Episode 23: Cathy Nesbitt from Cathy’s Crawly Composters
Founder of Cathy’s Crawly Composters
Cathy is a worm advocate environmental education business with a focus on worm composting and organic diversion. Cathy is all about food security, waste management and doing it naturally. Her amazing list of awards for her environmental activism can be seen at her website as well as tons of information about vermicomposting and how it can help in solving our organic waste problem.
Tell me about your first gardening experience?
Bought house and couldn’t wait to start composting and gardening and plant some potatoes, by the time she harvested the first potato it was 12’ long and she was hooked!
What does organic gardening/earth friendly mean to you?
Not using any chemicals, grow naturally: “Feed the soil, not the plant”
Who or what inspired you to start using organic techniques?
Toronto is largest city in Canada and in 2002 the landfill closed. Started as a solution to landfill closure problem.
How did you learn how to garden organically?
Trial and error. Never tried chemical gardening.
Tell us about something that grew well this year.
Tomatillo plant – took over last year they self-seeded.
Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?
Vertical Gardening – turn a pallet on its side and make a vertical garden out of that which will be a beautiful space saving addition to your garden. Found in a gardening group on Facebook. Enjoy worm composting forums.
Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.
Love potatoes so husband built a potato box but was so excited kept adding things too fast.
Something that you find is easy to grow and is generally successful every-time.
With beautiful nutritious soil, collect compost from neighbors. Squash seeds always germinate. One year had 8-10 different variety of squash ended up with several 10b squashes.
Something you would steer new gardeners away from that you find is typically challenging to grow in your climate
Melons are tough especially bigger ones like watermelons. Might be able to grow a cantelope or something.
Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.
Scaring off the moles. Planting castor beans plants for moles.
What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.
Stick my hands in the soil. Love to turn over the compost, running through your hands.
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Let’s Get To the Root of Things
A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.
Worms – for colder climates wonderful way to continue compost in winter. Mix food scraps and shredded paper.
40% of food is thrown away as waste each year.
“Good intentions and expressions of concern are not enough. Protecting the environment is the most serious challenge we face today. Every Canadian can and must get involved, not just today, but every day.” Dr. Roberta Bondar (1994)
Eating or harvesting vegetables or fruit on time? Do you have any secrets for preserving food-making it last?
Canning. preserving, dehydrating. Can use an oven there are lots of youtube videos on how to dehydrate.
Do you have any special techniques for cooking weird or unusual foods?
Tomatillos experimenting with raised beds and vertical gardening. Discovered a new system from the states called a garden tower which reduces critter problems. With worms in the center. Built out of a rain barrel. Put slats around the sides. Can hold up to 50 plants. In center is a tube where worms live, put organic matter in there for worms to eat. There are holes in tubes for worms to come in and out ands fertilize the soil. Incredible herbs, greens, kale etc.
A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?
A favorite internet resource?
Search engines and never knowing what’s gonna come up.
A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can
Teaming with Microbes players in soil that we can’t see. Microorganisms. Soil tells us so much. Easy to read.
If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?
We do need people in worm world. Lots of opportunities. If you’ve never done worm composting start with a pound of worms. See what your market is going to be? Do you want to start with castings or composting? You could be a waste manager who gets scraps from grocery stores, local restaurants etc. Depends on where you are located. In parts of Canada more progressive.
Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the earth either in your local area or on a national or global scale?
Food and Water. If you are passionate about a topic you need to be active and talk because we need leaders. Jackie talks about Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project trainings in Iowa, Toronto and Florida this year.
Do u have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?
Just get started. Do something. Just grow something. Grow something easy. Just a little potted something and then eat it. The satisfaction factor when you eat it and get the kids involved then they are inspired.
Watch Cathy’s TedTalk here.
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