Anniversary Worms

Oct. 22, 2010

Happy anniversary, dear, here’s 2,000 red wigglers!

By Jim PathFinder Ewing

Last week, we described how we made cold frames for growing winter vegetables and noted using worm castings.

Worm castings, though a bit pricey, are great for the garden!

Each year, weeks before our wedding anniversary, my beautiful wife Annette and I contemplate what we will do to celebrate. This year, after much discussion, we came upon: Worms! (Yes, it was mutual!)

While we have a can we use to hold kitchen waste as a composter, we now also have a device called Can-O-Worms that holds compost and about 2,000 worms in it. When it matures over time to its full capacity in two to five years, it will hold 15,000 to 20,000 worms. It’s next to the trash can in the kitchen, and produces a “tea” or liquid worm manure for use in the garden.

You don’t have to get that serious about your composting. But buying a bag or two of worm castings from your local garden supply store will go a long way toward an abundant crop.

Now that, presumably, your 4-by-8-foot “Jims Plot” is producing fresh, organic greens, here are some recipes from Annette:

Any Greens Basic Recipe: This may be a little different than the greens you may be used to. Use either short cooking greens (i.e. mustard, turnip, mizuna, arugula) or longer cooking greens (i.e., collards, kale, broccoli leaves, cabbage leaves).

Because of the different cooking times, 3-5 minutes for the short and 7-10 minutes for the long, I usually don’t combine them. Taste the greens as you cook, and stop cooking when they are to your desired tenderness.

Saute chopped onion to taste, with meat if desired. The meat can be nearly anything: leftover chicken or beef chopped fine, sausage, bacon, ham, ground beef or ground turkey. When browned to taste, add washed and chopped greens, a sprinkle of sea salt, a splash or two of apple cider or balsamic vinegar and a touch of sugar, if desired. Some like these with hot sauce sprinkled liberally on top.

Note: For health and flavor, we prefer to use sea salt that is unrefined. Refined sea salt is the same as table salt – stripped of the minerals that give it character and boost its nutritive value.

Reader feedback:

When cold threatens, put a sprinkler on a post in the middle of your garden and turn it on to “wash off” frost before it forms.

(Note: There are no “dumb” questions. We write this article for beginners.) To pick your greens, pinch off the larger leaves on the outside, leaving the smaller inside leaves to grow. As they grow, they are pushed outside as larger leaves. That way, you are always growing new greens as you eat your pickings. Pinching them, using thumbnail to cut the stem, rather than cutting with a blade, allows the stems to heal more quickly. They’ll just keep on producing until winter. But don’t pull them up. With Mississippi’s often mild winters, some of them might go dormant and pop back up in the spring. We also allow our plants to “go to seed” at ShooFly Farm.

Some of our turnips, okra, etc., have been “volunteering” back for years, though we have rotated our fields to other crops. (Another advantage to laissez faire weeding!)

Contact Jim Ewing on Twitter @OrganicWriter, or @edibleprayers or Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc

online

School Kids Wild About Vermiculture: http://bit.ly/a2WFhp

Worm Farming Blog: http://www.worm-farming.org

benefits of worm castings

Extract toxins and harmful fungi and bacteria from the soil, helping plants fight diseases.

Prevent extreme pH levels, allowing plants to better absorb nutrients.

Stimulate plant growth, also development of micro flora in the soil.

Increase ability of soil to retain water.

Increase soil nitrogen levels in a state the plant can easily use.

One tablespoon provides enough nutrients to feed a 6-inch potted plant for more than two months.

Source: http://www.tastefulgarden. Com

(Note: Column edited to remove partial recipe.)

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