worms, composting, organic gardening, and nature

Archive for November, 2012

Planting Seeds of Change


Worm Rancher, Organic Gardener, Ecopreneur, Environmentalist, Educator, Wife, Mom…just a few of the roles I play.  Educator is one of my favorite hats…every Wednesday, I teach a group of great middle school kids about organic gardening, food systems, and healthy eating.  We’ve built and planted a garden, tended it, and watched as things suspiciously disappeared.  Finally, we pulled our first harvest yesterday!

ImageThe Boys Are Excited to See the Season’s First Radish from Their Plot!

 

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While the boys were proudly posing, the girls found a bigger radish in their plot!

 

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We judged that they probably weighed about the same, so everybody was a winner.

These kids love making wholesome snacks–we’ve made everything from Whole Grain Elvis Sandwiches to Free-Range, Breakfast Egg Casserole.  They’ve explored different dips:  hummus, tzaziki and pumpkin.  They got to play with pullets and learned the entire egg and poultry business food cycle from a local urban chicken keeper. 

Yesterday, we started with harvesting our class worm bin, looked at the worm casting microbes under the microscope (identified nematodes!), ate a healthy, organic snack, discussed food labels a bit and harvested and sliced the radishes for everybody to have a bite.  That’s a lot, but these kids are hungry for more…learning and good, healthy food.

Now, if I can just resist my urge to take a sledge hammer to the gross vending machine in the hallway!  That’s the Mom in me, that can’t stand to see the preservative filled, HFCS, high trans fat, and processed Frankenfood that lures these kids every day.

I’ll keep on teaching and growing and hope some of this sinks in for these kids to make better choices.  Our county (Dallas) has a crisis task force on childhood obesity.  I humbly present a couple of starting points for reducing the problem–remove the vending machine, add more after school nutrition and garden education, give them seeds and watch them grow. 

 

 

 

When a Leaf Falls in the Forest…


There’s no need to call the leaf blower!

Your daily food for thought: Do forests need chemical fertilization?

No.

Why? Because the trees shed leaves or pine needles for self-fertilization. Just like in your yard–see those bags on your curb? You just threw your free fertilizer away. Mulch mow that in or compost it. If you have excess, you can take it to a local farmer or community garden.  Sending ti to the landfill just takes up landfill space and creates methane air pollution when it decomposes there.

That noisy leaf blower…not only does it irritate your neighbors and make you deaf, but it creates the same amount of toxic air pollution as 17 cars used the same amount of time.

Our planet’s soil used to be an ecosystem with microscopic organisms that ate and returned nutrients to trees and grass  from decomposing leaves, grass, and other organic debris while keeping disease and pests in balance (funny how Nature provides that and we didn’t need chemicals until post WW2, right?).  Most Americans have spent thousands of dollars on chemical fertilizers, weed killers, pesticides and fungicides that kill off this healthy ecosystem.  It’s about the same as deciding your body doesn’t need skin to protect it anymore, lets just kill it!  So now, many of our urban yards and vast acres of conventional croplands are sterile soil ecosystems–ripe for pests, ripe for disease, and needing more and more chemical fertilizers to look like golf course paradises.

Those chemicals, the ones with millions of dollars of advertising?  Started with petro-chemical companies wanting to get rid of excess munitions after WWII  Today, they kill off our natural soil organisms that should be working for us, are hazardous to our families with constant exposure as we play in our yards, and runoff and pollute our waterways.  Midwest cropland chemical pollution travels all the way down the Mississippi River and destroys prime coastal habitats in the Gulf of Mexico.

How do we restore our soil ecosystem and put those wonderful micro-organisms back into our soil and stop the cycle of pollution?  First, use those leaves!  Second, Worm castings and worm casting teas are one of the most complete and rich sources of these natural microbes.  Caveat–maybe not the bags of worm castings you buy at the retail nursery.  They are dried and sealed tightly in an airtight plastic bag.  No oxygen or moisture=no life.–  Texas Worm Ranch  harvests and sells our worm castings the same week, puts them in breathable bags and strives to have the highest number of beneficial microbes, backed up by microscope and laboratory testing.  We can ship small amounts or arrange for large amounts.  We can spray your property locally in the Dallas Ft. Worth area or help you make your own worm casting tea anywhere in the country.  We are here to help you have a safe, natural, and healthy ecosytem–from your yard, your family and our mutual planet.  E-mail us at rancher@txwormranch.com and let us know your needs.

Don’t judge the bookworm by it’s cover


I often have customers tell me they have bought worm castings from a retail nursery and not really noticed any improvement from the application.  There is a good reason or two for that.  1)  If castings are dried and sealed in a clear, airtight container–there is no chance for beneficial soil microbes to be alive.  2)  Often, the retail castings are produced from straight peat moss.  Peat moss harvesting is destructive to the habitats they come from. Peat is also known to be antimicrobial, which defeats the soil microbe building purpose of worm castings.  The reason the producers use Peat Moss?  It looks a lot like worm castings, so that when screened, the customer doesn’t know the difference and just believes it is all a uniform product.  I call it the McDonald’s effect–the urge for consistency, even if it is an inferior product.

Our castings may not look entirely uniform.  We do screen at a 1/8 inch size screening, so the vast majority of the material will be straight castings.  Any other material is great food for the living microbes in the castings to continue feeding on and activating your soil with.  I love picking up and holding our freshly harvested castings.  It almost feels like a high dollar spa treatment in your hands–cool, earthy, moist and smelling of forest floor.  We harvest weekly to get our customers the freshest castings possible.  Our castings are packaged in breathable bags to maintain microbe life.  We also sell in bulk, and maintain that same level of quality whether you buy 2 lbs or 2,000.

Why buy Texas Worm Ranch Castings?

  • Unlike other casting producers, our worms are never fed peat moss (an unsustainable and antimicrobial food source) or just one food source of any kind. 
  • We custom feed a diverse mix of natural vegetative waste to produce a premium standard of abundant biomass of beneficial soil organisms and nutrients.
  • We use our castings in our own organic yard and tree treatments and vegetable production.  We require the highest quality for our purposes, and pass that quality on for our customers’ success.
  • Our castings are harvested weekly and kept moist and alive to ensure you get the highest quality and mass of biological life when applied to your property.
  • We monitor by microscope for diverse and abundant beneficial microbes and will soon have test results from a SoilFoodWeb and Dr. Elaine Ingram approved laboratory for diversity and mass of soil biology and nutrient cycling potential.

Our Goal is to ensure that our castings are the premium standard for the industry, in both nutrient value and soil biology.  Texas Worm Ranch commits to quality and our mission is to:

Reduce the local waste stream

Create beautiful and safe landscapes, gardens, and farms

Promote the use and enjoyment of local, sustainable and organic agriculture

We appreciate your support of this mission and sincerely appreciate your business.

Happy Growing!

 

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving time, one of our favorite holidays.  Where nothing is expected but good food, good football and minor family drama.  It is a time of harvest abundance and a time to give thanks.  At Texas Worm Ranch, we would like to express our thanks to our customers who have offered friendship, encouragement, and support throughout this year.  We truly appreciate your business!

This Saturday is our last farmer’s market opportunity at White Rock Local Market before your glorious Thanksgiving meal.  Many farmers will be bringing their best Fall produce to help you with your menu.  Please consider supporting these local farmers, as the market season is about to wind down.  I know they would be thankful for your kind support of their families and farms.

At Texas Worm Ranch, we grow everything naturally.  No chemicals are ever used, but our plants are given lots of natural tender loving care to ensure they are delicious, fresh, safe and nutrient dense.  Did you know we grow our produce less than 2 miles from White Rock Local Market?  That is almost as fresh as growing it yourself!  

What I have found can transport my Thanksgiving meals from pedestrian to gourmet, is the use of fresh herbs.  This Saturday, at White Rock Local Market, we will have fresh sage to add to your Turkey or Dressing.  Fresh chives can make your potato dish pop, and fresh mint will be available to add an extra element to tea or dessert.  Yes, we will bring kale and Swiss Chard and arugula too. We look forward to being a small part of your family’s Happy Thanksgiving.

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