Tuesday, June 29, 2004

A Day In The Life Of A Worm

Wow, I have been slacking off. Here in Worm World, time passes quickly. The other day, I added some shredded corn husks because I had some fresh delicious organic corn. They say you can use that as bedding, so I added it in. The worms seem to like it. It's getting pretty intense in there. I feel like the Worms have gotten comfortable in there. It's one whole huge wormy mass. Pretty cool.
Today on Craigslist I saw someone was giving away their Worm bin for free. If no one else wants it, I will take it. I hate to think of all those Worms without a home. Besides, my Worms aren't really pulling their weight quite yet. I was thinking already about the future, when I have many more Worms than I have now. I think I will make a cubby system where I can have the Worms stacked on shelves. I think maybe 3 or 4 bins would be the max though, after that I would have to start giving them away.
This brings me to another interesting subject: Worm Love. When two Worms fall in love, they decide to have a little Worm baby. This is neat because Worms are hermaphrodites. So any two Worms are able to fall in love, and nobody cares what catagory they fall into or what label they have. It's really quite nice. The Worms "do it" by rolling around together, and then stuff happens. A little while later, a baby is born. This can happen every two weeks or so. I am not good at math, but it seems like before long I will be overrun. That's good because I am still throwing away scraps. I would rather compost them.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Worms Fabulous Worms

I have to admit, I am getting quite attached to the Worms. I feel like we are really connecting. They are doing great today. There is quite a substantial amount of compost down there now; I am so proud of them! I did see some additional material that was un-compostable that I had to fish out. A little while back, I shredded the paper that my morning bagel (Everything toasted with plain cream cheese, onion and tomato, yum) came wrapped in. Well, I think that perhaps there was some plastic coating on that food paper the worms can't eat. So keep that in mind. I was trying to put as much household trash in there as possible, but I think I just can't do that at this point.
I still haven't gotten up the nerve to touch them. They are so slimy and squiggley. I think they would prefer not being handled. It may mess up their...digestive cardionervous system, you know? They are quite delicate and can become easily injured by clumsy human hands.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Situation Improving

Most of the flies have gone away, and the smell is very faint. I don't want anyone out there to worry. It wasn't really so bad. I think if you are more careful, it wouldn't happen at all. I did have to dig out some avocado peelings. They just got really hard and leathery in there (and there were a bunch too because I eat them all the time) and the worms didn't find that appetizing. I am learning they like mainly vegetables (like me!). I think the reason that previous batch had problems was because there was a bunch of rice in there and that's why it got weird. From now on, I will feed them only produce. Fruit seems okay but it gets funny and moldy really fast. I don't know if that is a problem or not.
I found an online kit to grow your own mushrooms at home. I ordered the Shittake kit. They send you a thing that has the spores already on there, and then the mushrooms will grow out of that. If you have an outdoor compost pit, they suggest throwing that thing in there when the mushrooms are done growing and then mushrooms will grow out of your compost. Cool! I can't do that, because I am doing the indoor worm bin, but maybe you can! They have these other cool things that you can stick in logs that will make mushrooms grow out of it. I might do that. It's hard to find a log in Brooklyn though.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Worm Sounds

I don't really know if the worms ever ate that last weird batch of food. It turned black, so Saturday I gave them some more. In interest of eliminating potential fruit flies, I froze all the scraps as suggested. Before serving, I defrosted it. It had lots of cucumber peelings and seeds in there, and looked yummy. But then, dumb me, I decided to add all this extra stuff that was generated during meal preparation for a family dinner party, and ALSO a few plums and nectarines (pits removed) that were looking squishy and fuzzy on my counter. By that point, I had over 3 cups of scraps. I don't know what I was thinking. Last night, I detected a faint "aroma" coming from the bin. Today, it is swarming with fruit flies. I am dumb. On the other hand, the worms are loving it. I even heard them eating. It makes a sound like "fshrshh blppp pshrbrp". It's very quiet, but I heard it! They sounded happy, so I didn't care that it was smelly and infested with flies. I put some more paper on top to fix it. I think today they will read the Village Voice. There are lots of good articles in there for worms.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Technical Difficulities and Hurray for "Dirt"

The Worms did this!



I am trying to get this post up as soon as possible, before my dumb computer crashes. After taking a day off yesterday due to personal reasons, and the lack of Worm news (despite what some think, a Worm bin is NOT non-stop craziness and wild partying), I am back today.
The Worms are doing great. They have completely consumed their first meal, or else it melted away. In any case, where there was nothing but disgusting molten vegetables before, now there is now just "dirt". I put that in quotes, just to be polite.
The latest meal, however, seems to be untouched. Probably because it has morphed into this weird solid moldy mass that seems oddly furry. I do not understand what causes some garbage to turn liquid, and other garbage to turn solid. Any scientists out there? I poked around at it some with an extra long chopstick to break it up a little, and then sprayed it down with some water to give it that tasty "glistening dew", like the greens in the produce section of the market. I don't think I fooled them.



This is the newest food, they don't like it.

Monday, June 14, 2004

No Disasters Today

This morning when I checked on the Worms, only one had crawled to the top. I took this as a good sign, and redirected him to the others. Maybe he is just a Slow Learner!
I just gave the little guys a bit more food. I had this bag of scraps since last week that I wanted to put in there. It was kind of juicy and gross, but I figured they probably like it better that way. I recognized it as salad from like, Thursday. Gag. I can't really tell if the bin stinks or not though. It doesn't seem really stinky until I really put my head up in there, maybe I am just getting used to it. I probably smell like garbage now. Oh, another thing that is weird is that there are these little tiny mites all over the place already. I didn't put a picture up because they are too tiny to capture without an electron microscope, I can barely see them with my naked eye. But if they don't get out of control, it's supposed to be okay.
I have been getting lots of hits to the site, so that's exciting. Thanks for visiting and please keep coming back.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Uh-oh!

Yikes! The Worms are trying to escape!!



I expected a fairly uneventful day today, really. Before I even have my coffee, I stopped by to check on the Worms and found about a dozen trying to make a break for it. I was saddened to find my guests unhappy with their quarters. I tried so hard to make everything comfortable for them.

I did get a good closeup shot though, and you can see in their faces that they are not so sad. What is it then?



I did some research, and found several reasons Worms may try to break out. Often, the bedding is too moist or too dry. I tested the moisture by feeling around in there, the paper seemed sufficiently, but not overly, damp. If there isn't enough food, they may be hungry. But there is plenty of food in there. Poor ventilation could be a cause, but I think I have enough air holes in there. Sometimes, before a storm or other change in barometric pressure, they worms crawl up. Wow! Maybe they know to go up for air before a storm so they don't drown? I have no idea. But I decided the most likely reason is the most obvious: the Worms are confused in their new environment. They are just getting used to their new surroundings. I helped them get back down to the rest of the Worms, and hoped for the best.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

The Big Day

Welcome home, Worms!



Just as expected, I awoke bright and early. I dragged Matt out of bed (I had to bribe him with pancakes - works every time!) and we headed to pick up our 1000 new Worm roommates. It was a glorious day and there were many delicious and beautiful vegetables at the farmers market that caught my eye, but I was a Worm Girl with a mission. Unfortunately, the LES Worm People were the very last booth at the market, and I was unable to resist a couple happy bunches of radishes. I fell victim to their pretty pink charm. Radishes and worms in hand (okay, I had to buy some tomatoes and cilantro too. What can I say?), we returned home to introduce our Worms to their new residence. They traveled in an empty OJ carton, and I couldn't see too many when they were in there. But we dumped them out, and sure enough there was a huge, tangled, writhing mass of Red Wigglers in there. They seemed happy enough, so we layered some more bedding on top, buried some tasty bits of food inside for them to snack on, and covered them back up.

A Home for the Worms

I now know how to add images to my site. Doesn't it look fantastic?



This is the worm house.

Whew!! Today was pretty intense. I couldn't find a proper bin at any of the discount stores in Bushwick, so after a brief panic, I decided to used one I already had. I think it's perfect. I drilled several holes in the top and sides, and filled the inside with shredded paper (I have a very nice tiny office shredder I bought on the street for ten bucks. It's good to shred your old mail and credit card receipts and things, so you don't become a victim of identity theft!) I thought they might like some reading material, so I used the NY Times.
The air holes are important for ventilation - Worms breathe air just like us! I think they breath through their skin, but maybe I made that up. Before I put the worms in the bin, its important to moisten the newspaper "bedding". It should be damp like a squeezed out sponge. I think the worms like it sort of cave-like in there.
Tomorrow is a big day - the Worms are coming! I think I won't be able to sleep tonight. I am very excited.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Reuse!

Matt is in the bin.



Scot's bins were way huge. They are large enough to fit a couple of bodies in. I need some much smaller. I think I need them to be about a foot tall, a foot wide, and maybe two feet long. Not a problem though, I took Scot's coffins anyway, I need storage. Plus we got a bonus tarp he was getting rid of - yay!
I have a nice sack of kitchen scraps for the Wormies now too. We made pseudo-Mexican for dinner with the veggies (spinach and zucchini tostadas with chick peas and guacamole, yum!) The Worms will have lots of delicious scraps for their arrival dinner. I grew up in the South, so hospitality is very important to me.

Preparing for the New Arrivals!

I may have located some free bins to use for homes for my new friends (the Worms). My friend Scot has a couple he is trying to get rid of. That would be ideal, because it's even MORE sustainable to reuse things. That way, no extra plastic ends up in the landfill, and I don't have to add to the muck! Hopefully, they will be the right size. I will go investigate later tonight. If not, I am sure I can find a use for them. You can never have too many bins (unless you are Scot, who has 2 too many!)
Also arriving tonight is my delivery from Urban Organic. Urban Organic is this nice organic fruit and vegetable delivery service we use for buying our produce. Therefore, Thursday is the best day of the week to me because I LOVE vegetables. It's quite exciting to get a box of delicious Earth Gems (as I like to call them) delivered to your doorstep - ESPECIALLY if your passion in life is veggies, like mine is! These vegetables will be providing the yummy scraps for my upcoming guests (the Worms). Hopefully I will leave them some good stuff. I have been known to devour some fresh delicious spring vegetables...

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Beginning

I have decided to be a responsible human and start composting. You should too. It seems to be easy, but we'll see. Since I live in Brooklyn, and have no yard, I'm supposed to use one of these indoor compost bins that uses Worms to break down all your veggie scraps and apple cores and things. Some call it vermicomposting. Raising Worms is called vermiculture. I have been doing my research! Luckily, my boyfriend Matt is nice and says he will touch the yucky Worms. I will wear gloves at first, but I hope to get tough enough to handle them on my own! Apparently, you can use a small sized Rubbermaid storage bin and poke some air holes in there. Some places sell pre-made bins also. I think that is nice.

Making Progress

I ordered one pound of worms from the nice people at Organic Renewal Enterprises, a division of the Lower East Side Ecology Center. I will pick them up at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday. Christine, the woman I spoke with, says they have bins for sale as well. You can get a whole kit for $45, it includes a bin and the worms. I am using Red Wigglers, known to worm nerds as "Eisenia foetida". "Lumbricus rubellus" may be used also but I read it's not recommended because of some reasons I don't fully understand. Something to do with them getting out in the environment. Red Wigglers are perfectly suited to indoor composting. They don't mind small spaces and one pound of them can put away 3lbs of scraps per week! I still haven't decided whether to make my own bin or buy a pre-made one. I think I will take a trip to Fat Albert's and look at their selection of bins.