Archive for June, 2009

Wormy Worm Update

Maggie holding knit wormI just got addicted to Facebook last week and this was one of the random photos I uploaded.  As you might imagine, it was the one that got the most comments, mostly along the lines of “What the heck?”  Well, folks, this is an anatomically correct knit worm that was lovingly created by my friend Heather several years ago.  She was tickled by the idea of me starting a vermicomposting system and knitters are always looking for a new challenge…

As it happens, I also just received a request for an update on the worm composting bin that I put together last March.  Lets see.  I know last summer the worm bin got relegated to our back deck due to some fruit fly infestations but when we moved it into the new house I set it up in our mudroom.  I haven’t seen fruit flies lsince, probably because I’ve been more diligent about keeping a thick layer of bedding on top (which is easier now that we subscribe to the newspaper).  I am afraid I neglected the worms most of the winter and only remembered to feed them once or twice a month but they survived and even made babies.  Nature is pretty amazing.

It’s about time for me to conduct a “dump and sort” when I pull out as many healthy worms as I can, remove all the nice vermicompost to use on my plants, and put the worms back in their box with fresh bedding and whatever random chunks haven’t been broken down yet.  I’ve stopped putting in avocado pits but there are some other large seeds in there right now, I think from a pawpaw, and also some broccoli that I didn’t cut up very well.  I read about a prison vermicomposting system where they actually ran all the food scraps through a garbage disposal to make a slurry for the worms, which I’m sure they loved.  I’ve thought about looking for some sort of hand-cranked slicer/dicer/smusher but haven’t found one yet.

If you want to set up your own worm bin, I strongly suggest the book “Worms Eat My Garbage” by Mary Appelhof.  It has great detailed directions on how to construct and maintain a worm bin.  For a long time I wanted to build the worm bin coffee table featured in the book but right now I’m wanting to build a really small bin out of a styrofoam cooler so I can keep it in my kitchen under the sink.   My current worm bin is a pain in the butt to move and it’s set up in such a way I tend to stack junk on top and then it’s hard to open.  (Yes, I’m one of those people that puts piles on every horizontal surface.)

If you live close to Bloomington, I’d be happy to give you some starter worms.  Otherwise, check out your local bait shop, search for a regional worm farm, or just order them through the mail from someplace like  The amount you need depends on your patience level; with a little time and TLC a handful of worms will turn into a bucketful but you won’t be able to put in a huge amount of food at first.

On the plus side, even with a fair amount of benign neglect, they’ll keep on trucking along.

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We are back from a much-needed 10 days of vacation (on the beach!) and are struggling to get back into the swing of things.  It was thunderstorming this morning which made it hard for me to motivate myself out of bed and even harder to get excited about riding the bus.  However, I gritted my teeth, grabbed my umbrella, and was rewarded with a free bus ride since it’s “Dump the Pump” day for Bloomington Transit.

And hey, the weekend’s almost here so hopefully next week will be all sunshine and roses.

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Recycling in the Garden

Carport Frame Used in GardenI don’t think we mentioned but back in January or February we had a major snowstorm that dumped a copious amount of snow on Bloomington. Oh, I think maybe we posted a couple of pictures of puppies cavorting. Anyway, the house came with a carport that was a quite nice aluminum frame covered with a heavy plastic tarp. It did great at keeping out the rain but unfortunately could not handle the weight of a foot of wet snow and collapsed, bending to fit the shape of my parents’ van that was stored under it.

The good news is, the van was okay. However, the carport tarp was badly torn and the frame was bent into a very odd shape so I decided this spring to use the frame in the garden. Taking it apart and putting it back together was a bit of a disaster, which I should have anticipated.  I couldn’t figure out how to connect the right bent pieces with each other so in the end I only managed to salvage about a third of the structure.  I’ve let go of my original vision, which was to wrap the whole thing in deer fencing to protect my precious plants,  but I’m still hopeful I can build some trellises for my tomatoes. (I got a rather late start this year so my tomatoes are still tiny seedlings.  The happy looking plants in the foreground are potatoes, which are quite delighted to live under my reign of benign neglect, and the large plants in the background are rhubarb, which are also quite independent.)

The carport frame does give a bit of a junky look to the garden but I don’t mind.  Between the carport and the strips of salvaged carpeting, it almost has a “garbage chic” kind of aesthetic.  My primary goal is to produce food so really I only get angsty about the fact that my plants aren’t growing fast enough and I don’t think I planted as densely as I should have.  But live and learn, right?


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