Monthly Archives: September 2012

Worm Composting Bin DIY

I just heard a worm composting bin DIY (do-it-yourself) presentation at a Harvest Fair last weekend.  It was very interesting to see a little different slant on using a worm compost bin. Though I couldn’t get a clear answer about the bedding she uses, she did mention using potting soil.  That is a new one for me.  And she used dry shredded newspaper to cover the worm compost.

I Use Damp Shredded Newspaper for Bedding

I use damp shredded newspaper for bedding which eventually turns into a “dirt-like”  substance–thought mine is more like a “not so wet” mud.  I cover my compost with a sheet of wet newspaper or cardboard.  The presenter had been doing it for nine years and used any plastic bin she could find.  She said you could often find them in peoples’ trash.

We Have Similar Ideas About Worm Composting

She doesn’t use drainage holes–neither do I.  She said her worm bins never get that wet–neither do mine. She doesn’t use any fancy worm bins like Worm Factories–neither do I.  So it was an interesting experience to meet someone who is on the same page as me.  Worm composting is easy and laidback as long as you follow certain steps.  And you can start very cheaply and produce a wonderful fertilizer for your garden.  Here is a picture of one of my worm bins at the beginning of the process with shredded newspaper bedding with a sheet of wet newspaper across the top.  Even though the newspaper bedding looks dry in the picture, it is actually somewhat wet, though not dripping wet.

My Worm Bins Can’t Handle All Our Kitchen Scraps

The only thing I didn’t understand is that she puts all her kitchen scraps in her 2 worm bins.  There are 3 people in her household.  We also have 3 people living in our house.  There is no way my worm bins can handle our kitchen scraps.  I have a backup compostumbler in the back yard.  We do have a lot of guests; so maybe that is the difference.  I often tell people not to expect that 1-2 worm bins will handle all kitchen scraps and to be prepared for that.  Lastly worms don’t really like onion skins, pineapple and citrus so it doesn’t work out to put those in the worm bin.

Sudduth Brandywine Tomatoes

I mentioned in my last post about my “volunteer” Sudduth Brandywine tomatoes this year and  I wanted to  share this picture with you.  These are heirloom tomatoes.  I recognized the seedlings by the potato type leaves.  Brandywines don’t have the typical tomato leaves.  Their leaves look more like the potato plant.  So I let them grow because I had not planted anyVolunteer Sudduth Brandywine Tomatoes this year.  In the previous years they had been decimated by early blight and I didn’t feel like coping with it this year.  I was trying other varieties that are considered disease resistant.  But since they were growing anyway I decided to try them again.  From this picture you can see that they were very successful.  The brown in the picture is from dead leaves killed by early blight but it didn’t develop so I had a beautiful Brandywine tomato plant.  I attribute that success to the use of lots of compost. (see last post)

Sudduth Brandywine Tomatoes Have Old-Fashioned Tomato Flavor

If you are looking for that old-time delicious tomato flavor, you can click below to order seeds. Sometimes the skin splits while growing so they don’t look so attractive but you just cut off that part.  They are truly delicious, full of old-fashioned tomato flavor, not like the cello tomatoes that you buy in the store.  If you are new to growing tomatoes or would like to know more about it, click on the image below for a great book that will teach you all about growing tomatoes and choosing the best varieties.

Early Blight Tomatoes and Compost

Early Blight Tomatoes and Compost
Early blight tomatoes and compost. What a combination! This year I was much more successful combating early blight on my tomatoes. I used a lot of compost in the holes at planting time and as mulch around the tomatoes.  Here is a picture of one of my tomato plants.  You can see that it has been attacked by early blight near the bottom but then the top of the plant grew strong without any disease.  This happened to several of my plants.  One plant was almost dead from early blight and then it had a rebirth with lots of new growth and green leaves and now there are tomatoes on it.  This plant in the picture is from a disease resistant heirloom called Mortgage Lifter. You can link on the picture below to order the seeds.

Even the Brandywine Tomatoes Grew

I had quite a few volunteer Sudduth Brandywine tomato volunteers.  Usually I pull out volunteer plants for 2 reasons:

  • they might have disease from the soil
  • they might be a hybrid and not produce a good product

I recognized the very distinctive leaves of the heirloom Brandywine.  Since I hadn’t planted any I nursed these volunteers and have harvested lots of Brandywine tomatoes with still more coming.  One plant did succumb to early blight, though I still got several tomatoes from it.  My other 2 volunteer plants are beautiful–healthy and strong with some early blight at the bottom of the plants.

Early Blight Tomatoes and Compost-Great Success

So based on my experiences this year, I would say that the compost had a very good effect on my soil.  I bought some of the compost from Veterans Compost in Maryland and some I made myself in my Compostumbler and in my wire bin composter.  Read more about Tomato Blight and Compost for a possible scientific explantion.