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Worms are fantastic for the soil! Believe it or not, worms can turn limp, anemic soil into a nutrient wonderland perfect for gardening. Vermiculture, also known as vermicomposting, is a fascinating way to improve the quality of your home-grown compost with worms. Let’s take a look at how vermiculture works on the homestead.

Vermiculture basics

Vermiculture is a great way to process fruit and vegetable waste into something useful for your homestead.

The benefit to using worms instead of, say, a traditional compost system, is that worms break down the organic matter more quickly. They also churn the soil and help return more nutrients to your soil. Vermiculture benefits your homestead garden by encouraging more robust root systems, disease resistance, and improved water storage capacity during droughts. Vermiculture also introduces beneficial microorganisms into your soil. Say bye-bye to store bought fertilizer and make your own nutrient-dense soil with little cost.

How vermiculture works

Like any homesteading endeavor, vermiculture requires a small startup cost. You’ll need to buy worms, a small amount of quality soil, and ten gallon buckets to hold the compost and worms. You can get larger containers if you have more waste, but it’s best to start small in the beginning. You can always upsize later!

Your worms can process a wide variety of organic matter. Feed them kitchen scraps like lettuce, egg shells, and banana peels. If you have grass clippings, leaves, or mulch, your worms will happily chomp them up. As with any other type of composting, don’t toss meat or dairy into your vermicompost.

In my opinion, the best type of worm for vermiculture is the red worm. They’re surface-dwellers and do marvelously in your compost. The great thing about worms is that they’re a very low-maintenance homestead project. Toss your scraps and a little water in the bucket with them and you’ll have compost very soon! Once a quarter you’ll need to separate the worms from the compost and start a new batch. This keeps your worms happy and healthy, and gives you a constant source of great soil for gardening.

The bottom line

Vermiculture is essentially the harvesting of worm poop. It’s strange to think about, but worms are an essential part of your homestead’s life cycle. With vermiculture, you’ll have hardier plants, improved harvests, and less disease in your garden with vermicompost.

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Identifying Disease in Your Vegetable Garden

Diseases in your vegetable or plant garden are often caused by harmful fungi or viruses that suck up nutrients and affect surrounding crops. Some of the most common causes of crop disease include a lack of airflow, improper drainage of the soil and weather that increases atmospheric moisture.

Since prevention is always better than cure, it’s highly recommended that you choose to plant high-quality seeds that are resistant to attack from fungi and viruses. But that’s not all; you’ll need to keep your garden beds clean, use enough organic matter, water your plants well, and rotate your crops. Here are some of the common diseases you’ll find in your vegetable garden.

Anthracnose appears on the infected plant as dark-colored lesions and attacks the stem, as well as the fruit. Beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes are most commonly infected by this disease. You can treat it using a neem oil spray or liquid copper solution on your crop once you begin to observe the pink sores.

If you’re growing cabbage, spinach, herbs or lettuce in your garden, it’s likely that they’ll get infected by club root, a disease that affects brassica types. You’ll observe that the leaves of these leafy greens wilt during the daytime when it gets too warm, while outer and older leaves become yellow-colored and fall off. Also, the roots will appear infected as well and become swollen.

There’s no cure for the disease considering that this microorganism lives in the soil, so there’s no point in using fungicides. Instead, you can take strict measures as to selecting premium varieties of seeds and make a habit of rotating your crops every year.

Another dangerous disease that can negatively impact your yield for fruit-types and tubers is the early blight. You can tell that your crop is suffering from the disease by noticing the dark-colored spots that appear on leaves and eventually transform into rings.

Moreover, you’ll find symptoms on your produce as well; fruits and tubers sunken patches on them. To keep your crops resistant, opt for a fungicide that’s copper-based and use it before the disease begins to surface. Since you can’t exactly tell when early blight will strike, you can instead begin applying it whenever the weather forecast predicts lengthy rain spells.

The mosaic virus is one that you’ve probably heard about in science class but unlike just regular garden plants, these have the potential of harming your peppers, beans, and tomatoes. You’ll be able to spot it in your crop by the sight of oddly green or yellow colored veins.

Your plants won’t be growing as rapidly and the leaves will begin to shrivel up. You can keep it from affecting your healthy crops by removing the ones that are infected. Don’t forget; there are certain pests, such as hoppers and aphids that act as carriers of the disease, so make sure to keep them away well.

There are a good many other crop diseases that can occur, which is why you should keep an eye on the appearance of your crops. This helps you to detect the spread of any disease and allows you to stop it using treatments or preventative measures. Happy farming!

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