Series: A Study in Brown

Series: A Study in Brown, 2008
Artist: Lane, age 1 year 11 months
Media: Brown eye pencils (Trish McEvoy #8 and Clinique #04 Black Coffee) on laminated wood shelf
Temporary Exhibition

The Tempest
20080429 - Tempest

The Elephant
20080429 - Elephant

Herb Parade

I figured if the Dervaes family can grow their urban homestead on a 1/5 acre city lot, then I could probably fit a few more herbs on my patio. As if I needed a reason to have more plants.  It’s getting a little bit crowded out there.

Garlic chives
20080426 - Garlic chives herb

Chocolate mint.  I need to find a good recipe to use this.
20080426 - Chocolate mint herb

Spearmint (Southern iced tea necessity)
20080426 - Spearmint herb

Basil
20080426 - Basil

I love the baby basil leaves with their spring green color this time of year.
20080426 - Basil 2

Somehow this red salvia came home with me as well.
20080426 - Red Salvia

Lavender
20080426 - Lavender herb

Italian Parsley.  I use this one a lot.
20080426 - Italian parsley herb

I can’t wait to use these herbs to cook some frittatas. I especially love the recipe for Kuku-ye Sabsi. I’ve made it several times using whatever fresh herbs I had, and it’s unexpectedly delicious.

Maintaining the Compost Bin

Hello! This post is about my compost bin as I try to recycle food into natural fertilizer and learn about vermicomposting, which uses worms to break down compost quicker. I hope you stay, but if you would prefer to read about something else, you might like to skip ahead to something prettier.

A worm compost bin does not have any smell, and that’s true…most of the time. When I noticed a slight odor after the first month, it was time to do a little maintenance.

I examined the bin after only one month, and I was impressed with how much compost had already formed.  The worms had done a lot. (You won’t be able to see them in this photo; they don’t like light.)

  1. I stirred the contents of the bin with a stick to unpack the material and distribute air. It was better already. 
  2. Even though I had been adding more bedding every now and then, I added a new thick layer of moistened, shredded corrugated cardboard. 
  3. I added one more solid piece of moist cardboard over the top of the bedding, underneath the lid to discourage fruit flies,.

The worms like the bin and stay in there.  I only spend a little time every few days adding food scraps. The worms aren’t eating as much as I thought they would. It might be due to a change in food from what they were used to before, or maybe there is not a full pound of worms. It’s hard to know. At least as they multiply, they will gradually eat more.  

I learned that adding excess water to the bin was not a good idea.  I had heard from several sources that if you add water to the bin, it would drip out of the bottom as “worm tea” and would be a good fertilizer. Since then I’ve read other opinions about what worm tea really is and how it differs from leachate, which is the name for the excess liquid from the bottom of the compost bin.

When I added extra water to the bin, I created a problem. The water compacted the material so the air couldn’t flow and it caused anaerobic conditions inside the bin.  This is what made the bad odor — it’s a warning sign that conditions in the bin are unfavorable. Additionally, there is a risk with using leachate on plants since it is made from unfinished compost: it can contain pathogens harmful to humans and plants. The excess water also reduces the nutrients in the finished compost by washing them out of the bin.

Worm tea on the other hand, is made by soaking finished vermicompost in aerated water to create a liquid with helpful aerobic microorganisms. This worm tea, as well as the compost itself, provides nutrients, helps the plant resist disease, and helps the soil retain water for drought-resistance. In a few more weeks I’ll be able to harvest the finished compost for my plants.

Related post: How to Make a Worm Compost Bin