Monday, December 14, 2009

Vermicomposting Part 1: Overview

I keep worms. They live in a series of stacked buckets outside my kitchen door. These buckets are specially designed to allow air, water, worms, and other substances and creatures to move throughout the system. It keeps out rats, dogs, cats, cows, and other large animals. The worms eat primarily plant waste--vegetable scraps from the kitchen. They also eat newspaper. The point of this is three-fold:

  1. to keep the amount of garbage I throw away to a minimum

  2. to generate nutrient-rich castings and casting-liquid to feed and water my garden

  3. to add a certain sense of false authority and smug self-importance when I speak about environmental issues.

So far, so good.

We started with the bucket-thing, called "Can-o-Worms" and procured from the Waikiki Worm Company. While we had a gift certificate for a starter pound of worms, we instead used worms from my sister's worm operation. She had been keeping hers for some time, and had a surplus.

I have been keeping worms for about 7 months, and I think I'm pretty into it. Here are some pictures.


The system is very simple. You feed the worms vegetable scraps (carrot tops, apple and lettuce cores, and so on). The worms eat it. They poop it out. They eat their poop. They poop that out. They eat it some more, and poop it out again. It is really, really gross.

In future posts, I will detail feeding, harvesting castings, worm behaviors, and other neat stuff. I will try to mention poop every time.


Litcube said...

Ever nitrogen burn your plants with the worm-poop-juice? I did that. I was all, "I should cover my plants in this stuff". Then again, I was just using compost juice, which probably contained worm-poop-juice as well.

Litcube said...

Also, ever see compost spontaneously combust? Or hay? Rot is neat.

Mr. Pony said...

It's true. Some plants just can't seem to handle it. For a while I was watering only with strong "casting tea" (the fancy term for worm poop juice). My mint flew into a 'roid-rage until I cut it back. Now I use much more water.

There are some plants I can't seem to stop murdering, specifically sage and shiso. I thought it might be the climate, or amount of sun, or something; but perhaps I should use science to see what else I'm doing to kill them. Perhaps these plants are allergic to nitrogen. I will perform experiments to learn the truth.

Mr. Pony said...

Also, no combustion here--too much moisture in the air/system, and not enough hay, maybe.

The heat, also, is generated by bacteria eating--maybe the additional organisms help out, and the bacteria don't need to do all the work. I've never done regular composting, so I don't know much about the difference.

FAKA! said...

Thats awesome Pony!

My daughter's taro plant she brought home from school went from one baby leaf to 25+ larger leafs in a little over a week... we are now considering re-potting and making our first balcony garden this Christmas that she can help maintain... when this happens might I be able to bum a worm or two?

Also it would be interesting to isolate a few worms and feed them only bacon. Strictly in the name of science of course ;)

Litcube said...

Hay won't combust unless it gets moisture.

Mr. Pony said...


Mr. Pony said...

Totally, FAKA!

One of the posts I have planned is how to put together a small homemade version of this system. Not hard, it turns out.

And my worms are your worms. I fact, I will share worms with any authors interested in trying vermicomposting (distance may be an issue, but we'll see). I also extend this invitation to our reader.

Fugu said...

Panic and I have recently started a bin with Pony's worms. Here's a very disgusting video of Panic holding a pound of Pony's worms!

It's been great. One of the first things we learned is how much food we fucking waste. Even a pound of worms is having a hard time eating through our organic leftovers.

Lungclops said...

for some reason, i find worm poop to be less disgusting than other forms of poop. if i were about to eat some lettuce, and someone said, "wait! there's some worm poop on there!" i'm not sure i would stop.