Sunday, October 14, 2007

I have worms

No, it's not what you think. I'm composting inside our apartment using red wigglers, a powerhouse of an earthworm that is perfect for apartment composting. I found out about this online when trolling around looking at various green sites I came across a video that really inspired me. After watching that I looked around on line and discovered there are lots of people doing this.

With landfill waste becoming issue it makes sense to divert organic waste away from the landfill. About 24% of household waste is compostable. It might not seem like a lot but over time this translates into a huge amount of garbage (especially for a vegetarian) that can be turned into super rich soil that can be used on my plants or where ever. If all this organic stuff went into the landfill all that would happen would be it mixing with other compounds and forming toxic sludge which usually leaks out of landfills. No, thanks.

About my new friends, they live in a stylish silver box under our sink. They're the perfect pets. They just need air, water, bedding and food. Babs and I drilled lots of holes in the box so they can breath easily. If the box doesn't get air then it'll be like a trash can (aka stinky) because of the anaerobic bacteria. I shredded about a Chronicle's worth of paper for their bedding which I moistened to just barely wet. I can feed them vegetable waste but not oil, dairy, meat, bones or animal wastes. We don't have a whole lot of that in our house anyhow.

I got them about two weeks ago and they've been pretty good about staying in their box. There were a few initial explorers wandering away from the box but I've been keeping a light on them (compact florescent). Because they're shy and avoid light they won't leave the box. After a few weeks they'll settle down and get to work. I have a stash of goodies in the tub--potato peels, cabbage leaves, carrot stubs, house plant leaves and what not. My wiggly friends will get hungry and get to work on those goodies and forget their wandering ways and I can turn off the light. They'll even eat the paper and turn that into soil too!

Vermiculture is the nice term for worm wrangling and it's nothing new. A lot of city waste websites have detailed information about it. It's not just tree huggers, a lot of gardeners compost with worms because it is a lot quicker than a traditional compost pile and the soil the worms make aka "castings" is so very rich and won't burn plants like nitrogen based fertilizers can. There are lots of books written about this too! It's not stinky and I feel like I'm making a difference. I'll still keep up my covert compost until my little friends calm down and concentrate on eating.

Here are a few links for you interested people. Check out the videos!

My favorite worm blog
Another cool worm site
Another cool video about worms

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