by Natalie Roden
What would you do if you found out weeds were in the recipe you ordered? Would you put the food to the side and decide not to eat it? Or would you tell the waiter that there was something weird about your dish and that you want to order something new?
Well, it’s time to reconsider eating weeds! That’s right – according to an article on foodtank.org, there are a variety of weeds that are in fact edible, taste good, and are packed with nutrition. Weeds are even starting to make their way onto restaurant menus.
Some of these weeds are high in nutrition, like dandelions and stinging nettle. Others are said to taste like garlic, like the aptly named garlic mustard. Different chefs have worked with a variety of weeds and it seems that they have found creative ways to incorporate them into their dishes while still making the dish tasty.
A big ambassador of incorporating weeds into meals is Tama Matsuoka Wong. Click here for her story.
You can have your own garden filled with edible weeds! There are various books and websites that will help you. A good resource to check out is The Encyclopedia of Edible Plants of North America: Nature’s Green Feast by Francois Couplan and James Duke.
I personally think that it is really neat that more natural species of plants are being put into recipes. Weeds are something that people tend to have hard feelings towards and hate seeing in their yards. This new trend in cooking will hopefully give weeds a better reputation. Next time you see a weed, think twice. It may be one of the best ways for you to get your daily dose of vitamins A and C, and it may taste really delicious, too!
Cold composting with worms or hot composting in piles–just get your food waste out of the trash!
This Infographic Brought To You By ThePrepperProject.com
By Urban Worm Intern: Sarah Sklare
Here at Urban Worm we have thousands of red wigglers turning hundreds of pounds of food waste into vermicompost for our farm. As amazing as it is, that is a pretty big commitment! Before jumping into the deep end, a great way to decide if worm composting is for you is to practice with a little box of “pet worms.” It is also a great way to get your kids involved in vermicomposting on their own small scale!
Here are instructions to make your own pet worm bin:
1 shoebox sized tupperware or plastic bin (ideally food grade)
an extra plastic lid (or something similar) for the box
food scraps – about half the weight of your worms
a few dozen red wiggler worms
a power drill
1. Drill holes in the bottom of your bin, a few inches apart
2. Drill holes in the lower two or three inches of each side of the bin, a few inches apart
3. Drill a few holes in the top of the bin – doesn’t need to be as many as on the sides or bottom, but enough to for air circulation
4. Shred the newspaper, get it wet, then squeeze out excess moisture
5. Fill the bin about halfway with damp newspaper (fluff up the newspaper so there is plenty of space for air)
6. Place your food scraps and worms in the bin!
7. Find a great location for your worms – they should not be in direct sunlight, but also shouldn’t get too cold
8. Place the bin on top of your extra lid or whatever you’re using for a base – there should be space between the bottom of your bin and the base, to allow for water drainage and air flow
1. Your worms will eat about ½ their body weight in food scraps per day, so make sure to feed them about that amount each day – and don’t put citrus or meat in your bin!
2. If the bin seems too dry or hot, spritz it with water
3. If the bin is emitting a funny smell it is probably too wet or has too many food scraps, so adjust your inputs accordingly
4. Assuming things go well, you will eventually have some great vermicompost and many more worms than you started with! It will be time to upgrade to a bigger bin, or put the worms and compost in your garden and start over!
By Ari Breakstone, Urban Adamah Fellow
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has just come out with a report urging a surprising change to Western diets – making sure insects are on your dinner menu. This embrace of entomophagy (the intentional consumption of insects) may seem tré icky and gross at first, but the UN makes a convincing case that we should get over the psychological barriers and chow down on some tasty crawlers.
-Insects are very nutritious and great sources of protein, fat and various minerals our bodies need – Mmmhmmm!
-Many species are “extremely efficient” producers of protein. Crickets, for example, are estimated to require 1/12 the amount of feed to produce the same amount of protein than cows require – that’s a helluva lot less waste!
-The space requirements of insects are orders of magnitude less than sheep, cattle and pigs – yay, more farmland and nature preserves!
-Most species produce less ammonia and other destructive greenhouse gases – the atmosphere thanks you!
So many people and cultures are already clued into the amazing power of bugs that 2 billion (that’s billion with a “b”) humans regularly incorporate insects into their diet. Won’t you help to save our world by coming aboard and joining the bug-gravy train??
Please note: we are not recommending you buy our worms to eat them – they are way better utilized breaking down food scraps than being food themselves. But if shit has gone down and you’re staring at an empty pantry and an empty wallet, we won’t judge… but we will pass the salt.
See the UN Report and a BBC article for more tasty deets.
Ever wonder how our plucky and useful red wiggler worms get down and dirty to produce the next generation? Fear not, Urban Worm is here to provide the answers and satisfy your… curiousity.
Red Wiggler worms are hermaphrodites – they have both male and female sexual organs. When the time is right for lovin’, two worms intertwine and exchange sperm into eachother’s clitellums, the thicker bands which contain the egg sacs. Several eggs are fertilized in each worm’s clitellum and are secreted in a cocoon. So each time the worms get lucky, you get even luckier, as they both become pregnant and can have multiple offspring! Barry White music is recommended, but not required, to increase reproductive capacity. Do you believe in miracles?
See the sexy video below of earthworms in action. Rest assured, wigglers doing the nasty are very similar.
Last Friday 4/12/13, the worm team arrived at Manzanita Seed Elementary School in Oakland, right as school was getting in. Somehow carrying 3 worm bins and lbs of worms, teaching materials, and 3 bunches of bananas they walked in through a rush of children to meet Ms. Tapia and Ms. Superfine – two first grade teachers. What lay ahead: 3 consecutive kid friendly worm composting workshops to classes of 25 first graders; two in Spanish, one in English.
It was smashing success! The team covered the importance of composting food waste, how to set up a worm bin, and future instructions of how to care for their new “class pets.” The best part for the worm team was seeing how much excitement and care the students had for their worms. Our next kid-friendly workshop is at the San Francisco Library on 04/24. Stay tuned!
PS. We’re going to be updated our “Kid Workshop” page soon with our offered workshops and teaching materials!
Were your hackles raised last week with the East Bay’s out of control winds? Ours were. Urban Worm was set back a little both last week and this week with some over-the-top infrastructure damage. Not to worry, we were back on our feet in no time, thanks to some quick thinking and crafty handy work by our glorious gang of Urban Adamah fellows.
Dear loyal blog followers,
We owe you an apology. You came rely upon our regular blogs for sources of worm knowledge, insight, and small business know-how, and we mysteriously vanished around the new year. Our excuse(!), and no, it’s not a good one, comes from us losing one of the members of the worm team at that time. DON’T WORRY, Ash is fine – she simply was offered a different job as the business manager within our greater non-profit organization.
With this transition, Hayley’s and my respective plates were full and tasks started to drip off. Blogs we’re one of those. We’ve now taken the end of winter to regroup and are ready to move forward full blog-ahead! Stay tuned for more worm facts (we’re learning a TON about beneficial microbes right now, so expect related posts on those in the coming days), and other details about the Urban Worm life.
And a last tribute to Ash and all the hard work she put into the website and doing the accounting work behind the scenes – her new business profile:
It turns out urban farmers like us aren’t the only ones getting excited about worm composting. Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina has recently launched a $1.2 million worm composting project to handle the airport’s daunting waste problem. Now their landfill contributions are down 70%.
Want to know more? Check out the NPR article here.
There’s only a few days left of our holiday sale! Are you looking to start a worm bin, mulch your fruit trees or revitalize your soil so you’re ready for spring? You have until our next worm workshop, January 6th, to take advantage of our low prices.
- 1 pound red wigglers: $15–normally $22
- 40 pound bag of vermicompost: $20–normally $25
- 1 wheelbarrow of vermicompost: $50–normally $60 ($10 discount if YOU load YOUR own bags!)
- 1 cubic yard: $150–normally $175 (Delivery available!)
Worm bins and vermicompost are an important part of long-term sustainability in your house and garden. They reduce the amount of food waste being sent to landfills, the fossil fuel being used to transport and process waste, and the resources needed to produce and import soil amendments into your garden. Worms are an easy way to fight waste and global climate change, and are an excellent teaching tool for children. It also offers a unique opportunity for urban dwelling folks to compost their waste (even in their tiny apartments) without producing a stinky-garbage smell. In about 1 cubic foot of space you can cut your trash output by at least 30%! The resulting worm castings are much more powerful as a soil amendment than traditional compost. And let’s face it, worms are just fun!
Vermicompost, our mix of castings and hot-composted organic waste, is a high-quality compost–it improves soil structure, moisture-holding capacity and plant root environment. But it goes further. Because of its diverse microorganism population, our vermicompost improves cat-ion exchange capacity, allowing nutrients to be more available to plants. Vermicompost inoculates the soil, fighting pests and disease naturally, throughout the life of the plant. Vermicompost is especially important in nutrient-limited environments such as planter boxes and potted plants, where every bit of nutrition needs to be available to the plant, and where soil depletion is rapid.
Not convinced? Come to our special workshop The Real Dirt: Soil Health and Science for Gardeners taught by soil specialist Paul Holowko on January 13th at Urban Adamah Farm to find out just how important the invisible universe of soil is to the health and longevity of your garden.