WormMan Newsletter No.16 – dated 19th March 2010Author: admin | Filed under: Latest News
WormMan Newsletter No.16 – dated 19th March 2010
Shamwari Restaurant on the corner of 2nd Street and Maarsdorp Ave. is where WormMan has leased a section to display their products and the first batch of Four Square Gardens are up and running. There is no better way of exhibiting what compost can do for the growing of food than the 4SG’s and the kits are available on site. On the 16th & 17th of this month, the first practical course involving N.A.D.F. farmers was conducted at Shamwari. This was a great success and is likely to become a regular occurrence as people become more aware of organic farming. After the meeting, the group travelled out to the Foundation Farming Centre and once again, they were treated to what can only be described as ‘incredible’, what has been done there with ‘Zero Tillage’ and the usage of organics in crop growing.
Down in Mutare, Chris Donald, never to be outdone – has now reached 106 x 4SG’s! Yes 106! By the time he gets his crops in production, that man will be as good as ‘back on the farm’. The amazing thing about this, Chris is doing this operation within the confines of his industrial stand in Mutare
Likewise, Mike his son in Nacala, reports his worms have now adapted to the heat and he is also finding out the benefits of the VC being produced.
From Gayle Swithenbank- in Zambia
The pit (static) compost is great, but as you mentiond, it doesn’t get rid of the weed seeds. The microorganisms that inoculate the compost pile come from the organisms on the material that is being composted, adding compost from the previous compost pile also helps get things going, and exchanging with neighbours is even better. You are right thinking that dry compost is not a good situation, the compost should have a moisture content of 50% for the best environment for the organisms to grow and thrive. Letting the compost dry out too quickly or too much definitely compromises the number of organisms available. This is also a good reason to do the compost tea extract, it wakes up the organisms, and gets them growing again.
You can test for the moisture content by squeezing a handful of compost, if it holds the squeezed shape, it is 50%. I would do my best to keep compost as close to the 50% content as much as possible, even when storing, then you know your organisms are healthy.
The aeration of the compost tea doesn’t kill the weed seeds, only thermophyllic composting does that. But one way of selling compost tea to the farmers is that by making compost tea, the weed seeds are strained out (or at least sink to the bottom of the bucket). Adding the compost or compost tea is also a way of ‘fixing’ the nitrogen in the root zone. The compost inoculates the root with bacteria, which jump starts the soil food web process. The hurdle is to get across the concept of how the plant absorbs nutrients, and the role of the microorganisms, if the farmers get this, it will make things easier.
How are the farmers using the static compost that they are currently making?
A couple of possibilities if water is an issue for making compost tea — For inoculating plant roots with organisms, one suggestion is to put a bit of compost into the holes as they are planting the seeds or to water the holes with the low-tech compost tea extract. This way, the microorganisms are there for the roots as they start growing. Another possibility is to prime the seeds before planting, using some of the compost in the process. Priming the seeds can increase production significantly, up to 22%, Sorghum 31%, Wheat 37% and rice 70%, see the link http://www.gaia-movement.org/files/Booklet%2029%20Priming.pdf .
To prime seeds they are soaked in water - maize for 12-18 hours, sorghum for 10 hours, so that they absorb water but do not germinate. The seeds are dried before planting, either with cloth or in the sun. If a few handfuls of compost (compost with a min 50% moisture) is added to the seeds before planting, enough compost and microorganisms would coat the seeds to inoculate the roots.
The compost tea can be used after the plants are growing as a foliar spray to protect the plants from disease.
About the brown sugar, I don’t think there is enough peanut oil in the sugar to make a difference, also peanut is plant based, so I don’t think there should be a problem.
Since we started our website, our membership has grown at a tremendous pace and embraces many countries. Attached is an article sent in by Gayle Swithenbank in Zambia which with so much interest being shown in composting, has come at the right time.
Thanks for this Gayle, you guys are going great guns and I think a trip to Zambia soon is needed. Cheers for now and don’t forget to take a look at our website on www.wormman.org