Worms in the Classroom

What a morning!

Mrs Kerslake’s grade 3 class (Helen’s class) decided to setup a worm composter in their class room this spring.  I went in last week and supplied them with the worms to get started.

This was not a simple handover of worms however … we sorted worms from the finished compost of our bin, split the worms we found and setup their composter.  The kids split up into groups of 4-5 and sorted through piles of compost for the worms.  A few of the kids were unimpressed initially; worms are … worms after all, and they do live in dirt.  By the end of the morning most of the kids were enthusiastically digging for worms, and hunting for cocoons.  A lot of them even ditched their gloves!  We also shredded newspaper for their worm bin.  I brought in our little electric paper shredder to make things go faster, and had no idea how popular this activity would be. It was a noisy class room!

Kids being kids they came up with a bunch of questions I did not know the answer to.  How long have worms been around?  (A long time!)  What species are they? (Well … they are not mammals.)  What is the ring around the middle of the worm?  (I actually knew this one, but could not remember the name.)

By the time I left the class had its composter setup and Mrs. Kerslake was trying to convince the kids that they had to eat their fruit and vegetables instead of giving it straight to the worms!

Thanks for the fun morning guys!

Worming into Spring

With all the work on the house the gardening is falling behind …

I’ve been putting off harvesting the compost from the worm bins for too long.  This morning I took the time to sort the worms out of two finished trays of compost.  It looks like I’ve been feeding them well …  the compost was full of worms!  It took quite a while to sort them out of the trays and I still have two trays left to go.  The finished compost looks good; very dark and I’m guessing I separated about 40 litres  of compost for the garden this morning.   Due to all the chicken egg shells that go into our compost there is a lot of shell in the compost, but I figure that is good for the soil as the shells will break down over time.  I made no effort to separate worm egg sacs out of the finished compost.  My hope is that the baby worms will hatch in the garden and keep doing their thing in the garden soil.  We’ll see how it goes anyway.  Helen’s teacher wants to start a worm composter in their class! I’ve saved a small portable bin for next week and hopefully I’ll separate the worms and finished compost in their class and leave them a pound of worms.

The fruit tree we planted last year survived the winter!  It has started to bud … we will not be pruning it this year!  This tree is watered by gray water from the barn and the system seems to be working.  The new fruit tree that Sandra and the kids got for my birthday is also starting to bud so I hope to get it planted in the ground soon …

The apple trees (and lone apricot tree) below the office are blossoming!  I’ve only ever seen apricots on the apricot tree once before … maybe with a warm spring we will get some apricots.  Last year I pruned the apple trees and this year I see that there are many new shoots that should be pruned back.

I fixed up the cold frame on the south side of the shop a few weeks ago; added soil and repaired the cover.  I foolishly moved my tomato and pepper plants into the frame right away.  Over the last couple of weeks I have watched over half of them shrivel and die from the frost … a knife to the heart each time!  The days are not warm enough for the frame to make enough of a difference.  The survivors are a sorry looking bunch!  It is getting kind of personal so I hope they survive …

Rotatilling for new garden space…yay friends!

Several weekends ago, Mike and Linda showed up with their tractor and rotatiller.  I had been making noises about trying to recover a small sheep pasture for extra garden space and since we were borrowing the John Deere from Mike and Linda to mount Schillings cement mixer, Mike brought along the tiller and spent an hour or so helping us get the ground messed up (and to remove our treasure of rocks!.  Tonight friend Jen Kerslake (of the whimsical garden fame of a former post) let me dig up a few of her spreading strawberry plants and those will be the first to hit the new garden area.

Here are photos of the JD and roto…