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MAYTime Composting News

August, 2013

The Cobbler's Children - the Composter's Garden!


July was a busy month for MAYTime Composting. We have begun several new projects in anticipation of our first major worm casting harvests this fall. We will be building three new storage areas, harvest carts, and feeding / screening equipment. In addition, the trailer we have been renovating for office / shop / storage is now in place, and there is a lot of finishing work to do.

MAYTime also took delivery this past week of 300 lbs of worms. That is about 300,000 new critters to care for. (Come see our operation! I bet you’ve never seen ½ million worms in one place before!)
 
Several times during the month, I walked past one of our demonstration gardens, and noted that several pepper plants I had put in earlier were not doing well – they were rather yellow, and not growing. Each time I made a mental note to feed them – peppers can be heavy feeders – and then forgot or got distracted by all the other things that needed doing.
 
Finally one day, around six in the evening, I took five minutes to mix up some compost, worm castings, and organic fertilizer. I top-dressed around each plant with a double handful of this mix. I watered them quickly with rainwater from a nearby bucket.
 
I wish I had taken pictures.
 
In 24 hours, these pepper plants had all turned green, and grown at least two inches.
 
Vegetable gardens need to be fed at times. Compost and worm castings will help make that feeding more productive.

Fortunately, a friend sent me a photo of HIS pepper plants, with and without worm castings:


"Here's a photo of some of my peppers... Same pepper plants, planted at the same time, same soil.  The difference was that the larger one received worm castings at 1 month and 3 months.  Both have received roughly an equal amount of compost." (From Clif Odell, Woodfin, NC)

 

 




Other Composters...

Most any composter eventually encounters the Black Soldier Fly (BSF). BSF larvae are found in many compost piles – they especially like manures and food waste. They appear as masses of very active, brown-gray grubs, and mature into flies that look like black wasps - although they are completely harmless. The larvae are extremely efficient at devouring food waste.

 
 Soldier Fly Composters















Many farmers and Homesteaders are beginning to use BSF larvae as home composters, but more commonly as chicken feed. I recently helped a couple friends in Celo begin setting up a BSF operation for their chickens. Look for reports on their progress in future newsletters!


 



Organic Standards for Compost
and Worm Castings

I am often asked if my compost is “Organic”. This is not always an easy question to answer, as there are no clear standards (that I am aware of) that define “Organic Compost”.  Some customers in fact want compost that is only made from Certified Organic ingredients. Such compost would be extremely expensive and difficult to produce!

Both the USDA and OMRI have guidelines for Compost that is considered “suitable for use on Certified Organic farms”.  These guidelines allow the use of raw materials that are not necessarily “Certified Organic” in origin. All raw materials must be organic (small “o” organic, meaning not synthetic) in origin, and they provide a list of about 20 chemicals that may not be present – mostly specific herbicides and pesticides. Materials must also meet standard time / temperature requirements for reduction of pathogens.
 
Worm Castings and Vermicompost have an interesting twist under USDA guidelines. If raw manure is fed to a worm bin, the castings produced are treated by the USDA as raw manure. They may be applied to a field or garden, but there must be 120 days between application and harvest.

On the other hand, If the manure is composted first (as it is here at MAYTime), and then fed to worms, no such restriction applies. In this case, the worms are being fed compost, not manure.
 
I have reviewed all this with the regional USDA Certification specialist, and can say with confidence that the compost and worm castings produced by MAYTime are suitable for use on Organic Certified farms.


Why Use Worm Castings? More Research


http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/lisaexpcompost.htm

This link leads to a brief article and a few vivid photographs showing the benefits of Worm Castings. Take a look!

 


Home and Small Farm Vermicomposting Workshops

Saturday November 2, 1:00 - 4:00 pm.

Looking for a simple, sustainable way to compost at home? Come to MAYTime Composting Systems for an afternoon session that will teach you how to turn your kitchen scraps – and other organic "waste" – into valuable garden supplements. Each participant will take home a complete worm composting setup – bin, worms and all!
 
Topics We Will Cover…

  • Care and Feeding of Redworms
  • Bedding Materials
  • Temperature, Moisture, and Other Environmental Factors
  • Potential Problems, and Remedies
  • Alternate Worm Bin Designs and Methods
  • Harvesting Castings – and Worms
  • Using Castings for your House Plants and Your Gardens
  • Research on Worm Compost Benefits

 
Fee is $45. Workshop is limited to 10 participants. Sign up by emailing mark@maytimecomposting.com, or call 828-231-9352.

 

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Between 60 and 80% of everything we send to landfills is compostable.
When this material decays, it produces methane - a greenhouse gas.
You can help change this. Join the Composting Circle.

 

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