Worms Bedding Under the Sink, Poo Smell In The Air

Dear Readers, 

Apologies for the lack of a summer post. But I still am trying to figure out the key to successful summer vegetable gardening on a super hot deck in downtown Albuquerque subject to high valley temperatures (I am maybe 3/4 of a mile from the river and valley bottom). This, in addition to *very* significant downtown heat soak from all of the cement around here. Next spring, I will begin to experiment with shade.

In the meantime, the temps have cooled, I have newly-planted beds and newly-designed greenhouse structures. Even better, my hands smell of dung - a secret guilty pleasure.


Here is the latest on my (lay) attempt at urban gardening:


  • GREENHOUSE EFFECT (photo to left, on roof): Nothing could have protected container plants from the extreme, sub-zero early 2/11 temps, but my super flimsy structure wouldn't have sufficed in even much warmer temps. This winter, I am trying: plastic feed tank 1' deep, 1/2" flexible PVC to form a dome, 4 3/4" inch U brackets screwed into each side to hold the PVC, 6 mil plastic to cover and very cheap clamps from The Home Depot (which, for those of you into S&M, has really awesome tiny 39 cent clamps for god-knows what).

  • BRAND NEW BED (right photo, balcony): Just got a new, larger bed today -- 5 feet wide! -- for the south/west-facing balcony, which will get more sun in winter (50 gal. container from Rio Bravo feed store). This is what the PVC dome looks like. Won't really need plastic for a bit longer. Tub required 7 cubic feet of soil -- I did 1/2 compost, 1/2 peat. Seeds planted!

  • SWEET SPROUTS (right photo): Between the 3 beds, I have arugula, beets (if they grow, you can have them), a couple of different lettuce mixes, 
onions, chard, some weather-risky peas and beans, and a squash plant and tomato plant left over from summer (latter on roof where it's much warner). Saved some virgin soil for spinach and whatever strikes me in the next few months.

  • I'VE GOT WORMS! (left photo) Successfully putting to worms to work for the betterment of humanity -- all under the kitchen sink. No smells, very low maintenance, all in a plastic 16 pint container. I don't throw a lot of produce in there, but those worms are fairly talented at turning moistened Albuquerque Journal strips and some of my veggie waste into compost for the raised beds. Successfully underway for about 9 months now. Cost? Zero. Satisfaction at turning Albuquerque Journal to where it came from? Priceless. 

  • EXTRA FOR BIRD OWNERS: I have a cockatiel.Somebody on the internet suggested that when you clean out the bottom of the cage (which is a mixture of various seeds and bird poo), put that in a container, cover with about 1/4" of soil, and see what grows. Seeds and nitrogen!  I've done it twice now, and the second time was awesome: beautiful sunflowers (as witnessed here) and millet for the bird from the mature grass. And the cats DIG the grass!

If you're gardening on a small scale and haven't been to the Urban Store on Silver Ave. in Nob Hill, definitely check it out! The clerk this afternoon was able to describe for micro-gardening almost every crop of seed they have, which is plenty!


I think that's it for now. Stay tuned for a winter harvest update! Meanwhile, I continue to experiment with hydro and indoor gardening. That's for another post! I am not an expert at any of this. If you have tips, please share! db


Views: 257

Comment by jenprosser on October 12, 2011 at 4:16pm
Thanks for sharing. I love hearing about your experiences, and I don't think I've ever seen S/M mentioned in a gardening post before. Grin!
Comment by Benny the Icepick on October 12, 2011 at 6:16pm

//Even better, my hands smell of dung - a secret guilty pleasure.//

You fit in well at DCF, then; we can't seem to resist diving headfirst into the stuff.


As for your vermiculture, congrats!  I just found out yesterday that Cafe Giuseppe (right around the corner from you at 3rd and Gold) gives away their coffee grounds for composting.  The barista I spoke to yesterday said that worms LOVE it, and that they turn it into some really, really good soil.


Finally, don't give away your beets!  Raw beets grated over a salad are incredibly flavorful and nutritious.  Totally worth getting your hands blood-red for!

Comment by Don Brown on October 12, 2011 at 9:32pm
Thanks for the feedback. Jen, the clamps are just so obvious -- how many little teeny 3/4" clamps does one need for a "construction" project? Maybe The Home Depot needs a new speciality aisle.  Benny, that is excellent! Maybe they'll offer a discount for taking their refuse off of their hands? Prob not -- they don't pay to dispose by the pound (which is a really interesting idea, by the way). BUt when I get an excellent latte from there, I'll be sure to ask for the grounds. Thanks for the tip!
Comment by Don Brown on October 13, 2011 at 11:34am
I got mine at the bait/tackle/pond shop on Isleta. Head south on Isleta from Rio Bravo for a couple of miles. You can't miss it on your right. Ask for red wigglers. Also, while you're there, step out back and check out all of their crazy animals (ducks all over the place, an emu, bunnies, chicks, etc.).
Comment by jenprosser on October 15, 2011 at 7:37pm
Ditto Benny's beet reco, and even better are lacto-fermented pickled beets.

Sounds weird, I know, but, really, they're so good on salads. I wrote a blog post on how to make them: http://sunstonefarmandlearn.com/2011/10/01/lacto-fermented-pickled-...


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