Friday, October 1, 2010

Drought & Rain

We can all see that we are in a drought. The wind, bright sun, and lack of rain dry out the plants and trees. Yesterday I spent most of the morning watering. The earth sucks the moisture down like a shower drain. Better to water your plants in early morning or dusk. Use a garden hose or water bucket to water at the base of your plant. A sprinkler will waste your water as the water droplets will be absorbed into the dry air.

Well that was two weeks ago.  Now the rain has been falling for 3 days and there are flash flood warnings.

The crape myrtles, butterfly bushes and other flowering plants and shrub were beautiful this summer. As are the butterflies they attract. My vegetable garden has all sizes of caterpillars, which I handpick and squash. Another insect pest is grasshoppers. Put a large jar with a water and white vinegar mixture in your garden. The grasshoppers and crickets will jump in and drown. One person told me he kills his grasshoppers with a bb gun.

Prepare for a winter garden by buying seeds of arugula, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cilantro, kale, leek, lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and sage. Also consider planting a cover crop, such as crimson clover, vetch or ryegrass. The cover crop is good for erosion control and nitrogen building. Till under in the spring. As soon as we get rain, plant your veggie and cover crop seeds.

Today I have a “show & tell”. This small plastic bin is a worm bin I made by drilling air holes into a plastic container. The red wiggler worms are my new pets. Every couple of days I check to see if they need more kitchen scraps. They eat vegetables, fruits, pasta or beans. No meat, fish, citrus peels, onions or garlic. My worms seem to prefer ripe cucumbers.

The red wiggler or Eisenia foetida is a more efficient and quicker processer of food waste than earthworms. The worms produce dark compost (vermicompost), which is a rich soil additive which can be added to potting soil, seed beds, and gardens. Or mix with water for a worm casting tea – for your plants; not you to drink.

The worm bin should be kept inside in temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees. Kitchen, garage, basement or mud room will work. Keep away from vibrations such as from a refrigerator or washing machine. The vibrations make them uptight.=

Moist shredded newspaper with a small amount of soil works as their bedding. Also straw, peat moss and/or sawdust can be added to the bedding. If you have bad odors; the bedding is too wet, there is too much food, or not enough air.

My red wiggler worms were given to me at the Hanover Cooperative Extension booth during the Heirloom Harvest Festival in Charlottesville. Several sites on the internet sell red wiggler worms.

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