Sunday 3 June 2007

Brockley permaculture update

I‘m happy to report that all is well in the Beecroft Road allotment. The sweet peas are coming along nicely and I think through the sighting of many bees and a few butterflies I can successfully say that biodiversity has increased in this part of London!

Friday 1 June 2007

Added: newspaper, egg shells

Friday 25 May 2007

Moving down under...

The worms have moved under the table; you may be thinking that this is because of the summer season and the desire to keep cool but its actually because we need the space on the table more than we need a container full of worms on there!

Added today: Potato peelings, kiwi fruit skins, apple skin, parsnip, lettuce, radish stalks

Saturday 19 May 2007

Added today: banana skins, teabags, potato peelings, carott peelings, newspaper shreddings

Monday 14 May 2007

Added today: onion skins, banana skins, potato peelings, spring onion, teabags

Tuesday 8 May 2007

Composting bin update

Bin is looking healthy although a few flies have begun to appear. I am considering moving the bin outside as the weather is warm enough now and the fresh air won't do the bin any harm at all.

It looks as though I have my first funghi in the bin aswell!

Added: stalks from home grown mixed leaf lettuce

The vermicomposting cycle is complete!

Tonight the first meal resulting from the work of the worms was created. Now I must confess that the whole meal was not completely comprised of ingredients resulting from the worms work but there were some, namely the mixed leaf lettuce.

I chose to make a risotto with lemon, mixed leaf lettuce and pine kernels. See images below:

I stripped the leaves off the stalks for the meal which meant that I had green waste left over which of course went straight into the composting bin so the process could begin again!

Monday 7 May 2007

More food!

This morning I picked our mixed leaf lettuce and some more radishes. Tastes very good, i recommend it!

Saturday 5 May 2007

Brockley permaculture update...we have food!

We have our first harvest! Today we picked some of horse radishes. Now i have to confess that I don't particularly like Horse radishes but my housemate does so they will be put to good use! The mixed leaf lettuce is just about ready to pick so expect an update on the first meal created with the fruits or rather vegetables of our labour!

As you can see I have also got more plants on the go with Lavender, Rocket (already sprouting only a few days after planting!) and sweet peas. I have to say that it's very rewarding growing and eating your own food!

Thursday 3 May 2007

Extra-curricular permaculture

I thought I should also include some other things we have growing in the flat; those being our fig and orange trees. When we moved to the flat the fig tree was looking very sad but as you can see from the photo it's a picture of health now and relishes basking in the morning sun that blazes through the bay window every day. Note use of old industrial-sized paint containers as pots, our solar-powered battery recharger and our bottle of marrow rum which is fermenting next to the fig tree!

Tuesday 24 April 2007

Brockley permaculture update...

Things are starting to kick off on the growing front with the Nasturtiums (part of the soil experiment), seed trays and herb + veg boxes all showing signs of a healthy improvement.
The soil experiment to see if vermicompost makes a difference to normal compost has so far proved that there isn't any difference! All Nasturtiums seem to be growing at the same rate but they're may yet be a change as I plan to add some vermicompost 'tea' which is basically a mix of water and vermicompost which you use in the same way as Baby Bio and similar products.
The salad and herb draw is at various stages of development with the mixedleaf lettuce growing very quickly. Coriander and Chives have just started to poke their heads out of the soil and Basil is yet to appear. The other draws which have aubergine, onions, wild flowers, horse radish, perpetual spinach and lettuce are all showing signs of growing with the horse radish not far away from picking. Various tree saplings seem to have sprouted which is probably down to the fact that we got some mulch from the Parks department and there must have been seed contained within it. I think I will transfer these soon to separate pots and nurture them into small trees for a park. In the seed trays we have mixed leaf lettuce and thyme. One of them seems to be struggling a lot and a change of position this week will hopefully induce it into some action.

More planting to happen shortly featuring: Sweet Peas, Lavender, Rocket.

Added: fresh newspaper shreddings

Tuesday 10 April 2007

Added: leeks, pototo peelings, apple peelings, banana skins, parsnip, carrot, mixed greens, kiwi fruit skins

Monday 2 April 2007

Vermiculture cycle progress update

As you will see from the images things are beginning to take shape on the food growing front. The draws in our front garden are looking healthy and there are signs of growth in the seed trays on our front window cill.

Friday 30 March 2007

added: lettuce, kiwi fruit, apple peelings, banana skins, potato peelings, onion skins

Monday 26 March 2007

new arrivals!

Today the population of the worm bin has risen to around 1500 worms with addition of another 250g worth of eisenia fetida. They have been introduced to combat the increased amount of organic waste that the household is producing (a direct result of using an organic box scheme service). Thanks to the Royal Mail they have spent the weekend inside a collection office down the road but thankfully all is well and they are now safely tucked up inside their new home :)

Sunday 18 March 2007

Added: banana skins, roots and soil of a deceased cactus plant, used teabags, lettuce, onion skins

Sunday 11 March 2007

Soil experiments

Following on from the planting of new food I have decided to test the quality of the fertiliser that the worms are producing. I have set up 3 'pots' (recycled cardboard containers from our organic vegetables box scheme), in each of the pots there is a different mix of soil. Pot 1 has compost in it; Pot 2 has compost mixed with vermicompost (the stuff i get from the worm bin); and Pot 3 has pure vermicompost in it. I have planted Nasturtium seeds in these and will observe the progress of these over the coming months to see if there is any difference in growth between the 3 pots.

Monday 5 March 2007

Added: leek, potato peelings, kiwi fruit skins, parsnip peelings, used teabags, onion skins, newspaper shreddings, banana skins

Wednesday 28 February 2007

Added: apple peelings, banana skins, teabags, potato peelings, butternut squash

Sunday 25 February 2007

Following the harvest of the worm bin the resulting product, vermicompost has now been put to good use with the sowing of new food namely, aubergines (early long purple 2 variety), wild flowers, onions, lettuce (red salad bowl variety), perpetual spinach (leaf beet variety), horse radish (scarlet globe variety), coriander, chives, mixed leaf lettuce, basil and thyme.
We found some old draws which we made drainage holes in and then filled with mixtures of Levington multi-purpose compost, vermicompost and recycled green waste from Lewisham Borough Council's parks dept.

Monday 19 February 2007

Harvest time!

Today saw the first harvest of the worm bin. crowds gathered (andy) to see this momentous event unfold in front of there very eyes.

A head count or rather weight estimate of the worms revealed that the population has more than doubled to over a 1000 worms now. Whilst sorting the vermicompost and worms I came across many eggs which I saved and also quite a few centipedes, needless to say they didn't survive the cull.

the last image before harvesting

sorting through the worm bin

I found lots of these stalks which are from the end of bananas and found that the younger worms absolutely love them. i had assumed that they wouldn't like them too much because they're so hard when they go in the worm bin but when they're like this you can understand why they love them because of all the fibrous material contained within it.

I decided to re-organise the worm bin so that they're was hardly any soil in it and that it was comprised of newspaper and cardboarding shreddings and food. This way I will get a more accurate calculation of just how much vermicompost they can produce. The vermicompost from the worm bin that has been harvested will now be used to grow more food (see next update!)

Thursday 8 February 2007

added: potato peelings, teabags, mixed greens, parsley

Sunday 4 February 2007

added today: new paper shreddings, pototo peelings, teabags, carrot peelings, mango skins, onion skins

Friday 26 January 2007

Added: parsnips, teabags, apple peelings, carrot peelings, broccoli stalks

Thursday 18 January 2007

Added: banana skins, kiwi fruit skins, peas, onion skins.

Friday 12 January 2007

Terrorists strike the worm bin?

Well i'm still not sure whether I have centipedes or millipedes in my worm bin. In my experience centipedes are an orange/brown colour, these are white but this could just be down to their age. I know the difference between the two (millipedes have 2 pairs of legs to each body segment whereas centipedes have just one) but i'm not convinced yet. It appears that millipedes are actually very conducive to the worm bin environment as a quote from this website shows:

'Millipedes are detritivores, earth's natural recyclers. They feed on plants and animals that have died, which recycles nutrients back into the soil much faster than waiting for the plant or animal to decompose naturally.'

However whilst millipedes appear to be a good thing centipedes are not; they like eating worms and it appears that they don't take to kindly to human contact either:

'Centipedes bite. They have strong jaws that inject venom into their victims. A centipede bite is a very painful and unforgettable experience. The affected area will become increasingly painful, inflamed, and will secrete pus. You'll be sorry if you attempt to touch or handle this creature.'

If I do have centipedes then should I risk my precious hands or let nature take it's cause?!

Worryingly as the image shows below it looks like part of a worm has had an unfortunate incident resulting in loss of (part of) body. Initial investigations by the Worm Police Department (WPD) suggest that there are two possible suspects; firstly a gang of (potentially) centipedes roaming the worm bin set upon the poor worm while he/she wasn't looking, or secondly human intervention at feeding time could have resulted in 'accidental limb severing'. The investigation continues.

Waste added today: it was all a bit mushy and smelly but i think there were probably potato peelings, onion skins, apple cores, teabags and lettuce leaves in there.

Tuesday 9 January 2007

As the image below shows the worms are getting through the food very quickly which is great because I need to clear the backlog of waste I have and the rancid smell it's giving off in my waste food box isn't pleasant at all!

a little full perhaps?

Added today: potato peelings, onion skins, teabags

Sunday 7 January 2007

Today's waste was added and whilst doing this I made a few interesting observations. Firstly I saw a couple of wood lice running about in the bottom of the bin (see image). Secondly I appear to have a small family of centipedes or millipedes in the bottom part of the bin. Having seen a centipede in the bin before and expressing my delight at my ever-expanding collection of pets I now know that centipedes are in fact predators to worms (millipedes are not apparantly) so I need to attend to this problem. Again the worms seem to love the food next to the perspex and I got a good shot of them feeding on it before the light scared them off.

Added today: potato, carrot, onion peelings, teabags

Saturday 6 January 2007

All is well...

It seems that putting food at the front of the bin next to the perspex to observe the worms eating was a good idea with the worms playing their part very well!

I am also going to place the waste daily in a rotation system as I have quite a backlog of waste to get rid of which is starting to smell a bit!

Food added: Carrot, potato, apple peelings, teabags

Friday 5 January 2007

2007: The year of free worm love?

This exclusive or you might say intrusive image shows that it's not all hard work in the vermicomposter as what you might call a worm 'orgy' takes place.

FACT: In one year two mature worms can produce 1,500 worms per year in ideal conditions

This fact may well be coming to fruition in my bin as the worm population continues to increase! Many sightings of worms not more than a few weeks old have been seen recently which is generally a good thing in my opinion because it means that the bin is fully-functional with new worms seen, organic waste being composted and worm castings being produced. If the worm population gets too big for the bin then I shall probably build an overflow bin.

A new year, a new approach...

Whilst reading the worm composting bible that is Mary Appelhof's 'Worms eat my garbage' I discovered that she suggests to put just one or two handfuls of soil in the bin with the rest being comprised of bedding and organic waste. Given that 95% of my bin is made up of soil I have questioned whether I have been doing things correctly; I concluded that the bin was working fine and there were no obvious problems which may be resulting from the amount of soil in the bin, however it is a new year and so I have decided to change the composition by subtracting around about a bucket full of soil and replacing it with bedding. (see below) The castings and soil that was removed will be put to use very soon-watch this space!

The book also suggests that you can just add organic waste when you have it, using the rotational placement system and not worry too much about how much food is in the bin. I have also decided that it would be a good idea to place waste at the front of the bin next to the perspex sheet so that I can observe the worms eating the food and get a good idea of how long it takes for certain foods to decompose (see above).

Organic waste added: green beans, onion skins, banana skins, lettuce, potato peelings, normal teabags, roasehip infusion teabags, nettle tea leaves, carrot peelings, crushed egg shells.

Whilst carrying out the soil removal I came across many new members of the bin and some which could have been no more than a week old (see images below) and see the video!

Sunday 17 December 2006

Christmas cheer is here!

Added: Parsnip, potato peelings, Nettle tea leaves, courgette, leek, aubergine scraps, paper shreddings.

Today the worms got a special Christmas treat with the addition of some paper which had been shredded just the way they love it, all long and thin so they can wrap themselves up in it to their hearts content.

Monday 11 December 2006

The first newborn!

Added: Carrot, parsnip, Onion, Potato peelings, banana skins, raspberry, rosehip infusion tea leaves and normal teabags. 1 spoonful of crushed eggshells.

Seen: a very young worm. Probably born in the last couple of weeks; about 20-30mm in length.

exclusive new shots of the first sighting of new eisenia fetida!

Maintenance: As mentioned previously the bottom section of the box had filled up with earth and consequently some worms had made their way down to the great abyss alas a rescue/maintenance operation was in need. I took the box apart and cleaned and reorganised, spreading the new food added in an evenly spread layer.

vermicomposter maintenance

Wednesday 6 December 2006

Nature expands further...

New life in the bin…seedlings have sprouted.
Added: potato peelings, broccoli offcuts, teabags, onion skins
Seen: baby centipede!

Thursday 30 November 2006


Added: Carrot, Potato peelings, Apple core, Banana skin, teabags. Spoonful of crushed egg shells.

Monday 27 November 2006

Vermicomposter in good health...

I have noticed some small insects (probably from the dryer soil I put in the bin) and some mould which is good as this extract shows… ‘in addition to worms, a healthy vermicomposting system hosts many other organisms such as insects, mould and bacteria’

Saturday 25 November 2006

Worm lovin'

I’ve noticed that when I check how well the waste is being decomposed there are a large number of worms around the waste so it’s definitely working! Also a lot of the worms were intertwined with each other which means they were probably breeding which is excellent news!

Thursday 23 November 2006

Good worm housekeeping...

I have recently read that adding a tablespoon of crushed eggshells helps to keep the pH level of the bin down...
I’ve noticed that some worms and earth have fallen below the permeable board and are probably not getting any of the food. Maintenance needed soon! I’m considering re-organising the bin and spreading an even layer of waste through the bin so that the worms have the best possible access to the waste.