Harvest of the Worms

This morning, on a gorgeous and sunny Easter Sunday, we anxiously awaited the arrival of Darren Murphey, owner of Sierra Worm Solutions. Today was the day! We were going to harvest our first batch of worm castings from our large bin out back. When he first arrived, we unloaded the new Can-O-Worms that he also supplies us with. However, this time there was an extra-added treat. Instead of just bringing the bins, he had taken the time to fill them with worms and bedding so that they were ready to go for people to really see what the system was all about. He brought three “ready – to – go” with him, and two more for us to have on sale at the store.

After a brief demonstration of these in home/garage worm bins, we ventured out back to start the harvest of our bin. A large group had gathered by this point and everyone was excited to see the progress that had transpired since we installed the bin last September. This is where a small amount of disappointment came in. Just two weeks ago, we had been out to the bin after a class to show everyone how the worms had not only wintered over, but also thrived in their warm little habitat. We had thousands of them crawling around amongst the left over pumpkin skins and we knew that it was going to be a great harvest. When we opened the bin--------------No Worms---------on the surface area at least. This is where Michelle started to get worried. It seems that Darren had called her at the beginning of the month and asked her not to water or feed the worms anymore until we did the harvest. He was concerned that it would be to wet and we would not have good results. The one thing he hadn’t counted on is that Michelle had been taking extra special care of “her” bin, and that our worms were very, very happy. After the initial shock of not seeing any worms, he told us what happened. We had not killed off our worms, whehhh……..we had just sent them south…that is, and they had gone deeper into the bed in search of moisture and food. Once we started gently digging around the sides of the bins we saw large amounts, but with the way there were now arranged in the bin, it was going to make it very hard to harvest the castings. Darren made the decision to hold off on the harvest for another couple of months, and let them get fed and happy again. It would not be beneficial to stress the worms out so much just to try to get the castings at this time. While a small amount of disappointment set in, it was quickly turned to happiness when we realized that we had not damaged out growing population of worms.

Luckily, for us Darren had brought with him 10lbs. of worms to set up the Can-O-Worms, and to have some for sale. So we set up a table over in the shade, watered it down so the worms would not stick when we took them out of his plastic tubs, and conducted our own “harvest”. The main thing Darren was trying to show us was how to separate the worms from the castings without stressing them too much. It seemed like most everyone was anxious to get their hands into the piles, myself included.

We ended the afternoon with a talk on the benefits of “Worm Tea” and I will include some links at the bottom that explain it much better than I can. Oh, and the Can-O-Worms, four out of the five he brought are gone, the worms headed for a new home. We have one left for sale right now, and it is set up, filled with worms and ready to go. Darren will be getting us some more in the next week or so.

Have a great day, Susan



Pruning with Jay

This last Saturday found us gathering in the slightly chilly "Green Room" for another informative class, this time on pruning. Jay Davison, our Area Soil specialist with the UNR Co-operative Extension office was on hand for the 8th year in a row to teach us the ins and outs of pruning just about everything. We covered fruit trees, shade trees, hedges, perennials.....you name it. After an hour inside, we headed out front to do some pruning on the flowering crabapple 'Florabunda' that is by the front door of the gift shop. He started in, and I cringed a little at the the thought of loosing all those beautiful buds that would be opening in the next month. I gathered up branches and passed them to all that wanted to take some home to force inside the house and enjoy now. Jay finally "felt my pain" though and stopped the actually pruning, and showed me where to do the cuts after it blooms. So, you will see me out there sometime in late April taking care of the rest of the pruning that this particular beauty needs.
It was out back to the display garden next to take a look at the old apple tree that he has been working on for the last 7 years or so. A little bit each year, he takes some branches off and checks to see for the overall health of his old tree. This year he found a bug infestation of scale that was never there before, so the dormant oil, an organic way to control the bugs, will be coming out of the storage room and the tree will get a good soaking this week.

After the class was over, it was on to the worm bin to open it up and check on it's progress. There are what seems to me to be thousands and thousands of worms tucked under the lid. I can't wait for Darren Murphy, from Sierra Worm Solutions to come back out in the early summer to help us harvest our first crop of castings. He is the one that installed the system for us and is the local "go to" guy for all worm related things in this area. We will be having another seminar with him soon, so watch your emails for updates.The day turned out to be a beautiful one. Slightly cool, but the sun was shining and no big winds to speak of. Bob was busy on the forklift most of the day putting away all the trees we just got in. It looks so great to see the nursery filling up with all the promise of spring.

See you soon, Susan