Compost: Worm Heaven
Worms! As a follow-up to Melissa’s guest blog, we’re going to check back in with the worm project today. The 3rd year students in the permaculture class are in charge of the vermicompost. They have completed building the structure and have searched for and added their worms. For the first few days, the worms needed to acclimatize, so they were wriggling around in a mixture of soil and mushroom compost, leftover from the on-campus mushroom cropping project. After their acclimatization, partially decomposed compost has been added, and the worms are tasked with breaking this down!
The resulting compost the worms produce, sometimes called vermicast, worm castings, worm humus, or worm manure, has been shown to contain reduced levels of contaminants and a higher saturation of nutrients than do organic materials prior to vermicomposting.
The Neem tree, found growing abundantly across Ghana, produces leaves and seeds – both which make a great pesticide. As part of morning chores, students collect neem leaves, soak them in water overnight, pound the leaves into a paste, and create a very powerful insecticidal solution. We now have a backpack sprayer to use for applying the solution, which saves time and labour.
Neem insecticide can be used on many crops and protects against a variety of insects. The great thing about this insecticide is that it is not harmful for the person using it, it does not pollute water supplies, and it does not harm beneficial or harmless insects. Nature provides a lot of solutions to our problems, we just have to look out for them!
In the above photos, you can see Gideon applying the neem solution to cabbages growing under shade netting. The cabbages were previously experiencing issues with insects chewing holes in the leaves, and now are hole free. Gideon says that in the Northern Region of Ghana, where he’s from, neem grows everywhere but is not commonly used as an insecticide. Spreading this simple technique across Ghana would have a huge impact on reducing the use of pesticides.
Jason Tsichlis, completing his Masters Degree at University of California, Davis in International Agricultural Development, is at KITA for the next week to help out with the Moringa Training Project, funded by USAID’s Trellis Fund. The Trellis Fund links US Graduate students to projects in order to benefit both the student and the organization. And Jason has thankfully been linked to us!
Jason has previously served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso, where he worked on a moringa cultivation and transformation project. He has only been here for a few days, but he’s been very productive and very proactive, especially considering our frequent power outages. He’s working on creating educational materials, designing packaging, and checking all of our facts to make sure the training is as scientifically based as possible.
Please check back on this website every Friday for more updates on KITA! Or check out our websites at www.kitaghana.org and www.facebook.com/kita.ghana, for more information and updates. Email Samuel at firstname.lastname@example.org or Christy at email@example.com for more information on KITA.