Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

New Critters on the Farm

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Things have been hectic around here the past couple of days, so I apologize for having not posted since Monday.  I've been working like a mad woman on that darn quilt.  In fact, yesterday I worked on it from 4 p.m. to midnight - I just had to finish the squares before tomorrow's class.  At aout 11 p.m., I thought "you know, I'm tired and I really ought to go to bed."  And I should have.  Because all the sewing I did that last hour WAS WRONG.  Now I have to rip out 64 seams.

Boys and girls, NEVER sew when you're tired.

But I'm sure you more interested in these new residents of Cranky Puppy Farm.   They're kind of shy, but I did manage to snap a picture of them.

Red wigglers, nature's compost makers

There's actually a great story here: I got these from one of our instructors at the Food Not Lawns class tonight, and she got hers from the instructor when she attended the same class two years ago.  Talk about paying it forward!  She started with a handful and now has an entire bin of these little poop machines!  So when she offered to let everyone have some of her worms to start their own worm bin, there was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity.

Now I'm sure many of you are asking:  why worms?

Because these little guys are amazing.  They'll eat your shredded paper, table scraps, cardboard, etc. and quickly turn it in to "castings" (a.k.a worm poop) that is wonderful as a soil conditioner, all-natural organic fertilizer or as a natural pesticide in your soil.  The use of "tea" made with worm castings has been scientifically shown to cause a 173.5% increase in plant growth over plants grown without castings.  We're talking super tomatoes, folks!

Plants grown with casting on the left vs. no casting on the right.  Notice the increased root growth with the use of worm castings.  Photo courtesy of  WormsEtc.com.

Since it's all natural, worm castings won't burn your soil like chemical fertilizers will.  And they inject all the micro-nutrients into the soil that your plants need to grown strong and healthy.  Really, I don't think I need to do any more talking - the picture says it all.

I brought these little guys home in a little paper bag and they'll be fine there until the weekend.  I've got an old 24" plastic bin that will be their permanent home in the basement.  Worms like dark, moist places so it's important that it be a dark colored bin (don't use a clear box).  Then take a drill and put holes in the bottom and on the sides (to let air in).  The instructor recommended leaving the plastic top off and just covering it with some cloth to keep other bugs out. 

The stuff in the picture is actually shredded newspaper that's been wetted and rung out.  You want it wet but not soaked - you should only get 1 to 2 drops if you squeeze it (if it's wetter, you'll get fungus and it will smell.)  That's all you need for them to live in and eat.  But I'm going to use them to break down some of the stuff that we might also take out to the big compost bin.  Apparently they are very partial to watermelon rind and avocadoes.  And they even eat hair, so I may have found a use for all those dog hair tumbleweeds that occasionally blow down the hallway.

Once you've got the bin ready, just add 6 inches of the fluffed up moist newspaper and put your worms on top.  Place them under an ordinary household light fixture, which will force them down into the bedding and away from the light.  Then they'll start eating and the magic happens.  If you want to get more detail about taking care of red wigglers, I'd recommend that you read this document (will open PDF in a new window). 

In about 3 months, we'll start harvesting the worm castings.  That will be June, the optimum time for some booster fertilizer!

I'm linked up with the Country Homemaker Hop this week.  Go check out what other folks are up to!


  1. Congratulations on your new worms. I look forward to pictures of giant veggies eventually. Have a great week.

  2. Thanks, Heidi! Either these little guys produce on those huge veggies or they're getting fed to the chickens. (Just kiddin...)

  3. Great job! You don't have to apologize, it is that time of the year where we are all gonna be busy in the garden! Enjoy it and post as you can!

  4. Hey, what a great idea! We bought a vermicosting book and never got started... I'll follow along with you.

  5. Wow, the new worms sound great. Soon you'll be posting about your super tomatoes ;-)

  6. Such an interesting post -- who knew worms could be so beneficial in so many ways? I love it!

    Thank you for sharing at Rural Thursday! :)

  7. Thanks, Clint. I'm keeping an eye on your garden and can't wait to see how it progresses. Being a busy bee in the garden is a good thing in my book!

  8. Mary Ann: Oh, definitely! I was surprised that she had this huge bin chock full of worms and it didn't smell at all. I guess some people keep their worms under their kitchen sink and just chuck table scraps in there. I think I feel better about keeping them in the basement first, though. Tonight, I'll be putting my bin together, so I'll post more about it later.

  9. Hi, Lisa! J. is counting on those super tomatoes for sure. In fact, he just asked me if we could plant some Early Girls, so I need to find some this weekend. And find some space in the garden for them. Thanks for stopping by!


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