Mary, Mary, quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
“I live with my brat in a high-rise flat,
So how in the world would I know.”

— Roald Dahl

My garden is being quite contrary at the moment. The Snook and I are trying to grow basil in a big pot. We bought seeds and special potting mix for it and we’ve been diligently watering them… and the damn things just won’t grow! At the same time, I’ve got huge freaky mutant albino baby pumpkin seedlings sprouting in my worm farm thanks to the damp conditions and the fact that we don’t have enough worms yet to keep up with our vegetable waste. (The Snook says they’ll die eventually from lack of sunlight, but they still creep me out.) Some farmer I am. Next time I plant herbs, I’m gonna plant them in the composter!


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  1. I’ve never had much luck with basil, even when living in sunny climates. Starting from seed sounds particularly daunting–it seems to be a super-finicky herb, at least in my (limited) experience.

  2. i had something sprouting in our composter recently as well—i just tried to chop it up some and let the worms go at it. speaking of which, i must have twice the number of buggers i started with! good stuff.

    as for the basil, i never had any luck with growing it from seeds either and have since stuck with buying the plants pre-grown. best of luck to you!

  3. Really? Twice as many worms? I’m worried about ours. They don’t seem to be eating the food very quickly (hence the sproutage). In fact, I’ve got two bucketsful waiting for them as soon as they clear the old stuff out. How often are you putting water in the box? I’m paranoid that all my worms are dying or something.

  4. There are pumpkins growing in my parents’ compost pile in VA. They’re really cool: pretty orange blossoms and nifty potential jack ‘o lanterns to boot (they’re not albino, being in an extremely sunny spot).

    I think when my folks grow things from seed, they usually start them inside under a grow lite, rather than in the ground. Once they’re a little advanced, they transplant. I, by the way, know nothing about gardens and manage to kill everything in close range (I killed mint, which is supposed to be indestructable).

    Good luck!

  5. are you putting the scraps straight into the bin? you might want to give them a run through the food processor (or blender) first. otherwise, i’ve just been making sure that the guys are moist enough and turn the soil every other day so they have enough room to breathe. if you have a bottom bin for catching “tea,” you might want to clear that out every once in a while—the little buggers tend to fall down there.

  6. I’ve been chopping them, but I don’t have a food processor. Maybe I should get one. And turning the soil? Haven’t done that either. I’ll do that too. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  7. you could probably just grate the veggie bits instead. no sense in buying a cuisinart for invertebrate guests. you know they’re nocturnal, right? they might be napping when you stop by for a visit. 😉

    i just started fluffing the bedding up a bit when i felt heat coming up from the bin. i got worried that the scraps were decomposing on their own and throwing off too much heat for the little buggers to be comfy.

  8. Actually the Snook just reminded me about Stickmaster, our choppy blender thing. So I might be able to make them a bit smaller.

  9. having dealt with worms since i was a child, i can tell you to be wary of blending their food… it can result in a lack of oxygen and you can kill the lot! instead go on the premise of ‘larger chunks take longer to break down’ if you have few worms then you want things to break down slower. if on the other hand you are going through two buckets of vegetable waste each week like i am… then you can start chopping it down for them into small peices with a knife. remember worms breed exponentially.

  10. Thanks for the advice. Unfortunately I haven’t been a very good worm mommy over the past six months. I think they might be dead! I’ll have to get some more in the Spring.

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