Saturday, February 26, 2011

All Quiet on the Wormy Front

Greetings, faithful readers. It's the last Saturday in February and you know what that means: it's time to harvest my worm castings!

It's been a few months since I had to rescue my little commune of veggie-scrap-eating wigglers from the brink of a toxic poop disaster. The fly problem seems to have abated -- a few winged hellions remain -- though I fear that my worms suffered a bit as a result. You see, to get rid of the flies, I had to freeze my food scraps (to kill fly larvae). Then I tried leaving the lid off the bin for a half hour or so a couple times each week. When that didn't work, I stopped adding food for a couple of weeks. At least there were no weird smells. Thankfully, there were still a number of plump little wriggling wormies in there when I carried the bin outside into the 60 degree sunshine and poked around. Yep, still quite a few in there. (Whew!) It looked a little something like this:

Lovely, eh? (No, those aren't my wigglers. I took this pic of Jen's beautiful worm composting operation at Fountain Prairie Farm on my way through Wisconsin about a year and a half ago, right around the time I became enamored with the idea of vermiculture.)

Judging by the estimated compost-to-other-stuff ratio, I decided it was time for my first harvesting of worm castings. (Wow, that sounds so civilized: in actuality this meant scooping worm poop out of a plastic bin.) I fished around with my trowel and scooped out as many wormies as I could and let them hang out with some food scraps and a little coir -- coconut husk (that I would be using to restart the next round) -- before dumping out the castings and tilling the clumps into patches of my little backyard garden plot where I hope to transplant some seedlings in a couple of months. (Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't say "fished" around -- don't want to make my worms nervous.) Hooray for compost!

I am so ready for spring. I was practically dancing around the apartment the other night after I returned home from Mike's house, where we'd talked about our spring planting plans and divvied up a whole mess of seeds and starter soil between us. (If only I had a sunny windowsill to start some seeds. Time to start trolling Craigslist and Freecycle for a used grow light....)

I rinsed out the bin and splashed my slacker version of "compost tea" over other areas of the garden that needs a little help in the organic matter department. Worm poo tea is supposed to be the best stuff around. No joke.

My wormies are settling into their newly furnished worm apartment this evening, complete with top-of-the-line shredded brown paper, coir, and organic lettuce and onion scraps. I'm off to a party at my friend Amanda's place, so they'll have some quiet time to get used to their new digs. I'll just take one last look before I head out....

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