|Willow Garden is a series exclusive to the Earthly Comforts blog only.|
|Earthen Tales Directory|
|Main Image Willow Garden 01st November 2022|
Wet, wet, wet!
|Sunday to Tuesday involved a lot of concentration with regard to the counts of worms and eggs. You can see that it is quite manual in labour terms. Once we are more established as a business we can get ourselves a compost trommel built which will aid with the sifting and sieving more.|
|There is always a high level of mental concentration when counting eggs [light green balls] and gathering worms. Wigglers are not always ‘just’ in one location but several spots and many a time not in clusters but also in singles which can make picking harder as well as awkward as many a time worms are camouflaged by the dirt..|
|A good depth goes a long way, but now l am after a handful of decent breadths!|
|Sunday 30th, Monday 31st and Tuesday 01st|
|Tuesday 01st November – back garden and for the time being this worm farming space is done and dusted, but that’s going to change by the end of the month!|
|If you are NOT in to worms, worm farming and vermicast this post’ll not be of any interest to you, because it’s all about worms.|
|The last few days, or is it only a couple of days? No, it’s since Sunday, and the confusion stems from being tired, and even though it is only Tuesday today, East Kent has had a lot of weighty rainfall, which has hindered much of the progress.|
Suze and l were continuing with the worm farm switching from Sunday to Monday, and we finished off the last base this morning before the heavy rains settled in.
The switching process involved moving the four worm farms around from their locations in Willow and being grouped in one area only, which was at the back of the garden. The point of all the movements was to reclaim as much garden as possible so that the garden could resume the appearance of a regular garden.
The other part of this process was to reduce four farms to three, which was achieved. However, this whole process involved a lot of seriously backbreaking activity due to how my farms operate.
I have been trialling verticle farming as opposed to horizontal farming. My way meant that l had ‘tower blocks’ which held considerable quantities of worm soil bedding. A tiered farm contains 150 kg of soil per tier, so a four-tiered farm is 600 kg which would, during an average harvest, have to all be sieved whilst searching for eggs and worms.
Luckily the switching didn’t involve full sieving. Although some vermicast was pulled off to be used in the garden for repotting purposes, it still meant that we had to break down four soil-filled farms and move them to the location l wanted them to be. So if you are wondering about the total quantity of soil moved over the last four days in the garden, it was 2.4 tonnes.
During the switching, l was discussing with Suze that verticle farming is backbreaking and does and doesn’t work. It wasn’t conducive to business success. But at least l could say l tried it.
Worms need breadth space and not depth. The towers are of great depth but need more breadth and length. I know, l know, it’s not how long something is but what you do with it!
Worms need more length, give them more depth, and as much as they like being on top foraging, they will dive to the bottom and get wet and dirty! Yeah, l also know how this is reading …. but hey, it’s an excellent promo for the new range of tee shirt designs coming out later this month!
Anyway, bawdy humour aside! I bought some new elevated raised planters on legs—three in total—one at six feet long and two at three feet long. This will now also mean that in the next three weeks, Suze and l will have to shift a further 1.2 tons of worm soil bedding down to the allotment as it will now no longer be needed!
Being raised also alleviates some of the backbreaking pressures we experience when harvesting as it means we are not bending as much and whilst l know that gardeners like to do it on their knees – still there are limits – you know – . I also think that whilst the planters are not designed for worm farming, they are designed for the deep planting of root vegetables and holding considerable weight concerning soil, so there is a good chance they will come with a form of drainage, which is critical in worm farming.
The verticle towers l used didn’t have good drainage, and we had to rely upon a sump which would become one of the dampest parts of the farm and prove very hard to sieve on account of it being wetter than the rest of the soils.
Despite many worm farmers saying wigglers ‘don’t’ like living below a certain depth in the soil. I don’t know if all the wigglers get the same memo! The so-called wiggler ideal depth is between 4 – 12 inches. Yet, l have seen wigglers at a depth of 30.”
Earthworms as a comparison can burrow to just over six feet.
However, as far as the harvesting of red wiggler worms goes, the 30-inch mark is too deep for convenience, so we need to work on no sump and a maximum depth of roughly 40 cm or just over a foot. The new planters will furnish the farms with this depth.
What the worm farmers mean is that if you want NOT to lose your herd and you still want to be able to harvest off vermicast, then you need to ensure that your wigglers feed on the top of the surface area only.
I will also line the new systems with a suitable material to protect the wood more from the inside, and whilst the planters are rot-resistant, wet soil can erode wood. These new farms will have to suffice the operation till we can get our farms built to our specs.
If possible, l will introduce a different drainage system to make farming the vermicast easier and more accessible. Of course, l will write about this in a separate series in more detail, but for the moment. The worm farms are now on the other side of the garden. We don’t have to do anything with them just yet.
By December, when the new planters are here and in position, Suze and l will once more switch and l think then, perhaps for the absolute final time, we will be moving even more surplus soils down to the allotment, and if not using them, they will be stored there, unless l find somewhere to keep them in Willow.
However, here we are Tuesday afternoon, and with wild winds and rain storms, l don’t have to worry about worm farming anymore today. It’s a job that can be ticked off the list!
We are just waiting for the rains to stop before the next phase. Ironically when l am at the reserve tomorrow, it will be bright and sunny, and where will l be? That’s right, in the building!
|The problem with the base tiers of my system is that the sump as l call it, the drainage area gets way too wet. Wigglers don’t always abide by the rules of worm farming and stay up top, so they burrow down to this drainage area and decide to live and breed. We now have three bags of sump that has to dry out before we can get the worms and the eggs out for transfer to the other two farms.|
Is this as wet as it looks?
No, it’s wetter!!
|All farms are now on the right side of the garden. There are currently only two active farms which are the five sleeved tower blocks. The six tiered unit is empty of worms but still is holding 750kg of worm bedding soil whilst the five tiers are holding worms, eggs and 600 kg of soil each. |
The new planters will take considerably less soil, l am estimating that combined the three new farms will hold a total quantity of around a tonne of soil. The surplus soils will be transferred to the allotment.
|Thanks for Reading – See you next time.|