Posts Tagged ‘composting’

Finaly Met the Mushroom Man!

Mulching with spent mushroom compost

There is a farm in Horam down Laundry Lane, it is on the corner of a tight bend and is of little interest to most.   For years, possibly 20 or more I have come to this farm and I have never seen any sign of life.  Each time we drive the car into the farm and back it up to the big mound of blue plastic sacks full of spent mushroom compost.  We pile in as many bags as we can and then put some money through the letter box of a long shed, the letter box has a strong spring which nearly takes you hand off each year.    The price for these blue bags, just 50p when I started going, now up to 90p.  That is inflation for you over the many years, but it is still a good deal.

I once went to a chain garden centre and just casually asked if they had any bags of spent mushroom compost.   The 16 year old sales assistant looked at…. and called for someone who was able to actually speak.   A more mature woman came and told me that they didn’t have any and in actual fact why did I want it as it really didn’t do that much for a garden.    In a way, she was probably right in a way as for “compost” value it is already mostly spent by the mushrooms that were grown in it.   But as a waste product it is a cheap and makes a great mulch.  Plus, it smells really earthy and nice.

Back to this year, the end of February to the beginning of March I normally apply a layer of spent mushroom compost as a mulch for the year.  It seems strange and a bit silly as looking at the ground at the moment it could not be much more water logged – but it is all good stuff.   We drove to the farm today, in the rain, and prepared to load the car up with the blue plastic bags full of the compost.

The big thing here this time was that, there was a person at the farm!   For 20 years, if not slightly more, I have been to the farm and never seen another living being.   As the friendly/wet bloke loaded my car up we talked.   While I had not seen anyone on the farm for the last 20 years, he had been bagging up spent mushroom compost up for 30 years and had never seen a customer, just the tell tale signs of visitors with the money dropped onto the door mat, through the finger snapping letter box, on the shed.  It was a bit like a reunion.

Finaly Met the Mushroom Man

Mulching with spent mushroom compost

There is a farm in Horam down Laundry Lane, it is on the corner of a tight bend and is of little interest to most. For years, possibly 20 or more I have come to this farm and I have never seen any sign of life. Each time we drive the car into the farm and back it up to the big mound of blue plastic sacks full of spent mushroom compost. We pile in as many bags as we can and then put some money through the letter box of a long shed, the letter box has a strong spring which nearly takes you hand off each year. The price for these blue bags, just 50p when I started going, now up to 90p. That is inflation for you over the many years, but it is still a good deal.

I once went to a chain garden centre and just casually asked if they had any bags of spent mushroom compost. The 16 year old sales assistant looked at…. and called for someone who was able to actually speak. A more mature woman came and told me that they didn’t have any and in actual fact why did I want it as it really didn’t do that much for a garden. In a way, she was probably right in a way as for “compost” value it is already mostly spent by the mushrooms that were grown in it. But as a waste product it is a cheap and makes a great mulch. Plus, it smells really earthy and nice.

Back to this year, the end of February to the beginning of March I normally apply a layer of spent mushroom compost as a mulch for the year. It seems strange and a bit silly as looking at the ground at the moment it could not be much more water logged – but it is all good stuff. We drove to the farm today, in the rain, and prepared to load the car up with the blue plastic bags full of the compost.

The big thing here this time was that, there was a person at the farm! For 20 years, if not slightly more, I have been to the farm and never seen another living being. As the friendly/wet bloke loaded my car up we talked. While I had not seen anyone on the farm for the last 20 years, he had been bagging up spent mushroom compost up for 30 years and had never seen a customer, just the tell tale signs of visitors with the money dropped onto the door mat, through the finger snapping letter box, on the shed. It was a bit like a reunion.

Dust bin lid Can-o-Worms

Forget the “shower cap” you can buy from Wiggly Wigglers, it is hard to put on and it doesn’t stay on for long, and it doesn’t seem to keep any water out!   Instead, I was at Woods Mill and noticed that they had put a dustbin lid on their Can-o-Worm.  Why didn’t I think of that?  A quick WANTED on Freecycle and I now have the lid on top of the Can-o-Worms.   Now… we need rain.

Can-O-Worms – up to level two

Infact, level one was a bit high, so we scooped a whole lot out of it and put it onto level two – this should get the worms interested to go up to the next one.

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Hello worms, this is your new home

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The worms then spent a couple of days and nights in their bag in the cool dark garage, until Saturday morning.  It was a typical summers day on the Saturday, which going by this year’s weather is quite something, and so T&J were more than ready to help with the worms as soon as they got up and had had breakfast!

It was years ago since we started the original worms off, I remember we ‘dissolved’ the bedding block in a bucket in the kitchen and were amazed that from the small dry bedding block came out a huge huge amount of wet bedding when you added water!   So, we did the same again (although this time outside), and I explained to T&J as I added the water how over the next 10 minutes the ‘brick’ (as it looks like in its dry form) would grow and grow and grow into a nice big bed for the worms.    It did too, but took a good 20 minutes which was well over their attention span so instead I called them over to have a look at interesting points while they helped the time go by rushing up and down the garden in their Little Tikes cars.

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The idea of the bedding is to give something for the worms to live in, no-one really wants to live in just a pot of rubbish!  It keeps them warm or cool depending on the outside temperature, and allows moisture to I suppose both be captured and to escape from the worms.  It’s a nice cosy place to be, if you are a worm.  According to the book (Worms Eat My Garbage) you can use all sorts of things as bedding, including things like shredded paper.

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Eventually, the bedding block turned into wet bedding and the fun was all ready to begin.  I called T&J out from their cars and over they came to see the bedding go into the worm bin.  We did all agree that it looked like a nice place to live if you were a worm which then prompted for the excitement of unpacking the worms from their bag.   Both T&J had a quick handle of the bag, but always eager that maybe they didn’t quite relise that there were life worms in the bag and ever conscious that at any minute one of them might squeeze it to see what happens, I took over and cut open the bag of worms and tipped them into their new home.  They seemed all quite happy after their two days of sitting in the garage (I saw one or two of them smiling I’m sure) and they seemed even happier once on their new bedding.   We all watched as they quickly all started burrowing down into the bedding to get away from the bright sunlight and within minutes they were all gone again in their new home under the bedding and out of sight.   Everyone did have time though to quickly touch the worms as they wiggled about, and one or two of them were given pet names (not too sure about the one named after their teacher!).

It all seemed a bit of an anti-climax after the great build up, but had taken us a good hour and everyone was all excited about what we could feed the worms later on in the day.  In the meantime, we put the lid on and let them get used to things.

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Rain cap for worms

I forgot all about this when I ordered the worms.  I always said next time when we have worms we would have to make sure we were able to cover the Can-o-worms as when it rains things get wet.  Before, we had it under a bit of a makeshift shed thing but it was never perfect and so we spent a lot of the time opening the tap at the bottom to let all the water out.  At times, we would just leave the tap open just incase it rained so much that the water filled the bottom and started to seep into the bottom layer and drown the worms.  That then, was a bit of a waste of the liquid worm fertilizer (worm wee!) which was most of the time just running out of the open tap.

It was good then that a while back I noticed in the Wiggly Wigglers catalogue a breathable rain cover for the Can-o-Worms.  Certainly something I was going to include in my order for new worms, but I forgot!  So, a second order was made on the internet and within a couple of days a new cover was delivered.  I took the opportunity to order some Lime Mix too.  It’s all coming back to me know all the things we used to do.  Before, we had a bag of Worm Treat and a bag of Lime Mix.   The idea to try to keep the ph value of the bedding to something that the worms liked, if it gets too acidity then just add some of the Lime Mix.  In order to further aid with this, I ordered a ph tester off ebay!

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The Worms Have Arrived

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The worms arrived, in a little box with air holes, they all looked quite cosy in there.  Fizz was not as convinced as me and the boys and she refused to touch the box, so it sat and waited for me to come home, where the courier man had left the box, on the hallway floor.   I was in a bit of a dilemma as while it was all quite exciting that they had arrived, the timing was not great as for the next two days I had a couple of late nights arranged at work and I really wanted T&J to help me with setting the whole wormary up.    Would the worms be fine for an extra two or three days in their little bag in the box?  After some thinking I decided that they were in a bag which was in a box with air holes, and they were probably mixed up with a load of bedding too which, if they became hungry, they could start nibbling on that.   If I put them in the cool garage for a couple of days they would be fine.  So, in they went, resting on top of the Trabant (which is under ‘restoration’, I promise) and the dark and cool garage.

The last time we had the worms we didn’t really put too much thought into anything or attempt to understant what was going on.   For a number of reasons, this time I want to do things a bit different, I want to actualy do it all properly.  Not only would this make me a ‘worm expert’ around friends (much to their delight) but it would also allow me to get the most out of the wormary.   Last time, we had flys and all sorts of things in and around it, this time I want to prevent this and by doing things the correct way and having worms eating the waste at just the right rate, all we should have is a lot of happy worms and an earthy smell instead of a swarm of flys and a smell similar to a blocked drain!   Another aim here too, with two four year old boys who would, being boys, be excited about worms and creepy crawlys, I want to get them involved.  Last time, we didn’t have any four year old boys, infact we had no boys at all to share my excitement about worms!

In order to aid my understanding I decided to splash out and buy a book that I have had my eye on for years and I see mentioned and recommended all over the place.   Mary Appelhof seems to be a bit of a ‘worm woman’ and her book ‘Worms Eat My Garbage’ seems to be the book you must read.   I have to say, I’m reading it very fast at the moment, learning what I can and it is all of great interest.