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Archive for April, 2013

Because I have a bin of worms in the entry hall and we ate nettles for dinner.

Also, we started seeds in toilet paper tubes. And my mother-in-law brought over the dandelion “honey” she made from the flowers the girls picked yesterday. And instead of maple syrup on our pancakes this morning we had rhubarb sauce from the rhubarb I picked yesterday, or  wild plum jam from the plums we foraged last fall.

And it’s only the first day of her visit…

She didn’t actually say she thought I was weird, but she does keep saying, “Wait until I tell your sister about this!”

In fact, my mother is responsible for most of this weird behavior, having taking us dandelion picking when we were young, cooking from scratch, and being into environmental issues as long as I can remember. I came by all this pretty honestly.

Okay, maybe it is bit out of the ordinary, but really, I kind of think it’s weird not to be doing this stuff…

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Shoveling Horse S@*#

One of my goals for several years now has been to find a local, preferably free, source of horse manure. There are lots of  horse stables locally, but the problem is how to transport the manure. You can’t just toss it in the trunk.

Or so I thought! Friend and neighbor Andrea knows the owner of one of the stables and we went to ask him about delivering some manure to us. Take as much as you want, he told us, but he didn’t seem interested in delivering.

Horses at our benefactor's stable.

Horses at our benefactor’s stable.

He told us he had piles and piles of it, some fresh and some already composted.

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So we had a look. And a think. And it turns out that well-composted horse manure is not smelly or dirty and you can load it into containers and transport it in your car almost as cleanly as buying it in bags at the garden center.

So, we did. Last week on holiday I brought a load over almost every day…rich, beautiful compost. My shoulders ached bit from the shoveling and lifting, but it was actually lots of fun. The weather was great and I had adorable companions.

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The horse stable is in a lovely little part of our village, about 3km from the center of town in a little cluster of old farms arranged around a central pond. Time was when all of  the villages Bohemia looked something like this…It’s charming and I’m glad it isn’t all gone.

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When last I wrote about worms, I was trying to separate the worms from the beautiful black vermicompost they had made for me. I wasn’t having much luck…

Why go to all this trouble? Many people have suggested simply putting the compost out in the garden worms and all. But my worms are California red wrigglers, and this isn’t California. These worms don’t belong here in this environment, out in the wild, as it were. Invasive and exotic species are a huge problem in lots of places, and I’d hate to be responsible for some horrible soil organism catastrophe in the Czech Republic, all traced to the release of California red wrigglers by a well-meaning but misguided gardener.So, I am determined to keep my worms in the worm bin, but desperate to get that wonderful compost.

But at last, I think I have found what works….hungry worms, horizontal migration and lots of patience.

Last time, I tried to make them move up or down in the bin, but this time, I piled all the worms and their castings on the left side of the bin, and lots of fresh yummy scraps on the right side. I didn’t think it would work because I was afraid only the worms right next to the scraps would be close enough to know there was fresh food nearby. But I was wrong…it was migration on a massive scale.

Of course, it helped that the worms were hungry…I accidentally hadn’t fed them for a little while. In fact, I think this was key. They didn’t all move over in a few hours like the worm guy said they would, but within a day or two…I was amazed by how empty the compost was and how full of worms the scraps were.

Worth it's weight in gold!

Worth it’s weight in gold!

I scooped the good stuff out into a bucket and as I spread the remaining scraps out across the bottom of the bin, I was amazed to find the worm nest! Kind of gross, but kind of cool.

 

 

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Now that I am a bit more experienced with worm wrangling, I hope to step up production…I sure do have enough worms!

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Easter chicks

We still have cold and snowy weather here (it is snowing as I write this), so instead of the bright, spring, outdoor fun of Easter egg hunts in the garden we have been stuck indoors. But if it’s not going to be bright and springy outside, why not make it bright and springy inside?

I found this cute Easter chick craft and just had to whip up a few. The girls got in on the fun and in the end we had our own brightly colored flock of spring chick cuteness!

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