Thursday, March 7, 2019

How to make sure your plants survive when going away!

Spring Break is coming up and I will have to leave my plants on their own for a week.πŸ˜±πŸ˜¨πŸ™†

Here are some of my tips and tricks to help ensure my plants survival.

1) Self watering: using a disposable water bottle

Yes, there are self-watering containers that you can purchase in stores or online. I am not going to use that because being a college student on a budget I would like to save every cent. I came up with a technique to use disposable water bottles for a self-watering system for my plants.
- First take the empty bottle with the lid on it and pierce a slit into the cap. This will ensure that it have a controlled water release rate.

- Fill the bottle with water.
- Create a hole in the soil to fit the water bottle in.
- Place the water bottle inversely into the soil
- Add several water bottles depending on the size of the planter.

2) Move all your plant close together.

Gather all of your plants and place them close together. This will sustain an environment with higher humidity and help the plants better their chance for survival.

3) Give plants a good soaking before you leave.

For the plants that like to be watered more frequently, I give them a good soak in a bath or a sink the day before I leave. Yes, I mean let them SOAK in the bath. Depending on the amount of plants you need to give a "bath", you can use your sink or bathtub. You should fill the sink/bathtub about a quarter the way full and place the plants into room-temperature water for 10-15 minutes to let the soil really absorb water thoroughly. You may also adjust the time depending on how well the the soil is absorbing the water.

Another method is to place the plants in the sink/bathtub and spray them with water for a good 5 minutes to really allow the soil to get a proper soaking.

After either method you should allow the plants to sit for about an hour in an empty sink/bathtub to allow the excess water drain away.

*Note that this only will work if you use pots with drainage holes, to allow the the water be absorbed an appropriate amount. 

4) Don't worry about your plants too much while you are away.

Most plants can survive a small drought from you not being able to tend to them. Take this time away from them for a chance to get excited to see new changes and growths in the plants when you get home. Time away from them will allow you to notice more changes with the plants when you get back. There is nothing more exciting than seeing new growths on your plants!! πŸ˜ƒ

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Questions About Vermicomposting

Questions About Vermicomposting (worm composting)

These questions can help you understand the process better and trouble shoot problems. I have based some of these Q/A's off of my personal experiences. If you have any further questions please feel free to ask!


What foods (green waste) can you put into the worm bin?
  • My rules for what food I put in the bin (green waste)
    • Could that food be grown in a garden? So then you know it is naturally safe for the worms πŸŒ½πŸŽπŸ‰
      • The only exceptions would be if the foods are spicy or too acidic (like citrus fruits)
    • You could also add little amounts of grain products, like bread or rice, but I do not recommend adding much.πŸžπŸ™
    • The final 3 things I suggest adding that worms like to eat
      • Egg shells
      • Used coffee grounds
      • Used tea bags

What bedding/brown waste do I add to the bin?
  • Newspaper shredding πŸ“ƒ
    • No colored sections
    • No glossy sections
  • Dead waste from house plants
    • (i.e.) dried leavesπŸŒ±πŸŒΎπŸ‚πŸ

What is the worm tea?
  • The liquids from the worm castings/compost
  • Filled with nutrients and microbes

What should I do with the worm tea?
  • I collect the tea and mix it with water
  • I use the tea/water mixture to water my house plants every now and then

Noticing worm castings, now what?
  • You wait a couple months
  • After the worms break down the food, you want the microbes to work on the castings for a good amount of time 

Where should I store my worm bin?
  • I suggest underneath a sink or in a closet
    • The worms work best when they are in a dark environment

Do the bins smell?
  • The food you put in may smell for a little while but if you cover up the food with bedding the smell won't be too noticeable .
  • The worm castings smell similarly like soil

How often do I feed my worms?
  • I feed them once a week
  • I put the brown waste on top of each feeding
    • This will provide bedding 
    • Prevents unwanted odors coming from the bin

Sunday, January 20, 2019

What to expect when ordering composting worms online

I have recently started my own DIY worm composting bin project, which is explained in my post Starting Worm Compost Bin. Unfortunately, I could not find any place located near me that sold red composting worms, so resorted to purchasing from an online source.

Where did I order from:
I ordered 100 red composting worms online from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm.  The purchase cost just over $20, including shipping cost. Also, I got a code for a free 1.4 pound of coconut coir brick.

Receiving the worms:
The company sent a package tracking code, so you knew when to expect the worms to arrive. Uncle Jim's sent the worms on 1/15/2019 and I received them on 1/17/2019. The worms came in a black fabric bag with peat moss, which was in a shipping box.

composting wormsvermicompost
What I did with the worms:
The company sent a paper with instructions and tips for the red composting worms. It stated to put the worms into its new environment ASAP. Then, add 1/2 of water for the worms to regain moisture. I put them into my DIY compost bin and they seemed very small and were very active. Next, I poured the 1/2 cup of water over the worms and covered them up with moist shredded newspaper. I checked on the worms often because I wanted to see if they were finding their way to the food. It took the worms a couple hours to get to the food level.

Worm composting progress (1/20/2019):
I read online that sometimes the worms try to escape the bin in the first couple of days, but mine did not, which I think is a very good sign that they seem to be very happy and settled well in their bin.  I have yet to notice any worm castings as a byproduct. However, I think that I will be able to notice some castings in a couple weeks, for these worms are still very small and will not be eating a noticeable amount.

Please feel free to ask me ANY questions you may have about the process.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Starting Worm Compost Bin 1/14/2019

I am very interested in gardening and trying to make environmental efforts; so today I decided to jump into the task of starting my own worm compost bin. Being a college student and living in a small dorm most of the time, I am trying to make smaller version of a worm compost bin. I have watched some videos and read online about how to make it, but nobody really made them small enough for what I want, so I improvised on the whole project.

 How it was built:
My dad and gathered 3 white buckets, that were about 6 quarts big (not sure if that is the correct size, I will update if it is not), and a lid for one of them. First, we stacked the buckets and drilled air-holes in the top two. Next, we drilled the top lid with some holes, as well. The reason for putting the holes in the top two buckets and the lid, is for the worms to get enough oxygen to live.

What was put inside the buckets:
The worms will need some food and scraps of paper products to be able to create it's worm-castings (fecal matter) and worm tea (liquid excretion). I found in our refrigerator some celery sticks and green beans that were definitely going bad, so I chopped them up into smaller pieces for the worms and combined them into a bowl. We have a regular outdoor compost bin that we keep up with  and my mom was saving her used tea bags for it, but I decided that I would add it to the food mixture for the worms. I am currently only filling up the middle bucket for the composting. Eventually, I will add new food and scraps to the top bucket. I did multiple alternating layers of paper scraps (made of egg carton pieces, newspaper, and toilet-paper cardboard) and the food waste mixture. The last step I took was adding some water to that bucket, so paper products get a bit moist. I put the lid on the top of my stacked buckets and will let everything settle a bit before adding worms to the composting bin.

Adding the worms:
I could not find any place locally that sold the type of worms that I need to create compost, so I ordered them online. I ordered 100 red composting worms online from Uncle Jim's Worm Farm (ordered on 1/14/2019).

I have received my red composting worms today (1/17/2019). They traveled in a black fabric bag with dry peat moss (shown in image), within a shipping box. They seemed to be moving around and active when I transferred the worms to the compost bin.

Now my DIY Red Worm Composting Bin is all set up.

How to make sure your plants survive when going away!

Spring Break is coming up and I will have to leave my plants on their own for a week.πŸ˜±πŸ˜¨πŸ™† Here are some of my tips and tricks to hel...