Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

“Just a little Raingarden…” sang Pooh

In Improvements on May 27, 2013 at 8:55 am

Harvesting up to 1,200 gallons of rain water from the roof of our outdoor classroom requires a measure of responsibility when storing more rainwater than is needed, or when some needs to be evacuated to avoid freeze damage in Winter, so we constructed a raingarden to ensure that excess water was not allowed to enter the storm water system (an already overburdened system, especially as the Farm is also located in the Combined Sewer System) but would re-enter the water cycle naturally through ground percolation and transpiration through the leaves of plants sited to “drink up” occasional floods. The species of plants selected are native to the mid-Atlantic to not only require little maintenance once established (ie. no excess watering, able to withstand periods of occasional flooding alternated with dry spells, requiring no use of fertilizer to grow healthily) but to also provide support for our native insect biodiversity.


1. after planting the red maple yesterday, the workhorse of this little project, it was time to start…



2. a few more river rocks (gathered from the Anacostia River) to form the drainage channel for the cistern…



3. the first native perennials ready to go ~ Eupatorium dubium (Eastern Joe-Pye weed), Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ (switchgrass), and Carex muskingumensis (Muskingum sedge)



4. first the sedges…



5. then the grasses…



6. then finishing with the Joe-Pye weed



7. so now we come to “the rock” ~ I’m sure we can fit it in somewhere!



8. a perfect fit



2 hours after the first big storm (June 2nd/3rd), and all seems well!



In Uncategorized on May 24, 2013 at 12:46 pm

persimmon 1


All the Jiro, Saijo, and Maekawa Jiro oriental persimmons are in flower ~ looks like another batch of persimmon-chili jam this Fall!

The Third Gender

In Creatures on May 7, 2013 at 11:34 am

worm farm

“without the work of this humble creature who knows nothing of the benefits he confers upon mankind, agriculture, as we know it, would be very difficult, if not wholly impossible” (Charles Darwin)

Eisenia fetida, known under various common names such as redworm, brandling worm, panfish worm, trout worm, tiger worm, and red wiggler, is a species of earthworm adapted to decaying organic material. These worms thrive in rotting vegetation, compost, and manure. At The Farm at Walker Jones we raise these worms to produce vermicasts which is the end-process of the breakdown of organic matter by these worms which acts as a super fertiliser. We either add the vermicompost directly to our crop rows, or use it as our potting soil for germinating our seedlings.

As with other earthworm species, Eisenia fetida is hermaphroditic, possessing both male and female sexual organs however two worms are still required for reproduction. The two worms join clitellums, the large orangeish bands which contain the worms’ reproductive organs, and which are only visible during the reproduction process. The two worms exchange sperm. Both worms then secrete cocoons which contain several eggs each. These cocoons are lemon-shaped and are pale yellow at first, becoming more brownish as the worms inside become mature. It takes about two weeks for the up to 12 young to emerge.