Saturday, February 6, 2010

Rigged to Succeed

Last fall, I bought the cheapest potting soil available to see how much of an improvement bokashi could make. Some of that soil, layered with bokashi, was put to as immediate a use as feasible; a few gallons of it I set aside to rest until spring.

The placement of those resting planters may have presented an unfair advantage. Though I wasn’t intending to cheat! It’s just that I have so little space (especially since I started measuring my life by the bucket -G-), and the matched set of five filled one-gallon planters seemed so very suited to stacking, so I stacked the things. And where else would a stack of planters go but next to the worm towers?

The first of my seed orders arrived last week, and there was a break in the weather today—must be time for sowing! Or at least mixing a seedling soil. Wandered out to bucketville intent upon collecting a bit of vermicompost (not pure vermicast, as that’s too strong for seedlings), maybe a bit of composted bokashi, and some potting soil. Figured I might add some Spanish moss for airflow, sand for certain crops, all the usual, but first the basic dirt-and-nutrients.

Verne, Sexton, and the third planter tower I keep pretending is only temporary and have thus not named were all overdue for feeding and ready for a harvest, so I collected some finished vermicompost (and such vermicast as had precipitated down into the reservoir layer). Reaching for planters gets to be kind of automatic by the time you’ve deconstructed three towers, so I’m not sure the difference in design really registered, though I did note the absence of a plant at the tower-top. A clay saucer?

Oh, right, I thought, this is the spring soil test. Well, it’s not really spring, but last-frost’s not too far off, let’s see what we’ve got. So I tipped the saucer off and hauled the top planter down to take a look. What I saw was yet more red wigglers living up to their name. Not, mind, so many as in the established worm towers, but probably enough to start a new wormery with. And I saw the same in every planter in the stack. Without the trivets and internal bracing I installed in the tower wormeries, too—apparently, composting worms are far less sensitive to pressure than I’d assumed. The soil was fairly wet, but responded easily to gentle forking, the ideal cake-crumb texture so often cited and so rarely seen, at least by me. Some volume reduction had occurred, as the bokashi broke down and the worms ate and the storm-waters flushed loose bits away, but I figure I’ve got about four gallons of incredible soil ready for the planting.

Can’t say just now how it compares to high-quality retail soil, as I haven’t got any of that. I did plan to buy some, but...why? My last batch of in-house mix from the Natural Gardener didn’t look as healthy as this! Feels like I’d just be throwing money away.

Not buying any worms this year, either. But I might be forced to invest in a few more seeds...

It never ends, does it?

Happy spring is about to spring,


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