Sunday, February 20, 2011

w/mo2h #4: composting with worms, part one

part one: welcoming your wormies

Before you ask: it's not smelly, you don't have to touch worms if you choose not to, and it does not require a lot of work. Just so's ya know...

Oh, the lady from the Costco ad
makes it look sooooo easy! Bah!
I hate throwing perfectly good food scraps away, and with a garden, it makes sense to to reuse this material for composting. But neither of us were willing to go through all the effort of building and maintaining an outdoor composting spot. So a couple of years ago we started with a small compost bucket in the kitchen, which every week was dumped into the brush at the edge of the yard. At least the weeds were getting fed, right?

Last year, Able-Bodied Boy and I struggled to make a large rotating composter work. We brought it home from Costco, put in some material and waited. We got ants. We waited. Everything else stayed the same. We made adjustments, added wet material or dead material. We finally determined that it was too dry because the bin was actually not really sealed properly. It still sits outside, looking like a small space capsule.

So I finally looked into vermi-composting: the worm method. There is a lot of information out there on the web, with a lot of different variations. I found the Journey to Forever website to be the most useful, from worm information to methods and techniques. I did look around, but this seemed to have concise information, consistent with most everything else I was reading.

One of our first considerations was location: we did not want stinky, buggy compost inside! Worms like consistent temperatures, and being out of the sun and rain, but they also don't produce odors or bugs readily. There were certain types of foodstuff that might induce a bad smell, or attract bugs, so I read that you just had to introduce those items slowly, if at all, to test how your batch reacted. So it seemed as if a basement location would actually work for us. Worst-case scenario: the stink could remain isolated to one corner of the basement, and if bugs became a huge problem we could take it outside while we regrouped and figured out what we did wrong.

Now, we were not keen to build our own box, so we opted for the Worm Factory. It's a tray system that allows you to have several different "stages" going at once, and a drain for excess water. Our main shopping venue is Amazon, and it's super-saver shipping, so we worked with those parameters in our search. There are plenty of other models out there similar to each other, and I have no doubt that each of them has pros, cons, and things you just plain adjust to. With some good reviews and features, we opted for the Worm Factory, bought a pound of worms, and waited for delivery.
The Worm Factory. We likie!

Providing us with complete instructions on how to care for the worms, and the bedding for the first batch, made setup very easy. The bedding they provided was a coir brick and some shredded paper; just soak the coir, then mix in paper. Our worms came in a small canvas bag, so they were easily dumped in. They recommend putting sheets of paper in the bottom of the lower tray (to keep the worms from dropping through to the base) and on top of the lid (to keep them in and keep the lid from getting too gross), and the box it came in was fulled with long sheets of paper padding, so we didn't even have to get any newspaper. Super simple! It even has a summary of instructions on the lid for convenience.

So everything went perfectly well for the first two months, despite one episode of worm suicide. Then Thanksgiving came and the worms revolted...  

What will happen next to our fair wormie friends? Why did some commit suicide? What was sacrificed in the Thanksgiving Day Massacre?

coming soon - 
part two: the great worm suicide, the thanksgiving day massacre, and other issues
part three: better living with worms

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


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