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trials of a worm momma

for all you new people, i need to point out that i have a worm box. and no, this is not some kind of weird std. Its vermicomposting and you can read about it here.

Anyway, i have had the box set up for a little over two months but I didn't put as much bedding in as I should have so I needed to change it out a little sooner than the expected 3 months. Things started out pretty icky. I mean conceptually, I love my worms. I bought them, I feed them, and they do their little job of keeping me amused by eating my excess organic trash. However, when it came to touching them, i was a little wigged out. Fool me.. because what I eventually realized is that handling worms in nothing compared to digging through worm shit with your hands (and lets be real folks, we can call it hummus or soil conditioner or nutrient rich WHATEVER but its still worm shit!). Unfortunately, what I realized shortly after that, was that digging through worm shit is nothing, compared to digging through the decomposing food that your worms did not eat.

I started off by dumping out my entire worm box onto a table covered in plastic, and after making sure it was empty (which meant scooping out the last few clinging worms with a piece of paper - trust me, this aversion to touching the worms didn't last long) I filled it back up with bedding. So far so good, but as I checked out the huge mound of worm, worm crap, and as I was soon to discover, hidden decomposing food surprises, I realized this was far from over.

I'll make a long story short. There is a recommendation out there that I followed. Spread out the mess thin enough, aim a lamp at it, and the worms will eventually tunnel into the deepest part of the pile, leaving the exposed areas for you to clear off. I did this for a while.. I have no idea how long, but every worm that I saw, no matter how small, i picked up and put back in my worm box.. even the bitty bitty baby ones.

things were going well until one of my cats jumped onto the table (missed the worm pile, deliberately), but knocked over the lamp when I waved it off. The bulb expoded, covering one of my hands with little cuts. All I can think is "great. my hand is covered with worm shit and decomposing food, and now I have several exposed cuts.. this worm box may kill me yet".

but enough drama, eventually I managed to herd the worms into a small pile of stuff, discard the rest of it (which would have made great fertilizer, maybe next time), and get everything settled back where it belonged.

this is what I learned:

1) My worms LOVE oranges. I kept finding little piles of worm orgy-ness near those oranges, so I kept them all and placed them back in the box.
2) loaves of bread are icky. Some people say that they can compost moldy bread, but not my picky eaters. That was some awful mess to remove.
3) no more beans. Evidently my box was nutrient rich enough that the beans sprouted and tried to grow. These were raw beans that I had soaked but not cooked.
4) worms must like rice, cause I didn't find any of it left in the box.

well that is it. and i would like to thank the loml for his continuing but distant encouragement as I worked.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 6, 2007 9:23 PM.

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