Sunday, February 11, 2007

Fun with worms

So Dot and I are halfway through building a wormery. I say 'Dot and I' because on Friday evening, the poor little love found herself bobbling around in the Baby Bjorn in the 15 degree gloaming of a Pennsylvania winter dusk while I feverishly prodded and poked a shovel at our frozen solid compost heap, first in the pursuit of worms, and then, when unsurprisingly none revealed theselves, in a bid to transfer the rock-hard broccoli stalks and lemon skins into the new compost bin and soon-to-be wormery.

Because apparently, wormeries are the way to go for composting biodegradable nappies.

In retrospect, this was relatively apparent from the reading I did earlier in the week but I think I was choosing to ignore it because a) it all sounded terribly complicated and b) I don't know about you but I don't voluntarily get myself involved with anything that looks like this:
unless I really have to.

Well, it seems I really have to.

I started by researching the materials I'd be needing: a bin, some bedding - shredded newspaper, leaves, etc., 'food' - the compost, and about two lbs of your best redworms for the amount of waste we produce.

Warming to my subject, I was keen to get going immediately - I wanted to watch the nappies disappearing - and headed off to the local fishing (and gun) shop to enquire about the availability of redworms. The nice man behind the counter (who had a gun stuffed into his waistband) grabbed a polystyrene tray from the fridge, delved into it and withdrew his hand to reveal a fistful of squirmy red wrigglers which he proceeded to thrust under my nose.

"Er, they look just the job," I said, trying to look like someone who buys worms all the time, "I'll take two pounds."

"Ooh, you'll have to order that many," he said. "What do you want them for, anyway?"

I told him about my plans for a wormery. He suggested I wait a bit to avoid the worms freezing to death. And when I was ready, they'd set me back about $40. $40 for a few worms? Crikee.

I wasn't too sad to leave empty-handed, and headed home to check my facts. According to this website, your worms do indeed need temperatures ranging between 40 - 80 F. In cold climes such as ours, it suggested setting up in your basement, but the hubby vetoed stashing Dot's dirty nappies in the basement because he says they smell like a Dog's fart, and since I want the worms as far away from my person as possible, I didn't push the point. (What? If the chipmunks can climb stairs, who's to say the worms couldn't?) . (Oh, and $40 seems to be the going rate for 2lbs. You could find your own by digging around an exisiting compost heap (or local farmer's dung pile if you're game - which I'm not), hence my frantic prodding with Dot on board, but our sensible worms were wintering elsewhere.)

So we'll have to wait to really get going, but I decided to prepare the wormery for its future residents anyway, mainly because where else am I going to stash two months' worth of nappies?

I shredded a whole lot of newspaper I found in the log box (I'd like to point out this was old; I haven't bought a paper in months) while Dot looked on in interest. Then we bundled up, headed out, dropped the paper in the box, added some leaves and soil and finally all the compost we could and a bag of nappies. We kept it to one side; the plan is to bed the worms in on the other, then gradually move their food over so as not to overwhelm them all at once.

On the webcam today the MIL expressed skepticism about the wormery scheme.

"How will you keep the flies away?" she said.

Hm, valid point. The websites say to bury the waste and cover the bin so I will, but we'll see how it goes.

"Heh heh, good luck with clearing all that up when it doesn't work," said the hubby smugly.

You see what I'm up against here? I will learn to love my worms, and we'll show him...

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At 10:32 AM , Anonymous Alexena said...

laugh in the face of skepticism my dear. One of my friends has a worm compost bin back in Manchester and they work a treat!


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