A Worm Farm on a Budget

Have you wanted to set up a home worm farm, but been put off by the high cost of purchasing one of the neat “designer label” multi-tiered ” vermicomposting” kits, promoted by garden centers and mail order companies? Well, let’s cut through the crap! – ITS ACTUALLY NO SECRET !!! -You can easily make your own DIY three bin kit for a just a few dollars and your worms will be as happy as little pigs in the yellow stuff, with no big bad wolf in sight. Moreover, you do not need to be an expert handyman to achieve this!

  • Hardware stores, supermarkets and camping outlets sell tough, general purpose black (opaque) plastic storage containers for a very reasonable price. These are usually tapered so that they can be nested to facilitate stacking on the retailer’s shelves and come with a ” snap-fit” ce lid. For your worm farm, you will need three of these tapered containers (but only one lid). For a simple home worm farm I would advise going for 12 gallon (45 liter) containers. Typically, they will be about 15 inches deep (400mm). You can go smaller, if you want.
  • In the first storage container, drill a 3/8 inch (15mm hole), centrally placed, in the side of the bin, just above the base. Insert a inch inch (12mm) cheap plastic barrel or irrigation tap (with washers) into your hole and tighten fast with lock nuts – make sure you get a good seal – test by filling the container with tap water. This container is to be the lowest one in your stack and will retain the highly nutritional ” worm tea ” leachate, that will start dripping down from the composting bins above. Worm tea is a valuable liquid organic fertilizer, that can be diluted and used directly on your organic vegetables.

The two upper bins will actually hold the worms. They are to be identified and are prepared as follows: -

  • Drill a pattern of inch inch (6mm) holes across the entire base of each container for drainage and to allow drainage and the upward migration of the compost worms, these holes should be regularly spaced at approximately two inch (50mm) centers in either direction.
  • For aeration, drill two rows of inch inch (6mm) holes at two inch (50mm) centers, in a continuous band around each of the bins. This band of holes would be about four inches (100mm) below the top rim of the bin.
  • It is not essential to drill holes in the lid, which is closed tightly over the upper bin. As you should get enough air through the sides.
  • You first set up the lower (sump) bin on bricks or blocks, allowing enough space to tap off the fluid from beneath it. Choose a shady location for the worm farm (in a shed or garage, if you are subject to frosts).
  • The second and third bins are “nested” within each other and dropped into the sump bin. To maintain a working space for the worms, and for accumulation of compost, you need a few spacers or packers of about six to eight inches height, between the two upper bins and some smaller packers of about four inches in the lower (sump) bin . You can use wood blocks or sealed food jars for packers. The packers also prevent the tapered worm bins from jamming together.
  • To prevent “nasty bugs” from squeezing in between the bins, you should close ( caulk ) the small gap between them with strips of shade cloth, or mosquito netting.

Now you are ready to go into production. Spacevents us from giving fully detailed notes here for the fine points of operating the system, such as selecting and feeding your worms, eradicating pests and maintaining the worm farm etc – you can visit our website for this information. However, just make sure that you cover the following points: -

  • Set up your worms in the top bin with a good (damp) fibrous bedding (or even shredded newspaper) and after a few days you will be ready to start feeding in your kitchen scraps. Cover the food with more bedding material to discourage pests and keep the lid closed.
  • Make sure the worm farm is never allowed to dry out, by sprinkling water over the bedding periodically, if there is not already enough moisture coming from the food scraps.
  • When the top bin has been fully productive for a while, the worms will multiply and compost will be start accumulating from the worm castings. When the quantity of compost is meaningful, stop putting feed into this bin and swap over the upper two bins by putting bin No 2 to the top of the stack, with bin No 1 now in the middle. Set up this new top bin with clean bedding, a small amount of the old castings and immediately start feeding your kitchen scraps into it. The worms will naturally migrate upwards towards the new food source, leaving the lower bin with only a few stragglers and ready for the harvesting of your compost within about three weeks after the swap.
  • All you need to do is to keep repeating the process of alternating the top two bins on a regular basis, taking out the compost, whenever it accumulates, and tapping off the worm tea from time to time. Use both products in your garden and grow delicious fully organic vegetables and stunning roses. Sit back and enjoy the fruit of your labors – your worms are doing most of the work anyway!

To see a detailed diagram of this simple worm farm, as described, and some illustrative photos, you can visit our web site at http://www.working-worms.com/

Happy worming!

Lessons Learned From An E-Commerce Adventure

It is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all; and even more important to learn from your mistakes.

That is what I keep telling myself after having invested the time and cash equivalent to a Harvard MBA in an e-commerce start-up that has stalled and is winding down. Not a happy prospect in light of all the media pre-occupation with e-commerce success stories and the young millionaires watching their IPOs rocket into cyberspace. But the headlines ignore the more frequent stories of new e-commerce businesses that do not hit the stock market jackpot. Many of them either settle into a low-key niche or exhaust their resources and fold.

This is the story of an Internet venture that did not make the headlines, but offers some useful insights for entrepreneurs evaluating their own initiatives. The lessons learned are applicable to your own new venture or to an investment in someone else’s.

In mid-1998 we launched a new company called nxtNet (www.nxtnet.com) with the slogan … “taking you to the next level on the Internet”.

My partner and I both had prior successful entrepreneurial experience in computer products and wanted to start a new venture together. We decided to develop a business that would catch the next wave of e-commerce services for mid-sized companies seeking to do business on the Internet. After long discussions, searches for a unique service offering, and many draft business plans, we developed a market strategy and then chose Intershop Communications as our software development platform. This product had the advantages of being suitable for single or multiple online storefronts, and offered a flexible, economic and comprehensive solution. We committed to the product, staffing, facilities and equipment to start training and development immediately. The two of us provided the time and cash required to get started.

By October 1998, we had an initial product with application as an online storefront for an associated computer business. At the same time, we realized that the application had wide appeal to other computer dealers and could be sold as a multi-user database service and e-commerce resource. We had developed a consolidated catalogue of 85,000 computer products from multiple distributor product databases that allowed rapid search and comparison for product information, pricing, and current sources. Users could access the catalogue from the Internet and find a product by manufacturer, category, and part number, key word or price range and immediately see the alternate sources and prices with links to more technical information, preferred dealer pricing and actual stock levels. Additional features allowed the catalogue to be customized so that any computer reseller could present the database as his own online storefront. This option offered all the search and product information features to his customers, but showed only retail pricing and enabled the online ordering process.

The product offering quickly received positive feedback and strong indications of support from all the participants – resellers, distributors, and manufacturers. It was a comprehensive, powerful, and effective tool for buying and selling at all levels within the Canadian computer distribution channel. Resellers recognized the value in an online resource to save time and effort. Distributors and manufacturers saw the opportunity to promote their products, and major publishers in the industry wanted to offer complementary online services to their subscribers and advertisers. How could we fail with all this enthusiasm and support?

While the potential for success clearly existed, everybody had the same questions and reservations – “Who is there now?” “How many are using it?” and “I don’t want to pay until it’s bigger”.

Reasonable objections we thought, so we added features and content for free. We promoted the product with free trials and low cost subscriptions for reseller access. Then we coaxed, persuaded, sold hard, and made deals. The “contra” became the standard for obtaining press coverage, free ads, mailing lists and promotion in exchange for free participation and future consideration. Activity on the Web site and catalogue grew to 3000 visitors per month with over 800 subscribers and the distributor list increased from three to twelve.

But revenue remained near zero as most reseller subscribers declined to pay for the service. Reasons were “it should be free – let the advertisers pay”, “I don’t use it enough”, “there are lower cost options”, or “we built our own solution”. The audience did not grow fast enough even after we offered it for free, to satisfy the advertisers and content providers. Without persistent and conspicuous sales and marketing efforts, all the participants quickly lost interest. Meanwhile the costs of database maintenance, ongoing development, site hosting, Internet access, sales, marketing, and administration were increasing.

Clearly the old entrepreneurial model of controlling costs and growing revenue was not going to apply. We had to realign our profile to show how zero revenue and high initial costs could still lead to significant investment returns like other well-known Internet ventures. So from early 1999 we started an aggressive search for financing, estimating our requirements at $500,000 to $1,500,000 over the next two years before achieving positive cash flow. More business plans, spreadsheets, and glossy presentations to demonstrate future valuations up to $20 million, even $40 million.

We knocked on many doors, from banks to government agencies, from angel investors to venture capital, from stock promoters to business consultants, and again received lots of encouragement, but no financing. So the founding partners were faced with a continuing cash drain, no relief in sight, and the limits of their own resources rapidly approaching. It was time to put the project on hold. Strategic partners or investors might still be developed to proceed with the project, but the ongoing expenditures were stopped in late 1999.

So what are the lessons learned? We already knew that nothing ventured, nothing gained. We now also knew that big successes in the new economy require big investments. Entrepreneurs may start small, but large investments will be required from new sources to achieve significant success. And no one will put significant money into a venture unless it is the only remaining requirement.

The concept, product, development, marketing and staffing all have to be in place before an investor will provide the final ingredient – his cash. Exceptions are likely only where the management team has already succeeded in the same arena, or the investor himself can deliver the missing elements, such as customers or management skills. No investor is going to take the chance that the entrepreneur with a good concept or product will also be able to deliver the required management and marketing skills to succeed, after he has the cash.

Next time we will know better. And there are side benefits from this expensive learning experience. I can now admit that with the knowledge gained through our association with Intershop Communications, I was confident enough to make an investment in their stock on the German Neue Markt at 65 Euros last year. It went over 400 Euros last month and is still rising with their rapid growth and the prospect of a NASDAQ listing this year. Almost enough to recover my investment in nxtNet.

So the most important lesson is that education in the new economy is essential, and not free, but it can lead to success outside the original plan. Learn, be aware, and be aggressively opportunistic.

Avail Digital Marketing Services To Transform Your Business

A strong marketing strategy is not a choice, but it has become a necessity for every business be it a startup, medium-sized company or large organization. Every business is struggling to keep up with promptly evolving customer behavior. A personalized marketing strategy can help a business to know what customers wish for.

When implemented in a right manner, a marketing strategy can show noticeable results in the context of ROI, traffic and online visibility. However, achieving desired results is not so easy. In order to get the most out of it, the marketers should go on board on a range of digital marketing services to transform the way they promote their businesses.

A successful digital marketing campaign includes professional strategies, structures, and top-notch technologies, along with professional experience. The experts utilize cutting-edge digital marketing techniques to drive bottom-line development of a business. If you run an online business and would like to grow by leaps and bounds, it is the time to hire a digital marketing expert. If you are still confused, here are some reasons why you need an effective digital marketing strategy for your business -

Get a direction

Many businesses don’t have a clear motto and aim. They don’t know what they want to achieve exactly. The experts set the goals keeping in your mind your expectations and utilize the best methods to achieve them for you. The marketers start the work by outlining the business goals. Planning, execution and management, etc. all the responsibilities are carried out by the professionals.

Know your market share

In order to satisfy demands of the customers, it is essential that you know your market share. The experts analyze customer’s behavior, buying tendencies, competitors and many more things to let you know where you exists the market. Social media marketing is one of the advanced and useful digital marketing techniques that allow a business to know the customers. The experts increase engagement with customers by making a strong and dynamic presence of clients over social media.

To be in competition

Online marketing is not a one time job, it is an ongoing process. If you are not utilizing avant-garde digital services, your competitors will move ahead to you. Every day, many companies are launched over the internet with a common goal to achieve success and increase profit. Without proficient marketing plans, it is not possible to survive in the competition. Having a professional digital marketing partner may enable you to lead the battle. Don’t give up if a marketing plan is not offering quick results, be patience and wait for productive results.

To build loyalty online

Gaining confidence of your clients is not an easy thing to do, it requires constant efforts. By utilizing right kinds of marketing services, you can build and maintain trust and loyalty among clients about your brand. The marketers know how to make the clients remember you with online reputation management and branding. Blogging, content marketing and social media activities, etc. can help you to build loyalty among target audiences.

Know your customers

A successful marketer always understands the mind-set, needs and expectations of the clients. If you don’t how what your clients very well, it is time to invest in an effective marketing campaign. The experts evaluate the clients, identify weakness and address them to nurture your business.

Go beyond the boundaries

With traditional marketing techniques, you can grow, but can’t reach the edge. Digital marketing services allow you to go beyond all the boundaries. By investing in SEO, social media marketing and PPC, etc. you can enlarge your reach to your potential customers.

Encourage customer engagement

Professional digital marketers understand the worth of customer engagement for the growth and popularity of your business and they encourage it using various tactics. They segment the customers according to your interest and allow you to interact with them.

In order to accomplish your goal, opt for a right digital marketing company that can carry out the jobs in an efficient manner keeping in mind your business nature, target audiences and specific objectives. Choose a reliable company that is engaged in offering top-notch digital marketing services according to the latest trends.

How To Save Money With Shopping Bots, Assistants, Add-Ons

Do you frequently shop online? If yes, you might be aware about how overwhelming it can be to select your favourite product at the lowest price. Most of the times it is almost impossible to keep up through diverse online deals, coupons, and promotions available all over the Web. What adds up to the difficulty is the price comparison among the numerous online retailers out there! Well, in today’s busy schedule doing this hectic research is truly time-consuming. So, how about purchasing products in a smart and an intelligent way?

Shopping tools like the shopping bots, the online associate or Add-ons do all of the work for you.

India’s online trading market, according to rough estimates, is 60-70 million strong, and is expected to go up to 100 million in the next few years. Around 10 million people use price comparison websites each year because they’re quick, convenient and save us a lot of time buying products around.

What Are Actually These Bots & Add-Ons?

Shopping bots, short for “shopping robots,” is an online price comparison software tool that searches for relevant goods from a variety of stores online. It automatically locates the most affordable rates for customers. Generally, these add-ons rank items by price. They let buyers link directly to the website of an online merchant site to actually buy the product.

They also help to find the most excellent online deals for a product, including films, household items, smartphones, books, video games, etc. Using shopping bots, a purchaser can instantly get quotes from multiple retailers for the same merchandise without spending hours on particular shopping site. You may simply call these add-ons as your “online shopping assistants”.

Benefits of Online Assistants and Shopping Bots!

The popularity of price comparison websites/ shopping bots/add-ons isn’t just a trend. It’s now fast becoming a way of life for people to shop. Comparison websites helps the buyers to procure huge benefits whenever they make purchases online. They aid in viewing the latest prices offered by various e-retailers along with discounts or money-saving deals. In addition to price comparison, customers can easily access online coupons, discounts across all the e-retailers that offer the product they wish to buy.

In a nut shell, price comparison add-ons are just like pieces of good fortune for shopaholics. These add-ons works like an online shopping assistant by offering hassle free shopping. They simply fetching all the discounts and offers from top e-commerce sites under a single page! Users can evaluate prices online & get the modest price on the go right from the comfort of their browser. So, isn’t that easy. You save money and time without any annoyance!

Conclusion

Whether you’re using Amazon, eBay, Flipkart or any other site – shopping bots make sure you never spend more than you have to. These add-ons will help you shop smarter and help to purchase products when they are at their absolute lowest prices. So, why not take assistance from these bots or install your favourite add-on & Shop like Never Before!!