Worm Farming, the Easy Way
If you don't feel like making your own worm farm, they are easy to find. Available from some hardware shops, local councils or even online, worm farms are very popular.
But if you can get hold of four crates or storage boxes, you are well on your way. The boxes will be stacked on top of one another, so make sure the bottom one is waterproof with no holes and large enough to take the weight of the other boxes when filled with soil. The other three boxes need holes in them or perforations, so that the worms can move from box to box and the box on the bottom will collect the worm juice.
Don't try to collect worms from your garden, not only will it take you ages but they just won't do. The best worms are red worms or tiger worms. You will also need a good supply of vegetable scrap waste.
Line the first box with soil and newspaper, add some fruit and vegetable scraps and then add the worms. Place a hessian cloth or more newspaper over the top to block out the light. Now place this box on top of the waterproof "bottom" container.
Look after your worms for a couple of weeks. Don't put orange and lemon skins in your worm farm, worms don't like acidic food. Also avoid raw onion, tomatoes and pineapples. Remove the hessian or newspaper every time you add food scraps and replace afterward. Add leaves or paper with every second or third batch of vegetable scraps and spray with water occasionally to keep moist. After about two weeks your worms will have grown larger and your box will be full.
Set up box two in the same way as you did in step one, remove the hessian or newspaper from box one and place box two on top with the hessian or newspaper over it. Keep adding scraps to this second box and when this box is also full of worms you do the same thing with the third box.
Now is the time to harvest your compost from box one. By the time box three is full the worms will have finished eating all the food in box one and moved on. All that will be left in this box will be compost material that you can now spread over your garden.
The waterproof bottom container will regularly fill up with liquid fertilizer. Dilute this worm juice, two parts water to one part juice and pour on your plants as fertilizer.
Keep rotating your boxes and enjoy your beautiful garden.
Organic farming has taken a giant hold on the farming industry in the last 20+ years. It has grown from what many thought was a fad, to--forgive the pun--much greener pastures.
So what is the hype behind organic farming? For one, there is a lack of both pesticides and herbicides. In the past, consumers didn't have much of a choice in the way their fruits and veggies were produced, and let's face it, negative results occurred. Pesticides and herbicides are not only threatening to the environment, they are directly affecting our children. Any product out in the market that is chemically enhanced is always subject to criticism, and the basic statistics show that, although this may not be as immediately profitable, it is the way to go in matters of living a healthy lifestyle.
The differences between this method and traditional farming are many. Aside from the pesticide/herbicide issue, there are a great many other reasons to consider supporting your local organic farmer (or gardener!)...
First among these, in my personal opinion, is water. Yep, water. No fruit or vegetable can grow to optimal heath without a pure water content. Farming in this method insists on having either a creek, stream or other water source to feed their crops. The most beneficial of which are heading in a decline (meaning to a lower land level, gravitationally). This will ensure that the deposits and run-off from your crops will not affect your local watering hole, so to speak.
Another is energy. Farming organically employs everything from solar power and wind energy, to a reduction in the use of inefficient energy sources overall. The estimate is that organic farmers use 25% less energy to produce crops for consumption than traditional farming methods. This means a reduction on greenhouse gases, negative effects on the ozone and a general spike in healthy eating habits. Many are turned-off from buying certain fruits and vegetable based merely on the concern of pesticide-inducement.
The research is there if you want it, but overall, traditional methods of farming are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Farmers should take the opportunity to learn and educate themselves about organic farming. It is eco-friendly, eliminates pollution, and is more oriented towards a healthy society. Although it may take up to three seasons to compete with traditional farming, after that basic hump, you are not only providing a healthy resource for yourselves and your family, you are also helping others to be involved in the organic-slash-green industry.
Developing waterfowl habitat on your farm, ranch, or recreational hunting property is probably one of the most cost-effective and rewarding types of wildlife habitat development there is. If properly planned out and implemented the fruits of your labor can be experienced in a relatively short amount of time, in some cases within the same year. In terms of most other types of wildlife habitat development that's "warp" speed. First a basic understanding of the habitat and foraging requirements for waterfowl is in order.
Quality waterfowl habitat must provide water, food, and shelter. Ducks are divided into two major groups, dabbling ducks (dabblers) and diving ducks (divers). Dabblers include species like northern pintail, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, mottled duck, gadwall, wigeon, mallard, and northern shoveler. These species forage for food on the water surface or by tipping up to feed just below the surface. The optimal foraging depth for dabblers is 6" - 12". Divers include species like redhead, canvasback, ring-neck, lesser and greater scaup, goldeneye, and ruddy duck. These species dive beneath the waters surface to forage on the bottom or on submergent vegetation. Typically the cost of constructing large deep impoundments precludes developing diving duck habitat. In addition, most shallow water impoundments are readily utilized by diving ducks as well.
Most recreational hunting properties with hydrology that has been altered or modified by agriculture lend themselves well to development of quality waterfowl habitat. These areas typically have some, if not most, of the infrastructure such as water delivery systems already in place. Areas that are poorly drained and with a reliable water source to allow shallow winter flooding are well suited for waterfowl habitat development. Land that contains clay or silty clay loam soils are best suited because they compact well, creating a tight seal when flooded with little or no seepage.
Waterfowl habitat development on most recreational hunting lands will typically always require the construction of levees and proper design and placement of water control structures to replicate natural hydrologic regimes. Levees and water control structures should be designed based on topography to maximize the amount of flooded habitat at optimal foraging depths. A detailed topographic survey will help determine proper placement of levees, water-delivery and water discharge systems, and ultimately determine the optimal size of the wetland.
Longevity and maintenance are the most important considerations when constructing levees on recreational hunting land. Permanent levees that are designed to withstand fluctuating climatic conditions will ensure long-term integrity of levees with minimal maintenance. The increased initial investment in time and money to properly construct permanent levees will save time and money over the long run. Only soils with a high clay content should be utilized for levee construction. All woody and herbaceous vegetation should be removed from the levee right-of-way and borrow area (area adjacent to levee where soil for levee will be taken) prior to construction. A clean surface free of vegetation is necessary to assure a tight seal is formed between the ground and fill material to prevent seepage.
The width and height of levees is dependent on the size of the impoundment and specific management objectives. Large impoundments (>20acres) may be subjected to severe wave action and erosion and consequently may require more substantial levees. Depending on the size of the impoundment, the height of levees should be constructed with 1 - 2 foot of free-board (the height of the levee above the maximum designed water level). The initial fill height of the levee should be 10 percent higher than the finished levee to allow for shrinkage. Levees should be constructed with a minimum crown width of 6 - 8 feet. If levees will support vehicular traffic a 10 foot minimum crown width should be utilized. Levees should be constructed with a minimum 4:1 side slope (the width of the levee extends 4 feet from the edge of the crown for each foot of elevation) to provide easy and safe operating conditions for mowing the levee.
One of the most critical components of any managed waterfowl impoundment on recreational hunting property is an efficient water control structure. Successful waterfowl habitat management requires the ability to maintain water at precise depths and discharge water in precise increments to make forage available to waterfowl, to encourage establishment of preferred food plants, and to control undesirable vegetation. Water control structures come in a variety of different designs and are fabricated from a variety of different materials, each with its own advantages and limitations. Structures fabricated from aluminum tend to have a longer life span compared to other materials and work well for most applications.
The topography and size of the impoundment will determine the number of water control structures needed. Structures should be placed at the lowest elevation to allow complete removal of water from the impoundment when needed. Structures must be properly sized to assure that they adequately carry the runoff from the impounded watershed. Consideration should be given to locate structures where they can easily be accessed for management purposes with minimal disturbance to the impoundment.
The flash-board or stop-log water control structure is probably the most effective and widely used design. It allows precise incremental regulation of water through the addition and removal of flash-boards. Once the proper number of flash-boards are in place to maintain the desired water level, the structure is self-regulating. Excess storm flow above the desired water level is allowed to free flow over the top flash-board and out the discharge pipe, maintaining the impoundment at constant optimal water level.
There are a multitude of state, federal, and private grant programs available that offer funding for the development and management of waterfowl habitat on recreational hunting properties. By enlisting the services of a professional that is knowledgeable in both recreational hunting land and wildlife habitat development and management, you can ensure you take full advantage of these available funding opportunities and that your habitat development project is properly planned out and implemented. When properly planned out and implemented waterfowl habitat development on your farm, ranch, or recreational hunting property can be extremely rewarding, cost-effective, and substantially increase the value of your property.
Ed Ritter is a Certified Wildlife Biologist, Licensed Real Estate Broker, and owner of Wildlife Management Enterprises, LLC (WME). WME is an exclusive real estate brokerage, consulting, wildlife habitat development, and wildlife management company specializing in farm, ranch, and recreational hunting properties in Texas. Ed has over 20 years of real estate and wildlife management experience and provides both seller and buyer representation with a distinct clear cut advantage over other competitors in the market place
Our journey towards sustainable living began simply enough. I love a good tomato. That is what caused me to dig my first hole. Through the years, I witnessed the joy that my mother and grandmother found in gardening and I gladly enjoyed the fruits of their labors. I readily accepted the vegetables that they offered at the end of every visit. But, they were always gone long before the next visit. So, one spring I decided to grow tomatoes. I quickly discovered the satisfaction of growing my own vegetables. Under the mentor ship of my mother and grandmother, I began to learn and experiment with raised bed gardening which would bring the highest yield while reducing the amount of unpleasant tasks, such as tilling and weeding, and reducing or alleviating the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
It wasn't long before we established our own small flock of backyard chickens. We didn't know anyone else raising chickens. So, we made quite a few mistakes and unnecessary expenditures. But, our mistakes have resulted in gain for others. We have learned how to make tending a small flock of backyard chickens very easy and affordable. We have also enjoyed the relationship that has developed between us and these lovely ladies who regularly provide us with such wonderful protein.
Although our backyard farm has been in place for several years, I still have not gotten over the thrill of gathering beautiful eggs daily, making a yummy salad or stir fry from just picked vegetables, or making an omelet from all of these ingredients. I cannot put into words how satisfying it is to be able to go through a complete day only eating off of our land.
When moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle, it is important to remember that you don't have to do it all at one time. One small step quickly led to the realization that I could do even more. My mind frequently goes back to what my mother says when I ask her if she thinks that I can grow a certain vegetable. She says, "I don't know. Put in the dirt and see what happens. If it doesn't work out, you're only out a couple of dollars." She always points out to me that even though she has gardened for over 50 years, every season she always learns something new. There is always a new method to try. I have found that aspect of gardening and farming has been one of the most pleasurable. I remain in awe of the results because I have never be able to have it mastered. Every year, every season has it own unique challenges and victories. I get to participate in the miracle of life, but I don't control it. I believe that you also will find that you can do more than you ever thought possible, sooner than you ever thought possible.
With the proper equipment and soil, you can grow all of your own produce on your deck or in your yard in a raised bed garden. If you would like fresh eggs daily, good resources are available to assist you in acquiring your flock of hens and providing food and housing for them. Within a month, you also can begin to develop your own backyard farm dramatically increasing your sustainable lifestyle.
Donna is moving towards a more sustainable life through backyard farming. After hearing frequent visitors express their desire to do the same, she now finds great satisfaction in helping others move in that direction through raised bed gardening and backyard chickens. She encourages others to simply take the first step.
Many people have an unfulfilled dream of living in the country. As you are beginning to think about your next summer vacation, here is an alternative to consider. You can make your dream a reality, if only for a week out of the summer, with a farm vacation rental. A farm vacation is one in which you actually spend your vacation on a family farm, either in the same home with your hosts, or better yet in a separate, private dwelling on the farm. You may spend an agreed-upon amount of time with your hosts at various times during your vacation, shadowing them to see the work of the farm, or even taking part in some of the activities of the farm. Some hosts will offer specific learning opportunities, as well as possible entertainment including hayrides, campfires, and/or attractions in the area. Among the many benefits of making your next vacation a farm vacation:
1. Enjoy fresh air and sunshine, peace and quiet. Get away from the noise and speed of the city and experience "the slower pace of life in the country." It's a much-used phrase that contains a lot of truth. If your job or lifestyle requires going through your days at breakneck speed, taking the time to slow down and just "be" for a few days can do wonders for your mental and physical health.
2. Get to know your hosts as "real" people. A farm family that provides a home away from home for vacationing guests will enjoy sharing their knowledge of farm life, and will also have the inside scoop on what to see and do in their area.
3. Enjoy fresh produce that you may help to harvest. Your hosts will inform you of what is available in their fruit and vegetable gardens, depending on the time of year. They can show you how to harvest it, and may even teach you how to preserve foods such as in making jams or canning vegetables.
4. Expose your kids to life in the country. Give them the opportunity to learn that "blackberry" doesn't always refer to a handheld electronic device, but may be one of the berries grown on a berry farm, along with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Have they ever had blackberry pie with homemade vanilla ice cream? They may even set that electronic device aside for the chance to help hand-crank the ice cream!
5. Help decide if country living is for you https://www.agrifarming.in/. If you are seriously considering a permanent move to the country, a farm vacation can give you a taste of farm life in a small dose. You may want to spend a week or at least a weekend at various times of the year, to experience the different seasons and what they have to offer.