am in Vermicomposting Forum

Ingredients

4 Stackable Storage tub (I uses 24ltrs) 2.50ea from Asda

1 Storage tub Lid 2.50 from Asda (Asda sells them separately)

1 sheet of fine mesh (I used old net Curtain)

2 house bricks (I found)

500g Dendra Worms and a tub of worm food around 12 including Del (from ebay)

Draft excluding tape (Found in my garage)

2 large handfuls of compost

3 sheets of news paper (tear up the newspaper into strips).

Water tap (Nice but not necessary, I havent)

DO NOT OVERFEED YOU WILL KILL YOUR WORMS

Method:

1. Place the first tub on the floor. Fit the water tape if you are going to use it. Put the 2 bricks inside that tub.
2. Get the second tub Drill 6 holes about an inch in diameter in the bottom of the tub. One in each corner one inch from the side and then 2 in the middle. Just sand paper the edges of the holes just to take off and sharp edges.
3. Place the second tub inside the first and rest it on the bricks. Lay the Mesh or net curtain in the bottom if the tub. This is to stop the worms falling into the bottom tub. So make sure all the holes are covered up. Water still needs to be able to get through. Put the compost and torn up newspaper into a clean bucket (or you can use one of the tubs that you have not used yet). Mix this all together and dampen with water. It should be as damp as a rung out bath sponge (NOT WET). Mix the damped mixture well and add this to your tub, make sure all the holes are still covered. Spread this out all on the bottom.
4. Place the worms on top, leave them for about ten minutes and your worms should have migrated into the compost. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of the worm food over the soil and paper.
5. Put the lid on and leave for one week. If your lid fits very tight then dont bother using the insulating tape. However if flies seem to be getting through add the tape to make it tight.
6. When this Tub is 3/4 full. Drill the same holes into the second tub, place it on top and start filling that up with your scraps. Your worms will start to migrate upwards into the second tub. When this is 3/4 of the way full place the third tub on top with holes in and start filling that up. When this is 3/4 of the way full, most of your worms will be out of the bottom tub because all of the food will be gone. Lift the top 2 tubs off and take the bottom tub out that is filled with Worm castings and put back the other 2 tubs. Empty the first tub and use the casting but place it back in the top and start filling with scraps. Repeat when necessary.

DO NOT OVERFEED YOU WILL KILL YOUR WORMS

Feeding:
Just put a handful of scraps in at a time. Wait until the previous handful has nearly gone before adding more. Try and put in a handfull of shredded paper, either newspaper or shredded junk mail in every couple of times you feed.

In time you will find you can put more in at a time.

Let your scraps decompose for a bit before putting the in. What I do is have a container in your kitchen for a week filling up. Then put it in the frezzer for a week (to kill fly eggs) then leave it in the garage for a week (all with the lid on tight) and then on the third week put it in the wormery.

Hows that?
And question, comments or improvement will be appreciated

Paul

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clipped on: 04.11.2009 at 11:58 pm    last updated on: 04.11.2009 at 11:58 pm