Saturday, May 1, 2010


In honor of the first day of the Market at the Square and Urbana's Ultimate Summer Saturday, I'm writing today about my worms. Allow me to explain.

I'm a fan of spending my Saturday mornings in Urbana, hitting the Market, the Co-op, the library, and having brunch at the Courier, Strawberry Fields, or any of the other wonderful Urbana eating spots. It was on a Saturday last summer, after wrapping up our Market shopping, that my wife and I attended a workshop at the Common Ground Food Co-op on vermicomposting (worm composting). We had to pay, but look what we got:
This is our composter--a Rubbermaid tub with ventilation holes drilled in the lid and high on the sides.At the workshop, we filled it with moistened black and white newspaper......and, of course, worms. These red wrigglers cannot survive in the soil outside for reasons someone who knows more about worms should tell you. All I know is that color newsprint and cooked foods are bad, not-so-fresh produce and other organic matter is good, and that it needs to be warm and moist, but not too moist.

After almost a year of feeding these guys, it was time to harvest the compost for our garden. This meant separating the worms from the compost, so we could keep them around for another year of compost production.After some online research, we decided to try removing all the compost and placing it on top of a plastic bag inside the bin. Holes punched in the bag allowed them to crawl through and below it. Moving the compost around and leaving it outside in the light encouraged them to move down into the darker, more stable territory.While spreading the compost to get the worms out, we kept an eye out for cocoons. According to wikipedia, these cocoons "contain several eggs" and can result in 4-6 worms.We figured that it made sense to save as many of these as we could. More worms means more compost and an overall higher rate of compost production, which means more nutrient-rich goodness to add to our garden.It took some time to get all the worms and compost separated, but it was worth the bucketful of compost. We've used a bit of this already to plant some strawberries, salvia, and lavender. We'll be using the rest after we pick up some more plants at the plant sales taking over the Lincoln Square area on May 8th.

If you're not entirely grossed out by worms, worm poop, and worm eggs, and you want to give this a try, check out Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof.

1 comment:

Mrs. Brian said...

Most of my online research about wormy stuff was done at "The Compost Guy" has an incredible number of informational articles and YouTube videos. :)