My worm Farm arrived in the mail yesterday. I assembled it (easy) ..."built" some dirt for about an hour, (fun)... and set it in a corner of the rec room to await my one pound of eisenia fetida, more commonly known as "Red Wigglers", even more commonly known as "Redworms", even more commonly known as "worms", and occasionally known as "Eww, Gross! Get it away from me!" (I lied in the title; I am actually getting my worms tomorrow)
I have been interested in composting for a long while, and have always admired families and institutions who made it a part of their lifestyle. The concept, at first blush, seems pretty straightforward... Take the organic, vegetable material that you would throw in the garbage, and instead throw it into its own container/bin/heap outside, where with a little attention, Elton John's great "Circle of Life" will break it down into wonderful, rich, soil which you can use to grow your ficus plant, or rosebushes, or whatever...
It's that "With a Little Attention" part that's the killer. Starting a compost heap is kinda like adopting a Mogwai - You need to pay attention to the rules. (you do need to keep it away from light, but feeding it after midnight is okay, and water is a must!) If you don't get it right, instead of nice rich soil, you end up with a weed infested patch of rotten smelly crap. Our attempts at compost in Tennessee, where August the temperature is 105 degrees and in February its 13, have been pretty bad. Temperature, Moisture, and Airflow are all important factors in building up the beneficial bacterial cultures that do the, aha, dirty work of breaking yesterday's Eggo waffle into tomorrow's rhododendron.
Worm composting, or Vermicomposting for those who need a five-dollar word, is (I really hope) a lot easier, mostly because it takes pace indoors, in your very own climate-controlled home. Worms like the same range of temperatures people do. Running at full tilt, my worm farm should eat up 5 to 8 pounds of garbage per day! They will eat anything from dryer lint, to newspaper, to Jello pudding, to grass clippings, to Junk mail from GEICO, to pizza crust, to sawdust, to the Fruitcake that Aunt Gretel gave you for Christmas in 1997. And they turn it into
- worm poop you can sell/give to local gardeners
- worms you can sell/give to fishermen.