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Unread 09-09-2008, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
5,216 posts, read 8,047,773 times
Reputation: 2441
True there is a lot of information on it however a lot of it involves buying loads of equipment and a lot of it contradicts the rest of it. Sigh! Guess there are many more ways than one and I just wish they would allow each other to also be right. My neighbor and I looked at lots of online stuff and then we experimented and we've managed to get this milk jug thing to work, although some of the other things we tried didn't work.

We are trying to figure out how to grow food (and feed) without having to buy a lot of pumps and other expensive things. Using a "throw away" plastic milk jug, a twenty five cent net pot (which is reusable) and about five cents worth of fertilizer and five cents worth of seed we can produce a head of lettuce.

If we set up a worm composting bin (we are still trying to scavenge three or four matching plastic bins) then we can use the worm castings instead of the hydroponic fertilizer. I think our lettuce then becomes "organic" as well since we wouldn't be using chemical fertilizers. We are letting some heads of lettuce go to seed so we will have free seeds, too. If we buy 2,500 of those net pots the individual per pot price drops to .003 cents per pot. Hmm, free milk jug + .003 cents per net pot (which is still reusable) + coconut husk potting medium (free from backyard coconuts) + seeds we grew ourselves + a cardboard box to keep the light out of the jug (scrounged from a dumpster in town) + one gallon of rainwater collected during the next rainfall = the first head of lettuce for .003 cents and we can amortize the expense of the net pot over the next heads of lettuce grown with it. At the moment, buying the net pots individually, the chemical fertilizer and commercially produced seeds, I think it is about thirty cents to grow the first head of lettuce and about ten cents for each one afterwards.
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Unread 09-09-2008, 09:43 PM
 
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Hey hotcatz,
Are you going to the South Maui Sustainabilty meeting on Thursday evening? I saw someone from that group in the paper with a mini lettuce garden. It had been planted in two of those big plastic tubs that you buy organic spring greens. One tub was upended as the cover. Both were clear though, and there was not an explanation of the process in the paper.

I appreciate your detail. You've got me inspired, and I've already got a worm bin going. Mine is currently pretty small. I used two plastic flower pots, the kind with the built in (snap on) saucer, nested one inside the other. The inner one has holes drilled in the bottom and the saucer removed. The outer one is just as is, and is there to catch any moisture that exits from the inner pot. I had to put a slice of plastic soda bottle between the 2 pots, to increase the amount of space between them.

The lid to my worm bin is a round of pressed wood, with a cabinet handle on the top and 3 corks screwed to the underside. The corks fit just on the inside of the pot, so the lid won't slide off.

I got my worms from a lady who had a worm bin going already. I feed them kitchen scraps (uncooked), grass trimmings (unsprayed), shredded newspaper. One tip I learned, after slaughtering my last batch of worms, was to use de-chlorinated water to wet the newspaper shreds before adding them to the bin. I think my last bin was too dry and the chlorine killed them quickly. Now I keep a container of water de-chlorinating in the open air, and soak/squeeze the water out of dry material.

I had a big bin made of 2 Rubbermaid type bins, nested, but it took up too much room where I had it. I'm going to make it again, but was waiting for the summer heat to lessen down here in Kihei.

I'm going to try the lettuce growing, keep those ideas coming!
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Unread 09-09-2008, 11:20 PM
 
820 posts, read 1,594,405 times
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hotcatz,

Question on the construction. The coconut husk or batting is in the net cage with the seeds on top. At first, the husk/batting touches the water so it stays wet. But after a while the water level is going to drop. Do you leave some batting hanging down like a wick?
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Unread 09-09-2008, 11:51 PM
 
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
5,216 posts, read 8,047,773 times
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The roots will follow the water level as it drops and when you harvest the lettuce there will be a big root system. That can be cut off and is pretty handy to use instead of coconut husk or batting for the next lettuce crop.

No, I'll not be at the South Maui conference since I'm on a different rock (the Big Island). We've got worm harvesting on our "to do" list for our next garden club tea this Thursday. The small red wiggly compost worms are in our local park so we will gather a few to put in our new worm bins (which I'm supposed to have prepared by Thursday).
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Unread 09-10-2008, 11:58 AM
 
820 posts, read 1,594,405 times
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Thanks hotcatz, I didn't even think about the roots growing. Duh!

Whups, I thought you were a Mauian. Maui-ite?

The lady who lectured us on worm composting said that the red wrigglers aren't native to Hawaii, and don't live in the earth. She said there are reddish earthworms in the soil, but those aren't the composting kind. Of course she may have just been wanting to sell the worms she had, but she said they only live in the very top level of the ground. I can't yet tell worms apart, but understand that the way to tell the difference is to take a worm in your hand. If it does the frantic lashing, it's an earthworm. If it just tries to wriggle/ooze away, it's a wriggler.
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Unread 09-10-2008, 12:06 PM
 
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
5,216 posts, read 8,047,773 times
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Our worm lady here who works for the County said she started her worm farm with four (and a half) worms she collected from her friend's farm along our coast here. She said to dig in the top of some loose soil and find the small red worms. Some do wiggle more than others, too. I've just been getting some of each when gathering worms. Some are more red, some are more gray, I just put them all in the compost and I figure the ones that are compost worms will be happy and thrive.

Apparently worms can't be shipped into Hawaii so we either have to find wild worms and domesticate them (not a hard process once you find the wild worms) or purchase some worms from someone who already has some. Mostly the asking price has been about $40 a pound which seems a bit high for worms, if you ask me!

Hey, we could start new businesses - we could all become worm wranglers! We'd have to get a proper hat and some really tiny ropes to rope 'em with, I guess?
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Unread 09-10-2008, 04:02 PM
 
820 posts, read 1,594,405 times
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Our worm lady is charging $50 for a heaping handful of worms, but that includes a small worm condo - two small (slightly larger than shoebox) bins. The kind you buy from Walmart. She also gives the free seminars. It's good to support her and the efforts, but if you can find them for free all the better.

We used to have a worm guy - Robert - who tried to have a business selling worms and promoting composting. He had big wooden bins (worms like wood) nearby a yard waste composting site. Unfortunately Robert went out of business and moved back to the mainland.

I'm liking the little hat idea. Maybe little Hawaiian shirts? Slippers wouldn't work though...
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Unread 09-10-2008, 05:44 PM
 
Location: Philly, PA
155 posts, read 480,260 times
Reputation: 67
Damn guys! OP ask about food crisis and you end up with ... worms for $50 per lbs!!!
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Unread 09-10-2008, 09:01 PM
 
Location: Moku Nui, Hawaii
5,216 posts, read 8,047,773 times
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Well, Mad Russion, if worms are at $50 per pound can you just imagine the prices of steak around here?

Hey, Calico Salsa, if you want to discuss worms further, we can go to the Hawaii Chicken forum and discuss them there. Those folks are trying to figure out how to feed chickens and chickens like worms. hawaiichickens : Backyard Chickens Plus I can guarantee the moderator won't kick us off.

I was talking to someone earlier today who mentioned a lot of folks she knows are doing a lot more hunting because of the increased prices of food. She said they built a smoker for pig and she was worried about cattle rustling, too. Some other friends of mine with a coffee farm said sometimes they find cattle carcasses over by their farm so apparently cattle rustling does happen.
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Unread 09-11-2008, 07:38 AM
 
Location: Philly, PA
155 posts, read 480,260 times
Reputation: 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by hotzcatz View Post
Well, Mad Russion, if worms are at $50 per pound can you just imagine the prices of steak around here?
I hope you not talking about worm steak!
Yeh, I know, I'm so old-fashioned, I prefer regular beef.
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