here’s what happens when bossy k takes a class on worm composting: we end up with 15 worm bins and about 4,500 wriggling houseguests.
the adventure began when she learned about worm basics at a workshop done at wei, featuring growing power’s acclaimed farm guru, will allen. she got some more worm learnin’ recently from neil cunningham at green noise — a redworm purveyor and all-around source of expertise — at a class held at egg/plant urban farm supply, a charming store in st. paul that i wrote about last year, and which holds super useful workshops for the urban farming enthusiast.
i knew the moment she walked in the door, bursting with excitement, that a huge amount of worms loomed in our future. fortunately, i didn’t mind since i find the whole process fascinating, and i was even willing to “feed” them with our partially liquefying vegetable waste. (truly, if you’ve never held a mass of redworms in one hand and a slimy clump of used-to-be veggies in the other, then you’re missing an item on your bucket list.)
we took cunningham’s recommendation to get bins at ikea. although i’m sure composting is big in sweden, ikea didn’t actually tout the small, red, plastic bins as perfect for worms — instead, they’re sold as part of a “toy storage unit” called trofast. despite having to go to ikea, which is like flypaper thanks to its layout, we felt that the selection was fitting. after all, what are worm bins to a farmer but new toys that never get boring?
after dipping into our soil pail and loading up the bins with small pockets of veggie-waste goo, rabbit pellet food, fine sand, and calcium carbonate, as well as a “ceiling” of wet leaves, we eased our new darlings into their new homes. each bin’s lid had a small hole for ventilation, and we chose to tape some cheesecloth over each one, to keep the fruit fly population to a barely-annoying minimum.
the worms seemed happy. we hope they all had a nice conversation about the quality of ikea products.
to be able to track the progress of each bin — which, surprisingly, can differ quite a bit from each other in terms of consumption, worm casting creation, etc. — we put a call out to our facebook followers to come up with some names for the bins, and they came through beautifully.
here are the selections for the wormy 15:
squirms hotel, bait bucket, baits motel, vermispa, the wiggle room, casa de gusano, wriggley field, vermikulture klub, not-poo, casting party, sweet home annelida, can-o-worms, crawl space, boxed lunch, vermination.
at this point, the worms are now reproducing and we’re seeing eggs, which are both signs of healthy bins. another good indication that we’re doing it right: we’ve started to see whiteworms, which are typically found when there’s a good quality of finished material in the bin. it’s good to see them, but they’re not as cute as the redworms.
we’re keeping them all happy with a mix of more vegetable waste and ground egg shells so they can benefit from the calcium. the resulting worm castings will go toward making our soil even more rich and delicious for our spring transplants, microgreens, pea shoots, and sunflower shoots.
feels very bossy!