Thursday, July 9, 2009

worms are wonderful!

It's not easy to get a good picture of worms at work, since as soon as they sense light, they go scrambling away from it. But these are our compost worms - they live in bins in our basement, and they eat our garbage.

Compost worms (ours are Red Wigglers) truly are a wonderful thing. You make them a home of shredded, dampened newspaper, and then you give them your fruit and vegetable scraps, plus coffee grounds, egg shells, leftover pasta, and other kitchen "junk" (just no meat, dairy, or fat/grease/oil) - and they turn it all into wonderful "black gold" that you can use in your houseplants or your garden. They don't take up much space, they don't smell, and they're not demanding. You only have to feed them once a week and they can go a couple weeks if you're away on vacation... they just work, work, work, and hardly ask anything but a dark, damp environment and a fairly consistent temperature (you can't keep them in the sun, and you can't keep them outside in the winter unless their container is well insulated).

We started out with worms in 2 Rubbermaid-type bins that we customized for their use (I'll post about how to make your own worm bin soon). Then I saw a Can-O-Worms system on Craigslist for $30 so I decided to give that a try. Both ways work great - though the harvesting (removing the compost and starting the worms over in new material) goes much faster with the Can-O-Worms. On the other hand, you get more compost (larger batches) from the bins.

The worm compost can be steeped as a "tea" that you can use to water your houseplants, or spray on their leaves as an all-natural insect repellant. The compost can also be used as a top-dressing for your indoor or outdoor plants, or you can mix it into your garden soil when you're going to plant. Last year, we started some seeds inside the house directly in worm compost, and it worked wonderfully. From what I've read, there are lots of great things you can add to your gardens (composted chicken or cow manure, seaweed fertilizers... the list goes on). But three particularly fabulous things are worm compost, rabbit manure, or rabbit manure that's been "processed" by worms. Once we get our rabbits, we'll be trying that out and seeing what happens when we give our worms a bunch of manure and let them "have at it" as they say - but for now, our worms are quite happy snacking on whatever we have around (this week it's been apple peels, leftover lettuce, and leftover beet greens). And we're super happy to have them helping us out by reducing the amount of waste we have and letting us "trade up" for fabulous organic worm-made fertilizer!


Maria Rose said...

I've been wanting to start a compost heap, but was uncertain about the red worms.

Colleen said...

The worms are definitely awesome little workers - and the compost they produce is fabulous! If you decide to try them, let me know how it goes!