Friday, July 30, 2004

Heat, Dilemmas and Such

I think I jinxed myself. Or maybe I am just psychic. In a bad way. Today I got home, and the loft had an oddly stinky aroma. I looked around, and there was no obvious dead mouse or rotten bag of vegetables I forgot about. I took a look in the bin and the poor little Worms were sad and limp. It's like a million degrees today, and they must have been too hot. I moved them into the bedroom, which has our one AC unit, and I'm trying to cool them off a bit.

Now I have a little dilemma. I have been trying not to use the AC really, unless it's a heat wave and I can't sleep. My tolerance has greatly increased, it's neat. I do use a fan if it's a really hot night, and that is normally sufficient. I like open windows and fresh air (ahhhhh....that fresh Brooklyn air!!) If I am required to keep these Worms cool, it's going to take lots of electricity. Does composting justify the increased usage of power? I really don't know. If I had a bigger refrigerator, I could put them in there maybe, because that's already on anyway. But, for some reason, my landlord, let's call him "Buttman", installed the tiniest refrigerators ever. So, it's not an option. Where would the beer go? Hee hee.

Speaking of dilemmas, and this is off topic slightly, but related to beer (and sustainable living): I am living in an illegal loft. This means it's not zoned for residential use. It's supposed to be a factory or something. New York City only provides trash/recycling pickup for residential buildings. Buttman (the landlord) pays a private company to pick up the garbage. They are supposed to do a separate pick up for recycling, but since Buttman is shady he picks shady companies to deal with and they cut corners. I asked the city if I could take my recycling to a drop off point, but there is none. I am in the middle of a fun email correspondence with Robert Lange, the Director of the NYC Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse & Recycling. He is being resistant but has never encountered such a formidable and persistant force as Brooklyn Worm Girl. If you see him, tell him to watch out! He should just give in now, really. I'd hate to have to embarrass him in front of his friends!

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Gaga for Google

This is kind of exciting: now if you google "Brooklyn Worm Girl" or "brooklynwormgirl", guess what pops up? Me! Yay! I have arrived.
Now I just need to figure out how to make my page look good. Not that it doesn't, but I am still using a free template design, lame. I want to personalize it just a bit, and I am working on a Brooklyn Worm Girl logo.
Oh yeah, and the Worms are doing fine. They are munching along. It's eerie, really, just how peaceful it is in there. Almost like the calm before a storm...

Monday, July 26, 2004

Summertime Worm Fun!

My Worm bin looks great! The Worms are evenly distributed in the bedding, which is now beginning to resemble something slightly close to dirt. It's still a long way away from rich chunky soil, but the coffee grounds really do help the appearance. I think there is some real reason they are supposed to be in there, but I like the way it mixes with the stuff and looks dirty. I have been feeding them lightly but regularly. They eat it up and seem so happy! I have been developing this rotation schedule. After chopping veggies, I put the scraps in the freezer. Then I take out a pre-frozen batch and defrost it for a day or so. I let it thaw and get nice and juicy for them, and then feed them when they are ready. This seems to be working well. Today I added cabbages and sweet potato peelings to the freezer, and defrosted an enormous but sadly wasted bunch of basil. Luckily, it won't REALLY go to waste because the Worms can eat it. Hurray!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The Gods Must Be Weird

Um, yeah. In a fit of madness, or for the sake of scientific knowledge, I decided to make an incubator for them and see what hatched. I added a wet paper towel for bedding and put the jug in the window. The eggs are hard to see in this picture but there are 3 in there, I promise.

After a day or so, they hatched. Those little "seeds" were, in fact, fly pupae. Pupae are the form maggots manifest before turning into flies. It would all be quite fascinating, if it wasn't so ewwww. I guess I was hoping they would be Worms. Having no interest in keeping flies as pets, I decided to grant their freedom. That night, I opened the window and shook the jug so the flies would come out. But, I accidently dropped it. It fell on the the patio of the girl who lives downstairs. I imagine that she was pretty surprised to find a fly incubator, complete with airholes, sitting there in the middle of her fenced-in little courtyard. I was going to go down there to apologize for littering up her patio, but then I realized it all sounded a bit odd. How would I explain it? (If the Girl Downstairs is reading, I'm sorry I dropped my plastic jug on your patio and then left it there for you to clean up.)

Over the next few days, the remaining fly babies all hatched. It sucked. A typical mommy fly has around 100 babies at a time. I had to take certain measures I am not proud of to fix this. But, everything is back to normal now,pretty much. The Worms are doing fine. I also screened in my bin, so this will never happen again.

It's been a tough week.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Housefly: Get Out Of My House!

Oh no... I afraid my little brown seeds are the pupae of the common Housefly. Ex-maggots. Gross. Look at this picture here and see what you think. I have really been grossed out by all these maggots, and I am in the middle of a WAR with 4 or 4 million crafty Houseflies. I have been trying to (please forgive me) suck them up with the Shopvac. But, they have really strong muscles and resist the power of the Shopvac. It's been quite a battle. The last think I want to do is raise the babies of those jerks.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Wed Rigglers

What the heck are these?

I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but in the handle area of the bin are a couple of weird egg or seed things. They are smooth and shiny and reddish colored. I don't know if those are from the Worms or not. The Worms were somehow crawling up there when they were trying to get out, but none have been near there recently. Now I understand it's not normal to spend an hour a day redirecting wayward Worms who have crawled all over the sides, lid and handle of the bin. Poor things. I can't imagine how horrible it must have been in there for them to panic like that. Anyway, what are these weird things? I am kind of scared of them. I almost want to dissect one and see what's inside. But it might creep me out.

On the upside, I fed the Worms today. They seem really happy in there, and slightly hungry, so I added some cucumber parts. I am slightly concerned that the paper is getting too compacted in there. I had to add quite a bit when I was having the moisture problems. Now, it's once again at half-level and the worms seem to be kind of stuck in there. I will hope for the best!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Why? Why Not?

I am so happy. Somehow, the conditions inside my Worm bin have returned to normal. The Worms are happily wiggling around. Nobody is desperately clawing at the sides trying to escape, and the moisture balance seems right. It doesn't smell bad, and all the maggots have "disappeared". (There are several large black houseflies pestering me today... could it be?) I will let that be my one close call and be glad I learned a lesson. I almost threw in the towel there for a little while (or threw the bin in the dumpster), but my in my little heart, I knew I couldn't quit so easily. Also, murdering the OTHER one thousand Worms that survived the initial catastrophe would have weighed heavily on my conscience. They deserved a fighting chance!!
I added some coffee grounds to the bin. The nice people at The Archive, my local video store/coffee shop were happy to donate some of their used grounds. That was nice of them. It looks like dirt already. I am not adding any more vegetable matter in there for a little while. There is still a little bit they need to clear out, and they eat their bedding also if they want to. I don't want to overload it again. I will be much more careful from now on!

Sometimes people ask me why I am doing this. The reason is so very simple. Despite my initial problems, it's really quite easy. Setting aside scraps takes like no time at all. I shred the paper for the bedding once a week for like 15 minutes. In the end, it is very little effort, and I can know that I am reducing the amount of compostable material going in our landfill. Ideally, one also eliminates waste as much as possible in other areas. Each person can at the very least be responsible for themselves, and their impact on this Earth. Maybe my pile of trash doesn't make a difference when you think about the billions of pounds of trash deposited everyday. But I look at it a different way. I imagine all the waste that I personally throw away in a year. I picture in my head all of my junk in one huge pile heaped up somewhere on our beautiful earth. I did that! I made all that trash and polluted the Earth with it! Of course, most ends up in a landfill somewhere. But landfills are ugly smelly disgusting places. We are ruining our nice natural beautiful spots with all the landfills we need to create. I like nature, it's really cool. I think trees are really pretty, and I love to take nature walks and see moss on rocks, frogs, and I am learning to identify mushrooms. So, I don't want to wreck everything out of carelessness. It's just one small thing one can do. Is it enough? No. There are millions of ways to help once you start trying. This blog, though, is about Worms!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Red Maggots

The Worms seem to have migrated upwards, away from the bottom sludge. There is definitely a healthy population that has survived and I am crossing my fingers. There are still some maggots (including the new and mysterious Red Maggot), but I am hoping they will hatch and fly away and then the maggots will be gone forever. I hate maggots, I really do. Why are they so gross? Any sort of white Worm is always bad. My kitties had Worms once, it was scary. I found a long white Worm on the kitchen floor one day. It looked like a piece of long pasta, and I was going to pick it up. Then I remembered I hadn't eaten pasta recently. My howls could be heard from here to Canarsie, wherever that is. For a long time after that, I had an aversion to fettucini.
Those of you out there who are interested in a Worm bin, I really don't want to give you a bad impression. It's really very easy and once these few problems clear up, it won't be disgusting anymore. Hopefully that will be soon.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Invasion From Jupiter

I just opened up the lid of the box to check on the Worms. I put a rubber glove on and was kind of poking around in there, to see if anything was better. I did see lots of still alive worms, which was good. I was careful to avoid the area that had the maggots last night. But THEN, this huge weird winged insect flew out of there and almost hit me in the head. I think that is what the maggots turn into. I now remember seeing such a strange bug in there last week. It was just sitting on top hanging out, and we chased him away. I also recall some large insects in the window that we thought were wasps, which we got rid of with the Wet/Dry vac. I love that vaccuum, it's awesome. It's so powerful, I am constantly accidently sucking up socks and keys and loose change with it. It works great on bugs too. That is not very vegetarian of me, really. I normally try to catch the bugs and throw them out the window (okay I lied. I scream and run all around and then Matt catches them and sets them free). But since my whole loft has become infested with Fruit Flies, Regular Flies, possibly Wasps, and the Strange Flies, AND all their babies, I have become less compassionate. The Fruit Flies are attacking my Mushroom Log also, which really was the last straw. Nobody messes with my mushroom log - NOB0DY!

Here is a picture of it.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I Am The Devil

I am the worst most horrible person that ever lived. All of my worms are dying, and it's my fault. Only I don't know what is going wrong. Everything was going fine, and then this weekend I had some exodus problems. I added a bunch more water, thinking it was too dry, and it seemed to solve the problem because they weren't trying to crawl out anymore. Well, that's because they were dying. Wahhhh!!! Do you have any idea how much it hurts to have thousands of pets dying all at the same time? IT HURTS!!! I am so sad. I don't know what to do or how to fix it. I tried to drain it but it wasn't liquidy enough, it's mainly just sludgy down there. Oh yeah, and it stinks REALLY bad, and the worst part is, is it's crawling with little white maggots. This is seriously the worst day ever. All my little worms are melting and it really reeks and it's crawling with yucky maggots. I tried to take a picture of the maggots, but they crawled away too fast. I will try to add one in later. This sucks. I am trying to salvage it. Matt is being VERY kind. He offered to pick all the maggots out. I love him. When you meet a guy who will pick all the maggots out of your worm box, you know he is a keeper!