Maytime Composting: Worm compost is indeed soil magic

Posted on Feb 20, 2015 | Comments Off on Maytime Composting: Worm compost is indeed soil magic

I’ve been thinking about soil a lot this week. Likely it’s the hard frozen ground outside and rare below-zero temps that have me  pining for the smell and feel of rich garden soil in the springtime. Last year we worked a nice patch of ground into garden. The soil was fairly soft under the lawn grass, a few inches of decent reddish-loam. In most areas you could push the shovel all the way in. After years of gardening over gravel this is joyous! A bit deeper down there is sandy clay and big smooth rocks reminding me the creek was up here in some geological past before working its way down to its present bed.

The raised beds are a few inches higher than the paths once I shoveled the soil in the (future) paths on top of the (future) beds to give them more depth. The result was pretty good. It was after adding compost from Maytime Composting that the soil started to get that “alive” look and feel that makes this gardener swoon.

IMG_3412

I’d never been a real enthusiast over worm compost (vermicompost). After a workshop with Will Allen at SSAWG I did think a worm bin would be a cool thing to have and a fabulous thing to do with kitchen scraps. With chickens though, there’s just not much left to feed a worm bin. And the stuff was priced like gold in the garden shops. I’d made great compost from the chicken coop’s deep litter system and leaves, that over time made for lovely, earthworm rich soil and that was good enough.

Now I had a big raw garden plot, more clay than I was used to and no aged compost at the new homestead. Yes I could have been patient and lasagna-layered the beds and in a few years I’d have good soil if it was too compacted to begin with…  But given the neat-as-a-pin property we’d bought and the mountain’s tendency to high winds, there were no old barns, no yard-scrap heaps or old manure piles, no old moldering leaf piles to raid. Every bit of layering material would have to be bought and brought in since I’m middle aged and don’t have three to five years to accumulate it all…I needed to buy some compost and fast.

IMG_3413

Luckily I  found Maytime Composting could a couple of hills and hollers over. That translates to about 20 country miles, but still in Yancey County.   Owner Mark Langner stocks bulk leaf compost which was just what a gardener with clay and no time to waste needed. YAY!

Mark’s specialty though, is worm compost.  Let me tell you, that is the biggest worm bin I have EVER seen and I feel sure the string lights keep the worms in good cheer. 🙂

IMG_3420

The prices are so reasonable I bought a bucket of worm castings for the first time, just to experiment with in the new garden.  Mark tells you right away, the stuff is rich and it doesn’t take much. While I was adding it to the beds in the quantities he recommended, it felt kind of silly, like I was sprinkling and mixing in some kind of magic dust. But hey, I  do love an experiment.

IMG_0062

It didn’t take long. A month or so later Hello my name is Leigh and I’m a worm compost fan! The leaf compost had loosened the clay and added organic matter like I planned. The worm compost surprised me though. Even in those tiny amounts, there was an additional richness and softness to the beds where I’d added it. It was a ‘more-alive’ quality that is hard to describe. Yet it was visible to the eye and to the touch in the soil (no aura reading needed) and the seedlings in those beds too. I felt like I’d added a probiotic to the mix and Mark later verified that it does have that effect in addition to its traditional role as a natural fertilizer.

IMG_3425

So I’m sold on worm composting now and a bin is in my future. We do have some kitchen things the chicken’s shouldn’t eat, like coffee grounds. That’s great too since worm bins do far better with finely ground scraps ( worm mouths are itty bitty after all). Will Allen partially pre-composts their worm food to get this effect.

Mark is offering a home and small-farm vermicomposting workshop next month on March 14th. That will come just about the time we’re all crazed to get in the garden, yet restraint will still be needed. So it’s a fine time to build a worm bin! Maytime Composting’s operation is worth a road trip to explore. And in my opinion it’s never too early to start getting your materials ready for the next garden season!

with love,
Leigh

Links in this post:

Maytime Composting:  http://www.maytimecomposting.com/

Get Maytime’s great newsletter: http://goo.gl/o0PVDy

The Saturday, March 14th workshop at Maytime:  http://www.maytimecomposting.com/Workshop.html

Vermicomposting per Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermicompost

Will Allen & Growing Power: http://www.growingpower.org/about/leadership/will-allen/

3662 Total Views 2 Views Today
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...