Lila Stevens

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since Jan 08, 2013
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Recent posts by Lila Stevens

james cox wrote:

"You might be thinking that Blossom End Rot is a calcium deficiency, but that is not correct. The rest of the plant can have lots of calcium, and Blossom End Rot can still develop. More recently, scientists have had a closer look and found that the problem is one of moving calcium around inside the plant, not necessarily a shortage."

well don't leave us hanging christina, how do we get the calcium flowing through the plant? happy face on my tomatoes getting their calcium

or anyone else can answer that  knows, would love to not have blossom end rot in my tomatoes.

cheers    james

I've heard of epsom salts being recommended to prevent blossom end rot. The idea, I believe, is that the magnesium helps the plants move calcium around in the plants, as it is supposed to do in the human body as well. A quick Google search is a bit confusing though. One source says that too much magnesium can actually block the absorption of calcium by the plant.

Probably, as with most things, a rich, living soil is your best defense against blossom end rot. That always seems to be the best bet for covering all bases so plants have what they need, and the ability to uptake it.
This question has been answered very well by previous commenters, but I just wanted to expand on a few things.

Those worms you pick up from your driveway and road edge would be perfect to add to your actual garden beds. They will do excellent work for you there, adding worm castings and aerating your soil in place. So yes, have fun picking them up from elsewhere and adding them to your garden. I would not add them to a worm bin, since they are "earth worms" and need soil, unlike the  "litter worms" you most likely purchased for your worm bin.

Also, your purchased worms will multiply very quickly, given a proper environment, so no need to add more worms anyway. I did an experiment a few months back, in which 10 Red Wigglers multiplied to become 120 Red Wigglers in just 8 weeks. In a separate bin, 10 Indian Blue Worms multiplied to become over 230 Indian Blue Worms in the same amount of time. And that was not counting cocoons or the tiniest babies that I missed. Most composting worms that you purchase will be a mix of Red Wigglers and Indian Blues, unless the seller specifies otherwise.
1 month ago
I homeschool my 6-year-old and 9-year-old, and I am seriously considering buying this book and doing a study on aquatic life. It's just so pretty! And since aquatic life is such a broad subject, we could branch out from there into different habitats or creatures that spark our interest. And then I could buy more books, haha. Our local public library is very small and kinda sad, and I was thinking after doing a study unit we could donate these wonderful books to them, sharing them with others, and still get to check them out if we wanted to read them again.

1 month ago
This book also looks great. It even has a very simple introduction to the soil food web, which is really cool. Most permie kids will already probably know as much about that as what is in this book, but it's still neat. I could totally see using this book as part of a study unit on plants

1 month ago
This "Magic and Mystery" series is so beautifully-illustrated, and packed full of bite-sized bits of info for kids. I know we have checked out the tree one and I think the bug one from our library in the past. We recently got two big books from Costco that seem to consolidate all 4 books into 2 volumes. I don't know if they shorten them down to consolidate them, though. Those big consolidated volumes were only $12 each, though if money were no object I would prefer to have 4 separate books with individual focuses.
1 month ago

J. Hunch wrote:I track laying in a spreadsheet, and I haven't noticed anything unusual about this year's egg production. I buy store-brand feed and selectively breed for consistent laying. My ideal hen lays a decent number of good-quality eggs every year for her entire 5-10 year life. I don't enjoy raising the commercially-favored hens bred to have 1-2 years of high productivity and then get replaced after the inevitable steep drop-off. I also select for winter laying when I can, but it's a hard trait to come by. A hen that lays in the winter over the age of 2 is a rare gem.

eggs collected from three 6-year-old hens over the past few days

This is so interesting to me. We don't eat our chickens, and they will continue to be pets/ bug eaters/ soil builders for the rest of their natural lives, whether they are laying or not. So I would love to have chickens that keep laying at a moderate rate for most of their lives. What breeds did you start with, when you began selecting for chickens that lay this way?

Would it be accurate to say that the ones that lay more moderately tend to lay for longer? I would love to hear a lot more about your experiences with this.

1 month ago
We LOVED those Smithsonian books that you mentioned in your original post, and I collected the majority of them off of when my kids were younger.

We also really liked Laurence Pringle's books; the two that we own that come to mind are "An Extraordinary Life: The Story of a Monarch Butterfly" and "A Dragon in the Sky: The Story of  Green Darner DragonFly". These are both long and detailed, but are realistic, interesting stories about an individual member of each of these species, as they avoid danger and complete their life cycles. They held held my kids' attention from age 5 or 6. Now that my daughter is 9, she reads them on her own from time to time.

I really liked Jean Craigshead George's books "The Wolves Are Back" and  "The Buffalo Are Back". The way she describes the connectedness of the ecosystem, and how taking out one creature affected so many others, in a way understandable to little kids, is just wonderful. However, because both of those animals were intentionally driven to near-extinction, these books could be a bit heavy and sad for little kids. Both end with an upbeat message, since conservationists did bring them back to some degree. The illustrations are gorgeous and uplifting, and overall, I think they are fantastic. Jean Craighead George also wrote a bunch of other great picture books and chapter books for kids. Some do deal with habitat loss, so you'll have to read them and decide what you are comfortable with.

Jim Arnosky is another great author of children's nature books.
2 months ago
I don't think you NEED to crush the eggshells, but you might want to so that their benefits are available in your worm bin. The two main reasons people add crushed eggshells to a worm bin is to make the environment less acidic, and also to act as grit in the worms' guts. Worms don't have jaws and can't bite, so can only take in very tiny particles of anything, including eggshells.

If you don't want to use electricity, an old-fashioned mortar and pestle would probably actually work better. I wish I had one. I use a food processor for just a few minutes, and I feel like it uses very little electric, compared to so many other things I use on a daily basis.

Now I am curious how long an eggshell would take to break down in the bin without crushing. I might add just one to see.
2 months ago
This fellow made something very similar to your idea, complete with a tutorial. I love Captain Matt's channel. His enthusiasm is so contagious.
3 months ago

German Herrera wrote:What may be the best way to check the ph of the composting bin? Ph strips? I always feel that reading them is so subjective. Please advise. Thanks.

Honestly, I have never done tested pH, so I couldn't tell you! Hopefully someone more knowledgeable will chime in. I just add ground up eggshells whenever I have them and call it good... not the most scientific approach, but it is working so far.
3 months ago