Yelm Earth Worm and Castings Farm


September 2006 Newsletter


In this issue:


News Tribune Article

Worm Tea Brewing Schedule

Winter Garden Preparation

Worm Tea Update

Worm Tea vs. Compost Tea

Barefoot Soil Tea Brewer

Loose Ends


Tacoma News Tribune


The Yelm Earth Worm and Castings Farm will be featured in the September 21st issue of the Tacoma News Tribunes new Home and Garden section.  Look for it!


Worm Tea Brewing Schedule


We will now have tea available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  With cooling weather, it is not too late to use tea.  The microbes that you put into the soil will go to work breaking down organic matter all fall and winter building your soil with available plant nutrients for spring.  Moreover, as you harvest your garden and leave plants and parts of plants behind, these microbes will again speed their decay and recycle them into your next spring’s garden.  Finally, when the temperature cools, many of these microbes simply go dormant and will wake up and go to work anytime the temperatures allow throughout the fall, winter and spring!


Fall Garden Preparation Tips


WATER, WATER, WATER! It has been so dry that it is important to keep perennials, shrubs, and trees well watered until the winter rains arrive.


Cold fall nights are a great indicator that it is time to begin winterizing the garden for a long rest.  A few basic chores will save hours next spring, and make us all eager to begin spring planting.


Winter Vegetable Garden Clean Up


1.      Remove all weeds that are flowering or have gone to seed.  Don’t dig them in or put them into your compost pile or you will be meeting them again in the spring.  Clean out spent annuals and dead- head those that are still blooming.  Clean up crops that are no longer yielding (unless you are saving seed).  Chop up large, coarse material to incorporate back into the soil or put into your compost pile.  Any diseased leaves or plants should not go back into the soil or into the compost pile.  Burn them or bag them for disposal.


2.      Work on the texture and composition of your soil.  Add organic (plant) matter to the soil.  Organic matter decomposes to produce humus, which is pure gold in your soil.  It is the environment and food for microbial life, the workers in your soil.  When you increase organic matter you will:


3.      Barefoot Soil Earthworm Castings are the perfect addition to gardens in the fall.  They add organic humus and microbial life all at the same time.  Composted manures are best added in the fall since they have the winter to begin to break down.  Please be sure that any manures are well composted to prevent the presence of weed seeds and pathogens.  Fallen leaves can be mowed and incorporated into garden soil too. 


4.      Work the soil gently to loosen areas that have become compacted over the summer.  This disturbs the soil microbiology, but it does have a chance to recover by spring planting.


5.      Plant a cover crop.  Steve Solomon in Growing Vegetables West of The Cascades recommends Crimson Clover as a good cover crop for the Pacific Northwest, though he says that it is disappointing on very acid or infertile soils.  It can be planted in late Sept. and into Oct., 1lb. covers 500 sq. ft.  Broadcast & rake in at 1” depth.  Once it flowers in April, quickly till it in or pull it out before seeds form and it becomes woody.  It can also be mowed or cut, and the root mass hoed into the soil. It breaks down quickly. 


Cover crops don’t replace all the organic matter that previous crops have used up, but they do produce some, and their roots condition the soil for spring planting and reduce erosion from winter rains.  In wet spring conditions, the cover crop roots draw moisture up into the leaves and evaporate it helping to dry out soggy soils in preparation for planting.


6.      Spray your soil with a good worm compost tea to add the micro-organisms that make a productive, fertile soil and  assist with over winter composting of organic matter.  Spray your compost pile to help inoculate and activate it.


  1. Start a compost pile.  What a great time of year to collect garden material, grass clippings, and falling leaves to add to your compost pile.  Check the Internet for designs and ideas or buy a good book on composting.


  1. Plant spring bulbs.  You will know when nature is waking up by the first crocus, daffodils, and tulips, and be inspired to begin your spring gardening


  1. Consider having your garden soil tested.  Soil fertility fluctuates throughout the growing season each year. The quantity and availability of mineral nutrients are altered by the addition of fertilizers, manure, compost, mulch, and lime or sulfur, in addition to leaching. Furthermore, a large quantity of mineral nutrients are removed from soils as a result of plant growth and development, and the harvesting of crops. The soil test will determine the current fertility status. It also provides the necessary information needed to maintain the optimum fertility year after year.  Contact a reliable lab and ask how to collect a sample, how much to send, and how long the test will take.  Most labs will look at available nutrients, pH, and will include recommendations for improving your soil.


The most economical lab we have found is Basic Soil Test for Gardeners available through:


Brian Thompson, Resource Specialist

Thurston Conservation District

921 Lakeridge Way

Olympia, WA 98502

754-3588, ext. 137


Ask for Test S1BN.  It will cost $15 plus shipping to lab and take about one week to be returned to you.  This is a basic soil test looking at organic material, nutrients, pH, and recommended corrections for soil.   Call Brian for instructions on collecting soil sample.  Samples may be sent directly to lab or to Brian for shipping to lab.  Brian is available for interpreting test results when they return. 


Alternatively, you can contact the testing lab directly:


A & L Western Agricultural Labs


10220 S.W. Nimbus Ave

Building K-9

Portland, OR 97223


  1. Buy and read a good organic gardening book this winter.  Understanding the plants that you are growing and their needs is an important part of successful gardening.  We recommend Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades (Revised edition) by Steve Solomon or The Ann Lovejoy Handbook of Northwest Gardening by Ann Lovejoy.  They were written for our climate and soils.  For container gardening read The Bountiful Container by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey. 


  1. Order seed catalogs for your winter reading.  Consider using organic and open pollinated seeds so that you can save your own seeds for future use.  It is important to understand that seed have a genetic code for growing in specific climates and conditions.  A seed developed and grown in a maritime climate will do better in the PNW than a seed grown in Arizona or California.  Some catalogues that might be of interest are:

·        Territorial Seed Co. – Carry organic and open pollinated seeds, some heirloom.  This catalogue has wonderful instructions and information for each category of seeds.

·        Seed Savers Exchange – Offers a dynamite catalogue and wonderful selection of seeds and is a great organization to support.

·        Fedco Seeds – These seeds come mostly from a farmer’s co-op and the catalog tells you where they were grown.  Organic and open pollinated seeds are available.

·        Seeds of Change – Organic and open pollinated seeds available




Worm Tea Update


Jan of our office has been doing a test in her garden over the last four weeks to see the effects of Barefoot Soil Earthworm Castings Worm Tea on a newly planted crop.  She planted two rows of beets.  In one, she already had fantastic soil amply amended by our organic mixes and our Barefoot Soil Earthworm Castings.  In four weeks, her plants are already 1.5-2 inches high – exceptional results for soils in our area.  But get this:  She worm tead the other row with our regular brew left over on Wednesday evenings, and these beets are 3 times as high!


Moral of the story:  Barefoot Soil Earthworm Castings combined with proper soil amendments give exceptional results surpassing normal or even chemical growth mediums.  However, an extra supplement of properly brewed worm tea give results so fantastic, it is difficult to put words on them.




Why “Worm Tea” as opposed to “Compost Tea” or “tea extracts”?


Compost by nature is inconsistent.  The composted material varies according to season and to local weather conditions (i.e., a local wind storm results in large amounts of wood chips, or high temperatures may inspire homeowners and large businesses to use more chemicals on their lawns and turf thus affecting the grass clippings), and with all the other variabilities inherent of the compost feed stock.  Thus, the microbiology as well as the C:N ratios varies – not to mention the effects of chemicals such as “Weed and Feed.”


Tea extracts as opposed to aerobically brewed tea do not supply the density of microorganism populations, and when bottled and set on the shelf go anaerobic further decreasing populations and possibly inspiring anaerobes to develop.


Worm Tea aerobically brewed with Barefoot Soil Earthworm Castings have a consistent microbiology species diversification and numbers because we use the same feed and the same worms and the same process.  Tests have shown this consistency.  Thus, by following our simple brewing instructions, you will get a consistent performance for all of your growing needs.


We had a microscope expert come by a couple of weeks ago, and we looked at 19 hour and 50 hour brewed teas using our recipe.  The results were amazing.  Both teas were teaming with bacteria, with the 50 hour brew showing a transition to more protozoa.  Pictures are available to view in our Soil Depot.




Worm Tea Works Wonders!

And you can do it yourself!


Introducing the Yelm Earth Worm Compost Tea Brewing Kit


We believe this is the easiest and most effective system for the home gardener, and it will help you create a new level of vitality and productivity in your garden or landscape. Easy to use and priced far below other small-scale systems, this kit will have you brewing Worm Compost Tea like an expert in as little as twelve hours, yet for far less per gallon than the cost of purchased Tea. It is the perfect way to take full advantage of our Barefoot Soil Earthworm Castings and extract maximum benefit from this remarkable product.


Worm Compost Tea’s positive effects include:


            >Increased disease reduction/resistance in plants.

            >Better nutrient transfer from soils/fertilizers to plant root systems.

            >Increased active beneficial microbial levels in soil.

            >Foliar feeding of plants during production cycle.


Actively brewed Worm Compost Tea is also a powerful tool for home composting. Adding the Tea to compost piles during turning rapidly accelerates the breakdown of organic materials, and produces compost rich in beneficial microbial life.  Worm Compost Tea can also be used to stimulate garden soil during spring preparation; simply turn it into the soil as you add any other amendments and fertilizers.


Worm Compost Tea is a wonderful addition to any horticultural regime, and something every serious gardener should use. It is safe, inexpensive, and more than just being environmentally friendly, it literally helps rejuvenate the Earth. Discover for yourself the benefits of unleashing Nature’s invisible workhorses into your garden by the millions, and see what so many people have discovered: Worm Tea works wonders!




Loose Ends


Why are certified organic foods seemingly more expensive?  When making the decision to buy organics, price is sometimes an issue.  It is important to note, however, that in many cases it is not that organics are more expensive, but other food on the market is priced artificially low.  Most traditional foods – especially those containing corn, soybeans, wheat, and oats are – farmed on a mass scale and subsidized, sometimes heavily, by the government.  When you see organic prices that approach conventionally raised food, check where it came from (and read the fine print).  Chances are it is from a foreign country where wages and exchange rates give the pricing edge.



1) Sodium nitrite -- causes cancer, found in most processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, sausage. Used to make meats appear red (a color fixer chemical).

2) Hydrogenated oils -- causes heart disease, nutritional deficiencies, general deterioration of cellular health, and much more. Found in cookies, crackers, margarine and many "manufactured" foods. Used to make oils stay in the food, extending shelf life. Sometimes also called "plastic fat."

3) Excitotoxins -- aspartame, monosodium glutamate and others (see below). These neurotoxic chemical additives directly harm nerve cells, over-exciting them to the point of cell death, according to Dr. Russell Blaylock. They're found in diet soda, canned soup, salad dressing, breakfast sausage and even many manufactured vegetarian foods. They're used to add flavor to over-processed, boring foods that have had the life cooked out of them.

Source: A new book by Mike Adams, entitled "Grocery Warning" takes a scientific look at a plethora of problematic ingredients in the everyday foods we eat.

Learn more:


After repeated discoveries of dangerously high pesticides levels in Coke and Pepsi products in India, six states have announced bans of the products in schools and hospitals. In response, the U.S. Under Secretary for International Trade, Frank Lavin, has threatened India with withdrawals of foreign investment. Although the Indian Centre for Science and the Environment have confirmed previous studies, and found levels of pesticides 24 times the legal limit in the Indian-made soft-drinks, New York-based spokesman for PepsiCo's international division, Dick Detwiler, said of the situation, "All of the data and all of the science point to the fact our products in India are absolutely safe."
Learn more:


According to United Nations figures, 2.6 billion people consume unsafe and polluted water every day. As the population blooms, the issue of access to fresh water is literally one of life or death. Last weekend's Financial Times pointed out some interesting facts about everyday water consumption:

It takes 53 liters of water to produce one orange.
1 pint of milk: 250 liters
1 egg: 450 liters
1kg of potatoes: 500 liters
1 loaf of bread: 550 liters
1 kg of butter: 18,000 liters
1kg of wool: 200,000 liters
1 car: 150,000 liters

Source: Financial Times




Yelm Earth Worm and Castings Farm

14741 Lawrence Lake Rd SE

Yelm, WA  98597



Sat 10AM-4PM


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