Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday Fun~ Childhood Revisited - Mud Pies

Today I'll be revisiting my childhood and making mud pies with my youngest granddaughter, Skylar. Well not really but close.

Last year with my grandkids we started a vermiculture bin. A vermiculture bins, what's that? A highfaluting name meaning worm farming. It was taking too long for nature to take its course with household scraps...almost 6-12 months to get that black gold that does my plants so good in the garden.

It was easy to start with one ten gallon plastic tote, a larger cat litter box, and a drill. My older grandchildren drilled small holes all over the bottom of the bin with several rows at the top rim. Fun with grandma with power tools!

Inside my younger grandchildren layered shredded paper. Doesn't everyone have stacks of old newspapers, checks, and other important or sensitive mail that they need to shred periodically? Even junk mail? I know my mailbox is filled daily with the stuff. We hosed it down and "accidentally" hosed each other in the process. <g>Then they took hand fulls semi composted stuff from my bin about five inches thick. Finally we added some Red Wiggler worms and put the lid on it.

Next, we placed it on the cat litter tray. Oh, I forgot to mention that we drilled two 1/2" holes into one corner of the cat litter tray for draining the worm tea, and I put four wooden building block (from the kid's toy box to hold the ten gallon tub up. We plugged up the bigger holes with old corks. The corks were leftovers from a craft project we'd completed during Spring break. All for about $10 for a plastic tub, a cat litter box, and a pound of fresh worms. It was all placed on a double row of cinder blocks to get it off the ground.

There is more uses for shredded paper in my book, Are You a Survivalist or a Prepper? I'm always looking at things and trying to figure out how to make something else with it. There that's my plug for today. <g> We later moved on to making heater/cooking plugs. It's in the book.

As I told my grands this was a way to fertilize the garden with building up the soil and young plants for yummy vegetables and fruits. Is there anything better than raiding grandma's strawberry patch for fresh strawberries in her old cracked wheel barrow, grabbing an orange, or picking figs off the tree? Not to my grands. It also provided us with plenty of worms to fish with later in the summer and summers to come. They love fishing.

Now it's three months since I last emptied the bottom tub...I have two working tubs as a result of another grandma fun day before my stroke. I've dumped my organic trash into the tub every week, even more goodies with corn shucks and pea pods after the chicken and rabbits finish with them. I do chop them fine so the worms can digest them faster and they love, love, love my husband's used coffee grounds. But it was now time to empty my black gold again. So Skylar was tagged for a one-on-one time with the grandparents. I do a one-one and group projects with all of them.

Since my garden is rotation planting, just before one vegetable is harvested another patch is started that way I have a continuous harvest until the first frost. We all eat fresh for as long as we can.

We dug the worm bin out by the handful, picking worms out as we went. Most of them had worked their way up to the upper container by now for fresh food. All that was left was rich, warm compost. Worm castings (worm poop) was left of all the scraps I had thrown in there. We got the hose and sprayed the picked through "dirt making a muddy mess. Of course we couldn't resist spraying each other. Grandpa even got involved spraying the "dirt" and us with the Super Soaker water gun. When it's reaching the upper 90's  in temperature when you are working/playing everything counts when keeping cool.
Yeah this one is a new one.

Next, I mix in Vermiculite or Perlite into the compost to make it really light and fluffy.  We filled trays leftover from plant purchases for my small annual flower bed, oh too many years ago. Making sure to to make it all squishy on the top to press the extra water out. The cast off water is recycled into my raised bed since its already diluted compost or worm tea. Fun and fertilizing at the same time. Wohoo!

I keep a stack of gardening trays in my shed to be reused year after year. Also assorted sized pots. I reuse things until they can be used anymore before I trash it. Yes it all goes into a landfill, but not until it is no longer in a usable state. I've delayed the inevitable by years. Anyhow back to mud pies, or should I say cakes that will be my seed starters.


There are big advantages for using younger grandchildren for this because they have small hands.  Once all the extra water is drained off,  because grandpa went a little crazy from his chair with the Super Soaker and garden hose, she takes a plastic knife and cuts little cakes into the tray.They are about 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 inch squares. Grandma will later wiggly the knife down each cut for wider spacing. Skylar presses her index finger about up to her first knuckle into each square making holes for planting seeds. Next she'll plant the seeds and cover them up.

Grandpa will go nuts again with the hose trying to wash all the "dirt" off us and we are done until next time in two or three weeks. Did I mention that it's mandatory for all kids to bring their swimsuits and an extra change of clothes on grandparents day? No, well it is. Yes, I could go out and buy a Jiffy seed starting tray...but where's the fun in that?

On a sadder note...today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of my mother's death. I miss you Momma.

But I'll end on a happy note...yesterday was, my #3 daughter's, Keri, birthday. Happy birthday baby!

Have fun with everything you do.

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