THE WASTE STREAM

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How much do you know about your personal waste stream?  Most people don’t give it a second thought once the garbage truck has stopped by.  The truth is that even if your waste stream is “out of sight out of mind”, it’s very much a part of someone else’s life.  Some of your trash you see doesn’t just go away.  The term waste stream is a catch phrase used to describe the active movement of organic and non organic materials by the solid waste industry.  The rather benign definition makes it sound like a Sunday at the park when in reality it’s big business with environmental consequences that killing of whole ecosystems in our world.

The first step to taking responsibility of your stream is to understand it’s components.  Let’s begin in the most simple of ways.  Do you have a toilet?  You’re already a step ahead of some people in our world.  What we’re alluding to is of course your personal organic waste, is it going to a treatment plant?  Or maybe you have a private system, is it in top working order?  Here’s a sobering thought, the capital city of our province, Winnipeg, still flushes sewage directly into our river systems every time the rains are heavy and overwhelm our antiquated duel storm drain/sewage system.  The city is slowly replacing these sewers  you can learn more here. it’s a reminder of how large a problem such a personal waste stream can become.

Let’s look at the other components of your household waste. We really hope you recycle; paper products, glass and aluminum cans are rock solid for redo. Easily recycled these materials are rebuilt for practical use close to home.  Plastic…. not so much.  Most so called recyclable plastics are recycled one time and it happens off the continent.  Massive shipments of used plastics are sent overseas burning carbon all the way to factories in developing countries. To take responsibility of the plastic in your stream all we can do is reduce the amount as much as you can.  Make intelligent purchasing decisions to avoid plastic packaging.

Moving into the world of organic waste, what are you sending to the landfill and does it really need to go there?  We’ve posted in depth about the difference in aerobic and anaerobic decomposition, know the score.  Composting is the way to go with this stuff, it’s easy too.  Keep in mind that since the beginning people have always had a dump, archaeologists rely on them to learn hidden truths about what our ancestors were up to and it wasn’t plastic pop bottles. Your composting endeavor can be really basic, like a simple compost heap in the corner of your yard, given enough time your organic waste will turn into soil. Taking the step to a more efficient and controlled compost comes naturally, then when your ready to take full control and responsibility for your organic waste stream you can make the move to vermicomposting all year long.

Give your waste stream some thought we’re happy to help.

 

THE COST IN THE CAST

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As visitors to our website will know, NATURE’S PERFECT PLANT FOOD produces vermicast, the end product of composting with worms.  We have shared many a post on this core topic, the 5 W’s if you will.  Here is a small sampling of our website articles to date.  Learn more here  

We encourage all our readers to be sensitive to a sustainable environment and commit to organic production methods for all their horticultural needs.  We’re not just doing this to sell our product, sounds a bit rich we know but true none the less.  We are dedicated to carbon reduction, soil preservation and reclamation.  In a world that loses 2% of its arable topsoil every year we’ve pledged to help make up that loss and with Global Climate Change upon us make no mistake this possesses great value.

What’s at stake?  Think of Vermicomposters as a kind of insurance, a glimpse into the future.  Not the dreaded doom and gloom future of famine, floods and plague either, it’s the good news future of food security and carbon reduction.  We put a lot of thought into sustainability, our operation is conducted outdoors the only one of its kind as far as we know.  We use solar power and actively strive to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible.  We use re-purposed packaging that would otherwise biodegrade in a landfill.

We employ these business practices because we understand the “cost in the cast” and what we can do to improve our environment now and in the future.  When we ask you to take another step along with us toward sustainability the transaction is bigger than finance, it is a little insurance to make sure that future exists.

Your feedback is always welcome.

WORM BIN A SWAMP?

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We’ve been getting alot of inquiries about wet, sloppy worm bins lately.  People have found their bins becoming too saturated and for some this leads to an unpleasant odor or heaven forbid, drowned worms.  Worms do like a fair amount of moisture in their environment and can in fact tolerate almost saturated material.  Standing water in a bin is a step too far however and this will create hostile conditions. Anaerobic bacteria can grow in stagnant liquid producing methane and methane smells really terrible.

There are a number of methods to remedy an over-wet bin.  Sometimes the easiest solutions is to simply add more dry bedding, once it’s saturated you can discard it and add new dry material, repeating this process until the bin become dry.

In a standing water situation you may want to tilt the bin and physically bail out the low end until the liquid is reduced.

Time heals all as they say, don’t worry about not feeding your worms in order to give the bin time to dry out.  They will shrink in size but quickly recover once they resume feeding.

If you’d like to have a safe guard in place to prevent worm drowning deaths you can create a layer of material at the bottom of the bin to act as safety net of sorts, we suggest heavy straw.  This way even if your bin develops standing water at the bottom, the worms can use the straw to keep their heads above water.

VERMICAST FOR INSIDE PLANTS

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Winter is the perfect time to concentrate on the health and happiness of your house plants.  These cheerful green additions to your home are proven to alleviate the “winter blues” and improve indoor air quality. They are our silent companions and often overlooked as a living part of the household, they don’t complain.  If your dog or cats living conditions became nonsustaining, you’d quickly notice a deterioration in their health.  Plants show their state of health too in more subtle and slower ways.  The time it takes for a plant to show off colored leaves can be weeks in the making and it can take weeks to get it back into prime condition. What started the downfall in the first place?

Soil health is a factor in the well being of house plants.  They are bound for life in a small habitat wholly reliant on you for their nutrient needs.  Many people fall back on chemical fertilizers   a one time rush of nutrients that may or may not provide your plant with the proportion they need at the time. The addition of vermicast will never “burn” your plants.

Not only does it provide a safe and steady flow of NPK to your little (or big) green friends it will continue working within the soil web of life to nourish a thriving micro-biological co-operative of organisms that build not deplete soil.  It’s the difference between being organic or not.  Organic producers are playing the long game, chemical fertilizers are more like a binge drunk for you plants and hangovers are not a pretty sight.

You can incorporate the use of vermicast, either from an outside source like us or you can start an in house system to supply your own using composting worms which… erm, you can also buy from us. What using organic castings will do is set you up for the long game, a continuous cycle of nutrients replicating nature’s most perfect system, the Nitrogen cycle.

 

KEEPING COZY IN THE WORM BIN

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What are the best conditions for Red Wiggler worms to thrive in an indoor bin, believe it or not that’s a bit of a loaded question.  Another answer might be; How much time do you have?  The first thing to keep in mind is active compost.  Creating a microbial rich active compost is the first step to having productive worms.  Think of it as a chicken or the egg question, worms live best and are most prolific in very active compost, they don’t necessarily create this environment but certainly contribute to it’s continued activity.

An active compost creates heat, the temperature of a bin can be manipulated by the amount of organic material currently under change.  Your bin has a base line temperature dictated by where it’s located, moisture content and compost activity.  This can be tested in new bins by starting the compost first and adding worms once it’s up and running.  Very few people have the foresight to check this and of course for those of us already in full swing it’s not possible to go back in time.  You can time a base line temperature check for a working bin just before adding new food.  Wait longer than you normally would, up to two weeks depending on the size, smaller bins, under 10 L only require between 5 and 7 days. The bin will have time to dry out and composting will slow as organic material is converted to castings.  This is now the ideal time to harvest castings and do a worm count too.

Once you established a temperature reading of a “cold” bin you can begin to use food and moisture to raise or lower the temperature. Our winter worm stock for example chills out at around 16 C surprising when you consider that the air temp in the area is 21 C.  This base line will rise to 20 C when the bin is fully engaged. At our facility the manure piles can hit a composting high of close to a whopping 65 C obviously if this happened in your indoor worm bin the worms would die with nowhere to escape.  In our experience, the worms will be attracted to these areas of “hot” compost action but they don’t do suicide runs to the center.

Some of the coldest and less productive bins are very “wet” bins.  If you have more moisture you have less aeration and while water holds heat better than air it also takes longer to transfer that warmth. Vermicomposting is aerobic composting, that’s why it smells so nice, (Learn more here) standing water in your bin is a problem.  Not only will it halt aeration to that level, whatever is under water, worms won’t live there unable to breath. But the worst part will be the smell, because anaerobic bacteria will start to work in the aquatic conditions you’ll have built yourself a swamp. That’s not to say that swamps and wetlands don’t play a valuable part in our ecosystems…. we just don’t want them in our houses, wink, wink.

As always your feedback is appreciated so please feel free to comment here on the webpage or visit us on Face Book. 

 

2018 FULL SPEED AHEAD!

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Hold on to your hats and gird your loins we’re shifting gears and plowing full speed ahead into 2018.  It can’t be much worse than 2017 right? Let’s review… the pain really started right off the hop last year when the American people, some of them anyway, voted into office an orange imitation of a person whose very first official move was to approve the continuation of a pipeline through First Nations land south of the border.  He then proceeded to gut almost every environmental protection mechanism on the books in favour of big oil, big pharma and big agro.  Just last week the fat mouth with no brain gave the thumbs up to the expansion of off shore drilling.  Meanwhile in Canada we have a gender parity cabinet that has made little progress in the fight to curb Global Climate Change.  Don’t get us wrong, some is better than none.

We can look forward to finally putting a price on carbon.  The Federal government will be forcing each province to implement a carbon tax, if they don’t comply the feds will do it for them.  Manitoba’s current government was an embarrassing hold out for a time and has still not found a workable solution.  The truth is that we’re past the point of no return on climate change.  With atmospheric carbon dioxide levels above the 400 ppm level we are now faced with unprecedented climatic conditions that have not occurred in the past 400,000 years. It’s impossible to comprehend the future we will be living with.  Our children’s children will now be dealing with environmental conditions that can not sustain human life as we know it.

We are on the ride of our lives and if you want to stay ahead of the curve the time is now for radical change, screw the New Year’s resolutions and start now, get it done.  You are not powerless, you have the power to choose.  Make 2018 the year of change, it’s already started.  Never before have we had the instant communication ability we have today, use it and for crying out loud start composting, maybe plant a tree….

We’re going nowhere, we’re proud to say we’ve been in this flight from the get go and we’ll keep farming and composting.  We’re here to help, please feel free to contact us on the web page or face book.  We can get a conversation going, we’re going to need to talk this year coming, it’s gonna be a wild ride.

WORMS AND pH

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Worms can safely live in habitat with a fairly wide pH range, when you consider the pH of food material alone it can be very low or more acidic like tomatoes that come in at the 4.5 or avocado which runs about 8.  Cattle manure, which is our main food source is more or less neutral never registering below a pH of 6 and usually around 7.  That’s thanks to the digestive system of the cows.  Worm cast or vermicast always has a neutral pH again thanks to the worms digestive tract.

pH plays a big part in soil productivity but not so much in your worm bin. You can manipulate the pH of your bin by adding eggshells which are almost entirely made of calcium carbonate a strong base that over time will lower the pH making it less acidic. The acidity of a bin will naturally rise and fall with vermicomposting action as the Nitrogen cycle continues breaking down organic material to feed your worms.

 

WORLD SOIL DAY!

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Ah the “Thin Brown Line”, rejoice and respect this fragile ecosystem, it’s your breath, your body and your spirit.  Learn more here about this day and start to add to one of the most important bio-system on the planet; make your own soil with worms!

Visit us on Face Book or right here through the contact page.

RANDOM FAQ

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Vermiculture has certainly gained ground in the last five to ten years.  When we started NATURE’S PERFECT PLANT FOOD back in the day, no one had a clue what we were talking about when we discussed our livelihoods and passion.  Over the years and in no small part due to our dedicated public outreach, “Worm Farming” is now in the common vocabulary and most people have at the least a rudimentary understanding of the process. Well done everyone!

There’s still some confusion around the finer points of vermiculture of course, let’s face it unless your getting paid to know, the Latin names for the multitude of micro-organisms involved escape even the most dedicated layman. For our part, we try to answer all questions posed to us and if we don’t know, we’re happy to explore for explanations together, no shame in that.

Today we plan to have a lighthearted look at some of the pressing inquiries from our friends….

No. 1  Q.  “If you cut a worm in half will it grow a new tail?”    A.  How many times….. if you cut a worm in half it DIES people.

No. 2  Q.  “If there was only one worm left in the world, could it mate with itself to save the day?”     A.  No, as Hermaphrodites these worms do have both female and male reproductive organs however, never the twain shall meet. It still takes two to tango and it’s physically impossible for one worm to get that job done.

No.  3  Q.  “How many hearts does a worm have?”   A. Red Wigglers are annelids or segmented worms, apart from the front and back ends plus the reproductive segment, the bulk of the worm’s segments are identical and they do not have hearts per say.  More like nerve clusters, two per segment that assist the movement of hemoglobin  through arteries.  They do have blood flow.  The number of nerve clusters can vary from five to eight per species with some adding new segments as they grow bigger and some having a set number of segments.

No. 4  Q. “Can I eat them?”  A.  Well, they won’t kill you…. if you must eat a worm, we suggest feeding the victim cantaloupe or apple for a few days before, the theory being that’s what you’ll taste.

Hope this helps and as always your feedback is welcome.  Contact us here on the website or through our Face Book page.  Happy Worm Farming!