Harvesting the castings....
Continuing along from last week's post, my time in the yard was spent on with the plans to get things ready for the Spring crops.. One thing I needed to get organised now, is the worm casings.. I like to use the castings in the soil beds, as they not only contain nutrients for the plants but also has beneficial microbes & enzymes that help break down organic matter into plant available nutrients.. This is one all purpose fertiliser that I have had great results with & it is very easy to make once you buy or wrangle some worms..
I decided to make a start on collecting the worms from the bathtub farm we have under the house with the barrel farms being left for a later harvest..
I like to feed one end of the bath at a time & rest the other end until it is ready to harvest from.. The ½ that was harvested this week was fed with "Worm Smoothies" for about 3 months then left for another 2 months to make sure everything was processed well & ready to be harvested.. This also gives most of the worms a chance to move up to the other end of the bed that is being fed..
I used to worry about removing every worm from the castings when they were harvested but now don't bother.. I think they will be more than happy with the manures & mulches in the garden beds the castings are added too.. When harvesting the worms I like to use my hands as much as I can, so I don't slice any of the squirmers in 2..
Once the castings are removed a new batch of screened horse manure is added to the harvested end of the bed.. I like to add quite a lot as it does tend to settle a bit..
A worm "smoothie", made up from kitchen scraps put through the food processor, was then added to the top of the manure (top right).. Preparing their food this way isn't needed but I like to as I find they chew through it faster.. On top of that I then placed a layer of freshly shredded bills & seed catalogues from last year.. I thought it was a very fitting end for last season's Eden Seeds & Green Harvest catalogues : )» Worms love chewing through paper & it takes no time at all for it to be eaten.. I don't add the glossy printed paper, only soaked news paper, bills & plain brown cardboard..
Around 30L of worm castings were collected from the farm so I was mighty pleased with that.. Some has already been used to make up a small batch of worm cast tea that will be used to feed the newly planted & remaining brassicas in the patch.. Should help to give the kale & broccoli seedlings a nice jump start I think..
Will be doing a post on the worm cast tea & how it will be used to help "activate" some Biochar in the coming weeks..
Bit's from the patch
One of the IBC beds down the back of the property was fed with some castings, screened horse manure & covered in mulch before being planted out with some Tuscan kale..
The seedlings were all planted on top a small handful of worm castings then watered in with some of the freshly brewed castings tea..
6 broccoli seedlings we have were also sown out the same way into an asparagus bed out the front..
They are the "Di Ciccio" heirloom variety, so am planning on letting them go to seed after the main heads are taken off.. The plan is to save some seed to share out to folks next year..
We were also very lucky to receive the gift of 2 IBC totes from some very generous people..
THANK YOU AGAIN & we are all extremely grateful for your generosity ; )» We have a few different plans for the front & back yard, so I'm not sure if they will be used for the fish farm or as wicking beds.. It all depends on when I can get the parts needed for the fish farm at the moment..
Plans for the Aquaponics...
The fish farm is also waiting on the removal of one more wicking bed to the front yard, where it will be used as one of the yacon beds.. Once that is done a start can be made on the fish farm & then the makeover I have planned for the aquaponics system can take place.. Some of the fish need to be moved from the aquaponics into the fish farm set up before I can do that though so it will be a little while away yet I think.. I could get long winded here but instead here is a bit of a clip on the plans Bianca & I have come up with for the reworking of the aquaponics..
Harvests from the Patch...
Had a bit of an issue with one of the fish today... I think it had a swimbladder disorder so we decided to pull it from the system & dispatch it...
It weighed in at 410g so while not one of the biggest fish we have I think it is still a fair size.. It has been cleaned & is being cooked up right now for Bianca's dinner tonight..
The strawberries are slowly ripening up a few at the time.. Koo & I have been going down together to pick them just to make certain the other isn't pinching any ; D»
The last of the current cauliflower crop has been harvested..The pickings in this pic were used in an AWESOME brassica salad that was stretched out over 2 nights meals..
Started to harvest some of the pigeon pea seeds this afternoon.. Will be saving the first few dozen for planting & collecting the rest to make some hummus from.. Really looking forward to eating hummus made from mostly home grown ingredients..
That's about it for this week.. Hope you've enjoyed a look at the going's on in the patch this week..
Have a great one all..