SPRING NEWS

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Spring budsNow that what seemed like our never ending winter season has turned into the beginnings of spring, it’s time for us to gear up and branch out.  NATURE’S PERFECT PLANT FOOD has some exciting plans for next few months.  We’ve had great response to our Manure Management Program http://www.naturesperfectplantfood.com/2013/04/19/calling-all-cattle-producers/  and will be “seeding” farmstead manure piles in the next few months.  Red worms will be invading a cattle, sheep and pig farms all over Manitoba, look for signs of happy farmers and very happy veggie gardens growing big with vermicast fertilizer. 

On the domestic front, worms have never been more popular or in demand and we don’t mean for parties and speaking engagements.  People are really embracing home vermicomposting.  It’s an easy and cost effective way to reduce your carbon footprint by keeping organic waste out of landfills.  We’ve been so overwhelmed by orders lately that we’ve had to implement a waiting list!  For those anxious to get started; rest assured your worm orders will be filled as soon as we can and now the Boss, Mother Nature is co-operating, we’ll be in touch. 

HAPPY TO HELP

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602335_10153812880595066_92472188_nOne of the nicest things that can happen once you start a business venture be it large or small is “networking”.   It is our absolute pleasure to be able to assist various not for profit and charitable organizations in creating good things in our world.  Just such an opportunity has arisen tomorrow, we are proud to be the official composter for the event you see on this page. 

Global Climate Change has and will beget some very serious food shortages on our planet, considering we can’t feed all the people who live here now it’s more and more important to support local food production.  The message is clear and time is short, please follow the links and listen in. https://www.facebook.com/events/503166399800340/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY

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water dropWorld Water Day!  http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday  We don’t have to tell you how very important this day is to everyone.  Really, where would you be without water…. not alive that’s for sure!  What we would like to remind you of is the ongoing abuse of this precious resource.  In Canada we are blessed with an abundance of fresh potable water but this won’t last forever.  No one wants to suffer the loss but drip by drip it is leaving our lands.  Our First Nations understand this dangerous situation and are fighting to protect our life’s blood.  We encourage everyone to support all efforts in their community to save our rivers, lakes, ponds and potholes.  We’ll all disappear when they do.     Continue reading

THE FORCED MELT

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March 2014The weather is one of the most talked about topics here in Manitoba.  We know there’s much more important and pressing issues to discuss around the world, but the weather here is so “in your face” that it’s hard to ignore.  Today for example the temperature is -28 Celsius and the wind chill (a measurement of wind speeds and temperature for our international site visitors) is a biting -38.  These are conditions where you can’t really play around, being stranded while traveling on the highway could in fact get you killed.

Farmers of course are slaves to Mother Nature, we don’t really have a say in when our growing season will start or finish.  For every wise warning of “you can’t force Mother Nature” there’s some crazy farmer that gives it a try anyway…. we are those nutjobs this year.  We plan on pushing back against the cold by initiating somewhat of a forced melt in an effort to get a jump on our season.  How you may wonder does one go about a battle of the wills with such a gigantic foe…. steamy warm manure.  That’s right, we’re using the nature vrs nature principal.

Composting worms find the allure of fresh manure irresistible and we’re counting on that to encourage an earlier start to our harvesting.  Stay tuned for updates and pictures of our latest adventure in the next few weeks.

GROWING LOCAL

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Growing LocalThis years conference is stacking up to be an amazing event and NATURE’S PERFECT PLANT FOOD will be there.  What a wonderful opportunity to connect and network with like minded producers from around our province and abroad.  Here’s a preview of events;

Join us February 28 – March 1 at the Marlborough Hotel in Winnipeg for Manitoba’s premiere food security event. Growing Local will once again bring together consumers, farmers, traditional harvesters and everyone in between, for two inspired days of learning and sharing.

Michael Moss, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” will kick off Growing Local on Thursday, February 27. Moss’s keynote address will reveal how companies use salt, sugar and fat to allure us and, more importantly, how we can fight back. Food Matters Manitoba is pleased to present this event in partnership with The Winnipeg Foundation.

Visit our website for details and register today!
www.foodmattersmanitoba.ca

2014 Tentative Schedule:
http://foodmattersmanitoba.ca/sites/default/files/GL2014%20Schedule_4.pdf

Questions?
204-990-7317
1-800-731-2638 (toll-free) or growinglocal@foodmattersmanitoba.ca

WHAT ABOUT THE BEES?

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honey beeIt’s been a long while since we’ve reviewed how our favorite little flying honey machines are doing in the scheme of life.  Much has changed, new studies now show without a doubt http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/03/bayer-pesticide-bees-studies that the declining pollinator populations are a direct result of our use of pesticides specifically neonicotinoid along with monoculture farming, mites and loss of habitat the situation is dire.  Never forget that up to 70% of our food products rely on Bee pollination to fruit.  If they don’t make it; we don’t make it.  The European Union has banned the use of these destructive pesticides and it looks like Canada is at least willing to look into it.  http://www.ecojustice.ca/media-centre/press-releases/environmental-groups-force-ottawa-to-review-approval-of-hundreds-of-pesticide-products          So that’s good news, don’t hold your breath though… tragically our current government is way too friendly to big business including chemical giants like Bayer who produce a bunch of these types of pesticides.  The feeling in Ottawa these days is more along the line of “grab your money and run, may the Devil take the hindmost”.  It’s easy to forget in the cold of winter that the Bees fight on, let’s hope for all our sake, they wake up to a kinder spring.

HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED

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Happy Wormy FriendsIf you’ve ever questioned whether or not your vermicomposting interest is making a difference in our environment and society, doubt no more; the world is catching up.  When we started posting in Face Book and here on the web, we linked the page to Wikipedia, the Wiki article for worms was practically non-existent and there was no information on vermicompost at all.  Wow, times have changed!  Wiki now sports quite the little collection of articles on all kinds of worms including the wonderful Red Wiggler http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eisenia_foetida good grief, did you ever think you’d see that name in print so to speak.  Not only that but you can now find a myriad of vermicomposting companies that have popped up like mushroom after a summer rain.  Not that were complaining, the more worms in this world the better.  You can also find pretty detailed advice and info on casting and vermiculture, how cool is that. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermicompost  We checked out this page and there’s a couple of things which don’t quite match our experience, temperature guidelines for example, but hey, it’s better than a no-info void and we’re in a unique situation, we started our business before the cultured “experts” could tell us; “it’s too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer for an outdoor operation in Manitoba.”  Good thing we went our own way and I’m sure the thousands of pounds of happy worms we farm concur.   

 

 

HARVEST THOSE CASTINGS

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Finished casting with worms 002 (1024x764)You are a successful worm farmer, your bin has eaten pounds and pounds of kitchen scraps and now it’s full of beautiful finished castings.  It’s a foot deep with rich nutrient filled worm cast and you don’t have a clue what to do with it.  It’s minus 70 million outside and you haven’t even seen a sprig of green popping out of the 6 foot snow drifts. Do not despair, you can bag those castings.

Vermicast is a living product, think of it as the yogurt of the soil world.  Even if the castings seem too wet or unfinished there are plenty of solutions for aging and storing your “black gold”.  The first thing you want to do is STOP feeding the bin.  The worms will be fine without food for up to two weeks depending on the quality of the existing vermicast.  You’ll be able to judge this through simple observation.  If there is identifiable food scraps, leave it for an additional week or so.  Once the bin has composted everything into cast, use the hostile environment method to harvest. http://www.naturesperfectplantfood.com/2013/08/30/harvesting-worm-castings-from-your-bin/  

The castings can now be stored till spring if you do not want to use them for house plants. You treat and store them the same way you would a root vegetable; cool, dark and dry.  Find a “breathable” type of bag or leave the top of a heavy-duty plastic one open, the microbial action of the castings will continue and finish up the composting process.  By spring you’ll have class A organic fertilizer to wow your neighbors.

NEVER FREEZE A WORM

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cold weather wormThe frigid temperatures here in Manitoba, (today’s high is expected to be -27 Celsius with an extreme wind-chill of -47) are exactly why it’s difficult to raise worms outdoors on the prairies.  You can’t freeze a worm.  While our Red Wigglers can tolerate a very wide range of temperature changes, it’s often over 25 Celsius in the summer months; they can’t go below about plus 3 or 4.  So, what’s the trick?

Size matters, our worms survive because of the size of the active compost heaps where they live.  A one ton pile of cow manure can generate quite a bit of heat on its own.  With the help of a deep snow pack over layers of clean straw, the heaps will form a protective ice shell that keeps the interior from freezing.  How do the worms breath you may wonder and that’s a great question.  Think about how fish can survive under a frozen pond… air exchange is greatly reduced but enough can filter through to keep life flowing.  The chemical reactions that produce heat are certainly more anaerobic than during the summer months but the worms can thrive on the peripheral of that area and continue with their aerobic life processes.  We have never experienced any “winter kill”.  

If you plan on trying to keep outdoor worms at your place, you’ll need a very big and active compost to keep them going over the winter months.  Red worms lack the instinct to burrow under the frost line like our indigenous Earthworms because they naturally dwell in a different stratum of top soil.  Spring would be the best time to get started on an outdoor vermicomposting project, give it some thought and contact us; we’d love to help you in the warmer weather.

If of course you’d just like to carry on composting in your house all through the year, you can always try an indoor bin and we can help with that too.