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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

We've Got Worms

That may not be the most appetizing post title, but it's true: determined to keep making compost during the slow winter months, we've started a worm farm to make use of our abundant kitchen scraps.

Our homeowners' association short-sightedly restricts the size of compost makers that residents can use. This limits us to one of those small drum units that are better than nothing, but not much better—especially for two cooks who prepare and eat a lot of vegetables and produce a lot of coffee grounds. Last winter our compost maker had filled up by December, and because the compost process goes dormant in the winter, we were looking at the wretched and wasteful possibility of tossing our kitchen scraps until spring.

We tried saving scraps in a covered container on the patio. That handled the overflow well, but the spring thaw was very smelly and messy.

Then we remembered that our friend Chuck, a fine gardener and veritable compost king, had built a worm farm in his garage to handle kitchen overflow. A helpful website showed us how to make our own worm farm with nothing more than a couple of Rubbermaid containers, a drill, a scrap of cardboard, a few pages of newspaper, and a handful of yard dirt.

We ordered a pound of red worms online, and soon our farm was up and working. Although the worms slow down a bit in the cold months, we can see that they're doing exactly what they should be doing: eating, digesting, and making more worms.  Come spring, we'll add their efforts to our garden; in the meantime, we'll keep our new friends happy with buckets full of coffee grounds, eggshells, and other kitchen scraps.

6 comments:

  1. I've found that my worms don't like eggshells. They'll eat everything else available, and leave the eggshells. It may help if you grind them before putting them in, but that's kind of a pain.

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    1. Funny, our friend Chuck noted just the other day how much his worms love eggshells. Go figure. Maybe he grinds his. We'll ask next chance we get.

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  2. So awesome that you are starting this!! Can't wait to hear more.

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    1. Chuck says that the compost he gets from his worm containers is gold and a much higher quality by far than any other compost, homemade or store-bought.

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  3. Just came upon your blog and think it's great!
    I've made this exact worm bin and it does the job wonderfully, even when I lived in the cold Northwest (I've since moved to a warmer climate). For a couple of dollars you can also add a plastic spigot from the hardware store to drain the compost 'tea' by drilling a 1" diameter hole (or whatever fits your spigot) in the lower side of the bottom container. This also helps avoid drowning the worms when the weather warms up and condensation increases.

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  4. Thanks, Eden, for the great suggestion! We've been worrying that the worms would get too wet, and this will help us enormously!

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