Being a consumer of mass quantities of brew I'm always on the hunt for new and exotic varieties. It was during this quest for nourishing and essential liquids that I came across several references to compost and worm teas. OK, truth be told I was really looking for ideas on how to best apply my worm castings, something I have about a pound of every two to three weeks. Now the worm teas can get quite expensive and I understand why given the amount necessary to make an effective application. That's when I realized that I have compost, and plenty of it. So, since that day I have kept the production line going and the garden is loving it like a hobo at a cigar convention. It couldn't be easier to make and the hardest part is the waiting. The process described below takes about three or four days after which I start it all over again.
The finished tea will have a high content of beneficial organisms and nutrients, will help breakdown toxins, and will increase the growth of the treated plants. The tea can be used a foliar application which wards of pests and diseases. The other application is simply soaking the soil in your garden. And the best part is you can still use the steeped compost as one normally would, essentially doubling the usefulness of your compost. Now, unlike others, I'm not going to say that you'll notice the difference overnight but you will see it within two or three days. For instance, we had a crappy, cold, overcast summer here and our tomato plants didn't produce much, some barely at all. But since the tea has been flowing there has been a marked improvement in the plants, the number and size of fruit, and the flavor. No kidding. Here it is the middle of November and I still have San Marzanos ripening!
Here are two recipes:
Compost Tea from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Compost Tea from Fine Gardening
As with any recipe, you will soon experiment with it and make it your own. For instance, I've taken to adding a handful of worm castings to the compost before steeping. Also, I like to let the water sit with the bubblers in it for 24 hours before adding the compost. I do this as an added precaution to make sure all of the chlorine has been blown off, plus it helps add more oxygen to the water. I have also attached a small rock to each of the bubblers to make sure they stay submerged.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Beyond the obvious benefits of our location in regards to gardening we are also lucky enough to be in a great place for bicycling. Yeah, hopping on the cruiser and going for a slow ride to take in the weather is great but I'm talking about a different and no less enjoyable type of bicycling. Practical bicycling - the bike as a primary mode of transportation.
Having lived in Los Angeles for my pretty much my entire life I would not be living here if I had a daily commute from some impossibly far-flung bedroom community to some rat turd of a job in some rat turd of an office. The stress is the first thing that comes to mind but of more importance is the impact to our environment. I'm not speaking about the carbon footprint or C02 emissions type of environment of which we could have thousands of worthwhile discussions. I'm speaking about the environment that one creates to live, work and play in. A quality of life both physical and mental.
I've always loved riding and have been through many phases with it. From mountain biking in the Santa Monica mountains to commuting to Yvette's house in the valley from my old place in downtown to cruising the bike path at the beach. Then, about 3 years ago I heard or read something, I can't remember what/who/where telling about a self-imposed rule: a three mile rule. The rule being that if at all possible he/she would ride a bike (or walk) if the destination was within three miles of home. "Great idea!" I thought and I started to live by this rule the very next day. At that time my mountain bike was in a sad state of neglect as I had been enjoying the slow ride that my beach cruiser offered. The cruiser served me well for the first year or so but the more adventurous I became the more apparent its limitations as a work bike became. So I have since upgraded to and an 8-speed city/commuter bike perfectly suited for my purposes. Fear not though, the cruiser is still in commission and does get its share of quality Fred-butt-time. The transition from driving to riding was not a difficult one nor did I intend it as a political statement. Purely practical. But you would be amazed at the reactions I would and still get from people. Be they strangers, friends, or family some folks seem to think of biking as a novelty best left for children and the poor and nothing more. "Did you ride your bicycle here?" was something I heard a lot and it was usually accompanied by a wry, sarcastic smile. As if my means of transportation has somehow made me less there. The other thing I hear a lot is "Oh, that's sooooo great, I'd love to ride more but (insert excuse consciously or subconsciously meant to justify not doing it)." Mind you, I'm not proselytizing to anyone or passing judgment. I don't even bring it up anymore. It has simply become part of my everyday life, like breathing or walking.
So after three years of living with this simple rule my life hasn't changed much. I still have a car and I do drive it, albeit about 85% less. I'm not the movement poster boy that's going to tell you that you'll lose 20 or 30 pounds, transform the urban environment, and end wars for oil. But I will tell you that if you decide to try something like this you will feel a difference immediately. By simply slowing down a little your neighborhood will open up and show you things you never knew were there. You will have a great excuse to get away from your computer and get outside. You will find yourself looking for reasons to go take a ride. You will notice that you can often get to the store/post office/lunch in about the same time as it would take you to drive and park plus you'll feel great once you get there. Try it. Even if you don't think you're up for it, try it. I think you'll find that you are.
Yvette joins me for ride to the nursery.