A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Worms in my mailbox! (Vermicomposting)

on March 27, 2014

Last night, I came home to a box of worms in my mailbox:

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One of the biggest lifestyle changes we’ve made as a family is incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables in our daily diet. We’ve joined our local Community Supported Agriculture program (read about that here) and last year we put in a garden in our back yard. Seeing lots of variety in fresh fruits and vegetables and the fun of growing fruits and vegetables is really helping my son avoid the “veggies are icky” attitude so far. Last spring, he loved going into the garden to pick veggies and we had a hard time keeping him from eating the veggies while we were still out in the yard before we could get them washed!

Because we’ve got so many fruit and vegetable scraps now and because we’d like to decrease our garbage as much as possible, we decided to take the plunge and try composting this year. We live in the suburbs, so a traditional compost bin might get us in trouble with our neighbors from a smell perspective. Also, we have a hard time keeping our dogs out of the garden. I doubt we’d ever keep them out of something that smelled as interesting as a compost bin! Thus, we decided to go the indoor route and try out “vermicomposting.”

Vermicomposting is composting with worms and is something that  you can do indoors, with generally less maintenance and smell that traditional compost bins. It takes advantage of what worms do in nature: eat and break down organic materials and return to the soil (via worm poop, yes). It can be done fairly simply (here‘s a good overview) and many classrooms use it as a way to teach some life cycle concepts.

We went with a pre-fab worm factory for simplicity, but you can do this with a wide variety of containers. For ours, we’ve started with a single tray that is filled with shredded newpapers, some pumice fragments, coir and soil from our garden to establish our local microbes in the compost.  There’s a layer of newspaper over the top to keep things moist.

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The worms we got for our worm factory aren’t just from the backyard. Garden variety earthworms wander so they aren’t ideal for this process. I don’t want worms wandering in my basement! “Red wigglers” are apparently ideal, so we ordered 1000 worms from Uncle Jim’s Worm farm.

Not a sponsored post - this just happens to be where we got the worms and it kind of cracks me up that this exists as a company. :)

Not a sponsored post – this just happens to be where we got the worms and it kind of cracks me up that this exists as a company. 🙂

Thus, worms in my mailbox when I got home. We added the worms, plus 2 pounds of compost material to the worm factory. Apparently we can expect them to eat 1/2 pound of material a day once they get settled in, which is amazing to me!

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Our worm food included a mix of strawberry hulls, dropped blueberries, grape stems, egg shells, and coffee grounds for today. In general, the worms prefer fresh fruits and veggies and the more variety, the better. We’ll avoid dairy, fats and meats because those take a long time for worms to process and are more likely to attract pests because they sit around longer. This is in my house, so I definitely do NOT want to attract pests.

While we were waiting for the worms to arrive, I just kept scraps in a bowl on the counter but today I’m ordering a lidded bucket to keep things in upstairs and I anticipate we’ll be taking it down to the worms every day or two.  I’m curious to see how long it takes the worms to work through the food in the bin. With our particular set up, we’ll add a new tray when it looks like the worms are done with the food in one tray and they’ll crawl up to the new tray, leaving behind the compost that we can then take to our garden.

One of the instructions we got with the worms was to leave the lights on so that the worms could get used to their new home. My husband forgot this and turned the lights off for a while. When he remembered and came back to turn the light on again, he found 30 worms or so that had wandered out of the factory!

This will definitely be a learning process for us but I’ll keep you updated. Anything that helps our little garden along and that decreases the amount of garbage we produce is a good thing. I also like that O is going to get participate in our little science experiment and learn a little about biology and where food comes from while we go through this process this year. It does entertain me that he kept telling me last night he would not eat them.  🙂

Anybody else getting excited about gardening (if spring ever manages to get here!)?

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8 responses to “Worms in my mailbox! (Vermicomposting)

  1. Wowza! You are brave. Worms freak me out *queue traditional girly eeeek right here* lol! I hope it helps your garden!

  2. Ellie says:

    Love that O willingly eats produce, but draws the line at worms. You are obviously doing a great job with him! 🙂

    • I’m curious as to why he thought we’d make him eat worms. 🙂 Maybe he was just reminding himself that the worms weren’t for eating? Gotta love the words that come out of two year old mouths!

  3. […] those worms that are currently happily munching on fuzzy strawberries? Still mentally adjusting to vermicomposting over here. My husband is still laughing at me for worrying about the worms and some old […]

  4. […] and bell pepper. I hope our garden does half as well this  year as last year! We even have our worm compost add on this year, so it should be […]

  5. […] back into the less glamorous world of non-Disney running with the Diva Dash. We also started our worm farm, which has quadrupled in size since that time! It’s amazing how much of our produce leftovers […]

  6. […] try to buy locally as much as we can and grow veggies in our own garden. We’ve even taken up vermicomposting and have worms that eat our food scraps, so there’s not much garbage at all generated in our […]

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