compost

Feeding the worms

When feeding worms, it is important to remember a few key tips:

1. The smaller the better. Smaller pieces of food will break down faster, thus speeding up the composting process. Chopping large chunks of food to feed worms is recommended but not necessary. You can puree, freeze, or microwave food scraps before adding them to your worm composter to help break down material. Make sure that food has returned to room temperature before adding it to your worm bin.

You can chop your worm’s food to speed up the composting process
You can chop your worm’s food to speed up the composting process. You can also freeze the food to speed up the process and to avoid vinegar flies (fruit flies).

2. The frequency and volume that you feed worms will depend on you and your family. You can add new food to the feeding tray at any time. Worms can eat up to half their weight in food per day in a fully established, well managed vermicomposter. Make sure that worms are actively engaged in eating the food you added most recently in the top feeding tray before adding more food. If they are not, this is a sign of overfeeding. On average, most people can fill a tray in about one month. It may take shorter or longer than that depending on how much kitchen waste you generate.

Make sure your worms are engaged with the last food you added before adding more. (Image courtesy of Albert Tansey, New Hampshire)

Make sure your worms are engaged with the last food you added before adding more.
(Image courtesy of Albert Tansey, New Hampshire)

What to feed worms in a worm bin:

compostables

When you feed worms always try to add equal portions of greens and browns!

Greens: Vegetable and fruit scraps, bread, pasta, coffee grounds and filters, teabags, dead plant matter from houseplants

Browns: Paper, junk mail, paper egg cartons, cardboard, dry leaves

All organic material will break down, some faster than others; however, there are some suggested foods to avoid:

Salty foods, citrus, spicy foods, oils (like those found in salad dressing), prepackaged foods with preservatives, meat and dairy products because they attract flies and can cause the vermicomposter to smell.

The Difference between BROWNS and GREENS as compost ingredients

This is a popular question among many first composters or organic gardeners. Regardless of the name, “Browns” and “Greens” are not differences in physical color. It is more technical than that. These terms are functions of the C:N (Carbon to Nitrogen) ratios in all once living creatures, plant or animal.

Browns and greens are nicknames for different types of organic matter to use in composting.

Browns to feed worms in a worm bin

Browns to feed worms in a worm bin

Greens to feed worms in a worm bin

Greens to feed worms in a worm bin

Browns are high in carbon or carbohydrates, thus they are organic carbon sources. These foods supply the energy that most soil organisms need to survive. Carbons also help absorb the offensive odors and capture and help prevent most of the organic nitrogen in the piles from escaping by evaporation or leaching. Carbons are also essential in the faster formation of humus from the organic matter in a composting process.

Greens are high in nitrogen or protein, thus organic nitrogen sources. These products help the composting microherd to grow, breed, and multiply fast in the piles, thus creating extreme internal temperatures in hot compost piles.

A simple test to determine if your organic matter is a “green” or a “brown”, is to wet it, and wait a few days. If it stinks, it is definitely a green. If not, it’s a brown.

 

Article is a repost from Nature’s Footprint.

 

Our adventure with the worms was great fun. Those who were a little dubious about touching them overcame that by the end of our session.

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Tri-Color Beans

The kindergarten class planted Tricolor beans. Each child planted one seed in a pot with their name on it. Two weeks later the children took home their very own bean plants and ruler. The fast growing plant is a perfect way for the kids to learn more about measuring. We reviewed how to measure accurately using inches. Within 2 weeks one bean had grown 9 inches. At the same time another plant was just sprouting. This lead to a wonderful discussion on comparing different stages of growth and what seeds need to grow. The children were able to see how the seed opened in half and forms the first leaves. With 24 plants it was easy to capture the plant in most of the earlier stages and point this out to the children.  The children will measure their plants daily and care for them at home. Most children loved the fact that they have their very own ruler!

Digging for treasures

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IMG_3527The Room 2 Kindergarden students had a blast digging for potatoes in their garden bed last week.  Out of three potatoes, we got about twelve in various sizes. It was sheer joy for the children when pulling them out of the ground. Some of them didn’t even want to stop digging and go back into classroom. Next time we meet we’ll have a feast of organic, potato chips (see recipe below) that they grew all by themselves in their own school garden.

We planted the potatoes in late December and harvested it four months later. Growing potatoes in our garden bed was perfect since during Winter our area has only a few hours of sun. Other root vegetables besides potatoes that are fun to plant with children are radishes, carrots and beets. 

Continue reading “Digging for treasures”

Saving Pea Seeds

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To save the pea seeds we planted in Fall we let the pods dry completely out on the vine. The children were very excited to see that there were seeds inside the brown, dead plant. We talked about where seeds come from, how things grow, that the seeds are waiting for the perfect condition for germination; moist soil, water, heat (sun) and oxygen (air).

You can easily save pea and bean seeds by allowing the pods to ripen on the plants until they’re dry and starting to turn brown, with the seeds rattling inside. This may be as long as a month after you would normally harvest the peas or beans to eat. Strip the pods from the plants and spread them out to dry indoors. They should dry at least two weeks before shelling, or you can leave the seeds in the pods until planting time. Now we have peas to plant for next Fall!

For more information on how to save the seeds and how to store them click here.

by Sara (Kindergarden, Room 2)

Garden bed with pea plant