July Newsletter

We apologize for this post showing up later than it should have; it seems the ‘publish on’ function wasn’t functioning!

Summer Reading Club
The library’s Summer Reading Club activities for children will be held on Thursday afternoons in July and August. For more information, including the times, or if you’re interested in registering your young readers, please contact the library. If you can’t make it to the weekly activities, your children can still be registered and can take part by tracking their reading in our logbooks. Even pre-schoolers and babies can be registered; books you read aloud to your children count too!

Sandpiper Book Sale
Our used book sale will be held the week of the Sandpiper Festival. Come by the library during our regular open hours, July 26-28, to pick up some new-to-you summer reading and hunt for unexpected treasures.

Silent Cake Auction
The library board’s ever-popular Silent Cake Auction will be held on Saturday, July 28th. Bidding starts at 1 pm; final bids by 3 pm. Funds raised go to support the library.

Books Worth Another Look
Guest Review by Hilda Partridge

Disposable Souls, by Phonse Jessome

Cam Neville is a city cop with a dead wife, PTSD and a haunted past. TV preacher Pastor Sandy Gardner’s body is found near a Halifax container pier. Neville, a former biker and war hero, is in searching for the killer. Blair Christmas, Neville’s partner, is a Mi’kmaw Mountie who helps him solve the case.

Yes, Phonse Jessome used to be a reporter on the local news in Halifax. He brings realistic detail to this story. An excellent read by an Atlantic Canadian author for adults.

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Ook’s Worm Bin: Final Report on the Vermicomposting Project

In the beginning:

The worm bin was started in the library in April 2017 with a handful of worms. Over the course of a year the worms increased and we harvested the compost several times. They were given mostly banana peels, apple cores, teabags, and old peppers and tomatoes. We used damp, shredded newspaper for bedding. The fruit and vegetable matter was always frozen for a few days first to make sure we didn’t get fruit flies in the bin. They were also given eggshells. Compost was harvested every couple of months, but the bin was never entirely cleared out; we just did partial harvests.

Worms were taken out to start four other bins for the 4-H group.

Problems we had:

We had a lot of mites in the worm bin, especially when it was wetter. Once the worms all tried to flee the bin, because we gave them crumbled-up old cake and it grew a lot of blue mould. Worms are supposed not to mind some mould, but obviously they do!

Another time the worms were given too many leftover green peas from the restaurant. A week later, the bin smelt like a pig-sty! (Have you ever smelt a pig-sty? Pig manure is very high in ammonia. It stinks!)

Solutions we tried:

In the fall of 2017 we put some dry leaves on top of the compost in the bin. We noticed that the population of mites seemed to drop. The leaves stayed dry on top while the compost underneath was moist. In the winter we started using newspaper again, and the mites reappeared.

When the worms all tried to crawl out, we picked out the mouldy cake and gave them a lot of new damp-newspaper bedding.

When we ended up with a stinky bin because of too many cooked green peas, we had to take out the peas and a lot of the newspaper, prepare new bedding and food, and air out the worm bin and the library.

The worms go home:

In April of 2018 the worm bin was taken to the library manager’s house, because the library gets very hot on sunny days in the summer. In her cellar the temperature is about 12 to 15 degrees Celsius all year round. The worms seemed happy in the cellar and didn’t try to crawl out. They were fed only about once a week, with fruit waste (frozen), eggshells, and vegetable peelings. There were still mites in the bin.

In May, after harvesting some compost, the library manager put a lot of dead leaves (mostly maple) in as bedding.

In June, the library manager noticed that there seem to be no mites in the worm bin, although underneath the surface leaves the compost is quite moist. Since last time that happened was when she put leaves in when the bin was at the library, where it is warmer, it seems likely that using dry leaves as bedding is what reduces the mite population, not the temperature or the moisture content.

There was also a small spider living in the bin, and a few sowbugs. (It’s likely that the sowbug came in with the leaves, since the cellar is fairly dry. The spider could not have eaten all the mites.)

Observations and Conclusions:

Dry leaves may be better worm bin bedding than shredded newspaper. However, if someone was going to start a worm bin from scratch, they would probably want to put a layer of damp, shredded newspaper in to get started, with some dead leaves on top. We know that good compost needs to contain a mixture of ‘brown’ and ‘green’ things — sources of carbon and sources of nitrogen. It’s possible that the newspaper doesn’t work as well for the ‘brown’, carbon-containing material as autumn leaves. Kitchen waste is mostly ‘green’ — high in nitrogen. That is why it smells bad when you get too much of it.

It does seem like the way to control mites is to use dry leaves in the bin. This would be easy to do year round if you are able to keep some bagged leaves in your garage or woodshed. If you lived in an apartment, this would be trickier. We don’t know why the leaves help with mites. The bin is quite moist underneath, so it doesn’t seem to be dampness. Perhaps the leaves change the pH and make it an environment that mites don’t do well in.

Harvesting the compost takes a long time and is very labour-intensive. The worms don’t like light but they don’t burrow far into the compost, so even when you just scrape a handful off the surface you have to pick worms and cocoons out of it.

The worm bin doesn’t produce a lot of compost; however, it is very rich. We used some as a top-dressing on the library plants and the geraniums all bloomed very well. The hibiscus began to bloom as well. We also got apple trees and tomato plants germinating in some of the library flower pots!

Newsletter: June 2018

Books Worth Another Look
Guest Review by Hilda Partridge
The Widow, by Fiona Barton
Jane Taylor is the perfect wife standing by her man, Glen, who is suspected of a crime (a missing child, Bella). Suddenly she becomes a widow when Glen walks in front of an oncoming bus. Once he is dead there is no reason to keep quiet. She has secrets that now can be shared. This a real page turner, one I had to read in one sitting. I really enjoyed this first novel by Fiona Barton, and am looking forward to reading her next one, The Child.

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The library’s Garden Club will not be meeting over the summer (we hope you will be busy in your gardens!) but we will begin meeting again in September on the last Thursday of the month at 7 pm again. (First meeting, Thursday, September 27th.)

The kids’ and teens Guitar Club will not be meeting over the summer, but we’ll start up again in the fall on the first Saturday of the month at 2 pm. (1st meeting, Saturday, September 1st.)

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June 21st is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We’ll have a special book display in the library for you to check out.

Avoid that summer reading slump by bringing your kids to the library this summer!

Pre-register for the Summer Reading Club at the library. We’ll have stories and crafts for ages 5-12. We’ll also offer a pre-school storytime if there is interest.

We’re busy planning some other exciting summer activities as well, for older children and teens. Contact the library for more details.

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The library’s annual Used Book Sale will be on at the library July 26-28 during our regular hours. The library board’s Silent Cake Auction will be held on Saturday, July 28th from 1-3 pm, during the Sandpiper Festival. Mark your calendars!

Harvesting Compost

Today we harvested the compost from the worm bin. We did a partial harvesting of the compost some weeks ago, but it seemed time to clean it out more thoroughly. The bin was getting too damp and there wasn’t a lot of uneaten bedding left. We scooped the compost out into a mound on a drop sheet and let it sit to give the worms time to burrow down out of the light. While we were doing this we picked out some of the old wet newspaper to go into an outdoor compost.

harvesting-castings
How we harvest our compost: a drop sheet, spoons (and hands). Worms and some of the old bedding go back into the bin with new shredded damp newspapers; compost goes onto the plants or into an outdoor compost bin to finish breaking down.

We began using our hands to carefully lift away the top layers of the compost one handful at a time. The worms only go down an inch or so to get away from the light, so there were usually several worms caught up in each handful, which had to be picked out and put back in the bin. The compost went into a pail. Slowly, slowly, we worked our way down, until at the bottom we were left with a big double-handful of wriggling Red Wigglers.

A mass of Red Wiggler worms.
The mass of worms left once most of the compost has slowly been removed. I picked a lot of worms out of the handfuls of compost I was taking off, too!

They weren’t very happy, having nothing left to hide under! We put them back in the bin with some food and some new damp newspaper. We tried to have it drier this time, because the moisture from the food will add to the dampness. We were getting a lot of compost mites and keeping it a little drier should cut down on those (we hope).

A pail half-full of worm-casting compost.
The harvested worm castings in late August 2017. There’s some bedding (shredded newspaper) that hadn’t broken down yet in there too.

August Worm Update

Our worms have multiplied! Our bin is quite well-stocked now. This has led to changes. We began to get worms crawling up the sides and around the lid, looking for greener pastures — or some place with more than a few apple-cores to go around. We solved this problem thanks to Mrs. B. of Mrs. B’s Meals to Go (across the road from us in the old Bell Inn. She finds us some leftover produce and scraps every week and keeps the worms happy.

The old Bell Inn, location of Mrs B's Meals to Go in Dorchester, NB.
The Bell Inn, home of Mrs. B's Meals to Go, across from the library. Mrs. B very kindly provides us with some produce scraps every week for our worm bin.

We’ve also been finding that the bin gets too damp during the four days the library is closed. This is probably both because it’s warmer and because there are a lot more worms and a lot more damp food in there. We’ve tried to mitigate this by cutting some square ventilation holes in the lid and taping screen over them. That helped a little. Leaving the lid off for part of the day while the worms are out in the library also helps. So does putting a sheet of dry newspaper tented over the top at night. It absorbs some of the moisture and can be thrown out in the green (compostable) garbage the next morning.

It’s getting time to change the bedding and clean out the compost again, though!