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August 25, 2008

Worms at Work

Worms get a bad rap.....

A couple of years ago I had the grand idea to give all my brothers and their wives worm compost bins for Christmas gifts. It didn’t go over so well. One sister in law loved it, but she was alone in her joy. For the other two families, a summary of their feelings could be seen in the reaction of my then 2 year old nephew, who pulled off the bow, opened the lid to the bin, quickly shut it and exclaimed, “Ew, gawbage.” Needless to say, I don’t think those worm bins were used much.

I now have a compost pile in my yard, so I haven’t had a worm bin for a couple of years. However, I have noticed that here at the USEE office, we end up with a lot of food waste in our trash. Our building owners created a plan for sustainability for the offices (recycling, low flow toilets, etc), but didn’t go as far as Vermicomposting. So, I thought I would contribute that to our building and our blog.

If you aren’t familiar with a worm bin, it is basically a Rubbermaid tub (or other container) with holes drilled in it, some shredded newspaper (or peat moss) inside that you keep moist, some red wiggler worms and the food scraps that you add to it. If you have kids or students, they will love to watch the worms at work. If they are quiet enough, they can even hear the worms moving. The worms break down the food scraps that you add, creating castings, which is great organic matter for your garden, or you can make a “compost tea” to water your houseplants with. Some questions you may have are – Does it stink? Don’t the worms crawl out? The answers are no and no. The worm bin, if maintained properly (which is easy) smells wonderful and earthy, like you were digging in healthy soil. The worms prefer to be in the dark, so they stay away from the holes and won’t crawl out of the bin. It’s easy to do and can be kept right in your kitchen.

Having a worm bin is a great learning experience, a wonderful teaching tool, and it helps all that food waste from going into the garbage or down the disposal. If you’d like to come down to USEE to check out our worm bin, or for help setting up your own, feel free to send me an email.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

Although we've had a compost bin for six years, worms have always fascinated me. I still keep thinking that I'm going to get a worm bin one of these days.