7 Ways to Speed up Your Compost

7 Ways to Speed up Your Compost You want to harvest your compost as quick as you can. Here are 7 ways to speed up the decomposition process. Balance carbon and nitrogen Balancing your high-carbon materials with high-nitrogen materials will speed up your compost bin. High-carbon materials tend to be brown and dry, such as dried leaves, straw and wood chips. High-nitrogen materials are green, such as grass clippings, or they’re colorful, such as fruit and vegetable peels. One item that doesn’t follow that rule is manure from horses and cows. Manure is brown, but it is a high-nitrogen material. The most efficient composting occurs with a carbon-to-nitrogen mix of about 20:1. That means that you want about 20 times more dried leaves (by volume) than fruit peels. A chart from Cornell Waste Management Institute shows some carbon-to-nitrogen ratios for typical materials, based on dry weight. The ratios with a small first number are high-nitrogen materials and the ratios with a large first number are high-carbon materials. (Note that some of these materials have a range for their content.) Here are the carbon-to-nitrogen ratios for some typical materials: Poultry manure, from 3:1 to 15:1 Cow manure, 20:1 Horse manure, from 20:1 to 50:1 Food waste, about 15:1 Fresh grass clippings, 15:1 Sun-dried grass clippings, 20:1 Oak leaves, 40:1 to 80:1 Straw, 50:1 to 150:1 Sawdust, 200:1 to 750:1 Newsprint, 400:1 to 850:1 Corrugated cardboard, about 560:1 Maintain moisture The microbes in your compost bin need water, but not too much …

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Onions Can Be Started From Seed—in Winter!

Even if you have snow on the ground, you can do some gardening: Plant seeds inside for cool weather vegetables, such as onions. Working with cool weather vegetables such as onions not only gives you something to do during winter, it gives you a head start on spring planting. As the name implies, cool weather vegetables can withstand cool temperatures—much cooler than tender vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, can tolerate. That allows your onion seedlings to be planted outside when the air and soil temperatures are just 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Tender plants, such as tomatoes and peppers, can’t be planted outside until the air temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night. Learn how to plant seeds inside in our previous article here. KINDS OF ONIONS We carry two different varieties of onion this year. ‘Siskiyou Sweet’ onion is very mild and sweet. You can eat the green tops as if they were scallions. The ‘New York Early’ onion stores well. It’s sweet, but with more bite than ‘Siskiyou Sweet’. See all the seeds we offer here.   TRANSPLANTING OUTSIDE A week before you plan to transplant your seedlings outside, start to harden off your seedlings. Put them outside for a short period to get them used to brighter light and cooler temperatures than you have inside your house. Each day, place them outside for a longer period so that when you transplant them, they aren’t shocked. Make sure conditions are suitable before you transplant seedlings outside. In …

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Holiday Gift Ideas from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm

Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays! Are you stuck on which gifts to buy your friends and loved ones? Well, we are here to help! Uncle Jim’s offers awesome products ranging from apparel to supplies. Apparel Our apparel is perfect for when you want to work in the garden or with your worms. Do you or your loved ones need a new hat? We have a new Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm Ball Cap that will keep the sun out of your eyes while you’re doing any outdoor work. We also have a tasteful half-apron that will help keep your clothes clean, and it comes with a garden shovel. T-shirts are perfect for gardening and everyday wear. We offer Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm t-shirts in many different colors and sizes– including children’s. The shirt is 100% pre-shrunk cotton, so you do not have to worry about it shrinking in the wash. It is a breathable and lightweight fabric, which makes it perfect for doing any outdoor or vermicomposting work! Composters Are you or your family trying to get into composting? Vermicomposting is ideal because you can turn kitchen scraps into all-natural fertilizer. This organic fertilizer will nourish your garden or houseplants. Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm is number one when it comes to composting worms and supplies, so trust us with all your composting needs. Vermicomposting can be done indoors or outdoors, but if you live in a colder region, you should start with an indoor composting bin. …

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Connect with Uncle Jim on Instagram and Facebook

Social media has wormed its way into our lives. At Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm, we have recently opened up an Instagram account to stay connected with you. And our Facebook account is still going strong. Did you know that we put special offers, coupons and contests on Instagram and Facebook? It’s true! We also share awesome photos of worms, composters, our happy customers, gardens – and we share seasonal tips, gardening ideas, composting knowledge and more! Instagram is all about sharing pictures and videos. When it was launched in 2010, Instagram could only share square photos with filters (such as sepia, to make the photo look old-fashioned). Users liked its fast, easy-to-use mobile app for instant sharing from smartphones. Instagram now shows photos in any aspect ratio, not just 1:1. It also lets users upload 15-second

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How to Safely Can Vegetables for Long-Term Storage

Canning vegetables is a great way to build home food storage and do it cheaply and safely – and you can use your home grown vegetables all year round! Canning vegetables can be a slightly time consuming process – depending on how many cans you want – and is also a risky undertaking if you aren’t sure what you are doing. However, once you know how to safely can, you will be hooked forever! Canning vegetables needs to be done very carefully. If not done properly, germs and bacteria will grow – germs that can make you sick or even be deadly.Botulism is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to at home canning. The bacteria that cause botulism is found in soil, and can grow and produce toxins within sealed jars. The only protection against this bacteria is through the heat that is applied when canning. One key part of canning is this – it was once considered acceptable to use boiling water as a safe way to can vegetables. This is not true. The only way to ensure safe canning processes is by using a pressure cooker. Low acid vegetables (which includes all vegetables except for tomatoes) are the most likely to contain the botulism bacteria. This bacteria can only be killed at a temperature of 240 degrees, where boiling water only reaches a temperature of 212 degrees. When beginning the canning process only select fresh, young vegetables. Wash the vegetables in cool, running water and avoid …

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Become An Organic Farmer

Farming is no longer the situation where a child takes over the family farm that’s been in the family for years. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that between 2012 to 2022 there will be a 19% decline in the employment of farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers. That doesn’t necessarily mean that farming is left to the major corporations. Organic farming, for example, could still be a successful business venture for anyone interested in getting their hands dirty. In fact, organic farming has become a new field for people to explore who were once successful in other industries – Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco, is just one example. Over the last decade organic farming has become a booming industry. TIME reported earlier this year that organic sales have jumped 11.5% to to $35.1 billion in 2013. Even more promising is the fact that organic farming is expected to experience 12% growth in 2014. Why? Because it’s become mainstream. Instead of being found in niche retailers, like Whole Foods, organic produce can now be easily purchased in major retailers If you’re interested in becoming an organic farmer, here’s what you’ll need to do so. What is organic? Before jumping head first into organic farming, make sure that you understand exactly what organic means? The USDA defines organic as: “Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster …

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Free Fall Fertilizer From Your Worm Bin–Plus Worm Tea

compost

Gardeners and lawn enthusiasts know that late summer and early fall are a great time to give their plants an extra boost before winter begins. Your worms have been busy all summer breaking down kitchen and garden scraps. Now is a great time to dig in and harvest some “black gold.” The bottom level of your worm bin has seen the most worm action, so that’s the place to begin. If the material at that level looks like topsoil and has very few worms, then it’s ready to be used. (If you still see some eggshells or other hard materials, that’s ok, you can pick them out.) Depending on how busy your worms have been, what you are seeing may be vermicompost or it may be straight worm castings: If you have pure worm castings, the color and texture will be crumbly and rounded throughout. If you have vermicompost, the color may be evenly dark, but the texture will vary. Both are filled with nutrients for your plants. Those nutrients are easy for your plants to absorb and yet so stable that they may be available for as long as five years! In addition, neither will burn your plants.

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Worm Bin Bedding

Bedding is an essential part of your worm bin and often the key to your worms’ health and happiness. You will need to add bedding when you start a new vermicomposting bin, pile or trench. Fresh bedding can help if something has gone awry in your worm bin (see “Sick Worms”). If you need to harvest a lot of worm castings, you have the option of adding bedding to your worm bin. Bedding allows the worms a fresh environment, proper moisture, and room to breathe and move. Worms also eat bedding, so it has to be safe material. Here we’ll discuss some materials for worm bedding and how you should use them.

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Worm Facts

Do you know everything about your wiggly friends in the bin or garden? With their simple life underground, worms can remain mysterious creatures! Let’s open a can of worms and answer some popular questions about the life of a worm. Q: Do worms have mouths? A: Yes! A worms mouth is located in the first segment of its anterior (front) end. When the anterior end contracts, the mouth is covered by a very small and sensitive patch of flesh called the prostomium. Then, when the worm looks for food, the prostomium can stretch out, sensing suitable food particles and allowing the mouth to open wide to take in a surprising quantity of food. This is why your worms can eat up your food scraps in no time!

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How to Get Rid of Millipedes, Centipedes and Mites in Your Worm Bin

From time to time, you might find some other critters vying for space with your worms in their bin. It’s important to identify and eliminate harmful pests before they can multiply or harm your worms. Below are some common critters you might find: millipedes, centipedes and mites. Find out what they’re doing in your bin, and ways you can best get rid of them. Millipedes Millipedes are big, rounded wormlike creatures with their defining set of hundreds of tiny legs (though their name means “1000 legs,” it’s usually more like 400). They are slow-moving creatures that usually live in soil or plant matter. Most range from a half inch to two inches long, and their main duty is eating dead and decaying plants. Though millipedes look a little creepy, almost all species are actually beneficial to your garden and harmless to your worms! They are not true pests. You’ll usually find them in the bin if you’re using composted plant material or manure for bedding. They are only there to perform the same job as your worms by breaking down organic matter. There is no need to remove or kill them, but if you’d rather not have them there, it’s easy to pluck them out by hand without any harm to you or your worms.

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