Sunday, March 27, 2011


The county has a local SmartGardening series they put on throughout the region highlighting the benefits of composting.  They sell traditional compost bins along with worm bins to anyone interested.  I've always been somewhat interested in this endeavor,  I have read that worm castings and tea are some of the most beneficial fertilizers one can provide for their plants.  Plus, I've always liked worms, especially on the end of a hook.

So for $65 I got a Wriggly Wranch stackable worm bin, which included a coconut coir brick (bedding) and a 1/2 pound of "red wiggler" composting worms to get started.  Apparently the traditional garden worm or nightcrawler is not the best "variety" for composting.  I was handed a small sack containing the worms, but when I got everything set up and dumped the worms in, I found that the 1/2 pound of worms was really 1/2 pound of castings/dirt and just a handful of worms.  I was expecting a spaghetti-ball of slimy goodness, but what I got was maybe 50 or so.

I needed a worm fix, and fast.

After a bit of online searching, I found this "dealer," Steve, located in Northridge.  I came across a blog post by a woman who went to Steve's house to buy worm castings ($1 a pound,)  but then wrote about how unkempt and dirty the guy's house was.  She talked about how nice the old man was and how he allowed her in to his backyard to show her his setup (at her request), but then talks shit (and not from the worm) about him in her post. Not cool.

I send the guy an email inquiring about his prices and he promptly gets back to me with his price:  $25 a pound - cash.   He explains that he works out of his house (like most dealers I've arrested)  and that he is available at all hours (also like most dealers I've arrested) - provided I give him a couple hours notice to get everything ready, oh and don't forget - bring cash!

Please don't tell anyone I spent $25 for worms, but his price was actually very reasonable compared to what I found online.  One place was selling them for $40, plus shipping! However, you get approximately one thousand worms per pound, that's alot of hungry garbage chewers.

So after a visit to the mall and dinner at Claim Jumper, I called Steve and told him that we were 5 minutes out.  "I have them ready for you," he told me, "remember to bring cash."   We swung by his house and he met me at the door.  He hands me a damp pizza box containing some of the bedding the worms were living in, and I hand over my cash.  He then produced a coffee can full of worms and spread them out into the pizza box.  A spaghetti-ball of slimy goodness. He tells me, put the pizza box in the wormery, they love to eat corrugated  cardboard.

I told Steve my wife probably wouldn't appreciate the worms slithering out of the unsecured box and into our brand-new car during the ride home, so he generously offered a couple of plastic bags to contain the mess.  In all, Steve was very nice and answered a few of my questions before I left.

We got home and I dumped 'em into their new home.  They've got plenty to eat and lots of work to do. I will keep you posted on their progress.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Seedlings and more

I've enjoyed everyone's photos of their seedling progress, so I figured I'd put mine up as well.  I'm growing some new tomato varieties this year including Mortgage Lifter, Caspian Pink, as well as Brandy Boy - a hybrid variety of my favorite Brandywine which promises better yields and disease-resistance compared to the heirloom.  I'm a bit skeptical, but have read rave reviews. We'll have to see how it turns out.

I started my seeds in the Bio Dome again as I was very pleased with how it worked out last year.  It's time to break out the red cups for the tomatoes!

The compost pile I started at the end of last summer is nice and dark now, and will be ready for the spring planting.  I added some to the pot of lettuce still growing and it made quite the difference.   I really enjoy the convenience of snipping fresh, homegrown lettuce from the pots on the patio. 

Sweet Mint
Romaine and Spinach

The Swiss Chard is ready and the colors are phenomenal. They say Swiss Chard is good for the brain, but why do these leaves have to look like little green brain hemispheres?

Swiss Chard
I planted some garlic last fall among the lettuce and chard and while it seems to be doing okay, I'm concerned it won't be ready before I have to make way for the peppers/tomatoes for the summer.  Let's see if we can get it done before the end of April!