Worm Factory 360 – Adding my 3rd bin

Agridude - Finished Vermicompost TrayOn Sunday, it was time for me to add the third bin to my Worm Factory 360.  I have had this bin up and running for the past 3 months.  The picture to the left is my bottom tray aka the processing tray.  One of the reasons I bought the Worm Factory 360 was because it’s supposed to be easy to harvest the vermicompost when it’s ready to be used.  The worms are supposed to migrate to the higher bins where the food scraps are being put.  This would mean there are no worms in the processing tray and I could just take the compost and use it easily…but this is not the case in my tray.  As you can see in the photo, there are quite a few worms in there.  I have read online that the way to harvest is to put the processing tray on top of the working tray (top tray), and then scrap the compost into piles which will ‘force’ the worms to move down in the bin and allow us to collect the compost.  Agridude - Build Pile to HarvestI tried doing this but was limited in time so I only took out half a gallon or so of compost.  You can see my attempt in the picture on the right.  I will add another post when I do the full harvest and show you what i mean.  One exciting thing that I noticed while doing this was that there are tons of worm cocoons which means the worms are comfortable enough in this environment to be able to reproduce.  I have also noticed that the worms are much bigger than when I initially purchased them.

Agridude - Cleaning the Worm LadderWhile trying to harvest the vermicompost, I looked in the collection area for the leachate and where the worm ladder sits for worms to climb their way back into the bin.  It was full of castings as you can see.  I put this in my ziploc bag along with the other compost to take to my garden and apply as side dressing to fertilize.

Agridude - Take Two Scoops from Top BinOn to the new bin preparation.  Take a couple of scoops from your processing tray and throw it on the bottom of the new tray.  This is supposed to ‘jump start’ the new bin by providing some beneficial micro organisms and a few worms.  You can see I just used the rake that came with the bin and took from the middle of the bin.  I took some bedding and compost for the base layer of the new bin.

Agridude - Put in New Bedding - Moist Coir and Shredded PaperYour next step is to put in enough bedding to cover the bottom layer of the tray.  I still have some coir from when I first bought the bin, and I have been collecting shredded paper scraps for a while now so I put some of those in too.  You are supposed to soak the bedding for 24-48 hours but I’m not sure why.  I have not done this and will do it the for the next tray or when I have to add bedding to this tray again.

Agridude - Food Scraps on top of BeddingI then added a bunch of food scraps that I had saved over time.  Some of it was really ripe and that’s why I was wearing those sexy yellow gloves… You can see some pepper scraps, tomato pieces, banana peels etc.  They eat mostly anything, but we’re not supposed to put dairy, meat, greasy things, too much citrus, or a lot of grains.  You can also see that I took bedding out of the 2nd tray and moved it up here just so that this tray wouldn’t sit on all that stuff.

Agridude - Egg Shells and Coffee GroundsOnce I covered the food scraps with the bedding, I added a lot of coffee grounds, egg shells, and the pumice that came with the worm bin.  I am not sure if I’m supposed to put these things on the food scraps or not… so I decided that I should mix it up the contents of the bin with the rake.   I was still careful to keep a lot of the bedding on top of food scraps to keep down the fruit flies.

Agridude - New Processing TrayThis is what the processing tray looks like now.  The new tray I just prepared will sit on top of this one.  You can see there is still quite a bit of work for the worms to do before this is useable.  That’s ok though, I’m not in a rush to use it since I have a whole other tray of compost to use. Below is a picture of a lot of dry bedding on top to keep out the flies as well.  Hope you enjoyed the post.  I have another one to make for what I did with the harvested compost…coming soon!

Agridude - Finished Working Tray




Jason’s MN Garden Update (July 30)

Here is a bouquet of cooking greens from my garden.  I can eat Collards, Chard, and Kale everyday, if I want to.  These greens are loaded with nutrients and are a great cleanser, after a long weekend of partying.  The Kale is the is the most hardy of the bunch and will survive even a hard freeze (24 degrees).  Generally, it dies off after the first significant snowfall.  I created a wild rice dish with these greens and some northern beans.  I am still fine tuning the recipe and will post it in the near future.  The dish is very earthy and most likely more suitable for a brisk Fall day.

These green beans were picked a couple weeks ago.  I used some in a pasta dish and with some grilled pouch potatoes.  Furthermore, I made a quart of pickled dill beans.  The green beans in this picture came from a bush variety.  I also planted pole beans about 55 days ago.  The pole beans are just beginning to flower, but the Japanese Beetles are starting to feast on the foliage.  I have been using minced garlic as a natural way to repel the beetles.  Any member of the Allium family (Garlic, Onions, Chives) will help repel these guys.  I hope to get a few more beans from my bush varieties before they die off.  By that time, my pole beans should be producing.

I dug up these new potatoes last weekend.  I was curious to see what was happening underground. Initially, I was only going to dig up one plant, but it was too much fun to pull those treasures out of the ground.  So, I ended up pulling all four plants from the bed.  It yielded around five pounds.  I will wait on my other potatoes until Fall when the plants die.  At that point, I should get 20-25 potatoes per plant, which will need to be dried for winter storage.  I made smashed potatoes and grilled pouch potatoes with some other veggies.  They were excellent. The idea was loosely based on this recipe. The new potatoes are sweeter and can actually be eaten raw right after harvest.  The sugar content is much higher upon picking and the solanine (Toxin in Potatoes) level is much lower with new potatoes. As time passes, the sugars turn to starch and solanine levels increase, especially when exposed to light.  Green potatoes are poisonous and occur when potatoes aren’t stored in a dark place.  Don’t ever eat them. Thoroughly cooking storage potatoes will breakdown most of the solanine, rendering them edible.  Storage potatoes unlike new potatoes are not to be eaten raw.  I chose not to be adventurous and cooked my new potatoes.

This is the first summer squash from my garden.  I planted the squash from seed about 45 days ago.  The plants are huge and will be big producers until the first frost.  I will have plenty to share, considering my aversion to summer squash.  I only like it grilled.  I planted a Patty Pan variety and a Zephyr Squash, as seen in the picture.  Even though I am not a huge squash fan, I have heard that the flowers are great in salads and can also be stuffed.  So, I will have to try that out.  The plants produce large yellow flowers that would impress any dinner guest.

This ugly guy is kohlrabi.  It is a member of the Brassica family and is closely related to cooking greens.  The part of the plant you see above is the stem.  It needs to be peeled, because the fibrous exterior is impossible to chew up.  The inside has a radish like texture, but is more mild in flavor.  I eat them with some ranch dip or cut them into cubes and throw them in a salad.  Kohlrabi can also be used like a potato and stores well if refrigerated.  You can also eat the green leaves from the plant, which should be prepared like other cooking greens.

Cape Mayhem Garden Update – Tomato Questions

Agridude - Garden OverviewIt’s been 2 weeks since I last updated everyone with how our cape mayhem garden is doing…sorry about that.  I went up to San Fran and Napa for a 5 day vacation, then to Big Bear for Grant’s birthday blowout.  Ill show you what’s going on in the garden, but my main focus is going to be on the tomatoes.  This year I have been removing the yellow leaves/dead branches on the plants.  I’m not sure if I should be.  You can tell in the picture on the left that the bottom third of so of my plants are pretty bare (notice how there are no leaves in the next two pictures).  I think as the tomato begins to fruit, it focuses on giving the water and nutrients to the fruit versus old branches/leaves.  Can anyone confirm this to ease my concerns that I’m doing something wrong?  This year I have also been watering way less than years past, just once or twice a week.  I wonder if that has anything to do with it.  To see if that is the issue, I have begun watering every other day.  I am going to buy some mulch this weekend as well to help with water conservation.  I will let you know what happens.

Agridude - Crnkovic Yugoslavian Tomato ClustersTo the right are my Crnkovic Yugoslavian tomatoes.  I have eaten 3 of these and they are uber good.  I just realized that I should take pictures of the whole plant so that you can see how many tomatoes are on this plant, they are everywhere.  Can’t wait for full on harvest mode so that I can eat caprese or bruschetta pretty much everyday. I brought in a green zebra and one of these in to work for an afternoon snack and everyone enjoyed it.

Agridude - Cherry Tomato Clusters RedHere’s a picture of our cherry tomatoes.  Again, I’ll take a picture so you can see the whole plant.  These are great for salads, I pulled 8 this morning.  One thing I have been noticing is that when I pick these, the skin splits.  Am I picking too early?  Are they just too juicy and bust the skin open?  Am I squeezing them too hard like Chris Farley in Tommy Boy?  After watching that clip, I need to watch this movie again ASAP.

Agridude - Corn GrowingTo the right are my 6 corn plants.  They are doing surprisingly well.  I poured a bunch of blood meal in this part of the garden to help the corn grow.  Blood meal contains tons of nitrogen and that is what makes plants grow.  I have been reading that you need a lot of corn plants in order for them to pollinate each other.  Anyone know if 6 is enough for that to happen?  Leave a comment or I’ll figure it out by the end of the season…




Agridude - Hot PeppersTo the left are my first super hot peppers forming.  I have this one in a pot at the garden and we should get plenty of these devils this year.  I cannot handle spicy food so I give most of these away.  Last year we made the mistake of using them in Mike’s chili and it was fiery hot and we ended up making rice to help contain the heat.

Agridude - Small Strawberry


We have 6 strawberries growing in pots and I found a few berries in there.  I honestly can say berries straight from the garden are the best tasting.  So good…wish we could get more out of the plants.  I also don’t know why, but they don’t grow very large for us.  Maybe it’s just my variety.

Agridude - Pete and PaulHere is Pete and I posing for a picture last Sunday after I was in Big Bear.  The hat I’m wearing is his although I should probably pick one up for myself.

This weekend I am going to the nursery, going to add my 3rd tray to the worm bin, try to ‘use’ my finsihed vermicompost in the garden and go to the Muir Street block party on Sat.  Should have lots of material to post on here next week.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Grant’s Garden Beginning of July

My garden is growing faster than my capacity to keep up with the posts. I’m backlogged by about a month. But I had to get a quick post up to show the progress. Here are some photos showing the growth during the last few weeks after the big expansion was completed on June 9, when tall Paul and I built the garden boxes and planted all the new plots.

Onions plotThe onions really shot up out of no where. Here’s a picture of the ones Paul planted in the Patriotic Plot. I was shocked to see the onions grow so high in only a couple weeks.




Main plot gardenThe main plot is still doing pretty well. The tomato plants seem to have benefited from the fertilizing Paul gave them back on June 9. And my one featured marigold in the foreground is killing it. My jalapenos, however, are dead as a door nail. Is there some limit on plant life? That jalapeno plant is the only plant left from my original planting two years ago. I’m a bit nastalgic about it, but maybe I should just put it out of its misery? Is there any possible cure for it?

Now it’s time to get up close and personal with my tomato plants.Green Zebra tomato plant

Mr. Stripey tomato plant


The Green Zebra tomatoes are looking good, if not green. I let these ones get too ripe I think.




Up next are the Mr. Stripey tomoatoes. I love these guys. They’re great on bruchetta. I just wish they grew a little bigger.


Cherry tomatoes tomato plant

Last but certainly not least, here’s a shot of my cherry tomatoes. These are so much sweeter and better than anything I buy in the store. And this plant is a producer.

Moving on to the more recent expansions, here are a couple pictures of the fence side plot and old bush territory plot. The fence plot isn’t doing so hot. I don’t know what’s wrong with it. Maybe too much sun, or maybe it is just that the berries are too tough to grow, or don’t do so hot. Either way, everything seems to be suffering. It is good to see a little bit of lettuce popping up at the back.

Fence plot strawberries blueberries raspberries lettucelettuce


Zucchinis eggplants onions




The old bush plot is doing pretty well. The zucchinis are well on their way to total patch domination, as if they are some meglomaniacal bond villain. The egg plants are doing well too. And you can see the onions are shooting up just like over in the patriotic plot. In my next update, you’ll be able to see the cucumbers I’ve since planted in the back of that plot. A power struggle with the zucchs is imminent!

Cleaning Out The Icebox

Last Tuesday night it was just Aidan and I.  Being a poor Chef at Muffuletta in Park I decided to make dinner with what I had on hand and product from my patio garden.



I had one package of chicken thighs, some old green onions, mushrooms, garlic, half a red onion, and an old open bottle of white wine.  Lets get started.  First thing first turn on some music and pour a drink.  I had a couple glasses a wine during this adventure.


I took all the ingredients above and cut them into medium dice.  I then placed them into a oven safe baking dish.  There is some fresh basil from my garden on top as well.






I seared the chicken thighs in a pan with some oil until they where golden brown on the skin side.  I then placed them in the baking dish with white wine and chicken stock.  The thighs braised in the oven for 2 hours at 320 degrees.

While the chicken was cooking I made a salad of greens and cherry tomatoes from the garden.  I made a quick dressing with oil and vinegar.

Below is the finished dish!!  Off to work.  I am thinking of seared miso salmon with bacon-shrimp broth for the weekend. We will see!!

Koom’s Planter Box Update 7/26/12

Sorry these picture are not the best.  However the planter box is doing well.  All pepper plants have flowers on them.  My mint in the middle is growing fast.  I think some Moscow Mules are in order this weekend!!



Lettuce is doing great as well.  The pepper plants are taking up most of the sunlight from the window.  I think in a couple of weeks I will have nothing but the peppers and mint.

All for now.  I’ll let everyone know how the drinks turned out.

Grant’s Birthday Weekend in Big Bear

Agridude - Vegetable HarvestLast weekend, Grant and I and our girl friends went up to Big Bear Mountain and Lake for the weekend to celebrate Grant’s 31st birthday.  We both brought up veggies from the garden to use for meals/appetizers over the weekend.  To the left, you can see a zucchini that Grant grew, a few small red tomatoes from Grant, cherry tomatoes from both of us, green zebra tomatoes from both of our gardens, and jalapenos and serrano peppers from my garden.  We got up there late on Friday night and had some burritos with sliced up zucchini from the garden thrown in with peppers and onions.  They were tasty.Agridude - Grant Wake Boarding  On Saturday, we woke up and cooked waffles and eggs before heading out to rent a boat and do some tubing and wake boarding.  You can see in the picutre on the right that Grant was having a good time and definitely did the best of all us that went wake boarding.  Big Bear is very nice, it reminded me of northern Minnesota with mountains.  Agridude - Paul Wake BoardingThe next picture is of myself wake boarding.  I was going to water ski but our boat driver said that is for sissies and I should agridude up and get on a wake board.  This was my fifth attempt and by far my best one.  I will tell you that it is not that easy to get up when you are one half of QT…. I also want to note that I am still UBER sore from wake boarding.  My back and arms feel like I did 200 pull ups and everyone knows that would be impossible for me. Agridude - Grant and Paul TubingAfter everyone went wake boarding, it was time to bring out the tube.  Grant and I had a blast out there.  Tubing really reminds me of being 8 years old and having fun on the water.  Our driver took it easy on us until we were tired of the joy ride and Grant thru up the finger to get buck wild.  I was the first to bail on a full speed nasty turn.  I think I did a cart wheel after I bounced off the water.  Good times…

Agridude - Bruschetta with Heirloom TomatoesOn to the food portion of the trip…and let me tell you we ate a ton.  Here is some bruschetta that Grant’s girlfriend Jilly made.  It was so delicious.  I ate at least four pieces.  It was made from Grants red tomatoes and our green zebras, and basil from my patio garden.  We made caprese salad too but I forgot to take a picture of that.

Agridude - Stuffed JalapenosI made stuffed jalapenos again because I like them so much.  Not all of these were from the garden.  I bought 20 for 2 dollars at my local farmers market and they were uber large which made it easier to stuff and allowed for much more cream cheese in the middle.  We had a grill at the cabin we rented so we decided to grill them up versus baking them.  We also stuffed a few with burrito meat that we had left over and put shredded mexican cheese on the inside instead of cream cheese. These have the Agridude - Stuffed Jalapenos on Grillpotential to be great, but I felt they needed some type of hot sauce to go with them.  I suppose frank’s red hot would also be good on them.  We ended up grilling them almost to perfection.  I’ll post the pictures below for you to see.  The one on the left is the meat stuffed before being cooked, and on the right is the finished product.


Agridude - Stuffed Jalapenos with MeatAgridude - Stuffed Jalapenos Ready to Eat

Koom’s Garden Patio 7/24/12

Welcome back, welcome back!!

Here is a picture of what had happened in the last couple of weeks.

Basil is looking good.  This is just two plants that have took off.  When the basil starts to flower I cut off the tops and feed them to my worms!  It smell great and is awesome in salads.

My Swiss chard is out of control.  I cut some off about 2 weeks ago to eat.  It just keeps coming back.








I am starting to get lots of tomatoes.  I have two different species .  One on the rights is a pea size heirloom tomato.  On the left is a cherry heirloom. I got these seeds from a buddy from work.  I always save some seeds from the year before.  

My hop plant on the left came back from death.  Maybe I will get some flowers soon!!  That’s all from Koom’s Patio!

Worm Factory 360 – Updates from my bin on the patio

Agridude - Moving Food Scraps AroundSo it has been WAY too long since I last posted about my worm factory 360 bin on my patio.  After I added my second tray, I learned that I was putting too much water into the bin.  To wet the bedding, I was pouring water from my watering can into the worm bin.  This was adding way to much water in the bottom tray and the drainage reservoir. I was pouring out tons of leachate from the spigot which isn’t supposed to happen.  I lifted the bottom tray and noticed that I had a pool of water there.  So I drained the leachate into jars and have been diluting it and using as a fertilizer.  I have read mixed opinions online about whether or not to use this.  Anyone have an opinion?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Here is a picture of Agridude - Tray Way too Wetthe lower bin to show how wet the compost had become.  It looks like mud and that is not what you want your finished compost to look like.  In order to fix this, I mixed in a ton of shredded dry newspaper to absorb some of the moisture.


Agridude - Worms Hanging between Trays

Here is a picture with the working tray being lifted off the processing tray.  You can see some of the worms dangling in between.  I have found that it takes a LONG time to move out of the processing tray.  It has been over a month and I continue to find worms in the bottom tray.  When I add my 3rd tray, I’m going to put the bottom tray on top of the 3rd tray and force the worms to move down into the new working tray.

Here is a close up of the processing tray with quite a few worms hanging out on top:

Agridude - Worms in Bottom Bin Near the TopAgridude - Food Scraps in BinThese next pics were taken last week when I decided to give the worms a large feeding before I went up to San Francisco to visit my friends Matt and Eric.  You can see that I just cut up these scraps with a knife versus my food processor.  I read that if you blend the food too much, it can be a barrier for the air and create anerobic zones that are lethal to the worms.

Agridude - Cover with BeddingAfter I put the food scraps in, I covered them with some moist bedding.  I am using cleaning gloves here because the food scraps had sat outside for a few days and were pretty ripe.  Not exactly the most agridude ish type of clothing, but I didn’t want to get that nasty smell all of my hands.


Agridude - Finished Working with BinHere is the final picture with a nice top layer of bedding over the food scraps.  You can see that the working tray is pretty full now.  I will be adding the third tray this week and when I do, I’ll take pictures so I can make another post.  Again, sorry for the month long gap of not posting any updates on this project.  It’s summer and I have been busy.