Fresh, healthy, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables grow from fertile, nutrient rich soil. Additionally, soil contains vitally important beneficial microbiology which helps plants uptake nutrients and helps defend against disease and pests. Building and maintaining fertile soil conditions should be the cornerstone of a gardeners efforts to grow successfully. I am excited to offer a Fall and Winter Gardening Workshop Series at Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens because they are equally committed to building healthy soils! Tim Heuer, the new executive director, has made soil building the core of his initial efforts at Fairview! I look forward to observing the transition back to a fertile, vital, productive operation at Fairview Gardens!! Please join me at one of the upcoming Fall Gardening workshops. Healing Grounds Nursery and Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens are committed to healing people and the planet one farm, one garden at a time!!
Unlike the majority of the United States who are putting their gardens to rest over the next five or six months, we enjoy year round growing opportunities here in Santa Barbara and the surrounding South Coast.
Now is a great time to plant peas, all kinds of leafy greens (lettuces, mustards, arugula, mache, spinach) broccoli, cabbages, carrots and beets, Now is the time to plants bulbing onions, leeks, garlic and shallots which will over winter and mature in late Spring. Even with the expected El Nino rains the temperatures are expected to remain somewhat warm so plants will continue to grow over the Winter months quite nicely. You might even consider planting some late season cherry tomatoes and be harvesting fruit at Thanksgiving and even at Christmas!!!
Take time to mulch beds and pathways well so you will be able to get around in your growing areas at this time. Capture as much water in your garden as possible so that you will not need to water much over the late-Fall and Winter months.
Want to learn more about what to plant now? I will be teaching a Fall and Winter Gardening Strategies workshop Saturday, October 24, 2015 from 3-4 PM at the Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens, $15 entrance fee. RSVP to Oscar Carmona 805 689•3044, email@example.com to reserve your space. See you there!!!
[Join Oscar Saturday August 15, 2015, 3-4pm, for a Workshop on Worm Composting and Compost Tea Systems. Hosted at Explore Ecology. 30 East Cota St, Santa Barbara, Ca 93101. $10. Call 805-689-3044 for more info.]
by Oscar Carmona
Originally published on LoaTree
Worm, or Vermi, composting is a process that allows any individual or family to turn kitchen waste into amazing soil amendment for plants in a garden or container. Follow these five easy steps and you’ll be worm composting for real!
STEP 1. Determine the type of worm bin you want to use.
Figuring bin size and or quantity of bins is important because a good system is a system that effectively deals with all of the kitchen waste you produce. Your bin should be big enough to handle the kitchen green waste (napkins, egg shells, coffee grounds/filters etc) you produce on a daily basis. If you are producing more than say a gallon container of green waste daily you may need a larger or multiple bins. Bin overload puts more stuff in your bin faster than the worms can break it down. You will soon be out of space to put more kitchen scraps. The bin can also go ‘anaerobic’ (no air inside the green waste) and smell like rotten eggs.
Where you keep your bin is important. The closer you place your bin to where you are creating the waste the easier and more certain it will be that you will use your compost bin regularly. I like a close-at-hand location like outside the kitchen door. Worms will die out when they run out of food and/or their environment is too wet or too dry. You need to use your bin regularly to see that those basic requirements are maintained.
32-gallon tupperware. ‘The Classic.’
Additionally, there are a few different types of worm composting systems available for home use. Use a system you can get buy into. Your enthusiasm will greatly aid success. The 32 gal Tupperware container pictured with this article is one I recommend for a family or individual that produces a gallon of green waste or less daily. It is a simple, cheap, light weight option.
STEP 2. Make sure your worm bin has these two key features.
-Holes high up on the sides of the bin small enough to keep critters out but also allow air to pass in. Having holes down low can allow liquid (tea) accumulated in the composting process to run out and create a mess. Especially no bueno if its near your kitchen door.
-A tight fitting lid will help keep your bin free of bothersome flies or other visitors like rodents or raccoons.
STEP 3. Provide bedding of some type for your worm bin.
Newspaper strip bedding
Peat moss, shredded newspaper or dried leaves are materials most often used for bedding. It provides worms with an interface between the kitchen waste, the worm castings they produce and the worms themselves. I use newspaper strips because newspaper is an easy to get material. Rip newspaper sections lengthwise to make long narrow strips as the pulp fiber of the newspaper sheets run that way. You’ll get random pieces if you try to rip the paper sideways. Oh, and don’t worry about lead in the print – it’s all soy based ink now – but avoid using the glossy sections. Make sure to moisten the bedding sufficiently (like a fully charged sponge) but not enough to leave standing water at the bottom of the bin before you put the worms in. Place newspaper on bottom of bin when ready.
STEP 4. Place worms and their food together in your newly set up bin.
Once the bedding is in place, spread the worms out in an area on top of it. You can start with a small amount of healthy worm culture (worm babies, adults, cocoons with some organic matter in various states of decomposition), say a handful, and nurture the colony along slowly. You can also put in a good amount of worms, a 2-gallon bucket full, for faster action. Place kitchen waste next to the worms so they have something ready to eat soon. Place a healthy amount of newspaper strips over the worms and food.
STEP 5. Harvest Worm Castings when bin is full.
Typical food waste/green waste
When the green waste that you’ve been putting into the bin looks mostly like black rich soil it’s done! It usually takes about two to three months to end up with a bin full of worm castings. Worm castings, finished worm compost, can be taken out of the bin to use for your garden or container soil environments. Worms can be separated out by dumping the bin onto a tarp. Worms are light sensitive and will move into the pile and away from light. Pull away the outer edges. If you get a few worms mixed in just include them in the soil mix. Make sure to return about one fourth the amount of worm culture back to the bin with fresh bedding and food to keep the process going.
If you’d like to learn more about worms and worm composting, my wife Tahara and I will be giving a worm composting workshop in Santa Barbara, Ca. on February 2nd at Art From Scrap. You can get worms and worm composting systems at the workshop. You can also get them from me at the Saturday or Sunday Santa Barbara Farmers’ Market. For more information about me, Healing Grounds Nursery or home food production, go to my website www.healinggroundsnursery.com.
Healing Grounds Nursery.
Oscar Carmona, owner and operator of Healing Grounds Nursery, has spent the last 25 years helping connect people, plants, and the planet. He has taught sustainable landscape courses, gardening classes and home consultation for better living throughout California.
The months of August and the first part of September are a great time to do a planting of all your favorite vegetables that you have been enjoying for the past few months. Tomatoes, peppers, melons, pumpkins beans, cucumbers can all be transplanted now into your garden and enjoyed as the days start slowly shortening into the Fall season. I call this time of year Santa Barbara Spring because we typically get Spring-like weather at this time of year with even more consistent heat and dryness that all these vegetables really like. Last year, with the quirky weather we experienced late in the year, many people reported harvests well into December.
I do recommend that you select Early season varieties which tend to be smaller fruited types that do well as the days shorten and the evening cool down a bit. For tomatoes, that would be Early Girl, Jetsetter, Stupice and any number of Cherry varieties such as Sungold or Sweet 100. Zucchini squash is a great choice as it matures pretty fast. Baby Watermelon and Small fruited pumpkins, if transplanted before Labor Day, will typically yield a good late crop. Peppers tend to be pretty hardy and can withstand a little coolness at night as long as they get full sun during the day.
And remember that you can also start planting Broccoli, Lettuces, Peas Cabbages and other leafy greens especially as we move past labor day into early September! Healing Grounds Nursery has all the best late Summer varieties available for sale now! Catch me at the Farmers’ Markets on Saturday in downtown Santa Barbara or on Sunday in Goleta. Hope to see you soon and look out for my workshops offered seasonally year around at different venues throughout the South Coast. Happy and Fruitful gardening everyone!!!!
I have been asked to lead a cutting-edge educational opportunity for at risk youth attending the Quetzal High continuation schools located on the La Cumbre Junior High Campus and at the Westside community center. I will be engaging the students in production gardening in order to market their produce, salsas and salad dressings. They will create a marketing campaign to sell their goods including designing a logo and tell their story as part of their promotions package. The students are fully engaged and enthusiastic about this new venture. The principal, vice principal and teachers at both locations are on-board too! I will keep you updated on our progress in future newletters. Stay tuned!!!!
Champion Collards, Brassica oleraceae- Collard greens are highly nutritious staple green “cabbage-like leaves” vegetable. Collards are one of the most popular members of the Brassica family, closely related to kale and cabbage and could be described as a non-heading (acephalous) cabbage. The plant grows up to 3-4 feet in height and bears dark-green leaves arranged in a rosette fashion around an upright, stocky main stem. 60 days to maturity. Wonderfully nutritious collard leaves are very low in calories (provide only 30 calories per 100 g) and contain no cholesterol. However, its green leaves contain a very good amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber that helps control LDL cholesterol levels and offer protection against hemorrhoids, constipation as well as colon cancer diseases. Further, the leaves and stems are good in minerals like iron, calcium, copper, manganese, selenium and zinc.