Monday, April 9, 2012

Worm compost

One thing I'm really looking forward to in owning a house is having a garden.  We have been renting our entire marriage and haven't very much success in the little gardening we have tried.  When we lived in a duplex we got a good sprout in our little veggie patch that grew and grew, but then was completely trampled by the neighbor kids (and dogs) before anything was ready to be harvested.  If you haven't guessed, it wasn't fenced off.  The only garden success we've enjoying in our marriage has been when we were living with my parents, and my mom had already done the parts of soil prep and planting, so we "helped" harvest, consume and make freezer jam (which we later helped consume).  If everything works out with the house we're in the process of buying now, then we'll be moving in in early May.  Kind of later in the spring than I'd like for garden starting, but you're supposed to start small anyway, right? Since I am a tightwad and sometimes a big of a tree-hugger, I am a big compost advocate.  It's wonderful for soil, prevents things from going in landfills, and it's FREE!  The drawback here is that it does take a little while for compost to form, so it'd be nice to have some already ready when we move in to get the garden going. As I was mulling over this in my mind, I was also thinking about what we should cover next for homeschool.  After a little research, pondering, and a few internet searches, I decided to go ahead and give worm composting a try.  I checked the bait shop at Walmart, and they only had Canadian night crawlers, which I had read a lot about and they're not a very good composting worm. So I ordered some online, from  This was the least expensive I could find.  And the kind to look for is red wigglers, sometimes just called composting worms.  In the mean time, I went to the library and picked up some non-fiction children's books about worms. 
While we were waiting for the worms to arrive, I looked up home made worm composters  (since the store bought ones are insanely expensive!) and got a small storage bin with a lid (opaque), and a dishpan to go under it and catch the "worm tea" that it wonderful for gardens).  To make holes for air and drainage, I took a nail, and held it with a rag (so as not to burn myself) then heated the tip of the nail with a match (a candle would work better, but ours are all wickless so I improvised!) then I poked the headed tip in the big to make small holes.  I did this in the lid, around the top of the sides, and a few in the bottom.  I had to re-heat the nail a few times, which is why a candle works better, but I got it done. Then we added shredded newspaper and cardboard and eggshells and produce scraps.

The kids were so excited when the worms arrived in the mail!  WE added them to our bin right away and gave them lots of water (they get kind of died out during shipping).  The bigger kids thought the worms were cute, my youngest kept growling at them!

 The worms come packed in peat moss to keep them from getting banged up in the shipping process.  You can see them starting to move around right after we added them to our bin.
 The worms were in this bag, tied shut, in a box labeled "live worms"
Here is a shot of our bin from a little farther away, before we put the lid on of course.

I am surprised by how fast the worms have been eating our regular household compost, and I'm very excited that we'll at least have one really good thing to improve our soil when we move in to a house! 

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