In the garden

Pet worms? Well, not exactly.

But those whose plants have benefitted from the rich vermicompost that worms produce are usually enthusiastic about having a plastic bin of these wiggly red creatures in their home. Vermicompost is a humus-like material that contains large numbers of worm castings produced when organic materials pass through a worm’s gut.

“It’s an alternative to conventional backyard composting,” said Henrico Extension Agent Karen Carter. “And it’s generally a faster process.”

Conventional composting depends on micro-organisms to break down organic wastes. Vermicomposting uses worms for most of that work. The worms are housed in a plastic “worm bin.” Carter periodically gives “make and take” workshops for people interested in trying the process.

“None are scheduled right now,” said Carter, “but if you’re interested, call the Extension Office, and we’ll put your name on a waiting list.”

To make a worm bin, drill air holes around the top of a 14-gallon plastic container, roughly 24 x 16 x 12.5 inches. Add roughly 4 pounds of shredded newspaper, a gallon of water, and 2 quarts each of coffee grounds and purchased bagged compost.

“We recommend the bagged compost,” said Carter. “With backyard compost, you run the risk of bringing in insects.”

Last, and most important, add a pound of worms.

“Be sure you get the right worms,” said Carter. “That’s critical because not just any earthworm will work. You need Eisenia fetida, the red wiggler worm.”

The worms are commercially available on line, or you may be able to get them from someone who is already vermicomposting. Periodically, the bins have to be divided both as a method of harvesting the vermicompost and because the worms can easily double in number.

“Harvesting the compost can be the most challenging part,” said Carter. “Some people use purchased systems rather than making their own because they can make separating the worms from the vermicompost a little easier.”

Worms can eat most fruits and vegetables provided they are not too salty or too acidic. Meat, dairy products, and fatty or greasy foods shouldn’t be given to the worms. Coffee grounds including the filters and tea bags also make excellent food.

“Make sure you don’t overfeed the worms,” cautioned Carter. Under optimum conditions, worms can process their body weight in food each day. Typically, however, they can’t quite eat that much, and overfeeding can create odor problems.

Carter recommends anyone interested in starting a worm bin look online at the Virginia Extension publication, “Composting Your Organic Kitchen Wastes with Worms.”

“It’s excellent,” she said. “But we recommend one slight change. Don’t drill drainage holes in the bottom of the bin. Not having them doesn’t turn out to be a problem, and sometimes having those holes in the bottom of your bin makes a mess.”

Without the drainage holes, a worm bin can be kept in the kitchen or basement, anyplace where temperatures don’t fall below freezing or go over 100 degrees Farenheit.

“Vermicomposting can be more convenient than backyard composting,” said Carter. “Plus, it’s an interesting process to watch, particularly if you have children and want to teach them about the natural world.”
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Henrico Doctors’ Hospitals named to nation’s top 100


HCA Virginia's Henrico Doctors' Hospitals recently was named one of the nation’s 100 top hospitals by Truven Health Analytics, a provider of information and solutions that support healthcare cost and quality improvement.

Henrico Doctors’ Hospitals consists of three community hospitals – Henrico (Forest), Parham, and Retreat Doctors’ Hospitals – and two freestanding emergency departments, West Creek Emergency Center and Hanover Emergency Center. Henrico Doctors’ Hospitals specializes in heart and stroke care, women’s health, oncology, orthopedics, urology, and behavioral health. > Read more.

Henrico residents invited to share design ideas for new Fairfield Area Library


Henrico County Public Library is planning community meetings March 28-29 and April 1 to receive input from county residents on the design of a new Fairfield Area Library. Meetings will be held at the Fairfield Area Library, 1001 N. Laburnum Ave., and at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, 1440 N. Laburnum Ave.

Architects from BCWH, Inc. will join library staff for the meetings, which will feature discussions and seek ideas on spaces and services for specific age groups as well as designs for the entire facility. > Read more.

Virginia529 enrollment period closes March 31


Time is running out to enroll in a program to prepay tuition at Virginia public colleges and universities. The current enrollment window for Virginia529's Prepaid529 ends March 31. Nearly 50,000 Virginia students have funded college costs through this program since it began 20 years ago.

Prepaid529 allows families to purchase semesters of tuition and mandatory fees for newborn children through ninth graders. Semester prices vary based on the age of the beneficiary. > Read more.

Henrico Police seek Northside robbery suspect


MAR. 21, 9:30 A.M. – Henrico Police are seeking the man who robbed a Wells Fargo Bank on Brook Road Monday evening.

At approximately 5 p.m. March 20, police responded to the bank, in the 8100 block of Brook Road, after reports that a white male had entered the business and presented a note demanding money. > Read more.

Baker students to be shifted to other schools temporarily

MAR. 20, 5:31 P.M. – Students at Varina's Baker Elementary – which is closed following a fire Sunday – will be moved to other schools temporarily while repair work is completed at Baker, school system officials announced today.

The school was closed today and will be closed Tuesday, but beginning Wednesday pre-K students and those in the Early Childhood Special Education Program will temporarily attend school at the New Bridge Learning Center, 5915 Nine Mile Road.

Baker students in grades K-2 will temporarily attend Mehfoud Elementary School, 8320 Buffin Road in Varina. And students in grades 3-5 will temporarily attend Varina Elementary School, 2551 New Market Road.
> Read more.
Community

Villa’s Flagler Housing wins national NAEH award


St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.

Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.

RIR’s Christmas tree lighting rescheduled for Dec. 12


Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.

Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! To celebrate, check out Innsbrook’s 8th annual St. Paddy’s Palooza – there will be music and dancing, a hot air balloon, kid’s activities, festive green beverages and volunteers shaving their heads to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. For more Irish fun, visit Walkerton Tavern for stories of Irish immigrants during the 19th century, traditional Irish foods, songs and an Irish craft. Concert opportunities this weekend include Leland Grant tonight at the Henrico Theatre, Sandston Baptist Church, Sandston Moose Lodge, the Shady Grove Coffeehouse and the Richmond Philharmonic at The Steward School. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

 

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The Ashland Beekeepers Association will offer the four-session class “A Beekeeper Introductory Short Course” on Mondays, March 6-27, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Family Life Baptist Church, 206 S. Washington Hwy. in Ashland. Class topics include honey bee biology, beekeeper equipment, seasonal hive management, pest and disease management and more. An optional visit to an apiary for an actual hive inspection will be offered. Cost is $60 per person; additional members of the same household are $30 per person. To register, visit http://www.ashlandvabeekeepers.org. Full text

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