Why I stay away from Miracle-Gro – and so should you

Hello everyone! It's been a while since my last post: the work-life-garden balance got wrecked once again, and I had to take a break from blogging... First let me clarify something: I normally only use trademark names of products that I love and use myself, and  refrain from calling out the brands I dislike. This …

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How to test your compost (for persistent herbicides)

Hello everyone! It's that time of the year again - soil amendment time, and you know what my favorite amendment is, right? It's compost! Many people are blessed with enough space to have a compost pile in their yard, but even they probably don't make enough for all their garden needs. One simply can not …

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Spring worm bin maintenance: they survived winter!

Hello everyone! A week ago I decided I am brave enough to remove all winter fortifications and open up the worm bin to see if any of the wigglers made it through the winter. I have been pessimistic, because I kept an eye on the temperature inside the bin, and there were a couple of …

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Some great weather and an unexpected weeding session

I'm afraid that I might jinx it by typing, but it looks like Spring may be on her way to Philly! The temperatures have been slowly climbing above freezing, so I am cautiously hopeful. This weekend I ventured into the community garden with the sole purpose of burying a batch of Bokashi-fermented kitchen scraps and …

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My keyhole garden bed

Sometime over the winter I've stumbled over a post describing the approach known as "keyhole gardens". You can find the details here, but in a nutshell, this is a practice of building self-sustainable garden beds (oftentimes circular) in small spaces. The sustainable part comes from a composting "tower" in the center of any keyhole garden. …

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My take on Bokashi composting

Chances are you've noticed by now that I'm very passionate about reducing food waste. I mean, come on, not only does organic matter sent to landfills emit copious amounts of methane (one of the greenhouse gasses), but it robs the agricultural sector of the cheapest (if not to say "free"), most effective and safe source …

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The anatomy of a K-cup: collecting coffee grounds at work

Happy 2019, fellow garden enthusiasts! I have started collecting coffee grounds at work, and there are a few reasons why. Reason one: coffee grounds are an excellent compost amendment (they are a major source of nitrogen, plus when you add enough, coffee grounds accelerate decomposition of organic matter and heat up your pile). You do …

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More on cold weather vermiculture

Welcome to the last TFEG blog post of 2018! Thank you so much for reading my blog! When I started in last April, I was afraid I wouldn't get any readers, but fortunately, I was wrong. I'll do my best in the next year to write more about sustainable urban agriculture and everything related. It's …

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Vermicompost 101 — Worm Life Cycle

A great writeup for anyone interested in vermiculture!

Low Technology Institute

lossy-page1-388px-lumbricus_semifasciatus_-_-_print_-_iconographia_zoologica_-_special_collections_university_of_amsterdam_-_ubainv0274_103_03_0003-tif Early drawing of Eisenia fetida (source).

Many of us dissected worms in biology class and most have used them for fishing bait, but few know much about the lives of Eisenia fetida. Called “red wrigglers” by composters or “panfish” or “trout worms” by others, they belong to the Lumbricidae family of earthworms and are the only worms you should consider using in a compost bin. I did try this once with other types of worms, but it failed and we came home to find escaped worms all over the floor.


800px-eisenia_fetida_2b_cocon Red Wriggler and cocoon (source).

Worms are hermaphroditic, that is, they are both male and female, however, they do require a partner for reproduction. Adult worms line up their clitella (the light-colored band near their front third; some call these worms “banded” worms because of this ring) with their partner’s genital openings and exchange…

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