Monday, April 19, 2010

Have a Very Wormy (Early) Earth Day - Adventures in Vermicomposting, Part 1

A couple of years ago, Tasha said, "Ant, you should really start a worm bin. You could compost in the house!"
My reply should have been, "Oh, my, why didn't I think of that! Anything I can do that would reduce greenhouse gasses and help the environment, my garden and houseplants, while being so simple, is something I could really get into!"

But instead my response was, "Ew!" Followed by, "Ew, ew, ew, and ... ew!"

Fast forward to last week.

That was when I became a worm rancher.

I researched vermicomposting (composting with worms), and decided that Tasha had been right after all. Worm composting could work, should work, and gosh-darnit, I would make it work!

I got my worm bin all ready: I bought a big plastic bin with a lid, and Jasmine drilled holes for drainage in the bottom and air flow on the top and sides. Then I put in damp newspaper for bedding , some vegetable peelings, and ordered online for some Red Wiggler worms that eat half their own weight a day in food, and poo that much in rich castings for my garden and plants.

I also went to a bait shop and bought some of their larger cousins, the European Nightcrawler (often called Super Red Worms). I want to compost our kitchen scraps and as much of our junk mail as possible and, supposedly, the bigger European worms do better with paper. I came home with my worms just as the sun was setting.

I put the worms in their new bin home on the back porch, and left them alone to settle in. After about an hour I couldn't stand it anymore- I just had to check on them!

To my horror, there were worms EVERYWHERE!
They had crawled out the drain holes, the air holes, the edges, the top, the cracks, and spaces I didn't even notice. They were crawling up the outside of the box, the side of the house, on the porch floor, under the box and toward the sidewalk. Some had made it to the sidewalk. I yelled and husband Danny came running and helped me pick up all the worms, which is easier said than done, especially in the dark.

Those buggers aren't called 'wigglers' for nothing.

As fast as we put them in the bin, they started crawling right back out again. It looked to be a long night of worm wrangling until I remembered reading that if the worms tried to escape, you can shine a bright light on them and they burrow under the bedding to get away. The sixty watt light bulb we had on the porch seemed to slow them down only slightly, so while I pushed the stragglers back into the box, Danny put in a 100 watt florescent bulb.

That made them tuck their their bodies under them and run for cover.
But then they found the slight grooves in the bins made shadows that didn't get direct light and started a conga line up the sides. I had to tilt the box to get the light shining straight into it to keep them in, and keep the lid off. Finally, I could go to bed.


The things I do to save the planet.

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