Are all worm castings created equal?

Yes, and no. Worms transform whatever they consume to a very different material. However, the food they start with plays an important role in the value and quality of the final product. At Black Diamond VermiCompost, dairy manure is "hot" composted prior to feeding to the worms. This stage kills pathogens and weed seeds and is closely monitored and adjusted to maintain optimum temperatures. The worms are fed this pre-treated food and thrive on the bacteria, fungi and other decomposers that are generated through the composting process. A few weeks later, vermicompost is harvested. The final product, Black Diamond VermiCompost,  is a very mature and stable material, promoting soil health and vibrant, strong, productive plants and trees. It will not burn and is safe for the most sensitive plants. Lab results are impressive. The worms are doing their job! We do our part to keep them well fed, warm and moist in an environment as close to nature as possible. 

 

Photo by Cristy Christie

Photo by Cristy Christie

DIRT IS INERT...SOIL IS ALIVE

Above ground, many trees, shrubs and plants are dormant now, but below ground, in the root zone and surrounding areas, there's a party going on! With the welcomed rains on the Central Coast and the warmer-than-usual winter weather (or maybe not so unusual!), the soil food web, including micro-organisms, micro and macro arthropods, and earthworms...if you're lucky enough to have some...are alive and active. If there IS, in fact, a soil food web there to begin with. It could be a good time to add VermiCompost to the garden beds, around trees and shrubs and top with mulch, (we use a lot of straw - it's a good source of carbon) to keep them warm and happy, in case we get a frosty snap. Microbes love moisture, and by adding organic matter and microbes now, they have the opportunity to multiply and thrive, getting ready for your spring plantings. 

If you weren't real pleased with last year's crop, perhaps a soil test is in order. Give me a call, and with a few questions, I'll direct you to the right place for a simple, inexpensive soil test. It will provide you with information regarding the amount of organic matter in your soil, what minerals are present and in what quantities, along with the capacity of your soil to hold them. When you receive your test results, we'll make suggestions to put your soil in balance and you'll be on your way to a rewarding experience of nutrient dense food that make your taste buds dance!

Remember, if healthy is not in your soil, it's not in your food. If healthy isn't in your food, it's not in your body. 

-Cristy, Black Diamond VermiCompost

The Drought & Our Native Trees

Hopefully the drought is coming to an end in Central California. For our native oak tree population, as well as other deciduous trees, we offer the following information:

The above ground level effects of drought on plants can be easily seen. They include wilting, leaf scorch, some defoliation, stunted growth, branch die-back, and possible death of the plant. The below ground level soil life affected by drought is less obvious and can be unknown. 

As soils become dry, the fine feeder roots in the upper soil surface will begin to die if soils remain dry, thus putting the root system out of balance with the amount of foliage found above ground. When rain does return, the plant may not be able to take full advantage of this much-needed water because of its reduced root mass and reduced soil biology.

Soil biology is vital to rapid healthy root growth. Soil microbial communities (soil foodweb) improves water holding capacity by binding soil particles together forming aggregates. They also aid roots by keeping nutrients near root zones and compete with disease-causing microbes. They filter and degrade pollutants as water flows through soil, break down complex carbons. Mycorrhizae fungi assist in plant roots development. 

Beneficial soil microbes are found most concentrated in properly made compost.  Quality control in the balancing of energy (carbon, C) and nutrients (primarily nitrogen, N) is the beginning point. Then having adequate moisture and sufficient oxygen to support an aerobic environment is critical.

-Cristy, Black Diamond VermiCompost