What to do this month for your lawn/pasture
October is a transition month here in Florida. Sometimes (like this year) it's hard to tell that it's really fall. In fact, it's as hot and humid as any August. Except there has been a change - no more daily downpours; the light is getting shorter; the grass is growing slower.
During October, here are some tips on your what needs to be done to your grass this month:
Applications of worm castings
Click here for information on use and application rates for various crops.
which came first: The chicken or the fertilizer?
Now, Archer up there will be the first to tell you he's a really handsome fellow. But he's not just another pretty face. His manure is one of the most valuable organic fertilizers known.
Get more nitrogen and calcium
Nature is truly a wonderful thing. Did you know you can feed chicken manure to earthworms in your vermicomposting bin or worm farm? Just be careful....it's hotter than most any other organic material.
And, did you know you can improve your worm castings fertilizer's nitrogen and calcium content by adding composted chicken litter? That's why VermaMax Granules® is so potent. It's a blend of worm castings and organically composted chicken litter. But this chicken litter has the unique quality of being composted with the help of VermaPlex® liquid.
The combination of the purest worm castings on the planet and super-duper composted chicken litter produces an organic fertilizer that packs a powerful punch. Not only does VermaMax® contain extra, readily available nitrogen for high-users like corn, the calcium content is through the roof. A whopping 6.72%!
Calcium is extremely difficult to obtain organically and that's one of the criticisms used by certain unenlightened individuals against organic fertilizers. With VermMax®, you get extra calcium AND extra nitrogen in one easy-to-apply soil amendment.
Q & A
Q: I'm considering a cheaper worm castings product. How do I determine the quality of the castings?
A: Cheaper is cheap for a reason. If you want to find out how "pure" the cut-rate worm castings you've found are, here is a test:
Worm Castings Purity test
Raised beds solve many gardening problems such as:
Plus raised beds can add beauty and interest to a boring landscape by:
Adding pavers and gravel around the beds creates a cozy court yard effect. The beds design can be flexible - rectangular, square or in corners.
Raised Bed Soil and Planting Medium
Raised beds hold lots of soil. There are packaged pre-mixed planting soils available at local gardening centers, but mixing your own is more economical. For a good planting soil mix:
Watering Raised Beds
Adding a watering system as beds are built saves time and is easier to do. By laying in a seeping hose, emitter, or sprinklers now, watering during dry spells is a breeze.
Self watering systems make sense for raised beds as well. Simply install a barrel (paint or decorate to blend into the landscape), elevated higher than the raised bed ground level. Install a faucet at the bottom and attach a seep hose or emitters to lay along the bed. Fill the barrel with water and add a small dose of VermaPlex® for maximum plant nutrition through "micro-dosing".
Hard Times a'coming?
Whether you subscribe to the "preppers" movement or are just worried about contaminated food and rising costs, this book is a good addition to any gardening library. Solomon shares gardening knowledge from a time before chemical fertilizers and hybrid seeds.
He covers such things as land acquisition, soil fertility, how to start different types of gardens, tools, composting, insects and diseases, and (my favorite) seed saving.
Mr. Solomon created and ran a seed company in the 80's and he passes on his knowledge of collecting and saving seeds. I found the seed storage section particularly useful. Keeping saved seeds viable is a must if we want to become self-sufficient and maintain heirloom seed varieties. Proper seed storage is the key to retain viability. After using his seed-saving regime, I have better germination percentages than before.
A large portion of the book is dedicated to "What to grow and how to grow it". Many popular vegetables are covered with instructions on growing, harvesting, and (of course) seed saving. Check this book out sometime at your local library or online. It's a book that's been well-used in this household.
Visit Mr. Solomon's "About Me" page.
Seeds Plus VermaPlex
Gardening to-do list
The flowers are in full bloom, the vegetables are producing, and the grass is growing. While you're enjoying the beauty and harvest of your gardening efforts, here's a quick list of late summer chores:
Above all, keep cool. Fall's just around the corner.
If the worm castings are mostly vermicompost, the price should reflect the smaller concentration of castings contained in it. Vermicompost is an excellent amendment to your garden soil, but it will require more fertilizer applications at planting time and/or be replenished quickly.
Think of vermicompost more as a soil enhancement, adding tilth to your planting medium rather than as a fertilizer, although it does contain microbes and has fertilizer value. Vermicompost should be relatively inexpensive and probably should be bought locally, since the shipping costs can be prohibitive (especially if it's wet).
Worm castings with residual vermicompost material
A lot of the worm castings fertilizer you find for sale have a high concentration of worm castings but with a substantial amount of organic material (vermicompost) remaining in the product. This higher concentration of worm castings makes for better fertilizer than the vermicompost above, but a premium should not be charged for this fertilizer since it isn't "pure" and requires higher application rates.
Again, the shipping of un-concentrated worm castings that also contains large amounts of vermicompost is not cost effective. Before purchasing an unknown source of worm castings, it's probably wise to get a small amount or sample before getting large amounts only to find it isn't straight castings. Click here for a test to do for judging whether a worm castings product contains vermicompost.
Pure Worm Castings
Fertilizers that are pure castings are the most concentrated. The process to reach this level of purity is longer and more expensive than with simply vermicompsting organic material to a certain point and bagging it up. The application rates are lower for pure worm castings and the price should reflect this concentration.
Certified Organic and grown organically
Whether the pure worm castings being sold are certified organic or not is another consideration. Some castings are grown organically but lack the "certification". They may or may not conform with the standards set. You should not pay a premium for castings that do not have organic certification.
The certification process for fertilizers is difficult to achieve and maintain. This certification provides a user the assurance they are applying a truly "organic" product free of harmful toxins and poisons and that it conforms to standards set by organic certification boards.
Generally speaking, you should apply 20 pounds (or 320 ounces) of worm castings per 1000 feet of root growth if you're using VermaPlex®; or 40 pounds (or 640 ounces) of worm castings per 1000 square feet of root growth if you are not using VermaPlex®.
For calculating smaller garden plots, it's probably simpler to find the amount of castings per square foot. So, you would use .32 ounces worm castings per square foot with VermaPlex® and .64 ounces worm castings per square foot without VermaPlex®.
Worm castings for raised bed garden
When you build your bed and at the beginning of the growing season, a good mix for your square foot or raised bed garden is 30% worm castings added to your growing medium. Then apply side dressings of castings a few times through out the growing season.
If you're raising vegetables in a raised bed, particular an "intensive" planting where the entire bed is used by the plants, you can measure the length and width of the bed, then multiply by the number of beds to get the square feet of your planting area. Multiply the total square feet of planting area by .32 (or .64) to get the amount of castings required.
For instance, to add a side dressing of worm castings fertilize to an 8 x 4 foot raised bed, you would need about 10 ounces of worm castings per application. (8 feet times 4 feet = 32 square feet times .32 ounces worm castings = 10.24 ounces of worm castings.)
This is a small amount, but if you're using pure castings like Pure Black Castings™, which are concentrated and 99.9% all castings, it doesn't take a lot. Fertilizing with vermicompost, which is worm castings mixed with organic material, requires much larger amounts. Here is an article on this site which describes the difference between vermicompost and worm castings.
More Garden Fertilizing Info
World renowned canine author Digger Jones, sharing wisdom and wisecracks.