Saturday, June 21, 2008

Creepy Crawlies

Since we moved into our new apartment, we haven't had a good way to compost our kitchen scraps. The previous tenant was pitching them over the fence, but there wasn't really an active compost heap per se. Since the yard is shared and I don't think the landlord would be hip to a compost pile, I decided to set up a vermiculture bin in the kitchen.

This project has been on the back burner for awhile, partly because I couldn't find a cheap source for the worms. They go for $20-30 a pound (plus hefty shipping fees) online. Even though it was a longshot, I turned to my old friend Freecycle. Freecycle is an email list (most cities have one) where people post items that they are giving away, or wish to receive, for free. Believe it or not, I got a response to my post! A nice man with an established whiskey barrel full of worms offered me a starter batch.

We picked them up this evening. When I looked into the container, I saw a lot of worm castings and only a few worms. But when I dumped the container into my temporary worm bin, hundreds if not thousands of little red wrigglers were exposed, and immediately began burrowing for darker, wetter territory.

My current worm set up is just a plastic bucket with moistened newspaper bedding and food. I put the worms on bottom, bedding in the middle, and food on top in hopes that the worms will venture upwards. We'll see if there has been any action in 24 hours or so.

We're planning to build a fancier home for them soon. It will basically be a series of trays with wooden frames and a hardware cloth screen. This way we will be able to separate the castings more easily, and we can add layers of food and bedding as we wish.

I'll add pictures tomorrow--there's not enough light to get a good shot of the worms now.

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