Worm Castings to the Rescue

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This week we realized a large mistake had been made in soil medium at the farm stand garden. An error in communication resulted in the beds being top dressed by the farmer with undigested horse manure, rather than fully composted cow manure. Both are available on the property; this was simply human error and hopefully a correctable one.

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The mistake was observed when 1/3 of the vegetable, herb and pollinator attracting flowers starting to turn yellowish at the edges of the foliage. Not coincidentally, it is the same 1/3 that was without the benefit of a soaker hose. The plants were beginning to burn up; undigested horse manure when used as soil medium is too hot to support the vegetative growth.

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Thankfully there’s enough water to go around this year. Several decisions were made swiftly, and hopefully within time to salvage everything, particularly the 1/3 of the garden that was struggling. We imported some fresh top soil and, triage style we paid the most attention to the healthiest plants first. More time and materials were allocated to the strongest vegetable plants: this is just good science. We dug the soil directly localized around each vegetable.

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Our second strategic response involved one of the hardest working gardening allies on the planet: 450 Red Wriggler Worms were released into the soil. That’s 15 containers of 30 worms spread across the expansive gardens. My contact at Cornell Co-operative Extension assures me that this idea has no down side. He said that this time of year, everything breaks down so quickly with the heat and constantly changing rain cycles. Our tasks now involve turning the soil regularly, watering on all non-rainy days, and letting our benefactors- the worms do their work. And leave their worm castings- worth gold in the garden- behind.

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