March 30, 2009
The Slimy Way My Garden Grows
Hoards of readers have written to ask about the finer points of vermicomposting, whether I was joking when I said I was keeping the worm bin inside, and how the red wigglers are faring.
Those of you who didn’t know we have a full-blown worm farm in the house can click here for the story of the genesis of this operation.
It’s no joke– Squirmy and his friends reside in the area once known as “the living room” but now known as “the ping-pong/laundry-folding/worm room.” The space we used the least has now become a hub of activity, now that we stored the fancy rug and candlesticks and have games to play, work to do, and worms to care for.
The weather has been a bit nicer lately, so I’ve taken the bin outside so the worms can get some fresh air, and that’s where I took these photos to demonstrate the latest in composting with worms. Squirmy and his friends eat, poop and reproduce at an astounding rate.
As you’ll recall, they live in a set of stacked bins, and when they’ve munched everything in the bottom bin, you add one to the top and start adding food scraps to it and the worms climb up to the food and work on that tray.
Looking at a working tray is not going to take your breath away. Once you lift the lid and pull aside the newspaper, what you see is a conglomeration of food, shredded paper, dryer lint, coffee grounds, dry leaves, and anything else you’ve stuffed in the bin.
And if you dig into the mass a bit, you’ll find worms. Thousands of worms. You have to take their picture quickly or they’ll burrow back down to finish their eating or pooping or lovemaking. Single-minded, these worms.
The tray below is much more satisfying to look at. The worms are about finished with it, so it’s mainly full of compost. Actually, it was totally compost, but I had so many worms crowding the upper tray that I stuck a little food from the top tray that was almost completely digested, and added several hundred worms to see of they’d get fatter when they have more room. No one has suggested this is a good or bad idea; it’s just a wormy experiment I’m conducting. It’s better than trying to magnetize them with batteries, for God’s sake.
Here’s a closeup of the compost. Look at that rich soil!
The fact that it’s really worm poop grosses out my boys. Yes, the boys who announce, “Don’t leave yet– I gotta take a big dump” when we’re already late for drums. The boys who brag about burping and farting simultaneously. The boys who love to yell “frank ‘n’ beans” just before disrobing.
Dude, you pour the liquid from that tray onto your garden and you will see some pansies that look like they’ve been hanging out with Jose Canseco.
Anyway, the horny worms that just want to make love and don’t want to do their fair share of eating and pooping hang out here. They hide on the sides of the tray. Every once in a while I have to gather them up and dump them back in the working tray.
“The orgy is over– back to work.”
So far I’ve mixed the compost with water and watered my winter plants, which have all perked up like the steroidal pansies. When it’s time to change to warm weather plants, I’ll incorporate the actual compost into the soil. I’m giving vermicomposting two thumbs up here. It’s easy and entertaining, depending on how exciting the rest of your life is.
Two years ago in My Tiny Kingdom: Blast From The Past: Potty-Training Nomad Style (contains rear nudity)
Don’t forget- this week’s Flashback Friday theme is “There Once Was…”