Summer's heat works well for indoor gardening projects

The typical summer pattern of weather has settled into our area and the plants seem to love it.

Everything has just exploded in our landscape, which means more cutting and pruning. Although there is plenty to do outside, you may want to spend a little time gardening inside and stay out of the heat.

The indoor project I have undertaken required ordering a worm compost bin, which is set up in the laundry room. I was reading a magazine article that had tips from small business owners who tried to "go green," and this worm bin was mentioned as a way to recycle scrap paper. I have raised worms before, but I just used a big plastic container with lots of holes punched in it.

I bought the bin from Compostbins.com and I anxiously awaited its arrival. It certainly looks as advertised, so we'll see if it performs as noted on the Web site. It has only been functioning for a week. So far, no worm castings.

According to the information that came with the bin, the multi-tray system separates the worms from the compost while the worms continually eat through kitchen scraps and junk mail, leading to nutrient-rich compost.

In full operation, the bin system houses 8,000 to 12,000 worms that consume 5 to 8 pounds of food a week, allowing harvesting of a full tray of nutrient rich castings every month. The compost can then be used in both your indoor and outdoor gardens.

The Worm Factory is advertised to have no odor and I haven't noticed any yet. Even though the optimum temperature for worms is stated as 60 to 80 degrees, I will place it under a large oak tree in my back yard once the worms seem to be adjusted.

I just think in our buggy Florida, I don't need to be feeding the roaches along with the worms. I always kept my other worm farm outside and it didn't seem to harm them. I purchased local worms, which should be used to our area's weather. The higher temperatures may slow them down, but once they get going, it shouldn't matter too much.

I have checked on the progress of the worms and didn't notice any fatalities, so I'm hoping the hundred or so worms I placed in the bin are ready to work. I will check this weekend and make sure the moisture and food levels are adequate.

Aside from welcoming my worms, I must admit very little has been accomplished in the yard. I stick to those tasks that are absolutely necessary and in small doses, such as weeding five or 10 minutes after I walk my dog or trimming off rampant branches here and there.

I don't think I've spent more than 30 minutes at any one time in the garden all month and it seems to look fine.

I trimmed the holly next to the driveway and cleaned the bed around it — a 30-minute project.

My next task will be removing some of the ferns planted around the oak tree in the back yard. I have a mental list of 30-minute projects that need completing in the yard.

If I see myself getting behind I'll tackle a task before work and then one right before dark.

I did notice that my avocado tree has really taken off. It is about 8 feet high with five or six nice healthy branches. It was started from a pit in the house, so we will see if it ever produces fruit.

The tree had been in the shadow of the recently removed Queen Ann palm, so maybe the removal of this competition has increased its growth rate. With the palm gone, the avocado has a perfect area to grow.

I've not grown avocado trees before but read they grow about 20 to 40 feet in height but can be kept shorter with pruning.

I think I will aim for no taller than 20 feet. I also read that when started from a pit, it takes three to four years to fruit. It's been outside at least a year now, so it will be interesting to see when it bears fruit.

I understand they produce more fruit if there is more than one tree in the same location. Maybe I'll try to start another one from a pit to improve the pollination. There's another task I can do inside.

Summer's heat works well for indoor gardening projects 08/07/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:57pm]

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