LEAF COLLECTING

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Ah yes, that peaceful time of the year when your outdoor gardening is winding down and food producers can enjoy the bounty of their harvest.  If your fancy is floral, you may be feeling a little sad. Should’a popped in a few tomatoes eh?  Oh well, you can start your worm farm for the winter.  Just a reminder that our bulk kits our only available during the warm weather, pick one or two up this week.

And while we’re on reminders, if you have an indoor worm bin grab yourself some leaves.  Worm bins are a “closed” system.  Similar to an aquarium what goes in may not go out and the system can become unbalanced.  An example of this are oils, it’s not the citric acid in citrus fruits that cause trouble in your vermicompost these worms evolved to live in fresh manure after all, it’s the citric oils that add up. Oil and water don’t mix so as water evaporates the oils can add up and become toxic.  Other living aspects can take a misstep in a closed system.  Bacterial and fungi compete for resources as do other microorganisms, sometimes one strain will take the lead and your bin may not function at top composting ability.  Your going to need some “winter” leaves.

Wait for a nice dry spell and collect a bag or two of dry fallen leaves.  The type of tree isn’t too important, but try to find “clean” ones unaffected by molds or disease.  This dry carbon material will act as an inoculation for your bin over the winter.  The leaves carry micro-organisms that will help retain a bacterial balance in your bin.  Throw in a handful every week or two for overall bin health.  They also work as bedding material so if you want to go full bore have at it.

Red wigglers are leaf litter worms, living in the thin layer of decomposing material under the leaf litter and at the top of the soil surface. This is why all bins are topped with bedding, it replicates the natural composting habitat. One last reminder, if you haven’t got an indoor bin going at your place, start today, contact us right here on the web page or visit us on Face Book, we look forward to hearing from you!

EATING THANKSGIVING DINNER? THANK A WORM….AND A BEE.

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Have you heard of the thin brown line?  It refers to the fragile layer of top soil that feeds our entire planet.  People don’t realize just how tenuous the balance between productive and sterile land can be.  There are vast tracts of unproductive poisoned growing areas all over the world.  Let this sink in…. 85% of the land on Mother Earth is unable to grow food!  When you consider that 2% of that soil is lost to erosion every year and combine it with the continued poisoning of huge areas annually, well it should give so pause to think.

Now turn your mind to the collapse of our Bee populations, Bees had a hand in the growth of 75% of the food you eat.  Pesticides are killing us and the pollinators of our world not just Bees.  When we join the dots we can see a picture of steady decline leading to a very dark and hungry future.

On top of this we can count on the flooding, drought and volatile weather caused by Global Climate Change, all adding up to more and more challenges to our existence as a species and, we won’t be the first to go.  Before our demise we’ll see the death of the living world around us.  It’s a lot like those space show episodes when the ship’s lost power and the air is running out…..do you honestly think the mother ship is going to bail us out of this one?

Back to the Worms and the Bees, because you know what…. They actually can save the day.  Think for a moment who it is that creates our soil, of course they don’t act alone but as an integral part of our soil life web the worms are working along with bacteria, fungi and microorganisms all over our planet.   They are creating the thin brown line of our precious top soil.  Without it we’re doomed.

Do you want to feel proactive and contribute to clean, healthy and productive soil?  You need to get some worms!  You’ll be a soil builder and you’ll have the satisfaction of being responsible for your personal organic waste management.

Start today and contact us here on the web site or through our Face Book page.

https://www.facebook.com/NATURESPERFECTPLANTFOOD/

LAST CALL FOR BULK WORMS

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It’s getting cold out there. If you have a worm bin outside in Manitoba, now’s the time for inside action.  Even though our days are pleasant the nights are dipping into the frost zone.  Any night time temperature under 5 C is a sign of times to come and and a good indication that the annual fall migration is upon us.  Find a cosy corner for your bin today and make the move to indoor composting.

Autumn is a great time to take stock of the health of your vermicomposting operation too.  If you have open air holes in the outdoor bin who knows what kind of little flying friends have joined the party.  It’s a good idea to cover your bin with some mosquito netting for the first few weeks inside, this will catch any flying interlopers before they get a chance to enter your home.  You can keep them contained in the bin while they hatch out and remove them as the appear.

Harvest your castings, while the days are mild find a nice flat area to dump out the contents of your bin.  Using the “hostile environment” method you can give your worm bin a nice deep clean in preparation for winter indoors.  http://www.naturesperfectplantfood.com/2014/01/14/harvest-those-castings/

Take the time to bag up some leaves, wait for a nice dry day and set aside a few grocery bags of dried leaves.  These will act a mini inoculations for your bin as the winter wears on. As a closed system your indoor bin may experience a microbial unbalanced where one type of bacteria or fungi wants to take over.  An inoculation of dry leaves and the various microbes they house will enrich the biodiversity of the bin and restore the balance.

We’re getting ready for the cold too, our winter stock will come to town in the next few weeks and that will be it for the season.  We put our outdoor facility to sleep under straw bedding and just like all farmers are at the mercy of Mother Nature and her hopefully deep snow pack till the spring melt.  This means that from Oct. 15 through till the warm weather comes we will only sell “clean” worms.  These are picked and measured in 100 mL lots for you to use.

FINDING THE BALANCE

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What’s happening to organic waste in your household?  Is it going to a landfill or are you employing environmentally safe waste management in house?  These are questions for every home owner and renter, urban or rural, every person really.  We are responsible for our garbage; we are holding the future of our planet and the future of our children in our hands.  We know the impact of Global Climate Change, we all know directly or indirectly a climate refugee, we now all feel in our lives the effect of climate change.  It can weigh heavily on the mind.  It can feel overwhelming and finding a balance that lets you live with yourself has never been more important.

We’ve written many times about the things you can do as an individual to help our environment and maybe as importantly provide your life with a little self-love secure in the knowledge that you’re doing your part.  You cannot be all things to all people however so finding a balance is paramount.  It’s time for a refresher in what you can do in your life and your house to make our world a better place.  Number one on our list is plastic.

Plastic is the scourge of material existence, it’s everywhere, micro fibers are found globally in water and that’s about as far as it will ever breakdown, it’s here to stay.  Stay the hell away from plastic!  If you can buy anything packaged without plastic make the change even if it costs you a few extra dollars.  Take your own bag to the store even if it makes you look like an old Granny your pride can take the hit.

Number two, compost, compost and compost, there are no excuses for not having compost bin now.  The old “I live in an apartment” just doesn’t wash anymore.  With a worm bin your organic waste can be turned into beautiful vermicast in a matter of weeks.  No smell, no muss, no fuss.  It’s easy, low maintenance and you can still travel for up to two weeks without getting a bin sitter.  It’s all about the balance.  Figure out how much food waste you’re generating a week and contact us for a consult.  We can help you design a system that works for you and your family.  The worm colony will grow; you can help your friends and neighbours, your community and the world.  Now if that doesn’t boost your piece of mind and make you feel better we don’t know a nicer way to achieve some self-love.

Best wishes for a happy Autumn Equinox today.

NPK IN VERMICAST

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We’ve been exploring NPK in organic and chemical fertilizers; a quick look at today’s diagram shows a simple view of the Nitrogen cycle that makes the whole deal work.  The question for you is whether or not to support chemical companies and the destruction of our soil web or go organic and build that web of life.  For us it’s a no brainer.  Many organic fertilizers are out there in many different forms.  It’s quite understandable that you might want firm control of the NPK your plants receive and some people like the surety of processed fertilizer, they can measure each dose.  When you look at plant growth in a holistic manner you can’t escape its place in the Nitrogen cycle or soil web, it’s crucial.

The NPK in vermicast runs at a minimum of 0.50/0.70/0.40, when compared to chemical fertilizer it seems quite low.  Part of this reading is due to regulations on labeling; only the immediately available nutrients are listed leaving out the slow release aspect of vermicast.  There are several methods you can use to manipulate the percentages in your vermicast generated fertilizer that are also not taken into account in the NPK measurements.  Brewing worm tea for example can greatly increase the amount of usable Nitrogen for your plants.

Keep in mind that the Nitrogen in in castings is going to keep on working, as will all the NPK components but they don’t do it alone.  As with all of us they are a strand in the web of life.  It’s the microbial action that dictates the efficiency of the continued slow release of nutrients.  So if your soil microbes have been killed off by chemicals all that great action will be washed down the river.  Not all bad news of course, with time and continued use the microbes will comeback.  Your soil and fertilizer will work in harmony forever.

Worm tea is an ideal delivery method for vermicast; because the bacteria associated with vermicomposting are aerobic any tea should be freshly brewed.  You want to keep these air dependent microorganisms alive, aerating tanks and containers of tea along with a food source will brew up a powerful organic fertilizer.

On a side note, our web page is now fixed, just like the Nitrogen, thanks for your support.

NPK ANSWERS PART 2

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In our last post we explored the difference in NPK and how it works in organic and chemical fertilizers.  We’ll continue to look into those differences today.  Chemical fertilizers are pretty strait forward; they are premixed with water or dry for you to dilute at home.  The NPK percentages are clearly marked and you can choose when and how to use products with more or less nitrogen as you see fit.  On the down side your plants have no choice and will be dependent on the rush of nutrients that may or may not be the most beneficial concentration for that particular growth point in a plants life.  This is when you may find Nitrogen burn is happening in your garden or home.

Nitrogen burn is what occurs when a plant gets too much or too strong a concentration of N at once.  Keep in mind that plants use Nitrogen at varying amounts for changing purposes during their lifetime. Some pre-fab organic fertilizers can also contain enough Nitrogen to create a burn scenario so it’s important to make sure you know your NPK ratios before application.  One sure fire way to avoid this occurrence is to use Vermicast, it will never burn.

Vermicast or worm cast will not and cannot create Nitrogen burn in your plants.  It will never happen.  In our last post we explained how the bacteria worms rely on to help digest the organic material they eat also naturally breaks the Nitrogen bond creating soluble Nitrogen.  This is a failsafe that dictates the nature of the soluble N in our slow release organic fertilizer making it safe for plants always.

When we think of slow release fertilizer try to imagine a process as opposed to a one time meal.  Chemical fertilizers are like junk food, a quick form of sustenance that passes through the plant and growing medium to head down the drain within hours.  Slow release organic fertilizer does so much more.  It continues to work in your soil building new Nitrogen bonds to free up soluble N for months at a time. Our Vermicast does this because of the microbial components it contains.

Worm Castings are created by the bacterial action inherent in the Nitrogen cycle of life itself.  The very same time worn cycle described through the millennia in our Peoples origin stories, no matter if you ride the turtles back or spring from the tree of life, the cycle is observed universally and that’s a good thing.

Visit us next week for an exploration into the biological cycle of bacterial vermicomposting and as always feel free to drop us a line to question or discus our products and posts.

NPK ANSWERS FOR YOU

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Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium are the macro nutrients that are essential to plant growth.  They are represented by their periodic signs N P K.  These letters appear on any type of fertilizer you may come across whether organic or not and they always represent the three macro nutrients in the above order.  They are used universally so when you see an NPK of 5%-5%-5% it will mean that 5% of the content in that product is Nitrogen, 5% Phosphorus and 5% Potassium, the rest of the material is acting as filler or a part of the delivery system, water for example.

Now things get tricky, plants can’t just slurp this stuff up, the nutrients must be in a form that plants can chemically bond with.  Nitrogen in its natural form is N2, two little N atoms that are absolutely in love with each other, it’s one of the hardest bonds to break in in the chemical kingdom, and it’s a form of Nitrogen that’s useless to plants.  Plants use a more complex form of N, most commonly N3 or N4, this allows the N to join with good old H2O making it….soluble.  There are only two things in our world strong enough to break the N2 bond, petrochemicals and bacteria, this explains the difference between organic and chemical fertilizer.

Chemical fertilizers come ready made with the N2 bond broken making for a quick nutrient supply.  The convenience of this however is hiding a much deeper problem.  Chemical fertilizer basically turns your plants into binge drinking addicts.  Bacteria on the other hand work continuously to break the bond and as a result slowly release Nitrogen providing a slow release food source.  We’re sure you can guess which method is used in vermicomposting, wink, wink.

NPK works in differing amounts and has a distinctive effect on plant growth.  The chemicals act on various aspects of growth at different points in development.  Foliage and new growth are reliant on Nitrogen whereas Phosphorus is more involved with root development and the timing and health of flowers and seeds.  Potassium acts to regulate metabolic development including immune responses to threats.  In nature the plant will use organic slow released chemicals at its own pace and if those chemicals are found in abundance the plant thrives.

Worm castings are an example of organic fertilizer in its purest form.  Each cast has a balanced NPK content because of the bacterial action the worm uses to digest the composted organic material it feeds on. The castings will slow release the nutrients for months and months plus they will attract and retain soil microorganisms like bacteria to continue the process.  The humus in vermicast makes up about 40% of its mass and acts like a tiny sponge that keeps water actively working to deliver the Nitrogen that the plants use. When we call it nature’s perfect plant food we are not in jest.

Over the next few weeks we’ll continue to look into all the fertilizing qualities of castings so make sure to keep posted and as always contact us through our web page or FaceBook with questions, observations and of course, order inquiries, we look forward to hearing from you.

STAY CALM AND GROW ON

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It has been a hell of a week!  Unless you’ve understandably decided to go right ahead and hide under a rock, you are most likely a bit more stressed than usual.  It’s not often we run into the threat of nuclear war and race war in the span of ten days.  Whew, once you catch your breath if you’re like us you’ll probably want to do something to make the world better or at the very least make yourself feel better, and you can do both at the same time.  We’re talking about the simplest and most direct coping mechanism, eating, more specifically; food security.

It’s not really the political threat that’ll get you, it’s the fallout from reckless decisions and behavior at the top that, when combined with Global Climate Change will lead to you not being able to access affordable, healthy food.  That my friend is food insecurity.  Now is the time to ensure food security for you, your family and your community.  While not everyone is green thumbed one change you can make is to get to know some farmers.  We are a decent bunch.

Organic cultivators come in many shapes and sizes, modern social media makes them easy to find.  Do some googling and you’ll soon see your local producers.  Many communities have food share programs that you can join up with.

If you are the gardening sort you’ll know the most important factor in any plant growth is the soil.  If you’re reading this post you’ll know exactly how to get your hands on that, wink, wink.

GROWING HEALTHY SOIL

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Healthy productive soil doesn’t just magically pop out of thin air it’s a valuable resource that’s sadly unappreciated by most in our modern world.  http://www.naturesperfectplantfood.com/2011/11/08/stop-treating-our-soil-like-dirt/  In order to maintain and grow new soil you have to treat it well.  Of course the simplest method of soil production is using worms, indeed worms are the only creatures that produce balanced soil or as it known, vermicast.  The first step in the process is composting or to be more accurate, the action of decomposition. What is it that makes organic material break down into soil components?  Without getting too technical, microbial, in this case bacterial agents begin the process of decay.  If they are aerobic they off gas carbon dioxide, the anaerobic bacteria off gas methane and all organic decomposition produces a GHG.  The trick is to make it CO2, much less harmful in our atmosphere than methane.

Once decomposition by micro-organisms has begun to break down the material larger life forms can start to feed, it’s their waste products that are the base of soil.  The most obvious of these builders is the worm; composting vegetation goes in one end and a tiny cast (poo) of balanced soil comes out the other. How simple is that!

There are many ways to attract worms to your garden but front and centre is food, worms have to eat.  The worms we sell are composting worms and live most successfully in active compost; indigenous earthworm would not thrive in such a volatile environment with higher temperatures and unpredictable acid levels.  Your garden soil is a more stable less active habitat.  That said it can also be a food desert for soil growers like worms.

In nature a layer of decomposing organic material will form in areas that allow for it, on the prairie for example the dead growth of plants from the year’s past forms a mat at the soil surface.  What happens under that mat is the key to worm survival. Think of a pile a dead leaves, if you ignore it for a week when you flip it over you will find a thin layer of “rotting” mulch, it’s already started to compost.  This is what and where worms eat and a hint for attracting them to your garden.

The very best way to encourage worms to begin growing soil for you is to bribe them with food and the best food for them is mulch.  We suggest using leaves or for a “cleaner” look, straw.  Not only will you find this effective for encouraging soil growth the mulch itself has a myriad of benefits for plant growth and for you. http://www.naturesperfectplantfood.com/2012/05/26/the-power-of-mulch/

RETHINK YOUR LAWN

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Grass lawns are on their way out of favour, they hurt biodiversity; require more water, weeding and fertilizer than alternatives.

Lawns of grass are needless and quite frankly a little selfish in this day and age.  The concepts of lawns (not to be confused with grazed pasture areas) are thought to have begun in Europe in the 1600’s as a sign of wealth, power and station.  Maintained around castles, their practical purpose of clearing growth for enemies to hide in has long passed.  The original lawns were often comprised of more useful plants like chamomile and thyme. The industrial revolution and the invention of the lawnmower made the lawn more popular and accessible to lower classes.

Now we find vast landscapes of grass lawns covering cities and towns all over North America and really, what good do they do?  Cities and municipalities have actually passed punitive laws governing the upkeep and quality of these useless expanses.  They are of no purpose, when was the last time you saw anything grazing on the lawn or an enemy sneaking up to your castle, geesh, it’s ridiculous.

Let’s discard this relic of the past; you can make your lawn both beautiful and useful.  One alternative to grass include the very popular clover.  It’s grows slower requiring less mowing, about a fifth of the watering and because clover is a nitrogen fixing plant you need not fertilize. Another advantage to a nice thick clover covering is the ability to choke out other plants sometimes referred to as weeds.

Best of all in this win, win scenario is….. Clover FEEDS BEES!