Sunday, January 17, 2010

Mom I have worms...

And I absolutely love them!
I mean an organism that eats my trash and gives me super fertile soil for my garden, what is not to love? Old me, of course, hated worms and it was not at all surprising that when I told my mom that I had worms in my kitchen she responded with “Oh, no, how awful.” She thought I was referring to the ‘guru guru’ that unavoidably take over everything left outside in a hot Caribbean kitchen and had no idea that her daughter, who used to be seriously grossed out be earthworms, would by choice have a bin with about a thousand earthworms in her kitchen.

Not only do I have them by choice, I really do love my worms! I get a sense of pleasure when I open the bin and hear them squirming around. Not to mention the joy I feel when I lift up the top layer of paper to find my well-fed worms chomping away on my leftover apples, celery, carrots, pumpkin and coffee just to name a few.
I guess it’s the biologist in me admiring the wonderful circle of life us humans are often so quick to ignore. And in terms of sustainability, there’s really no better way to reduce your trash, and your impact on the planet, then acquiring some worms on taking care of your own waste management.

Making the Bin:
We were lucky enough to have our worm bin donated to us, but it’s really not that hard to make. Check out the video by The Environmentals . These guys are a little crazy, but they made a worm bin that is exactly like mine! Some other sources are Cheap & Easy Worm Bin!, Composting with Redworms, wikiHow or just google "worm compost bin."

Worm Care:
Caring for the worms is also super easy!
Feed them all your biodegradable food scraps, like coffee grounds, tea bags, cereal, vegetable and fruit scraps. From what I've read, avoid citrus (too much is toxic for the worms), avoid meats, dairy and bones (attracts rodents, yuck), avoid junk food and oily foods (attracts ants). I feed my worms about once a week (sometimes twice), putting food in different corners of the bin. So far I haven't had to chop or puree any of the food. I just put it in a little odor-free compost bin and transfer it to the bin whenever it's feeding time. Whenever I see worms crawling on the sides or close to the lid, I know it's time to feed them a crumbled dried eggshell (helps maintain correct PH). Other than that, I leave them in a nice dark corner in my kitchen.
More info at Organic Garden Works, Feeding Your Worms

Harvesting the soil:
I have not attempted this yet, but I have found a site that I am going to use when it’s time for us to replant our vegetable garden. We used store-bought earthworm castings last time and the plants grew like crazy, so I can't wait to see the effects of our home-produced castings.

Don’t have a garden to use the soil in? Don’t let that stop you from composting! You can use the soil for indoor houseplants or donate it to a friend or local garden. In the end, the soil is only an awesome by-product, the real benefit is the reduction of methane in the air and trash in our landfills. Reducing your trash and managing your own biodegradable waste is the best way to reduce your impact on our planet and who knows, you may grow to love your worms too!

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