Why Vermicompost?

I can’t think of a whole lot to add that isn’t already incorporated in the awesome video on Cornell University’s website, so I’ll just go ahead and post it so you can start learning about the benefits of worm castings for fertilizer and for a premium growing medium for your starters next spring. If you sign up for the Curbside Compost Exchange today, you will be eligible for more than enough pure worm castings in the spring to start your seeds in, plus more compost to put in your garden or potted plants. Check out the video!



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Fall Workshops 2013!



Stop in to Shadyside Nursery, or e-mail us at shadysideworms@gmail.com, to register for a Fall Planting/Planning workshop! There will be two workshops in September:

Workshop#1– Learn how to design a successful cold frame for the Western Pennsylvania climate zone, and plant some fall crops as well! We will have some starters for you if you want to get some gardening in before winter. We will also teach you about composting, from food to lawn scraps, and how to prepare your garden for the next season. At the end of the workshop, we will be breaking out the calenders and brainstorming to help you create your own personal gardening calender for the year so you’ll be ready to grow organic foods and decorative plants from seed to harvest.

Saturday Sept. 7th     3:00pm – 4:30pm

Saturday Sept. 14th   3:00pm – 4:30pm    

Workshop #2– Improve your gardening skills by learning how to build a raised bed and incorporate a variety of techniques in square foot design. Gardening in an urban area often requires some good planning depending on what crops you’re growing. As well, we will be discussing what we call “winter hardy” crops. These are things like garlic, horseradish, onions, and other crops that you plant in the fall to harvest the following year. We are going to have some beautiful heirloom garlic, and some cuts of horseradish for you. We will be teaching you some basics in soil science in this workshop, so you will know how and why to test your soil and maintain a healthy organic garden. At the end of the workshop we will be breaking out the calenders and brainstorming with you on how to create your personal gardening calender for the year so you’ll always be a step ahead.

Saturday Sept. 21st    3:00pm – 4:30pm

Saturday Sept. 28th    3:00pm – 4:30pm

Workshops are $10 per person, $15 if you are registered for both. Please e-mail or call us to register, or go to Shadyside Nursery @ 510 Maryland Ave. next to Harris Grill. We will be e-mailing the workshop agendas after you register. Please bring your payment to the workshop you attend.

shadysideworms@gmail.com     (412)532-6896

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The months of July and August are a great time to put down some compost tea for your plants while they grow into their last stages of development and production. Compost tea will supplant any nutrients that have been taken up by your plants including potash which is vital to cell membrane health and strength. The beneficial microbes will also help suppress disease, and you will be able to get the most out of your garden and grow well into the fall season.

COMPOST TEA:      $2 per gallon

Come in to Shadyside Nursery and we will fill up a jug for you, or you can buy a 1 pound bag of worm castings, and soak them overnight in 1 gallon of water and then it’s ready to use.

One pound of worm castings in One gallon of water will go a long way to fertilize your plants

One pound of worm castings in One gallon of water will go a long way to fertilize your plants

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Seed Bombs !


Seed Bombing has its roots in guerrilla gardening and proactive environmental protests, but it also shares some history with places like Hawaii and Africa, where seed bombing can be a useful technique for introducing wildlife into landscapes that have been cleared out by volcanoes or wildfire.

The idea is simple. Make a small clump of seed mix by mixing clay, compost, and seeds(preferable native species) and form it into a ball that can be thrown into empty or abandoned lots that suffer from a lack of wildlife. You can toss them over fences, off of bridges, or wherever you want to see a little more flora. The clay helps hold everything together, and the compost provides the base and nutrients for the seeds.

Shadyside Worms was able to provide some worm castings to the Teen Department at The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for their seed bomb program. The worm castings were made available by two of our customers in the Compost Exchange program who decided to donate the exchange from their first 3 month subscription. We always encourage people in the compost exchange to donate their castings if they don’t want to use them, and we were more than excited to be a part of the seed bomb making!

Vermicompost in particular works perfectly for seed bombing. The nutrient content allows you to skip using fertilizer, and more importantly, the beneficial bacteria contained in the castings actually help prevent disease in seedlings by warding off harmful spores that invade the seed as they germinate. If you would like to know more about this, check out our link from Cornell University on our previous post, and keep up to date on our blog as we show you our own controlled experiments with growing seeds in vermicompost!

Now go make some seed bombs and lively up your neighborhood or yard. KABOOM!


I can’t wait to see this guy grow real soon. Come on rain…just one more storm…

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Beaver County Times

I was happy to hear from the Beaver County Times when they said they wanted to include me in an article as a part of their environmental series called “Veil of the Valley”. This article, titled “A soiled past, a natural future”, covers the issue of fertilizer run off and it’s effects on the environment.

Growing up in Maryland, fertilizer run off is something I learned about starting in elementary school. The Chesapeake Bay watershed is the largest on the east coast, and even 60 miles away from the water you will see signs above sewage drains saying, “CHESAPEAKE BAY WATERSHED”(probably painted by some school kids on a field trip learning about the environment). Nonpoint source pollution is one of the reasons I got into composting in the first place.

Even though Pittsburgh isn’t in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the effects of fertilizer run off is still seen in the rivers running all the way down in the Gulf of Mexico. Naturally made fertilizer is often seen as a healthy solution because it doesn’t have excess chemicals- even so, the more important issue I like to bring up is the fact that naturally made compost builds healthier soil by increasing important beneficial enzymes and bacteria, that in turn help the soil hold excess nutrients for much longer- extending the life of your yard or potting soils for future seasons.

Along with a farmer from Oak Spring Farms, Shadyside Worms was able to join the conversation about natural fertilizers like our worm compost, as a healthy and sustainable alternative to synthetic fertilizers. If you want to know more about it, check out the article below:

Veil of the Valley: A soiled past, a natural future

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Compost Tumblers 101

compost tumbler

compost tumbler (sorry for the poor image quality)

Yesterday I visited my good friends Riva and Jake to help them with their compost and I thought I could use the visit to talk about some common occurrences with composting.

Riva and Jake use a large compost tumbler[pictured above] to discard all of their food scraps. Tumblers can be really useful for this, and it’s also kind of fun cranking the gear and watching the scraps break down over time. Compost tumblers use heat and bacteria build up in order break down food. This tumbler is about 3 feet long and two feet in diameter. As food collects, the bin is designed to trap in heat, and along with some naturally occurring bacteria the food eventually turns into compost. By adding some leaves and grass, and rotating the bin from time to time, Riva and Jake were adding necessary carbon material to their compost to avoid having the more foul smelling anaerobic bacteria build up.

Unfortunately what happens with compost bins that utilize heat as the primary source of decomposition is that there is often times not enough heat and bacteria generated to break down the compost in the time you need. In this tumbler, there is around a year’s worth of compost collected, but it is only decomposed about 70% of the way. It hasn’t quite reached the earthy smelling compost that you can use as fertilizer, but the available space for more scraps is running out.There is also a bigger environment for unwanted bugs at this point. Using worms in this type of bin would not be possible because worms don’t enjoy the heat. This bin would roast them before they could eat any of the scraps. For a compost bin with this design, one option is to start a new bin, and let the collected compost sit for a nice hot summer. By the following season it should be just about ready. This isn’t always an option though, as this bin already takes up a lot of space on their back porch.

If you are in need of some composting space, or would like to try a worm bin, please let us know and we can come to your home and help haul away your old food scraps and perhaps help design a new system for you. Depending on what stage your compost is in, and how much you have, we will try to swap it out for some of our fresh useable compost!

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Register for our Curbside Compost Exchange!

We are totally excited about picking up your food scraps!

In order to register you for the compost exchange program, we would like to meet you in person and talk to you about what size bucket suits your needs, when and where you would like us to pick it up from your house(weekly or bi-weekly), and just some general information so you can get started hassle-free.

Please visit our page on the compost exchange and scroll to the bottom to leave some contact information for us. We will get in touch with you and set up a time to meet and bring you your bucket.

"Hey Mr. Worm!"

“Hey Mr. Worm!”

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Spring 2013 UPDATES

The kind folks at Shadyside Worms are experts in rotten food and wiggling wormies, but not so expert in webpage blogging, etc. Please allow some time for us to develop this site so we can provide you with all the information you will need for worm composting and our compost exchange program. If you are interested in our curbside compost exchange service, please e-mail us to get you started with an incredibly simple registration. We hope to make this process easier on the website in the near future.

If you have any other questions for us, please let us know. Thanks!

"yum" says the worms.

“yum” says the worms.

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