Okay, so we haven't exactly had any of that stuff folks used to swear wouldn't impede mail delivery, but two hard freezes (temps in the twenties) put paid to all the unprotected tender greenery, and some of the protected as well. Amaranth season is well and truly done, most of the basil melted, and so on.
Verne & Co. didn't even slow down.
The planter towers are all several planters high just now, so not even the largest of the overturned buckets I used to protect the plants on top would have offered any protection for the lowest ones. But I harvested the towers before the first expected freeze of the season and consolidated the unfinished vermicompost and worms into one or two planter trays per tower, adding a few cups of cheap potting soil by way of insulation just below the next tray of worm food.
And it seems to have done the trick. The shepherd's purse may have been slightly damaged by frost, but the wriggle's just fine. On schedule for the next feeding, even! Which is something of a problem, as their next meal isn't finished yet. (Oops.) I hadn't expected them to be so active with the temperature just above 40...guess that insulated not-quite-a-bucket test might not have been necessary after all. Expect for giving me something else to post. -G-
Shh. Repulsive is in disguise. The recent hard freeze made it necessary to move him into the shared laundry room, and my fellow tenants are only slightly less squeamish than I, so he's been impersonating a plant stand. Which I figured was excuse enough for the image above, from Sesame Street's Wormy Gras.
What, you didn't know Verne's kind like to dress up in costume and party? -G-
Apparently, they're not alone: Repulsive has his very own wardrobe.
I have to say, I did not intend to give him one. It just kind of happened. Saw a heavy denim wrap skirt at a box sale, neglected for its lack of style or impractical size, I don't know--but the color might have influenced me, as it's a brown not too far off from the expensive ground cloths I'd been pricing recently. Denim is a good insulator, so I figured I might as well give it a try. The nights were getting cold, you see.
That skirt turned out to be well fitted for the purpose, its construction making it simple to fasten around the bucket grubbery at base and sides, with material enough to fold over the top between feedings or fold back down on warmer days. Granted, it looked a little weird, but this is an assemblage made of two kitty litter buckets, a spigot, some weatherstripping, and, until recently, a hollow tube with a soda bottle on the end! I'm not sure there's any way the thing could be made to look normal.
First freeze warning of the season, I decided Repulsive's skirt might not be adequate. So I gave him a second layer, a lightweight synthetic blanket of the sort used on airplanes, draped over the bucket and tied into place. This must be removed in order to open the bucket, which is not a good idea for me--reluctant grub-feeder that I am, it's too easy for me to "forget" there's an option beyond tossing the bokashi-ineligible things in the garbage--but the larvae were still active after T-Day, when I unwrapped it to toss some bones and sundry items in. And temps had dropped below 40 twice by then.
The first hard freeze came this past weekend. I couldn't imagine that Repulsive's scanty winter clothing would be sufficient protection against actual frost-and-freezing winter, not for active grubs, but before taking any further measures, I figured I should see if Repulsive was, in fact, still awake. Those earlier night-time drops had been followed by warmer days, but the preceding three hadn't warmed appreciably, and the continued chill might have ended grub season already.
Might have, maybe, I'm still not actually sure. When I undid Repulsive's clothing--which sounds wrong on so many levels!--I discovered that I'd inadvertently left the lid unsealed the last time, and a number of mature grubs had chosen to wriggle through the gap and down the side to take their winter nap in a denim nest. The bucket grubbery wasn't untenanted, however; beneath the hollow shell of a cucumber was a mass of paler grubs, not moving in response to dim early morning overcast, but rousable when poked at with a very long stick. Drowsing?
On the chance they would wake to eat, I added the food I had ready, drained the reservoir, and moved the re-dressed grubbery into the laundry room. (Less the dormant ones, of course, that I moved to a proper winter bed.) That's not a heated space, but protected, anyway, and the best I've got. Stuck Repulsive in the back row, topped with a potted plant, and hoped for the best...
None of the plants have melted into slime, so presumably it remained above freezing. Warm enough for grubs? Not for peak activity, there's no creepy horror-movie rustling noise coming from the bucket, but it does seem a bit warmer (or less cold) to the touch than the planter resting on top of it. I'd open it to see, but that'd let out the heat.
Also, disarrange the folds of his shawl. -G- Though I guess I really should, if only so I know whether or not I should be shopping for some sort of grubby overcoat.