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Ralph Kettell

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since Nov 18, 2017
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Recent posts by Ralph Kettell

I have scaled up my worm tea production.   With a typical medium size aquarium pump i could do maybe 5 gals per day.    Then I purchased an 18.5 gpm air pump from amazon and a  32 gal trash can from Home Depot. Now I can make 30 gallons overnight.  The photos shown have the new pump but they were taken prior to the purchase of the trash can.  The video shows the bubbling intensity,  but in the deeper narrower can the intensity greater still,  as the bubbles accelerate as they rise. With my increased worm castings production of about 3 cu.ft per month,  I can make virtually unlimited amounts of worm tea.  I guess that i currently have about 30 lbs of worms working for me.   I need to soon source more organic material for the wormies to process.

Hmm the mp4 bubbling video cannot be attached.  Hmmmmm?

Sincerely,

Ralph
1 month ago
My wife uses it to make the best rye bread.  It tastes great and it makes the homemade bread keep longer.  Normally the bread is great for a couple days, good for a couple more and then fits downhill quickly.  The rye bread with pickle juice is still quite good over a week out.  I suppose it acts as a preservative which homemade bread generally dies not contain.
2 months ago
Thanks for that Erica,

BTW, when are you and hubby gong to write a step by step how to book on building batch box rocket stove(s).  Your J tube book was great, i'd certainly by a copy of one on batch boxes.

Sincerely,

Ralph
5 months ago
Hello all you worm fans in Permieland,

I may have discovered the reason for the unrest among the blue worms.  It seems they are living in red worm bins and frankly don't like it.  All kidding aside that may be the case.

I decided to segregate my worms now that I have so many bins.  The first attempt at this was putting the bolting blues from the various bin into their own fresh new bin.  It was not a very inviting bin as it was fresh wetted cardboard with a small amount of dirt thrown in to inoculate the bedding with some soil life.  Usually when I start a new bin, I add a healthy amount of worm castings to make the worms feel more at home.  I did not want a bunch of red cocoons in the new bin so I did not do that this time. My point in providing all the info about the bin is that is was not a special environment by any means.  In fact it did not have the usual attention given to it for ventilation as it was a temporary throw together.

What I have discovered in the past several weeks is that the blue worms which had been bolting from their prior home were now quite happy with their new surroundings.  My conclusion is that either they don't like red worms or the red worm castings or the reds have organized to evict the blues.  

Sincerely,

Ralph


5 months ago
Hi Rachel,

Sorry for the delay in responding, but the weekends are a busy time here. As Annie said you are off to a good start.  Also I agree with her comment on cardboard although I shred my cardboard in a paper shredder.  It is my primary bedding material.  Coco coir and peat moss make good bedding but they don't have much nutrition for the little guys.  That's why I I prefer cardboard.  It is bedding that turns into food and then worm castings.  If you have a source of manure, try composting the cardboard with the manure.  Once it is no longer hot, add it to the bin.  The cardboard will have begun to break down and the manure will have gone through its initial break down which is too hot for the little wigglers.

I clean of all the tape and labels and use mostly unpainted cardboard.  I have a medium size paper shredder and it does just fine shredding most cardboard.  You have to remember to lubricate it, and feed reasonable sized pieces into it and it should shred for you.  Mine over heats after a while and then I give it a rest and start again after it has cooled down.  I now try to do it in smaller batches and rarely have it over heat.

With the worm setup you have purchased you will not have the problem that is common in many start-up worm bins which use plastic bins.  The problem with plastic bins is lack of ventilation.  You will, however, have to keep your bedding moist in the worm tower  by adding water every few days.  Don't drench it, and check it after a day or two to make sure it is not too wet.  If it is too wet mix it up a bit, move the wettest bedding to the top where it will dry out more readily and if need be add some sprinkles of dry bedding to the wettest spots to soak up some of the excess moisture.

The biggest problem most people have with their worms is over feeding.  At the moment you only have 250 worms.  They will not die of starvation  and if you add some cardboard they will have something to munch on if the preferred food, scraps, run out.  You will know if you are overfeeding if the bin starts to stink.  Check the old food and make sure most of it is gone before adding more.  Feed in a different location from the last feeding.  Keep then moving around.

The trick to speeding up the castings production process a bit is using a blender to grind up the food before feeding it to the worms or freeze it which will help break down the food when it thaws.  In summer time it is not a bad idea to add the frozen food to the bin when still frozen.  It will act as temporary cooling for a warmer summer bin.

Never ever place your bin in the sun. If it is outside, keep it in the shade.

Happy worming

Sincerely,

Ralph

Rachel Hankins wrote:
I just started my own worm farm yesterday and I am so excited about it. I am in the process of building a new compost bin for our property (has to be in a stationary position away from my other community members per my boss otherwise I love the compost piles right in the garden area idea) and I plan on planting comfrey around the edges of the wall. I guess I should get some seeds now!



Hi Rachel,

I can give you a few pointers that I have learned since raising worms for the past year plus.

First some questions, what type of container are you using for your worm farm?  What is your bedding material?  How often are you feeding them and how much?  How many worms and what type are you starting with? Where are you keeping them (mainly for environmental/temperature reasons)?

With that info, i can provide you with more specific suggestions.

I now have 5 bins going and about to expand to 7 or 9.  I plan on producing a lot of worms castings for this growing season.

Sincerely,

Ralph
Along the lines that Redhawk and Eric have said concerning compost, I would suggest something you can do now before you close on your property and have a kickstart on your first years garden.  It is super compost that you can start now.   It won't take up too much space in your home and you have a 3 to 4 months headstart in which to do it.

Make worm castings for your garden, or in other words become a worm farmer. Make as many worm bins as you have room for in your current location and do it immediately.  I and others on Permies can help you do it without the failures that most first time wormers encounter.  For example if you invest in 4 tubs and the worms for them, the cost would be roughly $150.  You would be able to produce about 6 cu ft of castings by June.   You can add it to the soil when you plant individual plants and you can make a foliar worm tea with it or worm tea to water/fertilize the plants with.   Going forward you can keep the same production rate of 6 cu ft/ 4 months or you can expand.  My motto is you can never have too much worm castings.

I would also suggest you go online an purchase some Russian comfrey (bocking 4 or 14)root cuttings and get them started in a window box or equivalent.  They take a while to get started so you can gain a whole year by starting now.  In 4 months they will be nice sized plants and you can plant them in the existing soil as they will grow most anywhere.  When they are late in the second year you can start chop and drop and they also make great compost tea for feeding your garden.  So that is two things you can do today to make a difference in your garden with a small amount of space.

Congratulations and best wishes,

Ralph
If are fortunate enough to have a freeze dryer, it is a great way to preserve vegetables and other food items as well.   For example my wife likes to add kale to some/many of her soups and when we do not have fresh garden kale we have the freeze dried version and it keeps almost indefinitely.  The other day she was low and ask me to pick up some bagged kale at the grocery store.  I got lucky as I picked up a couple bags and then went past a produce employee marking down some produce.  When I asked what she had, i discovered that she was marking down four bags of organic kale from $4 to $1.50.  This was because that was the last day they could sell it.  I bought three bags and went home and fired up the freeze drier.  The first batch was done Wednesday and the second batch finished today and now we are drying a batch of raw milk.

It is not an inexpensive appliance, although the price has come down significantly from what we paid four years ago.  However, it is a great way to keep from food from rotting and we just love freeze dried apples, peaches, peppers and many others.  The aformentioned list are all great healthy snacks and even green peppers taste great as a snack once all the water is removed, especially if they are organically grown in your garden.  We even freeze dried ice cream sandwiches just to prove that we could do it.

Sincerely,

Ralph
OOPs. I forgot to also link in Part 2 of the video.

Link :  


FYI the first video is about 40 minutes and the second just under an hour

Also this video is very relevant to this particular thread as the biochar he creates with his DIY retort is almost no ash.

Sincerely,

Ralph
6 months ago
Here is a youtube video i found a couple days ago.  It is the record of a Biochar Workshop put on by a company that produces biochar commerically.  In it the leader of the workshop, Bob Wells demonstrates how to make biochar in a do-it-yourself retort made from two barrels and a chimney and he goes through the whole process including how to make the retort.  I found it fascinating, but it is a long video.  I hope you all enjoy it and learn as much from it as I did.

Here is the link :  


Sincerely,

Ralph
6 months ago