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Worms eat my credit card statements

worm-bin-0

~This is the sixth post in a series running through the month of June 2009 in which I attempt to post once a day for the month.~

The title of the post is an affectionate poke at the seminal worm wrangling book by Mary Applehof, Worms Eat My Garbage. While I am being goofy, it is true that I am an avid worm composter, and one of the things you put into your worm bin is paper “bedding,” which can be made out of a number of different materials, including wet paper. If ever you were worried about your credit card statements being stolen from the recycling and used for ill, consider setting up one of these babies – nothing like having to dig through worm poop to make potential identity thieves think twice!

But let me back up a second. What exactly is a worm bin and why the heck would you want to keep one? And what’s with the poop? Worms, it turns out, are fantastic at breaking down non-meat food scraps. If you’re already a composting type person, or have ever wanted to become one, worm composting might be the thing for you, especially if you live in a small space. The worm bin pictured above is about one by one and a half by one feet and I think holds 10 gallons. It’s just a Rubbermaid tub. You can keep it inside or outside, as long as it’s not exposed to extremes of hot or cold (it needs to be in the shade all the time if it’s outside and worms definitely do not have snow suits!). The worms need a wet environment, so if you’re in So Cal like us, you’ll need to make sure they don’t dry out. The best type of worm for this kind of composting is commonly known as a red wiggler, and looks like so

worm-bin-1

A little blurry, but you can get the idea. You can also kind of see all the stuff that’s mixed in there with the little guys. Paper, “food” (rotting vegetables mostly) and worm poop! What’s the deal with that? Well, that’s the compost. And according to “Those Who Know,” worm poop (or “vermicompost”) is some of the best fertilizer that you can get your hands on. It’s supposed to be very mild yet effective. Most gardeners who use it will tell you to just throw some on your plants to fertilize and no need to worry about burning the plants.

“Feeding” the worms is quite easy. Just save food scraps in a little bucket on the counter and when your bucket gets full, bury the scraps in the bin and then cover with bedding like so

"Food" added to bin

"Food" added to bin

Cover it up!

Cover it up!

Worms are pretty low maintenance and are fairly hardy. I had a run at killing a lot of our starter worms, but once I figured out they weren’t getting enough water or air, they rebounded and then started breeding like crazy. Flies and other bugs can be a bit of a problem, but almost all of our challenges have had to do with not enough water and not enough air and have been pretty easy to fix.

It’s very satisfying to know that we’re throwing away as little food as possible and that we’re making our own compost. It’s also a lot of fun making a little ecosystem that can support the worms. I know it’s not really like having a pet, but they are fun to care for and I’m looking forward to throwing some of the “vermicopost” on the new tomatoes that are coming up later in the season!

If you’re interested in starting one of these things, here’s a list of links.  More than one of these point to directions on how to start a simple worm bin.  Happy composting!

Cheers.

Worm Bin Links

Web sites
http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/Easywormbin.htm
http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/Redwormsedit.htm
http://www.allthingsorganic.com/How_To/03.asp
http://www.ecosuperior.org/wanttoknow_vermicomposting.shtml
http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Your-Own-Worm-Compost-System
http://www.vermicompost.net/worm-composting/bin-food/what-do-worms-eat.aspx
http://www.vermicompost.net/worm-composting/vermicomposting-mistakes.aspx
http://www.vermicompost.net/worm-composting/wormery-composter/rubbermaid-worm-bin-plans.aspx

Videos
Freshtopia.net

Worm lady from Youtube

5 Comments

  1. Craig says:

    This post is really helpful. I’m going to start composting materials.
    .-= Craig´s last blog ..Where To Begin With A New Lighting Display =-.

  2. Hi, I think your site might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Ie, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, awesome blog!

  3. Acep says:

    I had no idea they use their tentacles like that. I asmused they’d grab something, and retract it into their mouth, but your video shows otherwise. I wonder if that “conveyor belt” motion is akin to how a snail moves, or perhaps using micro-feet (cilia) to move food in.BTW, what is the status of your crab population? Did any of the young survive?

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