Friday, June 30

I've Got Worms...

...and I'm so excited about it!


These beautiful worms are the surprise I mentioned in my last post. Now, I don't have space for a flock of sheep, alpacas, horses or even hens, but I can finally begin to tune my latent shepherding skills with something, it just happens to be worms.

But let me begin at the beginning of this story. I've always been interested in sustainability. The environment was always an issue growing up because my dad is a developer (oh, sorry, agent of land reform), but not to worry, he's one of the good ones. At any rate, I grew up watching him read EIR reports and the like. So when Bryan and I found our home, it was the potential of the garden that drew me as much as the house itself. I knew that I wanted it to be as ecologically friendly as possibly, and given my current fascination with growing things I can eat, that means organic.

So, to take a step even further back, I know all about compost from growing up in a house where my mom was an avid gardener and had a large vegetable garden that I paid exactly zero attention to. What I did know was that she also had a large compost pile. What that meant was that one of her kids would have to take the often slimy bucket of slop from under the kitchen sink and dump it on the pile and then (shudder) rinse out the bucket and dump that water on the pile. So gross, especially when you're a teenager determined to be normal though you know in your heart you really don't fit in (but that's an entirely different story). OK so my experience is that compost = gross. But, after researching on the internet, and buying many bags of compost from the gardening shop, I became...

oh my god. A mouse just ran under the refrigerator. Mel, the terrible watchdog that she is, was fast asleep in her crate. I immediately roused her and tried to get her to scare the mouse away, but she just looked at me as if to say - yes I know, when you go to the refrigerator you give me a treat, so where is it? - I swear, if I weren't allergic, I'd trade her for a cat right now.

Anyway, sorry, back to the worms...so I was determined to make my own compost. I then stumbled across a fabulous site smartgardening.com - this is an LA County site and service. I have to say, it's really awesome when local government works and is helpful. Listen to this: the county of LA puts on FREE composting workshops and they sell subsidized composters. How rad is that? So last Saturday I headed off to Calabasas where the incredible Curtis was leading a workshop. I got all my questions about composting answered, and I was ready to buy a composter and get started (which I did by the way). Thinking the rest of the workshop wouldn't apply to me because it was about smart lawn care (I have none) and how to plant a fire zone (safe there) I started to tune out, until he started talking about WORM COMPOSTING!!!

It's so fabulous, I can't even begin...Ok so basically you have a worm bin and in this bin you feed the worm vegetable scraps and they in turn eat the veggies and their bedding and give you Worm Tea which is a liquid SUPER FERTILIZER that you collect thru a tap at the bottom of their bin. This fertilizer has to be diluted at 6:1 otherwise it acts as herbicide. I don't have my notes in front of me, but I'm pretty sure Curtis said that the fertilizer is 40% better than anything you can buy. AND if you dilute it 12:1 you can spray it on your plants and it will fertilize them and kill the bad bugs. The best part is, it's totally and completely natural. I know, it's so good. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE....(I sound like an infomercial, I promise, no one is paying me to write this). After a few months you can harvest the worm castings which when you plant seeds into it have a 98% retention rate. It's like super fertilizer for your plants.

After hearing all this I was determined, I had to have a worm composter post haste. Unfortunately, and this is maybe my favorite part of the story, the bins were all stuck in customs in Long Beach. One gentleman in the workshop asked why they were so complex that they needed to be imported from Canada. The deal is that Canada, the UK and Australia all give major government subsidies to companies that produce environmentally oriented products - like completely recycled worm bins. Sigh. Can't the US focus any positive energy on the important things. This is not a political blog, I'm not going to get into it...it'll just make me crazy.

So back to worms. I got the call today from Curtis that the bins were in and I could come back to Calabasas and pick mine up. As a side note Curtis is one of those people who clearly loves what he does and his positive energy is completely infectious. I honestly didn't think anyone would ever get me so excited about raising worms that I'd wait all week in anticipation for their arrival. And he hunts snakes (to capture, not kill). Anyway, Mel and I headed up to Calabasas while we hung out in a lovely park while we waited his arrival which was delayed by his coworkers and a late FedEx truck.

It's beautiful up there. I love the golden grasses and scattered oak trees. Mel was pretty calm as it was about 102 degrees when we got there. Though she did have a go at some tennis balls and a rabbit.

So finally I got my worm bin and Burger King cup of worms. All came home and I set up the worm bin.


As you can see, Mel was more interested in tearing apart her ball than in her new housemates.

The thing about the worms is that it's important to feed them as you put them in, otherwise they'll abandon ship, as Curtis informed us thru several funny anecdotes. So feed them I did.


As you can see they get a full supply of vitamins with carrots, cauliflower, and kale. And finally I placed them in their new home.


I was shocked to see how many there were. I thought I was starting with maybe 30, but as you can see there are A LOT more than that. I then covered them with their bedding and placed them on the back patio. Worm Tea Super Fertilizer here I come!

1 comment:

Al said...

Yeah man, that's awesome. I went to the Del Mar Fair several years ago and they had a huge display on composting and worm bins. Mom and I got the directions to make them ourselves...it involved drilling holes in Rubbermaid containers so what's not to like? I wanted to at least do something environmentally friendly while an apartment dweller (this was at my last apartment that had a balcony). Unfortunately, since Mom never had success with hers, I never got around to setting mine up. Now I just have a couple of storage containers with holes in them holding fabric. Yours looks very cool. I love that the food scraps from your garden end up back fertilizing your garden.