Monthly Archives: August 2012

worm composting

Statue at Barnsdale

I’ve used an old wheelie bin to make a worm bin. It was a quick and painless operation once I’d found the bits I needed. When the worms do their job and eat the waste you feed them there is an excess of liquid from the broken down organic matter which is your liquid gold. This needs to be drained off, so the first thing I had to do was add a tap to the base of the wheelie bin. I used one sold for rain barrels. Once this was fitted I needed a way to suspend the worm’s home within the bin, and found a wire basket that just fits, inverted in the base. On top of this I simply added a layer of damp cardboard then some compost out of my normal compost bin, still active with tiger worms. This is their bedding.  Lastly I needed some worms. Digging around in the compost and under the woodpile we’ve accumulated did the trick. Worms installed, I fed them with a small amount of coffee grounds, tea leaves, a bit of cabbage leaf and a few potato peelings. They’ve been in there about three weeks now. If I come across and tiger worms I add them.

If I listen closely when I feed them, I can hear them moving around. The underground world isn’t as silent as you might think!

For those of you new to organic gardening, worm compost and the liquid yielded by making it are in fact gold for the organic grower. The liquid should be diluted about 1:10 with water before feeding your plants with it. The compost that results is very concentrated feed, too, and should be blended with ordinary compost or used in the border or vegetable bed. It will scorch plants if used on its own. Be careful not to feed too much at first, until numbers of worms have built up, as this will result in the organic matter heating up, which will kill the worms.

As worms don’t make a pretty picture, today’s photo is from our recent visit to Barnsdale (see last post), the late Geoff Hamilton’s gardens in Rutland.

Bees, Butterflies and Growing Things at Barnsdale

Inspiration from the late Geoff Hamilton

bee food echinops

Echinops smothered in bees

Last week we visited Barnsdale in Rutland, the home of the late Geoff Hamilton and his famous TV gardens. His son Nick has continued in his father’s footsteps, so I was at last able to see for real what I’d only seen on the small screen.

Way ahead of his time, Geoff’s ethos was always to work with wildlife, garden organically whenever possible and integrate food growing with beauty and practicality. Many of the gardens he built demonstrated these principles in many ways. Geoff always wanted people to be able to do what he could do, so there were plenty of ideas for those of us making our own kit, whether that be a pergola, a cold frame or a compost bin, a path edging or archway. Even my partner, a non-gardener, was inspired and impressed with the innovative ideas.

The family have continued to develop the site, adding more modern features that still retain the ethos, but bring current aesthetics into play. It’s paid off. The place was positively buzzing with bees, fluttering with butterflies and heaving with hoverflies. Dragonflies, to my delight, also made appearances.

I chatted to one of the staff working among the borders. He told me the balance achieved there is so good that even this summer, this year of monsoons, has yielded healthy vegetables relatively unmolested by slugs and snails, and I saw the veg for myself.  That HAS to be proof that given the chance, nature will balance itself out. He told me they have lots of blackbirds and thrushes that keep the pesky pests in check.

I made note of the flowers that were swarming with life so that I can ensure I’m growing the best possible nectar and pollen plants on my own plot. Echinops, geraniums and cosmos were I think the top three. Sedums also played a big part, and I came home with a new one called Sedum telephium ‘Matrona’, according to the label in Barnsdale’s nursery, an excellent bee and butterfly plant. It’s currently in bud, and I can’t wait to see what happens when the flowers open.

If you fancy a visit to Barnsdale, you can find all the details you need for prices, opening times and courses here.