Harps into Worms ?!?

I’m getting used to making intriguing connections with other adult-onset harpers, yet I never expected going to a harp chapter meeting would turn me into a worm rancher. But I now have a new colony of red wriggler worms who are going to compost my kitchen waste and help me grow the best tomatoes ever.

Several months ago I sat next to another adult student at a harp chapter lunch. Turns out she is a master composter who specializes in teaching people about vermi-composting. When I met her I was still working, and not interested in taking on the care of any more dependents. I wanted to get in touch with her when I retired, but by that time could not remember where I’d hidden her phone number. A couple of weeks ago, we ended up at the same harp master class and reconnected. Turns out she was doing a “wormshop” (that’s a workshop about worms) in my neighborhood the following week, and invited me to attend.

I planned to go just for information gathering. Taking on additional dependents was still something I debated – it’s only due to our cold, snowy winter that I started filling my bird feeders again. But when told by another worm rancher that she ignores her worm bin for months, I decided that these little guys were the perfect “livestock” for me.

I claimed an empty purple 14-gallon storage bin from the attic and retrieved my drill from the basement, and off I went to my neighbor’s house. And I found out that by drilling holes on the sides of the bin for air, layering packing peanuts, landscape fabric and hardware cloth in the bottom of the bin, and filling the bin with damp shredded newspapers, a perfect low-cost worm environment results. Add a blanket of landscape fabric on top to block out light, and the bin cover, and you have a “ranch” that the worms will be happy to live in.

The neighbor who organized the wormshop graciously shared a pound of worms obtained from a worm farm north of here. (Yes, people make a living raising and selling worms to vermi-composters. Who knew?) So I now have a tub of redworms in my kitchen, neatly arranged next to the recycling bin. The worms have burrowed down towards the bottom layers of the newspaper, and now are ready to begin making baby worms and digesting around 3 1/2 pounds of kitchen waste every week. So far, they’ve nibbled their way through two large handfuls of organic carrot tops, a couple of egg shells, and are working on some chopped past-their-prime apples. I already see the food scraps transforming into rich worm castings that, come July, I will spread on my summer-weary vegetable plants.

Now, how am I going to come up with the 5,000 or so names for my new herd?

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2 thoughts on “Harps into Worms ?!?

  1. Ooh, vermicomposting! We were just discussing setting up our own operation here, then realized, sadly, that the little red wigglers would recycle very few newspapers, which would be our main job for them. Our composter in the back yard takes care of the kitchen scraps quite well (with extra help from Josephine the rat who moved in over the winter). But I would be interested to know whether — pound for pound — worms are quicker or better at composting than our backyard bin.

    When I tried vermicomposting many years ago (alas, our apartment was too hot, but that’s another story), we named them all “Bob”, which I thought was appropriately gender-neutral. The Bobs are now living in a better place.

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    1. I don’t know about the speed of composting, but having worm castings to make “worm tea” for the veggie plants gives the worms a heads up over my outdoor compost pile. But I’m a lazy composter – I pile green and brown stuff together and let it rot – so my finished compost is not as nutrient rich as that produced by people who take a more systematic and managed approach to composting. I like “Bob” – think I’ll name all the worms Bob in honor of your past worm herd. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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