Gold Medal Worms and long hot summers: Wormery tips for the sun!

There are 28 species of earthworm native to the UK and of these 3 are particularly suitable for composting. After decades of research and experience, I am utterly convinced that the Tiger Worm (Eisenia Fetida) is the best for the job. They process more waste for their weight and survive in a wider variety of conditions. Dendrobaena or blue nose worms and ‘red worms’ are also good at the job and more widely available (and significantly cheaper) as they are widely used by anglers as bait. But in this British Olympic year as in all others, when it comes to worms we are proud to go for Gold and are content to leave Silver and Bronze to others!

Whichever of the top three composting worms you happen use, they will operate year round, but they will thrive and work best within the temperature range we humans tend to feel comfortable in. So in totally non-scientific terms that’s not too hot and not too cold.

Worms will die if they get too hot or too cold so they need a little help to work to their best. A few simple common sense tips will help keep your wormery working well through our long hot summers (if only!).

1) Firstly, the more established your wormery the more it is naturally protected from the extremes of temperature, as the organic waste and compost acts as an insulator.

2) Avoid prolonged exposure to direct sun and move your wormery into shade.

3) If the compost becomes dry, sprinkle or spray some water over the compost; don’t drench it. Whilst this is an unusual problem, it is a tad more likely in multi tray wormeries than the classic dual chamber models.

4) If you go away on holiday, you don’t have to get family or friends in to look after it. Simply give it an extra feed of kitchen waste and as an additional protection cover the top layer of waste with a piece of sacking, old carpet or moisture mat. Leave the tap open (with a suitable container underneath) and the worms should be fine for several weeks.

5) Remember that the warmer months are the most productive for your wormery so feed less in winter and more in summer and you are on your way to success.

6) If possible, moving your Wormery inside to a shed or garage, outhouse or conservatory, offers several advantages as the temperatures are more stable and so the worms will be more efficient (but please not greenhouses in the summer!).

With a little thought and care, your wormery should work very well through the Great British Summer and cope with our winter months as well.

After all the rain of late I hope we can all now put this to the test and prove the truth of this advice over the next few months. I can’t wait for the tabloid headline – “Phew, what a Scorcher”!!!

All things green: ‘Not enough space’ is not an excuse!

My Patio Growing Plot!

As my writing depends on it, I am fortunate in that I have three allotments, all shared with my girlfriend Jeannine.  Thanks to the local council’s policy of splitting plots in half (to please twice the number of gardeners) the reality is that we have three half plots – which strikes me as half a plot less than we are entitled to!  Nonetheless, allotment waiting lists in most parts of the country now seem so long that you have to sign your grandchildren up, let alone yourself, so I count myself blessed!

We aren’t all lucky enough to have allotments or a large garden, but provided you’re not set on attaining complete self-sufficiency there is plenty you can do to grow your own in even a small space – perhaps a typical terraced-house garden, or even a patio or balcony.

Last summer I tested this theory by setting up an ultra-compact patio garden outside my kitchen door (you can see it above).  The area measures something like two metres by 80cm, and I carefully arranged planters, pots and old packing boxes to make use of the space.  These were filled with good quality compost, both home-made and shop-bought, because one trick to growing in small spaces is to make sure your plants are well fed.  The quantity and diversity of the food I managed to produce really surprised me, although of course such an intensive little plot needs some looking after.  Key to my success was the use of height – low-growing crops were interplanted with taller ones, and canes and support frames allowed climbing plants to double my ‘productive volume’.  I even had some tomatoes growing in hanging baskets – although the watering regime was at times inconvenient.

Apart from growing veg, you can also include other aspects of a well-rounded garden in a smaller plot.  Beneficial plants like marigolds and nasturtiums can be squeezed in, as can a rainwater harvesting system if you look out for a compact water butt (there are many such now available).  And at the end of the garden cycle (or is it the beginning?) don’t forget a composter.  Wormeries take up the minimum amount of room and will process your kitchen and some of your garden waste faster than any other design.

Perhaps the smallest possible growing area is a kitchen windowsill and, while no doubt limited, there are quite a few possibilities here.  Herbs should be your first option, as they are so expensive to buy fresh in shops but take up relatively little room – just one pot each of rosemary, mint, coriander and basil will transform countless dishes.  Another small-space star is a trough of cut-and-come-again salad, including some fast-growing Chinese leaves and rocket.  These will re-grow several times provided you don’t harvest them too hard.

Let me know how you get on.

Paul

All things green: A greener Christmas?

Christmas BaublesIt’s four in the morning, the end of November. Not a cheery time to be lying awake worrying, but this morning I had good cause – I’ve realised Christmas is coming. This year at least my worries take an unusual and original form. My girlfriend and I have decided to boycott the whole thing, which means no presents, no family, no fancy meal, and hopefully no stress – just the two of us and the dog in the camper van somewhere in a wood in Norfolk. So why am I worrying? Because I can’t help feeling guilty that we’re not ‘playing along’ with the rest of the world!

Why our festive boycott, you may well ask. Well, mainly, it’s not exactly green is it? All the unwanted gifts shoved to the back of the cupboard, the packaging and transport of said gifts, the tonnes of wasted food and (call me scrooge if you will) those eye-wrenching, kilowatt-burning neon displays with which some people choose to adorn their homes! What’s more, far from being a happy family occasion, Christmas has become a time of emotional and financial stress for many of us. I would never suggest that an all-out ban is a good idea for everyone – this has the potential to be a very happy and rewarding time of year, particularly for kids. That said I do wish the public at large would stop and think before indulging themselves (and their egos) on the few shopping days they have left.

Before we ‘went the whole hog’, our household experimented with the idea of a green Christmas and it worked pretty well. The idea was that every aspect of the season be considered from an environmental perspective – in particular we were careful about the type and number of presents we bought each other.

We went so far as to prescribe four options for our seasonal generosity, which I present here for your consideration!

Option one – give the gift of time. Whether it be a couple of day’s labour on dad’s allotment, or just taking auntie for a Christmas walk, people will appreciate this kind of thoughtful effort every bit as much as they would an expensively-wrapped (but still generic) gift.

Option two – give a zero-carbon gift. This takes a little imagination, but can either take the form of a ‘real’ item (a fruit tree for the garden, credits for music or film downloads rather than a CD or DVD) or can involve a trip or excursion – perhaps a ticket to the theatre, with train fare included.

Option three – give something they need. If one of your family members is starting a new course, buy them something from the reading list. If they’re a keen gardener, offer to pay for next year’s seed order, and so on. It doesn’t take a genius to point out it’s better to receive something you really need, rather than something you would never buy for yourself.

Option four – make people think. An environmentally conscious gift (such as a wormery!) might be just the nudge some people need to make a few eco-friendly changes to their lifestyle. If friends and family are already pretty good at being green, they will value the sentiment (and the gift) all the more highly.

Paul Wagland

New Wormeries page

Afternoon folks,

I just thought I’d post a quick Blog to say that we’ve just changed what is probably the most important page of our website – the Wormery page – hopefully for the better!

The Wormeries page is by far the most visited page of the Original Organics website and is the page which visitors land on from search results and our online ads, so it’s very important that it is effective.  It is our primary chance to show off our excellent products, convey to visitors that we’re good people to do business with – and hopefully convert them into paying customers and Wormery owners!

The old version of the page, whilst quite informative, was very long and didn’t make it easy to compare the available options.  The aim of this exercise was to tidy it up, make the page less cluttered and easier to use – but still provide visitors with the information they’re looking for.

I’ll be monitoring how it compares to the old page very closely over the coming weeks and will undoubtedly be making the odd tweak here and there to make it even easier to use.  But I’m sure you’ll agree it is quite an improvement.

Oh… and here’s how the wormeries page looked nearly 4 years ago!

If you have any comments, as ever, please do let us know!

Liam

The classiest kitchen compost caddies you ever did see?

As soon as I saw these classy caddies I just fell in love with them!  Apparently, yes it is possible to love a composting product this much…

You’ll see what I mean though (I hope!) :-

Clay Compost Bucket CaddyNew to Original Organics and available now from our website for the rather excellent price of £15.97! Available in Clay (pictured), String and Apple Green.

Let me know what you think.

Liam

The Original Organics Mega Winter Sale is Now On!

NB.  This sale has now ended.  The sale ended January 31st 2009.

I hope everyone had a really excellent christmas and that Santa brought you some very nice pressies.  Here’s just another post-christmas treat for you.  It’s the launch of our Winter Sale.

This one really is our biggest and best ever – and, at these prices, it simply can’t last long!

Take 15% off our entire range when you shop online with us at www.originalorganics.co.uk and enter the discount code WINTER15.  So, for a limited time, you can buy from the experts with even bigger value than normal!

Here are some examples of the savings you can make :-

The Original Wormery (our Bestseller)Buy this Wormery
RRP £64.90 – Usual Web Price £50.80
With 15% Off Web Price :- £43.18 (save over £20 from RRP!)

The Worm Works (4-Tray System)Buy this Wormery
RRP £105.95 – Usual Web Price £94.95
With 15% Off Web Price :- £80.71 (save over £25 from RRP!)

Double Bokashi Composting Rotation KitBuy this Bokashi Kit
Usual Web Price £34.25
With 15% Off Web Price :- £29.11 (save over £5!)

Have a look at our wonderful bestselling Wormeries and our excellent Bokashi Composters now!

… and here’s to a prosperous 2009 for all!

Regards,

Liam

Free Overnight Delivery – with love from Original Organics!

NB. This offer has now ended.

We wish you a Merry Christmas,Christmas Baubles
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
We wish you a Merry Christmas,
… and a Happy New Year!

We’re pleased to unveil, for a limtied time only, our extra special Christmas Offer!

FREE OVERNIGHT DELIVERY on *any* order placed on our website, www.originalorganics.co.uk

It’s simple.  Order by 4pm on a working day and your order will be delivered the next working day – and we’ll pay!  It sounds crazy – it probably is… perhaps we’ve had a bit too much mulled wine!

Unfortunately, there are some restrictions on area – as our couriers cannot deliver overnig to some remote areas, but nobody will pay a delivery charge – no matter where you are in the UK!

For more information and to see the not so small print – see our website…

Be quick – this offer cannot last long!  We’re bound to see sense sometime soon.

Merry Christmas,

Liam